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New legislation being pushed to empower EMTs may soon change the way first responders in California help patient get care while trying to ease the overcrowding of emergency rooms. A bill as proposed will allow paramedics to bring a patient to sobering centers and mental health clinics, instead of taking them to the ER. So should EMTs take patients to these alternative facilities to receive more specific forms of care?
Giving EMTs Options
When dealing with a situation, law enforcement personnel are permitted to transport individuals who are intoxicated or experiencing a mental health crisis to sobering centers or mental health clinics if deemed appropriate. Sometimes this is the best place for a patient, depending on the specific circumstances. However, under current state law in California, Emergency Medical Technicians (or EMTs) and paramedics must bring patients to the emergency room.
Some argue that requiring EMTs and paramedics to transport these patients to the ER is not only contributing to overcrowding in emergency rooms but also it is often not the best place for them. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is one of many who believes this is a “common sense” option for EMTs. Hahn states,
“The bottom line is that if people like you and I can take an individual to a sobering center or a mental health urgent care center, why can’t a highly trained medical professional do the same?”
Supervisor Janice Hahn has sponsored the new bill, hoping to give EMTs more options that better serve the individual. Hahn states,
“Our mental health urgent care centers and the sobering center at Skid Row were designed to provide humane, compassionate care, tailored to meet the needs of their patients,”
In cases involving law enforcement, this option allows police to choose specialized facilities instead of booking people in jail. This allows for people who may be dealing with alcohol, drugs or mental health issues to sober up and receive on-the-spot treatment without facing charges. According to Hahn, California paramedics and EMTs have their hands tied, and it is impacting hospitals and individuals.
Assembly Bill 1795
The new legislation is Assembly Bill 1795. This proposal would allow local emergency medical services agencies to lay out plans for transporting patients to:
- Designated behavioral health facilities
- Sobering centers that meet specific standards
Keep in mind, these patients will have to meet specific criteria in order to qualify. The bills recently amended language also states:
The bill would authorize a city, county, or city and county to designate, and contract with, a sobering center to receive patients, and would establish sobering center standards.
However, the bills current language also states that patients can instruct EMTs to take them to the emergency room and that it does not authorize them to initiate an involuntary detention of the patient.
This legislation also has support from Assemblyman Mike Gipson. He wrote an op-ed in February for the Compton Herald to support the measure. Gipson states,
“No one will deny that our emergency rooms are drastically over-crowded. Although they may be well-equipped to handle trauma, disasters or emergency physical health conditions—they are not as well-equipped to serve patients who have mental health care needs or substance abuse problems.”
Recently, Hahn herself planned a trip to Sacramento to advocate for the bill. And she isn’t the only one getting behind it. The bill is also co-sponsored by:
- Los Angeles County
- California Hospital Association
- California Ambulance Association
Another supporter of the proposal is Mitch Katz, the director of the county’s Department of Health Services. Katz points out that not only could this give EMTs the power to take patients to a more suitable facility, but that these options can also be much less expensive than taking patients to an emergency room.
While hospitals, EMTs and paramedics are a crucial part of saving lives in cases of overdose and other emergencies, when it comes to getting people a means to effective treatment unique to their needs, there are better options. Giving EMTs a resource to offer substance abuse and mental health treatment options could make a huge difference in the fight against addiction. Anything that connects people with effective treatment is an important step in the right direction.
We want to hear what you think- should EMTs take patients to sobering centers and/or mental health clinics?
Communities in many other parts of the country have begun to work on better ways to connect people struggling with substance abuse or mental health conditions with specialized treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
For the last few years, if you ask most experts in the field, it has become abundantly clear across the board that the ‘War on Drugs’ has failed us all. By many accounts, the war on drugs declared by President Nixon in 1971 has had a devastating impact on the people and not the problem. Both addicts and average citizens have suffered under this endeavor. Long-term statistic have shown systematic failures in these archaic policies, and despite efforts to stop the supply of drugs coming in, prices of drugs have gone down while purity has gone up.
