Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in February of this year the mayor of Ithaca, New York began pursuing a plan that would establish safe heroin injection sites in Ithaca in an attempt to battle the opiate epidemic raging across the country. This controversial harm reduction tactic is getting brought up a lot more lately. Other states are also looking into starting up similar contingencies for their citizens. Now, the Big Apple is set to spend quite a bit of money and resources investigating the merits of safe heroin injection sites. That’s right, New York City is now taking a closer look at how safe heroin injection sites operate, wondering if it might be a decent plan after all.
Talking about the tab…
One of the big things people seem to be focused on right now is the money. Some believe providing addicts with a clean, medically supervised facility to use is a waste. They believe that what it will be doing is promoting heroin addiction while enabling it, all at the city’s expense.
So far, the tab is already pretty steep. The City Council has announced it will be allocating $100,000 to study the practice. This money will go to the Health Department for a nine-month study to determine whether it makes sense to open safe heroin injection facilities.
Shouldn’t be much of a surprise that these desperate times have called for such desperate measures in New York City. The study comes as the Big Apple is still reeling from a record 937 fatal drug overdoses in 2015, a 66% increase since 2010. With 2016 coming closer to the end, it is a wonder if this will be another record year for the five boroughs. Overdose death rates are a huge factor in a lot of new movements for change.
What are safe heroin injection sites?
Safe heroin injection sites are facilities where intravenous drug users are permitted to use the drug intravenously under medical supervision. The sites offer a place where addicts can use without fear of arrest, in case of an overdose. The idea is to have staff trained and available to be able to save lives. At the same time, the hope is to reduce other risks associated with intravenous drug use.
Several safe heroin injection sites already exist in dozens of cities outside the United States. Should America be next? Some of the countries who use this practice include:
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito commented saying,
“It’s been done and been implemented in other areas [of the world], so we just want to look up what the viability would be in New York,”
This seems like a pretty fair response to the epidemic; trying to explore and educate officials on more options that could help. And beyond reducing overdose deaths, HIV and viral hepatitis transmission, safe heroin injection sites work to connect addicts with drug-treatment options. So it isn’t just about giving them a safe place to get high, but also making them feel safe and supported whenever they try to get help.
Conservatives in opposition
But of course there is a great deal of opposition. Michael Long, the state Conservative Party Chairman, claims the $100,000 could-
“- be put to better use than sending a message that it is OK to use intravenous drugs as long as you use a government-sanctioned place.”
However, the reality is that the money is being utilized in a way that serves it’s initial purpose. $5.6 million is already set aside in the city budget to combat AIDS. The $100,000 for the safe heroin injection site study is coming from that bulk of finances.
So while surely some would not be all for spending the tax-payers dollar on researching “legal drug dens” the truth is the money is going somewhere that could make a huge difference to the effect of what tax-payers originally intended it for.
The safe heroin injection study
According to a council memo, as far as the actual study itself, the researchers will review data that pertains to:
- Health conditions and disease transmission related to heroin and other injected drugs
- Evaluate existing supervised injection facilities
- Assess legal issues
- Input from select “city officials and community experts”
This isn’t the first radical idea on this side of the country. Seattle is also considering safe heroin injection sites. Earlier this year, Boston opened a facility where addicts can use under safe medical observation. However these people have to inject drugs elsewhere. This doesn’t seem like as good of a plan, because it’s basically asking for addicts to use and drive. Still, it is some kind of innovation in a different direction.
Preventing of death and the spread of disease is vital. As the death rate escalates in relation to heroin addiction and infections caused by intravenous drug use, prevention is increasingly important. These programs may be controversial, but the cost of losing lives is a lot higher than spending some money looking into alternatives.
