SAMHSA Prescription Drug Abuse Weekly Update
Issue 142  |  October 1, 2015
The Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse in the Workplace (PAW) TA Center addresses prescription drug abuse—a growing public health problem with increasing burdens on workers, workplaces, and our economy. To subscribe colleagues, family members, or friends to this listserv sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), please click here or send their e-mail addresses to
Table of Content Featured Article Journal Articles and Reports Professional Education and Policy Debate National Marijuana International Northeast/Mid-Atlantic News South News Midwest News West News Other Resources Grant Awards Grant Announcements Take-Back Events and Drop Boxes Upcoming Conferences and Workshops


American Society of Addiction Medicine Releases National Practice Guideline and Associated Products at Press Conference and Stakeholder Summit
PR Newswire
September 24, 2015

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) announced the adoption of its newly released National Practice Guideline for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use. ASAM also released a journal article and full supplement of the National Practice Guideline in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, a pocket guide, mobile application, and PowerPoint slide deck. All contain best clinical practices for treating addiction involving opioid use in easy-to-understand formats that if implemented, could save the lives of tens of thousands of Americans each year.

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Journal Articles and Reports

J. van Amsterdam, L. Phillips, G. Henderson, J. Bell, O. Bowden–Jones, R. Hammersley, J. Ramsey, P. Taylor, A. Dale–Perera, J. Melichar, W. van den Brinka, and D. Nuttk. 2015. "Ranking the Harm of Non-Medically Used Prescription Opioids in the UK." Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2015.09.014.

Nine experts in the United Kingdom rated 13 opioids on 20 harm criteria and weighted the criteria. On a scale of 0 (no harm) to 100, injected heroin scored 99, and smoked heroin scored 72. Heroin's harm to others was judged as more than five times that of 11 prescription opioids. Overall harm scores of fentanyl (including injected fentanyl extracted from patches) and diamorphine (a medically prescribed form of heroin) were 54 and 51, respectively, with scores of orally used opioids ranging from 32 (pethidine) to 11 (codeine-containing pharmaceuticals). Injected street heroin, fentanyl, and diamorphine emerged as the drugs most harmful to users, with the last two very low in harm to others. Pethidine, methadone, morphine, and oxycodone were also low in harm to others, while moderate in harm to users.

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A. Bahnassi. 2015. "Do No Harm: The Role of Community Pharmacists in Regulating Public Access to Prescription Drugs in Saudi Arabia." International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, doi:10.1111/Ijpp.12224.

A survey of 100 Saudi Arabian community pharmacists found in the country's widespread unregulated supply of prescription medicines, pharmacists are pressured by patients to provide drugs for a wide range of clinical conditions. When drugs are provided based on patient demand rather than clinical need, safety and appropriateness are concerns. Pharmacists admitted they do not maintain patient records with information on drugs supplied and associated actions.

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C.S. Davis, J.E. Johnston, and M.W. Pierce. 2015. "Overdose Epidemic, Prescription Monitoring Programs, and Public Health: A Review of State Laws." American Journal of Public Health, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302856.

In the 25 U.S. state laws that articulated the intended purposes of prescription monitoring programs (PMPs), purposes most often related to reducing abuse, misuse, and diversion of prescription medications. Only five purpose statements mentioned public health promotion as a goal of the PMP, and only three listed improving health care as a goal. None listed overdose prevention as a goal.

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J.M. Davis, B. Mendelson, J.J. Berkes, K. Suleta, K.F. Corsi, and R.E. Booth. 2015. "Public Health Effects of Medical Marijuana Legalization in Colorado." American Journal of Preventive Medicine, doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2015.06.034.

Medical marijuana dispensaries first opened in Colorado in 2009. During that year, the state also made it increasingly easy to become a registered recipient. Interrupted time-series analysis on monthly data showed rises above the 2009 trend: 44 percent in hospital discharges for DSM–IV marijuana abuse, 57 percent in discharges for DSM–IV marijuana dependence, and 56 percent in poison center calls mentioning marijuana.

