Settlement Reached in Opioid Suit as Negotiations Continue in CA
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a historic $26 billion settlement that will help bring desperately needed relief to people in California and across the country who are struggling with opioid addiction. The settlement includes Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, a company that manufactured and marketed opioids. Read CSAC’s full response to the announcement here.
“These critical settlement funds are desperately needed to help California’s local communities heal from the severe devastation caused by opioids,” said Graham Knaus, Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties. “We are optimistic and confident that the Attorney General’s Office will negotiate and reach an agreement that provides funding and resources for counties and local communities to address this crisis.”
Upon the news of this national settlement, California’s Counties renew their ongoing commitment to working with the California Attorney General to reach an intrastate allocation agreement. Without such an agreement, counties cannot access funds from this national settlement, even though they are tasked with providing substance use disorder and prevention services on behalf of the state. California’s cities and counties have been in negotiations with the Attorney General’s office since last year, including thwarting legislative efforts to cut local governments out of the national settlement negotiations.
Spotlight: Fentanyl & Fake Pills
Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid, much stronger than other opioids like oxycodone, and is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. All forms of fentanyl can be dangerous and it’s important to know the differences.
- In its prescription form, fentanyl is used medically to treat severe or long-term pain in patients who need continuous relief.
- Prescription fentanyl is not usually linked to most synthetic opioid harms or overdoses.
However, fentanyl is also illegally manufactured and sold, and is one of the most common drugs associated with overdose deaths in the United States. In Ventura County, from 2019 to 2020 alone, fentanyl contributed significantly to a 45% increase in opioid-related fatal overdoses.
- In most cases, illegal fentanyl is made in Mexico, often supplied with ingredients from China, and the exact formula and potency are often unknown until it’s too late.
- Some drug dealers mix fentanyl with other drugs such as heroin or cocaine, so people might snort, swallow, smoke, or inject it without knowing.
- Fentanyl analogs, such a carfentanil, are chemically related to fentanyl, and are often more toxic.
- Illegal fentanyl and its counterpart, fake pills, are fueling the epidemic of drug overdoses in the United States.
The illicit form of fentanyl is also sold in counterfeit or fake pills, which are disguised as other drugs, frequently as round, blue pills. The deception can be deadly if someone believes they are taking a harmless pill.
- One in four fake pills tested by DEA labs contained a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.
- Fake pills are sold online and on apps that are popular with teens, who may believe they are buying something safe for anxiety or depression.
- Teens especially may believe that all medicine is safe and be unaware that the pill that appears safe is actually deadly.
Featured Campaign: Vaping Historietas
See our latest campaign about the risks of secondhand vaping. We developed this campaign to address the health risks related to vaping and how it can affect others. The historieta format shares the information through engaging short stories and highlights how vaping can affect children and other family members. The goal is to increase awareness that can lead to a safer home environment, especially for children who may be most vulnerable.
Secondhand Vaping Historietas
English videos: www.vapingfactcheckvc.org
Spanish videos: www.vapeoverificado.org
NAMIWalks Your Way Ventura County 2021
Join us for a United Day of Hope
Our 2021 NAMIWalks event will be a little different than what you might expect from a walk event— while making a lot of difference. It’s going to be “your way,” meaning you choose what you want to do on event day. Our collective mental health needs are at their greatest now. One in three U.S. adults reported experiencing depression or anxiety since the pandemic began. NAMI’s programs and advocacy are needed more than ever, and with your help, we are pleased to present NAMIWalks Your Way on Saturday, May 22.
What is NAMIWalks Your Way?
On May 22, NAMIWalks will be a virtual experience, united with NAMIWalks across the country. NAMIWalks Your Way means instead of putting one foot in front of the other, you get to put one feat in front of the other: participants get to use their creativity, with the main rule that we continue to advance towards our goal by leaps and bounds. The choice is yours on how you want to make this spring’s event fit into this spring’s reality.
