Inbox – August 27, 2014

Letters to the Editor

Clearing Up Misinformation 
Thanks for doing such a great article on the heroin epidemic.  I just wanted to clarify that JADAC does take all private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, and we do not have a waiting list. Sometimes the wait is for a few days while we get approvals, but there is not a two-month waiting list. I hope you’ll be able to clear up any misinformation. Thanks!

Gwen Cooper, CFRE
Vice President, External Affairs
Seven Counties Services, Inc. 

In response to “Louisville’s Heroin Epidemic”
Addiction treatment that includes Methadone is an evidence-based practice that is recommended by entities that include the World Health Organization, The National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. This treatment works best when it includes a combination of medication, counseling, and other psychosocial supports. 
As with any other opiate, withdrawal from methadone can be uncomfortable and painful; however, the withdrawal from methadone is not fatal. Rarely will drug withdrawal of any kind be fatal, although it is possible with benzodiazepines and alcohol. The individual is at much greater risk of experiencing danger and complications from drug withdrawal when they have been using multiple substances and/or have other health conditions. 
Medication assisted treatment is an approach that has saved many lives over the years. While it may not be appropriate for every person, we have a severe enough opiate epidemic happening in our country that we need to make sure that people can access whatever type of treatment they need in order to achieve a life of recovery. 
Michele Flowers McCarthy, LPCC
Director of Community and 
Administrative Services
Center for Behavioral Health Ky
Rename House Bill One (HB-1)  “Heroin Bill One”
House Bill One’s intention to curb rampant prescription opiate abuse — from the front door, has simply backfired at the rear door — resulting in the current spike of heroin availability, use, addiction, misery, overdosing, ER visits and sometimes death.
Lance Crady, Clifton
We are all Addicts
I feel that the issue of heroin addiction must be approached with humility.  In a way, the heroin “epidemic” is a human problem, and not an individual’s.  I say this because the vast majority of us are addicted — it is the substance of addiction that varies.  If one’s life leads them to intake heroin, then the consequences of this particular addiction will be far more detrimental than an addiction to, say, sugar. However, the source of addiction remains similar in all of us and, therefore, cannot be approached with any sort of force from the law.  
Punishing those addicts who get caught with an illegal substance is a hypocritical act that represses empathy in favor of ignorance. If we say that an addiction is characterized by self-doubt, insecurity, and an extreme pressure to escape one’s situation, then we can also say that the current approach to punishing these particular people is one that magnifies the problem. Magnification itself is another characteristic of addiction: feelings of doubt, fear, and loneliness are amplified, drowning out feelings of happiness and contentment. 
Thus, a substance is used to balance things out again.  Again, whether the substance used is sugar, power, television or. of course alcohol, the source of the addiction remains the same. We cannot pretend to empathize with an addict by acting sympathetically towards them — this is weak.  Instead, we must find the core of suffering that is within all of us and begin the process of healing.  Otherwise, we are hypocrites who are vaguely pretending to solve a problem by attacking it — and as we may now know, declaring war on something is a great way to make it grow.   
Eric Moore, Highlands
Political Games
I don’t think any reasonable person believes that over prescribing pain medication is good but to equate medication prescribed under the supervision of a doctor to heroin reeks of political face saving. It didn’t take much foresight to see that cutting people off their pain meds would push them into a far more dangerous and illegal direction. How about making sure you have enough affordable treatment facilities and beds before you start playing Russian roulette with people’s lives? It would result in less deaths and less people jailed.
Bruce Self, Jeffersonville                           
Need for Marijuana Legislation
States that approved medical marijuana legislation have seen a 25 percent reduction in fatal overdose deaths. I’ve written every state legislator since 2011 and told them that KASPER [Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting] wouldn’t lower overdose deaths. All KASPER did was move the opiate market from Kentucky businesses to criminal enterprises that don’t pay taxes. The heroin bill won’t reduce overdose deaths much either. The heroin bill is more of the same failed strategies (mandatory minimum sentencing). 
The legislation that WILL lower the overdose death rate is marijuana legislation. The fastest way to lower the overdose death rate is full legalization. The second fastest way is a limited medical marijuana bill.  Without action, you can plan on another 1000 overdose deaths this year.   ?     
We created a society that’s biased towards alcohol and pills. The results include increased traffic fatalities, increased suicide rates and far more overdose deaths. The evidence is overwhelming. Cannabis prohibition is one of the biggest mistakes our government has ever made. How much more evidence do you need to start reporting this story and start asking our political leaders tough questions?  
Tom Rector Jr., Prospect