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December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Author: Justin Mckibben

Tis’ the season for a lot of holiday celebrations. This time of year is always full of family, fun and fellowship, with the year 2016 coming to a close only days away. Considering so many parts of the country a plagued with harsh weather during winter, and so many people are out celebrating, it only makes sense that extra attention be brought to the need for safe traveling. The importance of which is definitely emphasized in the movement against drunk and drugged driving. While most of us know December as a holiday season for many reasons, it is also National Impaired Driving Prevention Month!

From the White House

Back in 2012 President Barrack Obama made a statement announcing National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, stating:

“As Americans gather with friends and family to share in the holiday season, National Impaired Driving Prevention Month reminds us of the importance of celebrating safely. Every year, accidents involving drunk, drugged, or distracted driving claim thousands of lives, leaving families to face the heartbreak of losing a loved one. We stand with all those who have known the tragic consequences of drugged or drunk driving, and we rededicate ourselves to preventing it this December and throughout the year.”

In these efforts the President and his administration invite families, educators, health care providers, and community leaders to promote responsible decision-making, and also to inspire young people to live free of drugs and alcohol. In the description of impaired driving the movement is not limited to alcohol. It includes:

  • Distracted driving, such as driving tired or while texting
  • Drugged driving
  • Drunk driving

Understanding the Impact

This observation in so important, and several agencies encourage people to recognize and understand the impact, including:

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • U.S. Department of Transportation,
  • The White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

To put the importance of National Impaired Driving Prevention Month into perspective, in an average year:

  • 30 million Americans drive drunk
  • 10 million Americans drive impaired by illicit drugs

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted a study in 2010, which showed:

  • 2% of people aged 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol
  • 3% drove under the influence of illicit drugs
  • 8% of drunk drivers were 26 and older
  • 5% of drunk drivers were 16 to 25 years old
  • 8% of the older group drove drugged
  • 4% of younger drivers drove under the influence of drugs

Again, the month of December makes plenty of sense for the National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, considering traffic fatalities involving impaired drivers increase significantly during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods. In fact, in December of 2010:

  • 25 people on average were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes per day!
  • Drivers 21 to 34 years old were alcohol impaired and involved in fatal crashes at a higher percentage than any other age group

Do Your Part this December

This National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, we have to keep in mind we should be doing our best to take care of each other. Spread good will and compassion to others with December. People are encouraged to always drive responsibly, and to be observant of each other on the roads. While reporting an impaired driver might not be the holiday present they want, but it could save their life and the lives of others. If you have a friend or relative who is impaired, don’t let them get behind the wheel.

Many people who struggle with alcohol or drug use disorders don’t even realize the severity of their problem until it is too late. Frequently driving impaired is often a warning sign of a deeper issue. Anyone who finds themselves driving impaired too often may want to seek help.

Sadly, fatal accidents happen across the country every year, claiming thousands of innocent lives as a result of impaired driving. Driving drugged, drunk or distracted is critically dangerous, and always avoidable. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Ohio Parents Overdose Photo: How Addiction is Killing Families

Ohio Parents Overdose Photo: How Addiction is Killing Families

Author: Justin Mckibben

Probably one of the most disturbing articles I have written about my home state of Ohio is one I can’t ignore. Since the photo of the two parents overdose in a car with a child in the back seat first broke it has been covered by pretty much every national news entity. The images have flooded Facebook feeds and internet forums all day. The story has been emailed to me, messaged to me, even texted to me over and over again since the news was first published. Honestly, this image says a lot about what is really going on.

I’ve heard some people insisting the media is on some mission to shock us with these photos and the headlines it’s attached to, but this is the reality! People need to wake up! This is happening in every town, not just the City of East Liverpool, Ohio. This very same situation is reoccurring in rural counties and downtown areas across the nation. Something needs to change, and like I keep saying- we need to change it.

