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
Boynton Beach is beautiful area in South Florida, just north of Delray Beach and south of West Palm in Palm Beach County. The area has been described as “America’s gateway to the Gulf Stream.” Boynton Beach has also been hit by the affected opiate epidemic. Roughly 250 overdoses have occurred this year in Boynton, which is the third largest city in Palm Beach County. While some cities have seen similar spikes in overdoses and drug-related deaths for some time, Boynton Beach experienced a record breaking jump in overdoses overnight this past Tuesday.
The reports of drug overdoses started before sunset. By Wednesday morning police and paramedics had been called to the scene for five separate overdose incidents. For one night, this is the most the city of Boynton Beach has ever seen. As if that weren’t intense enough, all the overdoses occurred in a 12-hour span.
Out of the five, two died and three survived thanks to the life-saving efforts of first responders. This is just another example of how hard the opiate epidemic has hit some cities now more than ever. It is also an indication some of the efforts being made in Palm Beach County are for good reason.
Tracking the Problem
The only available details on the five victims so far include:
- 5:19 p.m. report of a man found in a parked car near Seacrest Boulevard
- 9:44 p.m. a man was found in a car at the 7-11 convenience store
- 10:31 p.m. a 40-year-old man was found dead in his bathroom at the Las Ventanas apartment complex on Federal Highway
- 30 minutes later, a man was found near the Rosemary Scrub Park
- 2 a.m. a man identified as Thomas Varner was found unresponsive at the Homing Inn on Federal Highway — a place police know well for its number of overdoses
Varner, who was the final overdose of the five, received CPR from police officers at the scene. After an attempt to revive Varner by paramedics using life-saving medication Narcan, used to reverse the effects of opiate overdose, he was rushed to Bethesda Hospital East. where doctors tried to save him. Unfortunately, Varner did not survive his overdose. Police Captain Mike Johnson, the shift’s commander during the evening in question, expressed his own concerns with the news, saying:
“We’re in the business of saving lives and when you can’t do that, especially when you have two last night that were fatal, that’s frustrating. But we also recognize that we’re just one prong of this public health crisis.”
Boynton Beach is Not Alone
Boynton Beach is definitely not the only city dealing with increasing drug overdoses. The outbreak of overdose rates and overdose deaths is nationwide. For Palm Beach County, the ‘recovery capitol’ also faces its obstacles with addiction.
- In Lake Worth alone there were 220 overdoses from January to August of this year
- Palm Beach County firefighters responded to 1,246 opioid-related overdoses in that same period
- Delray Beach already had about 394 by late September
Thankfully, Narcan and Naloxone are readily available for first responders, and expansion programs continue to progress across the country. In this 12-hour period four of the victims were taken to Bethesda and were given Narcan.
The fifth man he had already died at the scene.
Not Just Heroin?
Another question is concerning recent reports from several spots in the country where other dangerous drugs are being mixed in with heroin. According to Police Captain Mike Johnson this is- “more likely than not a new batch of heroin hit the city in the last couple of days.” So the question becomes, is there a new batch mixed with something even more toxic set to hit Boynton Beach.
At Las Ventanas, where one victim was found dead, police believe they found the painkiller Fentanyl in the apartment. Fentanyl is an opiate said to be more than 50 times as powerful as heroin. This is not the first time Fentanyl has caused some problems for Palm Beach County. Medical examiner records indicate Fentanyl also played a role in more than 100 overdose deaths in Palm Beach County in 2015. Captain Johnson said,
“It’s an obvious public health crisis. Law enforcement is only one component of addressing that health crisis. The amount of heroin that’s being sold on the street and the amount that’s being cut with Carfentanil or Fentanyl is increasing.”
Due to the rising risks present in some communities Palm Beach County is already organizing events and seminars to properly educate and arm the public with resources for overdose prevention.
One of the most prominent aspects of attacking the addiction issue is the existence of effective, supportive and compassionate drug addiction treatment. One powerful way we can prevent overdose is to make sure those suffering get the quality of care they deserve. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
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
You may be unaware of this but, many people choose stopping addiction in West Palm Beach; it is a prime destination for addicts and alcoholics who are seeking help and recovery from their substance abuse and addiction issues.
Stopping Addiction in West Palm Beach: Why West Palm Beach?
West Palm Beach is an ideal location for serenity, relaxation, healing, and learning to slow down and breathe. It’s no coincidence that people, in general, choose South Florida and West Palm Beach, in particular, as a vacation destination. Coming to West Palm Beach when addressing your addiction is like the saying, “having your cake and eating it, too.” You get to heal and recover while you are basically on vacation. In fact, many people stopping addiction in West Palm Beach like to joke that they live where others merely vacation.
South Florida has become known as the “Recovery Capital” of the world. The area is saturated with treatment centers, rehabilitation programs, halfway houses (also called sober houses), and consequently, it’s home to a large recovery community.
Stopping Addiction in West Palm Beach: Benefits of a Recovery Community
As you can imagine, seeking help for an addiction in an area that’s home to a large recovery community is highly beneficial – and for various reasons. First, it offers plenty of support to the individual seeking recovery and who is in early sobriety. Having peer support is of the utmost importance at this stage of recovery and even beyond; because addiction is a chronic and therefore life-long disease, people with addiction do best of they have strong sober supports throughout their lifetime. This works in several ways. It helps to keep one another accountable and it provides the person with the company of other recovering alcoholics and addicts – people who have many things in common and can relate.
