A few recent stories that made the headlines (OK, maybe not on the front page, but still):

Heroin overdose fatalities continue to climb

Unfortunately, this one won’t surprise anybody who works in treatment. Here’s the article, from the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that the CDC reports prescription drug fatalities still outnumber those from heroin by almost two to one (18,893 vs 10,574), but the trend is towards heroin. It’s simply evidence of the shift by chronic users to a cheaper, more readily available alternative. A trend we should expect to continue.

But it’s also signaled the re-emergence of a related phenomenon that we’ve seen before: the appearance of street heroin doctored with fentanyl, a far more potent drug. That often shows up in the form of a dramatic spike in an area’s overdose statistics. This one is from a Chicago TV station.

In medicine, fentanyl is prized because of its potency. It’s often effective in cases where other opioids simply aren’t up to the task of controlling pain. Commercially, fentanyl comes in a variety of ingenious forms: sublingual, buccal (between cheek and gum), an intranasal spray, and even a sugar-loaded, berry-flavored lollipop. Street heroin plus fentanyl adds the possibility of an extra ‘kick’– something intensely desired by the addict. The threat of death usually isn’t enough to dissuade them.

Supreme Court to hear case involving DWI blood tests

Here’s the story.

Some background: Over the years people arrested for DWI learned to refuse the blood test as a way of avoiding a possibly serious charge. In response, some states enacted new laws that brought criminal charges for simple refusal– with penalties attached. That brought howls of protest, on the grounds that a blood test (unlike the breath test) was invasive and should require a warrant. Cases from Minnesota and North Dakota have now made it all the way to the High Court.

Tales From Inside

Finally, from the liberal weekly right here in Santa Fe, a rather lurid account by a DWI offender of her experience during a night in jail, where she discovered widespread heroin use in a ‘party’ atmosphere. And a staff unwilling to do anything about it.

I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Shocked.