Author: Shernide Delva
Two Colorado inmates died while incarcerated and suffering through heroin withdrawal this year. Both were preventable. In the last decade, heroin deaths have quadrupled in the United States.
Back in May, 25-year-old Taylor Tabor died in Adams County jail from complications due to opiate withdrawal. He had been arrested for heroin possession and his parents refuse the $300 bail out of tough love. In another case, 37-year-old heroin user Jennifer Lobato was found dead shortly after being arrested for shoplifting in March. In both cases, the cause of death was dehydration. Often, this occurs as opiate withdrawal causes users to vomit uncontrollably.
In August, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration introduced new language in their grants encouraging medication-assisted treatment rather than abstinence in a clinical environment.
Withdrawal from opiates is a very uncomfortable, painful experience resulting in nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, fevers, and cold sweats among other symptoms. That is why monitored detox is such a crucial component of many treatment centers. However, going to prison should not always mean you have to kick the habit cold turkey.
From 2012 to 2013, the Department of Justice saw an increase of 23 percent of jail inmate deaths from drug of alcohol intoxication. Families in several states have sued local jails when heroin users died of dehydration behind bars.
Heroin detox requires hydration levels to be carefully monitored because constant vomiting leads to easy dehydration. As heroin use continues to be a crisis throughout the country, local jails are seeing a rise of users behind bars.
After the death of Jennifer Lobato, the Jefferson County Sheriff reprimanded six deputies. They also added an additional nurse and there is a policy instated that requires inmates withdrawing from drugs to get medical attention without delay.
Withdrawal from heroin can be severe and start within 8 hours of giving up the drug. The individual will have symptoms often up to a week after they quit. Some people suffer continued post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) that can last several months. These symptoms can include:
- Foggy Brain: Individual unable to think clearly.
- Difficulty managing stress
- Irregular sleeping patterns
- Emotional: one second up, next second down
- Social Anxiety
- Difficulty Concentrating
Because the heroin epidemic has reached such large proportions, jails are now dealt with the challenge of handling those coming in with opiate drug addiction withdrawals. Unlike a treatment center, jails do not have methods to aid with withdrawals and many do not do anything to help those suffering.
There has been a push for methadone treatment for heroin users behind bars however for the most part; this remains widely unavailable in the United States. The Center for Prison Health and Human Rights offers some insight on the consequences of jail’s mandatory withdrawal policies. Senior director, author Josiah D. Rich, explained how the lack of methadone treatments in jail discourage heroin users from wanting to start methadone treatments.
“Inmates are aware of these correctional methadone withdrawal policies and know they’ll be forced to undergo this painful process again if they are re-arrested. It’s not surprising that many reported that if they were incarcerated and forced into withdrawal, they would rather withdraw from heroin than from methadone, because it is over in days rather than weeks or longer,”
As for the two cases in Colorado, parents of the inmates are looking to sue the jails for negligence. In both cases, the families believe the deaths were preventable. There have been other cases in the United States of negligence in jails and parents are suing many jails for negligence. The hope is that attention brought from the media on cases like these will promote better management of inmates suffering from withdrawals in otehr jails across the country.
Getting treatment from heroin is challenging enough in a treatment center, better yet a jail. Get help before you do something that lands you in an unfortunate situation. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
This is in no way an endorsement to go out and do some drugs. We just think it’s important for people to know what’s up before having discussions about drugs. Below are common misconceptions about drugs that seem to stand the test of time. Get ready to have your mind blown; even I was surprised by some of these. Here are 10 surprising drug myths busted!
Ecstasy Eats Holes in Your Brain.
Around 2000, MTV and Oprah Winfrey took to the air to make this erroneous claim. Apparently, this myth was based on a brain scan of an ecstasy user that was misinterpreted; the scan showed what appeared to be ‘holes’ in the brain tissue, however, this was the result if how a computer coded the image. The areas that were thought to holes were in fact areas of decreased blood flow.
Yet, the following year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) continued to allege that ecstasy caused permanent brain damage. But, a decade later, NIDA reversed its position and issued a study concluding that ecstasy may not cause harm to the brain at all.
Most Crackheads are Black.
Despite media and news reports that like to perpetuate this one and despite the popularity of depicting crackheads as Black (think Dave Chappelle’s character Tyrone Biggums), a 1991 NIDA study reported that 52% of crack users were white. Furthermore, in 2012, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 62% of adults who had smoked crack in the past year were white; only 27.9% were black.
As far as overall drug use, some data shows that whites have a higher rate of drug use than blacks, even though there is a greater percentage of a blacks incarcerated for drug-related crimes.
