Author: Justin Mckibben
Imagine if you went out for a night at the movies, and next thing you know you’re watching a testimonial from someone who lost their loved one to an overdose? Would that leave a pretty strong impression? Well some people think this is the kind of heroin PSA that could wake people up and get them talking.
Heroin addiction and opiate abuse are not a foreign concept for the people of the state of Maryland. Like most communities have been experiencing in recent years, Maryland has seen first-hand the devastation brought on by heroin addiction. Baltimore at one point was known as “Heroin Capital of America” and as the opiate epidemic continues, more people all over are suffering. While heroin addiction and overdoses increase across the state, officials in one area are taking the fight to the silver screen. Now movie-goers can see a message meant to spread public awareness.
Heroin Hitting Maryland
Health officials in the Maryland area say heroin is cheaper and more deadly than ever.
- Back in 2015, over 1,200 people died from overdose deaths in Maryland
- From January to June of 2015- 601 overdose deaths
- From January to June 2016- 920 overdose deaths (over 300 more deaths in the same 6 month period)
Baltimore City battles what is a public health emergency concerning the heroin addiction issue. As the heroin continues to devastate communities and families, officials are looking for new ways to hit back. Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County and Baltimore County all are experiencing and ever-increasing rate of heroin addiction. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen says,
“Here in Baltimore there are more people dying from overdose that are dying from homicide,”
A statement that was also made about New York at one point when NYC saw more overdose deaths than murders. The heroin PSA (public service announcement) is another way state officials are trying to make a bold declaration and educate the public.
We’ve seen more and more footage and images in the media over the last few months of overdoses caught on camera. There have been photos posted by police departments, videos shot on phones and posted all over the internet. The reality of the opiate epidemic and the graphic faces of overdose and death have been put out in front for all to see. Now Harford County officials are bringing the message to their local movie theaters with a heroin PSA.
Movie-goers in Harford County are coming face-to-face with the grim reality of heroin addiction. A series of videos before their regularly scheduled films features people that have lost relatives to heroin overdoses.
The heroin PSA is pretty powerful. One clip shows Jade, a 12 year old girl who’s cousin died from a heroin overdose in 2015. Jade says,
“She always loved to have fun, it didn’t seem anything was wrong.”
One shows a young girl named Mara talked about her sister Kelsea, who struggled with heroin addiction until dying from an overdose on Christmas Day 2015. Imagine sitting with your parent, or child, and listening to these people describe the person they loved so much and talk about their death. This is Maryland’s new strategy to get the conversation going in families.
Barry Glassman, Harford County Executive, commented on the heroin PSA saying,
“What better than to go into movie theaters when parents are with their children, to continue our efforts at prevention?”
Again, the whole goal of the heroin PSA is to get parents and children having the discussion. The video clips in the heroin PSA are already in circulation. The goal of the heroin PSA is to get parents to have real conversations about the dangers of heroin.
Movies and Media
The conversation is definitely a necessary one. Many families don’t know how to have this conversation, or how to even begin having the conversation. The media and television timelessly prove that they have the ability to influence people, so why not exploit it for a better good?
Raising awareness is a primary objective these days in fighting the opiate epidemic. It is right there with providing education and prevention resources. Giving people the information they need is crucial, and part of the heroin PSA is just showing people how important it is that they seek the information. So utilizing movies and the media to spread the word makes perfect sense.
Once people are informed as to the realities and the risks, we also should provide them with the information to get help. Heroin addiction is a frightening reality, but overdose and death is not the only conclusion. There is real help out there.
Overdose death and addiction destroy lives and tear apart families. With more programs becoming available to help those who are hurting a healthier future is closer than ever, and you can have it too.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Michael John Burkett, AKA ‘Fat Mike’, is an American musician and producer. Fat Mike is best known as the bassist and lead vocalist for the punk rock band NOFX from Los Angeles, California. Fat Mike started the band in 1983, and over the years they gained momentum until their 5th studio album Punk in Drublic gained them popularity back in 1994. In recent years Fat Mike has spoken honestly and openly about his battle with addiction. He even took to Instagram to publish the play-by-play of his detoxing from painkillers. Now Fat Mike and NOFX have made it a fight of punk rock VS Big Pharma with their newest video “Oxy Moronic.”
NOFX and First Ditch Effort
NOFX is excited to release a new album First Ditch Effort on Fat Wreck Chords on October 7th. Fat Wreck Chords is the legendary label Fat Mike started, which is part of the reason NOFX stands out; they never signed to a major label.