The difference here is that police officers decided to make a statement with the severity of this graphic picture; to tell the story that is happening to families everywhere with one heartbreaking and gut-wrenching hit to the soft spot of our society.

This is what we are doing to our children.

Not a Pretty Picture

The City of East Liverpool, Ohio took to Facebook to share two graphic photos taken by a police officer at the scene of a stop. The post on social media does note that making the photos public was a combined decision by the city administration, law director, and the police department.

In the image we can clearly see a couple that authorities described as overdosing on drugs in the front seat of a car. The mother’s body is hunched and folded over the center console in the front seat of the vehicle. Her face seems shrunken in and dead. The husband is buckled into the front seat, and has nodded out.

The photo is almost abstract. Like two images that obviously don’t belong have been pasted together. The parents in the front seat look as if any sign of color has been drained out of them- it is all so depressing it feels faded and lifeless… then right behind them, in a blue and green t-shirt with cartoon dinosaurs, sitting in what appears to be a car seat, is a 4 year old child. It is an unreal reality… a tragic and despairing truth.

The post that accompanied the pictures powerfully states:

“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”

So far this post is being both praised and criticized. At one point it had been shared on Facebook more than 12,000 times, and that was a few hours ago. By now that number has undoubtedly skyrocketed.

The Police Report

The police report detailing this story is also posted on Facebook. In the report East Liverpool police officer Kevin Thompson reviewed that on September 7 he was responding to a report of a Ford Explorer with a West Virginia license plate “driving very erratic weaving back and forth” before an abrupt stop in the middle of the road behind a school bus in the process of letting children off. Inside the vehicle the officer found two adults:

  • James Acord

The driver, identified as James Acord, was speaking unintelligibly. Acord’s head was bobbing up and down, and eventually became unconscious during the stop. But before passing out Acord told the officer he was taking his front seat passenger to the hospital. The officer had to remove the keys from the vehicle as Acord made a last attempt to drive away.

  • Rhonda Pasek

The passenger, identified as Rhonda Pasek, was completely unconscious and “turning blue” according to Thompson.

Inside the car, police found a “yellow folded up piece of paper” between Pasek’s legs. Inside the paper officers discovered a “small amount of a pink powdery substance.”

Then there is the piece of this picture that has the country in an uproar- the little boy in the backseat. The child is now identified as Pasek’s son.

Thompson called for an ambulance and the emergency personnel. Once emergency services arrived they were able to administer the opiate overdose antidote, Narcan to both adults. After regaining consciousness Acord and Pasek were transported to East Liverpool Hospital.

The Charges

Acord was eventually charged with

He plead no contest and was sentenced to 180 days in jail for two of those charges, but the stopping in a roadway charge was dropped. He will also have a 3 year suspension on his license and a $475 fine.

Pasek was charged with:

  • Endangering children
  • Public intoxication
  • Not wearing a seatbelt

She plead not guilty and is held on $150,000 bond until her next court date, which is next Thursday.

At this time the 4 year old child is with Columbiana County Children’s Services.

This picture is not pretty to look at. It brings an ache to my chest and a sting to my eyes. I could cry for this child, and for his family. For the millions of people out there today with family who are doing the same thing to themselves and their children. The driver could have killed them all in a freak accident. Now… imagine the horror if he would have nodded out at the wheel and struck that school bus as it let kids off! How many more children could have been hurt?

What We Need to See

Some are outraged at the lack of privacy for the family. Many have insisted it is wrong to punish the two adults AND the child with a life haunted by this photo. I get it, and I’m an advocate for compassion instead of stigma and exploitation. It is truly troubling to know how harshly people will be judged by the images of them found online. Yet, I think things like this are what we need to see sometimes. It is a fine line to walk, but in the end there is a reality to the image that only something so intimate could convey- this is what we need to see.

