Recovery Services of New Mexico

Nearly as easy as reordering laundry detergent from Amazon, non-prescription opioids can be bought online and shipped directly to your doorstep. The frightening reality is that it is cheap and some of the synthetic formulations can be up to eight times more potent than morphine. The death toll from opioids purchased through an internet pharmacy is estimated to be 50 and rising. It is without a doubt that the United States is currently in the throes of a drug crisis and the dangerousness of continuing to allow these highly addictive drugs to be readily available via the internet is underscored by two recent deaths in Utah. Ryan Ainsworth, and his friend Grant Seaver, both 13 years old, attended junior high school together in Park City, Utah.1 According to the Washington Post, in September 2016 the two boys died within 48 hours of one another owing to acute drug intoxication from a synthetic opioid known as: U-47700. Also known as “pink” or “pinky,” the boys acquired U-47700 online from Shanghai and had it shipped to a friend’s house. At the time of the boys’ deaths, it was legal in the United States for them to own U-47700. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), nearly 19,000 deaths were attributable to an overdose of prescription pain medication.2 This number surpassed the more than 10,500 deaths attributable to heroin overdose that same year. Some of these destructive impacts that opioid abuse has on public health and safety across the United States is attributable to the overprescribing habits of health care providers. In fact, among other grave findings from the 2014 White House Summit, it was noted that in 2012, health care providers in the United States wrote 259 million prescriptions for pain medication.3 To put this number in perspective, it would be enough to provide every adult in America with a bottle of pills. The overprescribing habits of physicians, unfortunately, is not the only problem when it comes to the opioid epidemic, as opioid medications are readily available online through overseas websites – without even having a prescription.4 The list of drugs available is ever-growing and includes U-47700, as well as multiple forms of fentanyl, which is an opioid drug whose potency is estimated to be more than 50 times that of morphine. The emergence of new synthetic forms of opioids is occurring so rapidly that neither state nor federal enforcement can keep up.5 As regulators place bans on opioids that emerge in popularity among its users, new forms of the drug appear on the market to replace them. Foreign laboratories respond to every ban by chemically modifying the drug’s formula just enough to deem the drug legal in the United States. A large portion of these foreign drugs are considered legal for the purpose of research and have not yet undergone approval for use as medical treatment. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), most of the synthetic drugs ending up in the United States originated in China. Usually, these Chinese laboratories will rely on patent records available online, as well as information from scientific journals to create the compounds. At this time, both state and federal regulators are unable to come up with an ideal solution to control these new and dangerous drugs from entering the country. One problem in keeping up with continuing development of new opioid drugs is that there is no uniform clearinghouse for crime laboratories, law enforcement authorities, health care professionals, and medical examiners to share information that they acquire on these new drugs. It has been suggested by the National Governors Association (NGA) that the El Paso Intelligence Center, which is a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is responsible for collecting and analyzing information on the identification of drug traffickers, would serve as a first step in initializing this type of clearinghouse. It is clear that state and federal officials must identify a more effective method of pinpointing new versions of opioid drugs as they find their way into the country. As has been done in the past with several types of fentanyl, this would allow the United States federal government to demand that China cease production of the drug. The opioid epidemic in the United States has grown exponentially, while the race to turn the tide against it continues to lag behind.   References  1 Guarino B. Synthetic opioid nicknamed ‘pink’ blamed for deaths of two 13-year-old Utah boys. The Washington Post. Nov 2016. Accessed from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/11/04/synthetic-opioid-nicknamed-pink-blamed-for-deaths-of-two-13-year-old-utah-boys/?utm_term=.2842c69823af. 2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2014 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2014, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed from: http://wonder.cdc.gov/mcd-icd10.html. 3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Vital Signs. Opioid painkillers prescribing: where you live makes a difference. July 2014. Accessed from: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/opioid-prescribing/. 4 Paoli L, Greenfield VA & Reuter P. Change is possible: The history of the international drug control regime and implications for future policymaking. Subst Use Misuse. 2012;47(8-9):923-35. 5 Wood D. Drug Diversion. Aust Prescr. 2015;38(5):164-6....

Braeburn Pharmaceuticals and Camurus AB (STO:CAMX) have announced that they received very positive early outcome findings from their pivotal phase III randomized clinical trial of an injectable treatment for opioid dependency. Opioid addiction is a rapidly growing epidemic in America. In 2013, the twelve-month and lifetime prevalence of nonmedical prescription opioid use disorder according to the DSM-V were 0.9% and 2.1%, respectively.1 The death tolls from abuse of these substance has increased at an alarming rate. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with fatality rates from overdose exceeding 55,000 in 2015 alone.2 Opioid addiction accounts for a large portion of this toll, with more than 20,000 overdose deaths being related to prescription pain relievers and nearly 13,000 overdose deaths being related to heroin.3 Buprenorphine is an approved medication for treating adult patients with opioid use disorder and has shown much promise in its effectiveness.4 For the phase III randomized, double-blind, active-controlled, parallel group, multi-center, intervention trial, 428 adult patients with an opioid use disorder agreed to participate and were enrolled. The goals of this late phase study were to assess the safety and efficacy of weekly and monthly subcutaneous injections of buprenorphine (CAM2038) for treating adult outpatients with opioid use disorder. Analysis of the primary outcome data, though it has not yet been published, revealed that CAM2038 achieved statistical non-inferiority when compared to the daily sublingual buprenorphine/naloxone. Moreover, there were very few serious adverse events reported during the study and the two treatment groups demonstrated comparable safety profiles. A full analysis of the outcome data is expected to be released in April 2017. Given these significant findings, it is likely that CAM2038 injectable buprenorphine products will provide effective new solutions for both patients and physicians. This is particularly important in populations of patients with substance use disorders, given the well know difficulty with treatment compliance and their constantly evolving needs as they progress through the stages of recovery. In terms of buprenorphine, specifically, the current standard of care involves daily administration of sublingual buprenorphine. Findings from this study demonstrated that once-weekly and once-monthly CAM2038 injectable buprenorphine products are superior for treating adults with opioid use disorder and, together with another recently approved Probuphine 6-month buprenorphine implant, have the power to transform the current treatment for opioid addictions. Moreover, the FDA has been noted as granting an expedited designation to the CAM2038 subcutaneous injection application for release on the market.   References 1 Saha TD, Kerridge BT, Goldstein RB, Chou SP, Zhang H, Jung J et al. Nonmedical prescription opioid use disorder in the United States. J Clin Psychiatry. 2016;77(6):772-780. 2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2015 on CDC WONDER Online Database. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html. 3 National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug Facts: Heroin. 2014; Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed at http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin. 4 Stein BD, Sorbero M, Dick AW et al. Physician capacity to treat opioid use disorder with buprenorphine-assisted treatment. JAMA. 2016;316(11):1211-1212....

