Monday, June 26, 2006

Curwensville DH Closing


June 26, 2006

Program Closing Curwensville Pennsylvania

The Discovery House Program at Curwensville is closing at the end of the month of June.

Evidentally it is near an historical path and such a facility can not be located near it. A great decision for a great democracy.

The courts may allow the program more time to move but we all know how difficult it is to find a site for a program. This is the only program in the area.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Overdose Deaths In Michigan - Summary of Articles

Overdose Deaths In Michigan - Summary of Articles


Another drug overdose with fentanyl suspected
Detroit News, May 30, 2006

A new death takes toll to 48 in Wayne Co. Residents warned of lethal drug mix.
FREE PRESS, May 30, 2006

Drug mix cited in six more deaths. Medical examiner says fentanyl cocktail suspected; Wayne toll hits 47 since May 18.
Detroit News, May 29, 2006

Wayne County. More deaths bring county tally to 47.
FREE PRESS, May 29, 2006

Lethal heroin makes rounds. Task force chief says many overdose with Fentanyl-laced drug.
Chicago Tribune, May 29, 2006

Heroin Mix Likely Kills 3 More in Mich.
The Associated Press, May 28, 2006

Drug mix suspected in deaths. 3 more are reported in Wayne County.
Free Press, May 28, 2006

8 more overdose in 2 days
FREE PRESS, May 27, 2006

Death from possible overdose may be linked to fentanyl
The Oakland Press, May 27, 2006

Genesee County struck by heroin deaths. More than a dozen deaths are being blamed on a deadly drug combination.

Overdose deaths blamed on painkiller
Washington Times, May. 27, 2006

Lethal drug combo has users uneasy. Heroin-fentanyl mix not new to Flint area.
THE FLINT JOURNAL, Saturday, May 27, 2006

Lethal drug mix claims more victims
FREE PRESS, May 26, 2006

Another drug overdose with fentanyl suspected
Lisa Martino
The Detroit News
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

DETROIT -- Wayne County health officials Monday reported another suspected drug overdose that they believe is related to a mixture of narcotics and the powerful prescription painkiller fentanyl.

Since May 18, at least 48 people have died in the county from overdoses that health officials believe are caused by a mixture of cocaine or heroin and fentanyl, said Teresa Blossom, a spokeswoman for the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency.

The exact cause of those people's deaths will not be confirmed until toxicology tests are completed, Blossom said. In the meantime, she said area health agencies have increased substance abuse prevention services and passed out 15,000 fliers detailing the dangers of fentanyl.

"Our outreach continues," she said. "(It has) been very, very strong."

Test results to determine if the drug was present at the time of death could take two to four weeks.

In Wayne County there have been 130 confirmed overdose cases in which fentanyl was mixed with either heroin or cocaine from January 2005 to April. On May 19, a dozen deaths suspected to have a fentanyl link occurred in 24 hours.

Fentanyl is more than 50 times stronger than morphine and is commonly given to cancer patients.

A new death takes toll to 48 in Wayne Co. Residents warned of lethal drug mix.
May 30, 2006

Another person died from a probable drug overdose, Wayne County health officials reported Monday, bringing the toll to 48 people who have died since May 19.

Even though the number was dropping from the multiple deaths per day, health officials aren't ready to say the deadly overdose spurt is tapering off.

Toxicology results won't be available for several weeks, but health officials say they believe the deaths have been caused by a dangerous combination of heroin or cocaine and the painkiller fentanyl.

"The numbers have always fluctuated," said Teresa Blossom, Wayne County spokeswoman. "Some days, we've had three or four deaths, on others we've had one."

The latest surge in deaths first came to the public's attention when Wayne County issued a warning on May 19 because 12 people had died over a 24-hour span.

Since then, the county has distributed at least 20,000 flyers, warning people of the dangers of the illegal street drug and urging drug addicts to get treatment rather than risk using the substance.

"We want to continue to urge the public to be mindful that the deadly street drugs have increased," Blossom said Monday. "We hope that anyone can avoid engaging in the activity and for those who have addiction, we hope they can seek treatment."

From September through April, more than 100 drug overdose deaths were recorded in metro Detroit and most of those are believed to have been caused by the heroin/fentanyl mixture.

