Bringing news concerning the opioid and alcohol epidemic.

Border Agents Arrest Woman Smuggling Fentanyl in Rectal Cavity at Texas-Mexico Border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at El Paso area ports of entry seized 87 pounds of fentanyl, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine in a 72 hour period.

On June 6, officers working at the Ysleta border arrested a 34-year-old woman after she admitted to carrying narcotics on her body and voluntarily removed two bundles filled with blue fentanyl pills from her rectal cavity. A 28-year-old man who was with her was also arrested when officers found another bag full of the same pills inside their car. A total of .44 pounds of fentanyl was seized from the pair.

“The smuggling threat remains consistent and CBP officers continue to identify and stop significant drug loads on a daily basis,” said CBP El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector A. Mancha. “Every drug load that is stopped represents a substantial financial setback for the smuggling organizations who are attempting to introduce these dangerous items into our community.”

On June 7, officers working at the Paso Del Norte border crossing intercepted 36.4 pounds of cocaine from an 18-year-old U.S. citizen. He allegedly hid multiple bundles within his car that a canine alerted on.

(Via: CBS)

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Michael Keaton Dedicates ‘Dopesick’ SAG Award to Nephew Who Died from Addiction

Actor Michael Keaton was late to the stage when accepting his Screen Actor’s Guild Award, but once he was there, he made his time count.

Keaton, who won the award for his role in “Dopesick,” Hulu’s compelling recounting of the rise of opioid addiction in America, gave an impassioned speech in which he expressed his appreciation for the craft of acting and the ability to tell stories that can “improve someone’s life.”

“I’m the most fortunate person,” said Keaton, who was late to the stage after taking an ill-timed bathroom break.

Through tears, Keaton dedicated his award to his sister, Pam, and nephew, Michael, who died in 2016 following a battle with drug addiction, he said.

(Via: CNN)

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Man Who Sourced Fentanyl-Laced Pills that Killed Rapper Mac Miller Gets 11 Years

A man who admitted to handing over the fake pharmaceutical pills that killed Grammy nominated rapper Mac Miller received a federal prison sentence of nearly 11 years, according to court documents.

Ryan Michael Reavis, 39, pleaded guilty on 30 November 2021 to one count of distributing fentanyl, as one of three men charged in connection with the 2018 death of the musician, whose real name was Malcolm McCormick.

A judge in US district court in Los Angeles on Monday sentenced Reavis to 10 years and 11 months in prison, case records show.

(Via: The Guardian)

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‘Completely Devastating’: US Passes 1m Overdose Deaths Since Records Began

2021 was a record year for overdose deaths with an estimated 107,622, CDC says, an increase of 15% from the previous year.

Trevor Foster, 26, loved the Cowboys, the Yankees, fishing, animals and above all his daughter.

Jarod Galloway, 21, wanted people to be the best version of themselves, and his niece was his favorite human.

Taylor Miller, 27, was a nursing student and a staunch supporter of anyone in recovery.

Michael Stabile, 15, was ending his freshman year with great grades and a promotion at the restaurant where he worked.

Jared Tyler Olvera, 20, always befriended the new kids at school.

Jordan Humphrey, 21, loved sneakers, cars and his family, who loved him “as big as the sky”.

All were among US overdose deaths in 2021, a record year for such fatalities with an estimated 107,622, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday.

(Via: The Guardian)

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CBP Officers Seize More than $330K in Fentanyl at Hidalgo International Bridge in Texas

US Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted about $339,300 worth of suspected fentanyl at the Hidalgo International Bridge in Texas this week, according to a CBP news release.

A vehicle attempted to make entry into the United States from Mexico Wednesday, but was selected for inspection, the release said. Through the inspection, officers found nine packages weighing 22 pounds of alleged fentanyl.

The Hidalgo International Bridge connects the southern border of Texas to Mexico. The case is under investigation by special agents with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations, the release said.

An approved painkiller, Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid trafficked principally by land across the US-Mexico border. It is up to 100 times as powerful as morphine and can be found in what is sold as heroine — sometimes taking its place entirely, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

(Via: CNN)

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Victims of Opioid Crisis Confront Owners of OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma

Victims of opioid abuse and their families on Thursday confronted members of the family behind OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, recounting their immeasurable loss and pain caused by the highly addictive painkillers.

