Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in February of this year the mayor of Ithaca, New York began pursuing a plan that would establish safe heroin injection sites in Ithaca in an attempt to battle the opiate epidemic raging across the country. This controversial harm reduction tactic is getting brought up a lot more lately. Other states are also looking into starting up similar contingencies for their citizens. Now, the Big Apple is set to spend quite a bit of money and resources investigating the merits of safe heroin injection sites. That’s right, New York City is now taking a closer look at how safe heroin injection sites operate, wondering if it might be a decent plan after all.
Talking about the tab…
One of the big things people seem to be focused on right now is the money. Some believe providing addicts with a clean, medically supervised facility to use is a waste. They believe that what it will be doing is promoting heroin addiction while enabling it, all at the city’s expense.
So far, the tab is already pretty steep. The City Council has announced it will be allocating $100,000 to study the practice. This money will go to the Health Department for a nine-month study to determine whether it makes sense to open safe heroin injection facilities.
Shouldn’t be much of a surprise that these desperate times have called for such desperate measures in New York City. The study comes as the Big Apple is still reeling from a record 937 fatal drug overdoses in 2015, a 66% increase since 2010. With 2016 coming closer to the end, it is a wonder if this will be another record year for the five boroughs. Overdose death rates are a huge factor in a lot of new movements for change.
What are safe heroin injection sites?
Safe heroin injection sites are facilities where intravenous drug users are permitted to use the drug intravenously under medical supervision. The sites offer a place where addicts can use without fear of arrest, in case of an overdose. The idea is to have staff trained and available to be able to save lives. At the same time, the hope is to reduce other risks associated with intravenous drug use.
Several safe heroin injection sites already exist in dozens of cities outside the United States. Should America be next? Some of the countries who use this practice include:
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito commented saying,
“It’s been done and been implemented in other areas [of the world], so we just want to look up what the viability would be in New York,”
This seems like a pretty fair response to the epidemic; trying to explore and educate officials on more options that could help. And beyond reducing overdose deaths, HIV and viral hepatitis transmission, safe heroin injection sites work to connect addicts with drug-treatment options. So it isn’t just about giving them a safe place to get high, but also making them feel safe and supported whenever they try to get help.
Conservatives in opposition
But of course there is a great deal of opposition. Michael Long, the state Conservative Party Chairman, claims the $100,000 could-
“- be put to better use than sending a message that it is OK to use intravenous drugs as long as you use a government-sanctioned place.”
However, the reality is that the money is being utilized in a way that serves it’s initial purpose. $5.6 million is already set aside in the city budget to combat AIDS. The $100,000 for the safe heroin injection site study is coming from that bulk of finances.
So while surely some would not be all for spending the tax-payers dollar on researching “legal drug dens” the truth is the money is going somewhere that could make a huge difference to the effect of what tax-payers originally intended it for.
The safe heroin injection study
According to a council memo, as far as the actual study itself, the researchers will review data that pertains to:
- Health conditions and disease transmission related to heroin and other injected drugs
- Evaluate existing supervised injection facilities
- Assess legal issues
- Input from select “city officials and community experts”
This isn’t the first radical idea on this side of the country. Seattle is also considering safe heroin injection sites. Earlier this year, Boston opened a facility where addicts can use under safe medical observation. However these people have to inject drugs elsewhere. This doesn’t seem like as good of a plan, because it’s basically asking for addicts to use and drive. Still, it is some kind of innovation in a different direction.
Preventing of death and the spread of disease is vital. As the death rate escalates in relation to heroin addiction and infections caused by intravenous drug use, prevention is increasingly important. These programs may be controversial, but the cost of losing lives is a lot higher than spending some money looking into alternatives.
Beyond harm reduction, there is real recovery. Real recovery begins with effective and innovative treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Recently, we wrote about how the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the controversial decision to ban kratom by making it a Schedule I drug. While the ban is set to go into effect by the end of this week, advocates of the herbal supplement refuse to go down without a fight. A bipartisan group of 51 House lawmakers recently joined the chorus of opposition to the DEA’s upcoming ban.
To give a quick overview: Back in late August, the DEA announced it would prohibit kratom due to various reports of health implications associated with the use of the drug. The ban would temporarily add Kratom to the schedule 1 category of narcotics along with substances like Marijuana, heroin, and LSD.
