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Global Commission on Drug Policy Suggests Harm Reduction and Decriminalization

Global Commission on Drug Policy Suggests Harm Reduction and Decriminalization

Author: Justin Mckibben

The Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) is an international institution of global leaders and intellectuals working to help study and inform initiatives on addressing drug use all around the world. This think tank offers recommendations concerning drug use and its consequences for societies across the globe.

The GCDP consists of members from various nations, including but not limited to:

  • The United States of America
  • The United Kingdom
  • India
  • France
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Canada

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed in The New York Times explicitly endorsing the recommendations of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and the group has released various reports over the years focusing on the efforts to curb the spread of drug abuse.

Recently the GCDP released a position report on the North American opioid epidemic. In this report, the commission issues recommendations that appear to endorse the expansion of harm reduction techniques to battle the ongoing crisis.

The Turning Point for America

According to the GCDP’s new report, North America is at a turning point in the way that drug addiction is viewed. This is not too much of a surprise, considering now more than ever there has been a push for a more compassionate perspective on drug use and addiction. America now finds itself in a unique position where the stigma that has so long been attached to addiction is starting to be abandoned, and more progressive action is being taken.

Now the Global Commission on Drug Policy believes national policymakers should take advantage of this unique opportunity to reduce opioid-related deaths through harm reduction. In the report the authors state:

“While in recent years media and politicians have been more open to viewing addiction as a public health problem, leadership is needed to turn this into an urgent and commensurate response to the crisis,”

One way that the Global Commission on Drug Policy ideals clashes with that of the Trump administration, currently steering drug policy in America is that the GCDP does not endorse the old policies of the War on Drugs.

GCDP vs War on Drugs

Back in June of 2011, the GCDP stated:

“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”

Again, this recent report echoes that sentiment, saying that attempting to cut off the opioid supply is not the answer. The new report notes how this approach has been tried before, as the first reactions to the opioid epidemic were to limit prescriptions and to introduce pills that were harder to manipulate.

The report goes on to note that this response drove people to use cheaper and often much more potent street drugs instead of prescription pills. Fentanyl is one of the worst synthetic opioids to contribute to the outbreak of overdoses and deaths across the country.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy says cutting off the supply of opioids into the country cannot be effectively executed until after supportive measures are put in place. This means supporting not only both people battling addiction but also people with chronic pain. The report insists:

“The aim is to achieve the right balance in regulation to provide effective and adequate pain care, while minimizing opportunities for misuse of these medications.”

To reduce the harmful impacts of opioids, the commission calling for the acceptance and implementation of harm reduction strategies.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy Suggests Harm Reduction

So if they are saying that the War on Drugs did not work, and neither will bulking up borders, then what will?

Well, according to the GCDP, harm reduction is the right move. The new report calls on American lawmakers to promote programs like:

  • Naloxone Distribution and Training

As the opioid overdose antidote, Naloxone is an invaluable tool to have in the fight against the opioid epidemic in America, but the price for the drug continued to skyrocket as the epidemic got worse. Making it more available could give access to and train people with life-saving medication to thousands or even millions more.

Safe locations where IV drug users can trade old, contaminated needles for new, sterile needles to help prevent the spread of blood-borne illness like HIV.

Facilities where drug users can go to use their drugs with sterile equipment safely, reducing the number of overdose deaths by providing a place free of punishment for them to use with medical emergency resources on site.

  • Drug Checking

These kinds of programs would allow for users to check their drugs for the presence of any unknown substances it may have been diluted with. For example, most fentanyl users do not know they are using fentanyl.

Decriminalizing Drugs in America

In another aspect of the report, GCDP also makes a much more revolutionary and more radical suggestion that many may consider qualifying as harm reduction: decriminalization.

The report states:

“The Global Commission on Drug Policy also calls for the elimination of illicit drug markets by carefully regulating different drugs according to their potential harms. The most effective way to reduce the extensive harms of the global drug prohibition regime and advance the goals of public health and safety is to get drugs under control through responsible legal regulation.”

With this philosophy in mind, the GCDP made two more drastic recommendations:

  • End the criminalization and incarceration of people who use drugs nation-wide in Canada and the United States.
  • Allow and promote pilot projects for the responsible legal regulation of currently illicit drugs including opioids.

