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
Last September I wrote about how the city of Baltimore, Maryland was being labeled the “Heroin Capital of the United States” and was suffering from a community crushing crisis as Government agencies estimate that as many as one in 10 of the residents of the city of Baltimore are addicted to heroin. So it is a true inspiration to see a program being established to help heroin addicts already pulled into the prison system by drugs being treated before released.
Demand for Intervention
Last year alone in Maryland there were 578 deaths due to heroin overdose. That is an astounding 25% increase from 2013, and more than double the number of deaths from heroin in 2010. Maryland suffered many losses due to overdose:
- Baltimore City ranked first for heroin deaths last year- 303 deaths
- Baltimore County-170 deaths
- Anne Arundel- 101 deaths
- Montgomery- 65 deaths
The Hogan Attack on Heroin
Some time ago Republican Governor Larry had declared a “state of emergency” concerning the increasing rate of heroin related deaths, acknowledging the opiate epidemic as a nationwide crisis.
At a news conference in February he even revealed his cousin had died of a heroin overdose, and said he was committed to an approach emphasizing compassion and treatment.
It appears now more than ever with this new initiative that he is holding true to that ideal.
He later formed a “coordinating council” of state officials, and he established an emergency task force of elected officials and substance-abuse experts to hold summits throughout Maryland and provide recommendations on how to tackle the epidemic.
This Tuesday the Hogan administration announced the plans to initiate the treatment of heroin addicts in 8 county jails and detention centers throughout Maryland in hopes of keeping inmates out of jail once they make it back to their neighborhoods.
This is the first program of its kind to be initiated by Hogan, and the treatment for the prisoners is designed to be paid for by a $500,000 federal grant.
Hogan himself made a statement saying the program would be a long-term money-saver for Maryland, saying it will reduce the costs of drug-related crime and recidivism on Maryland’s state and local governments.
New Policies for Prisoners
The key ingredient to these new programs policies is naltrexone, which is a nonnarcotic and non-addictive substance designed to block the euphoric effects of heroin and other opiates. The program provides that inmate receive a monthly injection of this possibly life-saving drug.
The system being set in place is to create some level of support once the prisoners are reinserted into society. For inmates to be eligible to enter the treatment program they must be housed at a county detention center and be within 3 months of release. During this time they will receive the initial naltrexone shots before being released, and after that they have the option to receive follow-up injections from county health departments.
The state goes even further by providing continued support, including:
- Enrolling them in Medicaid or other health-insurance plans to pay for the anti-addiction drug
- Post-release support services such as housing
- Mental-health counseling
Each jurisdiction that receives grant money must develop a program to monitor ex-offenders’ progress, compliance, recidivism and lingering substance abuse.
Hogan insisted the state needs to provide ex-offenders with “the tools to live sober, healthy, and productive lives.”
He went on to say,
“Addiction is a disease, and we will not be able to just arrest our way out of this crisis.”
Treatment advocates applauded the governor’s efforts, and understandably so. His supporters have rallied behind him with a feel that he is delivering on a promise he made to meet this disease head-on with effective and proactive treatment plans.
Leaps and Bounds
The plan may not yet be perfect, but it is a definite leap in the right direction. So far the Hogan administration granted funding to 8 county agencies. At this time Baltimore City has not received any state treatment funding yet, but according to the governor’s office it is developing a program to qualify for assistance.
Addiction and death as products of heroin abuse has risen dramatically in recent years. With this matter becoming such a widespread and horrifying reality for Americans, the whole concept of drug policy is under constant debate as more and more seek hope in the advancement and application of reforms to our drug laws and the way we address nonviolent drug offenses.
Hopefully as this program grows, as long as it is effective other states are bound to take notice and follow suit, especially considering that the death rate is only rising at this juncture, and is presumed to be fixed to do so for some time. Let us hope that active pursuit of these revolutionary ideas for improving the quality of life for addicts can keep inspiring further change.
While Maryland fights the heroin epidemic on its streets and in its prisons, thousands upon thousands of Americans fight the same fight in their homes and in themselves. Prison is not the only alternative, there is a whole community of individuals dedicated to recovery and we are waiting for you to reach out for that helping hand. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Before I have written about how I believe than Americans may be greatly underestimating the dangers of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, and the very real threat that excessive use of alcohol can lead to a demoralize disease with lethal results. In some ways this is understandable given the fact that the opiate epidemic has been in the forefront of the media, along with the menace of synthetic drugs that are being sold over the counter, but there is still a need for people to recognize how society is consistently creating technology to enable alcoholic behavior and alcohol abuse.
