Author: Justin Mckibben
By now everyone who is paying any attention to politics has heard about the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. And if you have heard of Trump, you have heard of his infamous wall. Yes, THE WALL. The ‘life-saving, world changing, country resurrecting’ wall. Let us just call it THE GREAT WALL OF ‘MERICA! Because, it will of course be greater than that shabby wall some people in China seem to think is so great.
I digress… It appears that this wall will do more than inspire racial division. Apparently THE WALL will also solve the opioid epidemic in America.
Yes… that’s what he said…
Building a wall between the United States and Mexico, according to his recent statements, will be the best solution to this issue.
The Wall against Opiates
This astonishing revelation was made during a town hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio on Monday where Trump was doing a little Q&A with the curious citizens of the capitol city in the Buckeye State. After an audience member asked him to “cut off the source” of heroin, Trump stated:
“We’re not gonna let this crap come into our country and poison our youth and poison our people, and it comes in mostly from the southern border,”
Granted, since the 1990’s statistically the primary supplier of heroin to North America has been Latin America and Mexican cartels. So this whole concept of blocking the flow of heroin into the country isn’t entirely baseless. However, Mexico is definitely not the only way heroin gets into America. The source is also definitely not the only element to the outbreak. Let us focus on his thought process just to point out where else he speaks with a heavy stigma accent.
Heroin Problem Place?
To elaborate on his plan, Trump talked about campaigning in New Hampshire. His time there helped him realize the extent of the heroin epidemic. Voters in New Hampshire town hall meetings consistently said that their biggest concern was heroin, which surprised Trump. The next thing he had to say was unsettling in a different context.
“My first victory was New Hampshire, which is a beautiful, beautiful place … This doesn’t look like it’s a heroin like problem type place,”
So wait… he means to say that only bad parts of town or less “beautiful” places are where he expects to find heroin addiction? Since he didn’t elaborate on where he would expect to see it, does this imply that Ohio is a place not pretty enough to be off Trump’s “heroin problem place” check list?
Ok, maybe those aren’t his words either. Still, thinking only certain people in certain places have a heroin problem shows he’s out of touch with the epidemic. Not to mention how disconnected this kind of thinking is from the truth about addiction.
While Trump was explaining his plan to wall off the drug problem in America, he said,
“They say, Mr. Trump, it is flowing across our southern border.”
But maybe… just maybe the New Hampshire residents were referring to the border between New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Drugs regularly travel in bulk via interstate highways into New Hampshire and the rest of New England from this area. So perhaps Mexico is way more south than New Hampshire is saying we should be looking.
WALL is LIFE
What Trump did fail to acknowledge is that many powerful opioids that end up on the black market, like fentanyl, originate from Chinese suppliers. So even if we make a huge dent in the heroin supply from Mexico, there are still plenty of countries that have been sending it over for years.
Also, Trump should note the accessibility of prescription drugs is a major driving factor for the opioid crisis. He didn’t, but he should. To have a comprehensive plan, you absolutely have to include addressing the Big Pharma companies involved in opiate medication production.
Trump did finally acknowledge the need for treatment. This is the best thing to come out of the discussion, because he did admit,
“It’s very hard to get out of that addiction, of heroin. We’re gonna work with them, we’re gonna spend the money, we’re gonna get that habit broken.”
This claim at least notes the vital need for treatment options, but lacks any structure or outline on how to address it. Any complete idea on how to defeat the opiate epidemic should include education, intervention and innovations for addiction treatment. But it seems Mr. Trump is more concerned with the U.S.-Mexico border.
Addiction treatment, education and prevention should not be cliff-notes to a drug policy centered on a grandiose design for this wall that is prophesized to “make America great again” by keeping the “bad people” out. It should be centered on the concept of compassion and awareness- two things that, like I pointed out earlier, Trump seems to be in short supply of concerning addiction.
I’ve said it before… the future of our nation should have no room for stigma, we need leaders who are willing to serve the interest of every American. Drug abuse and addiction is a devastating and deadly disease, and more needs to be done to help people besides blaming someone. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, think about who you want to be working with to find a real solution. If you are looking for a way to get your life back, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
It is hard for most to imagine walking 32 miles, better yet 3200. However, that is exactly what Brett Bramble is doing in memory of his sister who died from an opioid overdose. Brett Bramble, a 31-year-old Atlanta native, is on a mission to trek 3200 miles to bring attention to the opiate epidemic and naloxone. He hopes his message will inspire more people to understand how severe and tragic the drug epidemic is.
In 2014. 47,000 people lost their lives to a fatal drug overdose. His sister, Brittany Bramble, was one of them. Brittany was a mother of three who was addicted to a variety of drugs. One of those drugs was heroin. On March 15, a heroin overdose tragically took her life.
