Author: Justin Mckibben
With the release of the United States Surgeon General report this month came the historical declaration that substance abuse is a public health disorder. While many have insisted upon this perspective in the past, it is the first time anyone holding the office of U.S. surgeon general has made the statement. In this groundbreaking report, Vivek Murthy described substance abuse stating,
“Not as a moral failing, but as a chronic illness that must be treated with skill, urgency and compassion. The way we address this crisis is a test for America.”
This revelation is a long-awaited victory for the countless advocates who have been hoping to change the way the world sees substance abuse and addiction.
Along with this statement, there comes a conversation about how to shift the strategies used to address addiction. Along with that comes the possibility for vast change and reform in the realm of criminal justice. How big is the impact of criminal justice on the addiction issue, and how could a change in perspective change everything?
Current View of Criminal Justice
The big thing here is that for years people have pushed for the world to see substance abuse and addiction as a health issue, both physical and mental. Changing the view from stigma and punishment to treatment ultimately means giving people struggling a better shot at recovery.
The failed War on Drugs has definitely put addiction and substance abuse in a place it doesn’t necessarily belong. Murthy’s report provides an update on drug and alcohol users in the country. According to its figures, in the last year alone:
- About 48 million Americans used or abused illegal or prescription drugs
- 28 million drove under the influence
- 21 million Americans currently suffer from addiction (substance-use disorder)
- Out of an estimated 2 million inmates in the nation, 65% “meet the criteria for substance-abuse addiction” according to a new study
- According to thePrison Policy Initiative, over 300,000 inmates currently in state and federal prisons are for convictions related to drugs.
These statistics place a severe strain on the criminal justice system far beyond federal prisons.
- Local and county jails have held thousands of these same individuals
- Tens of thousands lost driving privileges due to drunk driving
- Millions served time and were put on probation
- Millions became repeat offenders and cycled back through the system
The long and short of it is that in fact, the current system is not anything close to fixing the problem. And at $442 billion dollars spent annually on health-care and criminal justice for substance-use disorder, that is a VERY expensive failure to repeat over and over.
Reforming Criminal Justice
There are many variables that come into play when you discuss reforming criminal justice to be more effective for helping addicts. Some of these include:
- Ending the tactic of using fear of prison to keep people “in line”
- Reforming treatment programs through criminal justice system that rely on harsh penalties
- Ending unnecessarily punitive federal sentencing guidelines
A hard truth is the criminal-justice system is often the first to be in contact with struggling addicts. Thus many people only receive treatment once they are already involved in the criminal justice system, which often locks them into a cycle of failed attempts to clean up and repeated arrests.
Many would say it would be ideal to not have addicts and those battling substance abuse go through the criminal justice system at all; specifically for non-violent, drug-related offenses. They would rather individuals be directly diverted to a system that relies on medical and therapeutic rehabilitation.
The fact remains; even if state and federal governments begin addressing addiction as a health crisis, any reforms to the existing criminal-justice system will come with their own burdens. This kind of power-shift would have instantaneous economic effects due largely to institutional competition. The massive industrial prison system that has thrived for decades would of course fight to keep its funding if the government tried to divert those funds to healthcare programs.
The surgeon general’s report is a refreshing perspective and a much needed statement. But there is still money to move and the need for playing politics. Despite the fact that most believe mental health and public health institutions are better suited to treat addiction than prisons, some say they do not have the seniority or the political juice to make a claim on the resources to do so.
In the end, setting up an approach on the state or national level that would send addicts to treatment instead of jails and prisons would be an enormous task that we cannot logically expect to happen all too soon. Yet, there is hope. Many states now have more compassionate and treatment-based programs with law enforcement. Crisis-intervention training and other methods have reduced arrests and housing costs in many areas. It does make a difference.
The real difference to reforming the criminal justice system will come when more officials recognize that substance abuse and addiction are health issues and not moral ones, especially officials at the federal level.
Never forget that every day we all have the chance to influence change. Maybe we can’t change the criminal justice system over night, but we can make decisions that make a difference. Understanding addiction and fighting back is a victory itself. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call our toll-free number now to speak with an specialist. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Nicole Kidman knows firsthand how difficult it is to be in a relationship with someone struggling with substance abuse, and now she’s opening up about her experience. Kidman learned plenty about it after a decade of being married to country singer Keith Urban.
In a recent interview, Kidman discusses what she learned from her husband’s long battle with addiction. She acknowledges the struggle to accept that she could not control or do anything to help Urban in his addiction other than being supportive. However, she realizes it was an important lesson for her and all people in relationships like this to realize.