The emotional hearing came one day after a US bankruptcy judge approved a settlement that requires Purdue Pharma and the Sackler families to pay out as much as $6 billion to states, individual claimants and for opioid crisis abatement.

“I’m outraged that you haven’t owned up to the crisis that you’ve created,” said Kay Scarpone, whose son, Joseph Scarpone, a former Marine, was lost to addiction when he was 25.

The 26 speakers at the Zoom hearing came from 19 states, attorney Arik Preis said in the court.

“You will be judged by greater powers than this justice system and this bankruptcy court,” said Ryan Hampton, who has been in recovery from a decade-long opioid addiction.

(Via: CNN)

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AG Balderas Secures Nearly $200 Million for New Mexico and Communities Across the State in Opioid Allocation Deal

Attorney General Hector Balderas has secured $200 million from Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — all companies connected to the opioid crisis.

“I had direct evidence that they were purposely flooding the market in the ’80s and ’90s number one… number two. I also had evidence that they were not being truthful as to the level of risks in terms of how addictive these painkillers were to families,” Balderas said.

The money will be distributed across the state to help fight the opioid crisis.

“We’re expecting upwards of $200 million to be distributed not only to the New Mexico Legislature but directly to counties and cities. It’s what makes this approach historic,” Balderas said.

(Via: KOAT)

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Fentanyl Kills More Young Americans than COVID. The Underlying Causes Should Worry Us All.

Fentanyl deaths are part of a growing crisis of addiction ripping apart the fabric of communities across this country.

Even as we still grapple with COVID-19, an epidemic lurking beneath the surface may be disrupting the lives of young Americans even more.

Based on a recent analysis of Centers for Disease Control data, fentanyl has become the predominant killer for Americans ages 18 to 45. In the past two years, deaths from fentanyl have significantly exceeded deaths from COVID-19 for this age group. The overdoses cut across gender, race, socioeconomic status and geography.

(Via: USA Today)

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US Citizen Busted With $384K+ In Fentanyl At Texas-Mexico Border

A 42-year-old U.S. citizen was busted with $384,600 worth of fentanyl at the Texas-Mexico border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized the narcotics on June 23 at the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge.

“CBP has seen an increase in smuggling attempts concerning illicit fentanyl manufactured in Mexico,” said Port Director Albert Flores, Laredo Port of Entry. “Officers remain at the forefront of border security operations to protect the public from lethal narcotics, such as these, from reaching our communities.”

A CBP officer processing commercial buses arriving from Mexico, referred the man’s 2015 Volvo bus for a secondary examination. Following a canine and non-intrusive imaging system examination, officers discovered a total of six packages containing 28.26 pounds of fentanyl concealed within the bus.

(Via: CBS)

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Comedian Kate Quigley Only Lucid ‘For Moments’ After Overdose: Mom

Comedian Kate Quigley is only lucid for moments at a time and faces a long road to recovery after reportedly overdosing on cocaine laced with fentanyl at an LA house party, according to her mom.

“Thank you everyone for your prayers and positivity. Kate is stable. She still isn’t lucid for more than a moment at a time. We are optimistic that she will recover (tho it won’t be quick),” her mother, Fran Wyles, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.

The 39-year-old stand-up’s state was still shaky after being hospitalized in critical condition on Saturday, and initially she wasn’t able to post her own health updates, her mom wrote.

The funnywoman, who has appeared on “The Office” and “Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, tweeted Wednesday that she’s “on the mend” and “Working hard to get back to life!!!!”

(Via: NY Post)

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Media, Pa. Pharmacist Accused of Distributing Drugs in Exchange for Sex

A Delaware County pharmacist is accused of distributing drugs out of his pharmacy in exchange for sex.

Martin Brian, 81, who is the owner and operator of the now-defunct Murray-Overhill Pharmacy located on State Street in Media, is accused of using his access to prescription drugs for sex.

“He was giving out those drugs to people who did not need them, people who were addicted to them, just so he could get what he wanted from them, which was sexual gratification,” said Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer.

The investigation began this past April when Media Borough police found two unconscious individuals parked in the back of the pharmacy. As the officers were investigating, a woman walked out of the pharmacy. Authorities say she ran when she saw police.

