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: Justin Mckibben
First, I have to make it clear that any amount of treatment has the potential to make a difference. Every opportunity to take action in the right direction means something. So making the most out of our time is what is so crucial. Still, I want to look at why a month in rehab has become most insurers’ answer to the addiction issue.
Because different people progress through treatment at different paces there is no perfectly predetermined length of treatment. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. However, research shows that clearly good outcomes are contingent on adequate length of time in treatment. Arguably a treatment program of less than 90 days will show limited effectiveness in comparison to longer programs. Many recommend longer lasting treatment for maintaining positive outcomes. Yet, just around a month’s stay can be pretty typical among people who go to an inpatient facility.
So, who came up with the 28 days later standard of treatment? Why do most people only get this amount of time in treatment?
28 Days Later Routine
Kimberly Johnson is director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at SAMHSA. This federal agency studies addiction treatment services. Johnson says,
“As far as I know, there’s nothing magical about 28 days,”
Anne Fletcher, author of the book Inside Rehab, agrees. Fletcher states,
“It certainly is not scientifically based. I live in Minnesota where the model was developed and a lot of treatment across the country really stemmed from that.”
According to Fletcher, the late Daniel Anderson was one of the primary architects of what has been called the “Minnesota model.” This methodology became the prevailing treatment protocol for addiction specialists a long time ago, but how?
The story starts in the 1950’s at a state hospital in Minnesota. Daniel Anderson attended to alcoholics living in locked wards, leaving only to be put to work on a farm. Anderson came up with the 28-day model to find a path for his patients to get sober and leave the hospital. Back then, it was innovative.
Marvin Ventrell, executive director of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, has studied the model’s history. Ventrell says the month-long method comes from the belief that when-
“someone is suffering from addiction — and in the days that this began, we’re pretty much talking about alcoholism — it made sense to people that it took about four weeks to stabilize somebody.”
Ventrell went on to explain this is the norm because the insurance industry became willing to pay for a 28 day period of time. While many treatment providers believe we must adapt with the times, it would seem insurance companies aren’t so sure.
The early form of this 28 day model was designed for alcoholism. One big issue today is the model is used to treat opioid addiction. It is such a problem because recovering from addiction to powerful narcotic drugs just might be different than recovering from alcohol abuse. Therefore, it may require a different method. Yet, many still want to use the 28 day model as a cookie-cutter standard.
Now, to be fair Ventrell admits there isn’t enough research to prove the exact effective length for inpatient opioid addiction treatment. As we said, different individuals may have a different experience and require a different treatment plan. This is one reason why personalized recovery plans are so important.
Fletcher advocates it is incredibly important for treatment to move away from the default month-long model. 28 days is not going to work for everyone, and it would seem one of the biggest hurdles for those in the addiction treatment industry is convincing the insurance industry that the old “Minnesota model” isn’t always enough. 28 days may be enough for some people to make a beginning, but long-term recovery can be seriously influenced by more time learning about factors such as:
There are so many facets of recovery, it makes sense that the more time you have to learn them the more confident you can be in your ability to manage your recovery.
Make Time for Recovery
Besides the fact that giving people more time in a controlled environment can give them more time to focus on their recovery plan, there is also the element of dual diagnosis. While the 28 days model of treatment may have helped back in the 1950’s, we’ve learned a lot in the past 60+ years about addiction and other issues that co-exist.
Many people struggling with addiction are also having to battle with conditions pertaining to mental health disorders. Knowing what we know now, we see mental health disorders and addiction should be addressed simultaneously. If you ignore one, it can cause a relapse into the other later on. Various forms of mental illness can exist along with an addiction, including:
So for some, establishing a full diagnosis and then effectively engaging in the recovery process can take more time.
In the end, we should be making more time for individuals in need of treatment. Unfortunately, it can be an uphill battle with insurance companies. Some programs do exist that are extended inpatient programs, but these facilities still face resistance from insurers. At this point, it is about making the most out of the time you can get. Holistic drug treatment programs like Palm Partners emphasize the importance of exploring every area of recovery in detail, and design personalized recovery plans to make the time most efficient. Insurance companies may try to limit the opportunity, but the opportunity is still a real chance at real change.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
YES! We are back at it again!
We realized it has been such a long time since we delivered those crazy news stories you love to read and that we can’t help but love writing. People are crazy… like reeeeally crazy, so there is no shortage out there of crazy articles to talk about. With so much dramatic, disturbing and tragic events going on in the news today, we want to give some relief with a funny perspective.
So sit back and brace yourself for the return of CRAZY NEWS STORIES!
Cat Saves Alcoholic Owner
I honestly had no idea that the Cats Protection’s National Cat Award 2016 was even a thing. Like, since when did the country nominate a cat to be honored with such an exclusive and prestigious title?
Who votes on this?
Do the cats use super delegates too?!
