Author: Justin Mckibben
I know what you’re thinking… but just set aside that thought for a second. Many of us know the flaws of contempt prior to investigation. So I ask of you to consider the following, and do some investigation yourself, to see what impact this whole idea might have.
You may remember, because I’ve written on the subject of safe injection sites many times, that last September the Harm Reduction Coalition convened with law enforcement and public health experts on an international level to deliberate on the possibility of supervised injection facilities helping to reduce the opiate addiction crisis and overdose death outbreak in American. Since then, officials in several states in America have proposed the implementation of supervised injection facilities, including:
In this discussion, reports were presented with some of the pros and cons of the concept, and with the press and politics focusing so heavily on addressing the epidemic status of heroin and opiate abuse I wanted to revisit the conversation with some information presented. I bring it up again because I have had a few conversations about these facilities; people seem split on the issue and many are misinformed.
What a Supervised Injection Facility IS
Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are legally sanctioned locations where people who use intravenous drugs can inject pre-obtained drugs under medical supervision.
For those of you who keep implying it makes heroin legal, supervised injection facilities do NOT sell heroin to users OR make heroin legal. It is simply a place where people who are already using can safely use.
They are designed to reduce the health and societal problems associated with intravenous drug use, and have been shown to reduce injection-related risks and harms like:
- Vein damage
- Transmission of diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C
Public Injection Alternatives
Now when it comes to drug abuse and recovery from addiction, there is no cookie cutter answer and no express-lane (in my experience) to lasting sobriety. There are numerous programs put in place to provide different treatment alternatives, and one genre of treatment that has been making some come back is harm reduction- which includes supervised injection facilities and needle exchange programs.
As part of the consultation there was a report titled Alternatives to Public Injection in which experts with experience operating supervised injection facilities shared how such services were implemented in their countries. These areas included:
The experts also enclosed in the report how effective supervised injection facilities could be as an alternative solution to public health crises that involve injection drug use. Over the course of this committee there were other entities including:
- Open Society Foundation
- Foundation for AIDS Research
From these reports and discussions there came some relevant information that could be crucial to American policymakers. These points might also cause the everyday skeptic to pause and wonder if these kinds of initiatives can’t do some good.
- People who use SIFs take better care of themselves
- They reduce or eliminate their needle sharing
- Ultimately, participants reduce their drug use all together
- SIF participants gain access to other medical and social services
- Participants have resources to seek addiction treatment
- SIFs do not increase drug use in the surrounding area
- Crime and public disturbances decrease in the areas around these programs
- There has not been a SINGLE overdose death in any of these programs over many years of operation
That last one… that is an especially impressive statistic with all things considered! The simple fact that these sites, which are not yet in America, have been able to treat overdoses and eliminate deaths should at least have people thinking twice about supervised injection facilities.
Long Way to Go
The fact of it all is America has a long road ahead before we ever get to a place where this is a popular idea. Taking into account how many people on the outside of addiction looking in still only have an understanding based on stigma and fear, the reality is that it would be incredibly difficult to get this idea off the ground and make it work because every country in so far operating SIFs have stressed in order to successfully implement supervised injection facilities it is important to have support from all corners, such as:
- The community
- Local law enforcement
Greg Scott is a professor of sociology at DePaul University who has shown a strong sentiment for the need of progressive ideas that promote health and safety over incarceration and punishment. Scott stated,
“SIFs are practical, concrete, humane, and cost-effective.”
“In every respect, SIFs make sense. They represent a logical (and arguably moral) next step in the process of creatively and effectively providing the whole country with far better health solutions for drug users than have ever been available before.”
American families of every demographic and in every community are feeling the damages of the opiate epidemic and the side-effects of unscientific drug policies, causing an upsurge of interest in public health alternatives. No wonder more people are starting to take supervised injection facilities more seriously.
The Recovery Community
When it comes to people in the recovery community, I understand why some people would be cynical about the possibility of government run establishments allowing injection drug use of heroin or other dangerous narcotics.
Even asking people I personally respect in the local recovery community it seems I get answers ranging from one extreme to the other. Some still say that it is just making legal “shooting galleries” that enable addicts to avoid the consequences of their addiction.
Others say with so many people dying every single day, the numbers speak for themselves and no statistically and scientifically supported program should be ignored without at least a conversation.
Once more, I think the preservation of life and promotion of effective addiction treatment is worth some effort.
Now, tell us what YOU think.
Preventing of death and the spread of disease is vital, and getting the right kind of treatment for drug addiction is paramount to progress. If you or someone you love is struggling, don’t wait. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Yup… it’s about that time ladies and gentlemen! It’s a New Year… a time to celebrate our successes and remember the times we’ve shared. New Year’s Eve we watch the ball drop, countdown the clock, shoot off the fireworks and prepare for another exciting chapter in life.