Neither Oakland nor Macomb counties reported any drug overdose deaths over the holiday weekend.

Contact KATHLEEN GRAY at 313-223-4407 or gray@freepress

Drug mix cited in six more deaths. Medical examiner says fentanyl cocktail suspected; Wayne toll hits 47 since May 18.
Chrystal Johnson
The Detroit News
Monday, May 29, 2006

Six more deaths believed to be linked to a cocktail of street drugs and the prescription painkiller fentanyl were reported in Metro Detroit over the weekend, bringing the total of suspected deaths in the county to 47 since May 18.

Three deaths were reported by the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office on Saturday and three more on Sunday.

"At this point, we can say they probably are drug-related deaths," Cheryl Loewe, assistant chief medical examiner, said Sunday.

Loewe said the exact cause of death could not be confirmed until toxicology tests are performed. That can take two to four weeks.

Drug dealers mix heroin and cocaine with fentanyl to increase the kick.

"I would like to emphasize that fentanyl has been detected in cocaine. We found almost the same amount in cocaine as we did in heroin," Loewe said. Wayne County issued a warning May 19 about the spate of overdoses, after a dozen died in a 24-hour period.

County Executive Robert Ficano said officials have passed out more than 15,000 warning fliers. Counselors worked the crowds at Movement 06: Detroit's Electronic Music Festival, spreading word of the dangerous drug interaction.

"Hopefully, we are reaching out with bulletins, hot lines and general media," Loewe said.

From January 2005 to April, there were 130 confirmed overdose cases in which fentanyl was mixed with heroin or cocaine in Wayne County.

The large number of cases in a short period of time prompted the county to issue a public warning and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week to send investigators to Michigan.

Scores of deaths recently across the East Coast and Midwest have been blamed on the combination. In Chicago, officials said 50 deaths have been linked to the combination.

Fentanyl is given to cancer patients and others whose pain is too great for morphine to dull. The drug is more than 50 times as strong as morphine and can cause users to stop breathing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. You can reach Chrystal Johnson at (313) 222-2300 or

Wayne County. More deaths bring county tally to 47.
May 29, 2006

Three more people have died of suspected drug overdoses, Wayne County officials reported Sunday, bringing the overdose death tally in the county to 47 in less than two weeks.

The latest deaths occurred Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Teresa Blossom, a county spokeswoman, said Sunday that officials won't know for certain whether they were caused by a mix of heroin or cocaine and the painkiller fentanyl until toxicology reports are completed. That process could take several weeks.

Fentanyl is typically prescribed for terminally ill patients with chronic pain.

Investigators say some drug users know fentanyl is mixed with heroin or cocaine and purchase the mix for a stronger high, while other buyers don't know they're getting the fentanyl mixture.

Wayne County officials have reported an average of more than four deaths a day from apparent overdoses since May 17. Last year, there were 1.25 per day, for a total of 457.

On May 18, after 12 people died in a 24-hour period, county health officials first alerted the public to the fentanyl concoction.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said Saturday that a federal investigation points to Chicago or the East Coast as the source of the drugs.

The county has passed out more than 15,000 flyers warning about the lethal mixture, hoping to curb sales.,1,7672380.story?coll=chi-newslocalssouthwest-hed

Lethal heroin makes rounds. Task force chief says many overdose with Fentanyl-laced drug.
David Heinzmann
Chicago Tribune
May 29, 2006

Heroin laced with the prescription painkiller Fentanyl has killed more than 40 people in the Chicago area in the last year, the head of a drug trafficking task force told Congress.

Tom Donahue, executive director of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, or HIDTA, program here told lawmakers that Fentanyl is a growing concern as "the drug problem in the Chicago area has dramatically increased over the past year."

Donahue was in Washington to brief a House subcommittee on budget problems facing drug investigators in Chicago.

The number of people treated for heroin problems in Cook County increased 54 percent in 2005 from the year before, Donahue said last week in his remarks to the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources.

As more people are using heroin, more heroin appears to be laced with Fentanyl, he said.

"The use of this drug has left unsuspecting heroin abusers the victims of overdose and death," Donahue told the subcommittee.