Opioid Abuse: Now A True Public Health Concern Within The US Pediatric Population   The use of opioids dates back to more than 2,300 years ago. Within the last twenty years, however, there have been significant increases in the number of prescriptions written for the drug.1 While there are many appropriate medical uses for opioid drugs, the increase in medical usage has been followed by an increase in cases of opioid abuse, addiction, and fatalities related to opioid toxicity.1,2   Adults are not the only ones affected by the recent opioid crisis. In fact, addiction researchers are now suggesting that the number of children and adolescents who are hospitalized due to an opioid overdose has more than doubled over the last 16 years.   In a study, recently published in JAMA, scientists conducted a retrospective analysis of hospital discharge records between the years of 1997 and 2012 from patients 1 to 19 years of age, who had been hospitalized due to a suspected opioid poisoning.3 For adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19, poisonings that were likely due to heroin were also identified.   Findings from this retrospective study revealed that, in 2012, 3.71 out of every 100,000 children aged 19 years and younger had been hospitalized for a primary opioid overdose. This was compared to the hospitalization rates in 1997, which revealed that 1.4 of every 100,000 children age 19 years and younger had been hospitalized for a primary opioid poisoning.3   The findings from adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 years were even more staggering. In this sample, hospitalization rates were 10.17 per 100,000 in 2012, compared to 3.69 per 100,000 in 1997. Nonetheless, the greatest spike in hospitalization rates due to opioid toxicity were found among children below the age of four. In this group, the rate of hospitalization was 2.62 per 100,000 in 2012, which was up from 0.86 per 100,000 in 1997.3   BETTER PREVENTION PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS IS KEY   The reasons behind pediatric abuse and misuse of opioid drugs is multifactorial.4 Among very young children, it is more likely that the child accidentally swallows their parent’s medication; however, among older children and adolescents, researchers suggest that opioid overdoses are more likely due to an underlying drug abuse problem or a suicide attempt. While this study has many limitations, it highlights a major epidemic in the US that needs to be addressed. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, more individuals died from drug overdoses than in any other year on record. Moreover, of these deaths, more than 6 in every 10 were found to be related to an opioid.5   Many suggest that opioid abuse will continue to be a persistent problem for our nation’s youth and it is believed that more prevention programs may be the best shot at helping our at-risk teens.     References 1 Gugelmann HM, Nelson LS. The prescription opioid epidemic: Repercussions on pediatric emergency medicine. Clin Pediatr Emerg Med. 2012;13(4):260-268. 2 Jones CM, Mack KA, Paulozzi LJ. Pharmaceutical overdose deaths, United States, 2010. JAMA. 2013;309(7):657-659. 3 Gaither JR, Leventhal JM, Ryan SA. National Trends in Hospitalizations for Opioid Poisonings Among Children and Adolescents, 1997 to 2012. JAMA. 2016;Epub ahead of print. 4 Compton WM, Volkow ND. Major increases in opioid analgesic abuse in the United States: Concerns and strategies. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2006;81(2):103-107. 5 Rudd RA, Aleshire N, Zibbell JE, Gladden RM. Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths – United States, 2000-2014. MMWR. 2016;64(50):1378-82....

For individuals recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, moment by moment tracking of their progress can be an essential component in their efforts towards sobriety. This population is one that the startup, pala·linq, is targeting to help with their new app, WeConnect. WeConnect offers a support platform, in app form, that features several functions that serve to support recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, including:   Regular notifications that are context-specific in order to promote open communication within support groups Personalized dashboard view that provides support for structuring daily activities that are the most beneficial for the recovering addict’s wellbeing, including regular reminders to engage in prayer or meditation Ongoing progress reports on attendance at recovery meetings, utilizing geofencing to discourage dishonest reporting   The app also features an “SOS” button that the addict may utilize during periods of feeling particularly down, low, hopeless/helpless, or just simply in need of urgent support. This “SOS” button instantly sends a message to pre-selected contacts requesting for them to reach out to the recovering addict for support.   The startup’s co-founder, Daniela Tudor, described that the purpose of developing WeConnect was to lessen the feeling of isolation that recovering addicts commonly struggle with, which is believed to be linked to high rates of relapse. Tudor actually developed the idea herself while in rehab for addiction. Following completion of her rehabilitation program, Tudor realized that she wanted a way to stay in contact with those who had supported her through the recovery program -- these were the people who she felt would be the ones to really help her stay on track once she left the program.   Rewards are also an important element of WeConnect. These rewards allow recovering addicts to earn things like coupons for coffee or free yoga sessions. Tudor emphasizes that they only offer rewards that will help the individual’s progress toward sobriety.   An important feature of WeConnect’s platform is its privacy. Unlike other, more socially-based, recovery- or wellness-support applications available, there is no way for users to search for other users. The only way to add a contact within the application itself is if the user has the person’s email and phone number. Even then, the WeConnect user must confirm that they would like them as part of their network. Tudor emphasizes that the app is compliant with all HIPAA regulations.   WeConnect also offers benefits to providers who are working with recovering addicts. The applications platform offers a feature that provides data on the recovering addict’s progress to individuals who are involved in their care during recovery.   At this time, WeConnect is in beta testing and many have begun using the app across inpatient rehabilitation and treatment centers in Arizona, California, and Washington. These teams are working together to collect data on the application and whether it can have beneficial impacts on relapse rates of those recovering from addiction. After that, the startup hopes to present their application to insurance companies....