Of course there are the “New Year, New Me!” messages you are sure to see all over the place as people set resolutions- some for working out and eating better, others for finding love or a career, my resolution thus far has just been to stay sober another 24 hours- so far, so good.
So why is it so many people set these resolutions and then forget them halfway through February? Some of us will honor this tradition and declare our own New Year’s resolutions to the world… others will resist the urge, brush off the idea and even try to poke fun at it as a pointless exercise- typically the people who gave up on passed resolutions before they even made them.
So we look at these cynics and cross-examine their logic when they ask,
“Why bother to set resolutions if we will probably forget them?”
Resolutions are really just goals we set on January 1st. In recovery we are often told to take it one day at a time, and to accept that we are not in charge of the future… that may be a highly valuable philosophy, but it doesn’t mean setting goals in recovery is wrong. Even in sobriety we are allowed to set standards and achieve the things we strive for. Here are a few reasons why you should keep New Year’s resolutions in recovery.
- Stuff Gets Done
When we make a resolution or set goals, and actually put in the effort, they tend to actually get done!
When we put some work into it and actually commit to a resolution, the things we set out to do get done because we actually treat them like goals that need to be accomplished. If you make a resolution in recovery, you should keep it because it gives you some sense of purpose in your actions.
- Creates Clarity
Goals provide you with a vision and a direction. In sobriety setting resolutions in recovery can give your road through recovery a few travel destinations. Sure this goal isn’t the end of the journey, but its somewhere to set your sights on.
Resolutions create clarity because they give purpose to actions. Without goals in recovery we risk wasting your resources feeling disorganized and overwhelmed, which can lead to risky behaviors or other bad habits seeking to get outside of self.
In recovery you have an opportunity to reach for things you never thought possible, so set a resolution to see more clearly what you want in your life.
- Shows Progress
Setting a resolution itself can show progress for those of us in recovery because it shows us that we are no longer accepting the old self-destructive standards we lived by. Being active and taking initiative shows that we are willing to work for a better life, and having goals and reaching them is a good measurement of where we are headed and how far we have come.
Progress in every facet of life happens when people set, pursue, and achieve goals. “Progress not Perfection,” right?
Plus, when we go to help others who are struggling we can give examples of how we set out to accomplish things in life, and how recovery allowed us to make those dreams happen.
- They Give Us Purpose
When I was using and drinking life had no purpose… I get to live my life today with meaning and passion because setting goals helped me find a purpose. A New Year’s resolution may not be the pivotal point of your purpose, but it can reinforce the pattern that fulfills your life in recovery.
Goals give our lives purpose, and purpose is the reason for why we seek any outcome at all in life.
Underneath every resolution is an idea of our true self and what we want out of our lives. Maybe the thing you want isn’t the meaning of your life, but maybe ‘A’ gets you closer to ‘B’ which ultimately opens the door to ‘C’ and that is what you wanted all along.
After all, resolution is a synonym for purpose.
Purpose is what motivates us and moves us to take action. In recovery, having a purpose after living a life of hopelessness and feeling empty can be the difference between staying sober or losing sight of why sobriety matters.
Remember- the first day of 2016 can be the first day of a whole new life. Realistically, any day can be a new beginning if we choose to make it so. Never forget the power of your purpose, and how putting your drive and determination behind your desires can help move your recovery. Maybe your resolution just has to be to make the choice to take the steps to make a change. 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
Twas the week of Christmas, and with holiday cheer and joy through the world also comes even more crazy news stories. Some creepy nativity, some drug peddling Santa, and a new way to clean up some holiday trash all makes up a great crazy news story wish list. Guess what, Santa ain’t happy!
Zombie Nativity Scene
Earlier this month, Jasen Dixon of Sycamore Township, Ohio set up what seemed like a piece of a Nightmare before Christmas in the front yard, which was decorated with an insane display of skeletons as the three wise men, and a demonic looking baby Jesus. As an Ohioan myself, I find this hilarious!
Jasen Dixon manages 13 Rooms of Doom haunted house in Rising Sun, Indiana, and says that his intentions were innocent. He told local new officials,
“I wanted a nativity scene and I worked with what I had.”
Apparently his neighbors aren’t huge fans of his work, and neither is his father, who takes anything bad that happens as opportunity to blame the scene. He told the station on the average they probably get 30 or 40 cars stopping to pictures. People that follow zombie movies especially seem to love it.
Officials in Dixon’s hometown have demanded the zombie display be removed, but insist it’s a zoning issue, not a zombie issue. Township Administrator Greg Bickford claims that the problem is the manger occupies too much of the front yard.
Dixon has already received two violations, but he feels the orders to dismantle it violate his constitutional rights to free religious expression.
