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Author: Justin Mckibben
Overdose victims are the people most obviously struggling with the opiate epidemic. So many have come so close to death that to be revived might be the only second chance they think they get. As the overdose outbreak has grown into such a prominent problem, more has been done to increase access to life-saving resources. Policies are now in place help those who are on the verge of a lethal dose. More is being done to help survivors get treatment. The concept of addiction has finally started to be more understand as something that impacts all walks of life and that it is not a moral failing, but a serious, chronic disorder. Yet, even as compassion and education have taken on more meaning in the fight against drug addiction, there are still some who think punishing addicts and overdose victims is somehow an answer.
It is one thing to argue the idea of charging drug dealers with murder in connection to overdoses. Even that is a controversial topic. But now officials in some areas are supporting a plan that further persecutes people who have suffered from an opiate overdose is a very dangerous development.
Should police be issuing charges to overdose victims who need to be revived with naloxone?
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone, also known by its generic name Narcan, is the antidote medication used to reverses an opioid overdose. It works by neutralizing the opioids and reviving the respiratory system. This medication has become one of the primary resources in fighting the overdose outbreak that has devastated the nation, and over recent years access to the drug has expanded a great deal. Naloxone has been around in ambulances and hospitals for decades to reverse overdose, but the demand for solutions to the rising death rates has made it more mainstream.
Naloxone has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and all over the country new programs have been put in place to make the drug more available. Now you can acquire a naloxone kit from pharmacies in many states, some without prescriptions. Community programs have developed to distribute the drug to the public in some areas where the issue is most prevalent.
Many areas have distributed naloxone to their police departments as well as other first responders, while providing training courses to both the public servants and the community. With some many people in America fighting addiction and losing their lives, it makes sense that more people be prepared to help.
Making Overdosing a Crime
In some states people who overdose are facing some new consequences. While government officials say they are trying everything they can to help people, all it really seems to be doing is further inhibiting the people who most desperately need the help.
Essentially, what officials in some areas have done is emphasized on making overdosing a crime. More specifically, charging people who have to be revived by police or medics with naloxone with inducing panic.
The charge is a misdemeanor, so it isn’t exactly as damaging as other charges often associated with drugs. However, the offense is technically still punishable with fines and jail time. Police are partnering with prosecutors to go on the attack against addiction, but is this the right plan of action?
Washington, Ohio Overdose Victims
One area with a policy like this is Washington, Ohio. Police in this part of the Buckeye State just started the new strategy in February. So far at least seven people who were revived during an overdose through naloxone have been charged with inducing panic.
In this area the offense can entitle someone to up to 180 days in jail and a one-thousand dollar fine. The City Attorney Mark Pitsick claims,
“It gives us the ability to keep an eye on them, to offer them assistance and to know who has overdosed. Sometimes we can’t even track who has overdosed.”
What some may find troubling is the vocabulary Pitsick uses to describe the situation. Saying thing like “keep an eye on them” is already a bit unsettling for some. One of the problems with this whole idea is exactly that; no one wants the police to have to “keep an eye on them”, especially addicts. Therefore, one has to wonder if people will avoid contacting emergency services in the event of an overdose.
How many people will suddenly be even more afraid to reach out for help? How many people are going to be too afraid of adding a charge to their name, paying a fine or even going to jail that they take their chances without naloxone and end up dead?
Is it right to use the legal system this way to keep tabs on people who ask for help?
Not All Bad
One thing the city officials do want to adamantly announce is that people who call 9-1-1 to report an overdose, or the people who may be with the overdose victims, will not be charged. This might make the policy a little easier to handle. At least this means the people who are around someone on the edge of dying could act in the individuals best interest without fear of personally being charged. Pitsick defended his stance saying,
“Service. Follow up. Just them understanding that people do care. We are here to help. We are not here to put them in jail,”
Still, the fact overdose victims are likely to receive charges may deter someone from calling for help for them, no matter how illogical to some that may seem. It is a sad truth that actually happens quite often already. People have allowed others to overdose and even die out of fear of legal repercussions. Would creating a standard of charging people for needing medical resuscitation make it better, or worse? The reality is it will not prevent addicts from using.
