Author: Shernide Delva
We’ve talked about it all. Whether it is safe needle injection facilities, or prescription heroin, the various harm reduction strategies to reduce the effects of substance abuse continue to raise controversy.
Now, Las Vegas plans to reduce the risk of sharing contaminated needles by installing vending machines throughout the city.
That’s right, vending machines.
Those things you buy snacks and water bottles from will soon be carrying clean hypodermic needles. Those needles are there to prevent the spread of disease among heroin users. The ultimate goal is to save lives and help users stay healthy.
Before you argue the pros and cons, let me remind you that this idea is far from a stretch. New York has seen massive success in the use of safe needle exchange programs. The safe needle exchange programs in New York City have been credited with virtually eradicating the transmission of AiDS through contaminated needles. Furthermore, there are already areas in Canada that carry clean needle vending machines, and so far, the results have been favorable.
Las Vegas wants to crack down on disease transmission via shared needles by becoming the first city in the United States to install clean needle vending machines.
But why not create another safe needle exchange program, you ask?
Good question. It all comes down to time and money. Traditional safe needle exchange programs require a tremendous amount of resources — time, money and volunteers willing to hang out in neighborhoods that have high drug use rates. Vending machines, on the other hand, are inexpensive and more accessible.
The syringe vending machine program is a collaboration between the Las Vegas harm reduction center Trac-B Exchange and the state. The goal is to make clean needles more accessible in order to reduce the spread of diseases like hep C and HIV. Three machines will debut at outreach centers around Las Vegas next month.
With every purchase, users receive a package that includes alcohol wipes, a disposal container, and condoms in addition to clean needles. The packages will be free but users must register a swipe card with their birthday and their first and last name to monitor the number of kits distributed per user. There will also be a kiosk nearby to dispose of dirty needles.
Improving Overall Health?
These types of programs do not just reduce diseases like HIV and hep C, they also prevent abscesses, infections, and damage to veins, helping users’ overall health. There is little evidence to suggest that these programs encourage drug use. Instead, plenty of studies confirms that programs like these reduce the spread of diseases transmitted by the blood.
Overall, of course seeking treatment is the ideal answer to those struggling with addiction. However, the reality is we are in the middle of an addiction epidemic, and many are continuing to use. Therefore, programs like these are intended to help improve overall health. We want to know your opinion. What are your thoughts on these types of programs?
Harm reduction programs remain a complex strategy to a devastating epidemic. The best option is always sobriety, but sadly, it takes time for many to commit to that choice. That’s why if you are struggling with substance use disorder, reach out to us. We have professionals waiting to give you the help you desperately need. You are not alone. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
The answer has arrived. After decades of debates and controversy over the best way to quit smoking, scientists have finally confirmed the absolute best way to stop smoking. This method was found to be more successful than any other method out there; better than pills or e-cigarettes. What could it possibly be?
QUITTING COLD TURKEY!
Turns out, quitting cigarettes cold turkey is the most powerful method of dropping the habit. Now, before you get angry at me for luring you into this obvious solution, hang on a second! You have to admit; it is surprising that this method of quitting is the most effective. After all, each and every year, different cigarette alternatives hit the market. Everything from vaping to nicotine patches to gums is released to aid in quitting smoking. Evidently, these alternatives can be more of a distraction than a real solution to quitting in the long run.
This topic has raised controversy for years. On one side, people believe it is better to taper off smoking cigarettes. Others stand by quitting cold turkey. In some ways, it makes perfect sense why people want to taper off. When it comes to other addictions like substance dependencies, typically medical professionals wean people off those drugs. However, when it comes to cigarettes, immediately throwing those packs of cigarettes in the trash appears to be the best solution.
The study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, and what they found was people who quit cold turkey were much less likely to start smoking again compared to individuals who didn’t. Quitting smoking cold turkey disproves previous theories on tapering:
“If you’re training for a marathon, you wouldn’t expect to turn up and just be able to run it. And I think people see that for smoking as well. They think, ‘Well, if I gradually reduce it’s almost practice,'” said the study’s author, Nicola Lindson-Hawley from the University of Oxford.
The research follows 700 smokers in England who were planning to quit smoking. At the time, all the participants were smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Four weeks later, the researchers checked in. They found that smokers who quit cold turkey were more successful with a 49% quit rate compared to 39% in the gradual group. At six months, things start to get interesting. Only 15% of people who quit smoking were able to maintain it. On the other hand, 22% of the cold turkey groups were able to stay cigarette-free.
If you cannot see yourself quitting cold turkey anytime soon, good news: future research plans to understand how alternatives could be more effective in helping people stop.
Lindson-Hawley added, “If there are individuals who feel they can’t quit abruptly, and they want to stop gradually—otherwise they won’t try to quit at all—we still need to support them to do that.”
Furthermore, while the cold turkey group had a higher success rate, those who quit gradually preferred that method over quitting cold turkey. The important thing is for people to commit to dropping the habit for good. The more dedicated you are to quitting, the more likely you are to stop smoking cigarettes.
