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Author: Justin Mckibben
Addiction has shattered the barriers of stigma we once believed to be separating the castes created of financial and cultural differences. Drug addiction has touched the lives of people living in every nook and cranny of our society, while climbing its way to impact those cradled in the lap of luxury, claiming countless lives everywhere in between.
Addiction is not limited to the poor and disenfranchised, nor to the morally or intellectually imbalanced, and it seems some artists and writers went out of their way to prove that point.
Looking back through the history of comic book superheroes, we can even see how the lives of our most iconic and courageous idols of the imagination were once overwhelmed with the effects of addiction, and we see how even our childhood heroes had struggled to recover.
- Iron Man- Alcoholic
Tony Stark is both CEO of his own company, Stark Industries, and a metal-bound man of action known as Iron Man. Being a CEO and a superhero are both job titles with an abundance of stress attached, what with needing to balance a corperate check-book and fight off alien warlords or 3 story monsters… and for Tony Stark that stress reached its climax when his Iron Man armor malfunctions, causing him to accidentally kill a diplomat at a public event.
Iron Man turns to the bottle for escape from his turmoil. Even after discovering his rival tech company Hammer was behind the malfunction and exacting vengeance, the killing of the ambassador continues to haunt Iron Man and his alcoholism spirals out of control.
Finally, after a drunken episode of self-destruction that impacts his girlfriend and butler, he finally acknowledges his alcoholism and asks them for help, and thus begins his road to recovery, which is also hinted at in the comics.
- Moon Knight- Prescription Pills
Moon Knight is a Marvel character that has been described as a murderous, schizophrenic anti-hero who will carry out justice by any means necessary… who just so happens to be tangled up in prescription pill abuse.
Moon Knight believes he fights as the avatar of Khonshu, Egyptian god of the moon and vengeance. It is unclear a lot of the time if his visions of the god are real or an elaborate expression of his mental illness, but either way the pills probably aren’t helping.
After one climactic battle with an arch-nemesis Moon Knight finds himself confined to a wheelchair with a pair of shattered knees. But instead of letting this be his rock-bottom, Moon Knight amplifies the abuse of painkillers and anti-psychotics to only exacerbate his role as an insane anti-hero with some serious issues.
- Captain America- Crystal Meth
Yes… you read that right… even Mr. Goodie Good himself, the Hitler-punching defender of democracy himself Captain America has had his stint with drug addiction.
While investigating a drug ring in New York City, Captain America gets caught in a meth-lab explosion. The big difference with Cap is that he doesn’t willingly ingest the drugs, but instead due to freak-comic-book science, the drug bonds with the super-soldier serum in his blood and instantly hooks him on Crystal Meth.
After assaulting a fellow hero and other outrageous behavior, finally Black Widow gets him under control long enough to get him back to Avengers Tower, where he detoxes… not as cool of a detox story as mine, but I can’t complain.
- Arsenal- Heroin
Arsenal was once the sidekick to Green Arrow from DC’s Justice League. I never knew that, and I definitely never knew he was addicted to heroin. Arsenal apparently even got clean for a while, but years after quitting, he relapses into his heroin addiction following his the death of his daughter in a terrorist attack.
High on a drug called “China Cat” and driven insane by grief Arsenal goes on a heroin addict killing spree, until Batman finally steps in to apprehend him… I kinda wish Batman had done my intervention.
Arsenal is sent to supervillain drug rehab. The story is not very popular by the fans accounts, but this series did win a PRISM award for “accurate depiction of substance abuse and mental illness.”
- Batman- Performance Enhancing Drugs
This one is hard for me to talk about… I mean, it’s Batman! Justice… Vengeance… the Night… the Caped Crusader himself!
Yes, even my childhood hero had an addiction… and not just to Justice. In one series after failing to save the life of a young girl, a younger Batman becomes obsessed with becoming stronger and resorts to abusing the performance-enhancing drug called “Venom.” (Fun fact- this is the same substance that later powers Bane)
The pills Batman gets hooked on take a devastating toll, as most steroid addictions do. Besides being highly addictive, the PED Venom scrambles the Dark Knight’s mind, making him take a strange pleasure in inflicting violence.
Like many of us in recovery can relate to, a drug battered Bruce Wayne suffers through various stages of addiction including:
Finally, the worlds greatest detective decides to go cold turkey and asks Alfred to lock him in the Batcave for 30 days. Again, sounds like a way cooler place to detox than most, but still 30 days cold turkey is not easy to shake anywhere. In the end, Batman returns as a much wiser hero, the hero Gotham deserves.