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N. Gisev, M. Shanahan, D.J. Weatherburn, R.P. Mattick, S. Larney, L. Burns, and L. Degenhardt. 2015. "A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Opioid Substitution Therapy upon Prison Release in Reducing Mortality Among People with a History of Opioid Dependence." Addiction, doi:10.1111/add.13073.

This study compared outcomes of prisoners with an opioid dependence history who were released from prison on methadone maintenance with those who declined maintenance. (Editor's note: That means it has a serious selection bias problem.) The study linked New South Wales, Australia, records of opioid substitution therapy entrants (1985–2010), charges and court appearances (1993–2011), prison episodes (2000–11), and death notifications (1985–2011) for 16,073 people released from prison for the first time between January 1, 2000, and June 30, 2011. Propensity matching selected 6,734 demographically matched treatment decliners for the 6,734 people who entered treatment. Twenty people (0.3 percent) released into methadone substitution therapy died, compared with 46 people (0.7 percent) who declined. Final average costs were lower for the therapy group ($7,206 versus $14,356).

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L.J. Maier, Severin Haug, and M.P. Schaub. 2015. "The Importance of Stress, Self-Efficacy, and Self-Medication for Pharmacological Neuroenhancement Among Employees and Students." Drug and Alcohol Dependence, doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.09.012.

Multivariate analysis of a survey of 10,171 employees and students ages 15 to 74 in the largest Swiss Internet panel found current medical treatment for a mental health disorder was the best predictor of past-year prescription misuse for cognitive enhancement and mood enhancement as "serious self-medication." Cannabis use, frequent stress, and long-term stress were predictors of both cognitive and mood enhancement. Past-year cognitive enhancement with or without mood enhancement was associated with being male, being a student, and using illegal drugs other than cannabis. Being female and having low self-efficacy were associated with past-year mood enhancement only. Negative stressors and time pressure at work were not associated with misuse.

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S. McPherson, O. Brooks, C. Barbosa–Leiker, C. Lederhos, A. Lamp, S. Murphy, M. Layton, and John Roll. 2015. "Examining Longitudinal Stimulant Use and Treatment Attendance as Parallel Outcomes in Two Contingency Management Randomized Clinical Trials." Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2015.08.008.

Contingency management (CM) provides cash or prizes to encourage compliance in substance abuse treatment. In one randomized stimulant treatment trial, CM was positively associated with attending treatment but not with stimulant use monitored with urinalyses. In a second trial, CM was associated with reduced stimulant use over the 12-week treatment period but not with attendance.

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A.K. Simon, A. Rao, G. Rajesh, R. Shenoy, and M.B.H. Pai. 2015. "Trends in Self-Medication for Dental Conditions Among Patients Attending Oral Health Outreach Programs in Coastal Karnataka, India." Indian Journal of Pharmacology 47(5):524–29, doi:10.4103/0253-7613.165195.

In a survey of 400 randomly selected patients presenting at oral health outreach programs in Karnataka, India, 30 percent reported self-medication with over-the-counter or prescription drugs. Male respondents were less likely to have self-medicated (odds ratio = 0.58). The drugs most frequently used to self-medicate were for toothaches (69 percent).

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T.L. Spaer and A.C. Nwude. 2015. "Opioid Prescribing Laws and Emergency Department Guidelines for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain in Washington State." Pain Practice, doi:10.1111/papr.12359.

Washington state clinicians are required to conduct a detailed physical examination and health history prior to prescribing opioids. Risk assessments for abuse and detailed periodic reviews of treatment are required at least every 6 months. Those considered "high risk" or who have significant psychiatric comorbidities are required to sign and follow a written agreement or pain contract, obtain their pain prescriptions from a single provider, and submit to biological drug screening. Unless an exemption exists, patients prescribed > 120 mg of morphine-equivalents daily, considered severe pain nonresponders, necessitating dosage escalation, diagnosed with multifaceted mental health–related comorbidities, demonstrating diagnostic ambiguity, or requiring significant treatment individualization are referred to a pain specialist. Episodic care settings should refrain from supplying opioids to chronic pain patients whenever possible. The ER is for Emergencies coalition instituted the Seven Best Practices program throughout the state to reduce unnecessary visits, coordinate prescribing practices, reduce Medicaid expenditures, and improve overall patient care. The state reported approximately $33.65 million in savings in 2013 through use of these practices and converting Medicaid participants from fee-for-service to managed care plans.

