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Sheriff in Ohio Refusing to Use Narcan to Prevent Overdose Deaths

Sheriff in Ohio Refusing to Use Narcan to Prevent Overdose Deaths

Author: Justin Mckibben

Ohio has been a major epicenter of the overdose outbreak. In 2014, Ohio was #2 of states with the most overdose deaths.  Since then, Ohio has topped the list for heroin overdose deaths in the country, and remains in the top 3 states with the highest overdose death rates, both overall AND per capita. In fact, the overdose capitol of America is actually Montgomery County, Ohio, with over 365 opioid-related deaths in the first 5 months of 2017.

So with Ohio being one of the states hit the hardest by the ravishes of the opioid epidemic and the overdose crisis, you would think that Ohio officials would be more apt to adopting progressive and preventative measures for saving lives. In some areas, yes. However, in others… not so much.

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones says his deputies won’t carry Narcan, despite its effectiveness reversing the effects opioid and heroin overdoses.

Butler County Overdose Deaths

Making this a much more controversial issue, drug overdose is killing more people than any other cause in Butler County. According to a statement by Dr. Lisa Mannix’s office, in the first 4 months of 2017 the coroner investigated 175 deaths, and 96 of them were lethal drug overdoses.

The month of April was especially deadly for drug users in the area. According to Mannix, her office-

“- has never seen that many deaths of any kind in a single month.”

In just those 30 days, 30 people died from drug overdose. According to the coroner’s office, 83% of the overdose deaths involved illegal opiate substances. This includes the now infamous synthetic opioids such as:

If this deadly trend continues, the coroners office expects those rates will see a 50% increase from the total overdose deaths in 2016.

The Sheriff Says “I Don’t Do Narcan”

He’s Jones just happens to be the only sheriff in Southwest Ohio whose department does not use the opioid overdose antidote Narcan, or the generic Naloxone. And apparently, he has no intention of starting anytime soon.

Jones was asked about the lack of Narcan use by his police department shortly after the now controversial comments made by a Middletown city councilman suggesting a policy to refuse giving a response to overdose calls. According to the sheriff, local residents and even social workers often ask him why law enforcement continue to revive people who overdose multiple times. His response was simple; his deputies don’t. When interviewed and asked about it, Jones stated:

“I don’t do Narcan.”

Yes… let that just sink in for a second.

This is a man who has the job description of ‘protect and serve’ but when it comes to addicts, he would prefer to do neither.

So what was his justification?

Jones went on to rationalize his opinion by, according to the original report, ‘talking about babies he has seen born addicted to heroin in his jail and mothers who teach their teenage children how to use heroin so they can shoot the mom up.’ When the reporter pressed on about the lack of Narcan in his department, Jones stated:

“They never carried it. Nor will they. That’s my stance.”

The sheriff went on trying to validate his rationale by claiming safety was the primary priority. He argued that people revived from an overdose are often violent and are almost never happy to see the police.

So in short, it sounds like this sheriff would let sick and suffering men and women, even teens, die from overdose rather than save their lives… because they might be upset or aggressive?

What Do You Do?

As expanded access programs to provide Narcan to first responders have become more popular it seems some have gone on to debate how long should tax payer money do to saving lives, and how many times should someone be revived.

This is a tough conversation to have. For some there is no easy answer. Those who are more focus on being monetarily minded and conservative will typically argue that resources should not go to repeatedly paying to save addicts from death. But is it fair for anyone to decide whether someone should die or not simply because they are addicted to drugs? Are we really willing to let people die to boost the government’s budget?

However, for some of us the answer is easy- you cannot put a price on a life. Struggling with substance use disorder does not diminish the value of a person. It should go without saying that if the resources exist to prevent death from overdose, than we should use it. Narcan may not be the cure to addiction, but it might keep just enough people alive long enough to find help and make a difference in the world.

Thankfully, this isn’t how all of Ohio is handling the opioid overdose outbreak in their state. Sheriff’s deputies in surrounding counties carry the opioid overdose antidote, including:

  • Warren County
  • Clermont County
  • Hamilton County

Other expanded access programs in Ohio are going strong and saving a lot of people, but of course the next step to solving the issue is helping to establish sources of effective treatment.