We will have two team captains from VCBH, Esperanza Mata and Vince Franco.
BRITE World Health Expo for Ventura County Youth and Families
BRITE World is a super fun and exciting virtual environment giving users the chance to interact authentically vs. traditional distance learning platforms. BRITE World is another option to provide prevention education, youth development programs and events to students. Participants-as-avatars are immersed in vibrant game-like landscapes and interact and learn just like in-person. Organized and hosted in collaboration with schools and youth-serving community organizations, the Health Expo provides diverse worlds and activities to explore. Using fantastical scenes as backdrops, the Health Expo is full of fun and engaging learning and prevention education activities.
The virtual Reality Party experience, adapted to BRITE World in lieu of the in-person live event, features multiple scenes depicting unsafe and risky behaviors that can happen in a house party situation. There are interactive items and characters with information on drinking games, party drugs, vaping, impaired driving, and recognizing the signs of drug use. You can find tips on keeping teens safe and ways to engage in meaningful conversations.
Meth: Don’t Buy the Lie Campaign
The “Meth: Don’t Buy the Lie” campaign is targeted to young adults who may be at risk for trying meth. The goal of the campaign is to provide the truth about meth without preaching nor invoking the reflexive opposition which comes easily to people in this age range.
National Prevention Week – May 9-15
SAMHSA's National Prevention Week (NPW) is a public education platform that promotes prevention year-round through providing ideas, capacity building, tools, and resources to help individuals and communities make substance use prevention happen every day. NPW culminates in May recognizing the important work that has been done in communities throughout the year to inspire action and prevent substance use and mental disorders.
Each year around this observance, communities and organizations across the country come together to raise awareness about the importance of substance use prevention and positive mental health.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. And this year, more people than ever before are dealing with emotional challenges associated with the pandemic and the social upheaval experienced across our country. These stressors have amplified the need for public awareness and discussion of mental health as a key component of overall health. So, in conjunction with the national “May is Mental Health Awareness Month”, Ventura County Behavioral Health has launched a new countywide campaign, “I’m Talking About My Mental Health.”
This campaign was developed with de-stigmatization as a critical goal. By showing relatable people facing relatable challenges, reaching out for help and making positive changes in their lifestyles, we make the goal of improved mental health feel approachable and achievable. By personalizing the message – talking about “my” mental health – the campaign allows viewers to see others talking about, thinking about, and working on their mental health and fitness, and demonstrates this as normal and life-affirming behavior.
There are now billboards and posters in the community, public service announcements on the radio, and colleagues inviting discussion by wearing buttons or even using the themed Zoom background.
Please take a minute to get familiar with the campaign, and join us in promoting the discussion of mental health in the weeks ahead.
I’m Talking about My Mental Health
FDA Commits to Evidence-Based Actions Aimed at Saving Lives and Preventing Future Generations of Smokers
Efforts to ban menthol cigarettes, ban flavored cigars build on previous flavor ban and mark significant steps to reduce addiction and youth experimentation, improve quitting, and address health disparities.
FDA NEWS RELEASE
April 29, 2021
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it is committing to advancing two tobacco product standards to significantly reduce disease and death from using combusted tobacco products, the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. The FDA is working toward issuing proposed product standards within the next year to ban menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and ban all characterizing flavors (including menthol) in cigars; the authority to adopt product standards is one of the most powerful tobacco regulatory tools Congress gave the agency. This decision is based on clear science and evidence establishing the addictiveness and harm of these products and builds on important, previous actions that banned other flavored cigarettes in 2009.
“Banning menthol—the last allowable flavor—in cigarettes and banning all flavors in cigars will help save lives, particularly among those disproportionately affected by these deadly products. With these actions, the FDA will help significantly reduce youth initiation, increase the chances of smoking cessation among current smokers, and address health disparities experienced by communities of color, low-income populations, and LGBTQ+ individuals, all of whom are far more likely to use these tobacco products,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “Together, these actions represent powerful, science-based approaches that will have an extraordinary public health impact. Armed with strong scientific evidence, and with full support from the Administration, we believe these actions will launch us on a trajectory toward ending tobacco-related disease and death in the U.S.”
