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New York City Considering Safe Heroin Injection Sites

New York City Considering Safe Heroin Injection Sites

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:

  • Canada
  • Europe
  • Australia

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.

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One City Sees 174 Overdoses in 6 Days

One City Sees 174 Overdoses in 6 Days

(This content is for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

The number of overdose deaths in our country are already at a staggering rate, increasingly troubling by the minute. Some areas are hit much harder, but overall the tragic toll of the opioid addiction epidemic in America is obvious. Time after time we witness overwhelming reports of devastating deaths and high frequencies of serious complications from drug use.

Ohio is among the top states in the country to experience elevated rates of overdose per population, and Cincinnati has seen a viscous proportion of these. In a single weekend 30 heroin overdoses across Cincinnati were reported.

During just a 48-hour time frame from Tuesday to Wednesday there were 78 more overdoses and at least three deaths.

Finally, after a six-day period of emergency-room visits, the number of overdoses had reached to a number health officials are calling “unprecedented”: 174!

Cincinnati VS Carfentanil

According to one local news source, Cincinnati has four overdose reports per day on average, and usually no more than 20 or 25 in a given week.

The bigger problem; pure heroin is what’s responsible for that average, but that’s not what’s on the streets now.

The sinister element suspected to be responsible in this latest upsurge of overdoses is heroin cut with the latest opioid hitting the streets- Carfentanil. For those of you who don’t know yet, this is an elephant tranquilizer. Carfentanil supposedly has 10,000 times the potency as morphine!

At this point law enforcement officials are unable to identify the source of the toxic cocktail. Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan states that State, local and federal authorities have mobilized across Hamilton County to investigate where this incredibly powerful poison is coming from. So far they believe this record number of overdoses could be caused by a single heroin batch laced with Carfentanil.

Carfentanil, relatively similar to the opioid Fentanyl that has caused enough damage it its own right, is the strongest commercially used opioid. So just like with Fentanyl, drug dealers cut their heroin with Carfentanil to make it last longer and to deliver stronger, more addictive highs.

Tri-State Area Turmoil

New reports state that additional heroin overdoses in the tri-state area, plus New Jersey, tally up to more than 225 for this timeframe.

  • In the same time period of the Cincinnati overdoses:
  • Jennings County, Indiana reported 13 overdoses last Tuesday
  • Montgomery County, Kentucky reported 12 overdoses on Wednesday
  • Camden, New Jersey reported 29 overdoses between Tuesday and Thursday

All this news comes in after 27 people overdosed during a five-hour period in one West Virginia town in mid-August.

Still, these shocking and frightening rates springing up in Cincinnati have captured the most national attention.

Officials on a Mission

Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan also heads the law enforcement task force for the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition. This effort is a collaboration of public health and law enforcement officials from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky working as a collective to combat the heroin epidemic afflicting the tri-state area. Many of these officials are very clear about their concerns, and about their mission. Hamilton County Commissioner Dennis Deters says this is a public health emergency like they have never seen before. Tim Ingram, the county’s health commissioner, said:

“This is unprecedented to see as many alerts as we’ve seen in the last six days,”

Officials are now pleading with the public. They have come out in the news to ask people to avoid the drug. The fact that the source of this potent batch is unknown and still out there makes them disparate to end this uptick in overdoses. Synan states,

“We’re urging you, please don’t do heroin right now. If for no other reason, because we don’t know what’s in the stuff on the street.”

He went on to point out the blatant disregard of dealers, saying:

“These people are intentionally putting in drugs they know can kill someone. The benefit for them is if the user survives, it is such a powerful high for them, they tend to come back. … If one or two people die, they could care less. They know the supply is so big right now that if you lose some customers, in their eyes, there’s always more in line.”

Harder to Fight

Further complicating matters is that Narcan– the drug that reverses the side effects of an overdose- is not working anymore, or at least not as reliably in cases such as these. When it comes to heroin overdoses, one or two doses of Narcan will stabilize a patient. So Narcan, and the generic Naloxone, expansion programs have taken great bounds forward in providing a line of defense.

