Author: Shernide Delva
The state of Utah plans to set the bar by being the state with the lowest DUI limit. Will other states follow?
This week, Utah lawmakers voted to lower the blood alcohol content limit for drunken driving offenses from 0.08 to 0.05. The proposal passed the Utah State Legislature and now will make its way to Governor Gary Herbert, who has indicated he supports the bill.
According to the Chicago Tribune, if Governor Herbert signs the bill, the law will go into effect on December 30, 2018, the day before New Year’s Eve. It would mark the lowest blood alcohol level in the country.
The bill was originally proposed by Rep. Normal Thurston. The measure passed the Utah Senate with a 19-11 vote. Lawmakers are split on the decision along with those in the adult beverage industry.
On one hand, some command Utah for taking steps to improve safety when it comes to driving under the influence. However, others find the bill unnecessary. Sarah Longwell of the American Beverage Institute pointed to drunk driving fatality statistics, stating:
“Over 77% of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Utah are caused by people with [blood alcohol levels] of .15 and above.”
Furthermore, Longwell added that the average blood alcohol level in a fatal car accident tends to be 0.20—more than twice the current legal limit of 0.08. Looking at the stats, one could ponder if a law like this is even necessary. However, lawmakers praise the bill saying it corresponds to laws around the world in Southeast Asia to Europe.
While it might be the first in the United States, it is far from uncommon in other areas. Utah plans to lead the country in lowering the legal limit. A similar proposal failed in Hawaii, while another bill is currently receiving consideration in Washington.
Still, the other argument states that Utah has no need for a bill like this. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Utah already has lower drunk-driving statistics than most U.S. states. Between 2003 and 2012, 469 people have been killed in drunk driving accidents, and 0.7 percent of Utah residents complained of drinking too much compared to a national average of 1.9% of people.
The National Transportation Board (NTB) and other public health experts have agreed that all states should adopt 0.05% as the standard alcohol level. Deborah Hersman, Chairwoman of the NTB, said to the New York Times in 2013, that “there are at least 10,000 reasons to tackle the issue,” such as “the annual average of 10,000 drunk driving fatalities nationally.”
What are your thoughts on the decrease?
Driving under the influence is never a good idea; however, this clearly is a controversial and complex problem. Surprisingly, Mothers Against Drunk Driving founder Candace Lightner does not believe the drinking limit should lower. Lightner led the successful national campaign in the 80s to crack down on drunk driving. Yet, she does not support the proposal.
“I don’t believe it is a practical long-term solution,” Lightner told U.S. News. “You could go to 0.0 and that would save lives. You could go to a 40 mph speed limit and that would save lives, but you have to look at what’s realistic.”
“Running around trying to arrest everyone at .05 is impractical,” Lightner says.
She believes it is already difficult for police and prosecutors to take action at 0.08, better yet 0.05 percent. Many drivers at those limits are easily able to pass a field sobriety test.
Now, that you have heard all the sides to this issue, what are your thoughts? Should the legal drinking limit change? If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The new Trumpcare plan, formally known as the American Health Care Act or AHCA was announced this Monday March 6th. This Trumpcare bill is the Republican Party’s long awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Since day one of the announcement we have seen quite a few varying opinions as to what this means for the people who were previously covered, and what it means for how healthcare altogether might change. Needless to say, not that much of the talk has been optimistic. As details emerge about Trumpcare some have become increasingly worried about the impact it will have on access to treatment for substance use disorder, especially for low-income Americans.
So what some are officials and experts saying about Trumpcare, and what it might mean for Americans struggling with addiction?
Early Predictions on Trumpcare
According to some early reports, 6-10 million Americans will lose health insurance. Not only that, millions of people in desperate need of help could be cut off from access to addiction treatment as a result of the bill.
In fact, according to one analysis, approximately 2.8 million people living with substance use disorder will lose some or all of their health insurance coverage if Obamacare is repealed. This conclusion comes from:
- Harvard health economist Richard Frank
- Sherry Glied, Dean of the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU
The publication The Hill reported in January that Frank and Glied predict that the federal government’s 21st Century Cures Act creates a recent investment of $1 billion to tackle opioid abuse. However, they state this provision would be- “squandered if the new Congress rolls back recent gains in the quality and level of substance use and mental health insurance coverage generated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010.”
