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Badlands of Philadelphia: Almost 50 Overdoses in One Day

Badlands of Philadelphia: Almost 50 Overdoses in One Day

Author: Justin Mckibben

In America, estimates say nearly a thousand people died from drug overdose per week in 2015. This year, we see how this problem continues to grow and strike some cities with terrible intensity. Drug overdose was the leading cause of death in Philadelphia, claiming 700 people that year. One place in particular has earned a name for itself: “The Badlands.”

The Badlands of Philadelphia is an area encompassing the Kensington neighborhood and parts of North Philadelphia. Residents gave this part of town the infamous “The Badlands” title because of its high rate of crime including homicide, drug trafficking and gang activity. Just this past week nearly 50 residents in the Badlands of Philadelphia suffered overdoses from what narcotics officers believe was tainted heroin.

Luckily, according to an NBC Philadelphia report, there were no fatalities during the outbreak of overdoses on November 17. However, several individuals had to be revived using Naloxone. That is the opioid overdose antagonist that has seen expanded access all over the country in an effort to stop the ever increasing body count.

Record numbers of overdoses like this are popping up in various parts of the country, and it is an exclamation point to the story of the opioid epidemic in America. This was one very bad day in the Badlands of Philadelphia, but will it get worse before it gets better?

Badlands of Philadelphia: Following the Pattern

Philadelphia Police is working on laboratory tests to determine if these drugs are part of a growing problem with tainted narcotics. Many overdoses in several states have been linked to tainted heroin that has been mixed with Fentanyl or other synthetic analogues far more powerful than the illicit drug itself. This is not be the first time a bad batch of heroin has hit the Badlands of Philadelphia. Gary Tennis, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, had some powerful words concerning the way the epidemic has been handled until now.

“If we had ISIS terrorists roaming the streets, killing a thousand Americans a week, [or] ebola or some exotic disease, we wouldn’t tolerate it for a minute… But because of the stigma around this disease, we continue with policies federally, state and local, that are fundamentally inhumane.”

The Badlands of Philadelphia also made headlines in May of 2016 when the experimental painkiller W-18 was allegedly found within its territory. The dangerous W-18 is causing considerable hysteria in Canada and the United States.

Badlands of Philadelphia: W-18 and Fentanyl

As a recap from previous stories back in May of 2016, W-18 is a synthetic opiate and psychoactive substance similar to heroin. However, it is horrifically more deadly. W-18 is one of the most powerful opioid of a series of about 30 compounds. Experts go as far as to describe W-18 as being:

  • 100 times more potent than fentanyl
  • 10,000 times stronger than morphine

Though fentanyl or W-18 are yet to confirmed as the cause of the outbreak of overdoses in the Badlands of Philadelphia, fentanyl is considered to be responsible for a upsurge of overdoses that health officials say has risen 636% since last year.

  • In 2013, 25 people died as a result of Fentanyl overdose in Philadelphia
  • In 2015, 184 people died as a result of Fentanyl overdose
  • The 2016 99 people died from Fentanyl overdose in Philadelphia in just the first four months

Between 2013 and 2015 is a seven fold increase in death. One can only imagine where the number will be by the end of this year. According to NBC news, Philadelphia also has some of the cheapest and most potent heroin in the nation. Reports claim that purity levels of heroin reach an estimate between 80% and 90% purity. That alone is incredibly deadly. The addition of unpredictable and synthetic drugs only magnifies the threat to life.

Badlands of Philadelphia: Not the Only “Badlands”

Philadelphia is not the only state with a section of “Badlands.” In reality, the “Badlands” are basically everywhere. In every major city, in every state, there are people suffering. A recent report stated that one American dies every 19 minutes from a heroin or opiate overdose. Not doesn’t include alcohol or any other drugs that contribute to the destruction caused by addiction all over the nation.

The new report from the U.S. Surgeon General highlights the distressing truth in the statistics. To understand the depth of the addiction crisis in America, one needs only to look around. The report says 1 in 7 Americans will face a substance use disorder. Sadly, only 10% of those will get the necessary treatment to save their life.