“For far too long, certain populations, including African Americans, have been targeted, and disproportionately impacted by tobacco use. Despite the tremendous progress we’ve made in getting people to stop smoking over the past 55 years, that progress hasn’t been experienced by everyone equally,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “These flavor standards would reduce cigarette and cigar initiation and use, reduce health disparities, and promote health equity by addressing a significant and disparate source of harm. Taken together, these policies will help save lives and improve the public health of our country as we confront the leading cause of preventable disease and death.”
April is Alcohol Awareness Month
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. We wanted to raise awareness of the risks of alcohol use. This is a great opportunity to have conversations about alcohol and other drugs with your kids.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day- April 24
April 24, 2021, 10am - 2pm
Ventura County is committed to preventing prescription drug misuse and abuse. One of the ways the county works to address the issue locally is by reducing access, especially to teens. The Ventura County Sheriff's Office in collaboration with Ventura County Behavioral Health established a countywide Rx disposal program that allows residents to safely dispose of unused, unwanted, or expired Rx medication via secure, confidential disposal bins. Over the last several years, this has expanded to other jurisdictions and retail pharmacies.
The DEA’s Take Back Day provides an opportunity to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. It encourages people to dispose of prescription drugs while also educating the public about the potential for abuse of medications.
What You Can Do
- Commit to safely disposing of your prescription drugs
- Get the facts on Rx & OTC drug abuse
- Dispel the myth that Rx drugs are safe to abuse
- Know the signs and symptoms of drug use
- Monitor and secure all medications
Medication Disposal Drop-off Locations
DEA Take Back Day
"Marijuana: What You Need to Know" Presentation
CVUSD's BreakThrough Student Assistance Program and The Conejo Schools Foundation gave a workshop for parents and students on Tuesday, March 23 on "Marijuana: What You Need to Know." Presentations were given by professionals from Los Robles Regional Medical Center, Ventura County Behavioral Health and the Thousand Oaks Police Department followed by a Q&A. This workshop was for all CVUSD Parents/Guardians and students 12 years of age and older.
See the presentation at https://youtu.be/EXkoaikkkVQ
March Parent/Guardian Workshop: "Marijuana: What You Need to Know"
Please join CVUSD's BreakThrough Student Assistance Program and The Conejo Schools Foundation for an online workshop on Tuesday, March 23 at 6:00 PM - "Marijuana: What You Need to Know."
Presentations will be given by professionals from Los Robles Regional Medical Center, Ventura County Behavioral Health and the Thousand Oaks Police Department followed by a Q&A.
This workshop is open to all CVUSD Parents/Guardians and students 12 years of age and older. A presentation will be given by Erika Fernandez, SUS Prevention Services, Community Services Coordinator.
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® 2021
March 22-28, 2021
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® links students with scientists and other experts to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens get from the internet, social media, TV, movies, music, or from friends. It was launched in 2010 by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to stimulate educational events in communities so teens can learn what science has taught us about drug use and addiction.
Teens may be seeking coping mechanisms to handle the increased stress that has come with many changes and challenges in their daily lives. Teens also need resources to develop the necessary skills to make informed decisions about their health.
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week®
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Featured Partner: BRITE Connections
Expressions of Gender: Creating Safe Spaces for Youth
BRITE (Building Resilience & Inclusion Through Engagement) engages and educates Ventura County’s youth on prevention and wellness topics. BRITE Connections, a free monthly livestream series open to youth ages 14+, brings together youth and adult experts in discussion on important issues. Expressions of Gender was the first BRITE Connections livestream event of 2021 and was held on January 28th. The event featured a performance of youth poetry and music titled “Stereotypes” and an expert panel of caring adults discussing gender expression and LGBTQ+ equity in schools within a Q&A format.