In the press, the former President Barack Obama persistently spoke out against the failures and misguided strategies of the war on drugs, calling for a reform in policies. This was one of the primary issues on the campaign trail in 2016 as the opioid epidemic raged out of control. The Obama administration launched a concerted effort to reform harsh prison sentences and commute record numbers of non-violent drug offenders.
With Obama, the idea was to create a climate of compassion and support, breaking stigma and trying to give more people the opportunity for rehabilitation while abandoning a system of mandatory minimums that only made matters worse.
Now, however, under the Trump administration the Attorney General Jeff Sessions means to revert back to the war on drugs.
Attorney General’s Memo
Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed an Obama-era policy aimed at keeping non-violent drug offenders out of federal prisons, and received some bipartisan backlash. A memo from Sessions was released last Friday, in which he instructed federal prosecutors nationwide to seek the strongest possible charges and sentences against defendants they target. The memo states:
“It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,”
“This policy fully utilizes the tools Congress has given us. By definition, the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory-minimum sentences.”
Thus, this policy change essentially rejects the Obama-era progress of instructing federal prosecutors to avoid the strictest sentences for defendants charged with low-level drug offenses. This should come to many as no surprise, since Trump and his campaign surrogates were openly supportive of a ‘tough on crime’ and a ‘law and order’ approach to dealing with drug problems.
The bigger picture is, the war on drugs stance has been a waste of resources that ultimately cost far more lives than could have been saved with a more compassionate and connected approach to helping addicts get the help they need.
Jeff Sessions Wants Drug War
There is plenty of evidence to indicate Attorney General Jeff Sessions is all in for continuing the war on drugs. Law enforcement officials report that Sessions and Steven H. Cook, a member of Sessions’ inner circle of the Justice Department, are planning to prosecute more drug and gun cases, and to pursue mandatory minimum sentences.
These same reports indicate that Sessions is very enthusiastic to return to the ‘good old days’ of the 1980s and 1990s at the apex of the drug war. This is the same system that helped exacerbate mass incarceration in America. The war on drugs tore apart countless families and homes across the nation by sending low-level, non-violent drug offenders to prison for longer periods of time. The data later showed this also was a policy that was disproportionately inflicted upon minority citizens.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions insists that this approach is necessary to be tough on crime. This is the same guy quoted for saying things like,
“Good people don’t smoke marijuana”
As if stigma wasn’t already a big enough problem, wait… there’s more. Sessions has also been quoted as saying,
“[the Klu Klux Klan] was okay until I found out they smoked pot”
Advocates for marijuana reform has referred to Sessions as a “drug war dinosaur” and argued that is the last thing this nation needs.
Sessions has gone as far as to say in a speech,
“Psychologically, politically, morally, we need to say — as Nancy Reagan said — ‘Just say no.’ ”
Yes… because we should completely ignore that for over 40 years this injustice has crippled many communities and alienated millions of Americans to the point they would sooner die on the streets than seek help.
Why the War on Drugs Failed
The core problem with the war on drugs strategy was the philosophy that eliminating drugs would eliminate the problem, so the approach was said to focus on wiping out drug supplies and imprisoning traffickers. This may sound pretty cut and dry, but it comply ignores the most basic fundamental of any market; supply and demand.
Reducing the supply without first trying to reduce the demand only drives the price up. The drug market is not price-sensitive. People will continue to use regardless of cost. This new high-price marketplace inspires more traffickers to take more risk for bigger rewards, and the markets continue to grow.
Not only that, but many would say the crimes often associated with drug use are actually caused by the drug war. As purity goes up and the market becomes more competitive, violence among traffickers escalates because of the high demand. According to some, the United States homicide rate is 25% to 75% higher because of the war on drugs.
