Author: Justin Mckibben
In Philadelphia, there have been nearly 800 fentanyl overdoses this year.
According to figures released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a sharp rise in drug overdose deaths, which many attribute in part to fentanyl, is causing a drop in American life expectancy.
As 2018 begins, many are afraid of what the future may bring concerning more deadly drugs reaching the streets, overdoses, and deaths. One area, in particular, is the streets of Philadelphia. Now, many in the area are pointing out that heroin is no longer the poison most popular on the illicit market. Fentanyl in Philadelphia is now the main ingredient in the drug problem.
How Fentanyl in Philadelphia is Changing the Scene
Patrick Trainor is a special agent with the Philadelphia division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Trainor has kept an eye on the Kensington neighborhood for two decades. When talking about the drastic impact the lethal synthetic opioid has brought to the heroin market, he states,
“Fentanyl has drastically changed the landscape… Sixty-four percent of fatals in Philadelphia County are fentanyl-related. There’s no dope out here now, it’s all fentanyl. Even the old timers are scared of it.”
In areas like Emerald Street, AKA Emerald City, even drug users carry Narcan regularly.
Dangers and Death
Even addicts who are now content with using fentanyl are aware of the risks. But many say that compared to heroin, fentanyl’s rush is intense and immediate.
It is painful to use because it burns the vein. Some choose to chance the elevated risk of abscesses by injecting under the skin. This practice is said to reduce the risk of overdose and prolong the high. Yet, overdoses come almost instantaneously. Beyond that, the comedown of fentanyl is said to be abrupt, and the withdrawal period is a long and difficult one.
Tolerance for the drug builds quickly; dependence on the drug is rapid and pretty much unavoidable. Even those revived by Narcan can fall back into overdose due to the immense strength of the drug.
A lot of the issues related to fentanyl in Philadelphia can be connected to how it hit the street in the first place. According to interviews with drug users in the Kensington area, when fentanyl first started flooding the market the dealers didn’t know how to handle it, and the users didn’t even know about it. They had no idea about the risks of the drug, and overdoses were everywhere.
But then the dealers caught on when customers started dying all over, and so they changed the way they cut the drug in order to keep their consumers. Trainor himself notes,
“You’re paying the same for something that’s roughly 100 times more powerful, so why would you buy heroin? The demand is for the most powerful thing they can get. Heroin will never be able to compete with fentanyl. It just can’t.”
There is no wonder why fentanyl in Philadelphia has become the dealers choice, the economics of fentanyl trafficking are easy to understand.
Unlike with heroin, there is no need to wait for the poppy harvest to start production. To yield a kilo of fentanyl, the chemicals one would need cost less than $5,000. At $55,000-$60,000 per kilo delivered, fentanyl is the about the same price as heroin but earns traffickers far more once it is cut and packaged for the street.
Each kilo of fentanyl can be cut out to approximately 330,000 doses, according to Trainor. A single kilo is enough to kill half of the counties residents.
Two factors make fentanyl in Philadelphia such a difficult drug to get ahead of:
No dominant trafficker
With drug problems in the past, a substance coming into any area would probably be controlled by a single, relatively predictable trafficker or trafficking family, but not with fentanyl.
This incredibly powerful and potentially life-threatening drug is coming from China, ordered over the dark web, or coming up from Mexico. It isn’t being shipped in through the typical channels, and thus law enforcement has found it increasingly difficult to track.
It is easy to modify
Fentanyl is a synthetic drug, therefore it is pretty simple to change the formula. Every time traffickers make subtle changes to the chemical ingredients of their batch, the DEA analysts struggle to adapt and catch on before the recipe has been changed again.
“It used to be just fentanyl but now we’ve noticed eight different analogs in this area and around 40 nationally. Our chemists estimate there could be 200 additional variants.”
One of those variants is Carfentanil. This horrifically hazardous material is a painkiller… for elephants and other large mammals! It is estimated to be up to 10,000 times stronger than morphine. Carfentanil has shown up in other areas in the past, such as Cleveland, Ohio. It is still rare for street consumption, but it has shown up along with fentanyl in Philadelphia medical examiner’s office.
Over the past three years, fentanyl-related deaths across America have increased by 540%. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, for the first time, the majority of fatal overdoses are fentanyl-related, accounting for nearly all the increases in drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016. Part of facing the ongoing opioid epidemic is providing effective and comprehensive addiction treatment opportunities. As more and more people die every day from these insidious substances we have to do all that we can to help fight back. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help!
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Another devastating tragedy in music occurred on Thursday.
Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, was found dead at just 41 years old due to an apparent suicide. Brian Ellis, the chief of operations for the LA County coroner’s office, confirmed the death hours after it was reported by a TMZ article.
The death struck similarities to the death of Sound Garden frontman Chris Cornell, who killed himself in May. Chester Bennington was very close to Cornell, and his suicide occurred on Cornell’s birthday.
On the day of Chris Cornell’s suicide, Bennington wrote an open letter expressing his grief.
“I can’t imagine a world without you in it,” he wrote.
“I pray you find peace in the next life.”
The Era of Linkin Park
Linkin Park had a string of mega-hits over the years, including “Faint,” “In the End” and “Crawling.” Linkin Park even crossed music genres, collaborating with Jay-Z. The Linkin Park album, “Meteora,” was one of the biggest alternative albums in music history.
The death is a shock to millions of fans; however, Chester Bennington’s struggle with addiction and mental illness is not something he was ever private about. Bennington has opened up various times throughout his career about his struggles with substance abuse and mental illness.
In a recent interview, Bennington elaborated on what he had to overcome over the past few years. In 2015, Bennington broke his ankle while playing basketball. The ankle injury forced the band to cancel all of the tour dates they had remaining for The Hunting Party Tour that year.