“There is absolutely help out there. But you can’t save somebody. They’ve got to save themselves. [That’s] a very big thing for people like me who go, ‘I can take care of you. I can do it,’” said Kidman. “At some point, you just have to say, ‘I love you, and I’m here when you decide to do the work. If you don’t, then that’s it.’”
Keith Urban has said in the past that Kidman was the catalyst for both his relapse and current sobriety. He described himself as a functioning addict during the ‘90s but finally checked into rehab in 1998. After six years of sobriety, Urban says the loneliness he felt when Kidman was away filming triggered a relapse.
As a result, in 2006, after returning home from a movie shoot, Kidman staged an intervention so Urban would go back to treatment.
Urban expressed how loneliness affected his recovery at the time:
“When she would go away, I would find myself feeling very alone, very lost, and vulnerable to my old ways. We had just gotten married, and this entity in my life is coming just to crush and kill everything that I’ve got,” he said to Rolling Stone in 2014. “I was very, very blessed to have Nic call an intervention on me. I didn’t give a shit about anything except turning a corner in my life and doing whatever it took for that.”
Fortunately, Urban was able to maintain his sobriety after treatment.
Families and loved ones suffer when they see a person they love struggling. Keith Urban’s uncle opened up about how he is thankful for his sobriety. He talked about how Kidman deserves the credit for helping him get sober.
“None of us expected it to last,” the uncle told Daily Mail in May. “That’s credit to her. It’s as much for Nicole and his love for her.”
These days, Keith Urban is grateful for Kidman’s intervention and even more grateful that both his marriage and sobriety have remained intact.
“[The marriage] survived, but it’s a miracle that it did. I was spiritually awoken with her. I use the expression ‘I was born into her,’ and that’s how I feel,” he said in June to Rolling Stone. “And for the first time in my life, I could shake off the shackles of addiction.”
We have said it many times, but this article just elaborates on the fact that addiction does not affect just the addict. It affects the family, friends, and spouse of the addict too. Sadly, their pain is often ignored. In the midst of active addiction, it is difficult for an addict to realize the impact their actions is having on others who care the most.
Addiction is a disease, and it hurts both the addict and their loved one. Therefore, it is crucial to seek treatment if you are currently struggling with substance abuse. Do not become another statistic. We can help you live a sober life free from the grips of addiction. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
It should be obvious by now that expanded Naloxone access is a necessity. With the opioid epidemic spreading more and more and the overdose outbreak claiming so many lives everywhere, we must take advantage of every available asset to save lives. Because of price hikes that coincide with the increasing rates of overdose and death Big Pharma companies that produce the overdose antidote have come under fire many times in the past year. Now, one such company has reached an agreement with the state of Ohio to help ease the financial burden of protecting the people.
Authorities and city officials in Ohio battling the overdose outbreak will soon receive some financial relief. The state has struck a deal with the makers of Naloxone, Adapt Pharma, to provide the life-saving nasal spray at a discount.
The Ohio Overdose Outbreak
Being from the Buckeye State myself, it is disturbing to know Ohio has been hit so hard by the heroin epidemic. This is in large due to the recent introduction of Carfentanil. This incredibly poisonous substance is currently mixing into the drug supply through Chinese vendors, according to an Associated Press investigation. The investigation found several businesses based in China that export dangerous drugs with relative ease to the United States, including:
Carfentanil is so potently perilous that it even poses a risk to law enforcement that may come in contact with it during drug seizures.
The terrible truth is that Ohio has been an epicenter of the overdose outbreak. In 2014, Ohio was #2 of states with the most overdose deaths. Since then several stories of horrific overdose upsurges and deaths due to opiates have highlighted the devastation in the state.
Just this year Cincinnati, Ohio statistics show the city sees at least four overdoses per day on average. The dangerous drug Carfentanil has been seized at least 343 times in Ohio. In July, Akron paramedics responded to 236 overdoses, including 14 fatalities linked to carfentanil, in a period of just 21 days! July also saw Ohio Governor John Kasich push for Naloxone expansion, and the battle has been uphill to equip all those in need.
Ohio Public Interest Price Deal
The Public Interest Price deal was announced by Attorney General Mike DeWine this past Friday. The discount agreement with Adapt Pharma states that Ohio officials will be able to purchase naloxone nasal spray for $75 per dose. Now this still seems a bit high, but this price is a 40% discount from the wholesale cost of $125. DeWine explained the need for such action in order to make any progress on saving those in Ohio who are suffering.
“The cost to purchase naloxone has prevented some agencies from carrying this life saving drug. I hope that Adapt Pharma’s new price freeze for Ohio will allow more agencies to consider keeping naloxone on hand. I continue to urge law enforcement agencies to carry this drug, because it can mean the difference between life and death for those suffering from addiction.”