While the intention may be good, to try and take a stance against overdose rates, the strategy may be counterproductive. Personally, my opinion is this only pushes people away from wanting help. It inspires fear and feelings of guilt, not hope. It promotes stigma and turns people who are already struggling against the system they were hoping would help them.
Overdose death is not to be underestimated anymore. People every day lose their life to the fight against addiction. But there is help out there for those who are willing to take action. 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
It is not secret that America is struggling with a drug problem. Overdose rates are ever increasing, the death toll reaches new heights and the world is watching to see how politicians and communities plan to address these mounting issues. The opiate epidemic far too obvious for too many people, and there is a great need for new policies and new ideas for innovating treatment. Now, a small crew has created a mobile drug treatment van to take recovery on the road and provide resources to those suffering.
Maine’s New Mobile Drug Treatment Van
Two Mainers, who are themselves recovering heroin addicts, are setting out on a mission to try and heal communities will education and treatment options. The mobile drug treatment van will travel throughout the city of Sanford, Maine to bring harm reduction services and offer recovery options to the areas most impacted by opioid abuse. The mobile drug treatment vehicle is equipped to offer:
- Clean syringes
- Clean needles
- Testing for HIV and other diseases
- Connecting addicts to treatment options
The new mobile drug treatment is a prevention-based project from the non-profit Choopers Foundation. The Choopers Foundation is a local effort that serves to educate the public on addiction and the need for drug policy reform. According to its website, the foundation’s projects also include:
The two men taking this road trip for recovery are the Choopers Foundation co-founders, Tim Cheney and Adrian Hooper. Given the fact they are both in long-term recovery, they work from an experience many may not understand. Adrian Hooper recently told the Associated Press,
“We reach out to people, treat them with dignity and say we’re here for you to create treatment plans if you ever want to,”
The effort to make a difference in Maine makes plenty of sense.
Other Mobile Drug Treatment Efforts
This isn’t the only case of a mobile drug treatment idea hitting the streets to try and save lives. A similar initiative in rural areas of western Pennsylvania has been delivering monthly injections of Vivitrol. Vivitrol is a medication that blocks the effects of opioid drugs.
This program, the PRS mobile drug treatment clinic, is operated by a private clinic in Washington County. It was put in place to ensure that people living in remote areas are following up on the treatment options provided through this private clinic. The PRS mobile drug treatment is operated from a trailer hitched to a Ford pickup truck.
The mobile drug treatment resource set out to expand its access to people across several counties, giving services to unfunded patients.
Could Mobile Drug Treatment Work?
Having a resource like this is pretty unique. Providing intervention and harm reduction on-the-go could bring much needed opportunities to people who otherwise might not know they exist. Some people are even afraid to ask for help, so maybe making help come to them could work.
Daniel Raymond of the Harm Reduction Coalition says this type of mobile drug treatment program is able to intervene early, before the individual ends up in the hospital or even dead. Creating a traveling resource that can go into different communities may bring more people into the fold who have barely survived on the fringes. Instead of requiring people to find and seek out clean needles, HIV testing or addiction rehabilitation, the mobile drug treatment option can drive a second chance to your neighborhood and park it right outside your door.
Mobile drug treatment might actually carry the message of recovery to new places. Let us hope that it can pick up some hitchhikers and save some lives along the way.
Getting help to those who need it isn’t always easy, but there is real help available. Real recovery begins with effective and innovative treatment. Palm Partners offers holistic treatment program where you create comprehensive and personalized recovery plan. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
A reality that is undeniable in this world is that somewhere on the planet, someone passes away every day. It is completely possible statistically that while you are reading this, someone is taking their last breaths. It is part of the process; the circle of life. Nobody lives forever. Yet, one tragic truth we have today is that so many are dying because of something as insidious as addiction. Right now, somewhere someone is dying from a drug overdose.