There is a ‘Crack Baby’ Epidemic.
The many early studies declaring the emergence of a new social problem: the crack baby had failed to account for the effects of poverty and insufficient prenatal care as other factors leading to the birth defects and developmental problems that were occurring. To be sure, it’s not a good idea to smoke crack while pregnant (or at all) but, crack just isn’t quite as bad as initially thought.
Barry Lester, the Brown University professor who directed the Maternal Lifestyle Study, told The New York Times, that, when comparing the babies of crack smokers to those of non-crack smokers, “Are there differences? Yes. Are they reliable and persistent? Yes. Are they big? No.”
And, in fact, some experts now say drinking alcohol during pregnancy leads to more pronounced and devastating effects on the baby than does smoking crack.
Doing Heroin One Time Will Get You Addicted.
Yes, heroin makes you feel good. And yes, if you do it long enough, you will go into nasty withdrawals. But, doing heroin once does not mean that you will wake up a full-blown junkie the next day. In actuality, only 23% of people who try heroin go on to become dependent on it. And, although that’s still a pretty high number, it just doesn’t support this drug myth. And, in case you need something to compare it to: 32% of those who try tobacco go on to become dependent. Therefore, cigarettes are more addictive than heroin.
The War on Drugs Is Working.
If you read our blog, then you already know that this one’s a big fat lie. But, for those who aren’t in “the know,” the war on drugs has been an utter failure, causing more harm than good. Despite costing a lot of money – $1 trillion since 1971 when Nixon declared war on illicit drugs, the only thing to come out of the war on drugs is having the world’s largest prison population. Not really anything to brag about. As for any lasting result? Furthermore, The Wire reported that the overall drug addiction rate has remained fairly constant – around 1.3%, since the 1970s.
Heroin Overdoses Are Common.
This one came as a surprise to me. Especially since we’ve been experiencing a heroin and overdose epidemic in this country as of late. As it turns out, not all heroin overdoses are really heroin overdoses. The cause of a so-called heroin overdose is more likely attributed to the mixing of drugs: many heroin users concurrently take tranquilizers, alcohol, and cocaine and are therefore at greater risk for sudden death. Likewise, in a 2014 article in The Daily Beast explained how regular heroin users can appear to overdose: “In many cases, what causes a daily, well-tolerated occurrence to suddenly result in an unexpected death is the mixture of substances, such as alcohol or sedatives.”
Heroin is More Dangerous Than Alcohol.
Again, this is something we have written about on a couple of different occasions. You may recall the name Professor Nutt who, in 2010, developed a rating system that ranked 20 drugs based on the 16 different types of harm they might cause, e.g. to self and community. Alcohol ranked the highest in several of the categories, including accidents and suicide, health risk, rate of addiction, injury, family adversities, and economic cost to the community. And, overall, alcohol had the highest score, meaning that it had the highest level of danger associated to it. Just for reference, alcohol rated a 72, while heroin was in a far second place with a 55, followed by crack at 54. Things that make you go “Hmmm.”
Crack Makes You Skinny.
Although crack is an appetite suppressant, it is not a very strong one. There are other drugs out there, like amphetamines that have both a stronger appetite-suppressing effect as well as a longer half-life. It’s true that many crack smokers experience some weight loss and weight loss is even considered one of the symptoms of an addiction to crack cocaine addiction. However, that weight loss could be a result of other reasons, such as a lack of concern about nutrition and an the tendency to spend all available funds on drugs rather than food.
Marijuana is a Gateway Drug.
This one is more about coincidence rather than cause-and-effect. Although it’s been found that someone who smokes pot is 104 times more likely to try cocaine, it’s important to remember that correlation between marijuana use and hard drug use does not necessarily mean causation. Al Arkowitz and Scott Lilienfeld wrote in Scientific American, “Many studies have found that most people who used other illicit drugs had, in fact, used marijuana first. Although results such as these are consistent with the gateway hypothesis, they do not prove that using marijuana causes the use of other drugs.”
And besides, how many people who went on to using hard drugs used alcohol and cigarettes first? I bet it’s more than those who smoked pot first.
Prison Keeps People Sober.
Some people seem to be under the impression that going to jail will help them ‘kick’ their addiction but, that just isn’t the case. Drugs are smuggled into prisons all the time, either by an inmate’s visitor, eve by some of the guards, or else by other inmates returning from their work-release assignments or from a furlough. And, in recent years, there have even been some stories of people attempting to smuggle in drugs using drones.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, it can be hard to find answers – even in the vast universe of the internet. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist – someone who can answer your questions and talk to you about substance use disorder, addiction, and the signs to look for. We can also talk to you about your options on handling the situation.