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J.S. Tucker, B. Ewing, J.N.V. Miles, R.A. Shih, E.R. Pedersen, and E.J. D'Amico. 2015. "Predictors and Consequences of Prescription Drug Misuse During Middle School." Drug and Alcohol Dependence, doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.09.018.

Students initially in sixth to eighth grades from 16 Southern California middle schools (n = 12,904) completed in-school surveys between 2008 and 2011 (waves 1–5), and a Web-based survey in 2013–14 (wave 6). Low resistance self-efficacy, family substance use, low parental respect, and peer-offered other substances were consistently associated with nonmedical prescription drug use initiation throughout middle school. By high school, students who initiated nonmedical use during middle school reported lower social functioning and more suspensions and fighting than students who did not.

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Y. Zhao, Y. Li, X. Zhang, and F. Lou. 2015. "Translation and Validation of the Chinese Version of the Current Opioid Misuse Measure (COMM) for Patients with Chronic Pain in Mainland China." Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 13:147, doi:10.1186/s12955-015-0329-y.

To assess reliability and validity of a Chinese translation of the Current Opioid Misuse Measure (COMM), the measure was administered to a convenience sample of 180 patients with chronic pain recruited from two major hospitals in Jinan, Shandong province. The internal consistency coefficient for the total score of the COMM was 0.85, and item-total correlations were above 0.20. Test–retest reliability was satisfactory, with an intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.91. Four principal components were extracted, accounting for 65 percent of the variance, and the factor loadings of all 17 items were above 0.4, showing satisfactory reliability and validity.

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Professional Education and Policy Debate

P. George, P. Ramasamy, S. Thurairajasingam, and Z. Shah. 2015. "Patients That Benefit from Buprenorphine-Naloxone on Medically Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence in Malaysia." The Medical Journal of Malaysia 70(4):251–5.

Opioids are the most commonly abused drugs in Malaysia. In this paper, researchers discuss six cases of opioid dependence. All patients improved after buprenorphine–naloxone induction. Two cases highlight the transfer of patients on methadone to buprenorphine–naloxone because of methadone's adverse effects and interactions with other medications. No major adverse reactions occurred during the transfer, and patients were safely able to continue maintenance therapy.

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Application Period Now Open for Drug Collection Units
Accessed September 23, 2015

CVS Pharmacy is accepting applications for its community donation program. Police departments can apply to receive a drug collection unit to help communities dispose of unwanted medications.

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CVS/Pharmacy Commits to Creating Safer Communities Through Multiple Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Efforts
Market Watch
September 23, 2015

In its effort to combat prescription drug misuse, CVS Pharmacy expanded the availability of naloxone to 13 states: Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. CVS Health is also participating in a research project with Boston Medical Center and Rhode Island Hospital that evaluates the impacts of pharmacy-based naloxone rescue kits.

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P. Lucas, Z. Walsh, K. Crosby, R. Callaway, L. Belle–Isle, R. Kay, R. Capler, and S. Holtzman. 2015. "Substituting Cannabis for Prescription Drugs, Alcohol and Other Substances Among Medical Cannabis Patients: The Impact of Contextual Factors." Drug and Alcohol Review, doi:10.1111/dar.12323.

In 2011–12, 473 people recruited at a Canadian medical cannabis dispensary agreed to be surveyed online or at the dispensary, yielding 410 usable responses. Eighty-seven percent substituted cannabis for one or more of alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription drugs, with 80 percent reporting substitution for prescription drugs, 52 percent for alcohol, and 33 percent for illicit substances. Respondents who reported substituting cannabis for prescription drugs were more likely to report difficulty affording sufficient quantities of cannabis. Patients under age 40 were more likely than older patients to substitute cannabis for other substances.