(Via: ABC)

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Johnson & Johnson to Pay $230m to Settle Opioid Claim

US drugs giant Johnson & Johnson is to pay $230m (£165m) to settle claims it fuelled an opioid addiction crisis in New York State.

The firm did not admit liability or wrongdoing in settling with the state.

The payments remove it from a trial due to begin on Tuesday in which several large opioid makers and distributors are defendants.

J&J said the settlements were consistent with a prior agreement to pay $5bn to settle US opioid claims.

(Via: BBC)

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Sackler Family Members Agree to Pay $4.2 billion as Part of Plan to Dissolve OxyContin Maker Purdue

Purdue Pharma has filed a restructuring plan to dissolve itself and establish a new company dedicated to programs designed to combat the opioid crisis, according to court documents filed Monday.

As part of the proposed plan, members of the Sackler family have agreed to pay an additional $4.2 billion over the next nine years to resolve various civil claims.

“Today marks an important step toward providing help to those who suffer from addiction, and we hope this proposed resolution will signal the beginning of a far-reaching effort to deliver assistance where it is needed,” Sackler family members said in a statement.

The company, which makes OxyContin, called the plan “unprecedented in scope and nature” in a press release.

(Via: CNN)

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Pandemic Relief Bill Delivers $4.25 Billion for Mental Health Services

For almost a year, mental health advocates have urged the U.S. government to address Americans’ historic levels of depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts — all of which have worsened during the pandemic.

Congressional leaders appear to have gotten the message, designating roughly $4.25 billion for mental health and substance use disorders as part of a mammoth $900 billion stimulus package introduced Monday and that may be voted on by day’s end.

The funding — while just a portion of what was sought by experts — is the largest amount behavioral health groups have received in a single spending bill in recent memory, and represents growing awareness of the mental toll the pandemic is taking on the country, mental health advocates said.

Still, behavioral health providers said it is likely insufficient and arrives months after the country’s mental health has deteriorated to alarming levels.

(Via: The Washington Post)

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4 Myths About Opioid Addiction and Dependence

News of the opioid crisis in the United States gets frequent attention in the media, but unless an addiction or overdose touches us directly, it’s easy to believe the opioid epidemic is a distant issue that won’t affect us or the people we love. But approximately 1 out of every 5 people who see a doctor for pain not related to cancer is prescribed opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means dependence on opioids can—and does—happen to people of all ages and all walks of life. In order to effectively manage the risk of opioid addiction, it’s essential to separate myth from fact, to understand what opioid addiction is and what it isn’t. Here’s the truth behind four common misconceptions about opioid addiction and dependence.

Myth No. 1: If a doctor prescribes a medication, it can’t be addictive.

Opioids can be an effective tool for managing acute pain, such as pain from surgery or a broken bone. But some people continue taking the medication after they no longer need it. They either like how it makes them feel, or they became dependent on the drug and experience difficult physical withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking it. Any drug that causes this level of dependence—whether or not it was prescribed by a doctor—can become addictive.

We know that opioids can help people manage acute pain, but whether they are effective for chronic pain is subject of debate among experts. Some studies show that opioids can help relieve chronic pain for a short time, but there isn’t a lot of evidence to say that they work over a longer term. Many doctors are concerned about long-term use of opioids and prefer that their patients try other pain-killing medications and therapies.

Myth No. 2: People who are addicted to opioids are easy to spot.

Television shows and movies featuring over-the-top portrayals of people who abuse drugs and alcohol may lead us to think it’s easy to spot someone with an addiction. We may believe they look or act a certain way—that they’re different from us. But in reality, anyone can be addicted to opioids—friends, family members, coworkers—and you may not know it. People who are addicted to prescription drugs may be able hold down good jobs and have a “normal” life. There is no specific type of person who may have an opioid addiction—or be at risk for one.

(Via: CNN)

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Florida Parents Arrested In Girl’s Fatal Fentanyl Overdose

Sheriff’s deputies have arrested the parents of a 2-year-old North Florida girl who died of a fentanyl overdose earlier this year.

The child’s parents remained in the Marion County Jail on Wednesday, each with an aggravated manslaughter charge.

Marion County Sheriff’s deputies called to the couple’s home on June 13 and found the child unresponsive in her bed.

Her 35-year-old parents told investigators they put her to bed and found her lifeless about 30 minutes later, according to an arrest report.

(Via: CBS)

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