Sessions’s aides continue to claim that the attorney general does not intend to completely overturn every aspect of criminal justice policy that has changed, but that isn’t all that reassuring at this point when he has already appointed a man to head the revamping of criminal justice who thinks there is no such thing as a non-violent drug offender.
These two politicians have already fought against progressive legislation in the Senate that would have reduced some mandatory minimums and given judges more flexibility with some drug cases. Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), states,
“They are throwing decades of improved techniques and technologies out the window in favor of a failed approach,”
California Senator Kamala Harris served as a prosecutor, district attorney and state attorney general before winning her seat in Congress, and this week Harris attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new sentencing guidelines, stating:
“I saw the War on Drugs up close, and, let me tell you, [it] was an abject failure,”
“It offered taxpayers a bad return on investment,” Harris continued, “It was bad for public safety. It was bad for budgets and our economy. And it was bad for people of color and those struggling to make ends meet.”
Harris urged her fellow progressives in session to fight for more resources to treat addiction, and to elect progressive prosecutors at the state and local level in hopes of fighting back against these counterproductive measures.
In the end, the war on drugs costs millions of dollars annually, while ruining countless lives and making matters worse in essentially every aspect of the issue. Hopefully, this new revival of the war on drugs won’t last.
There should always be hope for a better future. Anyone can make a difference in their own future. Reach out and get the help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The wild world of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and the rave culture that surrounds it is often perceived as synonymous with drugs and alcohol. People assume that these shows are meant for doing drugs in order to enhance the live experience and heighten the senses to create a feeling of escapism. Although this may be a true narrative in some circles within the EDM culture, it is also another stigma that isn’t always the law of rave-land.
The stereotype is often used to define the dance world as a whole, but is not every regular raver’s reality. Many people in recovery still have a close connection to the music they love, and bask in the full immersion of off-the-hook crowds. Sobriety isn’t just meant for those who enjoy being home-bodies.
Recently, a famous EDM DJ known as Bassnectar took to social media to share a story and a strong message of the highly underestimated recovery community with the EDM culture.
Background on Bassnectar
For a little background, Bassnectar is an American DJ and record producer from the San Francisco Bay Area who performs regularly at various music festivals, including:
- Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival
The artist finished in 4th place in the 2013 America’s Best DJ competition, and while he has not toured for several years he has hosted numerous events of his own. His “family gatherings” are two or three day bass music events, named BassCenter with location changing every year. As of April 2017, the East Coast family gathering is to be held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The event has since been dubbed Basslantic City.
Sober Fan Reaches Out
Recently a fan on Twitter messaged Bassnectar asking for help to sell his Basslantic City ticket because of a recent decision to be clean and sober. Bassnectar took a screen-shot of the message and shared the fans concern, which included that:
“I really want to go to Basslantic City but all my friends drink and do drugs so I don’t wanna put myself in that position as of right now…”
The fan was hesitant to be put in a tricky position due to being surrounded by friends who would be using drugs and drinking. It is refreshing to see someone who is trying to clean up take such a big step in making difficult but responsible choices. Still, Bassnectar wanted to show more than just compassion for sobriety; he wanted to give an proactive message of support to any fans struggling with a similar decision.
Bassnectar Makes Social Media Statement For Sober Fans
The DJ was quick to give the fan his congratulations immediately for taking a stand in changing his life. Not only did he give props to the fan, but Bassnectar responded with a lengthy message of support and offered to help connect him with other fans who feel the same way:
In his message to the fan he states:
“You most definitely DON’T need drugs to fit in, and also there are so many [THOUSANDS] of people who will be in Atlantic City with us this weekend, who won’t be abusing drugs…”
He went on to offer to connect the fan with sober contacts in the EDM community who would be there.
Following the conversation, Bassnectar took to his own Facebook account and made a long post about his support for clean and sober fans in the EDM crowd. He spoke at length about his own friends and peers, and about how his path has led him to focus more on health and clarity.
