MEDIA

MEDIA MENTIONS

2020

OVERDOSE-RELATED CARDIAC ARREST OBSERVED BY EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES DURING COVID-19 EPIDEMIC

JAMA NETWORK, DECEMBER 3, 2020

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic took grip of the US 2 decades into an accelerating overdose crisis that caused more than 70 000 deaths in 2019 alone. Front-line health care professionals and officials have sounded the alarm that the social and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic may impede efforts to flatten the overdose curve. However, the state databases tracking overdose mortality often have long lags that stymie timely analysis and response. Emergency medical services (EMS) data provide a novel source of near-real-time information to track epidemiological trends during the COVID-19 pandemic. We leverage a large, national EMS database to characterize emergent trends in overdose mortality fueled by the pandemic.

STUDY DETAILS LIVES AND MONEY SAVED BY SUPERVISED DRUG CONSUMPTION

WBUR, NOVEMBER 13, 2020

“One of the sides could decide to drop the matter,” Leo Beletsky, a professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University, said. “This is exactly what the Biden-Harris administration must do. They should relinquish their misguided position that federal law stands in the way of public health measures proven to save lives.”

ONE SIMPLE WAY BIDEN COULD PROVE HE REGRETS HIS ROLE IN THE DRUG WAR

SLATE, NOVEMBER 18, 2020

“One of the sides could decide to drop the matter,” Leo Beletsky, a professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University, said. “This is exactly what the Biden-Harris administration must do. They should relinquish their misguided position that federal law stands in the way of public health measures proven to save lives.”

THE OREGON MODEL

THE BAFFLER, NOVEMBER 17, 2020

"Research by Leo Beletsky, a drug policy expert, finds that changes to drug laws must be followed up with intensive police training and monitoring—otherwise police could undermine reforms by using reasons other than drug possession to initiate stops and make arrests."  

I USED TO BE ADDICTED TO HEROIN. OREGON DECRIMINALIZING DRUG POSSESSION IS A HISTORIC VICTORY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.

PORTLAND MERCURY, NOVEMBER 6, 2020

"After refusing to cooperate with police during my first arrest, I was handcuffed and put in the backseat of a Portland Police Bureau cruiser. On the drive to jail, the officer behind the wheel turned a corner so fast that my face slammed into the grate separating the backseat from the front seats. I was unable to use my hands to prevent the impact. I will never forget his smirk as his eyes met mine in the rearview mirror."

VOTERS REJECTING THE WAR ON DRUGS IS A WIN FOR PUBLIC HEALTH

WIRED, NOVEMBER 5, 2020

When asked to relax laws around the use of psychoactive substances, voters said yes, whether they were in the reddest red states or the bluest blue. New Jersey, Arizona, and Montana all voted to legalize recreational cannabis. Mississippi voted to legalize medical marijuana, and South Dakota legalized both recreational and medicinal uses of weed. “Whenever drug reforms were on the ballot, they won quite handily,” says Leo Beletsky, an epidemiologist and the faculty director of Northeastern University’s Health in Justice Lab. “That shows a hunger for major shifts and reforms across party lines.”

INTERSECTIONAL STRUCTURAL VULNERABILITY TO ABUSIVE POLICING AMONG PEOPLE WHO INJECT DRUGS: A MIXED METHODS ASSESSMENT IN CALIFORNIA'S CENTRAL VALLEY

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DRUG POLICY, OCTOBER 28, 2020

Abusive and violent policing is an important determinant of health for people who inject drugs (PWID), which has been linked to structural vulnerability. However, further exploration of the intersectional nature of this vulnerability is warranted. California's Central Valley is a largely rural/suburban and politically conservative area, with high rates of injection drug use and overdose mortality, where rates of abusive policing of PWID have not been characterized.

"ADVOCATES PRESS LAWSUIT DESPITE DOC CLAIMS OF IMPROVED INVOLUNTARY ADDICTION TREATMENT

WBUR, OCTOBER 20, 2020

"As a member of the Section 35 commission, it's incredibly frustrating to see our worst fears realized," Beletsky said. "Although we didn't foresee the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's precisely the kind of issue that can arise when you put people in correctional, instead of health care, facilities."