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M.A. Ware, T. Wang, S. Shapiro, J.P. Collet, and COMPASS Study Team. 2015. "Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study (COMPASS)." The Journal of Pain, doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2015.07.014.

To assess safety issues, a standardized herbal cannabis product (12.5 percent THC) was dispensed to 216 Canadian patients with chronic noncancer pain (141 current users and 58 ex-users) for a 1-year period, with a dosage of 2.5 g/day of THC. Risk of serious adverse events did not differ between groups, but medical cannabis users were 1.7 times as likely to report non-serious adverse events. Thus, relatively low-strength, quality-controlled herbal cannabis used by cannabis-experienced patients long term as part of a monitored treatment program appears to have a reasonable safety profile.

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New Bill Would Cut Off Federal Forfeiture Funds for DEA Marijuana Seizures
Nick Sibilla, Forbes
September 21, 2015

U.S. Reps. Lieu (D–Calif.) and Amash (R–Mich.) introduced the Stop Civil Asset Forfeiture Funding for Marijuana Suppression Act. which would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from using federal forfeiture funds to pay for its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. The bill also would ban transferring property to federal, state, or local agencies if that property "is used for any purpose pertaining to" the DEA's marijuana eradication program.

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Senators Push Legalizing Medical Marijuana Over SLED Chief's Objections
Cynthia Roldan, Post and Courier
September 24, 2015

A South Carolina bill that would decriminalize medical marijuana cleared the Senate's Medical Affairs Subcommittee over the objections of law enforcement officials who claimed it would essentially legalize recreational drug use. The bill would allow doctors to recommend marijuana as an alternative to those who suffer chronic diseases. The State Law Enforcement Division Chief argued that medical marijuana makes it easier for others to obtain pot because law enforcement cannot control it once it is in the hands of the intended user. He also argued that having doctors and licensed dispensaries control the distribution and sale of marijuana creates a "pill mill"–type of environment. The bill would have to clear the full committee by January to be ready for discussion at the start of the legislative session.

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Oregon's Legal Sale of Marijuana Comes With Reprieve
Kirk Johnson, New York Times
September 20, 2015

This article discusses how some Oregon residents with past marijuana convictions are trying to get their infractions sealed. Oregon allows anyone with a lowest-level felony, misdemeanor, or nontraffic violation to wipe clean his or her slate if 10 years or longer has gone by without another conviction. In 2016, more serious felony marijuana convictions of the past will be eligible for record sealing as well. One new law says courts must use the standards of current law—under which possessing, growing, and selling marijuana are legal—in considering records-clearing applications. The other allows faster record-clearing for people who were under 21 at the time of a past conviction.

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A 'Niche Business': Mainstream Doctors Are Wary of Prescribing Medical Marijuana
Allison Manning, Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC
September 23, 2015

Only 108 certified doctors in Massachusetts can certify patients for medical cannabis. Because of the prevailing stigma among general practitioners, prescribing medical cannabis has become a niche business for many clinics. However, some experts are concerned that this system encourages a culture of drive-by doctors who prescribe marijuana on an a la carte basis. Mainstream doctors are wary of prescribing medical marijuana because of its federal ban—there is little research on the drug's effectiveness for treating certain medical conditions—and they worry about liability and lawsuits. Some doctors may be discouraged by their hospitals or other employers from talking to individuals about the benefits of medical cannabis.

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Awesome Tips, Dude: Denver May Allow Pot in Bars, Restaurants
Ben Markus, NPR
September 18, 2015

Pot advocates have collected signatures to put a measure on the ballot that would allow pot use at bars and restaurants in Denver, Colo. The city came to this group looking to negotiate a solution. Now, city council is working on crafting a pot club ordinance. (Includes audio: 3 minutes 34 seconds.)