The idea is that by decriminalizing drugs, they can bypass criminal organizations and ultimately replace the current black market.

“Do not pursue such offenses so that people in need of health and social services can access them freely, easily, and without fear of legal coercion,”

We have begun to see a watered-down variation of this kind of strategy with many Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) programs, where law enforcement is helping addicts get into treatment instead of arresting them when they ask for help.

Better Treatment Research

The report insists that more research is necessary in a few critical areas in order the effectively address the opioid crisis and the overall drug problem in America.

One of the key points of research the GCDP proposes is for finding the most effective treatments for addiction, specifically to prescription opioids. In addition, the report shows support for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and opioid substitution therapy (OST) as a means to preserve life to assist in the recovery process. While these programs are met with some of the same contentions as safe injection sites or decriminalization, the commission seems adamant about using harm reduction to keep people alive long enough to get better.

Michel Kazatchkine, a doctor and commission member, said in a recent interview:

“Repression is harmful. Wherever repressive policies are in place, people will not be in the best condition to access services.”

While he and other commission members are in no way naïve to the fact there is no way decriminalization will happen at the federal level soon in the U.S., they remain hopeful that states or cities will make decisions which don’t require federal approval, or for which they are willing to enter to fight with the federal process.

Overall, the hope of the GCDP is that these suggestions, coming from a group of world leaders fully invested in understanding the issue, will convince American and Canadian lawmakers to take a progressive approach to the crisis.

What could some of these changes mean for those trying to recover from opioid abuse? How could some of these ideas change the way addiction treatment operates within America?

One thing is for certain, in fighting opioid addiction, whether as a society, as a family or as an individual, there needs to be compassion and action. It takes courage and it takes a degree of uncertainty. But with the right resources, there is hope for a greater future. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

CDC Fighting Opioids with Millions in Funding to 44 States

CDC Fighting Opioids with Millions in Funding to 44 States

Author: Justin Mckibben

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on September 5th it would be allocating more than $28.6 million in funding to assist dozens of states, not to mention the District of Columbia, with overcoming the issues they face concerning opioid abuse, addiction, overdose and opioid related death. Many states are still struggling to make headway in the uphill battle. Thanks to the CDC fighting opioids with such a large contribution people in these areas have a better chance of gaining access to crucial resources.

It All Adds Up

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill in 2017 added funding for fighting the opioid epidemic with a $103 million dollar contribution. Combined with this new money from the CDC there will be even more support for things such as:

  1. Addiction prevention programs

  2. Drug monitoring programs

  3. Improved toxicology testing for medical examiners/coroners

This isn’t the first time this year the CDC has dropped a big sum into the opioid outbreak.

Just a few months back in July the CDC fighting opioids led to a $12 million pledge to state overdose prevention efforts. This contribution was made as part of the plan from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) in response to the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Who Gets the Money?

So which states are receiving funding through this latest pledge, and why? This money is being distributed out to various states that participate in the CDC’s Overdose Prevention in States Program (OPiS). The OPiS program includes 3 unique programs designed for prevention efforts:

Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States (PfS)

This program will provide $19.3 million in funding to 27 states to expand various of their prevention programs, which also use community outreach.

Data-Driven Prevention Initiative (DDPI)

$4.6 million will go through DDPI to 12 states and Washington, D.C. for similar programs. Other states getting funds through the DDPI include:

  1. Alaska

  2. Michigan

  3. New Jersey

  4. South Dakota

Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS)

Across the country around $4.7 million will go to medical examiners and coroners in 32 states and D.C. to track and prevent overdoses. The top 5 states on the list of highest rates of overdose death will receive funding, which includes:

  1. West Virginia

  2. New Hampshire

  3. Kentucky

  4. Ohio

  5. Rhode Island

-as well as-

  1. Delaware

  2. Florida

  3. Maine

  4. Washington, D.C.

How is CDC Fighting Opioids?

Not only is the OPiS program a big portion of the plan to fight opioids from the DHHS, but there are 4 other key components to these efforts.