FENTANYL PANIC GOES VIRAL: THE SPREAD OF MISINFORMATION ABOUT OVERDOSE RISK FROM CASUAL CONTACT WITH FENTANYL IN MAINSTREAM AND SOCIAL MEDIA

INTERNATIONAL DRUG POLICY JOURNAL, SEPTEMBER 16, 2020

Fueled by misinformation, fentanyl panic has harmed public health through complicating overdose rescue while rationalizing hyper-punitive criminal laws, wasteful expenditures, and proposals to curtail vital access to pain pharmacotherapy. To assess misinformation about health risk from casual contact with fentanyl, we characterize its diffusion and excess visibility in mainstream and social media.

"NEIGHBORS ORGANIZE METHADONE MILE PROTEST"

THE DAILY FREE PRESS, SEPTEMBER 3, 2020

Allison McBride, associate director projects and strategic planning at Northeastern’s Health in Justice Action Lab, said it’s been challenging for those in recovery to find shelter since the bridge closed.

“The problem is that there’s just a lack of beds in Boston, so it’s a bottleneck effect,” McBride said. “People just get stuck and they can’t find a bed.”

She said medical care providers must change their mindset about treating addiction.

“It’s all about, ‘let’s get you off of a substance right now,” Mcbride said, “rather than, ‘let’s try to address the fact that you don’t have a house, let’s try to address the fact that you are trying to work through this trauma that you’ve had from using and seeing people die around you.’”

"USE OF SERIOUS FATAL OVERDOSE CHARGE INCREASES IN PA"

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

"Cases of drug delivery resulting in death (DDRD) have been filed 680 times statewide. The number has increased almost every year between 2015 and 2019, with the 242 cases filed in 2019 representing a 356% increase over the 54 filed in 2015, the analysis found.

The felony offense can lead to a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.

The large number of DDRD cases means Pennsylvania by far has the most drug-induced homicide charges filed in the nation, according to data from the Health in Justice Action Lab at Northeastern University School of Law. Last year, Ohio — the state in second place — had a total of only 385 such cases."

"OREGON COULD BECOME THE FIRST STATE TO DECRIMINALIZE DRUGS IN NOVEMBER"

THE APPEAL, SEPTEMBER 1, 2020

“To substantially shift the experiences of people who use drugs in their communities, decriminalization must be coupled with meaningful police reform and efforts to build-up systems of support and care,” Leo Beletsky, director of the Health in Justice Action Lab at Northeastern University’s School of Law, told Political Report. “This is because police take advantage of wide discretion, continuing to surveil and control people who use drugs.” 

FROM CRISIS RESPONSE TO HARM PREVENTION: THE ROLE OF INTEGRATED SERVICE FACILITIES 

TJC INSTITUTE, SEPTEMBER, 2020

Crisis response in the United States is inefficient, ineffective, and often does more harm than good. Currently, police often lead the response to calls related to homelessness, substance use, mental or behavioral health crises, and other situations that are outside the core crime response mission of law enforcement. But carceral responses fail to solve an ongoing crisis, often resulting in more harm instead. Further, they fail to diagnose the underlying issues and prevent future crises.

NO "BACK TO NORMAL" AFTER COVID-19 FOR OUR FAILED DRUG POLICIES

INTERNATIONAL DRUG POLICY JOURNAL, AUGUST 11, 2020

Before COVID-19 pandemic, advocates had long urged drug policy reforms based on health, security, civil rights, racial justice, fiscal stewardship, and other considerations. In the United States, such calls went largely unanswered. In response to COVID-19, public health and occupational safety concerns have rapidly transformed some drug policies, along with their enforcement. Almost contemporaneously, nationwide protests against violence and racism by militarized police have highlighted the enduring legacy of the Drug War in fueling carceral systems. Disruption from these historical events provides a once-in-a-century opportunity to reconsider the legal architecture of drug policy and policing–both in the U.S. and elsewhere. Rather than returning to a fundamentally broken and inequitable status quo, we urge envisioning a new drug policy in service to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

AMID PANDEMIC, AN OVERDUE CHANGE IN OPIOID ADDICTION TREATMENT

UNDARK, MAY 7, 2020

"Melissa Weitzel was one of the “lucky” ones. After two years in a treatment plan for opioid use disorder, the 25-year-old earned permission to take home up to four daily doses at a time of methadone, a medication that significantly reduces patients’ risk of relapse and fatal overdose. That meant she had to take the 30-minute bus ride to her treatment clinic, outside of Philadelphia, just three times a week; she’d started out having to travel to the clinic nearly every day to take doses on site."- Zachary Siegel

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