Author: Justin Mckibben
Sometimes new policy can be good. Sometimes, not so much.
The opiate epidemic in America has hit some states with staggering rates of overdose and death. The paralyzing truth gripping the nation today is that more people are dying from drug overdose than homicides and car crashes. Heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers collectively decimate entire communities. People from all over are starting to push officials and lawmakers for more progressive and effective solutions.
Addiction has led to an overdose outbreak that shakes the country to the core, everywhere. Now, Florida lawmakers are pushing for new legislation to try and protect and serve those who suffer from an overdose. One of the first bills on the 2017 agenda is one that hopes to change how law enforcement treats overdose victims.
Although, another bill is trying to turn things in a very different direction.
Florida HB 61 Bill
Florida Representative Larry Lee, a Democrat from Port St. Lucie, has filed a proposal titled HB 61. If approved, this piece of reform would require several new policies for healthcare providers, starting with hospitals.
- It would require hospitals to screen overdose victims to determine the need for additional health care services
- Prohibits hospitals from discharging overdose patients to a detox or treatment facility until stabilized
- Requires attending physician to attempt contact with patients primary care physician, or other treatment providers, who prescribe controlled substances to notify them of overdose
- Requires hospital to inform medical director of treatment center (if patient is currently in treatment) of the overdose
- Hospital must inform overdose victim’s family or emergency contact of overdose
- Must inform contacts what drugs they suspect to have caused overdose
- Attending physician must provide list of drug treatment providers and information about Florida’s Marchman act and Backer act in case the family or contact wishes to seek legal action to protect the addict
The Big Change in HB 61
Lastly, what is probably the most progressive part of this legislation, is the HB 61 bill would prohibit criminal charges from police officers and prosecutors against the overdose victim for possession of any drugs found on them during the incident.
This final aspect of HB 61 this writer thinks is a big deal, because from personal experience I have seen and heard many stories of individuals not calling for help in the event of an overdose out of fear of prosecution. In some cases people actually die because of the fear of criminal punishment. Adding this kind of measure to the bill is an attempt at eliminating the loss of life due to fear of discrimination. Even if it is not a perfect system, this kind of reform takes first responders and law enforcement a step closer to dealing with addicts who are fighting a fatal illness like sick people instead of criminals.
Florida SB 150 Bill Attacks Fentanyl
From across the aisle we see another push from Republican Senator Greg Steube from Sarasota. The question is, will this push go in the right direction? On December 12, he introduced bill SB 150. This is set to be a direct attack on fentanyl.
For those who are not yet familiar, fentanyl is an incredibly powerful, and lethal, opioid painkiller. It’s medical use is to sedate surgical patients and relieve chronic pain. However, being several times more powerful than heroin, it has crept into the illicit drug trade in various parts of the country. And with its arrival also came a horrifying increase in overdose and death.
This proposal means to make 4 grams or more of fentanyl a first-degree felony through:
November 20, the Palm Beach Post released an analysis of people who died in 2015 from heroin-related overdoses. Out of the 216 individuals profiled in this report, 42% of the cases were found to involve fentanyl. So of course, with Steube coming from a district hit particularly hard by the opiate epidemic, it is logical to want to do everything you can to cut the flow of fentanyl off.
Yet, some say that this kind of strategy is too close to the concept of mandatory minimums.
Is SB 150 Too Close to Mandatory Minimums?
For those who need more clarification, mandatory minimum sentencing laws were a “one-size-fits-all” strategy implemented originally back in 1951 against marijuana, then repealed in the 1970s, and refined in 1986. In 1973, New York State enacted mandatory minimums of 15 years to life for possession of more than 4 ounces of any hard drug.
The idea is that regardless of the individual or the circumstances that a certain crime will have an inflexible punishment across the board. Ever since their introduction, criminal justice advocates have fought these laws, and they have always been surrounded by debate and controversy.
Essentially, some are already saying that SB 150 will ruthlessly make addicts into victims of the already overpopulated prison system. To be clear and fair- the bill does not seem to directly require a specific prison sentence like mandatory minimums, but it’s similar in that it treats every issue related to fentanyl the same.
The issue has already been argued time and time again that non-violent low-level drug offenders have spent excessive amounts of time in prison for possession of a substance. In some cases, an individual will do more time behind bars for possessing a large quantity of drugs than someone who has actually killed someone. Some have come to the conclusion that this tactic just doesn’t work.