What we need to see is how this epidemic is destroying the thing that most of us hold sacred- our families. While many people are upset about the images, I understand the local officials motives. The Facebook post confronts this controversy head-on:

“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis. The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that,”

We the addicts need to see this the dark and brutal truth. The sad and comatose body of an addicted mother dying only a few inches away from her child who is barely old enough to walk and talk on his own! We all need to see the truth of this disease. It is killing us, and it is putting everyone around us at risk- especially the ones we love most. We need to see the children and the communities we are hurting. This is the face of addiction as we often refuse to acknowledge it.

Addiction is killing our families every day. But there is help. Real recovery begins with a real foundation for a better future. 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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If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. You are not alone.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Kratom Will Soon Join Schedule I Controlled Substance List

Kratom Will Soon Join Schedule I Controlled Substance List

Author: Shernide Delva

Just this Tuesday, the Drug Enforcement Administration displayed a notice of intent in the Federal Register to place Kratom on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. In the notice, the DEA says the active components of kratom are an “imminent hazard to the public safety.” As a result, the DEA announced that it would temporary ban the two main chemicals found in kratom.

Beginning September 30, the two main ingredients of kratom (mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine) will classify as Schedule I substances. Kratom will soon join Heroin, Pot, and Cocaine on the Schedule I Controlled Substance List.

What is Kratom?

Kratom is an herbal supplement that many advocates believe to be an effective treatment for chronic pain, depression, and has become a drug many use to relieve themselves of opioid withdrawals. However, the Food and Drug Administration, as well as law enforcement officials and medical professionals, have noted kratom as a potentially harmful substance. Several states have already banned the plant; however regulation proved difficult due to kratom’s status as an herbal supplement.

The announcement occurred on Wednesday and garnered a very controversial response. Some users believe kratom provides a peaceful effect and insist the drug is not addictive. On the other hand, many users found the drug to be very addictive.

Kratom: Conflicting Viewpoints

One woman overjoyed with the news was Lauren Eden who told Channel 9 news that her son killed himself because of his addiction to kratom. Since his death, she fought to make kratom illegal.

“I am so surprised that all of this is happening because I didn’t even know this was in the works,” Eden said. “Maybe our son didn’t die in vain. Maybe our son sacrificed his life for another life.”

Furthermore, The CDC issued a report recently stating that intoxication from kratom was the cause fo more than 600 calls to poison control centers between 2010 and 2014. Still, advocates believe many of these cases were a result of kratom reacting with other illegal drugs.

To put kratom’s risk into perspective, the poison control center received close to 7000 reports of young children ingesting single-load laundry pods in the first seven months of 2016. Advocates say the number of incidents involving kratom is relatively low when comparing these numbers.

The new ruling by the DEA may keep kratom on the Controlled Substances list for up to two years. This is until the Department of Health and Human Services completes its studies on the plant. If findings determine that kratom is a public health threat, the ban would remain.

“I fear for all of the people who found kratom to be a solution for them to get off things like heroin,” said Susan Ash, founder, and director of the American Kratom Association told STAT. “I foresee a large jump in the already epidemic proportions of opiate deaths in this country.”

DEA Argues That Public Comment Is Unnecessary

Whether you an advocate of kratom or not, the DEA released a statement saying that public comment would be unnecessary. In an effort of protecting the public, the DEA feels the ban should go through without public commentary.

“The Administrator finds that there is good cause to forgo the notice and comment requirements of section 553, as any further delays in the process for issuance of temporary scheduling orders would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest.”

Until the ban goes through, Kratom remains legal in Florida, except for in Sarasota County. Therefore, for those who find the drug beneficial, the controversy behind the recent rescheduling heats up before the official ban.

What do you think of the ban? Is the DEA acting in the interest of the public? Regardless, any substance has the potential for abuse. If you are struggling, do not wait. Call toll-free today.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Crazy News Stories: Cats and Alcohol

Crazy News Stories

Author: Justin Mckibben

YES! We are back at it again!