  1. Naloxone expansion programs

  2. Improving public health data related to opioid crisis

  3. Advancing practices for pain management

  4. Greater research and support on addiction and pain

DHHS Secretary Tom Price states that the funding expansion was made possible through legislation signed by the Trump administration earlier this year. He insists it is an important part of committing help to states combating opioid addiction and overdose.

Many are hopeful that this will be the beginning of a trend for allocating funds toward more resources for CDC fighting opioids and the damage they cause across America. Advocates are still hopeful to receive more support, but for now there is at least some hope that something is being done. As far as each individual, recovery begins with taking advantage of any opportunity in front of you to do better. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Is Narcan in Schools a Good Idea for Palm Beach County?

Is Narcan in Schools a Good Idea for Palm Beach County?

Author: Justin Mckibben

Narcan, or the generic version Naloxone, is the opioid overdose antidote that we have heard so much about in recent years. The opioid epidemic has left us no choice but to talk about it. While opioid addiction spreads, the overdose death rates skyrocket and community leaders all over the country are trying to find ways to expand access to Narcan and Naloxone. Now some advocates in South Florida, and specifically in Palm Beach County, are pushing for discussion on having Narcan in schools.

This isn’t a brand new concept, and it obviously doesn’t come out of the blue. There is a steadily growing number of kids prescribed legal pain killers, especially after the FDA ruled to allow OxyContin to be prescribed to children 11 years old and up back in 2015.

So with the conversation trying to get off the ground, we might want to take a serious look at the benefits of such resources. This is not the first time the question has been raised about utilizing the overdose antidote in schools, so is it a good idea or not?

Examples of Narcan in School

There are already several states across the country that use Naloxone and Narcan in schools. State programs are set up differently, with some requiring the medication and others leaving it to individual school districts to set their own requirements. Just a few examples of states with Narcan in the classroom include:

  • Ohio

January of this year Ohio Governor Kasich signed a bill making it possible to have Narcan in schools and homeless shelters. Just this week there was a 5 to 1 vote in Akron, Ohio by the Akron Public Schools Board of Education that passed a motion for police officers who work in the district’s middle schools and high schools to be equipped with Narcan in district buildings.

  • West Virginia

A law passed during the legislative session allows West Virginia schools to stock opioid antagonists, such as Narcan and Naloxone, for drug overdoses.

  • New York

The state of New York has a program set up to provide Narcan in schools for free. So far 64 districts are participating in the narcan expansion program.

  • Pennsylvania

In 2016 there were 268 schools in the Pennsylvania Public High Schools system approved for Narcan intranasal kits from Adapt Pharma for free.

  • Illinois

Also back in 2016, the Illinois General Assembly voted to override the Governor’s veto of a bill to allow Narcan in schools so nurses have access. The Illinois legislation specifically authorizes school nurses to administer the drug to anyone they believe may be suffering an opioid overdose.

  • Rhode Island

Every middle school, junior high and high school is required to have a stock of naloxone on the premises.

The kicker is there are currently no programs for Narcan in Florida schools.

Palm Beach County Debate

Of course with programs like these we will always see some standing against it saying it promotes, or at least enables, illicit drug use by students. However, there are plenty of others who have stood on the fron lines and seen how opioid addiction can stem from legal and innocent beginnings. Maureen Kielian is one advocate who spoke up about the possibility of Narcan in schools recently, stating:

“My son became addicted to legally prescribed opioids,”

South Florida Recovery Advocates is a group actively advocating for schools to have Narcan, and Maureen has joined the fight to make a difference for kids like her son. Kielian states,

“We are on it. We just need cooperation from our leaders to save lives,”

Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche plans to meet with local law enforcement officials and school leaders to try and pursue a future Narcan program for the South Florida schools. He acknowledges that the biggest hurdle may be funding, but Valeche insists that saving lives is more important. He and other advocates understand the cost is nowhere near the value of a life.

While schools try to get their hands on an antidote that might save the lives of their students, people everywhere are still fighting for their lives. Don’t wait for an overdose to get help. Make the choice now. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Sheriff in Ohio Refusing to Use Narcan to Prevent Overdose Deaths

Sheriff in Ohio Refusing to Use Narcan to Prevent Overdose Deaths

Author: Justin Mckibben

Ohio has been a major epicenter of the overdose outbreak. In 2014, Ohio was #2 of states with the most overdose deaths.  Since then, Ohio has topped the list for heroin overdose deaths in the country, and remains in the top 3 states with the highest overdose death rates, both overall AND per capita. In fact, the overdose capitol of America is actually Montgomery County, Ohio, with over 365 opioid-related deaths in the first 5 months of 2017.