Anyway, this year the New Romney feline Frank was made a finalist for the “better together” category that celebrates the bong between pet and owner.
The 4 year old cat lives with his owner, Robin Barry, in Dymchurch Road. According to Barry, his wife decided to get the kitten when he was in rehab to help comfort him. He admitted that while he is usually a dog person, Frank was able to melt his heart.
“He became my number one supporter, following me about and being a constant companion. I was on a lot of medication and was very vulnerable and lost but Frank never left my side. With his support, I came through the other side.”
Barry said that Frank saved his life, and that he feels lucky to have such an amazing cat with him. If Frank wins his category, he will also be in with a chance of being crowned National Cat of the Year!
I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely voting for Frank… if I can even vote… not sure how this works. But Frank is a hero!
Finally… Wine for Your Cats
Remember all those times you sat down for a romantic dinner… with your cat… wishing the poor fluffy thing could enjoy a glass of wine with you?
Yea… I didn’t think so… but maybe…
Sadly, alcohol is extremely dangerous for pets. Kind of like it’s extremely dangerous for alcoholics like myself. But apparently there is no a solution for your fuzzy friend!
Apollo Peak is a company out of Denver that now produces drinks for cats that look like wine, but without all the stuff that turns a guy like me into a total buzz-kill. The “wine” is made with organic catnip, water and organic beet juices to give them color.
A similar product actually existed before, but it was only available in Japan and was made with grapes, which can be toxic to cats. This new product, according to the product’s founder Brandon Zavala, is approved by local veterinarians and went into production for commercial use back in November.
So now your cat can make a toast to catching that ever illusive red dot, even if you can’t drink with them.
Bribed with a Beer
Lastly comes a hilarious story of one drunk driver who obviously doesn’t understand how DUIs work.
One man in Marietta, Georgia was pulled over by police who were working on the scene of an accident after he drove past orange cones set up at the intersection where the accident had occurred.
When asked if he had been drinking, the suspect insisted he had drank over 13 hours prior to the incident. However officers chose to administer a field sobriety test. During the walking portion of the sobriety test, the suspect refuses to take the steps and so the officers move in to arrest him.
And then… he had a stroke of utter genius!
The suspect tries to resist the arrest. Once officers have him in custody, they find he has multiple DUIs on his record. The suspect then refuses the breathalyzer test, and from here his cunning instincts only improve.
In an attempt to negotiate, he tells the officers he has $300, but only offers $200 for his bribe. When the officer refuses, he says he has beer and offers to throw that in.
Ya know, because nothing goes better with preventing drunk driving and field sobriety tests than a strong drink! At this point, he goes all in and offers all the money in his pocket (now $400) along with his cargo, but the officers don’t take him up on his gracious offer.
Be it drunken bargaining with the absolute wrong person, or just cats saving lives, crazy news stories always give us a chance to be grateful for the crazy stories we have, and the ones we had nothing to do with! If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
There are two sides to every story, and when it comes to alcoholism, the same saying holds truth. A new study examined the changes in the brain that makes a person prone to alcoholism. What they discovered is that there are two types of alcoholic brains: anxiety-prone and impulsive.
Anxiety and impulse control issues are common among alcoholics and the difference between the two could lie in changes in the brain tissues. The brain tissue of alcoholics experience changes that are different from the non-alcoholic brain. Over time, the brain tissue changes from consuming alcohol. Researchers have discovered that there are two types of alcoholic brains: anxiety-prone (Type I) and impulsive-depressive (Type II) and brain changes are exclusive to one type or the other.
Type I Alcoholics: Type I alcoholics typically become dependent on alcohol later in life. These types are prone to anxiety and use alcohol increasingly to resolve these issues.
Type II Alcoholics: These types tend to get hooked on alcohol at a younger age and exhibit anti-social impulsive behaviors.
The brain is a complex organ so not every alcoholic fit into these two categories, the researchers noted.
“From the viewpoint of the study setting, this division was made in order to highlight the wide spectrum of people suffering from alcohol dependence,” said lead researcher Olli Kärkkäinen. “The reality, of course, is far more diverse, and not every alcoholic fits into one of these categories.”
Regardless of what “type” of an alcoholic you are, there are similarities in the brain of all alcoholic. All alcoholics have an increase of a steroid hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone that affects the central nervous system. This could explain why many alcoholics become tolerant to the effects of alcohol after chronic, long-term use.
In addition, all alcoholics showed decreased levels of serotonin transporters in brain regions. This means that alcoholics have difficulty with mood regulation. They tend to be seeking this happy chemical and have a decreased level of serotonin transporters in the brain. This could explain why many alcoholics experience social anxiety.
Researchers will be using the results from this study to come up with new treatments for alcoholism that take into account the distinct differences between Type I and Type II brains.
