Why create needle exchange programs in the first place?
Around the globe there are illicit drug users who inject drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and prescription pills directly into the bloodstream with syringes or needles. For many IV users, sterile needles can be hard to come by and drug paraphernalia in some countries make them hard to acquire. As a result of this many drug users share needles, spreading diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. These diseases have become near pandemics.
That is why some activists and cities started to open what some have today known as needle exchange programs.
What are needle exchange programs?
Needle exchange programs are government funded programs that supply clean needles to drug addicts so that they are at a lower risk of sharing needles and spreading diseases. Needle exchange programs are harm prevention for those who didn’t “just say no to drugs”.
The opponents take on needle exchange programs-‘Just Say No’
Those who are opposed to the needle exchange program argue that needle exchange programs condone illicit and immoral behavior. They believe that governments should focus on punishing drug users, discouraging them from using drugs and providing treatment for quitting.
Those who are opposed to needle exchange programs also believe that these programs send the wrong message.
They say that needle exchange programs muddle the message to the community and young people. Needle exchange programs, as harm reduction campaigns, instead of supporting zero tolerance, say ‘if you do decide to take drugs, we’ll help you with clean needles’.
Those opposed to needle exchange programs believe that there should be a clear ‘NO’ on drugs. And last but not least those opposed to needle exchange programs say that HIV transmission and Hepatitis C transmission have increased despite the use of needle exchange campaigns and programs and not just that but if an addict should choose to use drugs they must live with the risk of transmitting diseases.
Those opposed to needle exchange programs believe that increasing treatment is a better idea than increasing the number of needle exchange programs. Those opposed say there are better ways of attacking the drug problem than legally giving away clean needles. Those against needle exchange programs want to do things different; such as providing more health care coverage for the uninsured, creating more opportunities for counseling and increasing funding for drug treatment.
The advocates take on needle exchange programs-Harm Reduction
Those who are advocates for needle exchange programs fully believe in harm reduction. They believe that harm reduction should be over all else. They say that if individuals are unwilling or unable to change their addictive behaviors at the time, they should not be denied needle exchange programs to keep them safe. Some describe this advocacy for needle exchange programs as compassionate and pragmatic.
In response to needle exchange programs condoning drug, advocates of the needle exchange programs say that they don’t condone but offer care. Advocates believe that providing clean needles to IV drug users does not condone the behavior but says that they will still care about them and want them to be healthy again as a first step to becoming a productive member society.
Needle exchange programs according to those who are pro needle exchange campaigns are not just about protecting the drug addicts they are also about protecting the public from the consequences of spreading disease. Needle exchange programs decrease the spread of infectious disease and therefore reduce healthcare costs too. Not only do needle exchange programs save money by inhibiting the spread of disease according to advocates it also keeps tax payers from having to pay for the treatment that most addicts with HIV or Hepatitis C use, government funded treatment.
It is said, that those drug users who use needle exchange programs or have needle exchange programs in their area have an increased likelihood of attending drug rehab or addiction treatment. This is because of the area of compassion that needle exchange programs provide while also being able to give drug users a way out when they show up if they choose they want to stop. In some instance advocates believe this is better than using treatment as a punishment or alternative to jail.
When it comes to needle exchange programs the debate could go on, literally forever, of the pros and cons. The point is though that addiction is a disease; most addicts can’t stop using drugs unless they get outside help. Whether it’s through opening more opportunities for drug treatment and counseling or harm reduction through needle exchange programs which can lead to a more healthy lifestyle, I feel as if the whole point should try to be helpful not hurtful.
My own personal opinion? A harm reduction facility probably saved my life while I was using. I am not trying to sway anyone’s thoughts in one direction or the other I just know what is true for myself and hopefully you can find what is true for you.
So, needle exchange programs: Harm Reduction or ‘Just Say No’. What are your thoughts?
If you or someone you know needs treatment for substance abuse call us at 800-951-6135 or visit us online at www.palmpartners.com.
U.S District Judge Kenneth Mara sentenced Steven Goodman to 2 ½ years of home confinement with four years of probation afterwards for his involvement in running a prescription “pill” mill. Steven was a part of a large pain clinic operation in which he supplied over 1 million oxycodone pills to illegal clinics. Those illegal clinics were operated by the notorious Wellington twins: Jeff and Christopher George. Steven Goodman was also ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 and close his pharmacy wholesale business within two weeks. He lost his license to distribute narcotics months ago and is expected to full lose his ability to distribute any drugs.