Another benefit of living in a large area of recovery is that there are many more resources available, from treatment programs for those who wish to supplement their recovery with ongoing to treatment as well for those who experience a relapse and need help. Other resources include multiple club houses where support group meetings and fellowship meetings are held. This offers a wide variety of types of meetings as well as meeting times throughout the day and into the night, which allows people to make meetings while attending to their other responsibilities, such as work and family.
Yet another benefit of stopping addiction in West Palm Beach is, because of the expansive recovery community, people who are recovering from addiction can start their lives anew with the help of their fellows. More specifically, there are tons of employers who are either in recovery, themselves, or who are familiar with what recovery is and are therefore more apt hiring newly-sober people because they believe in giving them a second chance. Many recovering addicts and alcoholics have arrest records that can make getting a job difficult; being in this kind of community can really help people put their past to rest.
Stopping Addiction in West Palm Beach: Treatment
Substance abuse and addiction treatment in West Palm Beach is different from that in other parts of the country. In fact, there’s a relatively new format to treatment that was developed in Florida and it is named thusly. The Florida Model differs from conventional treatment in that it incorporates several phases, or levels, of rehabilitation in order to gradually and seamlessly reintegrate the client with society.
After a medical detox, which is the most intensive and structured level of care, there is the residential program, also called inpatient or rehab. Florida Model treatment centers house their clients in typical apartments each with its own kitchen, laundry, common area, bathrooms, and even a patio – just like a private residence. This helps the clients learn basic life skills, such as cooking, grocery shopping, doing laundry, and cleaning. During the day, the clients are brought to a campus where they continue their treatment with group and individual therapy sessions. In a conventional program, residents are housed in one institution-like building.
Stopping addiction in West Palm Beach is quite popular and it shouldn’t be a mystery as to why that is. Ample treatment, beautiful location, and a large recovery community make for the ideal environment to help you heal and overcome the cycle of substance abuse and drug addiction that has been dictating your daily life. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist today.
Getting the help needed to overcome can be a scary concept, especially when we come to terms with something like substance abuse or addiction but we are afraid of what we don’t know about the rehabilitation process. For most people just that word ‘rehab’ may draw up a good deal of anxiety and assumptions, particularly if you have never been to one, and there are plenty of misconceptions about treatment facilities and the rehab process that keep people from seeking treatment for addiction at all. I know I had quite a few beliefs that were proven to be baseless after arriving to rehab myself, so here we will look at the 4 most common fears about going to rehab.
- Detox is terrible and painful…
FEAR- For anyone who has struggled with substance abuse for any length of time there is always the fear that the detoxification of the body is going to be a terrible and painful part of rehab.
FACT- This is not the case. In rehab the detox process is made easy, with a trained medical staff that does everything possible to make you comfortable and support you through that transition. Detoxing at home can be very uncomfortable and even dangerous, and may lead most people to give up on recovery all together. Any necessary medications to assist with withdrawal symptoms are provided and monitored in a rehab facility to assure that you are able to ease out of physical dependency from the substances without the additional stress.
- It’s like a prison/hospital…
FEAR- I know personally when I came to treatment I did not expect it to be anything like what I found. I thought it would be like a hospital or prison, with guards and barred windows.
FACT- In reality, the rehab experience I had was nothing like a prison lock-down or hospital. There was a nursing staff on site to assist with any medical needs, and it was a comfortable and relaxed environment. No shackles, no solitary confinement, no watch-tower. Instead there was a residential community with plenty of conveniences of home, even recreational areas and a team of holistic and health professionals who encouraged freedom and expression.
- People will know you’re in rehab…
FEAR- Another common fear is that other people will know you are in rehab. Sometimes people are worried their employer or co-workers may find out they sought treatment. They may worry their extended families or just other people in the community may find out, anyone who they are trying to avoid having to explain the situation to, and they could be judged.
FACT- One extremely important part about substance abuse and addiction treatment is each individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality. Going to rehab is not something to be ashamed of, but it is not necessarily something we want announced to everyone in our lives, especially in regards to our careers. A certified and professional rehab facility will do everything necessary to keep your personal information as a patient confidential. Any and all medical records and therapy or treatment plans will be protected. In rehab information policies will be upheld to the highest standards to ethically and effectively help you get back to the life you want and the future you are building for yourself.
- People there are criminals…
FEAR- Some of us who struggle with substance abuse or addiction have a fear that when we go to rehab we will be surrounded by people who are violent, hateful or degenerate criminals, and that we will be stuck with them for an extended time. Now no one is perfect, and we all have our faults, but this assumption as well is not true.
FACT- In my experience I met some of the most intelligent, talented, and kind people in rehab. Most people who end up in rehab are regular people, not hardened criminals. They are decent and hardworking individuals or young adults who are dealing with a similar problem as you are, and have also committed to changing it. There are people from all walks of life and social status who struggle with substance abuse. Addiction has no bias or prejudice, and some forms of therapy in rehab are designed to bring people together to defeat that common enemy.
The fears about treatment can also expand from these general ideas, and I’m quite sure there are plenty other anxieties that people have felt before looking into treatment, or committing to rehabilitation. I can definitely say I had plenty of my own doubts, and my expectations of what rehab would be were all completely fictional. I was greeted at the door with support and understanding, my detox was handled with an abundance of care and turned out to be painless, and my residential treatment program was filled with inspirational classes, accepting therapists, and a community of peers who became close friends in the recovery process.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135