“These findings enhance our understanding of changes in the brain that make people prone to alcoholism and that are caused by long-term use,” said researcher Kärkkäinen. “Such information is useful for developing new drug therapies for alcoholism, and for targeting existing treatments at patients who will benefit the most.”
In Western countries, it has been estimated that around 10-15% of the population qualify as alcohol-dependent. Across the world, alcohol is causing as much damage as all illegal substances combined. It is important to note these differences so medical personnel knows how these cases can differentiate.
Most of all, it is important that those who have struggled with alcoholism to seek help as early as possible. People who drink large amounts of alcohol for long periods of time run the risk of developing serious and persistent changes in the brain. The damage could be a combination of the alcohol consumptions along with poor general health.
Often, alcoholics have deficiencies in their health. Thiamine deficiency is extremely common in those with alcoholism and is a result of overall poor nutrition. Also, it can be hard for those struggling to make staying healthy a priority. Thiamine is crucial to the brain. It is an essential nutrient required by all tissues, including the brain. Many foods in the United States are fortified with thiamine; therefore, the average healthy person consumes enough of it.
Alcoholism can cause major damage to your brain and overall health if left untreated. This article simply confirms the reason why it is so important that those struggling with alcoholism seek professional help. Trying to fix the problem on your own is not the best solution, especially when you are not aware of how your mind and body is functioning. We are here to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, don’t wait. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
On a few separate occasions we have touch on the ridiculous story of Ethan Couch, the 19-year-old teen who drove drunk back in June of 2013 and caused an accident that killed 4 people, and his infamous Affluenza Defense presented by his attorneys. Couch’s drunk-driving case sparked national outrage after his affluenza defense was actually successful in his initial court case, and the spectacle made some serious headlines.
Wednesday the country was in a new uproar as Ethan “Affluenza Defense” Couch was ordered by a judge to spend the next two years in a county jail for violating the terms of his probation.
4 Terms of Imprisonment
Early news reports explained that State District Judge Wayne Salvant imposed four consecutive 180-day jail terms on Couch for his probation violations; one term for each of the four people who lost their lives when Couch recklessly drove drunk years ago and “almost” got away with it.
Although, even though he was a minor (16 years old at the time of the accident) a lot of people felt like he had pretty much got away with killing four people after he was originally only sentenced to 10 years’ probation. He was also sent to an isolated home near Newport Beach, CA for intensive therapy, which people felt even more upset about because his punishment seemed more like a vacation.
Breanna Mitchell, Brian Jennings, and Holly and Shelby Boyles were all run down by the teen that was discovered to have Valium and a high level of alcohol in his blood. The prosecutors trying to charge the teen with the deaths wanted the boy to be sentenced to 20 years in prison, but he received 10 years of probation with the affluenza defense.
What is the “Affluenza Defense?”
The term “affluenza” was made popular in the late 1990s by Jessie O’Neill who wrote the book “The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence.”
Since giving life to the word, it has been used to describe a condition in which children (typically from richer families) grow up with a sense of privilege that makes them experience other hindrances such as:
- Being irresponsible
- Making justifications for poor behavior
- Experiment in drugs and alcohol
Just reading this makes me outraged! It is absolutely astonishing and downright offensive that the affluenza defense even exists!
Basically, to my understanding, this is saying that Ethan Couch should be let off the hook because he has been so predisposed to getting his way and being over-privileged that he just didn’t know any better and has a tough time understanding why the rules apply to him…
Awwwwe, the poor little guy!
I want to see a case where a kid from a place like where I grew up is acquitted of murdering four people with a vehicle because of the “Section 8 Defense”- because he is so poor and ill-equipped to live. We make excuses and let the rich kid get away with multiple homicides because he was too rich NOT to try drugs, but the kids who grow up in drug-dealing neighborhoods should be held to higher standards?
Don’t get me wrong- he was only 13 and should not spend the rest of his life in prison for something he can’t comprehend, but if we are going to start argue in his defense it should not be on the grounds that he’s just too spoiled and we have to let it slide.
Couch squandered his opportunity to avoid jail time and his probation was violated after a video of him playing an underage game of beer-pong surfaced online last December. Judge Salvant gave Couch’s diabolical defense team two weeks to gather evidence for a possible reconsideration of his sentence, and he told Couch outright,
“You’re not getting out of jail today.”
This recent appearance marked the first time Ethan Couch was in an adult court since his case was transferred out of the juvenile system after he turned 19 earlier this week.
While the affluenza defense may be a pretty good indication Ethan Couch could use some treatment and therapy, most people still feel like some real-life repercussions for his completely unconscionable and ultimately lethal actions should be imposed. Some are just content to see him serving any time for what he has done. Two years may not do justice to the deaths of four innocent people, but it’s a start and maybe it will teach Couch something.
Sometimes it takes something terrible to happen before people will make the choice that changes everything, but it doesn’t have to be like that. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.