There are already smartphone apps and other inventions now that enable people to drink excessively with the excuse that they have these options in place to keep them out of trouble, and now a new trend that is starting up is by-passing the bar-tender and putting the power to over-indulge directly in the hands of the individual.
The Beginning of PourMyBeer
Introducing PourMyBeer, a self-service beer tap that is quickly and justifiably attaining some popularity. This original idea for this was conceived by 36-year-old Josh Goodman, who after stepping into a crowded sports bar in 2008, was struck with inspiration. Goodman said,
“I was hanging out with my friends at a Baltimore sports bar before an Orioles game. We just couldn’t get another beer served to us quickly.”
Goodman’s moment of clarity came when he thought to himself that not only would bar clienteles be happier, but bars would also draw a much larger profit if the customers themselves had the ability to pour and serve their own drinks. Obviously this logic makes sense. Customers won’t have to communicate with bar-tenders, they can just keep refilling, and the establishments will just rack up the cash while their patrons get demolished. How very considerate of them, right?
A few months later after cultivating the idea, Goodman invested $20,000 of his own funds and partnered with a U.S. manufacturer to launch PourMyBeer , making beer tables with two to four self-service taps, and in 2009 his innovative company provided its first table with self-our beer taps to a tavern in the Baltimore area. But it did not stop the evolution there, and in 2011 PourMyBeer introduced self-service “beer walls,” which let people self-pour their beverages from wall-mounted taps.
Since that first table the market has expanded, and PourMyBeer has spread its influence by providing services to around 200 restaurants and bars covering 28 states and Canada.
Problems with Self-Service
Now some legal questions arise, especially concerning the fact that drinking establishments using the self-pour tap system absolutely must be verly-cautious about underage drinkers. There are reportedly some safeguards to the PourMyBeer system, one of which that has been used is the requirement of a RFID-enabled wristband or card for access. So without one of these cards, a minor would not be able to use the taps. Goodman has explained,
“It’s controlled access. The units give 32 ounces, or two glasses of beer per person at a time.”
While that can be a good indication that there are some restrictions to using these devices in place, is it still going to cause a problem with binge-drinking? Seriously, if there is this constant access to alcohol, and you can throw more and more money into it without having to worry about paying a server, or even talking to one, how likely it is that excessive drinking and even alcohol abuse isn’t going to become more of a norm?
Giving someone with an alcohol problem an ever-flowing source of beer is taking a huge risk, and for some probably seems a little irresponsible. Then again, whether it is a human being, a self-serve tap or a robot bar-tender like a scifi movie, the system cannot be perfect, and an alcoholic will always find a way to drink, I know I did.
Good or bad, the trend is definitely getting traction. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is actually rolling out self-serve taps for people in-between flights, and further examples are sure to start showing up later this year in Italy and Brazil.
So far these devices don’t offer much for those who have a taste more for wine or hard liquor, but this self-service beer system doesn’t ask for a tip either. These may be a major convenience to those who can drink successfully, but for those of us who drink recklessly the self-service system of PourMyBeer is just another way for us to take advantage of any way to catch a buzz.
Putting beer within arm’s length at all times for an alcoholic is risky, and not taking alcohol seriously enough to realize the risks we run from excessive drinking is even worse. People die every day from alcohol abuse, whether it be from drunk driving, alcohol poisoning or health problems caused by drinking. But there is a way out. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Michael Phelps is pretty well known for his record-breaking accomplishments as an American Olympic swimmer, for being the most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 22 medals, 18 of which are gold which is double the runner up, and for massive amounts of effort put forth into his philanthropy endeavors to passionately support the success of those around him. Unfortunately, as of this past week Michael Phelps is facing a second DUI charge that when coupled with other past problems with substances and drunk driving may cost him quite a bit, but hopefully it is waking him up to the realities of substance abuse.
Phelps Past DUI and Pot Problems
This is already Phelps second DUI, the first being back in 2004 when he was 19 years old. Back at the time of this original offense he struck a plea deal with the state prosecutors and pled guilty in exchange for 18 months of probation. This came before his athletic career as an Olympian had even begun to make headway, so there was not much coverage about the story. It was dealt with accordingly, and Phelps went on to serve his probation and take part in the games later down the line.
