Author: Justin Mckibben
In case you have never read one of my stories on Ohio, I am a born and raised Buckeye. While living away from home for a few years I have taken every opportunity to read about progress in my birth state and spread the word. I have also had to write some disheartening stories that make me afraid for the people I grew up with and the neighborhoods I knew my whole life. However, when a new drug hits Ohio and causes shattering damage I have to step up and say something.
Right now the entire country is fighting a hard fight against opiate and heroin addiction. Overdose deaths tear families and communities apart. Law makers and law enforcement reel trying to keep up. Meanwhile every day a new drug seems to crop up and reap more havoc in cities on all sides of the nation. This time we see a surge of overdoses in the Tri-state area that are truly terrifying, especially considering a new even more powerful substance is suspected.
New Drug Named Carfentanil
This new drug is suggested to be incredibly more potent than any other forms of opiate substances on the street. Carfentanil is said to be:
- 10,000 times stronger than morphine
- 100 times stronger than Fentanyl
- Used as an animal tranquilizer
Officials are saying this is the MOST potent opiate out there. In that case, this is beyond horrifying! Data has already concluded that Fentanyl alone is 40-100 times stronger than heroin. Now they are suggesting that Carfentanil is 100 times stronger than Fentanyl?! It is almost difficult to even comprehend a new drug could possibly be 10,000 times more powerful than pure heroin!
And that last note- this new drug is a sedative used on large animals. Not just any animals, we’re talking bears and elephants!
New Drugs Deadly Dose
Deaths across Hamilton County are rising at an alarming rate and many suspect Carfentanil as the common factor. This drug is actually being used in combination with heroin and amplifying the impact. So far cases have already been reported in:
In just 9 hours in Columbus authorities counted at least 10 overdoses possibly connected to Carfentanil. 2 were fatal.
During just 3 days in Akron authorities suspect Carfentanil could be linked to 25 overdoses. 4 were fatal.
Health officials and county leaders spoke out at the Hamilton County Health Department urgently issuing a public health warning created by this new drug mixture. Officials state that in just a few days there was a massive increase in drug-related emergency room visits.
In case you weren’t already freaked out- it is not just injecting this drug or ingesting it intentionally that puts people are a critical risk. The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition is also urging area police not to conduct field tests on heroin because Carfentanil can be absorbed through the skin or even inhaled.
As if that wasn’t enough, Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, Hamilton County Coroner, warns-
“Narcan may not save you from this one,”
Narcan (or generic Naloxone) is the opiate overdose antidote. To say even this valuable resource may not actually be able to save you from an overdose with Carfentanil is a frightening concept. Tim Ingram, Hamiton County Health Commissioner, said with a troubling hint of realism-
“This is clearly going to… kill a lot of people.”
People often say the truth hurts. This is one truth that is devastating to consider. Knowing that there are so many struggling addicts in these areas is terrifying and tragic, because one can only imagine how many will unknowingly fall victim to this vicious new element in the already treacherous world of drug addiction.
The next question is- where else is this stuff being slipped into street drugs and poisoning people?
This does not have to be the end. Drugs are only getting more dangerous, but effective treatment is also becoming more holistic. For the addict or alcoholic who still suffers there are thousands of people just like you who have recovered and who want to help you. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
On Wednesday night, CNN aired a town hall discussion on the opioid epidemic. The hour-long special was hosted by news anchor Anderson Cooper and CNN chief correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The discussion focused in on the root of the prescription painkiller problem, what’s being done to fight it, and unveiled personal stories from opioid users themselves.
The special is long overdue for an epidemic that is taking lives away each day. In 2014, painkiller abuse accounted for more than 28,000 deaths. That is more deaths per year than in automobile accidents. Even worse, those rates have tripled since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Close to two million Americans in 2014 have abused or become addicted to these drugs.
In attendance was former NFL quarterback Ray Lewis, who shared his personal story of becoming addicted to opioid painkillers after a football injury. Unfortunately, stories like Lewis are all too common in sports. Lewis’s addiction worsened to the point that he was eventually taking 1,400 painkillers a month.
