Date: March 19, 2018
Around the Nation
Trump opioid plan includes death penalty for trafficking
ABC News, 3/19/18
President Donald Trump's plan to combat opioid drug addiction calls for stiffer penalties for drug trafficking, including the death penalty where appropriate under current law, a top administration official said. It's something that Trump has been highlighting publicly in recent weeks. Trump also wants Congress to pass legislation reducing the amount of drugs needed to trigger mandatory minimum sentences for people who knowingly distribute certain illicit opioids, said Andrew Bremberg, Trump's domestic policy director, who briefed reporters Sunday on the plan Trump is scheduled to unveil Monday in New Hampshire, a state hard-hit by the crisis and that he once referred to as "drug infested."
Video: President Trump Delivers Remarks on Combatting the Opioid Crisis:
Most Opioid Aid in 2016 Law Still Unspent by States
The Crime Report, 3/19/18
Congress sent states hundreds of millions of dollars to fight an opioid crisis claiming more than 100 lives a day, but much of the money is unspent after a year, reports Politico. Mixed signals from the Trump administration on how to use the money and state challenges in ramping up their efforts have left untouched more than three-quarters of the $500 million Congress set aside under the 21st Century Cures Act in late 2016.
Related: "Hundreds of millions in state opioid cash left unspent" (Politico, 3/19/18):
Around Illinois
Proposed Illinois Law Requires ID for Opioid Prescriptions
Addiction Now, 3/19/18
A bill proposed by a Republican congressman would require people provide a valid ID for opioid prescriptions in the state of Illinois. The bill, HR 5219, the Opioid Prescription Verification Act, would make it obligatory for an individual to present a valid government-issued photo ID in order to purchase opioid medication. The bill also requires the pharmacist checking the identification to enter the name and address of the individual purchasing the opioid into a statewide database, along with details regarding the medication purchased and the details of the sale. Currently, pharmacists in Illinois are required to record details about the opioid medications they dispense in a statewide database. However, the data recorded in this statewide database does not include any information regarding the individual who is picking up the prescription.
IRS warns of fake charities after Illinois floods, amid tax season
Illinois News Network, 3/16/18
Not all charitable donations are tax deductible, and the IRS is warning that some are trying to take advantage of filers looking for last-minute write-offs at the filing deadline. Taxpayers that don't take the standard state and federal deduction will itemize their taxes often donating to charities or nonprofits for a deduction. But the Internal Revenue Service must approve of a charity for a filer to get the write-off. If not, there's no tax credit. IRS Spokesman Raphael Tulino says to always check a charity's tax status so that you aren't giving money to some scam artist. It's common for scammers to pose as charities in the wake of natural disasters, Tulino said, not unlike the recent flooding in Illinois. You can check to see if a charity is legitimate at Legitimate charities should be willing to give their Employer Identification Number (EIN) which can be used to verify their legitimacy through the IRS Select Check program.
Research, Reports, and Studies
Text Messaging Program Could Increase Adherence to Buprenorphine Treatment
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 3/15/18
Researchers are testing whether a text messaging system can increase patient adherence to buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction. "We use text messaging in our society for so many things, but for something as critical as opioid treatment, we really didn't have any text messaging system to support patients," said lead researcher Babak Tofighi, M.D. Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Tofighi works with patients at Bellevue Hospital, many of whom do not have access to smartphones. "Text messaging can reach people at all income levels, with all sorts of phones, even basic ones," he said. "The patient population we are targeting may not have iPhones, but they can receive texts. Even a simple reminder hopefully could increase adherence to treatment and reduce overdoses and relapses."
Teen suicide is soaring. Do spotty mental health and addiction treatment share blame?
USA Today, 3/19/18
The suicide rate for white children and teens between 10 and 17 was up 70% between 2006 and 2016, the latest data analysis available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although black children and teens kill themselves less often than white youth do, the rate of increase was higher - 77%. A study of pediatric hospitals released last May found admissions of patients ages 5 to 17 for suicidal thoughts and actions more than doubled from 2008 to 2015. The group at highest risk for suicide are white males between 14 and 21. Experts and teens cite myriad reasons, including spotty mental health screening, poor access to mental health services and resistance among young men and people of color to admit they have a problem and seek care.
Health & Justice in the News is a summary of recent news stories relating to criminal justice, mental health, addiction, recovery, and related issues. It is compiled and published by TASC each Monday and Thursday.
Some headlines and text have been altered by TASC for clarity or emphasis, or to minimize discriminatory or stigmatizing language. Opinions in the articles and op-eds do not necessarily express the views of TASC or our staff or partners.

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