In the presence of great suffering there is still hope. People are finally working together to try and shed the stigma of addiction in many communities. The progress that is possible in holistic treatment is life changing, and taking the first steps can make all the difference. If you or someone you love is struggling, call now.  

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

New Drug W-18 Stronger than Heroin and Fentanyl

New Drug W-18 Stronger than Heroin and Fentanyl

Author: Justin Mckibben

First there was the opiate epidemic, with prescription opiate painkillers adding to an ever-increasing rate of heroin addiction. Then came the stories of fentanyl being laced into heroin in various states and soon all across the country, only magnifying the rates of overdoses and opiate-related deaths everywhere. As law enforcement, politicians and other public officials scattered in all directions with different propositions and opinions on how to solve the dilemma, things seemed to be taking a turn toward a new progressive direction for drug treatment. Now, a new synthetic opiate called W-18 is stirring the pot again, and this time the disastrous defects of this potent drug threaten to take an already desperate situation to a new level of lethal.

What is W-18?

W-18 is a synthetic opiate and psychoactive substance similar to heroin, but is said to be much more deadly. W-18 is stated to be the most powerful opioid of a series of about 30 compounds. Experts go as far as to describe W-18 as being:

  • 100 times more potent than fentanyl
  • 10,000 times stronger than morphine

Now this incredibly horrific opiate is making its way to America after first being discovered in Canada. Now even scarier is that while fentanyl is now classified as a controlled substance, W-18 has not yet been prohibited in Canada or in the United States. Back on January 26, 2016 W-18 was actually made illegal in Sweden, but Canada and America have yet to catch up with banning this appallingly toxic synthetic.

Where Did It Come From?

The drug W-18 was originally developed as a painkiller by scientists in Canada at the University of Alberta in 1981. Part of the reason W-18 and the effects if has on human beings is largely unknown is because the drug was deemed too strong after only ever being tested on lab mice. Because of the excessive strength, it was never picked up by pharmaceutical companies and eventually W-18 was simply forgotten… until now.

Currently many believe that this drug, much like the synthetic chemicals that came to produce the synthetic drug Flakka, are created in labs in China and sold over the internet. Because of the limited testing and information on this new threat, there is nearly no clear answer as to how addictive W-18 may be or what side-effects may result from long-term use.

The Damage Done

Now even though this may be the first time a lot of people have heard anything about this drug, W-18 has been causing some damage already, and in no small way.

  • Canada

In August of 2015 police in Canada first seized W-18 in Calgary when authorities confiscated 110 pills initially suspected to be made with fentanyl. Some of those pills were later discovered to contain traces of W-18. Then in mid-April, authorities announced that last December they had seized four kilograms of pure W-18 in Edmonton.

  • Florida

Recently in March more than 2.5 pounds of W-18 was found in the home of a Miramar, Florida man who was being arrested for selling fentanyl pills. This man was later sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

  • New Hampshire

Police in New Hampshire are now warning about the drug making it into the area, with Plaistow and Bristol Police Departments posting on their Facebook pages to warn their communities about the drug.

  • Maine

The Sanford Maine Police Department and the Wells Maine Police Department both also have issued warnings on their Facebook pages about W-18 over the weekend.

The drug so far has been found to be pressed into pills mislabeled as OxyContin and other opiates being sold on the streets, or mixed into powdered heroin. Health officials are growing more and more concerned because not only do we not have enough data to truly tell us how lethal this experimental substance is, but the current drug tests cannot detect W-18 in a person’s blood or urine- making it especially difficult for doctors to help someone who may be overdosing.

Opiates have become one of the greatest threats against human lives today. More and more people are losing their lives in a tragic battle against opiate abuse, be it prescription painkillers or illicit and experimental synthetics. The last thing the world needs is another ingredient to this terrifying blend of man-made elements proving fatal.

Pills and powdered opiates are killing people every day all over the nation, and the heartbreak is only amplified when thinking of how the resources to help save those lives are there but people don’t take the first step towards changing. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, don’t wait. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135   

Is Dangerous Drug Flakka Really Gone?

Is Flakka Really Gone?