The stories of struggles with addiction for the super powered and awe inspiring may just be made up cartoons for drama, but it still makes a point to humanize the characters while simultaneously trying to show that drug abuse, addiction and mental health are very real, very powerful and pervasive issues that can impact even the most amazing people. If even our greatest and mightiest heroes can get lost and feel hopeless from drugs and alcohol, we should respect the disease and the influence it can have on our peers.
No one is perfect… yes, even Batman… and it takes compassion to realize that and support those who truly struggle. If anything, let the idea of superheroes with addiction break down the concept of stigma, and help become part of a world that promotes saving lives from addiction.
Addiction and mental illness should never be ignored, and there is hope for those who are suffering. It doesn’t have to be Batman (who is the greatest hero ever)… as cliché as it may sound, not all heroes wear capes. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, be a hero, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
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Author: Shernide Delva
Hundreds of addicts from Australia are turning to an unconventional and controversial treatment to try to cut their addiction to methamphetamines, or “ice”. The treatment has a 70 percent success rate but addictive medicine specialists are warning that it is not the answer.
The treatment involves surgery to have the drug naltrexone implanted in meth addicts to cut their craving. In Australia, meth is the most commonly used drugs next to marijuana. Each year, more than 300 people with drug problems consent to receive the naltrexone implant from the Fresh Start clinic in the city of Perth. The clinic is run by George O’Neil, one of the few doctors in the area who is willing to install the device. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that has been proven to reduce the reward associated with drug use.
“With amphetamine addicts, it just isn’t as enjoyable as it used to be,” on naltrexone. “And so the reward is reduced,” Dr. O’Neil said.
However, naltrexone treatments often run into problems. Drug users intentionally skip doses in order to get high or stop taking the treatment all together. Essentially, the drug addict who desires to get high knows if they stop taking the drug, they can go back to using and feeling high again.
Now, with the implant, this will not be possible. The implant would be surgically placed into the patient’s abdomen which would remove the problem of compliance by slowly releasing naltrexone into the bloodstream maintaining an effective dose at all times.
Many believe the implant has not been proven effective. However Dr. O’Neil argues that is one of the more effective treatments. He argues that the implant has a bad reputation because other clinics provide inferior devices which dispense incorrect doses.
In 2012, three patients addicted to heroin passed away after getting naltrexone implants at a Sydney clinic. The danger of naltrexone is after it is used for a lengthy period of time, a user’s tolerance for opiates will be significantly reduced. When that happens, the chances of an overdose become much higher.
The Jury is Out
So far, The National Health and Medical Research Council’s position on the implants is that further research is needed before a statement on safety can be confidently made. A small study by West Australian addiction expert Gary Hulse is promising. Hulse studied 44 of Dr. O’Neill’s patients and found that 75 percent were not using methamphetamines after 12 to 14 weeks. Hulse believes that the use of naltrexone for meth addicts is sound. However since there has not been any large scale studies, it is still uncertain how effective the implants could be.
Regardless, anything that could be effective in increasing the chance of recovery for addicts is worth examining further. According to a 2013 Nation Drug Strategy Survey, 7 % of the Australian population aged 14 years or older have reported using meth at least once in their lifetime.
Even in the states, meth has become a huge epidemic. People are creating meth in homemade labs. The meth crisis has resulted in many severe injuries, even death. The meth industry has become so huge all over the world that many are resorting to treatment facilities. A Thailand temple offers free treatment to addicts and its patients are most commonalty meth addicts.
Overall, the meth problem needs to be tackled. For many, it is a consuming addiction that takes over their life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or alcoholism, please call toll-free 1-561-221-1125
Author: Shernide Delva
There’s a temple called Wat Thamkrabok in Thailand that operates as a no-cost drug rehabilitation center. The temple, run by Buddhist monks, has garnered the name “Vomit Temple” and it’s not for the faint of heat.
Every day, patients at the center are told to consume a “secret” cocktail made of 120 herbal ingredients which makes them vomit. They must continue the treatment for at least five days. The process is believed to cure addiction by purging out their demons. You only get one chance to get clean.
So what happens if you don’t? Well, you’ll be cursed for eternity, of course. Patients must vow to stay off a list of drugs and are threatened with a curse if they break those vows.
The Sacred Vow: Sajja
As soon as you arrive you must take a vow known as the “Sajja.” In Thai, the Sajja means you are making a commitment to yourself. The vows are told to you by a monk and you must say them out loud in front of the founders, the monk and the temple. It’s the ultimate commitment to get clean.
The belief in Thailand is that breaking the Sajja is really dangerous. Breaking the promise means you’ll be back to your old path that this time will lead to your demise. It’s free to come here but you only get one shot. There are no second chances. If you decide to come here, you are making a commitment to give up drugs for the rest of your life.