However, these recent overdoses required two or three times that dosage. These more potent mixes have proven not only to be more deadly, but far more resilient to any medication-based efforts to save lives. Cincinnati is definitely not the only state in the nation dealing with this issue. The problem is growing, and with it so it the death-toll.

Now even more efforts must absolutely be put into raising awareness and providing education to the public. With such powerful new elements being introduced into the fight, the world should know what it’s up against. Real solutions should be made available, and real recovery begins with effective treatment.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

New Drug Carfentanil More Dangerous Than Heroin and Fentanyl

New Drug Carfentanil More Dangerous Than Heroin and Fentanyl

Author: Justin Mckibben

In case you have never read one of my stories on Ohio, I am a born and raised Buckeye. While living away from home for a few years I have taken every opportunity to read about progress in my birth state and spread the word. I have also had to write some disheartening stories that make me afraid for the people I grew up with and the neighborhoods I knew my whole life. However, when a new drug hits Ohio and causes shattering damage I have to step up and say something.

Right now the entire country is fighting a hard fight against opiate and heroin addiction. Overdose deaths tear families and communities apart. Law makers and law enforcement reel trying to keep up. Meanwhile every day a new drug seems to crop up and reap more havoc in cities on all sides of the nation. This time we see a surge of overdoses in the Tri-state area that are truly terrifying, especially considering a new even more powerful substance is suspected.

New Drug Named Carfentanil

This new drug is suggested to be incredibly more potent than any other forms of opiate substances on the street. Carfentanil is said to be:

  • 10,000 times stronger than morphine
  • 100 times stronger than Fentanyl
  • Used as an animal tranquilizer

Officials are saying this is the MOST potent opiate out there. In that case, this is beyond horrifying! Data has already concluded that Fentanyl alone is 40-100 times stronger than heroin. Now they are suggesting that Carfentanil is 100 times stronger than Fentanyl?! It is almost difficult to even comprehend a new drug could possibly be 10,000 times more powerful than pure heroin!

And that last note- this new drug is a sedative used on large animals. Not just any animals, we’re talking bears and elephants!

New Drugs Deadly Dose

Deaths across Hamilton County are rising at an alarming rate and many suspect Carfentanil as the common factor. This drug is actually being used in combination with heroin and amplifying the impact. So far cases have already been reported in:

  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati
  • Columbus

In just 9 hours in Columbus authorities counted at least 10 overdoses possibly connected to Carfentanil. 2 were fatal.

  • Akron

During just 3 days in Akron authorities suspect Carfentanil could be linked to 25 overdoses. 4 were fatal.

Health officials and county leaders spoke out at the Hamilton County Health Department urgently issuing a public health warning created by this new drug mixture. Officials state that in just a few days there was a massive increase in drug-related emergency room visits.

Greater Risks

In case you weren’t already freaked out- it is not just injecting this drug or ingesting it intentionally that puts people are a critical risk. The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition is also urging area police not to conduct field tests on heroin because Carfentanil can be absorbed through the skin or even inhaled.

As if that wasn’t enough, Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, Hamilton County Coroner, warns-

“Narcan may not save you from this one,”

Narcan (or generic Naloxone) is the opiate overdose antidote. To say even this valuable resource may not actually be able to save you from an overdose with Carfentanil is a frightening concept. Tim Ingram, Hamiton County Health Commissioner, said with a troubling hint of realism-

“This is clearly going to… kill a lot of people.”

People often say the truth hurts. This is one truth that is devastating to consider. Knowing that there are so many struggling addicts in these areas is terrifying and tragic, because one can only imagine how many will unknowingly fall victim to this vicious new element in the already treacherous world of drug addiction.

The next question is- where else is this stuff being slipped into street drugs and poisoning people?

This does not have to be the end. Drugs are only getting more dangerous, but effective treatment is also becoming more holistic. For the addict or alcoholic who still suffers there are thousands of people just like you who have recovered and who want to help you. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

PROPAGANDA Lake Worth Hosting Heroin Awareness Concert

Lake Worth PROPAGANDA Hosting Heroin Awareness Concert

Author: Justin Mckibben

Music is always better when it means something, and sometimes that music needs to be heard so you have to play it really loud to get the message across. At least that’s what comes to mind when I think of a gang of rock bands and musicians getting together to jam out for a serious cause that could help make a real difference. Now in order to raise heroin awareness, a popular club in downtown Lake Worth, Florida called PROPAGANDA will be hosting a concert to raise money and awareness to fight heroin addiction and overdose deaths in their neighborhoods.