Surely this is all “fake news” and “alternative facts” right?
Not so much. According to reports from the Washington Post Thursday, House Republicans admitted, after questioning by Massachusetts Democratic Representative Joe Kennedy III, that their the Trumpcare plan to repeal-and-replace would- “remove a requirement to offer substance abuse and mental-health coverage that’s now used by at least 1.3 million Americans.”
How does this happen? By attacking the expansion of Medicaid and the ‘essential benefits’ states are required to provide for.
Trumpcare Impact on Medicaid
Trumpcare’s plan to roll back Medicaid and health insurance tax credits are pretty distressing aspect of this reform. For all the Americans who rely on government assistance for addiction treatment this is a pretty huge deal.
Addiction treatment in the past is notably impacted by Medicaid. According to Truven Health Analytics, Medicaid was the second largest payer for addiction treatment, after state and local programs, in 2014.
Starting in 2020, Trumpcare is set to:
- Freeze Medicaid enrollment
- No longer require Medicaid to cover essential health benefits like addiction treatment
What is the point? To make it so the federal government pays less for Medicaid over time by shrinking coverage.
So if this is all the case, it is a terrifying reality. In a time when more Americans than ever desperately need addiction treatment, in the midst of an opioid epidemic that is tearing families and communities apart, the government’s Trumpcare plan stands to save money by stripping addiction resources from those relying on Medicaid?
Representative Kelly and Peter Welch, Democratic Representative from Vermont, attempted to amend the bill to restore the federal mandate for those ‘essential benefits’ but were voted down. Kenny is popularly quoted in the news recently for his statement,
“There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill… This is not an act of mercy — it is an act of malice.”
While Trump’s comments say he wants to give states “flexibility” with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out, many believe this is just adding the idea of paying more for less.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vows to lead efforts to defeat Trumpcare, stating he believes it will “Make America Sick Again” and believes that it will create more drug addicts. In a report from The Hill Schumer attacks the bill saying,
“To make matters worse, this sham of a replacement would rip treatment away from hundreds of thousands of Americans dealing with opioid addiction, breaking the President’s word that he would expand treatment, not cut it.”
This is continuously troubling. When it comes to the fight against addiction, President Trump’s administration seems to be more focused on borders and “law and order” than providing resources. Trump did promise to work on creating more coverage options, but all the action taking place almost points the opposite direction.
Trumpcare Impact on Treatment Providers
This chain reaction wouldn’t just hurt those who need insurance by denying them coverage. Experts say Trumpcare also has the capacity to do damage to the treatment providers themselves.
Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, points out this issue directly. Humphreys notes that treatment providers, which tend to be small businesses in many parts of the country, may find it difficult to stay in business if clients lose coverage for addiction treatment. If less people are able to get coverage, less people will be able to get treatment. At the same time even bigger treatment providers could have trouble because it still has the capacity to reduce reimbursement rates for treatment services.
Thus, Trumpcare could affect both the supply and quality of treatment. In one interview Humphreys states,
“Most providers are small, mono-business entities that can’t absorb costs elsewhere in their care systems,”
“While hospitals will not go broke if poor people get less oncology care coverage, many [substance use disorder] treatment agencies will.”
But it isn’t just Democrats or University Professors or addiction experts speaking out. The AARP, the American Hospital Association, and the American Medical Association voice opinions against the overhaul of the ACA and the potential harm Trumpcare could do.
Even Republicans are speaking out against the danger that Trumpcare poses to addiction. Ohio Governor John Kasich is vocal with his own opposition to the bill saying,
“[Trumpcare] unnecessarily puts at risk our ability to treat the drug-addicted mentally ill and working poor who now have access to a stable source of care.”