Two years later, and Brett plans not to let his sister’s memory go in vain. Brett Bramble launched a walk across the United States to commemorate her passing. On March 13, with his dog, a backpack, and a stroller, Bramble took his first steps cross-country starting from Delaware and projected to end at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Bramble is chronicling his eight-month journey on his website. After personally spending a good thirty minutes reading his blogs, it is clear that Brett is determined to finish what he started. On the about section, he dedicates a page to his sister stating:
“Brittany was one of those people that lit up a room when she walked in. She had a great life and did amazing things for so many people.”
In the bio, Bramble described how Brittany was married nine years and had three children that she adored. Unfortunately, her marriage ended, and she dealt with “the dangerous area between liberation and stress.” Adjusting to the single life proved to be very hard on Brittany. She found herself missing her children when they were away, and turned to drugs to cope. A month before Brittany’s death, she had a heroin scare. Fortunately, she was able to be revived. Her family gave an intervention, and she finally sought treatment. Brittany seemed to be getting on the right path. Unfortunately, Brittany gave into heroin one last time and died from an overdose moments later.
“I strongly believe that she would have been able to beat addiction with everything that she had going for her. Unfortunately, the overdose cut her chances short. […] I know that she will be absolutely loving what I am doing for her by spreading the word, giving support, and hopefully saving lives,” He states.
Brett Bramble struggled with his issues too. In his teens and early twenties, he struggled with a drug addiction. He was extremely close to his younger sister. Devastated by her death, he began exploring ways to share her story as a way of raising awareness about opioid addiction and overdose prevention. After a year of fundraising and speeches, Bramble felt that he had not done enough. That is when he came up with the idea of walking across the country on the first year anniversary of Brittany’s death.
Bramble spent the next year researching and prepared for the journey cross-country. He even raised funds through his GoFundMe page. As of today, the page has raised over 7,000 dollars.
Visitors to the BrettBrambleWalks website can follow the progress of his trip through daily posts. It is interesting to see who he has encountered along the way. Just a few days ago, on May 5, 2016, Bramble wrote about how he realized it would take more than a walk to grieve the death of his sister fully.
“As I walked on, I started to think about Brittany and the grief was strong. I think I’ve learned that you can’t walk the pain away. I knew that before, but I guess I kind of hoped that it would work,” Bramble wrote.
Whether or not the walk will be what Bramble imagined it would be is yet to be discovered. Still, it is undeniable the impact he is having on the addiction community by doing something so poignant in the fight for drug addiction awareness.
“I’ve had people that are struggling with addiction contact me and tell me that I am motivating them to stay clean and sober,” he said in an article. “I had no idea that would happen. I had no idea I would be that impactful on somebody.”
Bramble said he thinks about his sister every minute of every day. He hopes the walk will encourage others and provide a platform for communication. The opioid epidemic continues to get worse each and every year. Any effort to reduce the stigma around this disease is a step in the right direction.
Losing a loved one to a drug addiction can be one of the hardest things a family member can go through. Recovery is so important, not just for your life, but for those who care about you most. Get help today. Do not give up. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
First there was the opiate epidemic, with prescription opiate painkillers adding to an ever-increasing rate of heroin addiction. Then came the stories of fentanyl being laced into heroin in various states and soon all across the country, only magnifying the rates of overdoses and opiate-related deaths everywhere. As law enforcement, politicians and other public officials scattered in all directions with different propositions and opinions on how to solve the dilemma, things seemed to be taking a turn toward a new progressive direction for drug treatment. Now, a new synthetic opiate called W-18 is stirring the pot again, and this time the disastrous defects of this potent drug threaten to take an already desperate situation to a new level of lethal.
What is W-18?
W-18 is a synthetic opiate and psychoactive substance similar to heroin, but is said to be much more deadly. W-18 is stated to be the most powerful opioid of a series of about 30 compounds. Experts go as far as to describe W-18 as being:
- 100 times more potent than fentanyl
- 10,000 times stronger than morphine
Now this incredibly horrific opiate is making its way to America after first being discovered in Canada. Now even scarier is that while fentanyl is now classified as a controlled substance, W-18 has not yet been prohibited in Canada or in the United States. Back on January 26, 2016 W-18 was actually made illegal in Sweden, but Canada and America have yet to catch up with banning this appallingly toxic synthetic.
Where Did It Come From?
The drug W-18 was originally developed as a painkiller by scientists in Canada at the University of Alberta in 1981. Part of the reason W-18 and the effects if has on human beings is largely unknown is because the drug was deemed too strong after only ever being tested on lab mice. Because of the excessive strength, it was never picked up by pharmaceutical companies and eventually W-18 was simply forgotten… until now.