“I was a functioning addict,” he said. He described how he would make regular TV appearances for the New York Jets and then rush off to take 15 pills and then another 15 on the way home.
“I tell my story, and I’m not ashamed because I think opiates have changed the face of what people think are addicts,” he said during the town hall. “I’m an eight-year NFL veteran, graduated from Rutgers University, but I’m an addict. And I will always be that way.”
Also contributing to the cause this week is Seattle rapper and songwriter Macklemore. Although he was not at the town hall meeting, Macklemore will have a documentary air on MTV about opioid abuse. Macklemore has been very open in the media about his personal struggle with addiction. President Obama and Macklemore appeared in a Your Weekly Address video to talk about the problem.
“This week, the House passed several bills about opioids, but unless they also make actual investments in more treatment, it won’t get Americans the help they need,” Obama said. “Deaths from opioid overdoses have tripled since 2000. A lot of the time, they’re from legal drugs prescribed by a doctor.”
Macklemore supported Obama’s pitch with a personal request.
“I know recovery isn’t easy or quick, but along with the 12-step program, treatment has saved my life,” Macklemore said. “Recovery works — and we need our leaders in Washington to fund it and people to know how to find it.”
Macklemore first opened up about his struggles with addiction two years ago. He says he almost ruined his music career because of his addiction. Macklemore found that using drugs hindered him as an artist because when he would use, his mind would go blank.
How Do We Prevent This?
Macklemore has since recovered and hopes to spread the message of hope to others. But for many addicts, the future is uncertain. One of the questions asked by an audience member was how to stop doctors from prescribing these addictive drugs.
Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner, responded by explaining that doctors need to “own the problem.” She said they need to be aware of what is going on. On the same note, we as the consumers need to be aware of the potential for abuse these medications have in order to make a more informed decision.
Dr. Drew explained how he believes doctors are also prescribing opioids for too long.
“These things are prescribed for acute intervention, not long-term use,” he said. “And if it is going for more than two weeks, both doctor and patient better really think about it.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta highlighted in the discussion that 91% of people who overdose go back to their doctor and are given those same prescriptions for opioids. This is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Another topic raised was the concept of America being a “culture of consumption.” Are we simply too reliant on seeking a pill to solve all of our problems? Dr. Wen elaborated stating:
“We have this culture of giving a pill for every problem, this culture of a quick fix, and that is something we have to change.”
Whether you believe in that opinion or not, this discussion is critical in the fight against opioid abuse. Each and every day, someone is afraid to open up about their addiction because of the stigma surrounding it. Because of the stigma, their addiction is kept a secret, and some never seek help.
Do not be afraid to come forward with you addiction. You are not alone. Many people are facing the same challenges with addiction as you are. We can help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Shernide Delva
It is hard for most to imagine walking 32 miles, better yet 3200. However, that is exactly what Brett Bramble is doing in memory of his sister who died from an opioid overdose. Brett Bramble, a 31-year-old Atlanta native, is on a mission to trek 3200 miles to bring attention to the opiate epidemic and naloxone. He hopes his message will inspire more people to understand how severe and tragic the drug epidemic is.
In 2014. 47,000 people lost their lives to a fatal drug overdose. His sister, Brittany Bramble, was one of them. Brittany was a mother of three who was addicted to a variety of drugs. One of those drugs was heroin. On March 15, a heroin overdose tragically took her life.
Two years later, and Brett plans not to let his sister’s memory go in vain. Brett Bramble launched a walk across the United States to commemorate her passing. On March 13, with his dog, a backpack, and a stroller, Bramble took his first steps cross-country starting from Delaware and projected to end at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Bramble is chronicling his eight-month journey on his website. After personally spending a good thirty minutes reading his blogs, it is clear that Brett is determined to finish what he started. On the about section, he dedicates a page to his sister stating:
“Brittany was one of those people that lit up a room when she walked in. She had a great life and did amazing things for so many people.”
In the bio, Bramble described how Brittany was married nine years and had three children that she adored. Unfortunately, her marriage ended, and she dealt with “the dangerous area between liberation and stress.” Adjusting to the single life proved to be very hard on Brittany. She found herself missing her children when they were away, and turned to drugs to cope. A month before Brittany’s death, she had a heroin scare. Fortunately, she was able to be revived. Her family gave an intervention, and she finally sought treatment. Brittany seemed to be getting on the right path. Unfortunately, Brittany gave into heroin one last time and died from an overdose moments later.