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Bristol Dispensary Marks 1-Year Anniversary, as Meriden Pharmacy Tries Again for License
Leigh Tauss, Record–Journal
September 22, 2015

The Bristol, Conn., dispensary The Healing Corner celebrates its 1-year anniversary. State officials say it has been a year of tremendous growth and innovation for industry. The Healing Corner grew from 200 patients to 1,000. When the dispensary opened, only three strains of plants were available. It now offers more than a hundred kinds of marijuana-based medications. Pipes, bongs, and rolling papers are also available. The dispensary started with a marijuana plant form; now prescriptions also come in capsules containing marijuana extract. Connecticut will open three new medical marijuana dispensary locations. Meriden Pharmaceutical Company Hancock Wellness Center has also applied to open a facility in Meriden, Conn.

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Teens Face Felony Pot Possession Charges Owing to Change in Washington Law
Bill Chappell, NPR
September 21, 2015

Three teens (ages 14, 15, and 17) in Asotin County, Wash., could get up to 5 years in prison for possessing marijuana, designated a class-C felony in July. Before the change, the minors' offense would have warranted misdemeanor charges punishable by 90 days in jail. If the teens are found guilty, Asotin County Prosecutor Ben Nichols says they could eventually seek to have their convictions vacated if the state revises a portion of the law in the Legislature's next session.

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[Video] Prescription Drug Abuse a National Emergency
September 23, 2015

The Australian Medical Association is now calling prescription drug abuse a national emergency. (Duration: 1:02 minutes)

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NRL Star's Chilling Warning: 'A Player is Going to Die from Prescription Drugs'
Andrew Webster, The Sydney Morning Herald
September 22, 2015

After news broke about two Souths players in serious condition at the hospital following misuse of prescription drugs, a current player, a chief executive, and a leading play manager warn that a rugby league player is going to die from prescription drugs. Both players had undergone off-season surgery. The sister of one player said her brother had taken oxycodone and Tramadol. (Includes video: 1:21 minutes)

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Players Union Says Prescription Drug Abuse Not Major Issue in National Rugby League
Adrian Proszenko, Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald
September 22, 2015

The National Rugby League (NRL) started testing players for prescription drugs in June 2014. The NRL declined to disclose statistics regarding prescription drugs while the trial testing period was in progress. However, Clint Newton with the Rugby League Players' Association does not believe players have prescription drug misuse problems.

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Toronto Overdose Deaths Jump Dramatically
May Warren, The Star
September 21, 2015

In Toronto, Canada, deaths from drug overdoses rose by 41 percent from 146 in 2004 to 206 in 2013. Increasing use of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, is partly to blame.

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Northeast/Mid-Atlantic News

State Representative Files Bill to Include Fentanyl in Trafficking Laws
Cape Cod (Mass.) Broadcasting Media
September 23, 2015

Massachusetts State Representatives Tim Whelan and Paul Tucker cosponsored House Bill 4036 that adds fentanyl to the list of drugs with penalties for trafficking. Their backgrounds in law enforcement and narcotics enforcement led them to join forces. (Includes video: 17 minutes 52 seconds.)

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Maine Mayors Develop $2 Million Plan to Fight Drug Addiction
Randy Billings, Portland (Maine) Press Herald
September 22, 2015

A coalition of mayors of 12 Maine communities will meet with state health officials to discuss the growing opiate addiction crisis and pitch a $2 million plan fund eight pilot projects statewide that would divert people addicted to heroin and prescription pain relievers from jail into treatment. The proposal also calls for additional law enforcement to cut down on the supply of illegal drugs and related crime, and enhanced efforts to prevent addiction in the first place.

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Senior Citizens Not Exempt From Drug Overdoses
Representative Sara Gideon, Maine Today Media
September 20, 2015

Maine Representative Sara Gideon urges older adults and their caregivers to obtain naloxone. They should ask their physician about prescribing them the drug, especially if they are taking an opioid for pain while also taking benzodiazepines.

