Author: Justin Mckibben
Boynton Beach is beautiful area in South Florida, just north of Delray Beach and south of West Palm in Palm Beach County. The area has been described as “America’s gateway to the Gulf Stream.” Boynton Beach has also been hit by the affected opiate epidemic. Roughly 250 overdoses have occurred this year in Boynton, which is the third largest city in Palm Beach County. While some cities have seen similar spikes in overdoses and drug-related deaths for some time, Boynton Beach experienced a record breaking jump in overdoses overnight this past Tuesday.
The reports of drug overdoses started before sunset. By Wednesday morning police and paramedics had been called to the scene for five separate overdose incidents. For one night, this is the most the city of Boynton Beach has ever seen. As if that weren’t intense enough, all the overdoses occurred in a 12-hour span.
Out of the five, two died and three survived thanks to the life-saving efforts of first responders. This is just another example of how hard the opiate epidemic has hit some cities now more than ever. It is also an indication some of the efforts being made in Palm Beach County are for good reason.
Tracking the Problem
The only available details on the five victims so far include:
- 5:19 p.m. report of a man found in a parked car near Seacrest Boulevard
- 9:44 p.m. a man was found in a car at the 7-11 convenience store
- 10:31 p.m. a 40-year-old man was found dead in his bathroom at the Las Ventanas apartment complex on Federal Highway
- 30 minutes later, a man was found near the Rosemary Scrub Park
- 2 a.m. a man identified as Thomas Varner was found unresponsive at the Homing Inn on Federal Highway — a place police know well for its number of overdoses
Varner, who was the final overdose of the five, received CPR from police officers at the scene. After an attempt to revive Varner by paramedics using life-saving medication Narcan, used to reverse the effects of opiate overdose, he was rushed to Bethesda Hospital East. where doctors tried to save him. Unfortunately, Varner did not survive his overdose. Police Captain Mike Johnson, the shift’s commander during the evening in question, expressed his own concerns with the news, saying:
“We’re in the business of saving lives and when you can’t do that, especially when you have two last night that were fatal, that’s frustrating. But we also recognize that we’re just one prong of this public health crisis.”
Boynton Beach is Not Alone
Boynton Beach is definitely not the only city dealing with increasing drug overdoses. The outbreak of overdose rates and overdose deaths is nationwide. For Palm Beach County, the ‘recovery capitol’ also faces its obstacles with addiction.
- In Lake Worth alone there were 220 overdoses from January to August of this year
- Palm Beach County firefighters responded to 1,246 opioid-related overdoses in that same period
- Delray Beach already had about 394 by late September
Thankfully, Narcan and Naloxone are readily available for first responders, and expansion programs continue to progress across the country. In this 12-hour period four of the victims were taken to Bethesda and were given Narcan.
The fifth man he had already died at the scene.
Not Just Heroin?
Another question is concerning recent reports from several spots in the country where other dangerous drugs are being mixed in with heroin. According to Police Captain Mike Johnson this is- “more likely than not a new batch of heroin hit the city in the last couple of days.” So the question becomes, is there a new batch mixed with something even more toxic set to hit Boynton Beach.
At Las Ventanas, where one victim was found dead, police believe they found the painkiller Fentanyl in the apartment. Fentanyl is an opiate said to be more than 50 times as powerful as heroin. This is not the first time Fentanyl has caused some problems for Palm Beach County. Medical examiner records indicate Fentanyl also played a role in more than 100 overdose deaths in Palm Beach County in 2015. Captain Johnson said,
“It’s an obvious public health crisis. Law enforcement is only one component of addressing that health crisis. The amount of heroin that’s being sold on the street and the amount that’s being cut with Carfentanil or Fentanyl is increasing.”
Due to the rising risks present in some communities Palm Beach County is already organizing events and seminars to properly educate and arm the public with resources for overdose prevention.
One of the most prominent aspects of attacking the addiction issue is the existence of effective, supportive and compassionate drug addiction treatment. One powerful way we can prevent overdose is to make sure those suffering get the quality of care they deserve. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Talk about a power-move… these might just be the kind of game-changers we need to see more of in America.
Even though it is an amazing place for living in recovery, also considered the recovery capitol of the country, South Florida has seen its fair share of trouble in paradise. With an opiate epidemic that has gripped every part of America, even this beautiful community has a population of drug dealers and users, but Florida police are cracking down hard.
As someone who lives here in South Florida as a transplant from the Midwest and an active member of the recovery community it brings a great deal of satisfaction to see the area I now consider my home-away-from-home become a better place.
The last couple months there has been reason to celebrate some of the efforts put forth by law enforcement to make these cities safer. With stories in the news about how bad it gets out there, I figured it would be good to highlight two very recent stories of how police have made massive strides in the right direction when it comes to cutting off influence of the drug dealers in their neighborhoods.