The Obama Administration announced policy changes on July 6th, 2016 that will permit certain physicians to treat up to 275 patients suffering from opioid addiction with buprenorphine (Suboxone) [1,2]. This change is expected to be in place later this year. Under the current system, physicians that prescribe buprenorphine are only able to treat 100 patients in their practice [1].   Opioid addiction to drugs such as prescription painkillers, morphine, and heroin has become a global health issue that affects individuals regardless of health, social, or economic status [3]. Estimates have revealed that between 26.4 million and 36 million people around the world abuse opioids [3]. Estimates reveal that approximately 2.1 million people in the U.S. suffer from substance use disorders attributed to prescription opioid painkillers and another 467,000 individuals are addicted to heroin [3]. The effects of opioid addiction are overwhelming, with the number of unintentional deaths quadrupling since 1999 [3].   New Mexico, in particular, has the highest rate of unintentional drug over-dose deaths in the United States, with rates being almost double the national rate [4]. Many of these deaths occur in rural areas within the State that may not have sufficient treatment facilities, including Rio Arriba, Taos, and San Miguel. One of the main issues in New Mexico is getting more physicians certified in addiction treatment [1].   Treatment with buprenorphine has gained popularity over the past few years compared to its counterpart, Methadone. There is less stigma associated with buprenorphine use as it can be prescribed by a certified physician and the prescription can be filled at a pharmacy in sublingual film, as opposed to Methadone, that is administered in a Methadone clinic [5]. Other benefits of buprenorphine include a longer half-life and shorter titration period compared to Methadone. Buprenorphine helps to reduce cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms [5].   This policy change is a vital component to help fight the current opioid addiction epidemic in the U.S. [2]. President Obama is requesting that Congress pass the Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act to the tune of $1.16 billion. This act is set to expand treatment services, prescribing programs, drug monitoring programs and improve residential substance abuse treatment [1].   References   Rule change to let doctors treat more opioid addicts. The Santa Fe New Mexican. 2016. Available at: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/health_and_science/rule-change-to-let-doctors-treat-more-opioid-addicts/article_bc1a83c0-d3f3-5989-b7b1-76d4ea406492.html. Accessed August 10, 2016. Proposed patient limit raised to 275. ASAM applauds important action to help close addiction treatment gap. Asamorg. 2016. Available at: http://www.asam.org/magazine/read/article/2016/07/06/asam-applauds-important-action-to-help-close-addiction-treatment-gap.-proposed-patient-limit-raised-to-275. Accessed August 10, 2016. America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse. Drugabusegov. 2014. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse. Accessed August 10, 2016. Greenfield B, Owens M, Ley D. Opioid use in Albuquerque, New Mexico: a needs assessment of recent changes and treatment availability. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2014;9(1):10. doi:10.1186/1940-0640-9-10. Platt A. Suboxone: A Harm Reduction Approach. J Alcohol Drug Depend. 2014;02(05). doi:10.4172/2329-6488.1000e118.  ...

Increase in Naloxone For New Mexico Residents   A new law, signed by Gov. Susana Martinez, is allowing New Mexico pharmacists to dispense naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdose, without a prescription [1].   According to the State Department of Health, in the first quarter of 2016, pharmacists in New Mexico dispensed almost five times the amount of naloxone (Brand name: Narcan) as they did in the same quarter in 2015 [1]. From January 1, 2016 to March 31, 2016 thirty-five pharmacies submitted 285 claims to Medicaid for naloxone, which was increased from 59 claims during the same quarter in 2015 [1]. It should be noted that these thirty-five pharmacies only account for a small fraction of approximately 300 pharmacies statewide [1]. While the figures for naloxone claims are up, they still underwhelming compared to the 1.75 million opioid drug prescriptions that New Mexico physicians wrote in 2015 [1]   The new law intends to make naloxone available to anyone, including users of prescription opioids and those that may witness an opioid overdose. Dr. Michael Landen, State Epidemiologist, states that the goal is to have all pharmacies stock naloxone [1]. Pharmacies throughout the state are being encouraged to dispense naloxone to all patients with a prescription for opioids [1]. Additionally, the state is encouraging physicians to prescribe naloxone to all patients with an opioid prescription [1]   Deaths due to drug overdose have become a public health crisis in the United States [2] and New Mexico’s drug overdose death rate was the second highest in the country in 2014, with 536 New Mexico resident deaths being due to drug overdose, which was up 19% from the previous year [1]. Legal, prescription opioid medications were responsible for approximately 50% of the deaths, and 154 deaths were due to heroin overdose [1].   Administration of naloxone provides a means of preventing opioid-related deaths [3]. CVS and Walgreens pharmacies throughout New Mexico have recently announced their plan to stock and dispense naloxone. Further, some Albertsons and Smiths Food and Drug stores currently stock naloxone and the state is currently negotiating with Walmart to stock and dispense the drug. Preventing opioid-related deaths should become a primary focus of pharmacists throughout the country [3].     References   Uyttebrouck O. Updated: More NM residents get naloxone. Abqjournalcom. 2016. Available at: http://www.abqjournal.com/787112/pharmacists-giving-more-nm-residents-naloxone.html?utm_source=abqjournal.com&utm_medium=related+posts+-+crime&utm_campaign=related+pos. Accessed July 7, 2016. Wermeling D. Review of naloxone safety for opioid overdose: practical considerations for new technology and expanded public access. Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety. 2015;6(1):20-31. doi:10.1177/2042098614564776. Bailey A, Wermeling D. Naloxone for Opioid Overdose Prevention: Pharmacists' Role in Community-Based Practice Settings. Annals of Pharmacotherapy. 2014;48(5):601-606. doi:10.1177/1060028014523730. ...

According to officials in Minnesota, Prince’s death at the age of 57, on April 21st, 2016, was due to an opioid overdose. Prince’s autopsy was conducted by The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office and they reported that the superstar died from self-administered fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid painkiller [1].   The pathophysiology of an opioid overdose is the same regardless of whether the opioid was taken legally as a prescription medication or illegally on the street [2]. Heroin and prescription opioids, including oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, fentanyl and morphine, are classified as opioid receptor agonists, meaning they bind to opioid receptors in the pain pathways located in the spinal cord and brain. Additionally, they bind to the dopamine reward pathways in the brain producing euphoria and modifying reward circuit connections [2]. Due to the effect of opioid binding on the parts of the brain responsible for breathing, high doses can result in respiratory depression, and ultimately, death. A triad of signs and symptoms known as the “opioid overdose triad” can identify opioid overdose; this triad includes: pinpoint pupils, unconsciousness, and respiratory depression [3,4].   The risk of respiratory depression and death from opioid overdose is heightened in individuals that combine opioids with sedative medication and/or alcohol [3,4]. Further, if individuals combine opioids with a stimulant such as cocaine, the stimulant can mask the effects of the sedative and the individual may not realize that they’ve taken an overdose of opioids until the stimulant wears off, which can also lead to deadly breathing issues [1]. Another issue occurs with individuals who have gone through a period of abstinence, including those who were incarcerated or part of an in-patient detoxification treatment program. The period immediately following discharge from these facilities significantly increases the risk of fatal opioid overdose. The main reason for this is that these individuals use incorrect judgment with regard to dosing following the period of abstinence due to decreased opioid tolerance, resulting in fatal overdoses [4].   Fatal opioid overdose is a rapidly growing public health concern that can be combated through the use of naloxone, which is a safe and non-abusable substance that can reverse an opioid overdose once administered [4]. To reduce the number of opioid overdose fatalities, there has recently been a push to make naloxone more readily available to increase the chance of it being available when an individual overdoses, thereby helping to reduce the risk of death [1].   References Rettner R. Prince's Death: Why It's So Easy to Overdose on Painkillers. Live Science. 2016. Available at: http://www.livescience.com/54595-prince-death-prescription-opioids-lethal.html. Accessed June 15, 2016. Kathryn F. Hawk G. Focus: Addiction: Reducing Fatal Opioid Overdose: Prevention, Treatment and Harm Reduction Strategies. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 2015;88(3):235. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553643/. Accessed June 15, 2016. WHO | Information sheet on opioid overdose. Whoint. 2016. Available at: http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/information-sheet/en/. Accessed June 15, 2016. UNODC | Opioid overdose: preventing and reducing opioid overdose mortality. Discussion paper UNODC/WHO 2013. Available at: https://www.unodc.org/docs/treatment/overdose.pdf . Accessed June 15, 2016.    ...