NOFX’s new music video for “Oxy Moronic” off the album makes a bold statement from the first line, and they consistently address the concept in their typical punk rock humor. “Oxy Moronic” is the first single and the track takes on Big Pharma in a big way. Just a sample will show it:
“I’ve been called an Oxy Moron
Because I question which drugs our war’s on
Why are there more drug stores than liquor stores you can score on
The healers have become the harmers
They’re just pharmaceutical farmers
What we used to call dealers
We now call doctors”
And from there, the song just drives the point home with a stream of clever word-play that calls out basically every major pharmaceutical company in the industry. Phrases like:
“It isn’t ADDERALL-trustic by overprescribing… how can we fight them in a SUBOXON ring?”
…or later on in the song with…
“With every DEMEROL-tercation… they’ll have a good XANAX-planation…”
The Emmy-winning comedy video website and production company Funny or Die produced the NOFX music video, and throughout it is designed to mock the well-known infomercials that the public is so used to seeing. Not only is this entertaining, but it is full of direct jabs at an issue impacting so many. Our country has been suffering for years thanks to the failed War on Drugs, while simultaneously over-consuming prescription medications.
Drug Dealing Commercials
The aspect of the NOFX video that parodies drug commercials actually is more important than most people might recognize. This is not the first time attention has been brought to how Big Pharma is allowed to advertise in our country. Meanwhile, we have learned to shrug off the idea as an everyday norm, the truth is most other countries don’t allow Big Pharma to advertise prescription drugs to individuals.
It seems like almost all other countries only let Big Pharma advertise prescription drugs to doctors. Some doctors have even been accused of prescribing more meds after receiving money from Big Pharma. In America, we have new commercials every other day trying to deal out a new miracle pill product, while listing off a pretty scary list of side-effects. Then, the ads encourage people to “ask a doctor if (blank medication) is right for you.”
Thanks in part to the over-prescribing of America, an estimated 52 million Americans abuse prescription drugs. With a country containing only 5% of the world’s population, it is truly troubling to know we as a nation consume 75% of the world’s prescriptions.
Fighting Big Pharma
Many experts do believe that public advertising of such powerful prescription drugs does indeed cause people to seek out healthcare. Even worse, some of these Big Pharma companies have already been accused of minimizing necessary warnings about substance abuse or addiction.
I need no more convincing. Literally, as I write this I’m watching YouTube and have been interrupted by 3 commercials for prescription drugs. The fact is, Big Pharma has been over-saturating us with potent medications, while not giving us all the facts on how dangerous they are, and impact should be obvious at this point. America is entrenched in an opiate epidemic, and prescription drug abuse has caused more damage than ever before.
In the words of Fat Mike, “How can we HYDRO-condone this conduct?”
The fight against addiction is about more than the fight against Big Pharma. There is real help out there; real solutions beyond relying on medication, and being medicated to overcome medications. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in 1971 the brand name Narcan, generic- Naloxone, was introduced to the world. The opiate overdose antidote has become a popular topic of discussion in our world today. With heroin, fentanyl and other dangerous opioid drugs feeding the opiate epidemic and overdose outbreak, these medications are sought after as the life-line pulling addicts back from deaths door.
With the rise in opiate abuse came the rise in demand, and with the rise in demand we were shown a side of Big Pharma that has many in an uproar. Since 1971 the price for Narcan has grown 4,000 percent! Yes, 4 with 3 zeros after it!
I’ve written before about this trend; something I consider to be a disheartening injustice and abuse of power. Today I want to re-emphasize the point by looking into some specifics about the lengths many have to go to in order to provide this life-saving medicine to their citizens. Let’s talk about America VS Big Pharma and the fight for Naloxone funding.
Baltimore’s Battle for Naloxone
In 2014 Baltimore, Maryland was referred to as “Heroin Capital of America” with an estimated 60,000 heroin addicts out of a population of 645,000. While Baltimore may no longer be one of the top states in overdose deaths, the state’s budget shows:
- $33,540 on Naloxone in 2014
- $118,236 on Naloxone for the fiscal year of 2016
So in two years, Baltimore has more than tripled the amount of money spent on Naloxone. Baltimore’s Health Commissioner Leana Wen continues to work at sounding the alarm across the country for Naloxone price gouging since stepping into the position in 2015. In March she called on Congress to enact price controls on the drug in the interest of public safety. In her plea Wen stated,
“The cost of naloxone skyrocketing means that we can only save a fraction of the lives we were able to before… Manufacturers have claimed that this price increase is related to increased demand. However, it is unclear why the cost of a generic medication that is available for much lower costs in other countries will be suddenly so expensive.”