“I strongly believe that she would have been able to beat addiction with everything that she had going for her. Unfortunately, the overdose cut her chances short. […] I know that she will be absolutely loving what I am doing for her by spreading the word, giving support, and hopefully saving lives,” He states.
Brett Bramble struggled with his issues too. In his teens and early twenties, he struggled with a drug addiction. He was extremely close to his younger sister. Devastated by her death, he began exploring ways to share her story as a way of raising awareness about opioid addiction and overdose prevention. After a year of fundraising and speeches, Bramble felt that he had not done enough. That is when he came up with the idea of walking across the country on the first year anniversary of Brittany’s death.
Bramble spent the next year researching and prepared for the journey cross-country. He even raised funds through his GoFundMe page. As of today, the page has raised over 7,000 dollars.
Visitors to the BrettBrambleWalks website can follow the progress of his trip through daily posts. It is interesting to see who he has encountered along the way. Just a few days ago, on May 5, 2016, Bramble wrote about how he realized it would take more than a walk to grieve the death of his sister fully.
“As I walked on, I started to think about Brittany and the grief was strong. I think I’ve learned that you can’t walk the pain away. I knew that before, but I guess I kind of hoped that it would work,” Bramble wrote.
Whether or not the walk will be what Bramble imagined it would be is yet to be discovered. Still, it is undeniable the impact he is having on the addiction community by doing something so poignant in the fight for drug addiction awareness.
“I’ve had people that are struggling with addiction contact me and tell me that I am motivating them to stay clean and sober,” he said in an article. “I had no idea that would happen. I had no idea I would be that impactful on somebody.”
Bramble said he thinks about his sister every minute of every day. He hopes the walk will encourage others and provide a platform for communication. The opioid epidemic continues to get worse each and every year. Any effort to reduce the stigma around this disease is a step in the right direction.
Losing a loved one to a drug addiction can be one of the hardest things a family member can go through. Recovery is so important, not just for your life, but for those who care about you most. Get help today. Do not give up. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
With the prescription pain killer epidemic spreading all over the country, high schools are faced with having to deal with the potential of an overdose happening on school grounds. Now, in an effort to combat the opioid overdose problem in schools, the company Adapt Pharma will offer all high schools in the United States a free carton of Narcan nasal spray.
The announcement was made during the Clinton health Matters Initiation Activation Summit on Monday, January 25. The overall goal of the program is to assist in efforts to address the growing risk of opioid overdoses among American high-school students. In the past few months, we have posted about pharmacies now offering Narcan and the concept of school nurses having Narcan on hand. However, this is a very hand-on approach to placing Narcan in schools for free.
The Clinton Health Matters Initiative presently is focusing its work to back national efforts to provide universal naloxone access. Seamus Mulligan, the chairman and CEO of Adapt Pharma, Ltd, a pharmaceutical company based in Ireland, explained the importance of the program:
“We understand the crucial role schools can play to change the course of the opioid overdose epidemic by working with students and families. We also want every high school in the country to be prepared for an opioid emergency by having access to a carton of NARCAN Nasal Spray at no cost.”
As a result, Adapt Pharma will offer a free carton of Nurcan (naloxone hydrochloride) nasal spray to all high schools in the United States. With this initiative, the next problem that comes to mind is education on the use of Nurcan to stop an overdose. That is where the second program coming in. The second initiative by Adapt Pharma is to offer a grant to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) to support their educational efforts concerning opioid overdose education materials. NASN has been in full support of the use or Narcan nasal spray and plans to further educational efforts on treating overdoses.
NASN President Beth Mattey elaborates on the necessity of school nurses having access to Nurcan since often school nurses act as first responders in the school setting,
“We educate our students, families, and school staff about prescription drug and substance abuse, and help families seek appropriate treatment and recovery options. Having access to naloxone can save lives and is often the first step toward recovery. We are taking a proactive approach to address the possibility of a drug overdose in school.”