The event raised awareness about the negative effects on youth who feel excluded by and unable to express their gender identity due to the traditional binary views of gender roles and stereotypes that exist at home and at school. Youth that identify within this group are at an increased risk for many negative behavioral health outcomes including depression, suicide, and drug use. The event focused discussion on ways that teachers and parents can help support youth within this group.
BRITE Connections - Expressions of Gender livestream event
2021 Teens Kick Ash Virtual Conference
Teens Kick Ash is intended to develop the next generation of tobacco-free advocates. Through hands-on training and team-building activities, middle and high school students from all over Ventura County learn about e-products and other tobacco-related health risks. They do this while networking with peers on how to effect positive change in their own behavior, in their schools, and within their communities. The conference teaches students about nicotine addiction and the e-product and tobacco industry’s marketing strategies to attract young people.
Ventura County Office of Education (VCOE)
February 23 & 25, 2021
For information: www.vcoe.org/health/tka
Featured Resource for Teachers: Mind Matters Series, NIDA
“Mind Matters” includes engaging printed materials designed to help students in grades 5 – 8 understand the biological effects of drug misuse on the brain and body, along with identifying how these drug-induced changes affect both behaviors and emotions.
There is no more important time to address these issues with adolescents than in the middle school years, when they are forming opinions about the health risks of drugs. These educational materials are also easy to print and use. There is an accompanying Teacher’s Guide which includes background information and activities to enhance students’ learning.
Mind Matters Series, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Rx Drop-off Day - December 5
Drop off your unused and expired Rx Medications at the Oxnard Police Department's Rx Drop-Off Day on Saturday, December 5!
National Impaired Driving Prevention Month
Every year, thousands of individuals are arrested for impaired driving in Ventura County, causing harms to drivers, passengers and the public. Increasingly, marijuana and prescription drug use, alone or in combination with alcohol, are growing factors in DUIs countywide. Our goal is to reduce impaired driving among Ventura County youth and adults.
Get a Ride. Not a DUI.
REGISTER NOW! - 5th Annual Preventing Suicide: Help & Hope Conference
Register for the 5th Annual Preventing Suicide: Help & Hope Conference, which will be held online Thursday, December 10 at 9am.
Keynote Speaker Pablo Campos from Active Minds will share his insights about struggling with depression and addiction – and his road from attempting suicide to recovery.
Featured Resource: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Mind Matters Series
The Mind Matters series is a resource for teachers. Each booklet is devoted to a specific drug or drug group. Hard copies of the booklets in English can be ordered for free and both English and Spanish booklets are available online as printable PDFs. There is an accompanying Teacher’s Guide which includes background information and activities to enhance students’ learning.
SAVE THE DATE - 5th Annual Preventing Suicide: Help & Hope Conference
SAVE THE DATE for the 5th Annual Preventing Suicide: Help & Hope Conference, which will be held online Thursday, December 10 at 9am.
Keynote Speaker Pablo Campos from Active Minds will share his insights about struggling with depression and addiction – and his road from attempting suicide to recovery. Registration coming soon!
Teens, Vaping and COVID-19
Vaping puts teens and young adults at much higher risk of COVID-19
- A Stanford University study found that young people who have ever vaped are at 5X higher risk for being diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Youth believe their age protects them from COVID-19, but data show this is not true for those who vape.
Why teens and young adults?
- Sharing vapes with friends can increase infection rate
- COVID-19 can spread by hand-to-mouth touching during vaping
- Youth who vape in a group usually don’t distance or wear masks
- Vaping or smoking weakens and scars lungs and may lower resistance
- Vape aerosol may have virus-containing droplets
Research also shows:
- Users of vapes and cigarettes are 7X more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19
- Vapers are also at risk for EVALI and other harmful lung diseases
Now is the time to be someone who NEVER vapes.