Not to say that healthcare was ever perfect. It is noted by many doctors in the addiction field, as well as politicians and other experts, that there is already a treatment deficit. Approximately 10% of America’s population has what could be considered a substance use disorder, and only 13% of those people ever get treatment.
However, the miles of red tape Trumpcare might wrap around them could cut that number drastically. So even if these are unintended consequences, they are very real consequences just the same.
Obamacare was far, far from perfect. This is absolutely true. But is Trumpcare the best answer we can come up with?
As it now stands, Trumpcare may take so much away from those struggling with addiction and mental health that some experts are calling it dangerous. Having safe, effective and comprehensive treatment resources for these issues is extremely important to the preservation of life and the future of America. This is a matter of life and death. It is not the time for an ‘anything but Obamacare’ mentality… if the government expects a better plan, they need to make it happen. How about we put a hold on spending billions on border walls and expanding the nuclear program, and instead focus on healing Americans who need it most.
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. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Guess what’s back? Back again? Crazy news stories, of course!
The year 2017 is still fresh, but some of the stories to come out recently are so crazy, we just had to talk about them. We hope these stories give you some insight into addiction and remind you why it is so important to reach out if you need help in your recovery.
Here are some crazy news stories stemming from the New Year:
Woman in Labor Demanded Friend Inject Her With Heroin and Meth
This story is both ridiculous and just plain sad. Most women in labor want support from their friends and family. Felicia Farruggia, 29, wanted drugs. Farruggia went into labor at her home and demanded her friend inject her with heroin and methamphetamines before the firefighters and ambulance arrived. The even crazier part of the story is that her friend actually gave them to her.
Her friend, Rhianna Frennete, 37, was arrested for obliging with the request. Both face charges of felony reckless conduct. Frennete faces a misdemeanor count of the same offense. Police arrested Farruggia this week, and the baby is currently in state custody.
“This case is just, honestly, absolutely appalling in my mind,” Lieutenant Sean Ford said. “No one died, but the risk to that child and to the mother. … This stuff is just getting out of control.”
Police state Frenette used an unsanitary syringe to inject Farruggia at least once before she was successful. Following the injection, Farruggia’s boyfriend called 911. Shortly after firefighters arrive, Farruggia gave birth while entering the ambulance.
TSA Employees Arrested for Cocaine Smuggling in Puerto Rico
TSA employees are responsible for ensuring our safety while flying. However, over a dozen TSA employees in Puerto Rico were more concerned with smuggling cocaine. It was a massive operation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
The defendants are accused of helping to smuggle close to 20 tons of cocaine through Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport over the course of 18 years, from 1998 to 2016. The investigation was launched by the TSA in an effort to target employee misconduct and reduce insider threats. The investigation discovered that employees would smuggle suitcases through TSA checkpoints at the airports and onto flights.
Buddhist Monk Busted For Hiding Over 4.2 Million Meth Pills In Monastery
The country of Myanmar is cracking down on drug trafficking, and not even monks are safe. While Myanmar is one of the most Buddhist nations in the world, it is also Southeast Asia’s largest narcotics producer. Therefore it should not be too shocking that the two come together every now and then. Last month, police discovered a stash of more than four million methamphetamine pills hidden within the inconspicuous Shwe Baho monastery.
How it happened: After receiving a tip, police found Monk Arsara, a respected leader at the monastery, driving towards Bangladesh transporting some 400,000 meth tablets, as well as hundreds of dollars’ worth of local currency in his car. The police then visited the monastery and discovered another 4.2 million pills, along with a grenade and some other ammunition. The pills are worth more than $4 million USD on the street. That’s not very monk-like to me. Can you say Na-meth-tay?
Neanderthals may have self-medicated long before pills existed
Finally, we will end on a throwback. Like wayyy back. Turns out, Neanderthals were not so different from us after all. A new study found that when they were in pain, they also self-medicated. Researchers found evidence that a Neanderthal treated a dental abscess with medicinal plants, highlighting an ability to seek pain relief long before pills came into existence. The researchers specifically study Neanderthals in Spain. One of the two Neanderthals from Spain appeared to have used plants to treat his painful dental pain. Plaque from his teeth showed he was eating poplar, which contains the active ingredient of aspirin. These findings contradict past studies which suggested Neanderthals had a very simple existence.