In all reality, several people just like you and I will die of a drug overdose, or a related illness or incident, today. As death rates due to opioid overdose death escalate higher than ever before, we find that drugs and alcohol are the most lethal threat facing Americans.
Last year we did an article providing overdose death rates for each state. So with that in mind, we took the time to provide some perspective by giving you the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, as far as an entire year’s worth of statistics for drug and alcohol induced deaths.
What do you think is your states statistic? Where does your state fall on the scale of highest to lowest?
The following information is in regards to 2015, and the population figures for year 2015 are bridged-race estimates of the July 1 resident population, from the Vintage 2015 postcensal series released by NCHS on June 28, 2016.
- Drug deaths- 5,025
- Alcohol deaths- 5,150
- Total- 10,175
- Drug deaths- 3,377
- Alcohol deaths- 2,489
- Total- 5,866
- Drug deaths- 2,732
- Alcohol deaths- 2,073
- Total- 4,805
- Drug deaths- 3,009
- Alcohol deaths- 1,479
- Total- 4,488
- Drug deaths- 3,418
- Alcohol deaths- 1,027
- Total- 4,445
- Drug deaths- 3,376
- Alcohol deaths- 879
- Total- 4,255
- Drug deaths- 2,316
- Alcohol deaths- 985
- Total- 3,301
- Drug deaths- 1,872
- Alcohol deaths- 946
- Total- 2,818
- Drug deaths- 1,351
- Alcohol deaths- 1,277
- Total- 2,628
- Drug deaths- 1,636
- Alcohol deaths- 915
- Total- 2,551
- Drug deaths- 1,851
- Alcohol deaths- 633
- Total- 2,484
- Drug deaths- 1,189
- Alcohol deaths- 1,100
- Total- 2,289
- Drug deaths- 1,546
- Alcohol deaths- 637
- Total- 2,183
- Drug deaths- 1,370
- Alcohol deaths- 726
- Total- 2,096
- Drug deaths- 1,506
- Alcohol deaths- 527
- Total- 2,033
- Drug deaths- 1,310
- Alcohol deaths- 689
- Total- 1,999
- Drug deaths- 1,331
- Alcohol deaths- 466
- Total- 1,798
- Drug deaths- 893
- Alcohol deaths- 857
- Total- 1,750
- Drug deaths- 1,070
- Alcohol deaths- 655
- Total- 1,725
- Drug deaths- 1,320
- Alcohol deaths- 301
- Total- 1,621
- Drug deaths- 1,098
- Alcohol deaths- 512
- Total- 1,610
- Drug deaths- 894
- Alcohol deaths- 638
- Total- 1,532
- Drug deaths- 609
- Alcohol deaths- 896
- Total- 1,505
- Drug deaths- 901
- Alcohol deaths- 388
- Total- 1,289
- Drug deaths- 793
- Alcohol deaths- 495
- Total- 1,288
- Drug deaths- 751
- Alcohol deaths- 530
- Total- 1,281
- Drug deaths- 653
- Alcohol deaths- 599
- Total- 1,252
- Drug deaths- 516
- Alcohol deaths- 656
- Total- 1,172
- Drug deaths- 827
- Alcohol deaths- 341
- Total- 1,168
- Drug deaths- 810
- Alcohol deaths- 316
- Total- 1,126
- Drug deaths- 629
- Alcohol deaths- 433
- Total- 1,062
- Drug deaths- 750
- Alcohol deaths-193
- Total- 943
- Drug deaths- 667
- Alcohol deaths- 266
- Total- 933
- Drug deaths- 332
- Alcohol deaths- 344
- Total- 676
- Drug deaths- 425
- Alcohol deaths- 242
- Total- 667
- Drug deaths- 349
- Alcohol deaths- 278
- Total- 627
- Drug deaths- 433
- Alcohol deaths- 173
- Total- 606
- Drug deaths- 369
- Alcohol deaths- 175
- Total- 544
- Drug deaths- 278
- Alcohol deaths- 194
- Total- 472
- Drug deaths- 318
- Alcohol deaths- 146
- Total- 464
- Drug deaths- 224
- Alcohol deaths- 240
- Total- 464
- Drug deaths- 139
- Alcohol deaths- 199
- Total- 338
- Drug deaths- 152
- Alcohol deaths- 194
- Total- 346
- Drug deaths- 127
- Alcohol deaths- 161
- Total- 288
- Drug deaths- 208
- Alcohol deaths- 80
- Total- 288
- Drug deaths- 175
- Alcohol deaths- 95
- Total- 270
- Drug deaths- 99
- Alcohol deaths- 152
- Total- 251
- Drug deaths- 72
- Alcohol deaths- 152
- Total- 224
District of Columbia
- Drug deaths- 130
- Alcohol deaths- 80
- Total- 210
- Drug deaths- 111
- Alcohol deaths- 96
- Total- 207
- Drug deaths- 65
- Alcohol deaths- 96
- Total- 161
The total drug related deaths in America- 55,403