“I’ve lived here for 15 years and I’ve never had a violation of any kind. It’s a holiday decoration. I know if it was a real pretty nativity scene they wouldn’t be saying anything.”
Dixon was given until December 26th to take the zombie nativity off his property without being penalized. As far as the zombies are concerned, they seem happy to express their Christmas spirit.
Protesting Pot Smoking Santa
San Pedro’s Harbor House of Dank marijuana dispensary displayed window drawings of a Santa Clause smoking weed, and a snowman holding a prescription bottle as part of a controversial Christmas decoration.
After photos were posted to Facebook, the pot shop received hundreds of complaints. Residents we outraged that the paintings were prominently displayed where children could see them, and seemed to specifically promote marijuana consumption to kids with cartoons.
The cannabis Christmas pictures of Kringle may have been removed from the window on Tuesday, but the holiday pot propaganda may have attracted the heat to the Harbor House of Dank. The office of Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino told reporters that this particular dispensary may not be following state guidelines.
Looks like the LAPD is trying to put a few extra names on the naughty list.
Eggnog Chugging Champion
Ryan Roche from Utah County was hospitalized for chugging a quart of eggnog so quickly that he inhaled some of creamy holiday beverage into his lungs earlier this month.
Roche told reporters that he participated in an alcohol-free eggnog chugging contest at a holiday office party earlier this month, during which he topped off a quart of eggnog in 12 seconds without taking a breath, but soon began coughing and gasping. Hours later, a friend drove him to the hospital where doctors told him he had eggnog in his lungs.
The office’s reigning eggnog champion was put on oxygen and antibiotics and released from the hospital after three days, and shortly after he states he has fully recovered. Maybe next year he will ask Santa for some tums.
Goats Graze on Christmas Trees
Goats may not seem like the most jolly creatures in the animal kingdom, but they are known to eat just about anything. So why not a Christmas tree?
Vince Thomas is a longtime volunteer firefighter who has come up with a new use for his family-owned goat herding business that might be here just in time for the holiday clean up called “Goat Grazers.” Thomas is launching a new program with the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District on Friday to use his 40 goats to help recycle Christmas trees.
He says he got tired of watching people discard the trees in landfills or dump them on public property, where they became a fire danger, and that once a goat digs their teeth into a tree, they devour all the pines and leave the bare skeleton of the tree, which can be discarded much easier than just tossing the whole thing once the gifts have been snatched out from under it.
That’s one was to recycle your Christmas leftovers. Pretty sure the goats will take care of those leftover cookies too.
Hopefully you were able to enjoy your holiday, some of these folks definitely went all out for theirs. Just avoid zombies and eggnog. That doesn’t even sound like a good combo to begin with. While these stories may be funny, it is important to remember to be grateful during this holiday season, because not everyone will see next years. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
With the beginning of the New Year, we remember those not-so-smart choices we made back in 2014 and hope that 2015 will be a little more on par with our healthier life choices. I recovery we often learn to acknowledge our less healthy habits, and adapt to a more empowering and fit life-style. But at the same time, we also have a tendency to pick up a few other nasty habits to replace our impulsive behaviors.
Here are 9 resolutions to make for your health this year, while some may not be as obvious, others may be more surprising.
- Pulling all-night-ers
Staying up late News Year’s Eve may be a bit of an exception if you’re trying to watch the ball drop, but more often than not it’s a better idea to be conscious of how much rest your body is getting.
At the end of the day, no matter what else you’re doing to improve your health, sleep is one element that could make or break it.
- Relying on coffee and energy drinks
While it is understandable to drink coffee or energy drinks when you need that liquid fuel stay afloat, but it is not the healthy way to energize.
Coffee and energy drinks can do more harm than good. Relying on them to keep you awake and alert can become one of the most unhealthy habits. What’s better for you? This crazy new thing they’re calling ‘WATER’ that apparently has been around since ever.
- Eating junk foods
Excessive sugar from gorging on junk foods can do a number on your teeth and cause tooth decay. Not to mention increasing risk of diabetes. Excessive salt increases the risk of heart disease.
While living in south Florida, this was one that I became pretty conscious of. Sun damage from unprotected tanning, or just tanning too often, is one of the quickest ways to age your skin and the damage is often irreversible.
Tanning also increases your risk of developing skin cancer. Wear sunscreen!
Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, shocker! It also creates cancers that affect both genders. Not smoking considerably decreases your risk of lung cancer, as well as things like heart disease and stroke.
Smoking may be the bad habit you’ve been holding on to. People in recovery often do, so take notice of the opportunity.
- Skipping Meals
I skip lunch almost every single day, mostly without even noticing I’m doing it. Many people skip meals because they are busy or because they are trying to drop a few pounds.