The DEA made it clear the decision was due to kratom’s high potential for abuse and the lack of medical benefit of the drug. However, advocates passionately argue that kratom is useful for drug withdrawal and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Therefore, placing kratom in the schedule 1 category would effectively ban it from those who regularly use the drug. Many users find the drug useful in treating, pain, depression, high blood pressure among other ailments.
The ban sparked a broad range of controversy. Now, members of Congress have joined the chorus of opposition. A bipartisan group of 51 House Representatives just signed a letter urging DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg to delay the ban.
“As our nation continues to combat the public health crisis of opioid abuse, the federal government has invested significant resources to develop alternative pain management strategies,” reads the letter.
The letter urged the delay to continue the federally funded study of kratom as a possible treatment option for opioid withdrawal. By placing kratom on the Schedule I category, the letter states it will “put a halt on federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions.”
While kratom is not for everyone, many find it a compelling alternative to prescription drugs. Earlier this month, Susan Ash, founder of the American Kratom Association, revealed that her organization has been receiving thousands of calls from people across the United States concerned about losing kratom and resorting to prescription drugs instead.
“I am completely swamped,” Ash told The Fix. “I have thousands of people afraid of relapse. People are explicitly telling us they are terrified of losing their quality of life or even their lives.”
51 House Representatives Urges Delay On Ban
The House representatives’ letter to the DEA urges them to delay the ban and allow more time to consult with “consumers, researcher, and other stakeholders.” When the ban was initially passed, the DEA did not allow any opposition in regards to their decision to ban kratom.
Instead, the DEA argued their decision was valid by citing a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which stated that kratom poisoning was the cause for 660 calls to poison centers across the country between 2010 and 2015. The DEA argued that these numbers clearly indicated the need for the ban. They also pointed to 16 reported kratom-related deaths between 2014 and 2016 to further justify their decision.
Still, these numbers are far overshadowed by other drugs, both legal and illegal. Those in opposition point to the numbers of calls the poison control center receives over laundry pod poisonings. These calls far surpass the number of calls they receive in regards to kratom. Both the House lawmakers and kratom advocates think it is not a good idea to restrict access to Kratom when so many people are searching for safer pain relief alternatives rather than prescription pills.
“This hasty decision could have serious effects on consumer access and choice of an internationally recognized herbal supplement,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
Kratom does have the potential for abuse. However, it does have potential medical benefits. While the use of any drug is not ideal, the reality is harm reduction remains a crucial topic of discussion. Further research is needed before a ban on kratom is made. Do you agree with the ban?
Overall, if you are struggling with any substance abuse, legal or illegal, you need to research out for treatment. We have the tools to help in your recovery. Do not wait. Call today.
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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
The overdose epidemic is affecting regions across the United States. In Miami Florida, deaths so far in 2016 are expected to surpass last year’s numbers, if they haven’t already.
One of the main culprits in increasing the number of overdoses in the area is fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic narcotic that can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin. The drug is killing drug users at an alarming rate. In March 2016, Miami Fire Rescue treated 273 people for heroin and fentanyl overdoses. As a result, first responders are overwhelmed by the peak in overdoses.
The drug has flooded South Florida streets from Mexico and China over the past few years. Through August of this year, Miami-Dade Country Medical Examiner’s Office has already reported 130 deaths related to fentanyl-overdoses. Compare that to number between 2010 and 2014, when only about 20 people a year died from overusing the drug.
“The problem is bad, and it’s getting worse,” said Miami Fire Chief Maurice Kemp.
Kemp revealed that in the first eight months of this year, paramedics had administered Narcan to 1,023 people. Those numbers are shockingly higher considering only 493 doses were administered last year. Also, costs to the city for Narcan have soared from $43,000 to more than $155,000.
Law enforcement experts believe the rise in opioid abuse is due to the crackdown years back on Oxycodone. Over the past few years, drugs like oxycodone have become increasingly harder to obtain because of the now known potential these drugs have for abuse. However, because prescription painkillers are more difficult to obtain, drug users are turning to heroin because it is a cheaper, more accessible option. Sadly, often users who believe they are buying heroin are receiving fentanyl instead. The drug can be used through a patch, snorted, swallowed or injected.
The Miami Herald chronicled the rise of the synthetic drug in its Pipeline China series last year.