How to Quit Vaping
- or download the app: teen.smokefree.gov/become-smokefree/quitstart-app
- Davies, N.G., Klepac, P., Liu, Y. et al. Age-dependent effects in the transmission and control of COVID-19 epidemics. Nat Med 26, 1205–1211 (2020).
- Gaiha, S. M., Cheng, J., & Halpern-Felsher, B. (2020). Association Between Youth Smoking, Electronic Cigarette Use, and Coronavirus Disease 2019. Journal of Adolescent Health.
"Talk. They Hear You." Campaign
See this campaign by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). This substance use prevention campaign helps parents and caregivers start talking to their children early about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs.
OK to Drive?
Many medications can impair your ability to drive, making you an unsafe driver while you’re taking them. It’s against the law to drive when you’re impaired. A prescription doesn’t mean it’s OK to drive.
This campaign, in partnership with the California Office of Traffic Safety, shares the message that pain medication and driving don’t mix! This is part of our Dental Prescribing Toolkit and patient education materials.
Exploring Racism as a Social Determinant of Health
BRITE (Building Resilience & Inclusion Through Engagement), a long-time contract provider with Substance Use Services – Prevention, is proud to share one of their projects, PhotoVoice Oxnard. Over the past year, BRITE has been working on this project which explores racism as a social determinant of health.
PhotoVoice is a visual research method that uses photography to capture issues of concern as a means for communication and stimulating social change. Through PhotoVoice, teens can become more engaged in their community and develop an ability to advocate for the changes that they want to see.
"Our experience living in our community allows us to provide evidence that shapes policy on gender, racial equity, behavioral health, and overall wellness. One powerful role we have as community members is sharing our stories on how our social environment affects our health and well-being."
Participants spoke to City Council members about their issues of concerns and their suggestions for change.
Dental Prescribing Toolkit
Teens who are prescribed opioids after their wisdom teeth are removed have a 33% higher risk of opioid misuse later in life.
"Dentists play a pivotal role and have a professional responsibility to reduce the misuse and abuse of opioids..." – California Dental Association
The Ventura County Rx Abuse & Heroin Workgroup, in partnership with the Office of Traffic Safety, is committed to working with the local dental community to reduce opioid misuse and fatal overdoses. Prescribers across the county are experiencing new healthcare challenges and evolving standards for patient care. The Dental Prescribing Toolkit includes information and materials to assist with patient communications on opioids and possible risks.
Working together, we are making a measurable difference locally: to individuals, to families, and to our community.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, October 24
Safe Medication Disposal
Ventura County is actively engaged and committed to preventing prescription drug misuse and abuse. One of the ways the county works to address the issue locally is by reducing access, especially to teens. The Ventura County Sheriff's Office in collaboration with Ventura County Behavioral Health established a countywide Rx disposal program that allows residents to safely dispose of unused, unwanted, or expired Rx medication via secure, confidential disposal bins.
The DEA’s Take Back Day provides an opportunity to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for abuse of medications.
National Recovery Month 2020
Strong communities make for strong recovery. Community members—including families, neighbors, employers, educators, charitable organizations, and faith-based institutions—are the backbone of communities that foster recovery among its residents. Research shows that peer support services can provide a valuable approach to guide individuals as they work to maintain recovery. Each September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), sponsors National Recovery Month. This observance celebrates the millions of Americans who are in recovery from mental and substance use disorders, reminding us that treatment is effective and that people can and do recover. It also serves to help reduce the stigma and misconceptions that cloud public understanding of mental and substance use disorders, potentially discouraging others from seeking help.
The theme for 2020 National Recovery Month is Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections.
Now in its 31st year, Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those living in recovery. Assistant Secretary for Mental Health andSubstance Use, Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, delivers a message for the 31st anniversary of National Recovery Month. Watch the video →