NEWS FIX – ‘Game of Thrones’ Heroin Causes Vermont Overdoses – Aug. 25, 2016

News Fix is a weekly feature on Drug Treatment Center Finder that brings you the top stories in addiction and recovery. This roundup will give you the latest news from all over the world, so be sure to check back regularly for updates.

New Addiction Hotline Receives 300 Calls in First 2 Weeks

BUFFALO, NY – On Aug. 1, 2016, an addiction hotline was launched in Erie County by its Opiate Epidemic Task Force and has already received more than 300 calls within its first two weeks of service.

More than 200 lives have been claimed by opiate overdoses in Erie County this year and is expected to reach up to 400 lives by the end of 2016 based on local trends, nearly doubling last year’s total. The 24-7 addiction hotline, which operates through Crisis Services in Buffalo, hopes to decrease these numbers by providing callers information, emergency services, and resources for addiction treatment.

“This hotline is the voice in the darkness,” said Debra Smith, a member of the task force who lost her son to an opiate overdose last year. “This is someone saying, we can help you, we know what you need, how to direct you. And people are calling. Many people are calling.”

To call the addiction hotline, dial (716) 831-7007. Read more about it here.

Blocking TrkB Receptor Activity Could Reverse Cocaine Addiction

shutterstock_311949818The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, Calif., has released a new study in The Journal of Neuroscience that describes a possible treatment for cocaine addiction: targeting and blocking activity in TrkB brain receptors.

Testing on cocaine-addicted mice, TSRI researchers were able to observe long-term changes in the brain as a result of repeated exposure to cocaine. They found a protein, BDNF, which activates TrkB receptors and increases the urge to consume cocaine. If BDNF is inhibited in the brain, drug dependency is reduced in the rat model. This shows potential for pharmaceutical treatment for cocaine addiction, which currently does not have medications to treat.

“Based on these previous findings, we were very excited to investigate whether blocking TrkB receptors throughout the brain would be beneficial or detrimental in helping to reduce the motivation to take cocaine,” said Michel M.M. Verheij, the TSRI’s study co-author, to Medical News Today.

To learn more about the study, read the article here.

Opiate Addiction Cost Rise, Takes Toll on Canadian Healthcare

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), public drug programs spent about $93 million on medications used to treat opiate addiction in 2014, nearly double the amount spent in 2011, which reported $57.3 million. During a four-year period, according to The Globe and Mail, spending on drugs to treat patients addicted to prescription painkillers would soar up 60 percent, putting a financial burden on Canadian healthcare.

About $300 million was spent on prescription painkillers between Canadian provinces in 2014, as stated by the CIHI. This is a result of an alarming opiate epidemic in Canada, with doctors reporting an average of 53 opioid prescriptions per 100 patients. British Columbia and Alberta are reported to be the hardest-hit provinces in the nation, reporting fentanyl-related overdoses shooting up from 42 in 2012 to 418 last year in 2015.

While the United States has slowly but steadily decreased its prescription painkiller per capita usage since 2011, Canada has shown no difference and remains the second-largest per capita consumer in the world, behind the US. To read more about the effects Canada’s opiate epidemic is having on national healthcare, read the article here.

Hard Liquor Banned at Stanford Campus Parties

shutterstock_446274970Stanford University has recently announced a ban on hard liquor at campus parties for undergraduate students. Alcohol substances such as beer and wine may still be permitted at parties, but hard liquor more than 20 percent by volume or 40 proof is prohibited. The alcohol policy follows the Brock Turner trial, though the university denies any relation to the case.

A national outrage occurred back in June when Brock Turner, a former Stanford swimmer, was sentenced to six months of jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The judge who made the decision attributed alcohol intoxication and college party culture as the reasoning behind Turner’s actions, which are also the same reasons behind the recent Stanford hard liquor ban.

The university’s liquor prohibition has triggered an expected controversy among undergraduate students, but has also began a mass dialogue among professors and students about alcohol misuse and sexual assault. To read more about the ban, read the CNN article here.

30-Year Anniversary of “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” Campaign

Back in the ‘80s, the “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” Campaign made a lasting impression on commercial viewers by cracking an egg on a frying pan, calling it your brain on drugs, and sternly asking, “Any questions?”

Well, yes. It turns out people did have questions.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has revitalized the 30-year-old campaign with an updated version of the PSA, featuring common questions about drugs from children to their parents. Questions range from “Drinking is worse than smoking weed, isn’t it?” to “Mom, Dad, did you ever try drugs?” and encourage parents to talk about drugs with their children as their first source of information. With marijuana legalization and the opioid epidemic being hot topics in the news, it’s better to have open discussion between parents and children in these modern times.

To view the PSA video, “Fried Egg 2016,” go here.

‘Game of Thrones’ Heroin Causes 10 Overdoses in Vermont

news fix heroinVERMONT – A strain of heroin with possible traces of fentanyl has reached some popularity on the streets because of its “Game of Thrones” label on the bags, and has also become the cause of 10 overdoses in Vermont.

There’s been a recent trend of street drugs being laced with fentanyl, which is an opioid about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Combining fentanyl with heroin has been proven deadly, and in the cases of the Vermont overdoses, all 10 people had to be revived with naloxone, an opioid-reversal medication. For some, more than one dose had to be administered to reverse the effects of the “Game of Thrones” heroin.

Simply bearing the logo of the HBO hit show on the bags, the heroin has no relation to Game of Thrones otherwise. It’s been spotted throughout Vermont, as well as New Hampshire, and it is advised to stay clear of it by Vermont’s Department of Health. Read more about the drug here.


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