In a White House weekly address, President Obama and the Grammy award winning artist, Macklemore, discussed the troubling issue of opioid addiction in the United States. Their address arrived on the same day that President Obama called on Congress to pass new funding in the amount of $1.1 billion to ensure that treatment is accessible for every American suffering with an opioid abuse disorder who wants it. Over the past 20 years, prescription opioid abuse and dependence have escalated rapidly and illicit use of opioids is now the fastest growing substance abuse issue in the US. Epidemiologic data from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 12.5 million Americans reported abusing prescription opioids, which was significantly increased from the reported 4.9 million in 1992. Deaths from overdoses now claim more lives each year than traffic accidents, and death from opioid abuse has tripled since 2000; and many of these deaths are from legal prescription medications that have been prescribed by physicians. Most overdose deaths result from respiratory suppression and loss of consciousness. However, most overdose deaths can be prevented if treatment that reverses symptoms is given within an acute time period. To this point, Obama and his administration are looking to expand recovery services, and give EMS the tools that they need to treat overdose before it’s too late. Talking about the issue isn’t sufficient, treatment needs to be available to those who need and want it. Obama mentioned that his administration is trying to reduce overdose deaths throughout the country and are working with law enforcement to get individuals into treatment programs, rather than jail. Further, Obamacare mandates that health plans in the marketplace must include treatment for addiction in their coverage. Another important point that Obama mentioned is that physicians need more training on the painkillers that they’re prescribing, including all of the risks that are involved with these medications. Pain management is a delicate science and is now front and center in the US as policy makers and healthcare providers attempt to decrease the negative effects that are associated with increased access to prescription opioids while, at the same time, ensure that pain is adequately treated. As Macklemore stated in the address, addiction doesn’t discriminate, it affects individuals without regard to race, sex, social status, or educational background - it can happen to anyone. To reduce the shame and stigma that is all too often associated with opioid addiction, the conversation of addiction needs to be made public so that those suffering with this disease seek treatment in time.   References Watch Barack Obama, Macklemore Discuss Opioid Addiction. Rolling Stone. 2016. Available at: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/watch-barack-obama-macklemore-discuss-opioid-addiction-20160514. Accessed May 27, 2016. Why We Need More Resources for the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic. whitehousegov. 2016. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/05/12/why-we-need-more-resources-prescription-opioid-and-heroin-epidemic. Accessed May 27, 2016. Bart G. Maintenance Medication for Opiate Addiction: The Foundation of Recovery. Journal of Addictive Diseases. 2012;31(3):207-225. doi:10.1080/10550887.2012.694598. Prescription Opioid Misuse, Abuse, and Treatment in the United States: An Update | American Journal of Psychiatry. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2016. Available at: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15020262. Accessed May 27, 2016. ...

In the latter part of 2015, Roswell City Councillor, Tabitha Denny, proposed the idea of an Outstanding Citizen Award to the city council, and council members approved it in early 2016. Each quarter, a committee comprised of city councillors and appointed city staff members consider all of the nominations for the award and selects an honoree. The inaugural award was presented to David Bugarin by Tabitha Denny at the city council meeting on April 14th, 2016. Mr. Bugarin was a deserving recipient of this award as he has demonstrated initiative, creativity, and excellence in his effort to enhance the quality of life for City of Rowell residents through his work at Recovery Services of New Mexico, as a licensed substance abuse and addictions counsellor. Prior to his work with Recovery Services of New Mexico, Mr. Bugarin had been in jail or prison for a total of seven years as the result of being involved in drugs, crime, and gangs. He then turned his life around and made the decision to live his life by following God; a decision that changed his life for the better. He now helps others break free of their opiate dependency to help them live better lives. In addition to his work as a substance abuse and addictions counsellor, Mr. Bugarin volunteers with various youth ministries and works with Wings for Life to counsel teens that are incarcerated at the Juvenile Detention Center in Chaves County. Further, he sits on the New Mexico Addictions Education Network board of directors and has acted as a volunteer at the Road Runner Food Bank. Tom Wildermuth, spokesperson for the City of Roswell, said that Mr. Bugarin ‘has a big heart when it comes to helping at-risk youths or anyone who needs a helping hand, whether their problem is relatively simple or requires a major life change.’ Any youth or adult may be nominated for the Outstanding Citizen Award, and must meet the following criteria Demonstrates creativity, excellence and initiative in the community to help residents improve their quality of life Inspires others to get involved in the community’s vision Devotes a significant amount of time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community Demonstrates integrity, loyalty, a positive attitude, dedication, and above and beyond service to the community If you want to nominate an individual for the Outstanding Citizen Award, the online nomination form can be found here: http://roswell-nm.gov/images/library/File/Roswell%20OCA%20Application(1).pdf References http://rdrnews.com/wordpress/blog/2016/04/15/city-council-honors-outstanding-citizen/ http://roswell-nm.gov/images/library/File/4-15-16%20oustanding%20citizen%20award%20bugarin.pdf...

An opioid epidemic exists in the US and the government is making it a priority. The FDA is partnering with a number of other government agencies to implement significant changes that it hopes will bring this epidemic under control. They are calling for tougher guidelines on how opioids are approved, labeled, and prescribed, and they are supporting the increased use of medications to help opioid addicted people quit - such as methadone, naloxone/naltrexone, and buprenorphine. Methadone is an opioid agonist and, for decades, has been the gold standard for helping people addicted to opiates wean themselves off of their opioid of choice. In previous decades, this drug of choice was nearly always heroin, but these days, it can be any number of things and prescription pain pill abuse is on the rise. The use of opioid agonist therapy, or OAT, helps patients manage cravings, eliminates symptoms of withdrawal, and reduces the need for opiates. And there are secondary public health benefits too. Weaning addicts off of injection drug use means fewer cases of dangerous infections, such as Hepatitis C and HIV. Although increasing numbers of physicians are being approved to prescribe buprenorphine, which has a somewhat more favorable safety profile than methadone, methadone is commonly and safely used in opioid treatment programs. Of all the OATs, methadone is by far the least expensive and most familiar. A recent study was done to look more closely at OAT utilization by Medicaid patients in states with three different funding situations: states with public funding for methadone, states with more restrictive grant funding for methadone, and states with no public funding. Not surprisingly, the difference funding made in the percentage of Medicaid patients accessing addiction treatment or OAT was astronomical: nearly 47% in states with publically funded programs, 27% in those with more restricted funding programs, and only 7% when there was no public funding. There is concern that the potential elimination of methadone funding, and the closing of some clinic programs--at a time when there aren't enough--will leave a significant number of opioid addicted/Medicaid insured essentially stranded. There is concern that states without methadone programs will see an overall drop in all OAT utilization and a corresponding increase in morbidity and mortality. The number of methadone treatment programs currently available is insufficient to meet the need, yet there is talk of pulling funding in some of the states with programs. Right now, seventeen states do not have a funding program and that number may go up. Buprenorphine is a covered benefit in every state, but it is typically handed out as a prescription, not administered in a clinic setting where there is a lot of patient support. It does not make sense that in a healthcare crisis of epidemic proportions, funding withdrawals may translate into the closure of addiction clinics that serve the low income population. Recovery Services is the largest and most effective opioid addiction treatment organization in New Mexico. We want to help and offer treatment for opioid addiction with methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Please contact us if you, or a loved one, are addicted to opioids. References   Saloner B, Stoller KB, Barry CL.Medicaid Coverage for Methadone Maintenance and Use of Opioid Agonist Therapy in Specialty Addiction Treatment. Psychiatry Serv. 2016 Feb 29:appips201500228. PMID: 26927578...