“I think that’s the piece that’s so convincing, which is that regardless of your stated preference, if you’re ready to quit, quitting abruptly is more effective,” said Dr. Gabriela Ferreira, of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey. “That’s a compelling number, and I think that translates to the patient. It gives them the encouragement, I think, to go for it.”
Those in the medical field believe studies like these are an excellent way to start a conversation and give doctors tools to help patients eager to quit more efficiently. Regardless of what you believe in, taking a step to quit is a good way of improving your health overall.
Quitting smoking can be one of the healthiest changes you make for yourself. While quitting smoking can be challenging, it is not impossible. Most of all, it is worth it. If you are well into your recovery and ready to quit, try doing it cold turkey first before looking into alternatives. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Shernide Delva
If you were one of the millions of Americans who watched last night’s super bowl, you might have seen a heroin PSA play during the commercial break. A super bowl PSA called “All American Girl,” ran on St. Louis airtime. It was produced by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) to warn parents about the dangers of heroin use.
While the goal of the super bowl PSA was to raise awareness, many believed the ad was ineffective and instead promoted stigma and fear. On the other hand, others felt the ad was successful in grabbing the attention of those who need the information most: the parents.
The PSA was taken negatively because many viewers felt it displayed the same fearful tactics that have been used for decades. The PSA showed a young girl cooking up heroin. The PSA then flashes to the girl cheerleading out of rhythm. Over time, the girl throws away her cell phone and even gets rid of her own dog. Her mother loses track of where she is and is extremely worried about her daughter. The girl eventually loses her friends, schoolbook and career aspirations. At the end of the super bowl PSA, she looks pale and waif-like and the super bowl PSA closes warning viewers of the dangers of heroin.
The super bowl PSA is supposed to raise awareness of how heroin causes many to throw their life away, but instead it raises an important question…
Are ads like these effective?
Back in 2011, a meta-analysis entitled “The effectiveness of anti-illicit-drug public-service announcements” proved through several studies that these types of PSAs are not effective in preventing drug abuse. However, the NCADA believes that releasing PSAs like this will force the community to pay attention to the drug epidemic. The super bowl PSA features “happy sounding” music while showcasing a very devastating situation. This was done to prevent viewers from turning away on an epidemic that no one should turn away from.
In addition to the “All American Girl,” ad, the St. Louis region also saw another ad on the heroin epidemic called “That’s How.” The commercial also dramatizes the effects of heroin to raise awareness. It has a jolly sound in the background that contrasts the grim nature of heroin addiction.
Opinions on the super bowl PSA were both positive and negative. Barry Lessin, president of Families for Sensible Drug Policy, found the PSA to be constructed poorly.
“Yes substances can be dangerous,” he said, “heroin is dangerous, but the misguided education messaging has been proven ineffective and can be more dangerous.”
Like many states in the U.S., St. Louis has a serious heroin problem. An estimated 2,300 people have died from heroin in the past seven years. Still, those impacted by heroin use found the messages produced by the NCADA to be in poor taste.
“The feedback from the families who viewed the segment expressed serious concerns that the piece will have a detrimental impact on impressionable teens who are telling us loud and clear that ‘just say no’ doesn’t work,” Carol Katz Beyer, co-founder of Families for Sensible Drug Policy, told The Fix.
While many are taking aim at the PSA, others take a more “better than nothing” approach to the whole concept. At least, something is being done to raise awareness of how serious the heroin epidemic truly is. Chelsea Laliberte, executive director of Live4Lali, lost her brother to an accidental overdose in 2008. She said she is just pleased that the conversation of heroin is becoming more common.
“As an activist, honestly, I am pleased that this conversation has become as mainstream as the people who use heroin.”
Overall, while the PSAs have good intentions, more research should also be done to understand what ads are truly effective in preventing substance abuse. Hopefully, more methods of prevention will help in reducing the amount of deaths from these dangerous drugs.
Substance abuse is a difficult addiction to overcome. More and more people are trying and becoming addicted to drugs like heroin and prescription painkillers. If you are one of them, remember you are not alone. Seek professional help today. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Ever since August 28, 2015 anyone and everyone seems to have something to say about Narcos, the new hit series that debuted on Netflix and has a monumental momentum that has not stopped since. The show has been talked about on practically every channel, has flooded all Facebook (not to mention other social media) news feeds, and has become a centerpiece of conversation in every medium.
Even the people who have never seen a single episode have chattered about how the plot must be well worth the hype, and everyone else eagerly awaits a second gripping and climactic season.
So why has Narcos taken over, and what hidden truths of the drug trade can we learn from it?
Narcos is an American drug trafficking crime drama television series that was created by various talented writers and producers, including:
- Chris Brancato
- Carlo Bernard
- Doug Miro
Narcos has Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha in the captains seat, and thus far he appears to have done a great deal of justice to the material.
This uniquely epic is so far a 10 installment long episodic portrayal of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel has a thrilling way of packing a serious punch, while also entangling the tales of United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.