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Gloucester Police to Meet With Pfizer to Discuss Opiate Epidemic
Jessica Bartlett, Boston (Mass.) Business Journal
September 18, 2015

Officials from the Gloucester (Mass.) Police Department and Pfizer will be meeting to discuss ways to reduce the opiate epidemic. The announcement comes less than a day after the police department urged Facebook followers to call several pharmaceutical companies.

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Narcan Demonstration Held at Parkesburg Point
Lucas Rodgers, Daily Local News
September 20, 2015

Kacie's Cause, Parkesburg (Pa.) Chapter, hosted a community meeting to discuss drug awareness and ways to combat Pennsylvania's opioid epidemic. Emergency medical technicians gave a demonstration on how naloxone can be administered nasally to a person experiencing an opioid overdose. The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has recorded 19 overdose reversals using naloxone in Chester County this year.

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Easter Seals Plans 62-Bed Expansion for Drug Treatment
Kathleen Ronayne, Tri-City Herald
September 21, 2015

Easter Seals plans to open 62 treatment beds in Franklin, N.H., to respond to the state's growing opiate and heroin abuse epidemic.

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South News

A Grim and Growing Trend: Alabama Sees Increased Cases of Drug-Dependent Newborns
Amy Yurkanin, Alabama Media Group
September 20, 2015

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) nationwide from 3.4 births per 1,000 live births in 2009 to 5.8 per 1,000 in 2012. The region that includes Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky has the highest rate in the country at 16.2 per 1,000 in 2012. The number of cases covered by Medicaid in Alabama rose from 170 cases in 2010 to 345 in 2013. A 2008 study by the Alabama Maternal Drug Task Force found evidence of drug use in almost 13 percent of urine samples collected from 500 pregnant women.

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Virginia Joins Multistate Task Force to Combat Heroin Crisis
September 22, 2015

Virginia has joined the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Heroin Task Force. The Task Force uses collaboration and information sharing between state attorneys general and other law enforcement officials to combat heroin distribution and heroin overdose fatalities. Other members are Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

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Mooresville Police Trying to Stem Flow of Illegal Prescription Drug Sales
Jake Flannick, Charlotte (N.C.) Observer
September 22, 2015

The Mooresville (N.C.) Police Department is using a National Association of Drug Diversion to crack down on illegal trafficking of prescription drugs. Undercover narcotics detectives will use grant funds to continue buying prescription drugs on the street, using the illicit transactions as evidence against dealers.

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Midwest News

House Criminal Justice Committee to Take Up 'Good Samaritan' Prescription Drug Legislation
Michigan House Republicans
September 24, 2015

Michigan State Representative Pscholka announced an upcoming committee hearing on House Bill 4843 that would prohibit individuals under 21 years old from facing prescription drug–related legal charges when reporting a medical emergency.

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Kansas Doctor, Wife Face New Sentencing in Case Involving Clinic Linked to 68 Overdose Deaths
Roxana Hegeman, Star Tribune
September 23, 2015

Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Schneider were convicted of running a moneymaking scheme at a clinic linked to 68 drug overdose deaths. In a separate trial, the Schneiders were convicted of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud resulting in death, unlawfully prescribing drugs, health care fraud, and money laundering. The doctor was sentenced to 30 years, his wife to 33 years. The U.S. district judge will resentence the couple in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that, to impose the harshest punishments under the federal Controlled Substances Act, a victim's drug use must be the actual cause of death. In June, the district judge threw out some sentences carrying the longest prison terms.

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Atty. Gen. Conway Announces 2015 Keep Kentucky Kids Safe Public Service Announcement Contest
State of Kentucky
September 21, 2015

Kentucky Atty. Gen. Jack Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners announced the start of their annual prescription drug abuse prevention public service announcement contest for Kentucky high school students. Winning videos will be posted on the attorney general's website and distributed to television stations across the commonwealth by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.