Opioids are very powerful pain relievers, but are also very addictive. They work by binding to a receptor in the central nervous system called the opioid receptor. When they act as analgesics, or cause euphoria, or have a sedating effect, they create a strong feeling that is perceived as positive or pleasurable. That is how addiction starts. It’s very subtle. According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US. In just one year, 2012-2013, the number of deaths from heroin overdoses jumped 39%. There were more than 47,000 lethal drug overdoses in 2014, and over 40% of these were related to opioids; nearly 19,000 related to prescription pain relievers, and another 10,574 related to heroin. Addiction to opioids is now responsible for more deaths than road fatalities, and it is the leading cause of injury deaths here in the US, where it has reached epidemic proportions. The rampant use of opioids as first line treatment for pain needs to be replaced with a more sensitive and strategic use of the full gamut of pain management tools. Education, both of physicians and the public, is required for this to be possible. Yesterday, President Obama spoke at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, publically calling attention to the crisis of opioid use and abuse in the US. The FDA is partnering with a number of other government agencies, and with a number of medical schools across the US, to implement significant changes that it hopes will bring this epidemic under control. They have recently called for tougher guidelines on how opioids are approved, labeled, and prescribed, including the addition of more detailed safety labeling. They are supporting the increased use of drugs designed to help opioid addicted people quit, such as naloxone and buprenorphine. They are encouraging the development of more abuse deterrent forms of opioids. A number of medical schools across the US will work to better educate the medical community on pain management options and on opioid prescribing, so that these potent and addictive drugs are not considered first line therapy as frequently as they have been. In concert with that, they are encouraging the use of alternative treatments for pain management as first line therapy. For those who are already dealing with an opioid addiction, treatment is vital. Recovery Services is the largest and most effective addiction treatment organization in New Mexico. We want to help. Please contact us if you, or a loved one, are addicted to opioids. References: White House, Office of the Press Secretary, March, 29, 2016. Obama Administration Announces Additional Actions to Address the Prescription Opioid Abuse and Heroin Epidemic 2. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/858411?src=wnl_tp10n_160310_mscpedit&uac=143016ST&impID=1017471&faf=1 Califf RM1, Woodcock J, Ostroff S. A Proactive Response to Prescription Opioid Abuse. N Engl J Med. 2016 Feb 4. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/opioid-prescribing http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal.html ...

Last month, a special FDA report on prescription opioid abuse appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine [1]. None of us want to be in pain, our physicians do not want us to be in pain; they, and we, do everything possible to mitigate it. Severe pain often calls for the big guns: oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, codeine, morphine. If our pain is acute, and short lived, these opioids work very well. But for those with chronic pain requiring long-term treatment, this pain management strategy can cause more harm than good, as these drugs are highly addictive.   Opioid abuse in the US is nearing epidemic proportions. Nearly 100 million Americans live with significant physical pain from injuries, illnesses, age-related usage problems and medical procedures. Short-term skillful use of opioids for pain management is not at issue, and 90% of these pain patients fall into the acute category. But for those with chronic pain, opioid use can evolve into abuse, almost without realizing it. The number of opioid prescriptions now written in the US per year is nearly equal to the number of adults in the US population; a staggering statistic [2]. In 2014, there were nearly 19,000 deaths from opioid overdoses, which is higher than the annual number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents [3]. There must be a more sustainable, non-addictive way to treat chronic pain, for every patient, regardless of age.  Certainly, non-addictive drugs such as Neurontin, Lyrica, Savella, Cymbalta, even nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are an option for some people; but these are not always effective and can have side effects, sometimes significant ones. Developing more effective, safer therapies for pain management should be a priority. Chronic pain management is a complex problem that requires complex, out of the box, solutions. These take time to figure out. Physician and patient education can help the doctor patient team to create more robust pain management strategies. Over the last decade, non-pharmacologic pain management strategies have become more widely used to treat chronic pain. Unfortunately, opioids are still widely prescribed, and due to their addictive properties, are often abused, leaving patients in a worse situation than at beginning. There are, however, professionals that can help individuals overcome their opioid addiction. Recovery Services is the largest, most effective addiction treatment organization in the State of New Mexico. Contact us today to see how we can help you or your loved one overcome their opioid addiction. Pain management is a complex problem, but we need not die from it.   References Califf RM1, Woodcock J, Ostroff S. A Proactive Response to Prescription Opioid Abuse. N Engl J Med. 2016 Feb 4. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/opioid-prescribing http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal.html ...

In this short but staggering article released by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, the latest CDC data showing continued increase in US drug overdose death rates are discussed.  The leading drugs for these deaths are unequivocally opiate and opioid, underscoring the need for expanded medication assisted treatment using methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Click Here for the HHS Article Click Here for the CDC raw Data Recovery Services has been, and will continue to be, dedicated to fighting our Nation's drug overdose epidemic through medication assisted treatment, meaningful behavioral health services, community outreach, and legislative support....

In this concise and direct piece, NM district 28 Senator Howie C. Morales defends the NM Medicaid Expansion and sheds light on the many ways that it positively affects our State:Click Here for StoryRecovery Services of New Mexico is a strong supporter of NM Medicaid and its expansion to cover addiction and behavioral health services. Without this option for insurance coverage, many tens of thousands of New Mexicans would be unable to seek treatment to help them improve their lives, rebuild their families, and strengthen our communities. ...

