RxSafe Marin Newsletter Volume 11 - Issue 7 - July 2020
In this Issue: NOPAIN Act I Pandemic Powers the Opioid Epidemic I Coronavirus Fuels Demand for Mental Health Services I Crushing the Curve I Self-Care Can Make You Resilient, Like Water Off a Duck I Old Habits Die Hard I Stigma Corner
RxSafe Marin is a broad-based community coalition dedicated to reducing harm from prescription drug abuse and saving lives.
Pandemic Powers the Opioid Epidemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic collides with the Opioid Epidemic, many people are suffering from the impact. Anxiety, uncertainty, isolation, financial worries, changes at home are threats to people with a substance use disorder (SUD) or cause those at risk of developing one.
Researchers say it’s too early for definitive data on how the pandemic afflicts people with SUD but early indicators concern experts. A recent analysis of 500,000 urine drug tests by a national laboratory showed an increase of 32% for fentanyl, 20% for meth, and 10% for cocaine from mid-March through May 2020.  An analysis released by the White House reported overdose deaths were up by 11.4% from January to April of this year when compared with the same period in 2019.
The New York Times reports the Covid-19 pandemic could markedly affect our nation's mental health and risk of substance use. Health care systems need to develop a strategy to meet the evolving needs of the SUD population amid Covid-19. 
Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation ~ NOPAIN Act 
The bipartisan legislation to expand access to non-opioid medications introduced by  Representatives Sewell and McKinley, the 
Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (NOPAIN) Act (S. 3067/H.R. 5172), has been languishing in the House of Representatives since November 2019. The bill proposes important changes to Medi-Cal to pay for opioid-alternative treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). Non-opioid treatment alternatives are not being prescribed because the cost of this treatment is not covered by Medi-cal. Many procedures and surgeries use opioids as the first method of managing pain even when the patient’s pain management does require opioid medication. NOPAIN does not seek to limit access to opioids as many people need them to effectively manage pain. Instead, the NOPAIN Act seeks to increase access to other pain management options. It is estimated that 3 million Americans become dependent on opioids every year after being prescribed opioids post-surgery.
To learn more about non-opioid pain alternatives from the National Institute for Pain (NIDA).
CoronaVirus Fuels Demand for Mental Health Services
The Marin Independent Journal’s article, Coronavirus Fuels Demand for Marin Mental Health Services details the ways the Coronavirus is impacting the mental health of the Marin community. Since the pandemic began, news about the virus has been nonstop and when you add social distancing, unemployment, home-schooling, wearing a mask, and uncertainty about our future, it’s a drain on everyone’s mental health.  
Mental health specialists in Marin say they’ve seen an increased demand for their services since the coronavirus pandemic began. The number of patients who were taken to Marin Health Medical Center on 5150 or psychiatric holds increased from 32 in April to 46 in June, a 44% increase.
An innovative Health & Wellness collaboration of Bay Area counties including Marin, has come together for the creation of a new website, This site focuses on understanding and empathy by providing important advice and resources in response to the mental health needs during the increasingly stressful nature of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We get it. This is tough stuff” welcomes visitors and the site is split into only two sections, “Help Yourself”, and “Help Others”. Each section allows you to filter through dozens of articles addressing a wide variety of topics from ideas about how best to shop for food to how to stay active without the gym or how to spend time with grandparents while practicing social distancing.
If you are feeling stressed about the uncomfortable state of the world or if you know someone who is having a hard time handling all of this, Crushing the Curve can help. Being strong is overrated and hard to maintain…It’s okay to need help, it’s okay to receive help.
Self-Care Can Make You Resilient, Like Water Off a Duck
The Marin County Employee Assistance Program (EAP) partnered with Kaiser to offer a webinar focusing on practical coping skills to help navigate these exasperating times. Coping with COVID is a free sixty-minute webinar that provides not just coping tips but provides the science behind coping and why self-care benefits mental health. Watch the webinar and review the follow-up resources. 
Click here to learn more about upcoming free mental health events offered by the County of Marin. 
Would you like to speak with someone? FREE Mental Health Counseling is available to all Bay Area Frontline Workers through the Frontline Workers Counseling Project (FWCP). Same-day or next-day sessions are available and counseling services are conducted remotely by video or phone. 
Old Habits Die Hard: Barriers to Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Pharmacies
There are significant barriers to Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) in the medical industry and pharmacy settings even though buprenorphine is championed as a successful treatment for patients because it satisfies neurological needs for opioids. Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) patients use buprenorphine to control the physical cravings for opioids which in turn, can free them to lead a healthier life, hold down a job and become a better parent. A paper published by the International Journal of Drug Policy, surveyed pharmacists to determine their assessment of buprenorphine for OUD, determine buprenorphine dispensing practices and their opinion of MAT treatment. The paper found that pharmacists limited buprenorphine dispensing by refusing to serve new OUD patients, limiting dispensing to current OUD patients and by refusing to dispense buprenorphine altogether. The key causes undermining pharmacist trust in buprenorphine included concerns about exceeding the DEA policy “cap” on opioid dispensing, fraudulent marketing of opioids by Big Pharma, and overprescribing of opioids by doctors. Obsolete policies and stigma were the major issues preventing pharmacists from fully embracing MAT. Learn more
Allies For Hope Survivors of Suicide (SOS)
Bereavement Support Group VIRTUAL
2nd Wednesday of the month at 7:00pm.
For more info or Zoom link, call 415.492.0614
or send an email to
Is Stigma Stronger Than Safety - Ask an Inmate
Experts say the COVID-19-19 pandemic disproportionately affects vulnerable at-risk communities and when I first learned about the COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin State Prison, I wondered if this is what they meant. Curious, I did a little research and found out that the catastrophic outbreak at San Quentin was not caused by environment, income or living situation instead, it was caused by human incompetence. In case you missed it, around the end of May, San Quentin prison had zero coronavirus cases but another prison in LA, Chino State had more COVID-19-19 cases than any other state prison. To protect at-risk inmates in Chino, prison administration decided to moved 121 aging or with underlying medical conditions to San Quentin which sparked one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the country. Read more at RxSafe Marin...
Stigma Archive
  1. How to address Stigma Effectively? Considerations to Consider
  2. How Stigma Affects Substance Use Disorder: Treatment and Emergency Response   
  3. DRUG EPIDEMICS IN THE US – A Historical Perspective of Stigma
  4. Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, and Names WILL Hurt Me: How Stigmatizing Language Hinders Treatment
Looking for RxSafe, LLC, makers of the RxSafe 1800 and RxASP automation systems? Click here to visit their website, or email them Please note that RxSafe, LLC is not formally affiliated with RxSafe Marin.
RxSafe Marin Newsletter, July 2020
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