opioid addiction

When Matthew Braun gets out of medical school, he'll be able to prescribe opioids.

A decade ago, he was addicted to them.

"The first time I ever used an opioid, I felt the most confident and powerful I'd ever felt," Braun says. "So I said, 'This is it. I want to do this the rest of my life.' "

Opioids took away his anxiety, his inhibitions, his depression. And they were easy to get.

"I just started breaking into houses," Braun says. "I found it amazing how trusting people were in leaving windows open and doors unlocked, and I found a lot of prescriptions."

From medical professionals to law enforcement to recovering addicts, the opioid crisis has affected people from all walks of life.

At a University of South Florida symposium Wednesday, experts said it will take them all working together to end the opioid crisis.

Dr. Kimberly Sue is the medical director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, a national advocacy group that works to change U.S. policies and attitudes about the treatment of drug users. She's also a Harvard-trained anthropologist and a physician at the Rikers Island jail system in New York.

Sue thinks it's a huge mistake to put people with drug use disorder behind bars.

Johnson & Johnson and two Ohio counties have reached a tentative $20.4 million settlement that removes the corporation from the first federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, scheduled to begin later this month.

As Florida continues battling an opioid abuse crisis, another, largely forgotten drug has ramped up in North Florida—meth. Its low cost and relative ease of access, is making it harder for local law enforcement agencies to control.

Lori Pinkley, a 50-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., has struggled with puzzling chronic pain since she was 15.

She's had endless disappointing visits with doctors. Some said they couldn't help her. Others diagnosed her with everything from fibromyalgia to lipedema to the rare Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

In a two-story Salvation Army building in Sarasota a bustling, multi-agency program helps people with substance abuse issues.

Louis Morano knows what he needs, and he knows where to get it.

Morano, 29, has done seven stints in rehab for opioid addiction in the past 15 years. So, he has come to a mobile medical clinic parked on a corner of Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood, in the geographical heart of the city's overdose crisis. People call the mobile clinic the "bupe bus."

Pasco County has consistently ranked among the hardest hit areas of Florida throughout the opioid crisis.

But county substance abuse and mental health leaders continue to band together to approach the problem as a community.

New Opioid Law Causes Confusion For Doctors

Aug 6, 2019
Prescription drugs on a shelf
Daylina Miller/WUSF

Florida lawmakers passed far-reaching health care legislation this year, from trying to import drugs from other countries to regulating plastic-surgery centers. 

Good news came out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday: Preliminary data shows reported drug overdoses declined 4.2% in 2018, after rising precipitously for decades.

Faced with a flood of addicted inmates and challenged by lawsuits, America's county jails are struggling to adjust to an opioid health crisis that has turned many of the jails into their area's largest drug treatment centers.

In an effort to get a handle on the problem, more jails are adding some form of medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, to help inmates safely detox from opioids and stay clean behind bars and after release.

A major pharmaceutical distribution company and two of its former executives are facing criminal charges for their roles in advancing the nation's opioid crisis and profiting from it.

Prescription drugs on a shelf
Daylina Miller/WUSF

In a move aimed at helping hospice providers, a Senate committee Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would create an exemption to a requirement that physicians check a statewide database before ordering opioids for patients.

After months of threats, federal prosecutors in Philadelphia launched a legal challenge on Wednesday against the nonprofit Safehouse, which is hoping to open what could be the nation's first site where people with opioid addiction can use drugs under medical supervision.

Analysis: 'Obamacare' Shapes Opioid Grant Spending

Oct 22, 2018
Pharmacy Technician amongst two shelves of prescription pills.
Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

With Republicans and Democrats joining forces again in a bipartisan effort to target the U.S. opioid crisis, an Associated Press analysis of the first wave of emergency money from Congress finds that states are taking very different approaches to spending it.

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Senator Bill Nelson called renewed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act quote “irresponsible.” Nelson was speaking at an addiction treatment center in Orlando today.

Emergency responders providing care to a patient in the back of an ambulance.
Peter Haden/WLRN

Hillsborough commissioners on Wednesday voted to spend $13.7 million dollars over the next year to combat opioid addiction.

Florida’s foster kid population is growing at an alarming rate. That’s part of what will be discussed during an upcoming webinar.

Last year the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department responded to more than 3,700 overdose calls. About 2,400 of the calls happened between January and August, which is about a 70 percent increase from that span in 2015.

Cristina Rivell has been struggling with an opioid addiction since she was a teenager — going in and out of rehab for five years. The most recent time, her doctor prescribed her a low dose of buprenorphine (often known by its brand name, Suboxone), a drug that helps curb cravings for stronger opioids and prevents the symptoms of withdrawal.

Hillsborough County is filing a lawsuit against drug companies that contributed to the opioid addiction crisis.

Prescription drugs on a shelf
Daylina Miller/WUSF

U.S. regulators have approved the first generic version of an under-the-tongue film for treating opioid addiction.

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People with addiction to opioids and their support network can get instant, anonymous help in seeking treatment. 

Prescription drugs on a shelf
Daylina Miller/WUSF

Congressional investigators say wholesale pharmaceutical distributors shipped hundreds of millions of prescription opioid pills to West Virginia, a state disproportionately ravaged by deaths caused by the addictive drugs. Now, lawmakers want executives of those companies to explain how that happened.

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Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio’s introduced the Protecting Newborns from Opioid Abuse Act on Thursday. It would set up a new system of collecting information around mothers and babies affected by Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, and sharing it with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Medical marijuana appears to have put a dent in the opioid abuse epidemic, according to two studies published Monday.

The research suggests that some people turn to marijuana as a way to treat their pain, and by so doing, avoid more dangerous addictive drugs. The findings are the latest to lend support to the idea that some people are willing to substitute marijuana for opioids and other prescription drugs.

The opioid epidemic has become so severe it’s considered a national public health emergency, and a recent report suggests it could be linked to a higher rate of children in foster homes.

Broward County filed a new lawsuit in federal court Monday against manufacturers of opioid drugs.

Walmart, Walgreens, the McKesson Corp. and CVS Health are just some of the drug makers and distributors Broward County is suing.  

 

Others include Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal Health Inc., Health Mart Systems, Mallinckrodt, Amerisourcebergen Corp., as well as Endo Janssen, Purdue, Cephalon and Teva Pharmaceuticals. 

As the number of opioid overdoses continues climbing in Northeast Florida, a new clinic focused on battling addiction is opening in Springfield, just north of downtown Jacksonville.

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