Author: Justin Mckibben

Flakka, the infamous “$5 insanity” that surfaced nearly 2 years ago and flooded the news with the impending doom it seemed to add to the already corrosive drug scene, has seemingly dissipated to the point of practical extinction according to reports that have left authorities across the country puzzled. With the wild stories of erratic behavior, hospitalizations and even horrendous attacks it is strange that a synthetic nightmare that came out of nowhere has apparently disappeared out of nowhere. Is Flakka really gone?

Florida Finds Huge Flakka Decline

According to CNN, 63 Flakka users died in South Florida between September 2014 and December 2015. Last spring, about four people were hospitalized for a Flakka-related incident every day in South Florida, and for the last two years Florida authorities have been working diligently to warn the public about the dangers of Flakka. Now suddenly it seems Flakka use has plummeted. Jim Hall, a drug abuse epidemiologist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida stated,

“I have never seen an epidemic emerge so rapidly but literally disappear so quickly,”

“Anecdotal reports from both street users and law enforcement officers say that Flakka is not even available in the street drug market.”

Compared to two years ago there have been no reported deaths in 2016 related to Flakka. Florida treatment centers reported:

  • Last fall they admitted about 50 Flakka users every month
  • This year they have admitted only 6 Flakka users in January

Florida is not the only place where the terror of Flakka has hit a stark decline. Reports of fewer sightings of Flakka have also come in from other areas such as:

  • Chicago
  • Houston
  • Rural areas of Kentucky

So how could such a demonizing substance that hit these areas so hard be suddenly wiped out?

Chinese Chemical Cut-off

Authorities still aren’t 100% sure how Flakka managed to fizzle out so fast, but Jim Hall believes the shift can traced back to a ban in China on the production and export of alpha-PVP, the chemical name for this dangerous drug. Since the beginning of the synthetic outbreak the source of this chemical was presumably tracked to Chine, and U.S. officials had been applying some real pressured to China to enact the ban, which includes 115 other synthetic drugs.

In October the ban finally went into effect.

Something else that also probably had an enormous impact was that nearly all the drug producers were in one Chinese province, which allowed authorities to cut-off the chemical cooks right at the source. Other factors probably had an impact, including:

  • Public awareness campaigns
  • Law enforcement hunting down dealers
  • Word on the street about the nasty side effects

Will the Peace Last?

A few questions come to mind when enjoying this small hurdle we seem to have overcome: with cooks ordering the chemicals from overseas and making a 2,000% profit from the drug, is it likely they will not fight to get the drug back on the market?

Will another replacement synthetic appear to fill the void? Michael Baumann, who studies designer drugs for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stated:

“History has shown that one of the unintended consequences to banning certain drugs is that it typically leads to an explosion of new replacement drugs.”

So far, no replacements have been reported, but how long will the peace last? You may remember Bath Salts as another horrific example of a synthetic drug exploding onto the market and causing wide-spread panic before losing momentum, and Flakka was not far behind it.

For now officials and community workers are not resting on the laurels of Flakka’s disappearance, and they have continued to be focused on educating the public about the dangers of Flakka and other synthetic drugs. And still, community leaders are putting an emphasis on comprehensive drug abuse and addiction treatment programs to help address those issues that still exist.

Synthetic drugs like Flakka are extremely dangerous, and while they may be on a decline in popularity these kinds of drugs are disastrous and can turn fatal regardless of the name attached. Thankfully no addict has to suffer through this alone. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Synthetic Opiate Adding New Threat in Epidemic

Synthetic Opiate Adding New Threat in Epidemic

Author: Justin Mckibben

The synthetic epidemic is one that has existed parallel to the ongoing and increasingly distressing heroin and opiate epidemic, but now a new synthetic opiate threatens to make a detrimental contribution to both sides of the troubled task of fighting these epidemics.

Synthetic Substance Problems

For a while it seemed like every other week you would hear about another synthetic form of a street drug was being marketed in corner stores and smoke-shops under clever brand disguises, or there was a new form of chemically-induced insanity like Bath Salts or Flakka with a name always stranger than the one before it. Overdoses, bizarre behaviors and even deaths escalated as a result of these unregulated and often mysteriously concocted ingredients as law enforcement struggled to keep up with constantly changing names and components.

