On June 8, 2017, the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, publicly requested that Endo Pharmaceuticals remove their drug, Opana ER, from the market. The agency stated that the benefits of the medication no longer outweighs the risks. According to the FDA, there has been a shift in abuse that has seen an increase in crushing, snorting and injecting the medication. This increase in injection abuse has also seen an increase in HIV and Hepatitis C...

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, estimates that 91 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose. The opioid epidemic is one of the biggest public health challenges in the United States today, leading to higher drug abuse rates, increasing health care costs and imposing additional stress on state budgets. Three new reports released in June 2017 demonstrate the growing need for solutions.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Ohio Rep. Al Landis about a media campaign he has started to bring attention to the opioid crisis in his legislative district and spread a message about prevention. He calls it #gotyourback.  He asks people to post on his own personal Facebook page a picture of themselves back to back with a friend and the words “I’ve got your back! It’s what friends do. Help your friends say no to drugs.”

The campaign springs from his growing alarm about the opioid crisis in Ohio.

CSG Midwest
Over the course of a two-week period in late March and early April, the rules for prescribing painkillers were tightened in Ohio, an improved drug-monitoring system was unveiled in Michigan, and nine bills to prevent opioid abuse won passage in the Wisconsin Assembly. The flurry of activity in those three states illustrates just how big the opioid problem continues to be in many parts of the Midwest, as well as how much of a priority legislative leaders have placed on finding new ways to address it.
Near the top of that priority list is better controlling how prescription drugs are dispensed, prescribed and used.

Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask
by Risë Haneberg, Dr. Tony Fabelo, Dr. Fred Osher, and Michael Thompson

Not long ago the observation that the Los Angeles County Jail serves more people with mental illnesses than any single mental health facility in the United States elicited gasps among elected officials. Today, most county leaders are quick to point out that the large number of people with mental illnesses in their jails is nothing short of a public health crisis, and doing something about it is a top priority.

Over the past decade, police, judges, corrections administrators, public defenders, prosecutors, community-based service providers, and advocates have mobilized to better respond to people with mental illnesses. Most large urban counties, and many smaller counties, have created specialized police response programs, established programs to divert people with mental illnesses charged with low-level crimes from the justice system, launched specialized courts to meet the unique needs of defendants with mental illnesses, and embedded mental health professionals in the jail to improve the likelihood that people with mental illnesses are connected to community-based services.

 

As states are battling heroin and opioid epidemics, they are doing so in the remnants of an economic recession that saw an estimated $5 billion cut from state mental health budgets. With less than two cents of every state and federal dollar allocated toward substance abuse and addiction spent on prevention and treatment, government at all levels, as well as private

...

WHEREAS, states and communities across the nation are overwhelmed by the current epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction and they are struggling to respond and to ameliorate the problem; and

WHEREAS, the number of drug overdose deaths in 2014 exceeded the number of deaths due to traffic accidents; and

Today's Stateline article by Christine Vestal highlights three states--California, Maryland and New York--that are moving to use Medicaid reimbursement policies to facilitate more counseling for substance use addicts who are in medication-assisted treatment. 

CSG Midwest
Right now in Iowa, it’s no sure bet that a child in need of mental health services is going to get them. Instead, access can depend on where his or her family happens to live. “There is no statewide system or network of care in place, and over the long term, we need to develop it because there are clear gaps,” explains Anne Gruenwald, president and CEO of Four Oaks, a Cedar Rapids-based nonprofit agency that provides a range of services for children in need.
“When you have those gaps, needs go unmet, or we have to rely on our adult system of care — and that’s not always a good fit.” Iowa appears to be taking some important first steps, thanks to the recommendations of a work group formed by the Legislature in 2015 and actions taken by lawmakers during their 2016 session. 

A record number of ballot initiatives regarding marijuana have been proposed this year. According to Ballotpedia, nine states have initiatives concerning marijuana on the ballot this fall. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are considering initatives to legalize recreational marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota are voting on legalizing medical marijuana.

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