During the 2008 Olympics, Phelps was questioned by the press as to suspicions that perhaps his amazing accomplishments were actually “too good to be true”, and referred to unsubstantiated gossip that Phelps might be taking performance enhancing drugs. But Phelps met these accusations in good form, and reminded reporters that he had signed up for Project Believe, a venture by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in which the U.S. Olympians were given an opportunity to volunteer to be subjected to drug testing in excess of the World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines, so he had signed up and went out of his way to be tested for drugs more than the average athlete. During the Olympic Games, Phelps passed all nine tests that were administered to him.
But that would not be the last time he had to face allegations and bad press over substance use. Michael Phelps is also known for the ‘water-pipe scandal’ from back in 2009 when a photo surfaced of him holding a pipe used for smoking tobacco or marijuana, and he admitted to the authenticity of the photo and apologized publicly.
Maryland Files Multiple Charges
Media sources indicated through reports that Phelps was hauled off to a Maryland police station this past Tuesday where he was booked for another DUI. Phelps was eventually released, but so far those charges have stuck. Police officials stated that Michael Phelps was charged with multiple offenses including DUI, excessive speeding and crossing double lane lines.
According to sources in the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, Phelps was arrested at approximately 1:40 a.m. Tuesday and charged with driving under the influence after an officer clocked Phelps’ white 2014 Land Rover speeding through a 45-mph zone at the excess of 84 mph. Police said that while driving he crossed double yellow lines inside the Fort McHenry Tunnel on northbound Interstate 95, which was just one indicator he was intoxicated. It was also stated that he completely bombed his field sobriety test, and upon further inspection the officer found his Blood Alcohol Content (B.A.C.) was almost twice the legal limit!
Phelps Issues an Apology
Michael Phelps has officially issued a statement on his DUI arrest in Baltimore, Maryland, saying he takes “full responsibility” and is sorry he let everyone down. The following are the posts that Phelps put up on his Twitter that make up the statement he issued to the public Tuesday:
“Earlier this morning, I was arrested and charged with DUI, excessive speeding and crossing double lane lines.”
“I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility.”
“I know these words may not mean much right now but I am deeply sorry to everyone I have let down.”
With this Phelps seems to be making an attempt at picking up the pieces again after a scandal involving him and substance abuse. Phelps had announced in April that he was coming out of retirement to compete for Team USA in 2016 Summer Games, but many are beginning to wonder if he will be losing out on more sponsorship now that he is in the news again. He had lost his previous pay-roll with Kellogg’s after the whole ‘water-pipe’ incident, and many are debating whether more companies will jump ship to avoid being associated with his brand. Others however insist that 22 medals for America is more than enough to sweep these 2 strikes under the rug. But should it be? Or should more be done to make sure these issues are taken more seriously?
Olympic Athlete or not, someone who has found themselves in trouble for DUI’s more than once should probably consider taking a real look at their drinking, and possibly drug use if that is a factor for them. Putting lives at risk, others and you own, in order to drink and use drugs is just one indicator of a more serious problem, and hopefully you get the help you need before it is too late. 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.
Author: Justin Mckibben
I dare you to take a wild guess what the heroin capital of the United States is. Some used to suspect it was New Jersey, or maybe even Boston, Massachusetts. Nope. Try Baltimore, Maryland… or more infamously referred to by some of its more creative population as ‘Body-more Murder-land’! Also called B-more, as in “Y’all B****’s Better B(e)-More Careful” according to a Baltimore, MD native. This area has gained some obvious notoriety for its rough edges and gritty streets as depicted in hit series The Wire. Government agencies estimate that as many as one in 10 of the residents of the city of Baltimore are addicted to heroin. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) claims that the city of Baltimore has the highest per capita heroin addiction rate in the country! And the DEA also estimates that the total number of addicts in the city may vary, but experts agree it’s a very staggering statistic.
Interview with the Addicts
A recent interview with a 42 year old Baltimore resident named Wanda, who was one of the many addicts in the area, gave an interesting insight into the current situation.
“I did tricks, I stole, I robbed, I did whatever I had to do to get it,” Wanda said about her $50-a-day heroin habit. “The drug was taking control of my life.”