Total alcohol related deaths in America- 33,171
Then the total combined (Drug/Alcohol) deaths in America- 88,574
Analyzing the Data of Deaths
Again, these are the CDC’s statistics from 2015; the most recent comprehensive data they can provide. The year 2016 saw some of the most damaging spikes of overdose rates in some cities. Some reports show 2016 to have the highest rates of drug addiction in the history of America. So if we look at the numbers for 2015, it is truly heartbreaking that in all likelihood well over the 88,574 people who died in 2015 lost their lives in 2016.
Some states have seen a huge jump in drug related death. My home-state of Ohio saw 3,778 in 2014, putting them at 3rd highest rate of drug/alcohol-related deaths. That grew to 4,445 in 2015; an increase of 667 people. California held onto the 1st spot on the top highest with 9,562 in 2014, which shot up to 10,175 in 2015; an increase of 613 people.
Oklahoma actually saw a decline in drug-related deaths, bringing their total drug/alcohol-related deaths down from 1,348 in 2014 to 1,281 in 2015. But they did see an increase is alcohol-related deaths. Mississippi also saw a slight dip from 548 total to 544.
But while some were more intense shifts than others, besides Oklahoma and Mississippi, drug/alcohol-related deaths increased across the board.
What can we take from this? Well, quite simply, that we need to be aware of the true threat that substance abuse poses to our future. If we can expect based on headlines over the year that 2016 was much worse, we need to ask where we are heading. What is being done to change our direction?
We can also conclude that substance abuse an addiction is not limited to any geographic or demographic. It is a very real epidemic. For more detailed information you can visit the CDC’s site and pull up a variety of statistics.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol is stopping so many people from living out their lives and giving to the world. But true recovery is possible. We have the power to change these statistics. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Naloxone expansion is something we consistently see as a topic of discussion. Naloxone, or the name-brand Narcan, is an opioid overdose antidote that is in high demand as one of the primary tools in the fight against the ongoing overdose outbreak. Law makers and law enforcement agencies have joined with community organizations and pharmacy companies in trying to provide this medication to more and more people.
New legislation across the U.S. has made access to Naloxone more common than ever. Now, the drive for Naloxone expansion is leading us to another avenue. This is beyond supplying the families of addicts, the addicts themselves and first responders.
Some may remember, back in September, the Food and Drug Administration launched a competition to app developers in the name of improving resources for naloxone expansion. The contest was seeking a mobile app for connecting people experiencing a drug overdose with someone nearby who can administer naloxone. With technology being used to expedite just about everything in our world, it only made sense to use it to help save lives if possible.
The winner of the Naloxone App Competition has been announced this month, and the $40,000 cash prize has been claimed. Their mission: to make it possible for more people to be first responders for opiate overdoses.
The OD Help App
The winning app is the OD Help App, creared by Team PwrdBy, a small start-up in Venice, California. The start-up’s CEO Jared Sheehan says this innovation stems from the idea of making naloxone assistance as available as ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. With Uber and Lyft drivers being so spread out, the idea is the app could cover a lot more ground and reach more people in the event of opioid overdose.