“Without judgments, I just wanted to share my own perspective that while it’s an amazing feeling to get high off the music (and ‘the vibe’) of a live music experience, it by no means needs to go hand-and-hand with drug abuse, or even with taking drugs or drinking.”
While Bassnectar did admit to having a glass of wine once in a while, and that he himself isn’t a recovery avatar, he went on to share his own experience and opinions on how he likes to keep clear, stating:
“I shared that from my own experience I prefer a clear head, a healthy body, and a nervous system with heightened sensitivity – I prefer health over ‘fun’”
Bassnectar went on to explain that while he had no intention of shaming any of his fans that do indulge or choose to party in more intense ways, he did advocate for building on the community of sober music lovers who show up to big concerts. He did share his own perspective on how the culture of getting high at concerts pressures people into doing things they shouldn’t do, but that he believed as an artist getting “high on the music” was a beautiful thing.
“Also, I just have to say, as an artist, I have zero interest in seeing my fans get ‘f**ked up’ – I don’t glorify violence of any kind, and I think that reckless drug abuse can be a form of violence.”
“I think it can be dangerous to ingest various chemicals in order to get a buzz. It may not ALWAYS be dangerous, but there is a risk! And in my opinion it’s not worth the risk – I have lost several dear friends to drug overdoses, and I have seen several people’s lives SHATTERED by drug abuse, by alcohol abuse, or by not living with a deep gratitude for health, and the care that comes with it – so I hope to inspire that care in anyone reading this.”
The Dj then concluded his message with:
“So if you are thinking of attending without drugs or alcohol and want to make a new friend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch with other bass heads who have the same attitude and will be there this weekend.
Again, NO JUDGEMENTS: we love you *ALL* and we are thrilled for the wild adventures that are about to take place in just a few days…. travel safe!”
Looking at the post and the comments on Bassnectar’s Facebook, over a thousand people have shared the post, with hundreds of comments showing support and solidarity for those in the EDM community who are recovering alcoholics and addicts, or simply people who are choosing to live a clean and sober life. Even specific groups like Hummingbirds (BassHeads for sobriety) reached out to offer a fellowship of strong sober support for the fans.
It is awesome to see advocacy and awareness from an artist so popular in a genre so frequently depicted as appealing to drug users and hard partiers. The stereotype is so common even among people who regularly attend the shows, but there is a large community of people who enjoy music festivals while being sober. You don’t need drugs or alcohol to have an awesome experience.
Music festivals are a unique experience, but some people use them as an excuse to abuse drugs that can dull them to that experience and put themselves at serious risk. There is a way to enjoy the exciting parts of life without getting high, and real recovery means learning how. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
With the opioid epidemic in America there have been a lot of advances in the field of addiction treatment, as well as innovations in prevention and intervention. One of the most useful elements of preserving the lives of thousands of people across the country has been the development and implementation of the opioid overdose antidote Narcan. So many people are impacted by opioid abuse, and so many families and friends to addicts want to help in any way they can to give their loved ones an opportunity at surviving their struggles. A lot of people are still unsure how to obtain some of these life-saving resources, especially when it comes to the overdose antidote.
The truth is, basically anyone can get access to Naloxone or Narcan, with various expansion programs existing for the purpose of providing vital support to the communities afflicted. Also, anyone can be trained on how to use it. There are a few ways to obtain Narcan.
How Do You Get Narcan: What is Narcan/Naloxone
Just to verify, Narcan is the brand name of this life-saving medication. Naloxone is the generic name. Narcan (Naloxone) is used to counteract and reverse the deadly effects of an overdose of opiate drugs such as heroin, Oxycodone,Hydrocodone and others as well.
Naloxone hydrochloride, the scientific name, is a white to slightly off-white powder and is soluble in water. Naloxone Hydrochloride injection is available as a non-preserved sterile solution for intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous administration in 1 mg/mL concentration.