Of course all treatment centers want you to commit to a lifestyle of sobriety however one has to wonder if the intense nature of the vows produces a stronger commitment and prevent relapses. It definitely seems like an “ends-all- be-all” way of approaching treatment that could be successful.
History of the Temple Thamkrabok
The temple Thamkrabok started functioning as a rehab center back in 1959 and now attracts foreigners from across the world. Recently the temple has gained media attention as a subject for a new documentary about Australians who are turning to Thamkrabok to treat their meth addiction.
Meth, known overseas as “ice,” has become a huge problem in Australia where over 70,000 people are estimated to be dependent on the drug.
The temple has been functioning as a rehab center since 1959, attracting numerous foreigners from across the world. It has gained media attention as the subject of a new documentary about Australians who are turning to Thamkrabok to treat their meth addiction. Meth, known overseas as “ice,” is a rising problem in Australia, where over 70,000 people are estimated to be dependent on the drug.
In the documentary, it discusses how Australia has failed to address the ice epidemic driving increasing numbers of addicts to a place like Thamkrabok for an alternative form of treatment.
The documentary claims that the country has failed to address the problem, driving increasing numbers of addicts to places like Thamkrabok seeking an alternative form of treatment. Once patients arrive, they are in for a grueling daily routine.
“The routine at the temple involves going out to the yard to help with daily tasks, meals and then, of course, there’s the vomiting,” says Steve, a patient from Perth featured in the documentary. “Vomiting is at 3pm every day. Foreigners must vomit for the first five days. The vomiting is intense.”
Last year, an estimated 1,300 foreigners traveled to Thailand to go to rehab for treatment from all sorts of addictions like drug and alcohol addiction to eating disorders and even depression. There are other rehab options available like the renowned Hope Rehab which is a high-end luxury rehab that attracts famous clientele from all around the world. At the center, patients pay $10,000 for beach views and activities like horseback riding. And unlike Thamkrabok, they are not forced to drink a vomit-inducing potion every day.
Still, for those desperate to seek treatment for their addiction who can’t quite afford other options, Thamkrabok is a more than ideal option. Since rehabs in the United States can run close to 30,000, the fact that the temple is free is a huge reason why the temple is so popular with westerners.
Since often insurances cover the expense of rehab, it would be best to check into that before taking a more extreme option like traveling across the globe. Insurance could be able to cover your expenses for months rather than just a few short days. Still, it’s encouraging that options like this exist for those who desperately need it.
If you are falling into the path of addiction, get help immediately. Time is of the essence. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
According to a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Meth lab injuries are on the rise.
Unlike drugs that come from plants like Marijuana and Cocaine, Meth is made from other chemicals often in makeshift home laboratories. Fires, explosions, injuries and environmental contamination can occur in these labs putting the public at risk.
Data collected from five states — Louisiana, Oregon, Utah, New York, and Wisconsin have shown that meth related chemical incidents have increased from 2001 to 2004 when the drug reemerged in popularity.
There was a decline from 2005 to 2007 as lawmaker’s limited access to the drugs needed to make meth. From 2001 to 2012, there were a total of 1325 meth-related chemical incidents. The most common reported injuries were respiratory irritation, burns, eye irritation, and skin irritation.
Recent Meth Lab Injuries:
- In Eastern Wisconsin, a 35 year old man was treated for burn injuries after investigators say was a meth lab explosion.
- In Louisiana, a woman was seriously injured in what investigators determined was a “rolling meth lab fire. “
- In Daytona Beach, Florida, an 8 month old and four adults were injured when a meth lab exploded early this year.
- Last month, an explosion in Maryland was blamed on a meth lab established in a government building. A federal security officer who was injured was blamed and charged in the case. The officer resigned his position a day after the explosion.
The CDC stated the new method of making meth called the “shake-and-bake” method is the reason for the increasing injuries being reported. The “shake-and-bake” method involved shaking chemicals in a 2-liter plastic bottle. The bottle can frequently burst causing burns and injuries.
Law enforcement officials make up a large percentage of meth-related injuries. Forty-two law enforcement officials were injured in meth lab injuries. The most common injury is respiratory irritation.
To reduce injury, researchers suggest law enforcement officials increase training in order to recognize risk as well as using personal protective equipment. Researchers cautioned that a state-by-state approach to meth production may not be effective.
For example, in 2010, Mississippi introduced “prescription-only” laws for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. While the law resulted in fewer meth labs seized in Mississippi, meth related incidents increased in neighboring state Louisiana.
Dangers lurk even after the meth lab is closed down because people can still come in contact with the leftover hazardous materials.