Nurcan nasal spray is the latest cutting edge emergency treatment for opioid overdoses. Nurcan is not a substitute for medical emergency care however if used immediately, Nurcan can help save the life of many. When it comes to overdoses, time is of the essence. Previously, naloxone was only available injectable forms, most commonly delivered by syringe or auto-injected. With nasal sprays, it is easier for more people to use.
The need for action is more than necessary. According to recent reports, over 44,000 people die from accidental overdoses each year in the United States. Most of these deaths are from opioids such as pain medications and heroin. There has been a five-fold increase in the total number of heroin-related deaths from 2001 to 2013 and the numbers have continued to climb. The death toll can be reduced if we can get naloxone in the hands of more people.
As the number of people affected by drug addiction continues to soar, the nation needs to look at every option out there. Implementing training to administer Nurcan in high schools can save lives in the most critical moments. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Shernide Delva
It turns out a brush with death is not enough to keep addicts from continuing to use. A recent study reveals that 90% of people who overdose on painkillers continue using despite their near-death overdose experience.
The study was conducted by The American College of Physicians and involved data from 3000 patients over a 12-year period collected from a national insurance claims database known as Optum. All the patients had a previous history of having a nonfatal overdose on prescribed opioids originally given to them to treat chronic pain.
Despite nearly dying from these medications, 91% of the patients continued to use the painkillers even after the overdose. Even more surprising, 70% of the patients continued to use the same healthcare provider to refill their prescriptions. Researchers followed up with the patients two years later and discovered that individuals who continued using opioids were twice as likely to have another overdose in comparison to those who ceased after the initial overdose.
Overdoses from Opioids
The opioid and heroin epidemic has gained media attention for being the nation’s biggest challenge for the next coming years. President Obama released a memorandum to combat the opioid epidemic through training medical professionals in understanding drug addiction as an illness and not a crime. Americans wait eager to learn what solution could possible help bring down the numbers of people dying from drug overdoses.
Similar to heroin, prescription painkillers bind to receptors in the brain to decrease the perception of pain. These powerful painkillers create a feeling of euphoria that eventually will result in physical dependence an addiction. Therefore, even with an overdose, a person will still have cravings to continue taking the drug.
As more addicts are entering treatment centers and detoxing, there needs to be increased awareness about overdoses. Research reveals there is an increase in overdoses after treatment since a person’s tolerance to drugs will have decreased. After leaving rehab, an addict may relapse and overdose.
The ability for someone to overdose depends on a wide variety of factors including tolerance, age, state of health and how the substance was consumed. Some people do not make it out of an overdose. Treatment for an overdose may be quick and easy or may include long-term treatment such as an alcohol rehab center or longer hospitalization. Pharmacies like CVS have worked to make the overdose antidote Nurcan available over the counter to reduce the amount of overdose deaths.
Statistics released in September 2014 show that prescription drug deaths have quadrupled in the US between 1999-2011, from 4,263 to over 17,000 and those number show no signs of slowing down. The pharmaceutical industry had contributed to the opioid epidemic by over prescribing painkillers.
“The amount that [opioids] are administered by well-meaning physicians is excessive,” said Dr. Robert Waldman, an addiction medicine consultant not involved with the research. “Most physicians are people-pleasers who want to help and want to meet people’s needs, and they are more inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt until you are shown otherwise.”
The medical profession began transforming the way they approached pain in the early 90s when it was decided that pain would be treated aggressively. Traditionally, opioids were only prescribed for cancer patients and recovering from surgery. However, this new change made it okay to proactively treat patients who suffered from symptoms of pain. In 1995, more powerful drugs like extended release OxyContin was approved for use.
Doctors continued to prescribe pain medications and the medical use of opioids grew by ten-folds in just 20 years. The consequences of the opioid epidemic have been far worse than anyone could have imagined just two decades ago. Opioids are now reported in 39 percent of all emergency room visits for non-medical drug use. Even worse, the direct health costs of opioid users have been estimated to be more than eight times that of nonusers.
The opioid addiction is affecting Americans in every part of the country. Now, there needs to be an increase in awareness in educating on how to prevent deaths from overdoses. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.