Pennsylvania in Pain
In Pennsylvania drug overdoses tied to opioids rose nearly a quarter last year, yet these communities are still dependent on the goodwill of charitable organizations and health insurance companies. These resources are meaningful, but don’t go far enough!
- Pittsburgh-based Highmark Foundation donated $50,000 in the first quarter of last year to purchase Naloxone to local law enforcement agencies. But it didn’t renew the grant this year.
- Health insurers contributed a total of $500,000 in Pennsylvania alone to fund naloxone distribution.
- Cigna Foundation donated $50,000 this year to fund Naloxone access
- Independence Blue Cross joined the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association in a providing $50,000 to provide Naloxone to first responders
But most patrol officers still don’t have it! As of 2016 Naloxone kits have only been distributed to about 15% of Philadelphia police officers!
Delaware County has taken extra measures. Officials made it so money seized during drug investigations under asset forfeiture laws could be used to support its Naloxone program.
In case you didn’t know, Pittsburgh doesn’t play either. In July one judge ordered two convicted drug dealers to throw in almost $4,000 for Naloxone funding. Now that is a new brand of justice.
Rhode Island’s Settlement Savings
This was a desperate move indeed, as Rhode Island reached into the $230 million settlement with Google for $40 million to help keep its program alive. This settlement is from when Google facilitated the illegal online exchange of prescription drugs from Canada.
5 Government Interventions
Big Pharma Letters
In June Senate Special Committee on Aging addressed a letter to five leading naloxone manufactures requesting an explanation for increasing drug costs. These companies are:
- Amphaster Pharmaceuticals
Amphaster Pharma’s price went from $12 in 2012 to $41 a dose as of 2015.
- Adapt Pharmaceuticals
Adapt’s Narcan nasal spray costs $63 each dose. Although it does cut price in half for government agencies, community organizations, and patients without insurance
Price went from $375 in November 2015 to $1,875 in February 2016. Now, only 7 months later, it’s up to $2,250 for a single-dose injector!
Most of these companies claimed the price hikes are due to additional burdens they face to meet the exponential demands. Yet, this excuse isn’t flying with many healthcare advocates. The executive director of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, Dan Bigg, has said in response,
“We’re not talking about a limited commodity. Naloxone is a medicine that is almost as cheap as sterile sodium chloride—salt water,”
As far as more help from the powers that be, many state and local governments are reaching into emergency funding to provide Naloxone to first responders. Other government programs have been put in a position to help, but is that help enough?
Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grant Program
The Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grant Program distributes $1.5 million from government funding, but it had to be split between 15 communities. This has helped some, but left many officials scavenging for financing to be prepared for 2017. Many are calling on the government to assume even more costs.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Block Grants
States do have authorization to draw on these funds to subsidize Naloxone purchases. However, in the words or Peter Luongo, executive director of the Institute for Research, Education & Training in the Addictions, “That’s not new money.”
What this means is that officials must now move the money out of other programs for addiction prevention and treatment. So instead of getting more help, they are having to pick-and-choose which help is more necessary.
Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)
This summer President Obama signed for this initiative. It means to call for expanding first-responder access to Naloxone. However, the fact remains that CARA funding has not yet been established by Congress.
Department of Health and Human Services
Supposedly starting this month this office will be providing up to $11 million to fund Naloxone distribution. However even this great contribution will only apply to a dozen states.
The Overdose Oligopoly
The reality is this is a fight we need to talk more about. Despite all these government interventions, why is it we still cannot keep up with Big Pharma pricing?
So far nothing seems to justify the monopolizing and exploitation of the opiate epidemic by Big Pharma. These companies are actively increasing the price of a life-saving medication by over 1,000% in many cases during a period in which tens of thousands of people all over the country are dying!
Whether you know all that much about economics, Big Pharma is making millions upon millions of dollars off of these medications. They claim to be trying to keep up with costs, yet continue to show increasing profit. Call it what it is- extortion via oligopoly.
Naloxone and Narcan may not be the miracle cure for opiate addiction, but for many it is the only reason they are alive. So, how many can say the lack of access is the only reason their loved one is not? Surely, Naloxone access expansion is taking off in a new way. CVS stores, schools and all types of venues are providing kits, training and other resources. The only problem is, they are struggling to maintain those resources.
We, as a nation, should expect better than this.
A bigger part of getting better is beyond the medication used to preserve life. Real recovery begins with the process of working to change a life. Holistic addiction treatment allows people who were once hopeless build the foundation of hope again. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call Palm Partners. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Probably one of the most disturbing articles I have written about my home state of Ohio is one I can’t ignore. Since the photo of the two parents overdose in a car with a child in the back seat first broke it has been covered by pretty much every national news entity. The images have flooded Facebook feeds and internet forums all day. The story has been emailed to me, messaged to me, even texted to me over and over again since the news was first published. Honestly, this image says a lot about what is really going on.