Drug addiction treatment can be the decisive variable that allows for these overdose victims and others suffering with substance use disorder to get a new chance at life. Holistic healing with innovative and personalized recovery programs has the potential not to just save a life, but transform lives. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

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Officials Push for Safe Injection Sites in Boston at City Council

Officials Push for Safe Injection Sites in Boston at City Council
Author: Justin Mckibben

For some time now government officials in different states across America have been pushing for the implementation of safe injection sites in their neighborhoods to combat the perpetual rise of opioid addiction and overdose death. This time last year there were proposals in New York, California and Washington D.C. to open such facilities. With the rising rates of overdose and death more officials have asked for the opportunity to at least examine the potential impact of safe injection sites. Now, officials are pushing for safe injection sites in Boston.

This request didn’t come lightly, either. The Massachusetts Medical Society is actually imploring state officials to open a safe injection site within the City of Boston, with desperate hope of curbing the numbers of casualties.

Safe Injection Presented to City Council

The Boston city council members heard arguments both for and against safe injection sites in Boston, and the debate is on as to what to do with the information.

Advocates for safe injection sites in Boston believe such facilities save lives by making emergency medical treatment immediately available. Dr. Henry Dorkin with the Massachusetts Medical Society supports the idea, stating:

“In fact, if you don’t have them in a facility with Narcan readily available, they’ll die very quickly,”

Just to clarify, safe injection sites are secure locations with medical staff available where addicts can use heroin under medical supervision. It provides what could be considered neutral ground where the drug user will not have to worry about being charged with criminal possession, while also having a first line of defense against overdose. Safe injection sites do not provide drugs, they simply provide the space and with some clean needles are also available.

Probably one of the most popular examples used by advocates of safe injection sites has been the famous facility in Vancouver, Canada that helped save dozens of lives. City Councilors Anissa Essaibi-George and Frank Baker, who requested the hearing, point out that the safe injection sites in Vancouver reduced fatal opioid overdoses by 35%.

This kind of decrease in overdose fatalities would make a huge difference in Massachusetts. The state Department of Public Health says the state’s top cause of accidental death so far this year is opioid overdose. The department says an average of 6 people a day in Massachusetts die from opioid overdoses in 2017, making. A 35% decrease would make a tremendous improvement on the community.

Anti-Injection Sites Argument

Opponents of safe injection sites in Boston say that these facilities do nothing to address the true problem, which is addiction. Sue Sullivan of the Newmarket Business Association states:

“It’s an existence. We need to figure out how we’re going to save these people and it’s not safe injection sites,”

Looking at the Vancouver statistics was apparently not enough to convince the entire city council. One feature of safe injection sites is that they often have a team of treatment professionals who encourage addicts who visit the facility to get treatment. They provide information about safe medical detox and other levels of care to those who are interested in getting help. However, one city council member, Frank Baker, states:

“263,000 visits a year by 6,500 individuals. And it has only 404 referrals to onsite detox,”

Some officials believe that this measure of harm reduction isn’t enough to really solve the issue without getting more people into drug addiction treatment and off the streets.

Possible Benefits of Safe Injection Sites in Boston

The primary function of safe injection sites is to preserve life. The idea is that while it may not be a lasting solution, it is a way to save lives. Safe injection sites allow people struggling to have the opportunity to survive their addiction long enough to get treatment. Beyond slowing down drug related deaths, safe injection sites in Boston could offer a number of other positive outcomes.

In May of last year we also covered a report titled Alternatives to Public Injection in which experts with experience operating supervised injection facilities (SIFs) shared data that shows:

  1. People who use SIFs take better care of themselves
  2. SIFs reduce or eliminate addicts needle sharing
  3. Ultimately, participants reduce their drug use all together
  4. SIF participants gain access to other medical and social services
  5. Participants have resources to seek addiction treatment
  6. SIFs do not increase drug use in the surrounding area
  7. Crime and public disturbances decrease in the areas around these programs
  8. There has not been a SINGLE overdose death in any of these programs over many years of operation

Rates of people visiting safe injection sites attending treatment may not be as good as they could be. However, the fact that they have no experienced a single overdose death at these facilities is an incredible improvement.

Are we going to see safe injection sites in Boston? Are more American cities going to consider this option? Is having a safe injection site a good idea?