Three guys were busted on heroin-dealing charges on Staten Island Wednesday, law enforcement sources said. This might not be that newsworthy – except for the fact that one of the men – Frank Scorsese, 39 – is related to Academy Award winning director Martin Scorsese.
Martin Scorsese is best known for his critically-acclaimed works, such as Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and most recently The Wolf of Wall Street. He won an Academy Award for his direction of The Departed in 2006.
The filmmaker’s publicist did not immediately return a request for comment from the director, who is now working on a documentary about Bill Clinton.
In the News: Martin Scorcese’s Nephew Busted for Selling Heroin
Frank Scorsese is the acclaimed filmmaker’s nephew; his father, also named Frank is the brother of Martin Scorsese.
The nephew had sold $200 worth of heroin to an undercover cop on three separate occasions in April. According to a criminal complaint, he was charged after the undercover made the third buy this past week.
When he’s not dealing heroin, Scorsese works at an auto body shop and was busted along with the shop’s owners, John Santillo, 55, and his wife Lori Santillo, 57. Apparently, the three had a side business.
According to the criminal complaint, officers executed a search warrant at the Santillos’ home in Staten Island Wednesday morning and made quite a bust. They seized 272 packets of heroin, five shotguns, a .22 caliber pistol, and a 9 mm pistol and a rifle.
Scorsese was charged with criminal possession and sale of a controlled substance, while the Santillos received weapons charges in addition to drug charges.
Both Scorsese’s lawyer and John Santillo’s lawyer threw each other’s clients under the bus during their arraignment.
“My client is not a felon. The primary person involved here is the co-defendant, not Mr. Scorsese. Scorsese does not own the business,” said lawyer John Poppe.
Kevin Byrne, Santillo’s attorney, countered saying, “Mr. Scorsese was the one actively involved in the sale to undercover agents. Mr. Santillo has prior convictions but they are from 30 years ago.” Public records show that Scorsese has a history of financial troubles, including tax liens and several civil judgments against him for credit card and personal debts.
When reached by phone, his father Frank, 78, of Brick, NJ, said “I don’t need that. Goodbye.”
Mrs. Santillo’s lawyer, Kathleen Wallace, said her client is a retired librarian who was unaware of the weapons.
“The weapons were hidden in a closet behind a hidden panel in a secret compartment. I know the seriousness if this charge but my client is a retired librarian and has no criminal record. She has no knowledge of any of these things,” Wallace said.
All three pleaded not guilty during the court proceeding in Staten Island Criminal Court Thursday.
Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. ordered Scorsese held on $50,000 bond or $20,000 cash bail.
John Santillo was held on $75,000 bond or $50,000 bail, while his wife, Lori Santillo was held on $7,500 bail or $10,000 bond.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Like with any other hard-to-believe story, the case of the drug Krokodil is being sensationalized in the news. The drug is very real and now that there have been at least a handful of cases, we are seeing more and more coverage about it in the news.
Krokodil is a nasty drug that is said to give you a higher high but at the fraction of the price of heroin. The trade-off, however, is that it literally costs you an arm and a leg: it’s an opiate unlike any other opiate – one that is mixed with a series of dangerous poisons that lead to tissue death in the addict’s body resulting in amputation.
Krokodil, whose medical name is desomorphine, has been called a ‘moonshine drug’ because addicts are often able to cook the narcotic at home. Reports have stated that krokodil can have gasoline, bleach, oil, paint thinner, and who knows what else. This concoction can leave traces of toxins in the final product – which is then injected.
You can’t take this drug without actually poisoning yourself. You are literally poisoning yourself when you use krokodil. It’s very corrosive and toxic. The drug gets its name from the green, scaly sores that users often develop. Horrific photos of the drug’s side effects have circulated on the Internet. Pictures and videos of users in Russia show blackened fingertips, large open wounds, and even exposed bone where skin has fallen off. Prolonged or even short-term use can damage blood vessels, muscle, cartilage, and bone, and amputation is frequently the only way to save a patient’s life.
In September, doctors in Arizona sounded the alarm after two potentially related cases of krokodil abuse were reported in the state. And, over the past few weeks, doctors in Arizona and Illinois have reported treating users of krokodil. One such doctor describes the experience: “the smell of rotten flesh permeates the room. Intensive treatment and skin grafts are required, but they are often not enough to save limbs or lives.” He went on to say, “If you want to kill yourself, this is the way to do it.”