Fentanyl has hit several big cities hard in recent months. Detroit, where officials say more than 200 people have died from overdoses, appears to have the worst problem.

The figures Donahue quoted to Congress about Chicago are accurate and reflect that the use of "heroin, cocaine and marijuana are all increasing substantially," said Tom Green, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Human Services.

The surge in dangerous drugs comes as the federal government is considering curtailing the HIDTA task force with proposed budget cuts and a possible move under the control of the Justice Department after years of relative independence as a program overseen by the executive branch.

Donahue was asking lawmakers to protect HIDTA, which Chicago police have credited with helping reduce violence during the last three years.

"Any change in [HIDTA's] current structure or funding could result in a set back in the progress we have made in successful violence reduction strategies," Chicago police Supt. Philip Cline said.

The task force brings together federal and local drug investigators to trade intelligence and run investigations on drug trafficking throughout the Chicago region.

Donahue, a longtime Chicago narcotics investigator who later became a Cook County prosecutor, said Fentanyl is a front-burner issue for the task force.

"It's a big deal," Donahue said Friday. Investigators believe most of the Fentanyl in Chicago is coming from illicit labs making it in Mexico. One reason the drug may be emerging here now, he said, is that Mexican drug cartels are trying to squeeze their Colombian rivals out of the heroin market.

"It's a way for the Mexican cartels to bypass the Colombian cartels," he said. The drug "can be produced fairly easily."

But because Fentanyl is so much more potent than heroin, it can be deadly when not blended properly. Many users have died, he said, because dealers "haven't figured out the mix yet ... But once it's mixed, heroin users prefer it."

David Heinzmann

Heroin Mix Likely Kills 3 More in Mich.
The Associated Press
May 28, 2006

DETROIT -- Three more people in Wayne County have died from what authorities suspect is a combination of heroin or cocaine and fentanyl, a prescription painkiller.

The deaths, which occurred Friday night or Saturday morning, bring the county's total of overdose deaths believed to have been caused by the mixture to 44 since May 18.

Michele Reid, medical director of the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency and chairwoman of the newly created Wayne County fentanyl work group, is seen at her Detroit office Thursday, May 25, 2006. A deadly mixture of heroin and a powerful painkiller is circulating, killing unsuspecting users who believe they are taking pure heroin. In the Detroit area, the apparent hub of the problem, organizations like Reid's are scrambling to get the word out to users. (AP Photo/Gary Malerba) (Gary Malerba - AP)

Drug mix suspected in deaths. 3 more are reported in Wayne County.
Free Press
May 28, 2006

Wayne County reported three deaths Saturday that likely were drug-related, bringing the overdose death total in the county to 44 in the last 10 days.

The deaths, which occurred Friday night or Saturday morning, are believed to be caused by a deadly mix of heroin or cocaine, and the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said a federal investigation seems to put the source of the drugs at either Chicago or the East Coast. He said the county has passed out more than 15,000 warning flyers.

"It's sad," Ficano said Saturday. "Any family member that's had someone that's had a substance abuse problem realizes how tragic it is and how frustrating and difficult it is."

8 more overdose in 2 days
May 27, 2006

With eight more deaths reported Thursday and Friday, metro Detroit continued to see an unprecedented increase in overdoses believed to be related to a powerful painkiller mixed with street drugs.

The new reports Friday from the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office brought to 41 the number of overdoses in the county in nine days.

While it could be weeks before toxicology results definitively determine whether the painkiller fentanyl is the cause of the deaths, the sheer number of overdoses has medical officials worried that the drug is being mixed with heroin and cocaine with deadly results.

Fentanyl is used to treat chronic pain, particularly in cancer patients, and is 80 times more powerful than morphine.
As drug counselors hit the streets to inform people about the dangers, former drug users said Friday it's nearly impossible to get addicts to notice the risks -- if they come with the chance for a greater high.

"People are steady dropping out there and there's no doubt in my mind, I would have been just like that," said Joyce Jones, who has been in recovery for less than two months after being a heroin addict for 20 years.

If she weren't in treatment, Jones said, she'd be running straight for the fentanyl-laced concoctions being marketed on the street as "drop dead" and "suicide packets."