The Attorney General’s comments echo an issue that is present in many places across the country. Law enforcement agencies and First Responders are aware of the need for Naloxone. However, because the makers have spiked the price so high in the last few years the demand has been met with financial hurdles.
Continued Overdose Antidote Expansion
This isn’t the only deal Ohio is involved in to make the communities safer. The agreement Ohio has with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc. stands to to provide $6 rebates for every Naloxone syringe. This deal applies to all Naloxone purchased through March 2017. This deal has been active for a year now. In that time 82 local agencies have been reimbursed over $209,000 to offset the cost of Naloxone purchases.
The new Public Interest Price deal is set to last a year. In that time it could mean the difference between life and death for many people. Having the resources is now especially vital. One can only hope that more allowances are made where needed.
Naloxone and Narcan, both opioid overdose antidotes, should be made as available as possible. The fact that price has become such a problem is not just unfortunate; it is unsettling with all things considered. It is some consolation that companies are willing to acknowledge the need and offer some semblance of compromise to help.
The preservation of all lives should be a responsibility of all who have the ability to help; not just for public health officials, but everyone. As part of that, Palm Partners is dedicated to contributing to the rehabilitation and revolutionary growth possible with holistic treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
In America, estimates say nearly a thousand people died from drug overdose per week in 2015. This year, we see how this problem continues to grow and strike some cities with terrible intensity. Drug overdose was the leading cause of death in Philadelphia, claiming 700 people that year. One place in particular has earned a name for itself: “The Badlands.”
The Badlands of Philadelphia is an area encompassing the Kensington neighborhood and parts of North Philadelphia. Residents gave this part of town the infamous “The Badlands” title because of its high rate of crime including homicide, drug trafficking and gang activity. Just this past week nearly 50 residents in the Badlands of Philadelphia suffered overdoses from what narcotics officers believe was tainted heroin.
Luckily, according to an NBC Philadelphia report, there were no fatalities during the outbreak of overdoses on November 17. However, several individuals had to be revived using Naloxone. That is the opioid overdose antagonist that has seen expanded access all over the country in an effort to stop the ever increasing body count.
Record numbers of overdoses like this are popping up in various parts of the country, and it is an exclamation point to the story of the opioid epidemic in America. This was one very bad day in the Badlands of Philadelphia, but will it get worse before it gets better?
Badlands of Philadelphia: Following the Pattern
Philadelphia Police is working on laboratory tests to determine if these drugs are part of a growing problem with tainted narcotics. Many overdoses in several states have been linked to tainted heroin that has been mixed with Fentanyl or other synthetic analogues far more powerful than the illicit drug itself. This is not be the first time a bad batch of heroin has hit the Badlands of Philadelphia. Gary Tennis, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, had some powerful words concerning the way the epidemic has been handled until now.
“If we had ISIS terrorists roaming the streets, killing a thousand Americans a week, [or] ebola or some exotic disease, we wouldn’t tolerate it for a minute… But because of the stigma around this disease, we continue with policies federally, state and local, that are fundamentally inhumane.”
The Badlands of Philadelphia also made headlines in May of 2016 when the experimental painkiller W-18 was allegedly found within its territory. The dangerous W-18 is causing considerable hysteria in Canada and the United States.
Badlands of Philadelphia: W-18 and Fentanyl
As a recap from previous stories back in May of 2016, W-18 is a synthetic opiate and psychoactive substance similar to heroin. However, it is horrifically more deadly. W-18 is one of the most powerful opioid of a series of about 30 compounds. Experts go as far as to describe W-18 as being:
- 100 times more potent than fentanyl
- 10,000 times stronger than morphine
Though fentanyl or W-18 are yet to confirmed as the cause of the outbreak of overdoses in the Badlands of Philadelphia, fentanyl is considered to be responsible for a upsurge of overdoses that health officials say has risen 636% since last year.
- In 2013, 25 people died as a result of Fentanyl overdose in Philadelphia
- In 2015, 184 people died as a result of Fentanyl overdose
- The 2016 99 people died from Fentanyl overdose in Philadelphia in just the first four months
Between 2013 and 2015 is a seven fold increase in death. One can only imagine where the number will be by the end of this year. According to NBC news, Philadelphia also has some of the cheapest and most potent heroin in the nation. Reports claim that purity levels of heroin reach an estimate between 80% and 90% purity. That alone is incredibly deadly. The addition of unpredictable and synthetic drugs only magnifies the threat to life.
Badlands of Philadelphia: Not the Only “Badlands”
Philadelphia is not the only state with a section of “Badlands.” In reality, the “Badlands” are basically everywhere. In every major city, in every state, there are people suffering. A recent report stated that one American dies every 19 minutes from a heroin or opiate overdose. Not doesn’t include alcohol or any other drugs that contribute to the destruction caused by addiction all over the nation.