It seems harmless, but as you get older it becomes apparent that skipping meals does not help much to lose weight. Slipping healthy snacks throughout the day is a good way to stay on top of it and revitalize your metabolism.
- Not Exercising
This may seem like a DUH moment, that excercising is important for health, but many people don’t seem the importance in at least staying active.
A resolution to exercise most days of the week for at least 30 minutes can change everything. Nobody expects you to become a professional body-builder or even get in shape for bikini season, but staying active can be the thing that saves your life. To to incorporate:
- Strength training
Stress is so heavy on the mind and the body. Of course we know that it can cause a lot of mental and emotional anguish when we are constantly under pressure or anxiety, but to understand that stress takes a serious toll on the body means to understand we have to find ways to cope and relieve that stress.
But how could we possibly do that? Well I don’t know, maybe re-read number 1- 7
- Loud Music
Hearing is one of the most important senses that anyone can have. Things like hearing aids exist because of that, but still before you ever need to worry about that you can take charge knowing that protecting your natural hearing is very important.
I know I know… New Year’s Eve you favorite song was ‘Turn Down For What?!’ So how can we expect you protect your hearing? Personally this is a tough one to follow for me, but if I want to be able to hear the best new jams in 2015 I should probably remember to turn down for my ear health… at least during radio commercials.
Whatever you do with the New Year, just remember that not everyone is as fortunate as we are to be enjoying it the way we can, and that letting go of a few bad habits is almost small time compared to some of the things those of us in recovery have already had to let go of. And if you have not begun your journey of change, the best resolution would be to take that first step. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
America has a pretty good reputation for over-glorifying drinking alcohol, especially in the media, and sometimes it may seem like you’re seeing more and more alcohol use. Most people would guess that heavy drinking happens more often in summer and spring seasons, when there is better weather and more people are going out to bars or events. Some suspect it would be the summer because there are students on break from class, people are taking vacations, and most alcohol is advertised in the heat as a way to ‘stay cool’. But is that the reality? At what time do Americans drink alcohol the most? The answer may be more surprising.
BACtrack App Stats
BACtrack, which calls itself “Leader of Breathalyzers,” has invented a new smartphone app designed for drinkers to use as a means of tracking their drinking patterns. The app even features an option for drinkers to share their statistics with others in their network, and the company has used this technology recently to process and released a report with results that may seem a little shocking.
Apparently Americans are drinking much more than any other time during the winter. The data composed from the BACtrack breathalyzer results around the country shows that the highest occurrence of days where users had a BAC of 0.06% or higher fall between December and March. During this period more than 5 out of 7 days BAC is above 0.06%, which is when the more harmful effects of alcohol typically begin. Compared to the other months of the year:
- 75% of the days have a high BAC level in winter
- 47% of the days have a high BAC level in other months
Holiday Alcohol Habits
One fact that may not surprise anyone at all is that Super Bowl Sunday is the heaviest drinking day in February, and with St. Patrick’s Day- the day of green beer and pub crawls- occurring in the same month as Super Bowl Sunday there’s really no need to explain why winters are drunker.
Then of course there is Christmas and New Year’s, which we are literally a couple days away from the first, and people in America have a going trend of drinking a lot during these holidays. New Years seems like a no-brainer, and who doesn’t remember someone at Christmas dinner having way to much eggnog and passing out under the Christmas Tree… or was that just my house?
Valentine’s Day people are apparently either toasting to love or drowning their sorrows, and this sappy drunk holiday just happens to occur during one of the drunkest weeks of the year. Apparently colder weather in general is just an excuse for a drink to most people.
It is quite possible that one of those major distinctions between why we visually imagine it more during those summer days is because the weather outside is frightful, so people are drinking in their own homes. Just because we can’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t wasted under the mistletoe. As with most things- out of sight out of mind.
For all the sceptics who find it difficult to understand this concept, The Washington Post also created a collection of data for drinking trends during specific seasons, based on the presence of alcohol related stories in the news. This data was examined and ultimately established that there are more news articles citing “alcohol being a factor” during the warmer months, with July and August being the top contenders in this season.
This supports the theory that we assume there is more alcohol consumption around this time because people are out and about. In reality it all comes back to the fact Americans drink more in the cold, but they do it inside.
Strangely enough, fall and winter seasons also seem to be a time where people struggling with alcoholism or other substance abuse issues seem to seek treatment. Maybe this spike in alcohol consumption just stands to instill in alcoholics the need for help, or maybe after a binge through the holidays people decide to make resolutions- if they are lucky enough to get through the holidays. Not everyone makes it to the dinner table for the holidays.
No matter what time of year it is, alcoholism is real. Alcoholics and addicts don’t wait on weather to to drink or get high, so don’t wait on the weather to get better. Make the choice that will mean the most to your future seasons. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.