"It's our thinking. It's the addict's mind. It's so messed up, even if I was seeing a flyer say it would kill me," said Jones, 46. "They could have been putting rat poison in it and it would not matter. I would have snorted it," she said.

Investigators and public health officials are trying to determine why the sharp increase in deaths is occurring in metro Detroit. Carolyn Gibson, spokeswoman for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's Detroit field office, reiterated Friday that DEA investigators are pursuing solid leads and hope to announce some developments within the next two weeks.

While fentanyl has cropped up with deadly results in other cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia and Camden, N.J., officials say no metropolitan area has seen such a sudden increase in the number of deaths believed related to the drug as Detroit has.

Since April 2005 there have been 42 fentanyl-related fatal overdoses in Cook County, which includes Chicago. In the Philadelphia area, authorities said at least nine heroin users had died in the last month.

Metro Detroit has had more than 100 people die in drug overdoses since September, with fentanyl suspected in most of those cases.

Contact KIM NORRIS at 248-351-5186 or

Death from possible overdose may be linked to fentanyl
The Oakland Press
May 27, 2006

Whether a powerful cocktail of heroin and painkillers is responsible for the death of a 17-year-old Bloomfi eld Hills girl is unknown, but officials say it could be involved in a number of recent drug deaths in Michigan.

Lauren Christine Jolly, a junior at Birmingham Groves High School, was found by a passerby slumped over the wheel of her car on Eight Mile Road near Riopelle in Detroit early Thursday morning. While toxicology reports are pending and could take several weeks, police in Detroit suspect Lauren, who lived in Bloomfield Hills, died of a drug overdose.
Lauren's parents could not be reached for comment.

According to Lauren's obituary on the A.J. Desmond and Sons Funeral Home Web site, the teenager was creative, imaginative and fun to be around. Her close friend Betsy Van Loo, 16, said Lauren was always telling jokes and laughing.

"She was a really good person," said Betsy, a junior at Groves. "I don't really want to talk about her too much. I knew her really, really well and this is hard."

Lauren is survived by her parents, Wayne and Beth Jolly; brother Brian; grandparents James and Sally Jolly and Christine (the late Gerald) Hatcher and several aunts, uncles and cousins. A memorial Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Regis Church, 3695 Lincoln in Bloomfi eld Hills. Visitation will be at 10 a.m.

Marcia Wilkinson, spokeswoman for Birmingham Public Schools, said Lauren's parents shared with the school community their desire to educate students about their daughter's death. There have been assemblies with ninth-, 10th- and 11th-grade students - seniors are not in school this week - about what happened to Lauren.

"We reassured the students that there is support out there," Wilkinson said. "We want to encourage them to be safe about the dangerous things going on. We also want to get the message out that students should talk to someone if there are issues or if they have a friend with issues. We'd like to prevent something like this from happening again."

A deadly mixture

Lauren's parents reportedly told school officials she died of a drug overdose.

What drugs she might have used remain a mystery, but some in the community have wondered whether the teenager was using heroin spiked with fentanyl, a narcotic painkiller commonly used to ease the pain of cancer patients. In recent weeks, Wayne County has had an increase in drugrelated deaths possibly involving fentanyl, said Vanessa Denha-Garmo, spokeswoman for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

"Starting last Thursday we noticed the spike," she said. "Exactly why that is, we still don't know. That's what police are investigating."

According to Joyce Brown-Williams, public information manager for the Wayne County Health Department, there have been 106 deaths linked to fentanyl between September 2005 and March 2006. In the last week, there have been more than 20 such deaths.

Deaths in several cities

Deaths linked to fentanyl also have been reported in several other cities, including Philadelphia and Chicago.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said that in the past year, there have been nine deaths linked to fentanyl in the county.

"This is not confi ned to Wayne County," said Bouchard. "It's a very new trend and we're working aggressively to stop it. People need to be aware of the ramifications of this drug."

Officials in Wayne County say they are working to get the word out about the drug, including sending out thousands of fliers to reach users this weekend.

"This is a serious public health issue," said Brown-Williams. "We're doing everything we can to warn the public of the danger."

