Utah’s Opioid Crisis Took Center Stage at Ogden Summit

December 30, 2016

The data surrounding prescription opioid abuse in Utah is staggering.

The Beehive State was fourth in the nation for prescription opioid overdose deaths between 2012 and 2014, according to the Utah Department of Health. In 2014, an average of 24 Utah adults died every month as a result of prescription opioid overdoses.

Drug poisoning is the leading cause of death in Utah — more deadly than falls, car crashes and gun deaths.rx

And to compound things, there are more than 7,000 opioid prescriptions filled in Utah every day, and physical dependence on those prescriptions can occur within seven days of use.

The Weber County-sponsored Utah Prevention Summit, held at the Ogden Eccles Conference Center, highlighted substance abuse prevention services in Utah and included a presentation on the state’s opioid crisis.

Friday’s summit also featured presentations from East Coast substance abuse experts Dr. Gil Botvin and Kat Allen.

Dr. Botvin is the developer of a student tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse prevention program called Life Skills Training. He spoke Friday about the importance of rigorously tested, evidence-based prevention programs.

Botvin said it’s necessary to go beyond just teaching information and principles about the dangers of drug abuse. He says students must learn skills related to resisting social pressure, developing self-confidence, coping with stress and anxiety, and increasing knowledge of the immediate consequences of substance abuse.

Delaware to Launch Addiction Prevention Campaign in 2017

December 28, 2016

Drugs EcstacyDelaware ranks No. 1 for the rate at which doctors prescribe high-dose opioids compared to the rest of the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s a statistic that is both alarming to state officials and indicative of a larger problem in Delaware, where more than 100 people continue to die of drug overdoses each year.

It’s also one of the many reasons the state Division of Public Health will launch a $250,000 educational community outreach campaign in early 2017 aimed at prescribers, residents and the community at large to fight opioid addiction on the front lines.

The state Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, which the Division of Public Health works closely with, will also use just over $2 million per year for the next two years in federal grants to work on primary prevention and education regarding the misuse of prescription drugs, according to the state.

Drug overdose deaths have continued to grow, and experts openly denounce “scared straight” tactics often used in this programming. The state is actively reviewing “LifeSkills Training,” a school-based program delivered over 3 years that is considered an evidence-based approach to educating and preventing addiction. The program was also cited in the Surgeon General’s report released last month.

This education is imperative, as 90 Delawareans have died of fentanyl overdoses in the first nine months of the year. That doesn’t include the numerous others who have died of fatal heroin overdoses and the hundreds who have been jailed for dealing and using drugs.

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Senate Passes Legislation to Reauthorize STOP Act, Provide $1 Billion for Combating Opioid Crisis

December 8, 2016

The U.S. Senate has just voted in an overwhelming fashion to pass the 21 st Century Cures Act, a landmark piece of legislation that includes a reauthorization of the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking (STOP) Act and provides $1 billion over two years for grants to states to tackle the opioid crisis in a comprehensive manner that includes prevention strategies. The bill will now go to the President’s desk, where he has already indicated that he will sign it into law.

The 21 st Century Cures Act includes $1 billion over two years for grants to States to tackle the opioid crisis in a comprehensive manner that specifically includes prevention, treatment, Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP), and prescriber training. Prevention is a necessary and critical component of any comprehensive response to the opioids crisis, and these grants will be immensely helpful for States to tackle their local overdose emergencies.

Schools Ramping Up Opioid Abuse Program – WSJ

December 2, 2016

Many U.S. schools are ramping up campaigns to prevent opioid abuse among students as evidence mounts of a growing problem.

In some regions, schools are teaching a substance-abuse-prevention program developed at Cornell University to students as young as fourth grade.

Dr. Botvin Keynotes International Congress in Barcelona

November 29, 2016

Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin delivered the keynote address at the 2nd International Congress of Clinical and Health Psychology on Children and Adolescents on November 17, 2016, in Barcelona. More than 700 participants from 50 countries gathered for the scientific meeting hosted by AITANA, a research group from the Department of Health Psychology at Miguel Hernández University in Elche, Spain.


Clinical and health psychologists from all over the world learned what makes the Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) program the top-rated prevention program in the United States.  Dr. Botvin, professor emeritus at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College, is an internationally renowned prevention expert and developer of the highly acclaimed LST substance abuse and violence prevention program.

In his keynote, Dr. Botvin described the LST prevention approach, explained its theory, and summarized over 30 years of rigorous research documenting its effectiveness. He also discussed the unique benefits of LST as a method for preventing multiple problems—such as alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug abuse, as well as opioid misuse, violence, and delinquency—using a single prevention approach.  The centerpiece of the LST strategy is a curriculum designed to be taught by classroom teachers, health educators, prevention specialists, or student peer leaders.

“It was a great honor and privilege to visit Barcelona and participate in a conference committed to improving the health and well-being of the world youth,” said Dr. Botvin. “I also want to commend AITANA for their support of the conference and dedication to life skills education.”

Prescription Drug Abuse: Sharing Is Not Caring

July 26, 2016

A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that nearly 60 percent of Americans have opioid painkillers that they no longer use. Within this group, 20 percent of participants stated they shared their opioid painkillers with another person.

Those who shared their medication reported that the primary reason for doing so was to help the other person manage their pain. The second most reported reason was because the person asking for the medication did not have the money to pay for the medication or did not have health insurance.

Possession of opioids by people other than the patients to whom they were prescribed is a growing problem, because misusing prescription medication is both physically harmful and illegal.

Because prescription medication is widely used for the treatment of an array of illnesses and disorders, many Americans do not see a problem with sharing their prescription medication to help their friends and family. In an article in the Washington Post, Johns-Hopkins professor Colleen L. Barry calls for a change of public opinion, stating that it is crucial that officials send “a clear-cut public health message that these medications should never be shared in any circumstance.”

The amount of prescription drug abuse is on the rise, especially among adolescents. In a study published by University of Central Florida professor Jason A. Ford, Ph.D., 22 percent of high school students reported nonmedical use of prescription drugs at some point in their lifetime, with 15 percent reporting nonmedical prescription drug abuse within the last year.

Researchers at National Health Promotion Associates are working to develop a Middle School Prescription Drug Abuse program. The program, based on their LifeSkills Training program, aims to prevent drug use by teaching adolescents to use personal self-management skills, social competency skills, and drug refusal skills.  Developers of the program hope to see reductions in abuse by raising awareness at an early age of the potential harm that can come from sharing prescription drugs and providing the tools needed to increase resilience and stimulate personal growth.

The Food and Drug Administration lists proper disposal techniques as one way  of preventing nonmedical prescription drug abuse. To dispose of unused prescription drugs, drop them off at an authorized collector in your community. You can find authorized collectors in your community by calling your local law-enforcement agency or doing an Internet search to locate prescription drug take-back programs.

Sources: DrugFree.org, The Washington Post, Jama Internal Medicine, The Prevention Researcher

Writer: Brooke Dugan is a rising senior majoring in Psychology and Communication at Loyola University Maryland.  

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