The fear with SB 150 is not about the manufacturers or the dealers as much as it is for the consumers. Sometimes individuals purchase drugs on the street believing it to be heroin or another substance without even knowing there is fentanyl in it. So this bill would make first-degree felons out of desperate addicts?
What is Right?
The big question we all face at the end of the day is- what is the right thing to do? How is the best way to handle something that feels so utterly out of hand?
Well, it would seem like its time to finally let go of the archaic stigma. More states and law enforcement officials are turning to compassionate and supportive progress. Many places in America are starting to do everything they can to help people struggling with addiction to find help before it is too late. So why move backwards?
In my opinion, strictly based on what has been presented so far, SB 150 seems dangerous. There are countless advocates out there who say that intensifying the punishment is not how you deter the crime. Especially when it comes to addiction, because this kind of method still suggests it is a moral failing and not a psychological and physical illness.
HB 61 seems to be trying to call health care providers to action and add more accountability on the front lines in the fight against the overdose outbreak. At the same time it seems to move in the opposite direction of SB 150 by trying to limit the persecution of addicts. HB 61 makes more room to help preserve life and offer treatment and solutions. By now we should already know, the solution isn’t a War on Drugs, it is community and compassion.
These are some of the initial responses to recommendations recently made by the grand jury. Every day there are countless people suffering. And every day there are countless more recovering and fighting to help others recover. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Music is always better when it means something, and sometimes that music needs to be heard so you have to play it really loud to get the message across. At least that’s what comes to mind when I think of a gang of rock bands and musicians getting together to jam out for a serious cause that could help make a real difference. Now in order to raise heroin awareness, a popular club in downtown Lake Worth, Florida called PROPAGANDA will be hosting a concert to raise money and awareness to fight heroin addiction and overdose deaths in their neighborhoods.
Florida Fighting Heroin and Fentanyl
It’s troubling to acknowledge that the heroin problem has become such a commonality, yet the truth is right there. Americans in every corner, from every walk of life are impacted every single day by this lethally illicit substance. Then the intense sedative Fentanyl only magnified the issue, while prescription painkillers lured more and more people into the grips of addiction.
Florida is no exception, and South Florida has seen its share. According to a recent report, from January to June of last year:
- Orlando was the Florida city with the most Fentanyl deaths- 50
- Miami was the second most heroin deaths- 40
- West Palm Beach had the most heroin deaths- 63
- Fort Lauderdale had third most heroin deaths- 34
So with heroin and opiate addiction being such a huge problem, more and more people are fighting to make a difference in their communities. With South Florida having such a prominent recovery community, and Delray Beach being referred to as the “Recovery Capital” there are more than enough people in South Florida willing to make a difference. Why not put together a lineup of local artists and ask them to tear up a stage to raise awareness?
Bands Take a Stand Against Heroin
According to Google, PROPAGANDA is a “Spartan bar with a hip vibe” showcasing performances from several styles of music including:
According to the PROPAGANDA website the fundraiser is scheduled for August 13th from 6 pm until 2 am. In the details section of the event a statement was issued stating:
“The tragic results that surround heroin abuse are real and can take the life of a friend or family member in the blink of an eye. The true spirit and identity of an individual can be masked when the dependency becomes so strong that decision making no longer reflects the individuals true desire.
Join us August 13th as local musicians, artists & people join together to shine the spotlight on this ongoing and recent spike in the destruction of people’s lives or even death as the result of the use of heroin.”
The project’s post goes on to list off the acts set so far to perform that evening under the title of the event- BANDS TAKE A STAND AGAINST HEROIN: AWARENESS AND BENEFIT CONCERT with a tentative lineup that includes:
The Drip Effect
Space Coast Ghosts
This list features styles ranging from melodic and alternative rock bands to underground hip hop artists. As far as the price of admission the page states there is a minimum entry fee of $5 donations. A specific charity is still to be announced at the time of this article.
One of the comments in the event posting states that a non-profit organization Florida Harm Reduction Initiative will also be offering Narcan trainings and overdose reversal kits for FREE at the show. These kinds of programs work with individuals in the community to teach them about the overdose antidote medication Narcan or Naloxone, and show people how to safely and effectively administer the medication in case of an emergency.
So far it seems the concept has been well received. Additional bands have reached out to get involved with the concert to show support for such an important cause.