  Opioid drug abuse, particularly heroin and prescription painkiller abuse, has become an increasing problem in the United States in recent years. This week, the ever-growing corpus of evidence supporting this claim was bolstered by a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report which revealed startling data for the United States and for New Mexico. Findings indicate that rates of heroin use and fatal overdose deaths are rising, especially among young adults and the poor. In the 18-25 age group, use rates doubled. From 2002-2013, heroin-related overdose deaths rose an alarming 286%. Following a two-year lull, heroin overdose deaths in New Mexico resurged in 2014. New Mexico State Department of Health spokesman Kenny Vigil stated that drug overdose deaths in New Mexico saw a “substantial increase” in 2014.   How can we explain such disturbing trends? According to Harris Silver, a retired physician and co-chair of the Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative, the rising heroin use rates are directly related to rising rates in prescription opioids.   The State’s Prescription Monitoring Program has helped to increase safety related to prescription drugs, yet efforts to curb prescription drug abuse sometimes have unintended consequences. Once the monitoring program identifies individuals who are doctor shopping, misusing, or overusing medications, they are cut off from the drugs. These individuals, now unable to legitimately obtain prescription painkillers and drug-dependent, often resort to a seemingly superior alternative: heroin. Cheaper than prescription painkillers, widely available, and potent, heroin has become the pressure-release valve for many people suffering from opioid drug dependence.   According to experts, treatment options for opioid dependence are scarce and hard to access. This is a serious problem, as treatment represents an important tool in the fight against drug addiction. Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration indicate that for every public dollar spent on treatment, twelve dollars are saved which would otherwise be funneled into criminal justice and medical services.   Untreated addictions have a far-reaching array of societal consequences. In 2011, Santa Fe Police Captain Jerome Sanchez worked in the city’s Property Crimes Unit. Commenting on the trends he noticed, he stated: “Burglaries, auto theft, shoplifting, they were all going through the roof. And every single person we arrested that year was an addict.” He indicated that individuals involved in these crimes were in serious need of treatment and wanted help.   Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales stated that “this is a health issue that needs to be addressed, not a criminal issue, and the sooner we as a country realize that, the better off we’ll all be.” Reallocating resources toward treatment and prevention, rather than criminal justice and incarceration, represents the wisest course of action regarding substance abuse....

Our Country’s military service members endure great challenges and stresses during their careers and after they exit active service. Military operations in recent years have led to a spike in combat exposure, injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse. Veterans are often returning home sore, injured, traumatized, and in need of rehabilitation. In this article we will briefly explore the nature of drug abuse within our military and discuss the treatment gaps that exist in the military health care paradigm.   The Nature of the Problem There are marked differences in the nature of drug abuse within the military compared to the civilian population. The strains of wartime deployment and the unique military culture account for some of these differences. Although rates of illegal substance use are lower among military personnel than among civilians, prescription drug and alcohol use are higher. Considering the military’s zero tolerance policies, the high stigma associated with illegal drugs in the military, and the propensity for service members to sustain serious injuries, these trends make sense.     Rates of prescription drug abuse have increased dramatically over the past thirteen years. From 2002 to 2005, prescription drug abuse doubled amongst U.S. military service members and nearly tripled between 2005 and 2008. Additionally, military personnel have substantially higher rates of prescription drug abuse than civilians. In 2008, a survey revealed that 11% of service members reported prescription drug abuse compared to only 5% among the civilian population.   Unique Treatment Challenges Many service members feel they must remain stoic and not talk about their problems. For some of these individuals, relief can be found in alcohol or other substances. Military personnel receiving opioid pain medications for injury often find that these drugs provide a kind of psychic relief as well. What begins as a legitimate need may become its own beast – an addiction to opioid pain medications.     Active military personnel suffering from substance abuse disorders are in a disadvantageous position with regard to treatment. There are numerous shortcomings in the substance abuse treatment infrastructure within our military. Most prominent among these shortcomings are a lack of professionals trained to handle the immensity of military drug addiction, a lack of confidentiality for patients, and a military culture which stigmatizes addiction and evokes fear in affected individuals.   A 2012 report conducted by the Institute of Medicine recommended various means of addressing military substance abuse, including increasing the use of evidence-based preventions and treatments, expanding access to care, increasing confidentiality, and shifting the cultural climate to mitigate stigma and fear.     Recently, some changes have been implemented to address the growing problem. The Department of Defense has mandated increased prescription drug monitoring and restrictions on their use. Access to alternative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, and counseling has been increased. Despite these changes, many service members are not receiving the treatment they require. Much work remains to be done in order to adequately serve those who serve us....

  Drug abuse and addiction takes a severe toll on the body, mind, and spirit of an individual. Over time, one may become consumed with drug use and drug seeking to the exclusion of all else. Proper diet and adequate sleep may seem like foreign concepts. Activities which used to be enjoyable sound boring or pointless. Isolation, self-centeredness, and unhealthy living become the norm. Difficulties lie along the road to long-term recovery. Once an addict stops using, life does not suddenly become perfect. Each individual’s path to recovery looks different, but one valuable tool most recovering addicts can benefit from is regular physical exercise. Stress and Anxiety Relief Exercising taxes the body and may even cause some discomfort. In response to this hardship, the body releases endorphins – chemicals produced by the central nervous system which, in part, mimic the effects of opioids such as morphine. Through endorphins, the stress of exercise is diminished, and we feel a sense of well-being and happiness. This phenomenon is responsible for the “runner’s high” many experience as a result of working out. While exercising, we are focused on the physical task at hand instead of the anxieties and problems of our lives. Channeling mental resources into focused exercise is a great way to expend energy that could otherwise manifest in an unhealthy manner. Many of us consider quiet meditation difficult, finding that our minds race or dwell on whatever issues we are experiencing. However, exercise can be a form of meditation. It may be easier to devote oneself to a physical activity and temporarily suspend inner tensions. Goal Setting and Feelings of Accomplishment Proper exercise strikes a balance between challenge and safety – we should push ourselves to improve without injury. Accomplishing this takes some discipline. Strapping on running shoes and hitting the pavement in an unstructured manner is unwise and potentially unsafe. Goal-setting and progress tracking are two important aspects of a well-structured exercise program. Over time, a natural consequence of exercise should be a steady improvement in our physical abilities. Using our present skill level as a starting point, we increase our exercise difficulty slowly. Keeping an exercise journal is a great way to objectively assess one’s training. After some time, we can look back on our records and see progress. The self-discipline necessary to maintain progress in an exercise schedule teaches valuable skills to addicts in recovery and provides a great feeling of accomplishment. Exercising then becomes a positive habit, leading to improved self-esteem, confidence, and optimistic thinking. Rediscovering Healthy Fun and Forming New Social Networks Early in recovery, it can feel like we will never have fun again. How can we enjoy ourselves without our drugs and partying? What should we do with all this new free time? Transitioning from a life centered on drug use to a balanced life full of healthy activities can be a difficult process. The improvements in mood and health provided by exercise greatly assist in the appreciation of daily life. Getting out and being active is a great way to start enjoying ourselves again. Finding friends to exercise with keeps us motivated to be healthy and provides new social outlets. Whether you are in recovery from addiction or not, do yourself a favor and get moving! ...