I’ve heard some people insisting the media is on some mission to shock us with these photos and the headlines it’s attached to, but this is the reality! People need to wake up! This is happening in every town, not just the City of East Liverpool, Ohio. This very same situation is reoccurring in rural counties and downtown areas across the nation. Something needs to change, and like I keep saying- we need to change it.
The difference here is that police officers decided to make a statement with the severity of this graphic picture; to tell the story that is happening to families everywhere with one heartbreaking and gut-wrenching hit to the soft spot of our society.
This is what we are doing to our children.
Not a Pretty Picture
The City of East Liverpool, Ohio took to Facebook to share two graphic photos taken by a police officer at the scene of a stop. The post on social media does note that making the photos public was a combined decision by the city administration, law director, and the police department.
In the image we can clearly see a couple that authorities described as overdosing on drugs in the front seat of a car. The mother’s body is hunched and folded over the center console in the front seat of the vehicle. Her face seems shrunken in and dead. The husband is buckled into the front seat, and has nodded out.
The photo is almost abstract. Like two images that obviously don’t belong have been pasted together. The parents in the front seat look as if any sign of color has been drained out of them- it is all so depressing it feels faded and lifeless… then right behind them, in a blue and green t-shirt with cartoon dinosaurs, sitting in what appears to be a car seat, is a 4 year old child. It is an unreal reality… a tragic and despairing truth.
The post that accompanied the pictures powerfully states:
“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”
So far this post is being both praised and criticized. At one point it had been shared on Facebook more than 12,000 times, and that was a few hours ago. By now that number has undoubtedly skyrocketed.
The Police Report
The police report detailing this story is also posted on Facebook. In the report East Liverpool police officer Kevin Thompson reviewed that on September 7 he was responding to a report of a Ford Explorer with a West Virginia license plate “driving very erratic weaving back and forth” before an abrupt stop in the middle of the road behind a school bus in the process of letting children off. Inside the vehicle the officer found two adults:
The driver, identified as James Acord, was speaking unintelligibly. Acord’s head was bobbing up and down, and eventually became unconscious during the stop. But before passing out Acord told the officer he was taking his front seat passenger to the hospital. The officer had to remove the keys from the vehicle as Acord made a last attempt to drive away.
The passenger, identified as Rhonda Pasek, was completely unconscious and “turning blue” according to Thompson.
Inside the car, police found a “yellow folded up piece of paper” between Pasek’s legs. Inside the paper officers discovered a “small amount of a pink powdery substance.”
Then there is the piece of this picture that has the country in an uproar- the little boy in the backseat. The child is now identified as Pasek’s son.
Thompson called for an ambulance and the emergency personnel. Once emergency services arrived they were able to administer the opiate overdose antidote, Narcan to both adults. After regaining consciousness Acord and Pasek were transported to East Liverpool Hospital.
Acord was eventually charged with
He plead no contest and was sentenced to 180 days in jail for two of those charges, but the stopping in a roadway charge was dropped. He will also have a 3 year suspension on his license and a $475 fine.
Pasek was charged with:
- Endangering children
- Public intoxication
- Not wearing a seatbelt
She plead not guilty and is held on $150,000 bond until her next court date, which is next Thursday.
At this time the 4 year old child is with Columbiana County Children’s Services.
This picture is not pretty to look at. It brings an ache to my chest and a sting to my eyes. I could cry for this child, and for his family. For the millions of people out there today with family who are doing the same thing to themselves and their children. The driver could have killed them all in a freak accident. Now… imagine the horror if he would have nodded out at the wheel and struck that school bus as it let kids off! How many more children could have been hurt?
What We Need to See
Some are outraged at the lack of privacy for the family. Many have insisted it is wrong to punish the two adults AND the child with a life haunted by this photo. I get it, and I’m an advocate for compassion instead of stigma and exploitation. It is truly troubling to know how harshly people will be judged by the images of them found online. Yet, I think things like this are what we need to see sometimes. It is a fine line to walk, but in the end there is a reality to the image that only something so intimate could convey- this is what we need to see.
What we need to see is how this epidemic is destroying the thing that most of us hold sacred- our families. While many people are upset about the images, I understand the local officials motives. The Facebook post confronts this controversy head-on:
“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis. The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that,”
We the addicts need to see this the dark and brutal truth. The sad and comatose body of an addicted mother dying only a few inches away from her child who is barely old enough to walk and talk on his own! We all need to see the truth of this disease. It is killing us, and it is putting everyone around us at risk- especially the ones we love most. We need to see the children and the communities we are hurting. This is the face of addiction as we often refuse to acknowledge it.