So with Ohio being one of the states hit the hardest by the ravishes of the opioid epidemic and the overdose crisis, you would think that Ohio officials would be more apt to adopting progressive and preventative measures for saving lives. In some areas, yes. However, in others… not so much.

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones says his deputies won’t carry Narcan, despite its effectiveness reversing the effects opioid and heroin overdoses.

Butler County Overdose Deaths

Making this a much more controversial issue, drug overdose is killing more people than any other cause in Butler County. According to a statement by Dr. Lisa Mannix’s office, in the first 4 months of 2017 the coroner investigated 175 deaths, and 96 of them were lethal drug overdoses.

The month of April was especially deadly for drug users in the area. According to Mannix, her office-

“- has never seen that many deaths of any kind in a single month.”

In just those 30 days, 30 people died from drug overdose. According to the coroner’s office, 83% of the overdose deaths involved illegal opiate substances. This includes the now infamous synthetic opioids such as:

If this deadly trend continues, the coroners office expects those rates will see a 50% increase from the total overdose deaths in 2016.

The Sheriff Says “I Don’t Do Narcan”

He’s Jones just happens to be the only sheriff in Southwest Ohio whose department does not use the opioid overdose antidote Narcan, or the generic Naloxone. And apparently, he has no intention of starting anytime soon.

Jones was asked about the lack of Narcan use by his police department shortly after the now controversial comments made by a Middletown city councilman suggesting a policy to refuse giving a response to overdose calls. According to the sheriff, local residents and even social workers often ask him why law enforcement continue to revive people who overdose multiple times. His response was simple; his deputies don’t. When interviewed and asked about it, Jones stated:

“I don’t do Narcan.”

Yes… let that just sink in for a second.

This is a man who has the job description of ‘protect and serve’ but when it comes to addicts, he would prefer to do neither.

So what was his justification?

Jones went on to rationalize his opinion by, according to the original report, ‘talking about babies he has seen born addicted to heroin in his jail and mothers who teach their teenage children how to use heroin so they can shoot the mom up.’ When the reporter pressed on about the lack of Narcan in his department, Jones stated:

“They never carried it. Nor will they. That’s my stance.”

The sheriff went on trying to validate his rationale by claiming safety was the primary priority. He argued that people revived from an overdose are often violent and are almost never happy to see the police.

So in short, it sounds like this sheriff would let sick and suffering men and women, even teens, die from overdose rather than save their lives… because they might be upset or aggressive?

What Do You Do?

As expanded access programs to provide Narcan to first responders have become more popular it seems some have gone on to debate how long should tax payer money do to saving lives, and how many times should someone be revived.

This is a tough conversation to have. For some there is no easy answer. Those who are more focus on being monetarily minded and conservative will typically argue that resources should not go to repeatedly paying to save addicts from death. But is it fair for anyone to decide whether someone should die or not simply because they are addicted to drugs? Are we really willing to let people die to boost the government’s budget?

However, for some of us the answer is easy- you cannot put a price on a life. Struggling with substance use disorder does not diminish the value of a person. It should go without saying that if the resources exist to prevent death from overdose, than we should use it. Narcan may not be the cure to addiction, but it might keep just enough people alive long enough to find help and make a difference in the world.

Thankfully, this isn’t how all of Ohio is handling the opioid overdose outbreak in their state. Sheriff’s deputies in surrounding counties carry the opioid overdose antidote, including:

  • Warren County
  • Clermont County
  • Hamilton County

Other expanded access programs in Ohio are going strong and saving a lot of people, but of course the next step to solving the issue is helping to establish sources of effective treatment.

Drug addiction treatment can be the decisive variable that allows for these overdose victims and others suffering with substance use disorder to get a new chance at life. Holistic healing with innovative and personalized recovery programs has the potential not to just save a life, but transform lives. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

How Do You Get Narcan?

How Do You Get Narcan?