Implications of Inadequate Methadone Treatment Policy in Jails   The United States currently has the largest prison population in the world. As a result of “tough on crime” laws enacted in the 1980s, substantial portions of the U.S. population have entered the criminal justice system, and many of these are nonviolent drug offenders. Our society has an important stake in the outcome of incarceration and the rehabilitation of these individuals. Most incarcerated people will re-enter society at some point and it is imperative that we assess the efficacy of our criminal justice policies.     Methadone Maintenance Treatment and Jails   Methadone, an opioid replacement medication, has long been used to stabilize opiate-dependent individuals. Instead of spending time chasing down drugs and possibly engaging in criminal behavior, patients undergoing methadone maintenance treatment receive a safe daily dose of methadone tailored to their level of dependence. When properly utilized, methadone maintenance therapy enables patients to engage in other therapies and live life more normally.   But what happens if such a patient has a run-in with the law? A recent study in Rhode Island revealed some important information regarding methadone maintenance therapy and incarceration. The results of the study have important implications for U.S. policy and for our society at large.   According to Professor Josiah D. Rich, M.D., ninety percent of patients undergoing methadone maintenance therapy are forced into immediate withdrawal upon incarceration. This abrupt treatment cessation has serious consequences, starting with a difficult, and sometimes painful, florid opioid withdrawal.   While on methadone, patients maintain a stable level of opiate tolerance. During incarceration, this tolerance diminishes greatly without access to methadone. Decreased tolerance to opioids leads to a high risk of overdose death upon release. Meaning, when these individuals regain freedom, returning to a customary dose of drugs can prove fatal. Periods after incarceration can represent the highest potential for death in an opioid-dependent person’s disease trajectory.   The Rhode Island study also found that methadone cessation in jail resulted in substantial disruptions in treatment upon release. Almost half of the individuals unable to receive methadone treatment in jail did not return to methadone treatments upon release. Of those receiving methadone in jail, almost all continued their treatment upon release.     What To Do?   The current healthcare paradigm in jails and prisons in the United States needs revision. Unlike the free world, there is no holistic oversight of healthcare behind bars. In the case of methadone, individuals entering the criminal justice system are being removed from legitimate pharmacological therapy.   This is a serious public health issue: inconsistencies and inadequacies in jailhouse healthcare lead to perpetuation of crime, drug use, and transmission of infectious disease. This recent study provides evidence that in-jail methadone treatment greatly improves the likelihood that patients will remain in therapy post-release. Such individuals are less likely to die of overdose, engage in criminal behavior, and contract HIV, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne illnesses.   Policies supporting the use of methadone maintenance therapy in jails and prisons should be advocated. Additionally, institutions can mitigate harms by educating inmates prior to release. Inmates and their families should be informed about the risks of overdose death, issues of drug tolerance, and how to intervene if an overdose occurs.     Recovery Services of New Mexico solely developed, and has successfully executed for over 5 years, the State's first and only methadone maintenance program inside a correctional facility. For Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center, inmates who enter while enrolled in community methadone treatment will continue to receive treatment while they are incarcerated. We believe strongly in this program, fought hard for its existence, and will work to provide the ongoing efficacious treatment. Please see our webpage HERE to read about our program and the University of New Mexico study proving its effectiveness.   Reference: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)62338-2/fulltext ...

An Issue on the Rise When people think about “drug abuse,” their mind usually conjures images of young people partying, working adults juggling addiction and their career, or those involved in criminal behavior. While it is true that illicit street drug use is more prevalent in younger individuals, prescription drug abuse, misuse, and dependency within the elderly population is a growing concern.   As of 2012, individuals aged 65 and older represented approximately 13% of the total US population. However, this same group accounted for 33% of all prescription medications prescribed. This is natural, considering the many illnesses that often accompany advanced age. However, polypharmacy is associated dosing mix-ups, greater risk of dependency, and potential abuse. Furthermore, decreased liver function, memory deficits, and mental illness also potentially contribute to these prescription drug problems. Elderly individuals require close monitoring to ensure their medications are appropriate and that dosing instructions are being followed.   Many different behaviors can constitute prescription drug abuse. An individual might take more medication than required, take their medication at improper times, or mix their medications with alcohol or other drugs. Some classes of drugs which carry an increased abuse potential include anti-anxiety medications, pain medications, and sleep aid medications. Many of these medications may produce feelings of euphoria, a side effect that can initiate or potentiate misuse.   Changing Demographics The elderly population is expected to increase dramatically as the “baby boomer” generation ages, and corresponding increases in prescription drug abuse are anticipated. While many have commented that the "World War II generation" generally avoids taking medications, this trend does not necessarily hold true for their offspring. The baby boomer generation is somewhat characterized by a different set of values and cultural norms than their parents. Illicit drug use was ubiquitous during part of this generation's formative years in the 1960s & 1970's, and baby boomers are generally more willing to take substances.   Practical Issues Well-meaning friends and family members represent one common means of inappropriately obtaining prescription drugs. Many of our medicine cabinets contain unused pain medication and other prescriptions. It may seem harmless, even altruistic, to share medicine with a suffering friend or family member. However, this practice is very dangerous; prescriptions are tailored to suit individual need, and one's prescribed medication could be life threatening to another person. Moreover, sharing prescription medications is prohibited under federal and state law.   Managing pain and illness in the elderly population can be a tough balancing act. Many prescription drugs have a high potential for abuse and medication misuse is a growing trend. Although we should avoid baseless paranoia and suspicion of our loved ones, a few behaviors represent red flags for prescription abuse: Using multiple doctors and/or pharmacies for the same medication Taking more medication than required or more often than required Abrupt mood changes Frequently talking about a medicine Reacting in a defensive manner when asked about medicines Hording or stockpiling medicines Hiding medicines If you or someone you love is misusing medications, please reach out to find a treatment center or addiction professional in your area. Recovery Services of New Mexico is committed to addressing this troubling trend and is available for treatment or referral.  ...