While getting the right kind of safe and effective addiction treatment can create lasting change, preventing the ongoing deaths from drugs is also a worthy cause. Holistic healing programs are designed to address every aspect of addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

5 Year Old Saves Parents from Heroin Overdose Death

5 Year Old Saves Parents from Heroin Overdose Death

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

In late 2016 we talked about a story that had flooded every social media outlet with angry comments and distraught families of addicts. An image had surfaced from East Liverpool, Ohio that showed a horrifying depiction of two parents overdosed in the front seat of a vehicle pulled over on the side of the road, with a child sitting strapped into a car seat in the back. People berated the parents, while demanding the child be taken from them. Others argued that the photo was insensitive to the suffering and helplessness of addiction. The event was used by news outlets everywhere as a focal point for the bigger conversation about the devastation of the opioid epidemic in America.

So while in this case there is no photo to be shared and ranted about, the story of one quick-thinking 5-year-old boy is still a startling dose of reality.

Kids in the Crossfire

This time the child in the story ending up being the only reason his parents are still alive. According to the reports in relation to the story, the young boy rescued his mom and dad who had overdosed on heroin. Around 5 a.m. on Thursday morning the child knocked on the door to his step-grandfather’s house in Middletown, Ohio. He had walked two blocks, barefoot. Initial reports state the little boy told the relative that his parents were dead.

The young child’s step-grandfather Kenneth Currey told reporters,

“When I walked up the steps and seen him laying in the bathroom floor and her in the hallway, I immediately called 911 because I knew what was up,”

While the step-grandfather was describing the incident to the 911 dispatchers, he tried to comfort the young boy. But it was not just the one child either. There was also the boy’s 3-month-old infant sister, who was still strapped into her car seat in the car outside. Likely, the little boy saved his little sister from a great deal of risk as well.

The Aftermath

The station reported that when cops arrived, they found the parents lying unconscious on the floor. The young man, Lee Johnson, was given Narcan. Soon after the overdose antidote was administered, Johnson admitted to using heroin, according to the report. He was placed in cuffs and put into the back of a police cruiser.

The station stated that the mother, Chelsie Marshall, had to be rushed to a nearby hospital to be revived. She did not come back as easily. It took a total of 14 Narcan doses to revive Marshall.

Both parents are facing charges, including:

  • 2 counts of endangering children (each)
  • 1 count of disorderly conduct with heroin (each)

The children were brought to the Middletown Police Department. There the heroic young boy who saved not only his parents, but his little sister and himself, received a badge for his bravery. The two children have since been taken to live with other family members.

The step-grandfather Kenneth Currey said,

“I’m very proud of the boy, very proud of him, but it’s just, tragedy,”

The Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw knows very well that this situation could have indeed brought a much different result, and issued a wake-up call to the community.

“Parents, wake up,”

“People that are doing this, you’re not just hurting you, you’re hurting your families and your kids. I mean, this could’ve turned out really bad for two children that don’t deserve it.”

He isn’t wrong.

At the same time, we should also use instances like this as an opportunity to show how important it is that people get the treatment they need, and that families support one another in getting that help before it is too late. We should give those still using the hard truth, but at the same time we should show support and compassion, while encouraging family members to protect each other and try to help those who struggle.

Addiction is killing our families every day. We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.

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What the step-grandfather said is absolutely true, this is indeed a tragedy. Parents of all ages die every day from drug overdose. Every day children are suffering along with their mothers and fathers in the grips of addiction, and every day some little kids lose their parents due to addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Police Will Give Free Heroin to Addicts to Fight Crime

Police Will Give Free Heroin to Addicts to Fight Crime

Author: Justin Mckibben

That’s right, you read the headline correctly. Law enforcement could soon be giving heroin to addicts, for free, in an attempt to fight addiction. While harm reduction is an admirable concept to preserve the lives of those suffering from addiction, this is a hard bit to chew.

Various countries are working to drastically reform drug policies. Some states in America have even started to pursue expanding access to naloxone, needle exchange programs and even safe injection sites. Other countries around the world have gone to new lengths in decriminalization, while others go to new extremes in the War on Drugs. Yet, despite all this variations of progress, giving away heroin seems like the most abstract idea yet.

Police in Durham, a city in northeast England, are planning to offer free heroin to drug users. Why? They say the objective is actually to reduce both crime and addiction.

The Free Heroin Plan?