Communities Coming Together
The organization of this kind of event and the passion that some people seem to have for the cause should come as no surprise, especially considering that reports in the past year have claimed that at least one out of every four people is somehow impacted by the opiate epidemic. It only makes sense then that people from all walks of life, including local rock stars and rap artists, have experienced some extent of the devastation involved with heroin overdose.
One thing that is awesome when seeing something like this is that when you look closely, events are organized all the time all over the country by concerned individuals, or public officials, both directly and indirectly involved in the recovery community. It goes to show that the stigma is being shed slowly but surely, while people are actively supporting each other with conviction and compassion. Regardless of your musical inclinations, the fact these groups get together to raise money and awareness makes me a fan.
Kudos to everyone involved. I’ll be dropping by to make my donation.
For people in this community and all over America that are looking for help, help is always there. Reach out and find it. Palm Partners prides itself on providing an empowering and effective holistic treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
In a decision that will undoubtedly be debated at innovative or extremely controversial, emergency responders in Florida are going to be taking a pretty drastic measure in their movements to fight back against the growing issue of the infamous “$5 insanity” of Flakka… using doses of Ketamine to subdue violently aggressive patients.
When I came across this story I could not help but be baffled, yet curious as to how exactly this plan of action has been orchestrated and how it will be executed.
So I want to ask… is it a good idea that EMTs in Florida are going to be using Ketamine to fight Flakka?
First- What is Flakka?
For anyone who hasn’t heard, Flakka is one of the newest dangerous drugs to hit the streets that has gained a lot of attention in a short period of time for the dramatic, tragic and appalling stories it has inspired.
The synthetic drug Flakka, also known by other names such as Gravel, is a synthetic version of an exceedingly strong stimulant cathinone, officially dubbed alpha Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (Alpha-PVP). Commonly found in a crystal-like form, Flakka is known to be cheap, addictive, and deadly. When used this can be ingested in various ways, including:
Some of the effects include:
- Body overheating
- Heightened sense of euphoria
- Feeling superhuman strength
- Psychotic episodes
There have been stories of people running naked through the streets, reacting in rage to horrific hallucinations, and even one story of an elderly woman beaten to death by an individual trapped in a Flakka induced violently psychotic episode. These terrible and frightening stories have hit authorities hard, and apparently they are willing to go to great lengths to put a stop to the madness.
So then what is Ketamine?
Ketamine is another synthetic substance that has a history of strange side-effects and street credit for being abused and becoming addictive. It has been used before as an anesthetic and analgesic drug, but earned a bad name for its illicit use as a hallucinogen. It also has a reputation as a “date-rape” drug.
Ketamine is commonly seen as a powder or liquid and was initially used on animals. When used on the streets it is often ingested by:
- Consumed with drinks
Yet more recently we have begun to see more and more people pushing for one reason or another to drop the bad name assigned to Ketamine to promote positive uses for it, such as treating depression.
Synthetic VS Synthetic
Now in a very radical approach some Florida EMS departments are arming their paramedics with Ketamine as a new weapon to fight Flakka. The latest fire and rescue department in the state to start utilizing Ketamine is Indian River County Fire and EMS. Last week the announced that within the next two weeks their paramedics will be trained on how to administer Ketamine and equipped with the substance.
According to officials the thigh injection can sedate a patient within a minute. Battalion Chief Cory Richter in Indian River County told reporters,
“It will knock them out, but it won’t hurt them in any way, shape or form. It will allow us to treat them and get them to the hospital, and it keeps our guys safe.”
Richter went on to explain that patients who are high on Flakka pose a very real threat to paramedics because the drug gives them superhuman strength and also makes them resistant to pain. Indian River County has had several serious incidents involving Flakka in the past few months, so authorities are done taking their chances it seems.
Indian River County is not the first in Florida to use Ketamine for this purpose. The city of Plantation began placing vials of Ketamine on all of rescue trucks, but reported only needing to use them roughly once per month. The officials in these areas insist that Ketamine is more effective than other drugs because it doesn’t affect the patient’s respiratory system or heart rate, making it safer to use as well. Last July Lt. Daniel Tringali of the Plantation Fire Department told reporters,
“If a police officer’s Taser does not stop them, something needs to stop them,”
Again driving home the point that even though many question Ketamine as being a powerful sedative substance it is still a measure many have deemed necessary in contrast to allowing their EMTs, other emergency response teams or law enforcement to be at elevated risk of injury from an aggressive individual in a Flakka induced rage. To fight Flakka it might be necessary to give EMTs an advantage.