Attempts to cut the pipelines from other countries to South Florida have proved troublesome. Purchasers simply find new ways to ship the drugs, some ways posing a danger to postal workers who can be exposed if the drugs touch their skin.
Furthermore, prosecutions have been difficult because investigators have a difficult time targeting primary suppliers instead of low-level street dealers. Still, there have been some. In March, a Miramar man was sentenced to a ten-year prison term after being found importing variants of fentanyl from a prisoner in Canada, who was, in turn, ordering the drugs from China. Authorities discovered that he was using the currency known as Bitcoin to pay for the drugs.
To combat the epidemic, a dozen South Florida law enforcement and government authorities gathered on Friday at the Miami Police College Auditorium. They presented slideshows and spoke on the dangers of the drugs to the public.
The arresting of dealers is difficult. The majority of fentanyl that is distributed in the country arrives through the Dark Web or Dark Net, stated Homeland Security Deputy Special Agent John Toban. These underground websites are hard to track because the IP addresses are hidden.
“It’s a national priority, dismantling those organizations,” he said.
Now with fentanyl seen on a regular basis, police are finding it takes more time for the overdose antidote Narcan to work in reversing the effects of the drug.
“Now with the fentanyl and all the other synthetic drugs that are out there, it’s taking a lot longer and, sometimes, it doesn’t even work,” Miami Department of Fire-Rescue Capt. Archie Vazquez said.
Unfortunately, the new drugs on the market make it hard to guarantee any lives will be saved directly by using Narcan.
“If their respiratory drive goes out and they stop breathing, the outcome is going to be fatal,” Vazquez said.
Overall, the overdose epidemic is affecting counties throughout the state of Florida. There needs to be a change. Addiction is a disease that requires a precise treatment plan. If you are struggling, do not wait. You owe it to yourself to get the help you need. Call now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
If you smoke cigarettes, I know you probably do not want to read another article about how much cigarettes are bad for you. You already know that.
And as much as I would love to say this article was not going to be like the rest, I’d be lying. Scientists have found yet another reason why smoking is so bad for you: it can permanently damage your DNA.
Quitting smoking is not an easy feat, but perhaps understanding how it can permanently alter your DNA will encourage you to take that big step. Researchers reported Tuesday that smoking damages DNA in clear patterns. The good news is most of the damage can fade over time, but not all of it.
Researchers conducted a study of 16,000 people and found that smoking cigarettes can cause damage to the genetic footprint. However, after five years of abstaining from cigarettes, most of the damage reverses. Shockingly, though, some of the damage appears to stay there forever.
The process is called methylation, and it is when the alteration of DNA can inactivate a gene or change how it function—often causing cancer and other diseases.
“Our study has found compelling evidence that smoking has a long-lasting impact on our molecular machinery, an impact that can last more than 30 years,” said Roby Joehanes of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School.
Heart disease and cancer are both caused by genetic damage—some from your ancestry, but most of it, from your day-to-day living choices. Smoking, as you probably guessed, is one of the biggest culprits.
So what should people do to stop and reverse the damage? Quit smoking.
“The encouraging news is that once you stop smoking, the majority of DNA methylation signals return to never-smoker levels after five years, which means your body is trying to heal itself of the harmful impacts of tobacco smoking,” Joehanes said.
To gather results for the study, the team collected blood samples given by 16,000 people going back to 1971. In all the studies, people were given blood samples and filled out questionnaires about smoking, diet, and their health history.
The results found “compelling evidence” that smoking had a long-lasting impact on a molecular level. They discovered that smokers had a pattern of methylation changes affecting more than 7,000 genes or one-third of known human genes. Many of the genes were linked to heart diseases and cancers known to be caused by smoking.
Of course, never smoking, to begin with, is ideal, but there is hope. Those who quit smoking reverted to the patterns seen in those who never smoked after about five years, the team reported.
Still, some damage remains permanent despite dropping the habit.
“Equally important is our finding that even after someone stops smoking, we still see the effects of smoking on their DNA,” London said.
According to the CDC, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable illness, killing more than 48,000 Americans each year. Globally, tobacco kills about 6 million people a year through cancer, heart disease, lung disease and other illnesses.
The promising news is that smoking rates have plummeted in the United States. Now, only about 15 percent of U.S adults smoke and just 11 percent of high school students smoke. More and more restaurants are becoming entirely non-smoking, specifically, bars that were geared towards smokers in the past. Many universities and workplaces are declaring themselves as tobacco-free.