According to Janet Hoffman, a drug information pharmacist with William Beaumont Hospital, fentanyl is a very potent drug - especially when mixed with other drugs like heroin or cocaine. She said that, used properly, the drug is very effective in controlling chronic pain. But if used in higher doses or illegally, it can cause a person to stop breathing or to have an irregular heartbeat and could be fatal.

"It's much more potent even than morphine," she said. "We use it all the time as a prescription medicine and it works very well if used properly. But it can have very serious side effects."

'A very potent drug'

Hoffman said that, in recent years, fentanyl has become popular as an additive to heroin or cocaine, likely because it can cause a euphoric high. The drug has been around since the 1950s and Hoffman said there's evidence it was illegally mixed with heroin and cocaine for street use as early as the 1970s.

"It's a very potent drug," she said. "And mixing it with another drug would increase the euphoric feeling."

Experts say Wayne County has the highest nationwide death rate because of the mixture of fentanyl and heroin.
Bouchard said people continually experiment to get new and different highs and fentanyl represents a new - and dangerous - trend. Most fentanyl is stolen or obtained through illegal prescriptions, he said.

Most of the heroin seized in Oakland County recently has been laced with fentanyl, he noted.

Heroin usage still rare

Lisa Machesky, executive director of the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition, said that while Lauren's death has stunned the community, heroin usage among teenagers remains rare. In a survey of high school students in the Birmingham and Bloomfield Township area in February 2005, Machesky said 3 percent admitted to trying heroin. She said 20 percent of students admitted it would be pretty easy to obtain heroin.

"This is such a tragedy," she said. "She was so young. We will continue to try and educate students and parents because that's the only way to stop this."

In Wayne County, Medical Examiner Carl J. Schmidt said he began noticing a rise in fentanyl-related deaths in September, but county officials did not begin treating fentanyl as a crisis until last week, when the number of overdoses began to soar.

"Sometimes divining what the role of fentanyl is in an individual's death is more an art than a science," Schmidt said, noting drug users often have multiple substances in their blood.

Before the recent surge, Wayne County had 20 to 30 fentanyl deaths a year, Schmidt said. Those cases tended to be severely ill people with legitimate prescriptions for fentanyl patches who committed suicide by putting on many patches at once or the occasional person who had stolen the drug, he said.

Point of origin

Detroit police spokesman James Tate said the department is following up on several leads about where the fentanyl is originating. So far, however, there is no indication that it is being manufactured locally, he said.

Officials emphasize there is help for people who have overdosed if they get to an emergency room immediately.

"Treatment is available, and treatment works," said Michele Reid, medical director of the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency and chairwoman of the newly created Wayne County fentanyl work group.
Lauren's death marks the second tragedy at Groves High School this month. On May 15, Jamarl Fordham, 16, collapsed during a pick-up basketball game with friends at the school. The exact cause of Jamarl's death is still pending the results of toxicology reports.

Jamarl, a sophomore who liked to play basketball and was a popular student, had no known health problems.
Officials say the deaths of Jamarl and Lauren are unrelated.

Click here to return to story:

Genesee County struck by heroin deaths. More than a dozen deaths are being blamed on a deadly drug combination.
By Cathy Shafran
May 27, 2006

GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) - (05/27/06)--A deadly heroin combination that has killed nearly 100 people in the Detroit area has now been confirmed to have killed more than a dozen in Genesee County as well.

While fears grow in Metro Detroit about the mounting deaths from the heroin/fentanyl combination, a medical examiner is saying it is a growing problem in the Flint area as well.

The information we're getting tonight comes from the Oakland County Medical Examiners office.

The chief forensic toxicologist in Oakland County says that he's seen drug overdose deaths with an unusual mixture of heroin and the painkiller fentanyl since September 28th of last year.

In all, he's confirmed 20 deaths from the same mixture that has caused nearly 100 deaths in Metro Detroit.

What he has found interesting is that of the 20 deaths, only three have been victims who died in Oakland County; 17 have been victims transported from Genesee County.

And there are more cases he's still investigating.

Information can not be released about the geographical location of those Genesee County deaths, and, at this point he has no way of determining whether the deadly drug supply is coming from Detroit, or perhaps another direction.

Overdose deaths blamed on painkiller
Washington Times
May. 27, 2006

At least 41 people have died in Detroit in little more than a week in what appear to be drug overdoses caused by a painkiller used to cut heroin and cocaine.