As distributors did their best to avoid detection they changed an ingredient or two in the chemicals used to make the synthetic drugs, and this kept them slipping through loop holes and out of the grasp of law enforcement. New legislation has been proposed just to try and hone in on the problem, and many states are still stumbling trying to keep up.

This newest suspect to send a shock to the system is the synthetic opiate U-47700. In the last several decades the synthetic opiate U-47700 has generally been limited to laboratories, but is now this opiate is being “recycled” as a recreational drug on the streets.

The Trouble with U-47700

According to reports on the synthetic opiate U-47700 the drug is actually 7.5 times more powerful than morphine and can cost as low as $40 per gram! The synthetic opiate also has been reported to be abused in various ways including:

  • Snorted in powder form
  • Taken orally
  • Injected intravenously

There have even been reports of individuals taking U-47700 rectally. At this point no matter how it is ingested, users should be aware that it comes with a great measure of danger. Most recently the synthetic opiate already sent two young adults in North Texas to the hospital, with one of the individuals in intensive care with respiratory depression.

This recent incident created such shock that it prompted the Parkland Health and Hospital System to release a statement last week desperately warning the community of the dangers of U-47700. In a Parkland Hospital press release Dr. Kristina Domanski, a toxicologist with the North Texas Poison Center stressed the nature of the drug as an experimental synthetic opiate, saying:

“This seems to be a pretty new recycling of the drug which is intended as a research drug and not for use in humans,”

This may be the first time you have ever even heard of U-47700, I know I had never heard of it… but this isn’t the first time this drug has brought some serious concerns to the table. This synthetic opiate has been linked to deaths throughout Europe, motivating Sweden and Finland to make it illegal, and back in February the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued a statement regarding a death in Belgium that was connected to a combination of fentanyl and U-47700.

In this statement the UNODC noted that U-47700 has,

“…effects very similar to morphine and heroin, but with a significantly shorter duration of action.”

The intensity of this synthetic opiate creates an exacerbated threat potential for overdose, respiratory depression and death.

Internet Intervenes with the Issue

Users of the synthetic opiate have shared a variety of personal experiences on online forums like Bluelight and Reddit, and one Bluelight user quoted a parent whose son died from an accidental U-47700 overdose, stating:

“He was still sitting in his chair, so I hope with all my heart that he died quickly, painlessly and without fear. He was our only child…we don’t have answers, but these chemicals are far too dangerous. Live to be old, not just 22.”

A Reddit user described watching a friend almost succumb to an overdose on U-47700, but this individual was saved be the administration of Narcan.

With all the internet testimonies of users seeking a euphoric feeling and being met with near-death experiences it is probably fair to say that these online forums are helping spread the word on this dangerous and deadly synthetic drug that is making its way from the research labs to the mainstream drug scene.

But how is this drug getting on the streets? Well, that too is the internet… as plenty of sites also advertise being able to sell research chemicals. In fact, when I searched U-47700 on Google the third site to link to was selling the synthetic opiate in powdered form for $39.99 in U.S. dollars, so it apparently isn’t that hard to get a hold of.

The question is- will people heed the warnings being shouted out across the internet and news, or will this new potent and potentially lethal substance add a new element to the demoralization and ruin caused by the opiate epidemic.

Synthetic or ‘designer’ drugs are bad enough already, and the opiate problem has only continuously gotten worse. Although this research chemical may not be as well known, it is a tremendous threat, but there is an effective rehabilitation program to help. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

EMTs in Florida Using Ketamine to Fight Flakka

EMTs in Florida Using Ketamine to Fight Flakka

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

In a decision that will undoubtedly be debated at innovative or extremely controversial, emergency responders in Florida are going to be taking a pretty drastic measure in their movements to fight back against the growing issue of the infamous “$5 insanity” of Flakka… using doses of Ketamine to subdue violently aggressive patients.

When I came across this story I could not help but be baffled, yet curious as to how exactly this plan of action has been orchestrated and how it will be executed.

So I want to ask… is it a good idea that EMTs in Florida are going to be using Ketamine to fight Flakka?