Narcan is also supplied as a nasal spray, which provides for a decreased risk factor and makes it easier to administer for many by eliminating needles. In these forms, Naloxone and Narcan expansion has become a very big part of combatting the opioid epidemic, and through many groups advocating for its use, Narcan has become available in many ways.
How Do You Get Narcan: CVS and Walgreens
One way is through pharmacy companies like CVS and Walgreens.
Back in late 2015, the pharmacy company CVS announced it would be selling the opioid overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription in 14 states. Then in early 2016 CVS announced they would be expanding the program to 20 states by the end of the year. Of course, pharmacy boards in each state can make the decisions about offering Naloxone or Narcan without a prescription, but CVS has worked to further grant access to people all over the nation. You can look online to see if it is available in your area.
Also in early 2016 the pharmacy organization Walgreens announced two programs to address key issues in the opioid crisis.
- Safe medical disposal kiosks for unused prescription drugs
- Narcan expansion
By the end of 2016 Walgreens had expanded naloxone access without the requirement of a prescription to 33 states and the District of Columbia. Walgreens also continues to express the intention to further expand these programs. A quick online search you let you know if it is currently available without a prescription at a Walgreens near you.
How Do You Get Narcan: Other Options
In truth there are a lot of different ways to get Narcan, depending on where you are. To name a few:
You can contact a family physician in order to gain access to a Naloxone or Narcan kit, and should even be able to get training on how to utilize it.
State or Local Health Department
Your state or local health department should be able to provide you with all the information about any Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs in your area that provide the resources and training for the overdose antidote.
Harm Reduction Organizations
There are clinics, community centers and other harm reduction organizations all over the country that work to provide extensive support, resources and information. The Harm Reduction Coalition is America’s national harm reduction network operating overdose prevention programs for years.
The Overdose Prevention Alliance (OPA)
The OPA is a home for information and debate on drug overdose worldwide. It operates with the goal of cutting overdose and mortality rates. The OPA aims to collect and document major issues in overdose worldwide, encourage overdose prevention initiatives. Finding this resource could also be a huge help.
How Do You Get Narcan: Making a Difference
In the end, there are so many avenues someone can take to obtain this crucial tool in the fight against opioid overdose. Some community leaders even organize local workshops where they invite the public to come and get training on how to use Naloxone or Narcan. Some colleges even provide Naloxone kits to students, and many of both kinds of programs are free of charge.
The goal with any program is to try and save lives. At the end of the day that is what it comes down to; saving lives. Every bit of these resources makes a difference.
Still, beyond being revived from an overdose; beyond having access to the opioid overdose antidote is the need for safe and effective treatment. Having a second chance means using it. Keeping someone alive after a nearly fatal overdose is a huge feat, but there has to be more to helping someone, and that is where holistic drug and alcohol treatment programs make the biggest difference.
If you or someone you love have survived an opioid overdose and don’t know what to do next, do not hesitate to get help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Every once in a while there is that daunting cliché you may hear in the recovery community; that relapse is a part of recovery. It may come from someone who has experienced a relapse themselves, or it may come from someone trying to reassure an individual who has relapsed that they still have a place in recovery. It is never meant to be harmful or frightening. In fact it is typically a phrase used to comfort people who have tried to get clean and sober but sadly found themselves again using substances.
It is an idea used to remind those who slip and fall on the path to recovery that they are still in the fight; that they still have a chance. A lot of people do experience relapse in their journey to get off drugs or alcohol. So, is it true? Is relapse a part of recovery?
Is Relapse a Part of Recovery: What is Relapse?
When looking at the basic definition or relapse, we can break it down a little to show some depth.
- In general – a relapse is to suffer deterioration after a period of improvement.
- In medicine– relapse, also referred to as recidivism,is a return of a past condition.
- With the context of drug use (yes, including alcohol) – relapse is a reinstatement of drug use and drug-seeking behavior. It is the recurrence of pathological drug use after a period of
So the common thread here is that a relapse is when someone:
- Is able to start a period of improvement…
- Is healing from a previous condition…
- Has a period of abstinence… THEN… they use drugs or drink, which ends their period of abstinence and they fall back into drug-seeking behavior and using; activating their condition which can undo their overall improvement.