Goodman was remorseful for his crimes and asked Mara for leniency:
“I was a fool. I was stupid. I knew better than to sell to doctors at pain clinics, but I did it,” he said. “I disgraced myself, my friends and my profession. I am truly sorry for what I’ve done.”
In March of 2010, the wins and 31 co-conspirers were arrested in this case with charges including but not limited to murder, fraud, and racketeering. The George’s hired physicians off of Craigslist to fill prescriptions; built pharmacy’s to fill the prescriptions, and rain their steroid telemarketing business out of a mobile MRI business that operated behind a strip club. The whole thing just sounded like something out of a movie. In the end they sold over 20 million prescriptions, made $50,000 a day, and were responsible for the deaths of 56 people from overdoses. This was probably the biggest and most sophisticated local prescription drug ring Palm Beach County has ever faced.
Judge Mara sentenced Jeff George to 15 ½ years and his twin brother, Christopher to 17 ½ years in prison for their crimes. It is estimated that the brothers served roughly 500 drug dealers and addicts daily and that the five doctors he had on payroll made about 1 million dollars each.
This was a horrific example of how serious and dangerous prescription pill addiction is. There were 56 deaths from overdose linked back to this pain clinic and so far Jeff George has been charged with second degree murder for only one of those overdoses. In the end no one wins and families are torn apart.
If you or someone you love needs help for their prescription drug addiction please give us a call 24/7 at 800-951-6135.
Labor Day weekend: For most people, this involves cookouts, long days at the beach, time with family and friends, and a few drinks. As drug addicts and alcoholics, we can have all of the fun; we just can’t have the drinks. So how do you stay sober on Labor Day weekend when everyone else around you is drinking?
There is a lot of talk about relapse during holidays. Some feel that the party atmosphere and the readily available booze can be a dangerous temptation for addicts and alcoholics to relapse over Labor Day weekend. They tell you to call your sponsor more often, go to more meetings, and avoid situations where everyone will be drinking. I think this is good advice if you are new in sobriety and you haven’t worked twelve steps.
In addiction treatment, there is often a lot of talk about “triggers”: identifying personal triggers, how to deal with them when they come up, and steps to take to avoid them. Triggers are anything that causes an addict to think about using drugs or drinking. Many people think holiday atmosphere, stress from being around family, and being around booze can trigger addicts and alcoholics to relapse over Labor Day weekend.
I don’t believe in “triggers” for people who have worked 12-steps and are living by spiritual principles. I just don’t think they exist. Part of the freedom we gain by working twelve steps and helping other addicts is the ability to go anywhere and do anything without fear of relapse; even on holidays like Labor Day weekend.
The 10th step promises state:
“And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone; even alcohol.
For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and will find that this happened automatically.
We see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality; safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky, nor are we afraid. That is our experience.
That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.”
-The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
So basically, if you have worked 12-steps, you stay sober over Labor Day weekend the same way you stay sober the other 364 days a year: God-dependency, sponsorship, living by spiritual principals, etc. Labor Day weekend is really no different from any other weekend if we are in fit spiritual condition.
If you or someone you know needs drug or alcohol treatment, call us at (800) 951-6135 or visit us online at www.palmpartners.com.
In the News: FDA Approves New Combination Pill for HIV Treatment
I always get excited when I hear about new treatments for chronic illnesses because we all know someone impacted by at least one. Chronic illnesses such as Cancer, Diabetes, HIV, Alcoholism, and Hepatitis C all rank high on the national health agenda for research, funding and allocation of treatment. Preventing and treating chronic illnesses are necessary to preserve the health of our nation.
Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a press release today approving the Gilead produced drug – Stribild for treatment of HIV infection. Stribild is a new once-a-day combination pill to treat HIV-1 infection in adults who have never been treated for HIV infection.
“Stribild contains two previously approved HIV drugs plus two new drugs, elvitegravir and cobicistat. Elvitegravir is an HIV integrase strand transfer inhibitor, a drug that interferes with one of the enzymes that HIV needs to multiply. Cobicistat, a pharmacokinetic enhancer, inhibits an enzyme that metabolizes certain HIV drugs and is used to prolong the effect of elvitegravir. The combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, approved in 2004 and marketed as Truvada, blocks the action of another enzyme that HIV needs to replicate in a person’s body. Together, these drugs provide a complete treatment regimen for HIV infection.