We realized it has been such a long time since we delivered those crazy news stories you love to read and that we can’t help but love writing. People are crazy… like reeeeally crazy, so there is no shortage out there of crazy articles to talk about. With so much dramatic, disturbing and tragic events going on in the news today, we want to give some relief with a funny perspective.

So sit back and brace yourself for the return of CRAZY NEWS STORIES!

Cat Saves Alcoholic Owner

I honestly had no idea that the Cats Protection’s National Cat Award 2016 was even a thing. Like, since when did the country nominate a cat to be honored with such an exclusive and prestigious title?

Who votes on this?

Do the cats use super delegates too?!

Anyway, this year the New Romney feline Frank was made a finalist for the “better together” category that celebrates the bong between pet and owner.

The 4 year old cat lives with his owner, Robin Barry, in Dymchurch Road. According to Barry, his wife decided to get the kitten when he was in rehab to help comfort him. He admitted that while he is usually a dog person, Frank was able to melt his heart.

“He became my number one supporter, following me about and being a constant companion. I was on a lot of medication and was very vulnerable and lost but Frank never left my side. With his support, I came through the other side.”

Barry said that Frank saved his life, and that he feels lucky to have such an amazing cat with him. If Frank wins his category, he will also be in with a chance of being crowned National Cat of the Year!

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely voting for Frank… if I can even vote… not sure how this works. But Frank is a hero!

Finally… Wine for Your Cats

Remember all those times you sat down for a romantic dinner… with your cat… wishing the poor fluffy thing could enjoy a glass of wine with you?

Yea… I didn’t think so… but maybe…

Sadly, alcohol is extremely dangerous for pets. Kind of like it’s extremely dangerous for alcoholics like myself. But apparently there is no a solution for your fuzzy friend!

Apollo Peak is a company out of Denver that now produces drinks for cats that look like wine, but without all the stuff that turns a guy like me into a total buzz-kill. The “wine” is made with organic catnip, water and organic beet juices to give them color.

A similar product actually existed before, but it was only available in Japan and was made with grapes, which can be toxic to cats. This new product, according to the product’s founder Brandon Zavala, is approved by local veterinarians and went into production for commercial use back in November.

So now your cat can make a toast to catching that ever illusive red dot, even if you can’t drink with them.

Bribed with a Beer

Lastly comes a hilarious story of one drunk driver who obviously doesn’t understand how DUIs work.

One man in Marietta, Georgia was pulled over by police who were working on the scene of an accident after he drove past orange cones set up at the intersection where the accident had occurred.

When asked if he had been drinking, the suspect insisted he had drank over 13 hours prior to the incident. However officers chose to administer a field sobriety test. During the walking portion of the sobriety test, the suspect refuses to take the steps and so the officers move in to arrest him.

And then… he had a stroke of utter genius!

The suspect tries to resist the arrest. Once officers have him in custody, they find he has multiple DUIs on his record. The suspect then refuses the breathalyzer test, and from here his cunning instincts only improve.

In an attempt to negotiate, he tells the officers he has $300, but only offers $200 for his bribe. When the officer refuses, he says he has beer and offers to throw that in.

Ya know, because nothing goes better with preventing drunk driving and field sobriety tests than a strong drink! At this point, he goes all in and offers all the money in his pocket (now $400) along with his cargo, but the officers don’t take him up on his gracious offer.

Because DUH!

Be it drunken bargaining with the absolute wrong person, or just cats saving lives, crazy news stories always give us a chance to be grateful for the crazy stories we have, and the ones we had nothing to do with! If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Bathroom Mirror Talks to Drinkers about Drunk Driving

Bathroom Mirror Talks to Drinkers about Drunk Driving

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

It’s about time someone said it to your face. Yes… you read that title right…

Drunk driving is tragically irresponsible and has a habit of causing irreparable damage to not only the drunk driver, but also to the innocent individuals who lose their lives to drunk driving accidents in America. Every year an astonishing number of people are killed in drunk driving accidents, and community leaders and organizations all over the nation have used shocking, innovative and informative strategies to change these statistics. One bar in Los Angeles, California has done something pretty amazing to raise awareness, delivering very direct doses of reality and consequence to patrons through a live video in the bathroom mirror.