Operation Street Sweeper- Delray City Arrests 28
At the end of April the story broke that police in the city of Delray Beach, Florida had arrested 28 suspected drug dealers in only 10 days as part of an undercover operation. One of the most recent arrests made was that of a man who carried a gun that reports said was called the “cop-killer.” This weapon carried condensed rifle bullets powerful enough to pierce bullet-proof vests, and police are happy to have this dangerous handgun off the streets.
The weapon was traced back to 32 year-old Gerald Petion, who was arrested Sunday evening on charges of:
- Possession and sale of heroin
- Possession of a weapon by a convicted felon
Apparently authorities state that Petion had actually left behind his gun during a police chase two weeks ago.
Delray Beach police began “Operation Street Sweeper” in February with the intention of getting drug dealers in this beautiful South Florida area out of the community. Controlled sales with known drug dealers were repeatedly staged by undercover police officers over the course of months in order to conduct a thorough investigation that lead to these arrests. Police obtained the warrants for these arrests in early April and tracked down many of the dealers, but some are still at-large.
Having arrested over 2 dozen alleged drug dealers in less than 2 weeks time is an impressive move sure to make a heavy impact on the drug traffic in the area. Most of the men and women busted by police were selling heroin, although some sold cocaine and prescription pills.
Operation Dope Death- Boynton Beach Busts 13
Boynton Beach police say an operation they labeled “Operation Dope Death” has helped them dole out a major victory over drug dealers in their community, claiming that this operation lead to:
- Arresting 13 suspected drug dealers
- Confiscated 62 grams of heroin
- 5 grams of cocaine
- 4 grams of marijuana
- $4,300 cash
- 8 cars
- 1 gun
Police say the month-long investigation came after the rising number of calls in response to drug overdoses in the city so far this year, with more than 2/3 cases involving heroin and 5 ending in tragic deaths.
Out of the list of suspected drug dealers involved in the arrest, several were given multiple charges and suspected of dealing in multiple substances that are all controlled and dangerous.
10 have been booked into the Palm Beach County Jail since Monday, and there was even a 17-year-old suspect arrested and charged with the sale of heroin.
With these two substantial operations the police departments in South Florida are working towards dissolving a huge segment of the drug trafficking in the area, and hopefully as the community sees this more resources will come together to make moves toward even more change. It will take time, but it appears possible to level the playing field in more ways than one.
Paradise is nowhere near lost, but it will take work. The same is true for the lives of those impacted by addiction. Even in the darkest times having a willingness to move forward can save lives. 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
So far Palm Beach County has not yet joined the several states or even entire countries that have already banned the herbal substance known as Kratom, which is commonly consumed as a new alternative to coffee or other pick-me-up style energy drinks. But given the nature of this infamous substance there are many who are taking a stand and speaking out to try and have the herb outlawed. So how does the public feel about this, and how will it affect the recovery community?
Background on Banning Kratom
Kratom is an herb found in Southeast Asia. While not yet banned in Palm Beach County, this allegedly dangerous plant has already been banned in Thailand, Australia, Myanmar, Malaysia. Recently upon its arrival to the United States, Kratom has been banned by Indiana and Tennessee. Kratom is often associated to its use in a drink called ‘kava’ here in Florida. Since the substance is currently not banned locally, Kava is still sold regularly.
Those who are against allowing the sale of products containing this substance are concerned kratom is slowly but surely evolving into the next bath salts or synthetic marijuana drug craze, while others who wish to protect its use swear it’s harmless. Kratom is a substance created from plants closely related to coffee family. Kratom is actually utilized in places like Southeast Asia for medicinal purposes, much like we are currently seeing the reforms in the handling of medical marijuana.
However, Kratom is also used as a mood enhancer in areas where it is used like Southeast Asia. It is also considered to be an opiate substitute. As if the idea of it being anything close to an opiate isn’t enough, recent studies make the claim that this substance is also highly addictive.
Given the addict nature of the substance, Palm Beach County is now officially considering the banning of kratom. Kratom has even supposedly been linked to several deaths and multiple emergency-room visits across the country since it was introduced to the United States as the pick-me-up coffee substitute it has been consecutively marketed as.
At this point, Kratom is nowhere near illegal in the United States as a whole as of yet. Although the DEA is keeping a close eye on kratom and its effects, because given the idea that it can be fatal, authorities want to know the severity of the situation. There have been increasing number of people seeking treatment for addiction to kratom, but still it is not being officially considered a controlled substance.
Recent Kratom Cases
Just when the debating about banning kratom may have seemed pointless, tragedy struck and changed a lot of opinions on the topic with the death of Ian Mautner. According to the Sun Sentinel, kratom is being blamed for the recent death of the 20-year-old Boynton Beach man, who leapt to his death from the SW 23rd Avenue I-95 over-pass. This became a bigger piece of the puzzle after Mautner’s mother says he was addicted to kratom.