Wanda, who requested that her last name not be used in the publications about her interview, said she had begun using heroin at the age of 18. Now she is in a drug addiction rehabilitation program at the Center for Addiction Medicine in downtown Baltimore. Drug-free for more than two months, Wanda is very open and honest about the desperation of the devastating and deadly heroin habit, admitting to the interviewer,
“I Wanted to Die.”
This same sentiment of a drug user’s death wish was repeated in other interviews, including an interview with a young man named Jonathan who at 18 years old says he has contemplated suicide in the past. Jonathan had just quit the drug, and explains that his $140 a day heroin habit had pushed him to the point where he has lost his “feeling of self-worth”, and he had pondered intentionally overdosing on the drug. Since he has been off heroin, Jonathan has been treated with what is described as a ‘substitute drug’ prescription of buprenorphine.
A 27-year-old woman who asked to be identified only as “T” who is currently undergoing treatment says her heroin addiction turned her from a ballet student into an exotic dancer.
“I went from dancing at the Peabody [Institute] to dancing in a strip club — that’s how I paid for that habit,” she says. “[Heroin] will make you do things you wouldn’t expect yourself to do.”
Baltimore City Statistics
There seems to be no shame in the Baltimore drug game, with narcotic transactions taking place in broad daylight at Lexington Market. On one episode of Drugs, Inc. featuring Baltimore an addict tells viewers Baltimore “is where you want to be for heroin,” and she scores some drugs, the local heroin addict lets the camera watch her cook and shoot up in her car on a street that appears to be in Hampden. The hour long episode is filled with unnamed men in masks sitting behind bags full of dope and tables filled with guns, pills and money making malicious remarks and blatantly displaying disregard for police.
With an estimated population of 645,000 the Baltimore Department of Health estimates that there are 60,000 drug addicts, with as many as 48,000 of them hooked on heroin. Beyond that federal report released last month puts the number of heroin addicts alone at 60,000. This astounding number goes to show why experts are now viewing Baltimore as the heroin capital in America. The heroin infestation in Baltimore is so acute that the federal government has designated Baltimore part of what it calls a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, making it eligible for special federal assistance to local police forces while trying to combat the rising population of addicts in the area.
The director of the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA program Tom Carr says the heroin epidemic in Baltimore dates back to the 1950s and is now an engrained part of the city’s culture. The Washington/Baltimore HIDTA program is Carr a joint federal, state and local effort to confront the heroin outbreak head-on.
“It’s an old ‘heroin town’. There is an appetite for heroin in Baltimore … It’s accepted by all too many people down there as something that’s normal behavior,” Carr included in a recent statement addressing the issue.
“It’s almost a rite of passage for some,” he adds, noting that heroin habits are often passed down from generation to generation.
Purer, Stronger, More Deadly
One in every 10 residents of the city of Baltimore snorts, smokes, or more commonly heats and then injects the white powder with a needle, and according to a February report by the HIDTA the heroin found in Baltimore is significantly more potent than the heroin sold in many other areas of the country.
In the mid-1990s, Baltimore became a key East Coast distribution point for high purity South American heroin. Smuggled into the United States from Colombia, South American heroin is considerably more pure than its East Asian and Mexican counterparts. The fact that this heroin is so much more potent makes it more addictive and more deadly. There were 304 fatal heroin-related overdoses in Baltimore and the number of heroin-related hospital emergencies was very similar in the last year alone!
Now with the average price tag for this dangerous narcotic being quoted at about $100 to $120 per gram, combined with the higher potency, and with a noticeable increase in availability the reduced street price is fueling the Baltimore’s plague of heroin addiction by luring in new users more than ever. Many are fooled into thinking because the drug can be used by snorting or smoking it that it is safer than the traditional stigma of shooting the drug with needles, but this is absolutely not the case. Heroin consumed in any way is just as deadly.
Sadly, Baltimore may not be anywhere close to getting out of this epidemic just yet, and the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA program predicted in its February situation report, “The number of heroin addicts in Baltimore will continue to rise. However there is help locally for drug addiction treatment, as well as outside the city.
If they say that Baltimore, MD is now known as the ‘Heroin Capital of America’ than the popular opinion that South Florida is the ‘Recovery Capital of America’ should come as a relief to so many. While there is still plenty of reform and action that must be taken all over the country, it may be a fair assumption that some areas would be more conducive to building a foundation in recovery, as others are assumed to be more dangerous for addicts. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135