Currently many believe that this drug, much like the synthetic chemicals that came to produce the synthetic drug Flakka, are created in labs in China and sold over the internet. Because of the limited testing and information on this new threat, there is nearly no clear answer as to how addictive W-18 may be or what side-effects may result from long-term use.
The Damage Done
Now even though this may be the first time a lot of people have heard anything about this drug, W-18 has been causing some damage already, and in no small way.
In August of 2015 police in Canada first seized W-18 in Calgary when authorities confiscated 110 pills initially suspected to be made with fentanyl. Some of those pills were later discovered to contain traces of W-18. Then in mid-April, authorities announced that last December they had seized four kilograms of pure W-18 in Edmonton.
Recently in March more than 2.5 pounds of W-18 was found in the home of a Miramar, Florida man who was being arrested for selling fentanyl pills. This man was later sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
Police in New Hampshire are now warning about the drug making it into the area, with Plaistow and Bristol Police Departments posting on their Facebook pages to warn their communities about the drug.
The Sanford Maine Police Department and the Wells Maine Police Department both also have issued warnings on their Facebook pages about W-18 over the weekend.
The drug so far has been found to be pressed into pills mislabeled as OxyContin and other opiates being sold on the streets, or mixed into powdered heroin. Health officials are growing more and more concerned because not only do we not have enough data to truly tell us how lethal this experimental substance is, but the current drug tests cannot detect W-18 in a person’s blood or urine- making it especially difficult for doctors to help someone who may be overdosing.
Opiates have become one of the greatest threats against human lives today. More and more people are losing their lives in a tragic battle against opiate abuse, be it prescription painkillers or illicit and experimental synthetics. The last thing the world needs is another ingredient to this terrifying blend of man-made elements proving fatal.
Pills and powdered opiates are killing people every day all over the nation, and the heartbreak is only amplified when thinking of how the resources to help save those lives are there but people don’t take the first step towards changing. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, don’t wait. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
A new HBO documentary focuses on Cape Cod’s heroin epidemic. In a recent interview, director and Oscar winner Steven Okazaki elaborated on the documentary which premiered on Monday.
Cape Cod, a town known more for its seafood, beaches and lighthouses than drug addiction, now has a huge heroin problem. Those affected most are middle-class white locals in their early twenties. If you were to follow the stigma of addiction, you never would have guessed a town like this would have such a major heroin problem.
As we know, the drug epidemic is affecting people in every part of the country, and an emphasis is being placed on the middle class. In the documentary Heroin: Cape Cod, USA, it explores the latest heroin epidemic in a wracking yet necessary way. At times gruesome, the documentary gives a two-way mirror perspective of how addicts are managing to live with their habit on a daily basis.
This is not the director’s first film magnifying heroin use. His 1999 HBO documentary Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street followed drug use in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. These users were mostly off the streets, scourging for drug just to maintain a normal state of being.
Furthermore, the document exemplifies how the greatest shift in drug addiction is the change of scenery. Heroin is not just a drug seen on the streets anymore. Recent data suggests the fastest growing group of heroin use is mostly middle-class white kids, 18 to 25 years old.
The Modern Day Heroin User
The main change in heroin users in this generation compared to previous ones is the shift in technology. Now, heroin users do not have to go to sketchy neighborhoods to get their fix. With the invention of smart phones, users can text their dealer and have the drugs dropped off right at their doorstep.
“The iPhone is also good for texting your dealer and getting the drugs delivered to you. You don’t have to go to the sketchy part of town,” Okazaki said.
However, other than the changes in technology, the kids in Cape Cod are the same as addicts anywhere. They steal, lie and cheat for cash to fuel their addiction.
“They do the same hustle for money—steal their mother’s jewelry, tell their father they need new tires for their car, steal stuff from Home Depot and return it for cash, work at strip clubs, go into prostitution, deal, whatever they have to do. The desperation is the same,” Okazaki continued.
The Lost Voices: Parents of Drug Addiction
One of the important areas this documentary tries to focus on is the parents who are affected by their children’s drug use. Okazaki stated that parents who have lost a child to an overdose have some of the strongest voices in activism.
In the documentary, the parents have a group, Parents Supporting Parents, that meets every Monday on the Cape. When Okazaki came to film the documentary, there were no meeting schedules so he asked the mothers if they would be willing to have one for him to film. Over 20 people came eager to talk.
Many of the children featured are very connected to their parents. Some live at home and others talk to their parents every day. The parents featured in the film either enabled their kids or work endlessly to find ways to keep their child sober.
“I was totally taken aback,” Okazaki said in an article. “These parents, they’ve been through it and they’re seeking support from each other and they’re tired of feeling uncomfortable around their neighbors. They were really welcoming and incredibly open.”