Author: Justin Mckibben

With the opioid epidemic in America there have been a lot of advances in the field of addiction treatment, as well as innovations in prevention and intervention. One of the most useful elements of preserving the lives of thousands of people across the country has been the development and implementation of the opioid overdose antidote Narcan. So many people are impacted by opioid abuse, and so many families and friends to addicts want to help in any way they can to give their loved ones an opportunity at surviving their struggles. A lot of people are still unsure how to obtain some of these life-saving resources, especially when it comes to the overdose antidote.

The truth is, basically anyone can get access to Naloxone or Narcan, with various expansion programs existing for the purpose of providing vital support to the communities afflicted. Also, anyone can be trained on how to use it. There are a few ways to obtain Narcan.

How Do You Get Narcan: What is Narcan/Naloxone

​Just to verify, Narcan is the brand name of this life-saving medication. Naloxone is the generic name. Narcan (Naloxone) is used to counteract and reverse the deadly effects of an overdose of opiate drugs such as heroin, Oxycodone,Hydrocodone and others as well.

Naloxone hydrochloride, the scientific name, is a white to slightly off-white powder and is soluble in water. Naloxone Hydrochloride injection is available as a non-preserved sterile solution for intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous administration in 1 mg/mL concentration.

Narcan is also supplied as a nasal spray, which provides for a decreased risk factor and makes it easier to administer for many by eliminating needles. In these forms, Naloxone and Narcan expansion has become a very big part of combatting the opioid epidemic, and through many groups advocating for its use, Narcan has become available in many ways.

How Do You Get Narcan: CVS and Walgreens

One way is through pharmacy companies like CVS and Walgreens.

Back in late 2015, the pharmacy company CVS announced it would be selling the opioid overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription in 14 states. Then in early 2016 CVS announced they would be expanding the program to 20 states by the end of the year. Of course, pharmacy boards in each state can make the decisions about offering Naloxone or Narcan without a prescription, but CVS has worked to further grant access to people all over the nation. You can look online to see if it is available in your area.

Also in early 2016 the pharmacy organization Walgreens announced two programs to address key issues in the opioid crisis.

  1. Safe medical disposal kiosks for unused prescription drugs
  2. Narcan expansion

By the end of 2016 Walgreens had expanded naloxone access without the requirement of a prescription to 33 states and the District of Columbia. Walgreens also continues to express the intention to further expand these programs. A quick online search you let you know if it is currently available without a prescription at a Walgreens near you.

How Do You Get Narcan: Other Options

In truth there are a lot of different ways to get Narcan, depending on where you are. To name a few:

  1. Doctors Office

You can contact a family physician in order to gain access to a Naloxone or Narcan kit, and should even be able to get training on how to utilize it.

  1. State or Local Health Department

Your state or local health department should be able to provide you with all the information about any Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs in your area that provide the resources and training for the overdose antidote.

  1. Harm Reduction Organizations

There are clinics, community centers and other harm reduction organizations all over the country that work to provide extensive support, resources and information. The Harm Reduction Coalition is America’s national harm reduction network operating overdose prevention programs for years.

  1. The Overdose Prevention Alliance (OPA)

The OPA is a home for information and debate on drug overdose worldwide. It operates with the goal of cutting overdose and mortality rates. The OPA aims to collect and document major issues in overdose worldwide, encourage overdose prevention initiatives. Finding this resource could also be a huge help.

How Do You Get Narcan: Making a Difference

In the end, there are so many avenues someone can take to obtain this crucial tool in the fight against opioid overdose. Some community leaders even organize local workshops where they invite the public to come and get training on how to use Naloxone or Narcan. Some colleges even provide Naloxone kits to students, and many of both kinds of programs are free of charge.

The goal with any program is to try and save lives. At the end of the day that is what it comes down to; saving lives. Every bit of these resources makes a difference.

Still, beyond being revived from an overdose; beyond having access to the opioid overdose antidote is the need for safe and effective treatment. Having a second chance means using it. Keeping someone alive after a nearly fatal overdose is a huge feat, but there has to be more to helping someone, and that is where holistic drug and alcohol treatment programs make the biggest difference.

If you or someone you love have survived an opioid overdose and don’t know what to do next, do not hesitate to get help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

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