Through continued research and drug development, treatment for those infected with HIV has evolved from multi-pill regimens to single-pill regimens,” said Edward Cox, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “New combination HIV drugs like Stribild help simplify treatment regimens.” [FDA, 2012]
The common HIV multi-pill treatment process has now been simplified and when you take a look at the long list of HIV medications that an HIV positive person must take, this is nothing short of a miracle. Anti-HIV Medicines
The main drug treatment for people with HIV is Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART)which slows the growth of HIV in ones’ body. HAART is made up of different kinds of medicines: [FDA, 2012]
1. Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)
2. Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)
3. Protease Inhibitors
4. Fusion Inhibitors
5. Integrase Inhibitors
6. Entry Inhibitors
7. Combination Drugs
The different types of medicines per category range anywhere from one drug to thirteen. For example, the “entry inhibitor” drug is Selzentry while the “Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor drugs” are Emtriva, Epivir, Epzicom, Hivid, Retrovir, Truvada,Videx EC, Viread, Zerit, Ziagen. That’s just for two of the different types of drugs needed to treat HIV. Everyone is different and depending on different factors (length of infection, progression of infection, sex, age, etc.) different types of medication and dosages are prescribed to combat HIV.
The safety and effectiveness of Stribild was evaluated in 1,408 adult patients not previously treated for HIV in two double-blind clinical trials. Results showed between 88 percent and 90 percent of patients treated with Stribild had an undetectable amount of HIV in their blood, compared with 84 percent treated with Atripla and 87 percent treated with Truvada plus atazanavir and ritonavir.
Although this new drug relieves HIV patients from the task of taking many pills it has some pretty severe side effects like fatal lactic acid build up or liver problems. Other Stribild side effects include nausea, diarrhea, kidney problems, decreased bone mineral density, fat redistribution and changes in the immune system.
Read the full FDA press release here.
If you or someone you love is in need of drug and/or alcohol rehab please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Visualizing a drug free life is not merely picturing what it would look like to live without the use of drugs and alcohol once in a blue moon. Visualizing a drug free life is a consistent and persistent practice which can lead to the ability to achieve a life without the use of drugs and alcohol.
Visualizing a drug free life, can be related to daydreaming in a sense. You know how you sat in class when you were in high school and pictured all the fun things you were going to do on the weekend? It would make you feel good to visualize those things as your teacher droned about next week’s math quiz. Visualizing a drug free life is as simple and yet as important as that.
When you begin visualizing a drug free life for yourself, as an addict and alcoholic, your future all of a sudden becomes more defined. The more clearly you can visualize a drug free life the better. Picture yourself 6 months from now without the use of drugs and alcohol. Visualize a drug free life which consists of being happy, having a healthy relationship with your family-being able to be a mother, father, daughter, sister, brother, or son. Imagine the holidays, sitting around with your family sober and able to communicate, no fights just laughter. Visualize a drug free life where you are walking into college again which had been a lost dream, you have a career, a healthy relationship, you’re doing all those things you only have ever talked about, you’re free, you travel the world and go to your favorite spots and your life quite simply is beyond your wildest dreams. Visualizing a drug free life in great detail like this causes the brain to believe that attaining all of this is possible. The best part is that it is.
Visualizing a drug free life as you can see from the above paragraph doesn’t just consist of conjuring a still picture of you sober with your one year medallion in your mind. Visualizing a drug free life consists of picturing a movie where you are sober and happy. When you visualize, try to capture how you would feel, what you would pay attention to, how you have more pep in your step. Make your visualization as extraordinary as you can.
Visualizing a drug free life or visualizing any goals you want to attain just every now and then can be effective but not as effective as sitting down for a few minutes every day and practicing this technique. The more often you visualize achieving positive things for yourself the more effective it will be. If you want to make visualizing a drug free life even more effective during your times of daydream, then put some music on to amp it up! Music, that really gets you excited and energized. If you listen to music you can really feel while visualizing a drug free life, all of a sudden your vision gets much more powerful. See your drug free life clearly, loudly, and so vividly that you can smell it, taste it, and see the vibrancy in the color of your visualization.
Visualizing a drug free life is something that can literally create new patterns in the brain and this is essential to alcoholics and addicts who have been struggling with staying sober. If you wonder about the power of visualizing a drug free life, just take a few minutes each day for about a week or so to visualize and make sure you put yourself in the starring role of your movie. If you do this, you are bound to feel some kind of effect.
Source: Redemption from Addiction by Jerry Egan.
If you or someone you love is in need of drug or alcohol rehab please give us a call at 800-951-6135.