Florida Fighting Heroin and Fentanyl

It’s troubling to acknowledge that the heroin problem has become such a commonality, yet the truth is right there. Americans in every corner, from every walk of life are impacted every single day by this lethally illicit substance. Then the intense sedative Fentanyl only magnified the issue, while prescription painkillers lured more and more people into the grips of addiction.

Florida is no exception, and South Florida has seen its share. According to a recent report, from January to June of last year:

  • Orlando was the Florida city with the most Fentanyl deaths- 50
  • Miami was the second most heroin deaths- 40
  • West Palm Beach had the most heroin deaths- 63
  • Fort Lauderdale had third most heroin deaths- 34

So with heroin and opiate addiction being such a huge problem, more and more people are fighting to make a difference in their communities. With South Florida having such a prominent recovery community, and Delray Beach being referred to as the “Recovery Capital” there are more than enough people in South Florida willing to make a difference. Why not put together a lineup of local artists and ask them to tear up a stage to raise awareness?

Bands Take a Stand Against Heroin

According to Google, PROPAGANDA is a “Spartan bar with a hip vibe” showcasing performances from several styles of music including:

  • Rock
  • Indie
  • Reggae
  • Alternative

According to the PROPAGANDA website the fundraiser is scheduled for August 13th from 6 pm until 2 am. In the details section of the event a statement was issued stating:

“The tragic results that surround heroin abuse are real and can take the life of a friend or family member in the blink of an eye. The true spirit and identity of an individual can be masked when the dependency becomes so strong that decision making no longer reflects the individuals true desire. 

Join us August 13th as local musicians, artists & people join together to shine the spotlight on this ongoing and recent spike in the destruction of people’s lives or even death as the result of the use of heroin.”

The Lineup

The project’s post goes on to list off the acts set so far to perform that evening under the title of the event- BANDS TAKE A STAND AGAINST HEROIN: AWARENESS AND BENEFIT CONCERT with a tentative lineup that includes:

The Drip Effect 
Web Three
The Ruins
Embers Dawn
Fireside Prophets
Space Coast Ghosts
SADA
The Prescription

This list features styles ranging from melodic and alternative rock bands to underground hip hop artists. As far as the price of admission the page states there is a minimum entry fee of $5 donations. A specific charity is still to be announced at the time of this article.

One of the comments in the event posting states that a non-profit organization Florida Harm Reduction Initiative will also be offering Narcan trainings and overdose reversal kits for FREE at the show. These kinds of programs work with individuals in the community to teach them about the overdose antidote medication Narcan or Naloxone, and show people how to safely and effectively administer the medication in case of an emergency.

So far it seems the concept has been well received. Additional bands have reached out to get involved with the concert to show support for such an important cause.

Communities Coming Together

The organization of this kind of event and the passion that some people seem to have for the cause should come as no surprise, especially considering that reports in the past year have claimed that at least one out of every four people is somehow impacted by the opiate epidemic. It only makes sense then that people from all walks of life, including local rock stars and rap artists, have experienced some extent of the devastation involved with heroin overdose.

One thing that is awesome when seeing something like this is that when you look closely, events are organized all the time all over the country by concerned individuals, or public officials, both directly and indirectly involved in the recovery community. It goes to show that the stigma is being shed slowly but surely, while people are actively supporting each other with conviction and compassion. Regardless of your musical inclinations, the fact these groups get together to raise money and awareness makes me a fan.

Kudos to everyone involved. I’ll be dropping by to make my donation.

For people in this community and all over America that are looking for help, help is always there. Reach out and find it. Palm Partners prides itself on providing an empowering and effective holistic treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

What the Overdose Death of Prince Shows Us about Stigma

What the Overdose Death of Prince Shows Us about Stigma

Author: Justin Mckibben

When the news first broke that the musical icon and revolutionary artist Prince had passed last month there were sources indicating his untimely death may have had something to do with a tragic overdose. Speculations and controversy followed these statements as some people were irate that people would even suggest drugs were involved when the official cause of death was not announced.