Addiction is killing our families every day. But there is help. Real recovery begins with a real foundation for a better future. We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.
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If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. You are not alone.
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(This content is for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
The number of overdose deaths in our country are already at a staggering rate, increasingly troubling by the minute. Some areas are hit much harder, but overall the tragic toll of the opioid addiction epidemic in America is obvious. Time after time we witness overwhelming reports of devastating deaths and high frequencies of serious complications from drug use.
Ohio is among the top states in the country to experience elevated rates of overdose per population, and Cincinnati has seen a viscous proportion of these. In a single weekend 30 heroin overdoses across Cincinnati were reported.
During just a 48-hour time frame from Tuesday to Wednesday there were 78 more overdoses and at least three deaths.
Finally, after a six-day period of emergency-room visits, the number of overdoses had reached to a number health officials are calling “unprecedented”: 174!
Cincinnati VS Carfentanil
According to one local news source, Cincinnati has four overdose reports per day on average, and usually no more than 20 or 25 in a given week.
The bigger problem; pure heroin is what’s responsible for that average, but that’s not what’s on the streets now.
The sinister element suspected to be responsible in this latest upsurge of overdoses is heroin cut with the latest opioid hitting the streets- Carfentanil. For those of you who don’t know yet, this is an elephant tranquilizer. Carfentanil supposedly has 10,000 times the potency as morphine!
At this point law enforcement officials are unable to identify the source of the toxic cocktail. Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan states that State, local and federal authorities have mobilized across Hamilton County to investigate where this incredibly powerful poison is coming from. So far they believe this record number of overdoses could be caused by a single heroin batch laced with Carfentanil.
Carfentanil, relatively similar to the opioid Fentanyl that has caused enough damage it its own right, is the strongest commercially used opioid. So just like with Fentanyl, drug dealers cut their heroin with Carfentanil to make it last longer and to deliver stronger, more addictive highs.
Tri-State Area Turmoil
New reports state that additional heroin overdoses in the tri-state area, plus New Jersey, tally up to more than 225 for this timeframe.
- In the same time period of the Cincinnati overdoses:
- Jennings County, Indiana reported 13 overdoses last Tuesday
- Montgomery County, Kentucky reported 12 overdoses on Wednesday
- Camden, New Jersey reported 29 overdoses between Tuesday and Thursday
All this news comes in after 27 people overdosed during a five-hour period in one West Virginia town in mid-August.
Still, these shocking and frightening rates springing up in Cincinnati have captured the most national attention.
Officials on a Mission
Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan also heads the law enforcement task force for the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition. This effort is a collaboration of public health and law enforcement officials from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky working as a collective to combat the heroin epidemic afflicting the tri-state area. Many of these officials are very clear about their concerns, and about their mission. Hamilton County Commissioner Dennis Deters says this is a public health emergency like they have never seen before. Tim Ingram, the county’s health commissioner, said:
“This is unprecedented to see as many alerts as we’ve seen in the last six days,”
Officials are now pleading with the public. They have come out in the news to ask people to avoid the drug. The fact that the source of this potent batch is unknown and still out there makes them disparate to end this uptick in overdoses. Synan states,
“We’re urging you, please don’t do heroin right now. If for no other reason, because we don’t know what’s in the stuff on the street.”
He went on to point out the blatant disregard of dealers, saying:
“These people are intentionally putting in drugs they know can kill someone. The benefit for them is if the user survives, it is such a powerful high for them, they tend to come back. … If one or two people die, they could care less. They know the supply is so big right now that if you lose some customers, in their eyes, there’s always more in line.”
Harder to Fight
Further complicating matters is that Narcan– the drug that reverses the side effects of an overdose- is not working anymore, or at least not as reliably in cases such as these. When it comes to heroin overdoses, one or two doses of Narcan will stabilize a patient. So Narcan, and the generic Naloxone, expansion programs have taken great bounds forward in providing a line of defense.
However, these recent overdoses required two or three times that dosage. These more potent mixes have proven not only to be more deadly, but far more resilient to any medication-based efforts to save lives. Cincinnati is definitely not the only state in the nation dealing with this issue. The problem is growing, and with it so it the death-toll.
Now even more efforts must absolutely be put into raising awareness and providing education to the public. With such powerful new elements being introduced into the fight, the world should know what it’s up against. Real solutions should be made available, and real recovery begins with effective treatment.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135