I find myself wondering how this would work out. Apparently officials in the areas already using Ketamine to fight Flakka think it is doing a decent enough job of keeping people safe in the most compromising circumstances. Considering last summer 27 people died of Flakka-related overdoses in an 8 month period in Broward County alone, I think maybe it is understandable why people are so desperate to find a new means to fight Flakka. Not sure if substituting Ketamine is the best solution there is, but right now it seems to be a strategy people are willing to try.
Synthetic drug abuse is so dangerous because of the fact the ingredients and the side-effects can be horrifically unpredictable. Chemical cocktails made from mystery compounds in underground labs with lethal potency are a nightmare being sold on the streets, and beyond such a radical idea as pitting one chemical against the other there is real recovery from drug abuse in the Palm Partners addiction treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling please don’t wait, call 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in 2011 the state of Florida started requiring urine tests for welfare applicants and state workers to screen for drugs. While the policy did not last long initially, it has a continued effect on the state’s financial spending as politicians fought long and hard for its reinstatement. This week it was reported that Florida Governor Rick Scott will actually not be looking to a U.S. Supreme Court to review the law, seemingly giving up on the fight for the cause that would have required applicants for welfare benefits to submit to mandatory drug testing.
The Failed Law
The law had evolved into a top priorities of the Republican governor’s first term, but was ruled unconstitutional by two federal courts not too long after being launched. The program only operated for around 3 months before federal courts halted the progression of these policies on grounds that the program was in violation of Florida resident’s constitutional rights.
Once the program had first passed it quickly prompted a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Navy veteran who applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits as a single father while working to complete his college degree, and so began a long battle for the law to regain its footing.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the law on behalf of Luis Lebron, and later the 11th Circuit found that only about 2.6% of Florida welfare applicants failed the drug test doled out by the law during the few months it was in effect, almost half for marijuana use.
According to the ACLU, Governor Scott and his administration collectively spent an estimated $400,000 of Florida’s budget in attempt to defend the Welfare Recipients Drug Testing programs. In response to a records request from Florida ACLU, Scott’s administration divulged that it had spent over $381,654 trying to appeal for these programs to be allowed to continue as of May 2014.
Passing Judgment on the Program
Howard Simon, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida Executive Director, said that due to the failure of the appeals to be processed by the deadline, the rulings of the lower courts invalidating the 2011 law will stand. Simon also passed his judgment by speaking out against the law as discriminating against the poor, and went on to state:
“After nearly four years of litigation, this ugly attack on poor Floridians has finally come to an end. This law was always about scoring political points on the backs of Florida’s poor and treating them like suspected criminals without suspicion or evidence.”
U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven in Orlando originally declared the law to be an unconstitutional search and seizure, a ruling that would be later upheld in December by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Scriven and the appeals judges found no evidence of a pervasive drug problem among Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program applicants. This after the Scott administration had filed a 72 page brief to an appeals court in Atlanta in attempt to over-rule a lower court’s decision.
Scott’s administration had until a Tuesday deadline to ask the Supreme Court to consider the case, but chose not to do so. Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz stated in an email,
“We chose not to appeal this case. The governor is continuing to protect Florida children any way he can and create an environment where families can get jobs so they are able to pursue their dreams in safe communities.”
Scott’s drug-testing priorities did not end with the Welfare Recipients Drug Testing programs. He was also fighting for an executive order requiring random drug tests for thousands of state workers.
Not unlike the other legislation, this order was struck down by a Miami federal judge. But this time Scott was not down for the count. It turns out the 11th Circuit made a compromise and reversed part of that ruling, concluding that some categories of workers in sensitive occupations could be reasonably subjected to drug tests. At the moment Florida state officials and a union representing many of them are currently working toward an arrangement that would classify those categories, which would again need to go before a federal judge before going into effect and being enforced.
All in all the concept of accountability has not been completely lost in the process. While it is completely understandable why some would want those who are receiving benefits from the government to be screened for substance abuse to make sure the right money is going to the right place, others still believe that while accountability is important, their constitutional right to privacy supersedes that opinion on whether or not drug use should determine who ‘deserves’ the assistance.