Now the medical examiner’s findings have been confirmed, and it appears that those stories were not unfounded after all.

So, taking everything into consideration, I want to talk about the official autopsy report and about what the reactions some people have been having to this story tell us about drug addiction stigma.

Cause of Death

At only 57 years old, Prince Rogers Nelson passed away at his home in Minnesota on April 21st of this year. Despite the fact Prince had a well-tuned history of keeping his personal affairs very private, almost immediately there were sources stating he had been treated just 6 days before his death for a drug overdose when his private jet made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois. With sources saying he was treated with a “save shot” and others indicating it was naloxone used to treat him.

6 Days later on a Thursday morning the tragedy took its toll; Prince was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m. that day. Since then the questions about the possible involvement of drugs have led to intense debate, but it seems there is no longer a need to cycle through rumors. The truth is just that.

Prince- the purple one who is arguably one of the greatest musicians of his time- died due to a Fentanyl overdose.

The autopsy findings were released in a one-page report from the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office (MMEO). It remains uncertain when Prince took the drug, but it has been confirmed he did administer it himself. The investigation into Prince’s death was a joint effort conducted by:

  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota
  • The Carver County Sheriff’s Office

At this time the MMEO has made a statement claiming its office had completed the investigation and would not make any further comment as of the details of the investigation.

Fame and Fentanyl

Despite his reputation for celebrating clean living, singer and Prince’s ex-fiancée Sheila E. said the artist was struggling with constant pain due to years of dancing and performing in high-heeled boots. This is something to take note of. When people get into a conversation on drug addiction or substance dependence they often assume that the individual got that way through recreational drug use. That in itself is a mindset shrouded in stigma.

The truth is, thousands upon thousands of people in the past few years have attested to the fact that they found themselves addicted to opiates after being prescribed medications to help with injuries or other chronic pain. Many found their way from legitimate use of narcotic medications like OxyContin to full-blown addiction to heroin. Prince was actually scheduled to meet with a prominent California doctor and addiction expert Dr. Howard Kornfeld, who specializes in opioid addiction treatment, the day after his death. Some people realize once they have crossed a line it is time for change and reach out.

As the opiate epidemic continues to take lives every single day the addition of the corrosive and insidious drug Fentanyl has only magnified the destruction caused by prescription opioids and heroin. Fentanyl has consistently added to serious spikes in opiate related overdoses and death rates.

Part of a Bigger Problem

There are a few reasons I wanted to write about this again, beyond the fact that it is important to follow up with such an important story.

Now I want to talk about stigma.

I want to address the issue with how everyone reacted to the initial articles talking about this because it seemed as soon as anyone started writing and posting about the possible involvement of drugs in the death of Prince, people started to answer with outrage- claiming his name was being dragged through the mud with no proof.

Here’s my question- why does dying of an overdose make him less of the amazing person he was?

Why do people still respond to that kind of news as if any hint that Prince might have used drugs could make him any less of a hero to the world of music?

Don’t get me wrong, it does drive me crazy that people these days seem ok with accepting and spreading misinformation as if it were gospel.

However, I want to look at this bigger picture of why suddenly because someone says Prince might have been struggling with substances the world is up in arms about the very idea that such a talented and intellectual man could have anything to do with drugs. Is it so hard to believe that someone as incredible and inspiring as Prince could have ever become an addict? Is it so disgraceful to think Prince developed a serious dependence (albeit unintentional)? The fact that the world reacted to sources of these drug overdose accounts with such distaste only shows that stigma still stands between the average person and some true compassion for those who struggle with addiction.

It is imperative that as a society we see the reality and stop shaming this kind circumstance. If we want to move forward we have to see how this kind of thinking keeps us stuck.

Maybe next time someone dies from an overdose we should still celebrate their life and raise awareness through the circumstances of their death, not inadvertently shame them for their disease.

Just a thought.

How many people lose their lives every day because they want help but don’t get it in time? For Prince, he was one day away from getting help. So many lose their lives to a disease that is over-stigmatized and under-treated. There is help out there, so no one should wait until its too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-851-6135

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