Narcos unravels a dramatic reenactment of the real life events surrounding of the progression and expansion of cocaine drug cartels across the globe, while highlighting law enforcement efforts to bring it all crashing down. Wagner Moura stars as notorious Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, with plenty of blood and brutality to go around.
True Narco Cinema
The series is set during the 1980s Colombian drug war, but it’s more generally about the myths that drug lords, politicians, and cops tell the communities they serve, which has historically been a way they preserve their power; feeding into the fear and mythology that surround them.
Narcos producers call this “magical realism,” but it is actually an old Latin American genre of a storytelling tradition called “narco cinema,” comprised entirely of B-movies about the drug trade. Narco cinema works its own magic through a deeply romanticizing the power and violence of drug lords; turning cops into villains, drug kingpins into underdogs turned heroes, and beauty queens into narcos.
Underneath all this, Narco cinema skillfully exposes the weaknesses and corruption of government systems that have allowed the cartels to infect them and take advantage of the people, which is a clever way to show the truth of how cocaine and cocaine traffickers like those on Narcos have devastated the lives of those around them.
Many people who have made a habit and even a living of dissecting and evaluating films and media have praised the series, and one thing many have pointed out is even though the show has bent the truth a bit to make for more entertaining television, it may more accurately portray the uglier, more sinister side to the reality of drug cartels.
Narcos has been valued by many as the first American production in the true narco-cinematic legacy. Unlike most American depictions of the drug trade, Narcos manages to glamorize its protagonists while still revealing the disturbing structural problems they are working within, exposing the world to the key dynamics in the real life drug wars; specifically the way drug lords and corrupt cops and DEA agents mold their own myths and do everything in their power to instill those terrifying yet empowering legends about them in order to preserve their power over the people.
Drug lords oppress the people, they terrorize communities and they destroy lives across the board. Yet because they are made into these grandiose legends of rags to riches through overcoming injustice, they are idolized. What Narcos has done in the eyes of many is it has continued to stroke the ego of the drug lord just enough, while trying to show the viewer just how disturbing and tragically wicked the world of the drug dealer can be. It is not all fun and games, not all a hero’s journey. It is a twisted and ugly world, and the hidden truth they try to display is that the legend is more important to the drug lord than the truth, because the truth is a lot uglier and a lot less heroic than the stories they tell about themselves.
Along with dramatic series about drug abuse and drug trafficking, Netflix also features some excellent drug documentaries that may also give you insight into how substance abuse and addiction destroys lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
President Obama is continuing his efforts to combat the growing opioid epidemic. Just this week, Obama issued a memorandum designed to combat the opioid epidemic in the forms of prescription drug abuse and heroin use. The goal of the memorandum is to provide more opioid prescription training to medical professionals and provide better treatment options.
President Obama traveled to West Virginia to hear personal accounts from individuals and families affected by the epidemic. He spoke to health care professionals, law enforcement officers, and community leaders working to prevent addiction and respond to its aftermath.
The president’s heightened response to the opioid epidemic reflects the intensity of the crisis. Each year, more Americans die from drug overdoses than motor vehicle crashes, and the majority of those overdoses involve prescription medications. In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications– enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.
President Obama’s initiative hopes to accomplish two main goals:
- Education and Training: The goal is that more than 540,000 healthcare providers will complete opioid prescriber training in the next two years. As far as education, millions of dollars in media space will be used for public service announcements produced by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids about the risk of prescription drug misuse.
- Improve Access to Treatment: The goal is to improve access for prescription drug abuse and heroin use directing the government to identify barriers to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. Obama plans to double the number of physicians certified to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder treatment, from 30,000 to 60,000 over the next three years
Prescription drug abuse and heroin use have taken a heartbreaking toll on too many Americans and their families. Back in 2010, Obama released his first National Drug Control Strategy, which emphasized the need for action to address opioid use disorders and overdoses, while ensuring that individuals with pain receive safe, effective treatment Ever since then, the administration has focused heavily on ‘smart on crime’ approaches to drug enforcement.
The dramatic rise in heroin overdoses from 2011 to 2013 show the opioid crisis is far from over. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, substance use disorder and mental health services benefits are required to be covered by health plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace. New rules finalized by the administration ensure that the benefits are comparable to medical and surgical benefits.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) invested close to $100 million in Affordable Care Act funding to expand treatment in health centers across the country. They awarded $11 million in new grants to States to support medication-assisted treatment and $1.8 million to help rural communities purchase naloxone and train first responders.
West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S. — more than twice the national average according to a report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Obama addressed the need for fewer barriers for addiction treatment. Many addicts die while waiting for spots in treatment programs.
The president, a former smoker, also mentioned that the decline in smoking rates prove that progress can be made in preventing and treating addiction. He believes that there is a growing bipartisan backing on increasing more funds and support for treatment centers.
Politics aside, putting the heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic on the forefront is extremely necessary considering how many lives have been taken away from this disease. Do not wait to get help for your addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-561-221-1125.