Can you blame them, though? Dental pain is the absolute worse!
So there you have it, folks. Crazy news stories are fascinating and sometimes funny, but they also highlight how insane addiction can be. What story stood out to you? If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
That’s right, you read the headline correctly. Law enforcement could soon be giving heroin to addicts, for free, in an attempt to fight addiction. While harm reduction is an admirable concept to preserve the lives of those suffering from addiction, this is a hard bit to chew.
Various countries are working to drastically reform drug policies. Some states in America have even started to pursue expanding access to naloxone, needle exchange programs and even safe injection sites. Other countries around the world have gone to new lengths in decriminalization, while others go to new extremes in the War on Drugs. Yet, despite all this variations of progress, giving away heroin seems like the most abstract idea yet.
Police in Durham, a city in northeast England, are planning to offer free heroin to drug users. Why? They say the objective is actually to reduce both crime and addiction.
The Free Heroin Plan?
Durham Police and Crime Victims Commissioner Ron Hogg spoke recently on his logic for providing heroin to addicts. In his statement he said,
“The aim would be to enable people who have become addicted to heroin to follow a program that would stabilize their addiction in a controlled environment, and reduce their dependency on heroin until they stop taking it,”
The idea isn’t just to give addicts free heroin and let them loose, but to create a very distinctive atmosphere of support in hopes of inspiring recovery. The proposed free heroin program would work in combination with a traditional substance abuse support program, and the users would be monitored on use and tapered off. According to the Independent newspaper, the free heroin clinics could be established in the Durham area before the end of this year.
What do Police Think of Free Heroin?
It seems the police department is hoping that if drug users have access to free heroin then they won’t have to resort to crime to support their addiction. While they are aware of how this idea might seem strange, the idea is that they may be able to further decrease all other devastating results of addiction on the community. Crime, spread of disease, overdose death and more.
According to the Independent newspaper, Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton also says the initiative would take away from drug dealers’ profits. With drug users having access to free heroin they hope it will cripple the trade on the illicit drug market. Barton states:
“We need to get over our moral panic about giving people heroin as part of a treatment plan,”
“Our primary concern is to prevent crime. If we’ve got people who are addicted to Class A drugs committing crime, it makes good sense to get that person off drugs.”
Commissioner Hogg also goes on to say,
“The aim of the initiative is to save the lives of addicts, shut down drug dealers and reduce acquisitive crime,”
“It would also reduce demand on police time, and the courts, and I believe it should also help lower the prison population.”
The impact of heroin on the U.K. should of course be noted as a cause for desperate measures.
- 2015-2016 statistics show there were 149,807 people receiving treatment for opioid use disorder in England
- Between 2012 and 2015, heroin-related deaths doubled from 579 to 1,201 deaths in England and Wales
So of course, as the opiate epidemic rattles countries all over the world, a few have decided to react in very different ways. Apparently, some parts of the U.K. are moving toward a very, very liberal stance.
Fix Rooms and Safe Injection Sites
England is not alone on this. Let us also note that Switzerland has actually offered a free heroin maintenance program since 1994. Other governments in the U.K. have approval for similar safe injection initiatives, including:
- The Netherlands
Last October, Glasgow, Scotland became the first city in the U.K. to approve plans for “fix rooms”. These are sites where people will be provided medical-grade heroin and clean syringes with the intent to contain the heroin epidemic.
The free heroin program in Switzerland began in Zurich. It is now credited with decreasing crime in the area. Information indicates this program has expanded to 23 clinics. But it isn’t just free heroin in these locations. These “fix rooms” also provide counseling and support.
Harm Reduction… or Reorganizing?
Now, we have to ask, is this as crazy as it sounds? While the police in these areas seem to be openly admitting that giving away free heroin is indeed enabling, they seem very convinced that things have gotten so bad this is the best they can hope for at the moment. Again, they are hoping to contain the fallout of heroin abuse in their communities and provide information and treatment resources. The idea sounds pretty intense, but some would say desperate times call for desperate measures.