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West News

To Curb Pain Without Opioids, Oregon Looks to Alternative Treatments
September 22, 2015

Oregon will fund alternative pain treatments for patients covered by the state's Medicaid program starting in January 2016. The state hopes to save money by reducing the number of people who become addicted to opioids or misuse them. (Includes audio: 3:36 minutes)

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Prescription Drug Deaths Down Again in San Diego
San Diego (Calif.) County News Center
September 23, 2015

San Diego County's 2015 Prescription Drug Abuse Report Card reported 244 deaths from prescription drug overdoses in 2014, down from 259 in 2013. There were 5,723 visits to local emergency rooms because of prescription drugs in 2013, compared with 3,791 in 2012. The percentage of 11th graders reporting prescription drug abuse dropped (19.6 percent in 2011 versus 17.0 percent in 2013). Pharmacy store burglaries and robberies increased by 60 percent (5 versus 8). Prosecutions of prescription drug fraud decreased by 31 percent (311 versus 214). The report card also underscores the impact heroin is having in the region. Comparing 2013 with 2014: Deaths from heroin jumped from 86 to 105; the percentage of people entering treatment because of heroin increased from 24.8 percent to 27.7 percent; and the percentage of adult arrestees who tested positive for heroin rose from 12 percent to 13 percent. (Includes video: 1 minute 36 seconds.)

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Why More Southeast Coloradans Are Seeking Heroin Treatment
Megan Arellano, Colorado Public Radio
September 24, 2015

Pueblo is the epicenter of the heroin problem in Colorado. Only 6 percent of the state's residents live there, but they represent 18 percent of Coloradans being treated for heroin addiction. This article discusses the problem from the points of view of doctors, a heroin user, and a person who has received treatment. Most experts believe the problem in southeast Colorado results from economics, ease of access, and fewer activities in the area. (Includes audio: 7 minutes 19 seconds.)

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Health Department to Offer Chronic Disease Management
Montana Standard
September 21, 2015

The Butte–Silver Bow Health Department (Mont.) implemented the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, an evidence-based program developed by Stanford University that helps chronically ill people learn how to manage their symptoms. The program will feature 6-week workshops focusing on pain management, nutrition, exercise, medication use, emotional health, and other issues. The workshops are led by trained facilitators who have chronic conditions themselves or have a chronically ill family member. They help participants reduce pain, frustration, depression, and fear; improve exercise; enhance mobility; increase energy; and build confidence in their ability to manage chronic illness.

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Vivitrol Injection Could Be Best Shot at Beating Alcohol or Drug Addiction
Kathy Walsh, CBS Denver
September 23, 2015

Arapahoe, Colo., House Treatment Centers prescribe Vivitrol (extended release naltrexone) injections to patients who have alcohol, heroin, and prescription pain pill use disorders. Vivitrol can cost more than $1,200 per monthly injection. Medicaid and some insurance plans cover it.

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Other Resources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2015. "Drug Facts: Substance Use in Women."

When it comes to substance use, women may face unique issues. Scientists have found sex and gender differences related to hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause can affect women's struggles with drug use. In addition, women's reasons for using drugs include controlling weight, fighting exhaustion, coping with pain, and self-treating mental health problems. Among the 15.8 million women who used illicit drugs, including marijuana, and misused prescription medications in the past year, use patterns and physiological responses differ from those of men. Women take smaller amounts of certain drugs for less time before becoming addicted. They may also have more drug cravings and be more likely to relapse after treatment, and cravings and relapse can be affected by a woman's menstrual cycle. Women may be more likely to go to the emergency room or die from overdose or other effects of certain substances. Divorce, domestic violence, loss of child custody, or the death of a partner or child can all trigger women's substance use, and women who use certain substances may be more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety, or depression.

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Rx Safes Launches New Dynamic Website
September 22, 2015

Rx Safes, Incorporated, the developer of autonomous fingerprint healthcare security products, launched a new corporate website. The website shows potential partners how technology can be used to prevent drug misuse, theft, and diversion; help improve their products and services; gain greater market share; and improve revenue streams while reducing losses. It also provides nonprofit groups a program to access state and local grants to support drug abuse education initiatives.