Beyond harm reduction, there is real recovery. Real recovery begins with effective and innovative treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Harm reduction is one method of addressing the nation’s drug issue that may seem to some as a philosophy of enabling, while to others it makes sense to offer safe alternatives to individuals who abuse drugs because these strategies can prevent the spread of disease and the damage to the community. It was estimated that 2015 would be a big year for harm reduction, as many suspected that drug policy reform would reshape the landscape in the wake of the “failed war on drugs” while there were efforts being actively put forth to alleviate the suffering caused by the opiate epidemic.
Needle exchange programs are one way that harm reduction can be implemented in a community. Supplying clean needles and safe disposal sites for addicts to use keeps them from sharing needles infected with disease, and now one kind of needle exchange program is changing the game.
In Seattle the volunteers behind a needle exchange are now handing out meth pipes to drug users for free as well. So is this the same kind of harm reduction being utilized to keep people safer, or is this just negligence at an all-time high?
Meth Pipe Program
It seems some think harm reduction means catering to more than just needles. This strange meth pipe program was launched by a group called The People’s Harm Reduction Alliance about 2 months ago, and is offered 5 days per week off an alley next to a church in Seattle’s University District.
About 25 to 30 meth pipes are handed out each day, and according to the executive director of the alliance Shilo Murphy, the demand for the free meth pipes has been growing ever since. The theory behind the program is that by handing out the pipes, some drug users will rely less on needles, which in turn helps to cut down on the risk of certain diseases in the community. Murphy stated:
“People kept coming to our program and saying that they were getting syringes because they didn’t have access to a pipe.”
So in essence this program has tried to circumvent the whole needle issue by giving users access to another method of ingesting their drugs that put them at a much more decreased risk of infection.
Many former addicts are actively involved in these movements to try and help change things in the community. Some even say that this program also helps those who have never used needles, because it is still possible to spread diseases by sharing pipes if there are open wounds in the mouth present. Regg Thomas, a drug user for the past 20 years who currently works with the Urban Survivors Union stated:
“Whatever the reason is why both parties don’t have their own… They wind up sharing. Well, this program has prevented that because all it takes is a cut orally and you’ve transmitted a disease possibly,”
Whether the theory for the program actually works is still up for debate.
So we have seen how harm reduction can help, and I can even begin to understand how this might actually be a useful tactic for addressing a local drug issue, BUT according to state law handing out drug paraphernalia like the pipes is still illegal in Seattle. And Murphy said he knows that, but he disputes that so was syringe exchange 25 years ago. And yet Seattle has syringe exchange programs and it’s proven to be one of the biggest advantages they’ve had for fighting HIV infections through injection drug use in the state.
Even though it’s illegal under state law to give someone certain kinds of drug paraphernalia, police said they’re more concerned with what’s put into the pipes and not necessarily the pipes themselves.
Making a Real Difference
It isn’t all about the bureaucracy for those involved in this movement. It seems this is more about making a real difference and less about placating to the drug users to enable them. Murphy said this is the first program of its kind in the nation, and he believes it has not just reduced risk behaviors, but it has helped get various users tested for Hepatitis C.
But Murphy does not stop with handing someone a pipe and telling them have fun. The program lets drug users pick up wound care kits and get crucial information about treatment options. Murphy insisted:
“By engaging them, we gave people self-worth… Give back people’s desire to live better in life and live better in society,”
It seems that even though it is technically outside the realm of the law, this program could actually inspire similar changes as far as officials and organizations stepping up to keep citizens safer and more informed as drug addicts instead of labeling them all criminals and locking them up.
I have to say, harm reduction programs to me always seem like an awful idea at first because I believe in abstinence and a program of recovery, but these programs aren’t ever meant to be permanent solutions, only temporary effective vehicles to get individuals the help they need and provide safe and educational support for them until they are willing to get the help. It may sound like it is enabling, and it some ways I guess it is, but it’s saving lives and at least offering an opportunity most would never know about. Maybe harm reduction has more potential than we are currently using.