Durham Police and Crime Victims Commissioner Ron Hogg spoke recently on his logic for providing heroin to addicts. In his statement he said,

“The aim would be to enable people who have become addicted to heroin to follow a program that would stabilize their addiction in a controlled environment, and reduce their dependency on heroin until they stop taking it,”

The idea isn’t just to give addicts free heroin and let them loose, but to create a very distinctive atmosphere of support in hopes of inspiring recovery. The proposed free heroin program would work in combination with a traditional substance abuse support program, and the users would be monitored on use and tapered off. According to the Independent newspaper, the free heroin clinics could be established in the Durham area before the end of this year.

What do Police Think of Free Heroin?

It seems the police department is hoping that if drug users have access to free heroin then they won’t have to resort to crime to support their addiction. While they are aware of how this idea might seem strange, the idea is that they may be able to further decrease all other devastating results of addiction on the community. Crime, spread of disease, overdose death and more.

According to the Independent newspaper, Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton also says the initiative would take away from drug dealers’ profits. With drug users having access to free heroin they hope it will cripple the trade on the illicit drug market. Barton states:

“We need to get over our moral panic about giving people heroin as part of a treatment plan,”

“Our primary concern is to prevent crime. If we’ve got people who are addicted to Class A drugs committing crime, it makes good sense to get that person off drugs.”

Commissioner Hogg also goes on to say,

“The aim of the initiative is to save the lives of addicts, shut down drug dealers and reduce acquisitive crime,”

“It would also reduce demand on police time, and the courts, and I believe it should also help lower the prison population.”

The impact of heroin on the U.K. should of course be noted as a cause for desperate measures.

  • 2015-2016 statistics show there were 149,807 people receiving treatment for opioid use disorder in England
  • Between 2012 and 2015, heroin-related deaths doubled from 579 to 1,201 deaths in England and Wales

So of course, as the opiate epidemic rattles countries all over the world, a few have decided to react in very different ways. Apparently, some parts of the U.K. are moving toward a very, very liberal stance.

Fix Rooms and Safe Injection Sites

England is not alone on this. Let us also note that Switzerland has actually offered a free heroin maintenance program since 1994. Other governments in the U.K. have approval for similar safe injection initiatives, including:

  • Scotland
  • Australia
  • Germany
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • The Netherlands

Last October, Glasgow, Scotland became the first city in the U.K. to approve plans for “fix rooms”. These are sites where people will be provided medical-grade heroin and clean syringes with the intent to contain the heroin epidemic.

The free heroin program in Switzerland began in Zurich. It is now credited with decreasing crime in the area. Information indicates this program has expanded to 23 clinics. But it isn’t just free heroin in these locations. These “fix rooms” also provide counseling and support.

Harm Reduction… or Reorganizing?

Now, we have to ask, is this as crazy as it sounds? While the police in these areas seem to be openly admitting that giving away free heroin is indeed enabling, they seem very convinced that things have gotten so bad this is the best they can hope for at the moment. Again, they are hoping to contain the fallout of heroin abuse in their communities and provide information and treatment resources. The idea sounds pretty intense, but some would say desperate times call for desperate measures.

So is this harm reduction, or just reorganizing? Is this tactic set to prevent even more suffering and destruction, or is it a feeble attempt to make some semblance of order out of the chaos of the opiate crisis?

From a personal opinion, as an addict in recovery, I can say I honestly don’t know. It sounds incredibly dangerous and almost irresponsible to say that law enforcement will provide free heroin. Yet, I have to try and understand their logic; that it might be able to prevent some crime. It might take a nice piece of money out of drug dealer pockets, and it might preserve lives long enough to convince them to get treatment. Then again, an addict like me might just take advantage of the free heroin program and get more off the street while also getting free, government funded drugs too.

Past data might show some support to this innovation. I guess we will just have to wait and see what becomes of this. Until then, there should always be an emphasis on the possibility of effective and comprehensive treatment. Even with the free heroin program, the idea is to get people the treatment they need.

We want to know what YOU think.

Addiction and drug abuse have become relevant in every aspect of American life. Police, politicians, educators and community leaders are trying to create radical changes in perspective. Not every perspective is easy to understand, but the common goal is inspiring lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Charging Overdose Victims with Crime for Needing Naloxone

Charging Overdose Victims with Crime for Needing Naloxone

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

Overdose victims are the people most obviously struggling with the opiate epidemic. So many have come so close to death that to be revived might be the only second chance they think they get. As the overdose outbreak has grown into such a prominent problem, more has been done to increase access to life-saving resources. Policies are now in place help those who are on the verge of a lethal dose. More is being done to help survivors get treatment. The concept of addiction has finally started to be more understand as something that impacts all walks of life and that it is not a moral failing, but a serious, chronic disorder. Yet, even as compassion and education have taken on more meaning in the fight against drug addiction, there are still some who think punishing addicts and overdose victims is somehow an answer.