Eight deaths were reported Thursday and Friday, the Detroit Free Press said.

Investigators blame the deaths on a mixture of street drugs and fentanyl, a powerful painkiller normally prescribed to cancer patients.

A number of other cities, including Chicago and Philadelphia, have had spikes in overdose deaths because of fentanyl. But the number has been far greater in Detroit, with fentanyl blamed for more than 100 deaths since September in the metropolitan area, compared to 42 in the Chicago area in more than a year.

Counselors hit the streets of Detroit Friday, trying to warn addicts to avoid fentanyl-laced drugs, which sometimes come in packets labeled "drop dead." But one former addict told the Free Press that when she was still using drugs she would not have cared if they had been cut with rat poison.

Lethal drug combo has users uneasy. Heroin-fentanyl mix not new to Flint area.
By Kim Crawford
Saturday, May 27, 2006

They looked like they were dead, the second-shift officers say - two men from the Goodrich area, turned blue and barely breathing, slumped in the front seat of their car parked on a Flint side street, needles still stuck in their arms.
But then paramedics arrived and administered a medicine that counteracts the effects of opiate-type drugs. Slowly, the men stirred and regained consciousness, say the officers recounting the incident.

The outcome of that overdose situation, several weeks ago, puts those two men among the luckier Flint-area heroin addicts. While no one in law enforcement says for sure that the illegal drug those men had taken was cut with the cancer pain-fighting medicine fentanyl, the odds are in favor of that possibility, police say.

"We understand that we've had it here for some time," said Lt. Phil Smith of the Special Operations Bureau of the Flint police. "We've probably had a dozen cases of overdoses in the past several weeks.

"The heroin users around the area have been definitely concerned about it. But in terms of law enforcement, when we seize drugs and have them tested, we never hear about what those drugs are cut with."

Medical authorities says that scores of drug users in southeastern Michigan and hundreds across the country from New Jersey and Philadelphia to Ohio and Chicago have died as a result of using heroin mixed with fentanyl, a powerful prescription painkiller.

According to an Associated Press report, the alarm about the lethal mixture of opiates first was issued by officials back in April. In Detroit alone, nearly 20 people died late this week from the heroin-fentanyl combination.

Now, health officials and hospitals - as well as public health and substance abuse treatment officials - are warning heroin users of the potential danger.

As a matter of public health, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to know about the overdose cases and whether drugs seized by authorities contain fentanyl. But Flint-area law enforcement personnel say in cases against drug dealers, they almost learn what illegal drugs are mixed with, since that typically hasn't mattered previously.

These days, Smith says, he receives messages on a near-daily basis about the heroin-fentanyl mix. Since heroin comes into Flint from both the Chicago and Detroit areas, he and other officers say, it's little wonder that users in Genesee County also have suffered death and overdose because of the mix

Smith and Capt. Mike Becker of the Genesee County Sheriff's Department, a veteran paramedic, point out that fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Smith said heroin addicts usually use tiny plastic spoons that were given out as coffee stir-sticks, formerly available from a fast-food restaurant chain, to measure the amount of dope they put into their fix. As a result, that measure is known to heroin users as a "mac," he said.

That may help to get across just how powerful fentanyl is, when one considers that a drug mixture measured in "macs" is enough to cause the deaths of scores of users across the country. Typically, such drug mixtures contain about 10 or 15 percent heroin, Smith said.

Becker notes that law enforcement officers typically don't know or may never find out what drug an overdosed person has used when they respond to a call. But if paramedics arrive on the scene of an overdose where they have reason to believe the person has used heroin, or morphine or fentanyl, which suppress breathing, they'll administer a drug call Narcan to counteract the effects of opiates.

"We've responded to quite a few of them recently," Becker said about the county paramedics.

But police note that it's difficult, if not impossible, for police to follow up on cases where a suspect has overdosed to find out where they're drugs come from.

"In the vast majority of cases, a person administers the drugs to themselves," he said. "If they did it to themselves, who are you going to prosecute?"
By Kim Crawford o 810.766.6242

Lethal drug mix claims more victims
May 26, 2006

With the arrival of the long holiday weekend and the seventh annual Electronic Music festival expected to draw hundreds of thousands to downtown Detroit, law enforcement and health professionals are bracing for a possible rash of drug-overdoses resulting from heroin laced with a powerful pain medication.