So is this harm reduction, or just reorganizing? Is this tactic set to prevent even more suffering and destruction, or is it a feeble attempt to make some semblance of order out of the chaos of the opiate crisis?
From a personal opinion, as an addict in recovery, I can say I honestly don’t know. It sounds incredibly dangerous and almost irresponsible to say that law enforcement will provide free heroin. Yet, I have to try and understand their logic; that it might be able to prevent some crime. It might take a nice piece of money out of drug dealer pockets, and it might preserve lives long enough to convince them to get treatment. Then again, an addict like me might just take advantage of the free heroin program and get more off the street while also getting free, government funded drugs too.
Past data might show some support to this innovation. I guess we will just have to wait and see what becomes of this. Until then, there should always be an emphasis on the possibility of effective and comprehensive treatment. Even with the free heroin program, the idea is to get people the treatment they need.
We want to know what YOU think.
Addiction and drug abuse have become relevant in every aspect of American life. Police, politicians, educators and community leaders are trying to create radical changes in perspective. Not every perspective is easy to understand, but the common goal is inspiring lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Boston Medical Center just received $25 million, the largest donation in its history, and plans to use the money to fight the public health crisis caused by drug addiction and the opioid epidemic. The money will fund the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine funded by the billionaire investor John Grayken.
The Grayken Center for Addiction medicine is named after billionaire investor and south shore native John Grayken and his wife, Eilene. The couple said they wanted to go public with their donation in an effort to destigmatize addiction and encourage others to follow their lead. Sadly, there is a lot of shame and stigma associated with drug abuse.
“We have not seen private philanthropy in the addiction space to the extent we see it in other areas of health care, like cancer,” said Michael Botticelli, who worked closely with BMC in his former roles as White House drug czar and head of the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.
“There’s an idea that people with substance-abuse disorders are somehow less deserving of care and treatment and compassion . . . and issues of addiction can be seen as unpopular programs for unpopular people,” he added. “So this family’s donation is particularly important because they want to be open about who they are to spur other philanthropy in this space.”
Boston Medical Center president and chief executive Kate Walsh called the couple’s gift a major game changer for philanthropy in Boston “because it brings addiction medicine out of the philanthropic shadows.”
Last year, the CDC estimated that there were 33,000 overdose deaths in the country. The state of Massachusetts was not spared. Public health officials say that nearly 2,000 deaths in the state were attributed to opioid overdoses, five times more than in car crashes.
Opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers, fentanyl and oxycodone are responsible for most overdoses. Another 20 million people in the United States suffer from drug abuse or addiction, according to federal data.
“This is a public health crisis, and it’s heartbreaking,” said Walsh. “Kids and parents are struggling with this, and so many people have been in recovery and relapsed.”
In fact, opioid abuse is so prevalent that the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program opened a room last year in which drug users could use under medical supervision. The aim was more harm prevention to offset a number of overdose deaths in the state.
Walsh said she “hadn’t even fantasized” about a gift as large as the Graykens’ and the BMC projected it would take at least 15 million to endow an addiction medicine center.
“So when the $25 million figure came through, I literally gave what I’m sure was not a very attractive happy dance!” Walsh recalled. “I hope I’m not on somebody’s videotape, but it was so enormously gratifying.”
Before this donation, the largest contribution to the hospital was two $15 million donations. Those funds went to separate facility. The BMC is a facility where more than half its patients are low-income and is reliant on government subsidies. Because the hospital deals with more low-income patients, those patients are not likely to make later contributions to express their appreciation. It is not due to patients lacking gratitude; they simply lack the funds to donate after treatment like in other hospitals.
The funds from the Graykens will help tremendously with building the addiction treatment facility at the Boston Medical Center. In addition, the fact that the donation is public sends the message to how serious addiction is and how addiction should never be stigmatized. Furthermore, if you are struggling with addiction or mental illness, know you are not alone. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135