Enabling addicts to keep using is not a good personal decision, but at the same time putting in place a system to keep the community safe from the spread of disease or more dangerous circumstances is important, especially if it gets people the help they need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Southeastern Indiana has been battling the prescription painkiller problem for some time, and for a second it seemed that heroin was outdoing opioids as the drug of choice and the pill issue was in decline. Then this past Wednesday news from state health officials changed all that optimism when people were informed that at least 26 people in the region were diagnosed with HIV in just a 3 month period, and most of them contracted it after injecting drugs, but not the heroin they thought they were dealing with, but Opana, another potent painkiller.
Record Numbers of HIV Cases
The first case that has been included in the outbreak in southeastern Indiana was diagnosed in early December according to the deputy commissioner and director for health outcomes at the Indiana State Department of Health Dr. Jennifer Walthall.
By January 23rd the total of newly diagnosed HIV cases jumped to 11, and in a region that typically experiences less than 5 new cases annually that was a big eye-opener. Since then, more cases have been diagnosed in several counties, and officials are troubled.
These cases, not to mention 4 others considered preliminary cases, could be the start of a whole new problem for the people of Indiana. State health officials are interviewing newly identified HIV patients and urging them to reach out to their sexual partners as well as anyone with whom they shared needles, as both forms of contact can spread the disease.
During their investigation into the outbreak, officials found those infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, had injected Opana. State health officials say it is not a common occurrence that prescription drug abuse has sparked an HIV outbreak, and Dr. Melinda Campopiano, a medical officer with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, agreed in a statement.
“I am not aware of any similar instances like this related to this or any other specific opioid pain reliever. I am so sorry to learn this is going on.”
Opana is a drug that started its trend about 5 years ago when the makers of Oxycontin’s reformulated that drug in an attempt to make it harder to abuse. The company who makes Opana- Endo Pharmaceuticals, took similar steps, but Opana contains oxymorphone, an opioid more potent per milligram than Oxycontin, and people have continued to find ways to transform Opana pills into an injectable high.
Experts say the prevalence of Opana abuse varies across the country, but they have stated that just one or two doctors prescribing the drug in large quantities can have a drastic impact on the drugs popularity for abuse.
Kentucky, for instance, saw a spike in Opana overdose deaths in 2011 according to the executive director of the Kentucky Office for Drug Control Policy. But the issue seems resolved since the drug became tamper-resistant. In addition Kentucky closed a number of the infamous ‘pill mills’.
Health and law enforcement officials have fought back against Opana in southeastern Indiana as well, including shutting down pill mills and creating stricter enforcement on prescriptions, and statistics showed that the number of prescriptions had dropped.
But at the same time, heroin use in the area has raised according to Indiana State Police officials.
The recent outbreak has brought the reality of drug abuse to many peoples front door for the first time. That being said, there’s nothing specific about this drug to link it to HIV according to expert opinion. Sharing needles, regardless of the substance, creates the risk of contracting whatever disease the previous user had.
Then again, whenever anyone injects a substance such as Opana, bigger wounds and more bleeding can ensue, which can increase the chance of contamination.
Now, those in health care must bring the message of the dangers of needle sharing to the general public, and state health officials are actively trying to spread the word about the importance of cleaning needles. Here again we see the importance of a harm-reduction approach. Officials are now providing harm-reduction kits to those who use drugs intravenously, and encouraging them to seek treatment.
While the efforts seem well planned, many believe that the outbreak has just begun, and that local clinics should be prepared to test patients in the region worried about contracting HIV through sexual partners, given the nature of the illness. In the near future many bodies will have to come together to help care for those affected by this outbreak, including churches, clinics and counselors. But the public health care system will need to be there to support the community, because some expect the outbreak is likely to impact far too many too soon.