Wayne County officials Friday reported five more deaths Thursday and three Friday likely related to fentanyl-laced heroin, bringing the total to 41 in nine days and cementing Detroit s position as the nation s leader in such deaths.

Drug abuse counselors and public health officials have been out in force distributing fact sheets warning drug users of the potentially lethal mixture on the streets. And they plan to be at the techno fest this weekend.

But their warnings may be falling on deaf ears. Authorities in substance abuse and users themselves report that the prospect of death is not enough to deter them.

Joyce Jones, a heroin addict for 20 years, has been in recovery for less than two months, but says she s glad she s off the junk now because would be running straight for the fentanyl-laced drugs if they promised a better high.

People are steady dropping out there and there s no doubt in my mind, I would have been just like that, said Jones, 46. It s our thinking, it s the addict s mind, it s so messed up, even if I was seeing a flyer say it would kill me. I still would have gone ahead and done it.

She said she never asked a dealer what was in the mix she scored.

They could have been putting rat poison in it and it would not matter. I would have snorted it, she said.

She said all public health officials can do to get hardcore users to consider the risks is to keep repeating it and hopefully eventually it might get through, Jones said. It might save them for one day.

This weekend s techno fest could be fertile soil for dealers peddling tainted stuff.

Dr. Michele Reid, who chairs the Detroit-Wayne County fentanyl working group and is the medical director for the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency, said hospitals report an increase in drug overdoses among young people during such events.

Fentanyl, which is used to treat chronic pain, particularly in cancer patients, is 80 times more powerful than morphine. Taken in excess or in combination with heroin or cocaine, the drug can cause respiratory failure.

Health care workers throughout the metropolitan area have been alerted to the public health threat via the Health Alert Network, which disseminates information electronically to first responders, including doctors, nurses, emergency technicians and ambulance personnel.

Dr. Tammy Lundstrom, chief quality and safety officer for the Detroit Medical Center, which operates the city s busiest emergency room at Detroit Receiving Hospital, said while everyone has been made aware of the possible increase in fentanyl-related overdose cases, treatment protocols are the same. Patients are administered reversal agents and monitored until the drug wears off. Those who exhibit breathing problems will be put on ventilators.

A spokesman for Henry Ford Health System, which operates Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, said the hospital is not increasing staff this weekend and will continue to follow standard protocols for treating drug overdoses.

A week after Wayne County officials issued an alert to the presence of a killer drug on the streets, a host of state, local and federal investigators are still searching for answers to explain the scourge that is killing Detroit-area drug users in numbers not seen in other cities that have identified fentanyl-laced drugs.

The synthetic painkiller has tainted heroin supplies in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to news reports. It also has shown up in combination with cocaine in some places.

In Chicago two weeks ago, 15 people were hospitalized after using heroin bought on the city s West Side. All of the overdoses happened within a one-mile radius, authorities said. In all, dozens of people have overdosed in Chicago this year including 10 who have died. Since April 2005 there have been 42 Fentanyl-related fatal overdoses in Chicago s Cook County.

In the Philadelphia area and nearby southern New Jersey, authorities said at least nine heroin users had died last month.

Carolyn Gibson, spokeswoman for the Detroit field office of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency said investigators still do not know why people are dying in greater numbers here than elsewhere or whether all the cities are connected by a common supply source.

She reiterated Friday that DEA investigators are pursing some solid leads and hope to announce some developments within the next two weeks.

In addition to the DEA, which first issued an alert about fentanyl-related drugs in November, local law enforcement authorities are investigating. And on Monday, two investigators from the federal Centers for Disease Control arrived in Detroit, at the request of state health officials, to look into the more than 100 suspected fentanyl-related deaths here since September. It s the first time the CDC has undertaken such an investigation.

Among the things investigators want to know:

Are the cases of fentanyl-laced drugs seen in other cities linked?

Where is the fentanyl coming from - legal sources, such as pharmacies and hospitals or clandestine labs, possibly as far away as Mexico?

What is the source of the fentanyl-laced heroin supply?