The new report from the U.S. Surgeon General highlights the distressing truth in the statistics. To understand the depth of the addiction crisis in America, one needs only to look around. The report says 1 in 7 Americans will face a substance use disorder. Sadly, only 10% of those will get the necessary treatment to save their life.
In the presence of great suffering there is still hope. People are finally working together to try and shed the stigma of addiction in many communities. The progress that is possible in holistic treatment is life changing, and taking the first steps can make all the difference. If you or someone you love is struggling, call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Last week, the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released the first comprehensive report on alcohol, drugs, and health reaffirming what many in the recovery community already know: addiction is a disease, treatment is effective, and recovery is possible. The report also revealed the tragic depth of the addiction epidemic.
Here’s a basic overview of some of the facts mentioned:
- Addiction is a chronic neurological disease, not a moral failing or lack of willpower.
- Only 10% of those addicted receive treatment,
- In 2015, over 27 million people in the United States reported current use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs.
- Over 66 million people reported binge drinking in the past month.
- The economic impact of drug and alcohol misuse and addiction amounts to $442 billion each year — topping diabetes at $245 billion,
- More than 20 million people in America have substance abuse problems; 78 die every day from opioids alone.
The US Surgeon General Report:
-SUPPORTS HARM REDUCTION TREATMENT
The report supports harm reduction programs such as using buprenorphine and methadone to treat opioid addiction. The support of these programs may receive criticism from traditional 12-step programs that focus on abstinence-only rather than harm-reduction programs.
However, medication-assisted programs for opioid addiction take time, the reports concludes:
“One study suggested that individuals who receive MAT for fewer than 3 years are more likely to relapse than those who are in treatment for 3 or more years.”
-DISPROVES OF TV-STYLE INTERVENTIONS
That’s right, shows like Intervention are considered a big no-no. TV-style interventions are not helpful, the reports states. According to the report, these types of intervention TV shows may heighten resistance and attack the self-worth of the addict, making treatment less effective. Planned surprised confrontations “have not been demonstrated to be an effective way to engage people in treatment,” the report concludes.
-SUPPORTS ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
The report is positive about 12-step programs like Alcoholic Anonymous stating they do offer support services, do not require health insurance, and are free. However, it notes that these programs “are not the same as treatment and have only recently been included as part of the health care system.” Still, AA received praise for adaptability in allowing all types of people to attend meetings. Research shows AA to be “an effective recovery resource,” the report concludes.
-SUPPORTS HIGHER ALCOHOL TAXES
The report states that alcohol tax policies are effective, saying, “higher alcohol taxes have also been shown to reduce alcohol consumption.” Other alcohol-related policies supported were:
- Banning Sunday alcohol sales
- Holding bars liable for serving minors
- Limiting the density of stores selling alcohol
-EXPRESSED CONCERN REGARDING MARIJUANA POLICIES
With more states approving either medical or recreation marijuana, the surgeon general report weighed in. It cites “a growing body of research” suggesting marijuana’s chemicals can help with “pain, nausea, epilepsy, obesity, wasting disease, addiction, autoimmune disorders, and other conditions.”
Still, the report shows concern about the legalization movement saying the movement is moving faster than research. “Marijuana is, in fact, addictive,” the report says.
Understanding Addiction and Treatment: Optimism and Hope
Despite the grim facts and statistics, the report calls for optimism and hope. There have been many scientific advances in the understanding of how the addict brain works. Furthermore, treatment and prevention programs are shown effective, and various addiction treatments are awaiting approval.
The second chapter of the report explains the neuroscience of addiction. It discusses how the brain works and why addiction causes people to need more of a drug to feel normal.
“Understanding this transformation in the brain is critical to understanding why addiction is a health condition, not a moral failing or character flaw,” the report says.
The report then turns to prevention. The Surgeon General wants to understand why only some people become addicted after trying a substance. The likelihood of a person becoming addicted ranges from 4 percent to 23 percent depending on the substance. Addiction is also tied to the individual. Between 40 to 70 percent of a person’s risk of dependency based on genetics, the report says.
Understanding the reasoning behind addiction will lead to better prevention strategies. Furthermore, relapse risks are also an area needing more understanding. The report pushes for research on what increases the risk of relapse. So far, studies state it takes 4 to 5 years for the risk of relapse to drop below 15 percent.
Overall, the report exposes the grim reality of addiction while offering hope and optimism for the future. There are treatment and prevention strategies that are effective. Do not become a statistic. The facts confirm addiction is a disease. Through treatment, we can guide you to a life free from substance abuse. Do not wait. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135