Dear Mr. President

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Dear Future President,

Addiction is not a choice. Help isn’t always an option. Support might not be there, and we need a solution. America has reached a point in time where the number of drug addictions is at its peak. What a lot of people need to understand is that getting help isn’t always an option as it requires money, insurance and waiting time. Thanks to the previous laws put in place, insurance isn’t so much of a problem anymore. But that’s where you come in. We need reliable resources for addicts that are not just cheap and has no wait, but has a fair amount of enforcement, and the only person who can resolve this issue is you. America needs a reliable, cheap, and enforcing source for drug addicts to get help.

The people who do get help, don’t usually totally become clean. This is because once you become addicted, you’re automatically hooked on the drug and it is very difficult to get off it. According to one article from “Everyday Health”, it may take as many as 3-4 tries. So I write to you Mr./Ms. President to help find a solution to drug addictions.

Researchers have found that especially athletes are becoming addicts at young ages. According to a survey conducted by Narconon, “12% of the boys and 8% of the girls admitted to abusing painkillers including codeine and morphine, figures which represent an increase over previous years. Unlike many other drugs, the students who are using painkillers are not typically getting their pills from a drug dealer. Instead many of them are getting the drugs after being prescribed by a doctor. A sports injury will often see the student being given a prescription for Vicodin, Oxycontin or another common pioid painkiller.” This proves, that teens are becoming easily addicted to drugs as well, while getting hooked on addiction at a young age can massively impact your life span. We don’t just need a solution for adults with addictions, but teens as well.

I beg you future president to create an environment where when an addict is ready to get help, the help is there. Typically, when a person of color struggles with an addiction it as looked upon to be a crime, while if a white person is diagnosed with addiction it is an ‘illness’. All I’m asking is that you CONSIDER making changes to laws around drug addictions in our country, cause to be completely honest with you setting down laws to ban Pokémon Go isn’t priority, when 18,900 people are dying a year from drug over dose.

You may ask why a fourteen-year-old freshman feels so strongly about this topic, and I understand what you’re probably thinking ‘What does she know?’, but let me tell you Seattle is a wild place to live. As you may or may not know there is a specific location in Seattle called ‘The Jungle’, officially the East Duwamish Greenbelt. In ‘The Jungle’ at least 750 incidents have been reported to Seattle Police Department while drug dealing and drug use is also very common in ‘The Jungle’ (Bob Young). In addition to living in Seattle, as of December 6,2016 Washington State Initiative 501 was passed in Washington state (aka marijuana became legal). This law just makes it easier for teens especially, to smoke weed, even though it is not legal until age 21. To reflect on this, in my home town Seattle Washington, it has become incredibly easy to get your hand on drugs, and this goes for all over American as well. So I ask you again President of 2017 to please make a change in the lives of American drug addicts and don’t make them just have a reason to live, but help them change their lives to who they were before, before they had their first dose.

Regards,

Ellie V.

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The Vicious Attack Against Suboxone Continues

Buprenorphine, the generic name for Suboxone, is a medication used to treat opiate dependence – it helps minimize withdrawal symptoms. It’s often an essential part of a person’s recovery plan, mainly due to its accessibility. Users can attain it through a prescription from a certified doctor, rather than having to hoof it to a medication-assisted treatment program multiple times per month, like methadone requires.

Although it does have the potential to be abused, Suboxone is considered safe by most clinicians when used as prescribed. However, despite its many benefits, an increasing number of pharmacies are now refusing to fill these valid prescriptions. It begs the question: How is this happening – especially in light of a full-blown opioid epidemic sweeping the country?

Round and Round

The Suboxone uproar seemed to have started once the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) cracked down on both Walgreens and CVS, fining them millions after violating federal rules for dispensing controlled substances. As a result, both pharmacy giants established stricter dispensing rules, which led to thousands of complaints by Suboxone users.

And now we can add Wal-Mart to the list, with a North Wilkesboro, NC, store location recently refusing to fill buprenorphine prescriptions altogether. Reportedly, DEA agents visited the Walmart pharmacy and told them if they continued filling Suboxone prescriptions, they would be accused of collusion. In response, the Wal-Mart allegedly axed sales of all buprenorphine products. A subsequent phone call to the Wal-Mart pharmacy, placed by Dr. Jana Burson, seems to back up the claims. In her blog, Dr. Burson writes:

“I asked him if it was true that Wal-Mart no longer fills buprenorphine prescriptions, and he said yes, that’s true. I asked was that for all forms of buprenorphine, including the films, Zubsolv, generics, etc., and he said yes, all of them… Starting to feel a little riled, I asked him if he thought that decision would interfere with appropriate treatment of a potentially fatal illness; he just repeated Wal-Mart had decided not to stock buprenorphine at all.”
Interestingly enough, DEA spokesman Rusty Payne says the agency is not the one to blame with limiting access to opioid painkillers. “If something is prescribed for a legitimate medical purpose, we’re certainly not going to get in the way,” Payne told the National Pain Report. Instead, he points the finger at the doctors and pharmacists.

Bottomline: Is This Legal?

The laws that govern whether pharmacists are obligated to fill legitimate prescriptions are murky. There doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut answer, other than some saying the final decision lies within an individual pharmacist’s “professional discretion.” For instance, Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations states that:

“The responsibility for the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances is upon the prescribing practitioner, but a corresponding responsibility rests with the pharmacist who fills the prescription.”
However, others look towards company policies for direction. Walgreens now utilizes their “Good Faith Dispensing Checklist,” which mandates staff pharmacists ask every patient a number of questions before filling a new controlled substance prescription. If the patient and the prescription don’t meet all the “good faith” criteria, the Walgreens pharmacist cannot – by company policy – fill the prescription.

Whether it’s legal or not, refusing a legitimate prescription is blocking your access to treatment. If you or someone you know are refused Suboxone, contact your prescribing physician or your treatment program case manager immediately to make sure your recovery plan isn’t compromised in any way.

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Schizophrenia risk increased with alcohol, drug abuse

There has been a wealth of research on the impact that alcohol, cannabis, and other drugs might have on the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

However, it is a difficult area to study, and previous research has been controversial and often contradictory.

As one example, many earlier studies could not take into account co-abuse; in other words, people who abuse a number of compounds.

Dr. Stine Mai Nielsen and Prof. Merete Nordentoft, from Copenhagen University Hospital, Mental Health Center in Denmark, recently embarked on one of the largest studies of its type.

Their findings, presented at this year’s International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) meeting in Milan, Italy, add another piece to the puzzle.

Schizophrenia and drug abuse
To dive into this question, the team of investigators used data from 3,133,968 individuals born between 1955-1999 from nationwide Danish registers. In all, they identified more than 200,000 cases of substance abuse and over 21,000 schizophrenia diagnoses.

Data was analyzed using a range of statistical measures; they also controlled for a number of factors including gender, urbanity, other psychiatric diagnoses, co-abuse, parents’ immigration to Denmark, parents’ economic status, and psychiatric history.

The team found that abuse of any substance increased the risk of developing schizophrenia. The increased risks were as follows:

Cannabis: 5.2 times
Alcohol: 3.4 times
Hallucinogenic drugs: 1.9 times
Sedatives: 1.7 times
Amphetamines: 1.24 times
Other substances: 2.8 times.

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