Why are more people dying in Detroit than elsewhere?

How can further deaths be prevented.

John Roach, a spokesman for the Wayne County Sheriff s Office, said as part of the investigation, the department is going through the records of the dead and interviewing their friends and family to try to find the drug houses where they bought their stash.

So far, though, he said, they ve haven t come up with anything solid.

Contact KIM NORRIS at 248-351-5186 or

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Now available: 2006 Edition of Confidentiality and Communication Book

And LACs First-Ever Online Confidentiality Courses are now available.


As you know, most health care providers must comply with both the federal confidentiality regulations specific to alcohol and drug programs (42 C.F.R. Part 2) and HIPAA privacy requirements. The Legal Action Center can help you and your staff make sense of these complex laws with the 2006 edition of our highly acclaimed Confidentiality and Communication: A Guide to the Federal Alcohol & Drug Confidentiality Law and HIPAA and our first-ever Online Courses.

The 2006 edition of our most popular book, Confidentiality & Communication: A Guide to the Federal Alcohol & Drug Confidentiality Law and HIPAA, explains everything you need to know about 42 C.F.R. Part 2 and HIPAA, with critical new information about recent rulings about HIPAA, updated model forms, and new sections on consent forms, use of modern technology, and many other topics.

Learn about confidentiality and get CEUs from the comfort of your homes or offices with the Legal Action Centers first-ever self-paced online training courses. The 2 hour Introduction course and 4 hour Advanced course explain what you need to know about both 42 C.F.R. Part 2 and HIPAA. They satisfy HIPAA training requirements and provide continuing education credits for users who pass the automatically-graded self-tests. You can start and stop the courses whenever you want, at your convenience.

The Legal Action Centers lawyers are the nations leading experts in confidentiality of alcohol and drug treatment and prevention records. Take advantage of that expertise and buy Confidentiality & Communication 2006 and our online courses today! Both are available at

Buy the book online for just $89.99, $10 off the regular price, or take advantage of our bulk rates and receive even greater discounts. (You can also download and print an order form to order at regular prices.)

The Introduction to Confidentiality online course is just $40 per seat, and Advanced Confidentiality is $75. Get a 10% discount by buying 10 or more seats!

Dont delay! There are no better ways to ensure compliance with the HIPAA privacy requirements and also 42 C.F.R. Part 2 than by purchasing Confidentiality and Communication 2006 and the on line courses. We guarantee you will learn how "to comply" with both laws, and you can have a full refund if you dont agree.


Paul N. Samuels
Legal Action Center

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Updated Directory of Drug, Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs Available

Updated Directory of Drug, Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs Available

CONTACT: Teddi Fine 240-276-2130

May 30, 2006

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) updated guide to finding local substance abuse treatment programs is now available. The guide, National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs 2006, provides information on thousands of alcohol and drug treatment programs located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and four U.S. territories.

The directory, a nationwide inventory of nearly 11,000 drug abuse and alcoholism treatment programs and facilities, is organized and presented in state-by-state format for quick-reference by health care providers, social workers, managed care organizations, and the general public. It lists both public and private facilities, all of which are licensed, certified, or otherwise approved by substance abuse agencies in each of the states.

The directory is designed to quickly provide the reader with key information not only about the location of specific facilities, but also about the nature of the programs and services provided, including level of care offered and areas of service specialization, such as programs for adolescents, persons with co-occurring substance abuse and mental disorders, individuals living with HIV/AIDS and pregnant women.

The 2006 directory identifies both long and short-term residential treatment facilities and facilities that provide residential beds for clients' children.

The updated directory is a paper-based complement to SAMHSA's internet-based Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator Service. The continuously-updated internet-based service provides driving directions to the nearest treatment facilities, as well as descriptions of services available, and contact information, including addresses and telephone numbers. By following simple instructions available on-line through this service, users can locate public and private substance abuse treatment facilities in any state, city or community anywhere in the nation. The direct website link is

To obtain a free copy of the National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs 2006, contact SAMHSA's Clearinghouse or call (800) 729-6686.


SAMHSA is a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is responsible for improving the accountability, capacity and effectiveness of the nation's substance abuse prevention, addictions treatment and mental health service delivery systems.