During the course of filming, little was done to interfere with what was happening. Staff carried the overdose antidote Nurcan in case of an overdose. In the end, two out of eight of the documentary participants overdosed and died which exemplifies how serious heroin drug use is right now. Many are not surviving. Okazaki says it was difficult at times to deal with this reality while filming and editing the documentary.
“It’s really painful. They were once alive and smiling and laughing. It’s heartbreaking. The two young women who overdosed and died were smart, caring, lovely young people. You never know who’s going to survive and get clean, or go on forever using or die.”
Overall, the overall message of the film is how easily obtainable heroin is and how something desperately needs to be done to prevent these tragedies from occurring again.
There is so much sadness and loss over drug use and as of late, the numbers continue to climb. Watch Heroin: Cape Cod, USA on HBO. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Just yesterday I wrote about how the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had released a report last week proclaiming that our great nation has reached a devastating point in the perpetual conflict against drug abuse, as it showed that drug overdose deaths in America have surpassed the statistics of the country’s history in an astonishing ascension.
47,000 people have lost their lives to some kind of drug overdose, and out of that 28,647 were opiate related overdoses.
When writing this I had to openly reflect on the kind of overwhelming despondency I can’t help but feel. I consider the millions of lives impacted by these deaths, each one like an incredible light being snuffed out and leaving the lives of those they loved a little darker; ripples of remorse that turn to tidal waves of turmoil in the hearts and minds of our world.
Then, last night before bed I found a report that ran a chill down my spine- my home state of Ohio (which I frequently write about when I get a chance) is #2 for states with the most overdose deaths in all of America for 2014!
Heartbreak in Ohio
Yes, Buckeyes… this is breaking my heart. I say that because I ran those streets for a long time myself. I know so many people who desparately abused opiates, who felt just as lost hopeless as me, who lost so much and had their lives fall apart at the seams… So it hits home in every way because I know some of you are still out there.
Ohio now holds the second-highest number of drug overdose deaths nationwide in 2014, a number that the CDC suspects is incessantly climbing.
Heroin and prescription pain relievers took approximately 2,744 lives in Ohio in 2014… much more than a previous estimate which had the state ranked as number 8 in the country. Need a little more perspective than that?
That is 1 death every 3 hours!
Think about that next time you sit down to watch a movie- by the time the end credits role, someone will probably already be dead from heroin or another opiate. Every time you clock out for lunch, imagine what family lost their father or son, mother or daughter to heroin since you clocked in.
These rates placed both Ohio among the 5 states with the highest rates of drug overdose deaths as measured per 100,000 residents (previously was listed as number 8). The only state that had a higher amount of opiate overdose deaths on this report was California with 4,521. Yes, this number is devastating and almost 2,000 more than Ohio… but you should also take into account the home of the Scarlet and Grey is a fraction of the size of California!
This is real; it is unnerving and heart wrenching to not only know that the whole country seems to be holding on for dear life in the wake of heroin and prescription opiate abuse, but also the place where I grew up is teetering on this daunting edge of disaster and heroin overdose deaths.
To combat the crushing calamity of these dire heroin overdose death rates several communities are formulating assertive strategies, some are even forming a new opiate task forces to address the addiction epidemic in partnership with community efforts. Resources are being pulled to try and get ahead of this issue, but with numbers like this it is disturbing to predict where things are going.
State of Suffering
The CDC analyzed recent mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System to track trends and characteristics of the crisis, including the types of drugs associated with these cases. In its statement the report concluded:
“Opioids — primarily prescription pain relievers and heroin — are the main driver of overdose deaths,”
This should go without saying at this point, but we need to find real solutions to this problem. The War on Drugs has obviously not worked out as well as they thought, and as more people die every day we need to do more to prevent and treat as many as we can. Heroin overdose death is toppling communities and tearing down families 3 hours at a time in Ohio, not to mention the rest of the country.
Thankfully in July of this year Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich gave approval on a critical piece of public health legislation that radically increased the availability of naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote quickly being sought after all over the nation. Also in March there were a few programs instated pushing for increased education and expanded treatment options in Ohio.
It is with a heavy heart I fill myself with hope that there is a quick change in the way things are heading, not just for my state but for all of us. Far too many amazing and beautiful people suffer in the crippling agony of addiction, and far too many are lost to heroin overdose deaths. My love and prayers to those back home still fighting, and to those strong in their recovery.
Hang on Sloopy… hang on.
America is gradually changing the way addiction is viewed and treated, and more is being done to raise awareness, show support and change the lives of all those effected by drugs and alcohol. Far too many people die every day from addiction, but there is always hope. 1-800-951-6135