HIV and other infectious diseases are just example one of the countless devastating side-effects of drug abuse. Too many lives are either destroyed or ended because of drugs and alcohol, but there is always a way out for those willing to seek it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
LGBT is more than just a few upper-case letters to a lot of people. LGBT typically signifies the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in terms of treatment, and LGBT drug rehab is designed to provide a safe environment for anyone and everyone who is actively seeking treatment for their issues with substance abuse or addiction, and in a LGBT Drug Rehab (LGBQT Drug Rehab) there is an atmosphere for equal and understanding support systems to be set up. LGBT drug rehab facilities and their staff do not judge individuals based on any aspect of their personal lives. Your race, sex, age, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, economic situation, past, etc. is never used as a basis for discrimination, and a LGBT Drug Rehab will do everything to make your experience comfortable. LGBT or LGBQT Drug Rehab facilities are here to help you beat your addiction and help you feel great about yourself during this transition.
If and when you do come to Palm Partners we know that you are an individual and you may have special needs or request in order to further enhance your recovery.
If you consider yourself to be a part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer and Transgender (LGBQT) community, please be aware that LGBT drug rehab and LGBQT drug rehab facilities offer services to address your needs. LGBT drug rehab programs and LGBQT drug rehab centers are aware of the issues that affect the LGBT community differently, as well as issues that are unique to the LGBT or LGBQT drug rehab community, and LGBT drug rehab can provide you with therapy and services that address those specific needs with an experienced and compassionate staff.
LGBT Drug Rehab: Addiction in the LGBT Community
Recent studies have indicated that approximately between 20% and 30% of gay and transgender people abuse substances, compared to about 9% of the general population. According to statistics in the United States there are three main factors leading to these rates of substance use and abuse among gay and transgender people in the country. These three contributing elements are:
- High level of stress that comes from social prejudice and discriminatory laws in areas of daily life such as employment, relationship recognition, and health care.
- Lack of cultural competency in the health care system discourages gay and transgender people from seeking treatment for substance abuse, and—if they do seek help—often leads to inappropriate or irrelevant services.
- Targeted marketing efforts by alcohol and tobacco companies exploit the connection many gay and transgender people have to bars and clubs as safe spaces for socializing and increase easy access to tobacco products and alcohol.
LGBT drug rehab and LGBQT drug rehab programs embrace the LGBT community, and support these individuals with LGBT friendly recovery criteria. They provide groups unique to LGBT individuals in recovery, as well as specialized therapist on staff who work specifically in LGBT therapy. There is a great deal of effort put forth in the best LGBT drug rehab programs to create connections between clients and the local LGBT community, in order to provide them with resources that can help them after they leave LGBT drug rehab.
LGBT Drug Rehab: Addressing All Aspects of Addiction
The best LGBT drug rehab will offer therapy that includes a variety of treatment methods pertaining to all different facets and aspects of addiction. Some of these are more relevant for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender individuals who need help with substance abuse. Some of the things LGBT drug rehab and LGBQT drug rehab centers address are:
- AIDS/HIV positive issues
- Sexuality issues
- Relationship issues for the addict and the co-addict
- Incest/child abuse
- Sexual identity and crossover issues
- Crisis intervention
- Medication management
- Alcohol and drug dependency
- Adult children of alcoholics
- Eating disorders and food addictions
- Couples conflict and intimacy issues
Not all drug treatment centers are created equal, but all people are! Not all drug rehabs have programs that are LGBT friendly, but those who do are powerful tools in recovery for anyone who is part of that community.
LGBT Drug Rehab: Palm Partners Treatment Program
There are many things that Palm Partners does that make the Palm Partners treatment program unique with the LGBT community are:
- Helping lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons: help with coming out
- Internal and external homophobia
- Socialization and sobriety skills
- Sexual compulsivity
- Sex addiction
The therapy for those that are in LGBT drug rehab and LGBQT drug rehab also includes therapy for trauma
- Incest/child abuse and rape
- Couples conflict resolution.