“Employees working as cleanup contractors, or in housekeeping, patient intake and other high-risk occupations should be alerted to the dangers,” the study authors said.
The implementing laws limiting access to the meth chemicals tracking people buying the chemicals with electronic monitoring, and maintaining a database of the offenders.
The study concludes by noting that public health is urgently needed to protect those who are most injured in meth incidents children and law enforcement officials.
Meth labs are seriously dangerous to the general public. Because of the increasing popularity of meth use, meth lab injuries are on the rise. The hope is that new policies are implemented that prevent these incidents. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Harm reduction is one method of addressing the nation’s drug issue that may seem to some as a philosophy of enabling, while to others it makes sense to offer safe alternatives to individuals who abuse drugs because these strategies can prevent the spread of disease and the damage to the community. It was estimated that 2015 would be a big year for harm reduction, as many suspected that drug policy reform would reshape the landscape in the wake of the “failed war on drugs” while there were efforts being actively put forth to alleviate the suffering caused by the opiate epidemic.
Needle exchange programs are one way that harm reduction can be implemented in a community. Supplying clean needles and safe disposal sites for addicts to use keeps them from sharing needles infected with disease, and now one kind of needle exchange program is changing the game.
In Seattle the volunteers behind a needle exchange are now handing out meth pipes to drug users for free as well. So is this the same kind of harm reduction being utilized to keep people safer, or is this just negligence at an all-time high?
Meth Pipe Program
It seems some think harm reduction means catering to more than just needles. This strange meth pipe program was launched by a group called The People’s Harm Reduction Alliance about 2 months ago, and is offered 5 days per week off an alley next to a church in Seattle’s University District.
About 25 to 30 meth pipes are handed out each day, and according to the executive director of the alliance Shilo Murphy, the demand for the free meth pipes has been growing ever since. The theory behind the program is that by handing out the pipes, some drug users will rely less on needles, which in turn helps to cut down on the risk of certain diseases in the community. Murphy stated:
“People kept coming to our program and saying that they were getting syringes because they didn’t have access to a pipe.”
So in essence this program has tried to circumvent the whole needle issue by giving users access to another method of ingesting their drugs that put them at a much more decreased risk of infection.
Many former addicts are actively involved in these movements to try and help change things in the community. Some even say that this program also helps those who have never used needles, because it is still possible to spread diseases by sharing pipes if there are open wounds in the mouth present. Regg Thomas, a drug user for the past 20 years who currently works with the Urban Survivors Union stated:
“Whatever the reason is why both parties don’t have their own… They wind up sharing. Well, this program has prevented that because all it takes is a cut orally and you’ve transmitted a disease possibly,”
Whether the theory for the program actually works is still up for debate.
So we have seen how harm reduction can help, and I can even begin to understand how this might actually be a useful tactic for addressing a local drug issue, BUT according to state law handing out drug paraphernalia like the pipes is still illegal in Seattle. And Murphy said he knows that, but he disputes that so was syringe exchange 25 years ago. And yet Seattle has syringe exchange programs and it’s proven to be one of the biggest advantages they’ve had for fighting HIV infections through injection drug use in the state.
Even though it’s illegal under state law to give someone certain kinds of drug paraphernalia, police said they’re more concerned with what’s put into the pipes and not necessarily the pipes themselves.
Making a Real Difference
It isn’t all about the bureaucracy for those involved in this movement. It seems this is more about making a real difference and less about placating to the drug users to enable them. Murphy said this is the first program of its kind in the nation, and he believes it has not just reduced risk behaviors, but it has helped get various users tested for Hepatitis C.
But Murphy does not stop with handing someone a pipe and telling them have fun. The program lets drug users pick up wound care kits and get crucial information about treatment options. Murphy insisted:
“By engaging them, we gave people self-worth… Give back people’s desire to live better in life and live better in society,”
It seems that even though it is technically outside the realm of the law, this program could actually inspire similar changes as far as officials and organizations stepping up to keep citizens safer and more informed as drug addicts instead of labeling them all criminals and locking them up.
I have to say, harm reduction programs to me always seem like an awful idea at first because I believe in abstinence and a program of recovery, but these programs aren’t ever meant to be permanent solutions, only temporary effective vehicles to get individuals the help they need and provide safe and educational support for them until they are willing to get the help. It may sound like it is enabling, and it some ways I guess it is, but it’s saving lives and at least offering an opportunity most would never know about. Maybe harm reduction has more potential than we are currently using.
Enabling addicts to keep using is not a good personal decision, but at the same time putting in place a system to keep the community safe from the spread of disease or more dangerous circumstances is important, especially if it gets people the help they need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135