Mautner’s toxicology and medical examination reports have yet to be concluded and released for public record, the incident seemed to be the last straw for the Palm Beach County Commission. On Tuesday the commission called for an official investigation into the active ingredient offered at local kava bars in this southern Florida area.
In 2013, New Times reported on a Jupiter couple who sued a West Palm Beach kava bar because they claimed they became addicted to the kratom-laced drinks served there. Since that first story was written and published, two of New Times‘ reporters actually tried kratom, and reported back to that publication on their findings.
While this case continues, the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, which was created to help stamp out drug and alcohol abuse in the area, has openly stated that more studies are definitely needed on kratom into order to determine the necessary concerns and any risk it poses. According to Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams, the findings to Mautner’s death will determine whether the county will pursue an all-out ban of kratom.
“It basically alters your state of mind. There needs to be more science done.” Jeff Kadel, the coalition’s executive director stated to the press during a recent interview. With that in mind, it is important the those of us in the recovery community be aware of the risks this substance may pose to people, especially recovering addicts. In the opinion of most, it is a harmful mood and mind-altering substance– it is a drug. It is not to be taken lightly. Until more research has been done on its addictive nature or health risks, it may be safe if it’s not taken at all.
While this debate continues to grow in opinion, we can only hope that the sooner the information is made available the better we can understand what it is that a substance like kratom brings to the table when it comes to the topic of addiction and synthetic drugs. Is it as harmless as some say, or is it more likely to create deadly dependence than people have been giving it credit? One way or the other there may be some serious changes coming for Palm Beach County and the kava community. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Addiction Therapist Boynton Beach: Why is There a Need?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health of 2009, of the 23.5 million who suffer with addiction, only 2.6 million receive treatment in specialized facilities. Addiction therapists are a necessary part of the workforce as there is an increasing need for their expertise; they serve as an integral part of the substance abuse treatment industry.
Addiction Therapist Boynton Beach: What Does That Mean?
Quite simply put, addiction therapists specialize in the treatment and recovery of people with substance abuse and addiction issues.
An addiction therapist, also called an addiction counselor or substance abuse counselor, is a professional in the mental health field who specializes in treating people who struggle with addictions and addiction-related issues. These professionals are often in recovery themselves but this is not a requirement for the job. Addiction therapists work in private practice, substance abuse treatment facilities such as rehab, in group practices, and in hospital settings.
Addiction Therapist Boynton Beach: What is Required to be Certified?
In order to become an addiction counselor, you must complete a training program which includes learning about chemical dependence, psychology, legal issues, and the various different treatment modalities used in treating people who struggle with addictions.
Some addiction therapists hold an MSW, Master of Social Work, while others are either LSWs (Licensed Social Worker) or LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). Any of these certifies you to become an addiction therapist and the main difference among them is length of time in an institution of higher learning.
Addiction Therapist Boynton Beach: What Do They Do?
An addiction therapist works with the addict or alcoholic a therapeutic setting, such as their office within a treatment facility. Their purpose is to help the client find the root of their addiction and as well as help clients adjust to and progress into a life in sobriety. The addiction counselor develops an individual treatment plan for each client, taking into account the underlying cause or causes of their substance abuse, identifying what course of action to take in treating them, such as type of therapeutic modality or modalities.
In order to assist their clients in working past their addiction, these specialized counselors educate them about the nature of addiction as well as teach them how to develop healthy coping skills in order to be able to live a life without substances. The main goal of an addiction therapist is to guide – with counseling – their clients into recovery from their addiction so that they can have a greater chance of success at recovery.
Treatment for drug abuse and addiction varies from client to client and often includes a combination of therapeutic modalities, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, among others.
Addiction Therapist Boynton Beach: How Can They Help?
Many people think of hard drugs when they hear the words ‘substance abuse’ and ‘addiction.’ However, addiction can include so-called soft drugs, such as marijuana. Addiction is a chronic medical condition which affects an individual in two main ways: they struggle with obsessive thoughts that lead to compulsive behaviors. This cycle brings about negative consequences, such as loss of relationships, job, money, or legal and health issues.
Addiction therapists in Boynton Beach also work with people who are struggling with addictive behaviors, like gambling, shopping, eating disorders, and sex, to name a few. Some addiction counselors specialize in a particular area of interest, while other addiction therapists in Boynton Beach treat a wide range of addictions. In all cases, addiction therapists meet with clients in both private and group settings to provide talk therapy in which they discuss ongoing issues and develop treatment plans and ways to cope with life on life’s terms.
Addiction therapists in Boynton Beach see the importance of including family members in their treatment plans and so they offer family therapy in which they educate the loved ones of addicts on the nature of the disease of addiction as well as help to facilitate family communication. Lastly, addiction therapist Boynton Beach help to run addiction programs which range from residential or inpatient facilities for treatment to intensive outpatient programs (IOP).
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction and you are seeking an addiction therapist in Boynton Beach, please call toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions and share with your some resources. Call us any time, day or night. We are always available to help.