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Several intense documentaries about heroin’s resurgence have aired


on national TV recently. In particular, HBO’s “Heroin: Cape Cod, USA” (first aired on December 17, 2015) showing the desperate downward spiral of an addict’s life in this famed Massachusets seaside town. Statistics noted in the show included the fact that currently 85% of crimes on Cape Cod are opiate-related. In addition to their standard gear, increasing numbers of


police are being issued a new tool to help them deal with drug overdoses. Nasally administered Naloxone, known as Narcan, can immediately reverse the physical effects of an opioid overdose and give emergency teams a chance to get victims to a medical facility for treatment. A number of state law enforcement personnel have been using


Narcan for several years, including Massachusets, New York and Pennsylvania. In early 2013, New Mexico became the first southwest state to equip its police with Narcan. It doesn’t stop addiction but it does save lives and give addicts a chance to get desperately needed treatment. In response to a rising death count caused by heroin overdoses, Seatle’s bicycle officers began carrying Narcan in March 2016, as did officers in Delray Beach, Florida as well as Baltimore, St. Louis, and even in Maine. Last month, the CDC also called on U.S. physicians to “exercise


caution when prescribing opioids and monitor all patients closely.”6 According to the health organization, “[h]eroin use has increased across the United States among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels.”7


Even if the new guidelines reduce the


number of new addicts, it may not do much to help the thousands who currently suffer addiction. Individuals in recovery are taught to keep medical providers


informed about their status, and to provide a list of medications that could become a source of abuse, in particular, medications like benzodiazepines that will probably be harmful to the recovery process. A prime example of this is Xanax (alprazolam), one of the most-prescribed antidepressant-anxiolytic medications on the market and itself potentially habit-forming. Medications like Methadone, prescribed to help an addict get


off heroin, can become just as addicting, requiring the addict to stay on it forever. Methadone is also currently being prescribed as an analgesic, which presents a new potential for addiction, making it an alternative to the drug it’s supposed to help the addict avoid. A further complication is that testing is only partially effective because oxycodone, for example, doesn’t always register on a standard five-panel test. Although many countries around the world forbid opium poppy


cultivation, production continues unabated. In particular, Mexican drug cartels are trying to replace profits lost with marijuana legalization by introducing inexpensive—and more potent—heroin into new U.S. markets.


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Tere’s nothing glamorous or atractive about drug addiction.


As noted in a growing number of articles, there’s no “profile” for a potential heroin addict; it can happen to anyone and it affects everyone, not just the addict, or the addict’s friends and family. Heroin addiction is a problem that affects entire communities and has wide-ranging economic, social, physical, mental and emotional consequences. Clearly, there is no single, easy solution to solve a centuries-old


problem that has reared its very ugly head once again. Despite efforts by law enforcement and the medical profession, dealing with heroin is definitely an uphill batle. Does this mean that solving the heroin addiction problem is


hopeless or that we should give up? Absolutely not. Although the CDC’s guidelines are not mandatory, we can take them as a formal call to action to work together as a support community of employers, health care professionals, family, friends or concerned citizens. Heroin addiction affects all of us in some way. We can’t look away and leave addicts to the not-so-tender mercies of the cartels. It means that we all have to take responsibility to stand on the frontline of the war on this age-old enemy. More information can be found on these websites:


• htp://nationalrxdrugabusesummit.org/general-sessions-4/ • htp://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/ • htp://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0315-prescribing- opioids-guidelines.html


• htp://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid- addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf


• htp://heroin.net/types-of-heroin/ ❚ References


1 2 3


http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0315-prescribing-opioids-guidelines.html http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0315-prescribing-opioids-guidelines.html


“The Deadliest Drug on the Planet,” Winter 2015 https://www.shrm.org/publications/ hrmagazine/editorialcontent/2016/0316/pages/0316-prescription-drug-abuse.aspx


4 5 http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p0707-heroin-epidemic.html


http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/03/16/cdc-urges-doctors-to-curb-prescribing- painkillers.html


6 7


http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0315-prescribing-opioids-guidelines.html “Today’s Heroin Epidemic”—http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/


Dr. Alfredo E. Taule is a licensed psychotherapist, SAP, CAP, IC & RC. Dr. Taule is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) with NMS Management, having received his Master’s Degree from Nova University in Substance Abuse Counseling and Education, he is also a certified Substance Abuse Professional


(SAP) having met specific requirements, credentialing and qualifica- tion training. Dr. Taule is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexologists receiving his Ph.D. from Maimonides University.


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