Sheehan says there’s still a lot of work to be done before the app is made available to the public. To implement this kind of program with Uber or Lyft, it would require reaching out and coordinating with ride-sharing companies. Sheehan stated:
“Is there a way if every Uber driver had a naloxone kit in the back of their car, that you could call someone and they’d be able to come over and administer naloxone?”
So in essence, the idea of the OD Help app would be to be able to alert naloxone carriers of an overdose (OD) and give them the option of being dispatched to help revive someone experiencing the overdose.
Expanding Team PwrdBy Naloxone Plan
According to Sheehan, ride-sharing apps are just one avenue that Team PwrdBy is setting its sights on. The company is also exploring more traditional distribution systems.
One such method Team PwrdBy wants to look to for inspiration for the OD Help app is the AED network, the automated external defibrillators network across schools. The goal is to better comprehend how these programs are funded and distributed. Modeling after an already successful style of expanded access for other emergency medical supplies may be vital to changing the way we expand naloxone access.
All of this is to save as many lives as possible.
How OD Help Works
The OD Help app connects opioid users with a crowd-sourced network of naloxone carriers. Using GPS, it specifically connects someone who may experience an overdose with someone nearby who has access to naloxone. The app is also able to be personalize to the user’s specifications. One feature lets you set it up so in the event of an overdose the app would only alert people in your selected support network. And naloxone carriers can disable alerts if they are not able to respond.
Another feature available with the OD Help app is a breathing monitor. This can be helpful for people who use opioids alone. It gives the app a way to communicate with others when the user can’t. The wearable monitor is able to detect if the individual’s breathing rate is dangerously low, a sign of overdose. In this case the OD Help app automatically alerts a naloxone carrier nearby.
The app also features information on:
- How to correctly identify an overdose
- How to administer naloxone
Another hope is that the app will also inform younger generations about the dangers of opioid abuse, and about overdose prevention. The hope is the app could reach a younger population and make them aware of how to get access to naloxone and how to administer it. Many young people don’t think of pharmacies as a place to get the drug that could save their lives.
Put to Good Use
The truth is, not all people will be able to have access to a consistent supply of naloxone. The drug also doesn’t last forever. For those who would need to have an overdose antidote resource, the OD Help app could be a safe-guard against being completely unprepared for an overdose.
Some people may be embarrassed or have some reservations about personally obtaining naloxone. With the OD Help app they could reach out to someone if they truly needed the help.
If you or someone you loved were overdosing, would it be useful to be able to look on an app and find someone close by with the tools to help? Some people would say you should just call an ambulance, but what if it could get there sooner? Or what if someone is afraid of reporting it? Too many people die for these very reasons, but they shouldn’t have to. Sure, some people may ask if they would let a random citizen administering the antidote. However, some might say any help is worth having.
Then on the other side, would people be willing to come to the rescue if they had the resources? If your phone rang and the OD Help app said someone needed help around the corner, would you? Would you be happy you could?
Something tells me plenty of people would be willing to put this tool to good use.
This writer has said this before; the preservation of all lives should be a responsibility of all who have the ability to help; not just for public health officials, but everyone. As part of that, Palm Partners is dedicated to contributing to the rehabilitation and revolutionary growth possible with holistic treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
As much as I love where I come from, Columbus, Ohio has been through a lot recently. Ohio in general has seen some of the worst addiction and overdose rates in its history, and the state was actually sited as being #1 in opioid overdose deaths in the country. So of course there are very strong opinions about the devastation caused by substance abuse. Having grown up in Columbus, it is sad to see how the community is suffering. It is even more disturbing to see how some are reacting. When I came across this headline and saw the comments being made, not just by the store but from people in support of their remarks, it disturbed me deeply.
Now many across the state are in an uproar about the controversy that has been brought on by one convenience store in Columbus, Ohio. The owners posted hand-written messages around the store that are appallingly indifferent to the pain of the people in their neighborhood.