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Grant Awards

State Organizations Get Federal Funding to Fight Opioid Abuse
Jen Lynds, Bangor Daily News
September 18, 2015

The Diversion Alert program, the Down East AIDS Network Incorporated, and Maine General Medical Center each received a $100,000 grant award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The funds will help address opioid misuse and increase access to naloxone.

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Pharmacies Get Money to Install Medsafes
Ryan Murray, Daily Inter Lake
September 22, 2015

The state attorney general awarded grants to 13 Montana pharmacies. Each $2,000 grant will cover the costs to buy and install Medsafes, mailbox-sized drop boxes.

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$150,000 Awarded to Concentrate on Opioid Prescribing, Substance Abuse, Treatment in Santa Cruz County
Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz (Calif.) Sentinel
September 19, 2015

The Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz County was awarded $150,000 by Blue Shield of California Foundation for collaboration emphasizing mental health, substance abuse, and opioid prescribing guidelines. This was one of 26 grants awarded by the foundation this quarter, which totaled $4.4 million.

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Grant Announcements

Medication Assisted Treatment Iowa for Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction Treatment
Iowa Department of Health
Bid Date: October 15, 2015, 4 p.m.

This tender seeks a broad array of best practices including Medication Assisted Treatment for prescription drug and opioid addiction treatment and integrated care services in 4 of 10 Iowa counties with demonstrated highest need for enhancement and expansion of opioid treatment services.

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Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Achieve
State of Pennsylvania
Bid Date: October 8, 2015, 1 p.m.

2016 Grant Funding Cycle
Community Action Coalition
Deadline: October 16, 2015

Partnership for Clean Competition
Pre-applications due November 1, 2015
Full applications due December 1, 2015

National Institute on Drug Abuse Translational Avant-Garde Award for Development of Medication to Treat Substance Use Disorders
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health
Deadline: December 3, 2015

Take-Back Events and Drop Boxes

Cumberland County Locals Dump Two Tons of Prescription Drugs Under New Program
Daniel Simmons–Ritchie, PA Media Group (Pennsylvania)
September 22, 2015

County Plans Drug Take-Back Program Oct. 17
Joe Zlomek, (Pennsylvania) Post
September 24, 2015

All Michigan State Police Posts Drop-Off Sites for Prescription Drugs
WHMI 93.5 FM (Michigan)
September 20, 2015

Upcoming Conferences and Workshops

SCOPE of Pain Training
Oakland County Prescription Drug Abuse Partnership
October 3, 2015
Waterford, Michigan


Sixth Annual Prescription Drug Abuse Symposium
State of Indiana, Attorney General's Office
October 28–29, 2015
Indianapolis, Indiana


143rd Annual Meeting and Exposition—Health in All Policies
American Public Health Association
October 31–November 4, 2015
Chicago, Illinois


2015 Fall Research Conference: The Golden Age of Evidence-Based Policy
Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
November 12–14, 2015
Miami, Florida


Twenty-Eighth Annual National Prevention Network Conference: Bridging Research to Practice
National Prevention Network
November 17–19, 2015
Seattle, Washington


University of Michigan Injury Center Prescription Drug Overdose Summit
University of Michigan Injury Center
December 1, 2015
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ensuring Access to Pain Care: Engaging Pain Medicine and Primary Care Teams
American Academy of Pain Medicine
February 18–21, 2016
Palm Springs, California

2016 National Prescription Drug Summit
March 28–31, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia
The Weekly Update is a service provided by the SAMHSA Preventing Prescription Abuse in the Workplace Technical Assistance Center (PAW) to keep the field abreast of recent news and journal articles to assist in forming policy, research, and programs to reduce prescription drug misuse or abuse. Please note, the materials listed are not reflective of SAMHSA's or PAW's viewpoint or opinion and are not assessed for validity, reliability or quality. The Weekly Update should not be considered an endorsement of the findings. Readers are cautioned not to act on the results of single studies, but rather to seek bodies of evidence. Copyright considerations prevent PAW from providing full text of journal articles listed in the Weekly Update.