Is this program worth fighting for any longer, or has Florida already spent enough on a program that doesn’t seem worth the effort? While politicians work toward combating drug abuse, the fight against addiction still exists and the right treatment can mean the difference between life and death. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Drug addiction and alcoholism are both devastating afflictions, and when someone had gotten to the point where they have acknowledged the severity of their situation, they will want to know what kind of help is available to them. Drug addiction and alcoholism impact not just the individual, but also friends, relatives, and partners, and can have a catastrophic impact on people’s lives. Outpatient treatment in south Florida is just one of many options out there to help someone make the change that could save their life.
Sometimes addicts and alcoholics continue to drink or use drugs even in the face of severe consequences, and often they are in a very dark place when they finally decide they need help. Outpatient treatment in south Florida can be the best starting place for recovery from a serious state of addiction.
Outpatient Treatment in South Florida: The First Steps
The first steps to locating outpatient treatment in south Florida can seem intimidating, but in reality they are simple enough. You should take the time to assess your personal treatment needs, because if someone is physically dependent on drugs or alcohol, it is often recommended that they complete a detox program before attending outpatient alcohol treatment.
Detoxing can be very uncomfortable. Alcohol and some drugs can be so dangerous to detox from on your own at home, and some withdrawals can lead to seizures and even death. Not to mention, a medical detox is a safer environment for any adverse health effects.
Too many people relapse during the detox phase and don’t make it any further than that in recovery when they try to do it themselves, and that can be simply because of the physical discomfort and the fear of feeling that discomfort. Before outpatient treatment in south Florida a medical detox ensures a safe, comfortable process.
Outpatient treatment in south Florida makes sure during the detox phase that individuals are provided medication to relieve the discomfort of withdrawal, and the patient is monitored throughout the course of the treatment. Usually, the outpatient treatment in south Florida you choose will either have an on-site detox or will be able to direct you to a quality detox facility.
Outpatient Treatment in South Florida: Why is Inpatient Important?
In most cases before attending a program for outpatient treatment in south Florida it is recommended that you complete an inpatient treatment program, which are also very available in south Florida. This is a facility where you have an opportunity to experience various forms of therapy all day. The therapy sessions are designed to teach you the skills to live a sober, drug-free life.
Outpatient treatment in south Florida is a good follow up to inpatient treatment because it keeps you accountable and helps you deal with things that come up once you are living on your own. Most treatment programs in south Florida will offer both inpatient and intensive outpatient (IOP) level treatment. The most dangerous time for a lot of people is right after they leave inpatient treatment, which is what makes IOP at outpatient treatment in south Florida such an important part.
The risk for relapse is very high for those who never have a level of IOP care. Inpatient treatment gives an individual a chance of learning effective ways to live outside of rehab, and then outpatient treatment in south Florida can also drastically improve the chances of staying sober.
Outpatient Treatment in South Florida: Can I only do Outpatient?
Some people cannot attend inpatient alcohol treatment. IOP may be their only option because they cannot take 30 to 90 days out of their schedule to attend a residential treatment program. Sometimes it’s that they are the only parent available to take care of their children, or sometimes they have a career they cannot take time off from. Outpatient treatment in south Florida can be a good solution for those that are unable to go to inpatient treatment.
Outpatient treatment in Florida usually requires that a person come in for treatment 3 to 5 days a week, depending on their IOP program. Individuals seeking treatment will typically attend both group therapy and individual therapy sessions much like an inpatient treatment center, but the person will go home at the end of the day instead of living at the residential facility.
It is important when locating an outpatient alcohol treatment to do the homework on the IOP programs in south Florida you are considering. If you have a co-occurring disease, such as:
- Eating disorder
You should make sure that the program you are going to attending for outpatient treatment in south Florida has experience dealing with dual diagnosis. Also be sure to research the credentials of the outpatient alcohol treatment in south Florida to make sure they are certified in addiction treatment.
Outpatient treatment in south Florida is a great start to an amazing future for those who are willing to go the distance and take the necessary steps in order to further their happiness and enrich their future. Recovery does not end with outpatient treatment in south Florida, but it can be as great a place to get started as any. While inpatient should never be taken completely off the table, you do have options.
Treatment for drug and alcohol abuse and addiction comes in many forms and with different levels of care. Palm Partners is dedicated to helping individuals develop a recovery plan that is right for you, and helping you reach every goal you set for your outpatient treatment in south Florida. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135