The signs of stigma…
West Broad Street in Columbus is a side of town I’m pretty familiar with, especially while in active addiction, so I’m sure that plenty of people have seen these signs. The Save Way Mini Mart on West Broad Street displayed the two notes that they hoped would dismay customers from stealing, but some patrons have found it insulting and offensive.
One sign, near the front door, says:
“Keep bags up front. Don’t stink! Take showers. Take care of your kids. Stay sober don’t OD. Nothing is free.”
The second sign was placed above a shelf holding cases of tin foil. Some will use tin foil to cook whatever substance, often heroin but not exclusively, before smoking or injecting it. This one states:
“Attention junkies, go ahead and steal a piece of foil to get high. Just please make sure you OD. Thank you.”
Yes, let this all sink in for a moment. Not just the fact that the word “junkie” is so destructive, but the content that follows is callous.
First thing is first, this is inexplicably ignorant to the reality that is shaking the world right now. With more people across America than ever being hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol, and higher rates of overdose deaths than ever in our nation’s history, how can people still believe these kinds of stigma?
According to WSYX/WTTE, a local news source, the store’s management would not speak on camera, but they told the news station they meant no offense, but also said the signs will not be taken down.
Really, no offense?
What is wrong with this picture…
This is wrong on so many levels, and I can’t believe I actually have to explain to some people why, but just in case I’ll give it a shot.
These signs insinuate statements that are so incredibly wrong on so many levels. To sum it up, these signs say:
- All addicts stink/don’t shower
- All addicts don’t take care of their children
- All addicts are thieves
- If you are an addict, you deserve to overdose (OD)
These are all equally as stigmatic and offensive, but that last part is just disgusting. The amount of indifference toward those in pain must be pretty intense for someone to willfully wish overdose onto someone else. To mock the despair and hardship of some while essentially telling them, and promoting to others, the idea that addicts deserve to overdose. Shrugging off the death of people who battle an insidious illness every day because they are “junkies” is repulsive.
Beyond that, the fact is these signs ignore what statistics have been telling us about addiction being more than just something impacting a certain demographic. These stereotypes are a huge part of the reason why it is taking us so long as a society to move forward.
Not all addicts are homeless! Not all addicts are absentee parents! Not all addicts are poor! Addiction touches the CEOs and stock brokers the same way it touches the unemployed and criminal. When we make such harsh generalizations of people who need our compassion we marginalize people who already often feel chastised, misunderstood or hopeless.
To those who comment…
Now as I said, when I first saw this story, the signs themselves we incredibly shameful, but the comments it received in support of this message and ridiculing addicts only compounded the issue. People who say that people ‘choose’ to be addicts and that they ‘choose’ to do drugs and ruin their lives.
It is baffling how some people still insist addiction is a choice. Even when the medical community recognizes it as a medical condition, people adamantly deny that it is a disease; when many regard it as a brain disorder, consisting of various psychological and physical factors. Yet people still go on about how it is the addicts fault because they chose that life.
Sure, people choose to do drugs, but we don’t choose to become addicted. That isn’t up to use. How many people drink and do drugs in their lifetime and don’t become addicts? More than anyone will ever know. A lot of you have probably had your share of experiments. So count yourself lucky, you didn’t have to walk the path many of us do. Stop being self-righteous; try being grateful.
The stigma is killing us…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently estimates that 91 Americans are dying of an opioid overdose every day! A true tragedy is that many people struggling with drug addiction never seek help because of the judgment they could face. They prolong their suffering as a result of blatant and baseless stigma, which can have a lasting impact. People are actually dying every day because stigma can discourage people from seeking help.
How many parents avoid getting help because of people who think addiction makes them horrible caregivers, or neglectful and absent? How many families are torn apart because the fear of how it looks to the world to be an addict? How many have died before they could get treatment?
Some people want to treat actions like this as no big deal. This writer thinks this is a pretty big problem. To suggest that a heroin addict, or any addict, deserves to overdose, or even die, for stealing tin foil… is insanely irresponsible and inconsiderate to the wellbeing of not just the afflicted individual, but the community.
Don’t let the stigma block you or your loved ones off from the solution. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are no alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135