It is one thing to argue the idea of charging drug dealers with murder in connection to overdoses. Even that is a controversial topic. But now officials in some areas are supporting a plan that further persecutes people who have suffered from an opiate overdose is a very dangerous development.

Should police be issuing charges to overdose victims who need to be revived with naloxone?

What is Naloxone?

Naloxone, also known by its generic name Narcan, is the antidote medication used to reverses an opioid overdose. It works by neutralizing the opioids and reviving the respiratory system. This medication has become one of the primary resources in fighting the overdose outbreak that has devastated the nation, and over recent years access to the drug has expanded a great deal. Naloxone has been around in ambulances and hospitals for decades to reverse overdose, but the demand for solutions to the rising death rates has made it more mainstream.

Naloxone has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and all over the country new programs have been put in place to make the drug more available. Now you can acquire a naloxone kit from pharmacies in many states, some without prescriptions. Community programs have developed to distribute the drug to the public in some areas where the issue is most prevalent.

Many areas have distributed naloxone to their police departments as well as other first responders, while providing training courses to both the public servants and the community. With some many people in America fighting addiction and losing their lives, it makes sense that more people be prepared to help.

Making Overdosing a Crime

In some states people who overdose are facing some new consequences. While government officials say they are trying everything they can to help people, all it really seems to be doing is further inhibiting the people who most desperately need the help.

Essentially, what officials in some areas have done is emphasized on making overdosing a crime. More specifically, charging people who have to be revived by police or medics with naloxone with inducing panic.

The charge is a misdemeanor, so it isn’t exactly as damaging as other charges often associated with drugs. However, the offense is technically still punishable with fines and jail time. Police are partnering with prosecutors to go on the attack against addiction, but is this the right plan of action?

Washington, Ohio Overdose Victims

One area with a policy like this is Washington, Ohio. Police in this part of the Buckeye State just started the new strategy in February. So far at least seven people who were revived during an overdose through naloxone have been charged with inducing panic.

In this area the offense can entitle someone to up to 180 days in jail and a one-thousand dollar fine. The City Attorney Mark Pitsick claims,

“It gives us the ability to keep an eye on them, to offer them assistance and to know who has overdosed. Sometimes we can’t even track who has overdosed.”

What some may find troubling is the vocabulary Pitsick uses to describe the situation. Saying thing like “keep an eye on them” is already a bit unsettling for some. One of the problems with this whole idea is exactly that; no one wants the police to have to “keep an eye on them”, especially addicts. Therefore, one has to wonder if people will avoid contacting emergency services in the event of an overdose.

How many people will suddenly be even more afraid to reach out for help? How many people are going to be too afraid of adding a charge to their name, paying a fine or even going to jail that they take their chances without naloxone and end up dead?

Is it right to use the legal system this way to keep tabs on people who ask for help?

Not All Bad

One thing the city officials do want to adamantly announce is that people who call 9-1-1 to report an overdose, or the people who may be with the overdose victims, will not be charged. This might make the policy a little easier to handle. At least this means the people who are around someone on the edge of dying could act in the individuals best interest without fear of personally being charged. Pitsick defended his stance saying,

“Service. Follow up. Just them understanding that people do care. We are here to help. We are not here to put them in jail,”

Still, the fact overdose victims are likely to receive charges may deter someone from calling for help for them, no matter how illogical to some that may seem. It is a sad truth that actually happens quite often already. People have allowed others to overdose and even die out of fear of legal repercussions. Would creating a standard of charging people for needing medical resuscitation make it better, or worse? The reality is it will not prevent addicts from using.

While the intention may be good, to try and take a stance against overdose rates, the strategy may be counterproductive. Personally, my opinion is this only pushes people away from wanting help. It inspires fear and feelings of guilt, not hope. It promotes stigma and turns people who are already struggling against the system they were hoping would help them.

Overdose death is not to be underestimated anymore. People every day lose their life to the fight against addiction. But there is help out there for those who are willing to take action. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

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