Doctors have warned of the horrifying side effects of the homemade drug, which is said to give a more powerful high than heroin and is much cheaper to produce. The finished product isn’t purified and may contain toxic substances left over from the cooking process, which cause tissue damage to the veins and flesh and can result in gangrene, or body tissue that rots and dies. Some addicts in Russia have developed brain damage and speech impediments in addition to the horrific scars.
Prevalent in Siberia and the Russian Far East, the explosion of users first began in 2002. The numbers of Russians using the drug is thought to have tripled over the past five years. Although krokodil first took hold in Russia, where hundreds of thousands of users were reported in 2010, the drug has apparently arrived in the United States.
And so, even though there have only been a few cases of krokodil use in the US so far, the mere existence of this drug makes it news-worthy. And the fact that this drug is so highly addictive that its use spreads like wildfire, as seen across Germany and Russia, it is a real threat.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or drug addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.
Heroin has a really, really bad reputation. It is touted as the worst drug on the face of the planet. Pictures of its users usually include homeless people in alleys shooting it up with dirty needles. What many people know about heroin is from what they see portrayed on television. Heroin and heroin users are surrounded by a cloud of hysteria, horrific media, and quick judgment. We are here to set the record straight. Because while heroin, yes, is very dangerous and addictive, some of what you may or may not know about this drug and its users are myth not fact.
And it is time to debunk the myths. This is drug myths debunked: Heroin.
Myth #1: Heroin users are dirty, broke, homeless people who use needles
The recent death of Glee star Corey Monteith should have laid this myth to rest but this myth will probably go on for as long as there are homeless people in alleys that are using heroin. Because the truth is yes, many homeless people shoot up heroin in alleys but they aren’t the only ones. Heroin use is not resigned to the broke “junkies”. There are many white collar, kids even, who are snorting or smoking (not shooting up) heroin with their weekly allowance. Not only that but there are people who seem very clean cut and put together such as Corey Monteith that use heroin. Heroin use doesn’t discriminate and heroin users are not as easily characterized as you may think. There are kids who go to a great college, get a degree, and all the while have an intense and life threatening heroin addiction. Heroin addiction can affect anyone despite their economic standing, education, race, sex, and location.
Myth #2: Heroin is more dangerous than alcohol.
This myth is false. Heroin is not more dangerous as alcohol. Alcohol is just as dangerous as heroin. The truth is alcohol in a lot of ways is even more dangerous than heroin. Alcohol just happens to be more socially accepted. The reasons that alcohol is more dangerous than heroin could go on and on. For instance, that the withdrawal from alcohol could kill you and heroin withdrawal is not fatal. Alcohol’s effects on the body and brain are much more intense and long lasting. Heroin has some medical benefit as an opiate even though it is an illicit drug whereas alcohol has none. Just because a drug is socially accepted or not socially accepted doesn’t make it any more or less safe.
Myth #3: If you try heroin even once you will become addicted immediately
Addiction is a complex disease that takes a while to develop. It is not the same as physical dependence – you can be physically dependent on a substance but not addicted. It takes time for a heroin user to develop physical tolerance and even though it is a very addictive substance the true state of addiction will also take some time to manifest. This doesn’t mean that trying heroin even once is safe. It just means that if you do or have done heroin once and then never used it again this is why.
Myth #4: About what to do when someone overdoses on heroin
There are many myths about overdosing and what to do if someone is overdosing or on how to prevent overdosing. These myths include putting someone in a bath or shower which can lead to drowning and death. Slapping, hitting or pinching a person will not rouse a person into consciousness nor will trying to make them walk around when they are slipping into unconsciousness. Some people believe that inducing vomiting will reduce the drug affects but this is dangerous and may lead to choking. Some intravenous drug users believe that injecting a person with another drug, such as amphetamines or adrenaline when they are overdosing on heroin, will reverse the overdose (remember the scene from Pulp Fiction? In reality, intracardiac injection is old fashioned and an extreme last resort, and, Narcan, not adrenaline, is used to revive a heroin OD). Salt water and milk injection are also other common myths. The fact is if someone is overdosing on heroin you need to call 911 immediately. Someone who is overdosing on heroin is not going to just kill over like many people think either. Many times a heroin overdose is gradual and the breathing will slowly stop. So there is time. Get help!
Heroin is a dangerous drug that should not be taken lightly. The best way to prevent heroin use and heroin overdose is to know the facts. Heroin abuse and knowledge about heroin that is based in myth is not effective and can lead to many problems and in the worst case scenarios such as heroin overdose, death. Know the facts, know the truth and share it.
If someone you know is in need of treatment for heroin addiction, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.