Quitting smoking has clear benefits, even if it is later in life. But it won’t wipe the slate clean.
“Even decades after cessation, cigarette smoking confers long-term risk of diseases including some cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke,” London’s team wrote. “The mechanisms for these long-term effects are not well understood. DNA methylation changes have been proposed as one possible explanation.”
The earlier you quit smoking, the less you have to worry about the potential permanent damage you have already caused to your body. Furthermore, most of the damage from smoking can be reversed if you just make the decision to quit smoking today. There are so many resources out there that can help you acquire the tools to succeed.
Quitting smoking is not easy, but it is worth the benefits to your physical and mental health. In the beginning stages of recovery, quitting smoking may be the least of your worries. However, later on, it is important to understand the tremendous benefits quitting will have on your health for years to come. Make the decision to quit today. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
I am not a morning person. (yawns)
It is good to admit your weaknesses, right?
Still, despite my grogginess, I have been attempting to put together some sort of morning routine. After all, mornings set the tone for the rest of your day. In fact, a recent article recommends ten things we should all do before 10 A.M that are sure to improve our resilience and wellbeing for the rest of the day.
1 – HYDRATE
Hydration is so important, especially when you wake up in the morning. A cold glass of water jumpstarts your lymphatic and digestive system. Plus, most people when they wake up are totally dehydrated. Starting your day with a glass of water allows for a healthy flow of oxygen, allowing you to stay alerted and energized. Trying to shed some pounds? Hydrating in the morning is excellent for weight loss because it curbs your appetite. Try having water with lemon instead of that sugary Frappuccino in the morning. Your body will thank you.
2 – STRETCH
The Mayo Clinic recommends stretching to improve flexibility and range of motion. Stretching is also an excellent stress reliever and a great way to start the day. Often we roll out of bed with body stiffness. Stretching allows us to reduce muscle tension making the body feel relaxed. Over time, stretching increases range of motion and reduces the risk of injury.
3 – PLAY MUSIC
Scientists have discovered that listening to music releases dopamine and stimulates a “feel good” experience. If you are a music lover, you probably already know that, but next time you are feeling the morning blues, why not listen to some tunes to perk up the day?
4 – SMILE
Smiling activates neural messaging, a trifecta chemical release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Even if you have to force it, smiling will help you reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and just make you feel happier. Get in the habit of doing something that will make you smile in the morning.
5 – MEDITATE
The benefits of meditation are endless. Most of us know this by now, yet never do it. Countless studies reveal how effective mediation can be at shifting our awareness. Meditation can help slow the aging process. It also benefits your heart and immune system. Most of all, it makes you happier. Meditation can be daunting at first, but keep at it and eventually you will not want to go a day without it.
6 – BE GRATEFUL
Gratitude lists help put everything in perspective. Maybe your day is not going to be that great, however writing gratitude puts you in perspective instead of in a place of negativity. A gratitude mindset improves self-esteem, mental “grit” and physical health.
7 – TIDY UP
In the chaos of the morning, cleaning might seem like the last thing you would ever want to do. However, this one step can transform the outlook of your day. Make a habit of cleaning in the mornings. Make the bed, pick up clothes off the floor and take out the trash. Cleaning in the morning will improve your mental clarity, and you will be in a more relaxed space coming home to a clean house.
8 – REVIEW TODAY’S “ TO-DOS”
Having a planner is a great way of keeping track of your To-Dos of the day. In the morning, create a list of the tasks you are hoping to get done. Keep the list short. Having a lengthy list only sets you up for failure and negativity. Focus on the most important tasks and work your way through them throughout the week.
9 -WRITE AN AFFIRMATION
Self-affirmations help with improving your focus and problem solving. According to new research, self-affirmation was shown to boost academic grades of underperforming students. Write something positive about yourself each day. It will improve your confidence and increase your drive for success.
10 – DO THE WORST FIRST
Tackle the hardest task first. It is natural to want to procrastinate doing something you do not want to do, but it is critical to do the worst things first. Put it behind you and watch your productivity soar. Maybe it is exercising or perhaps completing a major assignment. Get it out of the way and soar through the easy parts of your day afterward. Cheers!
What morning routine are you going to implement? Recovery is about learning a healthy way of life without the need for abusing substances. Learn to live your best life today. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135