While some people might have a drink or take a pill and call it a “slip” it is essentially a relapse. Some would say having “recovery” means making improvements to behavior beyond just abstinence, so they might say the real relapse actually starts before you even use drugs; when your behavior regresses to the old destructive or compulsive patterns.
Whether you believe the relapse is the behavior or the actual physical manifestation while getting high, it may determine what your views are on the question is relapse a part of recovery.
Is Relapse a Part of Recovery: What is Recovery?
Before we have discussed that some people will define recovery differently. We will note that in general, recovery is:
- a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administraion (SAMHSA) there are 12 “Guiding Principles of Recovery” stating recovery:
- There are many pathways to recovery
- Is self-directed and empowering
- Involves a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation
- Recovery is holistic
- Has cultural dimensions
- Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness
- It’s supported by peers and allies
- Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude
- Involves a process of healing and self-redefinition
- Recovery involves addressing discrimination and transcending shame and stigma
- It involves (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community
- Recovery is a reality. It can, will, and does happen
All these definitions emphasize the fact that recovery is about healing, and some even concede that there are many paths to recovery and many different beliefs around how people can successfully recover. Now some people may not like it, but hear me out.
Relapse is not a part of recovery.
Is Relapse a Part of Recovery: Why Not?
Now before anyone gets upset and drops a few choice words in the comments, let me explain.
This answer isn’t so black and white. It is just one way to look at the question and try to answer in a supportive and logical way. Because when we say “is relapse a part of recovery” we are not asking about the general concept of recovery as a whole, but about the definition, and specifically the requirements for “recovery”.
To elaborate; relapse is an option. Relapse is a reality many of us face. I have been sober over 3 years myself… after I had a relapse. My opinion is not meant to exclude people who have relapsed. I do not intend to say they weren’t in recovery. I don’t intend to say they aren’t recovering now. What I am saying is that relapse is not a requirement for recovery. While it may be a part of my recovery, it is not a defining feature of recovery. Recovery can exist without relapse.
Let’s say I have a car. If the car has a sun-roof, then of course the sun-roof is a part of that car. It adds a new element to the experience that not every car has… but if the car doesn’t have the sun-roof… does that make it any less of a car? Is the car considered incomplete without it? Some cars come with accessories and features that not all cars have, while having wheels and a gas pedal is a standard. And that is what this whole conversation is about; setting standards.
A relapse is a similar concept. Plenty of people in the world of recovery from drugs and alcohol have never relapsed. Hopefully they never will. They are recovering the same as the man or woman who has relapsed countless times.
Is Relapse a Part of Recovery: Make it Count
The point of all this is to put forth the idea that maybe we shouldn’t put forth the idea that relapse is part of the recovery process. Surely it is a possibility for everyone, and surely some will consider a relapse one of the most critical moments in their recovery, but that does not mean people should minimalize or “normalize” the idea that relapses are the standard.
Setting higher standards is crucial to lasting change. We don’t want to kick anyone while they are down or fault them for their relapse(s)… however we also don’t want someone who has never tried to get clean before thinking they are going to relapse because it is “part of the plan” and everyone is doing it.
This is especially important because a lot of people have died because of relapsing after periods of abstinence. When the body goes without such potent drugs for longer periods the body is no longer as tolerant to them, and when people relapse and don’t realize their threshold has dropped they often overdose and die. If we let people assume they will have to relapse eventually in order to really get it right, they might never get the chance to get it right again.
We should stop telling people relapse is part of recovery. We should continue to tell them there is recovery after a relapse, but once you stop you never have to start again.
Have you completed treatment but went back to using drugs and alcohol? Have you relapsed more than once, maybe even been labelled a “chronic relapser?” If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135