Heroin and Prescription Opiates: Tell us your Story

We’re interested in talking to people whose lives have been affected by the opioid epidemic here in South Jersey, and we’ve put together a short questionnaire–a few basic questions and a request you tell us your story. We won’t know who you are unless you leave your name (and that’s optional), but we’re hoping this will be a way to start to connect with people who can educate us on this story, so we can cover it responsibly. If your life’s been touched by drug abuse, and you want to talk to us, let us know. And maybe consider sharing with your networks. Thanks,
Route Forty

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Atlantic City Approves New 26-Bed Drug Detox Clinic

It’s a sign-of-the-times story. Successful local conglomerate tries to refit struggling bus parking lot as urban RV park. When that fails, it opens a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic. In another sign of the times, the zoning board unanimously approves the renovation plan and there is no public comment. Where is this happening?

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‘Safer’ Oxy Meant More Deaths, Report Finds

In 2010, Purdue Pharma released a new form of their blockbuster pain drug OxyContin that supposed to deter abuse. It was harder to crush up and snort or inject to get high. 

Instead the new-formula Oxy seems to have led a lot of long-term abusers, already deep into the disease, to switch to heroin, and many thousands of them likely died from that drug. This according to a report from the RAND Corporation and the Wharton School. Possibly 80% of the spike in heroin death since 2010 is due to reformulated Oxy, the report’s authors say. The actual RAND/Wharton paper (“Supply-Side Drug Policy in the Presence of Substitutes: Evidence from the Introduction of Abuse-Deterrent Opioids”) is behind a paywall, but you can read Zach Siegel’s story on it here.

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Atlantic County Cuts Outpatient Rehab Services, Ups Spending On Halfway Houses

Atlantic County will next year slash its spending on individual and group counseling for people in outpatient drug and alcohol detox programs but increase its spending on halfway houses, according to a new request for proposals. The county, which spends more than half a million dollars on alcohol and drug abuse treatment each year, has money set aside from the New Jersey Division of Addiction Services and the Atlantic County Division of Public Health. The total funding for drug and alcohol abuse services will be $560,756 in 2017, up slightly from $547,984 this year. The bulk of that money will be spent on providing short-term residential and inpatient detoxification services, according to the RFP. Spending on halfway house services will rise to $40,000 in 2017 from $30,000 this year, while spending on outpatient counseling will slip to $12,000 from $25,500 this year.

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‘Narcan is Staggeringly Expensive’

The skyrocketing cost of Narcan—the lifesaving opioid antidote used to revive people in overdose—is impacting budgeting decisions for at least one South Jersey police department. Pleasantville Chief Sean Riggin said the cost of a dose of Narcan has increased between 200% and 400% for his department (depending on how you estimate), while at the same time the number of doses the city uses has spiked. “We had to put it in as a line-item in the budget this year,” he said. “Narcan is staggeringly expensive.”

Riggin sat down with Breaking AC and Route 40 yesterday at Gary’s Restaurant in Pleasantville for an interview that covered a range of topics.  

“Our budget is not increasing for next year, and our Narcan cost is, so other things are going to get cut,” he said.

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Buena to Vote on Opioid Resolution

The Buena Vista Township council is set to vote Monday on a resolution to support a bill in the state legislature that would prohibit doctors from prescribing more than seven-days’ worth of opioid painkillers the first time they prescribe the drug to a patient. Senate bill S-2035, introduced in April, is sponsored by Shirley Turner, Robert Gordon and Jennifer Beck. It requires that a medical practitioner “shall not issue an initial prescription for an opioid drug…in a quantity exceeding a seven-day supply.” Crazy to think, but being prescribed a month’s worth of dangerous narcotics is not an uncommon problem! You can track the bill in Trenton here.

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LoBiondo supports inter-agency pain-med task force

Frank LoBiondo, R-NJ second district, on Wednesday voted in favor of establishing an inter-agency task force to assess pain medication prescription practices. The bill, supported by representatives from both parties, will now proceed to the Senate. Opioid prescription and addiction is a huge issue in South Jersey and Route 40 hopes to follow this topic closely.

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