Rewarding good work and abstinence from drugs is a key factor in helping people maintain long-term sobriety. That might sound like common sense, but how is it really put into practice? An article in Scientific American reports on a recent study showing how “therapeutic workplaces” can help people get clean using simple rewards for work and sobriety. The study, led by Kenneth Silverman and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, found that a combination of frequent drug testing and lots of incentives and rewards produced a higher rate of sobriety in participants compared to those who weren’t rewarded in similar fashion.
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"There is no illness currently being treated that will be more affected by the Affordable Care Act than addiction, that's because we have a system of treatment that was built for a time when they didn't understand that addiction was an illness."
Dr. Tom McLellan, September 11, 2013
CEO, Treatment Research Institute
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In 2012, the number of adults in the United States suffering from substance abuse—more than 60 million—was greater than the number suffering from cancer and diabetes combined.
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According to state judicial officials, Kentucky drug courts may be looking at a change in their policy of prohibiting medication-assisted treatment for drug offenders. Current state policy limits the recommendations of drug court judges primarily to abstinence-only programs. The state also allows some offenders to be prescribed medications for opioid dependence for up to 6 months as they wean themselves off the drugs. But pressure to offer access to addiction medications is coming from both federal initiatives as well as some limited pilot programs within Kentucky.
On Friday 13 February, The Courier-Journal reported that the KY House of Representatives debated measures to reform heroin drug laws in the state and apportion more state funding for drug treatment. House legislators passed the bill, HB 213, and lawmakers in the House and the Senate will now be tasked with negotiating a successful heroin bill by the end of the current session. The state lawmakers are facing mounting pressure to finally pass a state heroin bill.
In January 2015 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new data showing that national rates of overdose deaths from opioid drugs and heroin climbed from 2012-2013. The report confirmed what the CDC, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and other health organizations have been saying about heroin and prescription drug abuse for several years: it’s an epidemic that has to be reversed. While it takes a year to assess national trends in drug abuse and overdose, more recent reports in states and localities with the worst drug problems, like Northern Kentucky, suggest that this public health epidemic is still getting worse.
Health officials and addiction professionals continue to search for solutions to the outbreaks of heroin use and overdoses in Kentucky and many other regions across the country. But the heroin and prescription painkiller epidemic has created a secondary crisis—a steep rise in a disorder related to substance use in infants of drug-dependent mothers. Justin Madden reported in the Lexington Herald-Leader on the increasing rate of neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, in babies treated at Lexington’s University of Kentucky Hospital and in hospitals across the state.