As part of the LGBT therapy Palm Partners also offers HIV/AIDS education and awareness groups and classes, as well as groups to deal with grief and loss. There is also education and counseling for the families of those who are lesbian, gay men, bisexual or transgender to acknowledge that substance abuse, addiction, and recovery are a process that affects the whole family.
LGBT and LGBQT friendly drug rehab programs may not seem like the easiest thing to find, but there are incredible programs available that are fully supportive and proactive when it comes to treating LGBT/LGBQT clients with the respect and compassion that we all deserve, while giving them the constructive and empowering tools for their recovery, and for their future. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.
Opana abuse is a behavior described as taking more of your Opana prescription than you were instructed to take by your physician. More obviously, Opana abuse is the buying of the prescription painkiller off of others also called “on the street.” In either case, Opana abuse is further described as altering the method of how you take it. So, for example, people who abuse their Opana prescription might crush up the pills in order to snort them, a method called insufflation, or they might inject the drug into their veins, known as IV use, after preparing their Opana pills in a liquid solution.
Long Term Effects of Opana Abuse: Physical Dependence
An effect of long-term Opana abuse is being physically dependent, which means that, when you try to stop or run out of your Opana pills, you become physically ill as well as experience extreme mental distress, such as depression and severe anxiety. If you are on pain management for an ongoing medical issue and have been taking Opana for a long period of time, you will develop what is called dependence on it, which is a physical and psychological need for Opana in order to even function properly. Physical dependence is a separate yet overlapping medical condition and it’s a difficult situation to deal with if you don’t have support from medical sources, such as a detox program.
Long Term Effects of Opana Abuse: Drug Tolerance
Because Opana is a physically addictive substance, meaning that your body and brain become dependent on it, the longer you take it, the more likely you are to build tolerance to it. Building a tolerance to a drug means that your body will need increasingly higher amounts of it as time goes by in order to get the same effect as you did when you first started taking it. Therefore, one of the long term effects of Opana abuse is tolerance and this is significant because tolerance and increasing your Opana intake can lead to many other, serious health and social problems.
Long Term Effects of Opana Abuse: Respiratory Depression and Distress
One of the more serious long term effects of Opana abuse is respiratory distress, which is the slowing and stopping of the breath. This is the main mechanism behind fatal overdose when it comes to the use and abuse of painkillers such as Opana. Besides blocking pain signals to the brain, narcotic painkillers like Opana also have the effect of suppressing central nervous system functions, such as breathing. And, again, this respiratory failure is a result of the tolerance you have developed because, as you take the drug for a long period of time and increasingly take higher doses of it, you are putting yourself at a higher risk of stopping breathing altogether. Respiratory distress is marked by such symptoms as difficulty breathing, feeling lightheaded and dizzy (from lack of oxygen), overdose and even death.
Long Term Effects of Opana Abuse: Increased Physical Illness And Risk Of Death
Other serious long term effects of Opana abuse include putting yourself at an increased risk for physical trauma as a result of accidents and falls while under the influence of Opana, mental illness and fatal overdose as is tragically the case with Opana abuse. Depending on how you take the drug, you are also at higher risk of certain diseases and viruses, including Hepatitis C, HIV, and AIDS.
Long Term Effects of Opana Abuse: Social Consequences
Opana abuse also affects your relationships with your loved ones and can lead to job loss, financial problems, and even legal problems. Many times, people who are abusing Opana or other drugs result to illegal activities in order to continue to support their drug habit. It might be hard to imagine but, as you begin to suffer the negative consequences of your Opana abuse, you will find that the increasing desperation you experience will lead to do behave in ways that you never thought possible before.
If you are on long-term pain management and prescribed Opana or other narcotic painkillers and you want to find another way to treat your pain – without the use of powerful narcotics and you fear the withdrawal syndrome, there are specialized programs, such as the one here at Palm Partners, available to help you detox with dignity and while remaining comfortable. If you have a loved one that you suspect is abusing Opana or other opiates, we can also help. Give us a call toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions. We are available around the clock.