Mirror, Mirror at the Bar

This powerful campaign was quite literally an “in your face” tactic for raising awareness about the dangers of drunk driving in the Los Angeles bar. A video of the campaign is currently also circulating the internet, and once I stumbled upon it I was very impressed by how they used this unique technique to reach out to people in real time… people who may or may not have been exactly the person who needed to hear it that night.

In the video of the campaign you watch several male patrons enter a restroom. After supposedly “handling their business” the men walk up to the sink to wash their hands, and suddenly the mirror flashes to the image of a man dressed in jail-house blues staring them in the face. Then once he starts talking to them and interacting, they realize this is LIVE, not just a pre-recorded commercial.

Of course a few of them are a little freaked out… I mean, you would have to wonder how long this guy has been watching you from some hidden camera… but once the conversation gets going the real motive comes out pretty quick, and it can be pretty intense.

Inmate Kris Caudilla 

The live video stream is of Kris Caudilla, an inmate in prison who has been convicted of drunk driving and is currently serving 15 years. Caudilla asks one man what he is drinking, some he asks how their night is going… then drops some real-time-live-action TRUTH on them, sharing his story of being out one night having drinks with friends, then deciding to drive drunk he was in an accident and killed someone.

That someone was a police officer- 44 year old Deputy James Anderson Jr. Caudilla drove head-on into Anderson’s patrol car with a blood-alcohol level of 0.158. The office later died at Shands Jacksonville hospital in Florida. Caudilla plead guilty to DUI manslaughter and testified in court, taking full-responsibility for Anerdson’s death. Caudilla was 27 at the time of the accident.

In the mirror Caudilla speaks his truth to men drinking at a bar on the other side of the country; men that stand in paralyzed shock holding cocktails and glasses of beer as another man trapped by his decision tells them with conviction,

“He had 4 children, a wife and I took him away from them…

I made the choice to drink. I made the choice to get in the car. You don’t have to make that choice…

So take a good look in the mirror man. Should you be driving tonight?”

In the video you can see the look on their faces, and you can tell some are second guessing a lot in these few passing moments. To watch this video, click HERE.

Reflection From Inside Campaign

This video is part of the Reflection From Inside campaign that has been put together by We Save Lives as part of a progressive effort to:

  • Educate people
  • Hold drivers accountable
  • Support victims’ rights
  • Help others find the courage to intervene

We Save Lives (WSL) is an international coalition that works to help protect the public by preventing crashes and crimes from “the 3 Ds” which are:

  1. Drunk driving
  2. Drugged driving
  3. Distracted driving

We Save Lives works through legislative efforts and grassroots organizing at the national, state, and local levels to make a difference on the road.

While many would say this is a “major buzz-kill”, and plenty have if you find the video on Facebook and read through some of the more less-sensitive comments, the fact is this is a powerful and profound way to try and pull the attention to something that is incredibly important.

So what if it “kills your buzz” for a little bit… it is better than doing nothing and letting you get behind the wheel and kill another human being. Even if not everyone listens, it might make a huge difference to the person who does.

I feel like this campaign is an amazing and creative way to try and interrupt the thought process to introduce the dangers of drunk driving to the people that need it most… people who are drunk and possibly going to drive! Every opportunity we have to make a statement and raise awareness in a new way gives us the chance to change something. Grabbing someone’s attention at a pivotal moment like that could be the difference between life and death. I applaud the creators and participants in this campaign, and I hope more people take this warning to get home safe.

Fatal drunk driving accidents occur all across the country, claiming thousands of innocent lives, all because of those who get drunk and get behind the wheel. Saving lives could be as easy as stopping yourself from driving drunk, and if you have a habit of drunk (drugged) driving perhaps it is time to consider how getting help could save your life, and others. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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