 Opioid drugs represent the second most prevalent type abused nationally. These substances possess significant pain relieving properties and often cause euphoria. Physical and psychological dependence on these substances is a well-established risk and the misery of opioid withdrawal has become part of our collective consciousness.In response to suspected rises in opioid use, the City of Albuquerque recently commissioned researchers to assess local trends in drug use and treatment. The results are in: opioid use is increasing – both in adults and youth. This rise in opioid use also means an unfortunate rise in corresponding overdose deaths, joblessness, family problems, and crime. In this article we’ll explore the current state of affairs and recommendations for the future.A Deadly HabitOpioid drug abuse poses great risk to the user due to the possibility of fatal respiratory depression (reduced breathing) at high doses. At double the national rate, New Mexico holds the inauspicious top rank for drug overdose deaths by an enormous margin. Heroin and prescription opioids account for almost three quarters of these deaths. Younger individuals in our community have increasingly high rates of opioid use and youth represent the fastest-growing sector of the opioid-using population. In 2001, New Mexican high school students were more likely to have used heroin compared to students in other states. Bernalillo County statistics reveal that from 2002 – 2004, people between ages 18 and 25 had much higher rates of prescription painkiller abuse than older age segments. As a proportion of statewide heroin-related overdoses, deaths in the youth increased more than fivefold since 2004.One interview respondent stated that “We are sitting on a new epidemic of young people. They start out with pills and then switch to heroin, and it is a struggle to get them into therapy.” It is common for users to begin with prescription painkillers and then transition to using heroin because heroin is cheaper and widely available.Good Help is Hard to FindThe study also indicates that the New Mexico substance abuse treatment infrastructure has some serious problems. There is a severe shortage of counseling services, medical care, treatment facilities, and medication support for opioid-dependent patients. A study respondent reported that “It is a struggle to find consistent counseling, and there are no efforts to increase availability.”Considering the alarming increases of opioid use in the youngest populations, one would hope that treatment options for young people were plentiful. However, Albuquerque currently has precious few facilities willing to accept minors and none which are equipped to handle minors undergoing opioid withdrawal.Local treatment providers also cite a lack of education as a problem. Both treatment professionals and the community at large would benefit from increased awareness. Proliferation of information about prevention, intervention, overdose treatment, and medications available to assist drug-dependent individuals is necessary.Taking ActionConsidering the prevalence of opioid use and the lack of necessary support systems, researchers recommend some changes. Important changes fall into one of these categories:Curb prescription drug abuse before users move on to heroinBolster prevention efforts in the youthEstablish more treatment programs, especially those which accommodate youthIncentivize buprenorphine treatments and publicize information about buprenorphine treatment availabilityOur PledgeRecovery Services of New Mexico is committed to the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction in our State, as well as education and community outreach. Please check out our website to get involved! ReferencesGreenfield, B. L., Owens, M. D., & Ley, D. (2014). Opioid use in Albuquerque, New Mexico: a needs assessment of recent changes and treatment availability. Addiction science & clinical practice, 9(1), 1-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4070335/.  ©Recovery Services of New Mexico Blog. 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this original content without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the Recovery Services of New Mexico Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content....

Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), a local nonprofit organization, hosted their third annual charity golf tournament this last weekend.  It was a superb event hosted at the University of New Mexico South Championship Golf Course.  The turnout was great and it was a big success for their tremendous organization! Recovery Services of New Mexico sponsored the event and came in First place for the second year in a row! We greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in this fun and meaningful event, and look forward to playing again next year! For more information about HAC, please visit their websites and facebook page: Healing Addiction in Our Community Website Healing Addiction in Our Community Golf Tournament Website Healing Addiction in Our Community Facebook ...

Recovery Services is in full support of the NM HSD and DOH naloxone program and we applaud their achievement in expanding Medicaid to cover prescriptions for the medication and the delivery device.New Mexico has the second highest opioid overdose death rate in the US and we feel that this naloxone initiative is a major step towards combating this problem.For this reason, Recovery Services is now the first OTP in the State of New Mexico to institute a large-scale organization-wide naloxone program for its patients.  Multiple members of our staff have completed the DOH naloxone training program and we have distributed prescriptions for this life saving medication with use instructions to hundreds and hundreds of at-risk New Mexicans.Our hope is that increased awareness alongside naloxone can work to save lives in our community!For more information:What is Naloxone?DOH NewsABQ Journal...

Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), a local nonprofit organization, hosted their second annual charity golf tournament this last weekend.  It was a superb event hosted at the University of New Mexico South Championship Golf Course.  The turnout was great and it was a big success for their tremendous organization! Recovery Services of New Mexico sponsored two teams and came away with First place!We greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in this fun and meaningful event, and look forward to playing again next year!For more information about HAC, please visit their website and facebook page:Healing Addiction in our Community                     HAC Facebook...

We are very proud to announce that the newest addition to the Recovery Services treatment organization is now open and accepting patients!!  1235 Wyoming Boulevard NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87110Phone: 505-717-2397   /   Fax: 505-717-2498  Our new clinic offers Suboxone, Addiction Counseling, Addiction Psychiatry, and Addiction Medicine.  We do not dispense methadone at this location, however please see our website for our other clinics that do offer that service.   We currently have multiple Physicians with openings in their Suboxone panel - please call soon, as we are filling up very quickly!...

Earlier this year, our Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program (MMT) at Bernalillo County's Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) was in the news. At that time, there was debate over the need for such a program and the County Commissioners contemplated stopping the program completely. However, given strong outcry from the public and experts in the field of addiction medicine, the program was continued. Additionally, the Commissioners requested a scientific study be done to investigate the effectiveness of the MDC methadone program. UNM was asked to complete this study and they have now done so, reporting their findings at the County Commissioners meeting on 12/10/13.The study, completed under UNM PhD's, was an in depth look into both the published scientific research regarding methadone treatment for inmates, as well as the effectiveness of the program run by Recovery Services of New Mexico at MDC. They have solidly proven that the MMT program at MDC is a much needed entity that not only benefits those addicted to opioids but also our society. Funding has always been a battle for the MDC MMT, however this study clearly demonstrates that continuing the program actually saves the county money through decreased rearrests of MMT patients.These findings were very well received by the Commissioners and a motion to continue the program under Recovery Services of New Mexico was proposed and unanimously passed.All in all, we are very pleased with the findings of the study and proud of what Recovery Services of New Mexico has accomplished with the MMT at MDC. It has been an arduous process keeping the program alive and we hope this study gives the necessary push needed to make it a solid fixture. We look forward to continuing the MMT program at MDC as we strongly believe it is the right thing to do for opiate addicted patients and for our society. Please read the study for yourself: Click Here...

Recovery Services of New Mexico was founded in 2003 with the goal of treating opiate addiction in New Mexico.  Through dedication to a patient-centered approach, strict adherence to proven treatment principles, ethical business conduct, and community outreach, Recovery Services has grown to become the largest and most effective treatment organization of its type within the State of New Mexico.Thousands of opiate addicted New Mexicans have received, and continue to receive, treatment through Recovery Services. However, many more have yet to enter treatment for their addiction and begin on the road to recovery for themselves, their families, and our community.  We invite anyone with concerns about opiate addiction in themselves or another to contact us to begin the process of moving towards a brighter future....