First- What is Flakka?

For anyone who hasn’t heard, Flakka is one of the newest dangerous drugs to hit the streets that has gained a lot of attention in a short period of time for the dramatic, tragic and appalling stories it has inspired.

The synthetic drug Flakka, also known by other names such as Gravel, is a synthetic version of an exceedingly strong stimulant cathinone, officially dubbed alpha Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (Alpha-PVP). Commonly found in a crystal-like form, Flakka is known to be cheap, addictive, and deadly. When used this can be ingested in various ways, including:

  • Swallowed
  • Smoked
  • Snorted
  • Injected

Some of the effects include:

  • Body overheating
  • Heightened sense of euphoria
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Feeling superhuman strength
  • Psychotic episodes

There have been stories of people running naked through the streets, reacting in rage to horrific hallucinations, and even one story of an elderly woman beaten to death by an individual trapped in a Flakka induced violently psychotic episode. These terrible and frightening stories have hit authorities hard, and apparently they are willing to go to great lengths to put a stop to the madness.

So then what is Ketamine?

Ketamine is another synthetic substance that has a history of strange side-effects and street credit for being abused and becoming addictive. It has been used before as an anesthetic and analgesic drug, but earned a bad name for its illicit use as a hallucinogen. It also has a reputation as a “date-rape” drug.

Ketamine is commonly seen as a powder or liquid and was initially used on animals. When used on the streets it is often ingested by:

  • Injection
  • Consumed with drinks
  • Snorted
  • Smoked

Yet more recently we have begun to see more and more people pushing for one reason or another to drop the bad name assigned to Ketamine to promote positive uses for it, such as treating depression.

Synthetic VS Synthetic

Now in a very radical approach some Florida EMS departments are arming their paramedics with Ketamine as a new weapon to fight Flakka. The latest fire and rescue department in the state to start utilizing Ketamine is Indian River County Fire and EMS. Last week the announced that within the next two weeks their paramedics will be trained on how to administer Ketamine and equipped with the substance.

According to officials the thigh injection can sedate a patient within a minute. Battalion Chief Cory Richter in Indian River County told reporters,

“It will knock them out, but it won’t hurt them in any way, shape or form. It will allow us to treat them and get them to the hospital, and it keeps our guys safe.”

Richter went on to explain that patients who are high on Flakka pose a very real threat to paramedics because the drug gives them superhuman strength and also makes them resistant to pain. Indian River County has had several serious incidents involving Flakka in the past few months, so authorities are done taking their chances it seems.

Indian River County is not the first in Florida to use Ketamine for this purpose. The city of Plantation began placing vials of Ketamine on all of rescue trucks, but reported only needing to use them roughly once per month. The officials in these areas insist that Ketamine is more effective than other drugs because it doesn’t affect the patient’s respiratory system or heart rate, making it safer to use as well. Last July Lt. Daniel Tringali of the Plantation Fire Department told reporters,

“If a police officer’s Taser does not stop them, something needs to stop them,”

Again driving home the point that even though many question Ketamine as being a powerful sedative substance it is still a measure many have deemed necessary in contrast to allowing their EMTs, other emergency response teams or law enforcement to be at elevated risk of injury from an aggressive individual in a Flakka induced rage. To fight Flakka it might be necessary to give EMTs an advantage.

I find myself wondering how this would work out. Apparently officials in the areas already using Ketamine to fight Flakka think it is doing a decent enough job of keeping people safe in the most compromising circumstances. Considering last summer 27 people died of Flakka-related overdoses in an 8 month period in Broward County alone, I think maybe it is understandable why people are so desperate to find a new means to fight Flakka. Not sure if substituting Ketamine is the best solution there is, but right now it seems to be a strategy people are willing to try.

Synthetic drug abuse is so dangerous because of the fact the ingredients and the side-effects can be horrifically unpredictable. Chemical cocktails made from mystery compounds in underground labs with lethal potency are a nightmare being sold on the streets, and beyond such a radical idea as pitting one chemical against the other there is real recovery from drug abuse in the Palm Partners addiction treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling please don’t wait, call 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.

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