Stone Temple Pilot guitarist, Dean Deleo, talked with radio station WAAF-FM about how severe the injury was:
“He hurt himself badly. It was not only a break — the guy tore darn near every ligament in his ankle,” DeLeo says to host Mistress Carrie. “They had to go in on each side. He has about a five-inch incision on each side. They had to go in and assemble a big bowl of spaghetti.”
Talks of Depression and Addiction Issues
In May of this year, Bennington talked about how his ankle injury took a significant toll on his life.
“I needed reconstructive surgery and like plates and screws and more surgery,” he says. “It was like ‘wow.’ It was nasty, and that took me into a depression.”
Bennington says he started falling into bad habits due to the severity of the injury.
“I got to a point where I was like medicating, kind of having issues with that, kind of like falling into old habits, into old behaviors.”
This was not Bennington’s first injury. He says injuries have been an ongoing part of his life since 30. He described it as a tumultuous cycle of rehabbing injuries, reinjuring himself, and undergoing multiple surgeries.
Along with the stress of his injuries, the hardships of life continued to take their toll.
“Being in Linkin Park, it has a lot of perks, and it’s really a fun life, and it’s a blessed life. I get to do what I do with really talented exceptionally decent people,” he says.
“At the same time like none of us are immune from just sh*t happening to you and not to you but just making poor choices or being human. There’s always that element.”
Bennington talked about the band’s newest single “Heavy” and the challenges that inspired the song. He explains in the interview how problems started to stack one on top of the other.
“Life got really weird and really hard all at one time,” he says.
“It was like one of our friends died from cancer, my step dad died of cancer. I broke my leg and had to rehab that for a year. I quit Stone Temple Pilots because it was just too much. I felt bad about that, and then I was depressed and drinking again and doing all this stuff and I was like ‘Dude, this is crazy.’”
“I even told one of my therapists at one point that I just don’t want to feel anything,” he admits.
On Surrendering Control:
Although Bennington talks about his struggles throughout the interview, he remains positive. He learned to surrender to life instead of always having to be in control.
“I find myself personally when I’m stuck, it’s because I haven’t just surrendered to the process of life. I’m trying to like be in there and do things my way. I’m trying to steer the ship or whatever,” he says, “There were a few times over the last couple years when I was ready to throw in the towel and give up on everything.”
The band was promoting their new album and tour and had dates set for the rest of the year.
Bennington is survived by six children and his wife, model Talinda Ann Bentley.
“I came to a point in my life where I was like, ‘I can either just give up and f—ing die or I can f—ing fight for what I want.’ And I chose to fight for what I wanted,” he says in the interview obtained by The Mirror. “I wanted to have good relationships. I wanted to love the people in my life. I wanted to enjoy my job.”
As a long-time fan of Linkin Park, I was devastated by the news of his death. Mental illness and addiction were challenges that plagued the singer’s life for decades. Still, in recent interviews, Bennington appeared to be making progress.
However, this simply confirms how serious mental illness is. It is not something that is easily understood, and none of us really know what pushed Chester Bennington to his breaking point. Regardless, the stigma has to stop. If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental illness, please reach out. There is help out there. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The year is 2016, and pretty much everyone you know who is old enough to use a phone has one in their pocket that can play their favorite music, make credit card purchases with codes and scanners, and help them switch their face with someone else’s for a pretty awkward selfie. These digital devices have so much capacity with the infinitely expanding market of apps available to them, but could a new app save addicts when they overdose on drugs?
The Opiate Community
One major key to avoiding a fatal overdose is to never use alone, because too often an addict will use drugs while no one else is around to notice when they become incoherent and unconscious. Without someone present to revive an addict who overdoses the chances that they could die getting high… are pretty high. As the opiate epidemic in America has spiraled out of control for these past few years, there has actually been many shifts in mentality toward harm reduction tactics and users have actually created support communities specifically for active users.
The social media site Reddit has a subculture of its own in an open community under the designation “/r/opiates” where people with firsthand experience with opiate abuse and addiction share information. These individuals often offer each other safety tips, like the risks associated with use or even warnings of where more deadly batches of laced heroin are circulating.
Chris Oelerich, who is not actually a heroin user himself, decided to develop an app to try and prevent continued overdose deaths. In his process of designing the app he reached out to this Subreddit community and was given some useful information on how to make an effective app for opiate addicts.
The Remote Egg Timer App
Now I know this name sounds kind of random and no one would guess it was created to prevent drug overdose… but that is exactly the point. The Remote Egg Timer app title actually came from the opiates Subreddit, where one Redditor wrote,
“Can you call it a remote egg timer or some sh**? Call mom when the eggs are fried? References to your brain on drugs or some shit but don’t say anything about drugs?? This needs to be in place!!!!!!!!”
The app operates as a distress beacon of sorts, mixed with an alarm clock. The intention is that before the user actually uses they will set a timer. Once the timer is up the individual must push a button to indicate they are still responsive. If they do not respond to their time, the app will automatically send an emergency text message to a designating an emergency contact from their phone they have already set up.
When addicts are using such powerful drugs alone they are at a very serious risk, but this app hopes to support revival tactics such as naloxone expansion programs and otherwise give people a resource for quickly connecting with first responders. Similar apps have been released in the past few years for people who drink alcohol, designed to prevent drunk driving and other risk situations that arise while intoxicated.
Could It Work?
When Oelerich first put the concept for the app to the opiate users on Reddit, it was a well-received idea. While the app is by no means a perfect system and experiences a few bugs, most of the users so far have given the app positive reviews according to Oelerich. Currently the developer is trying to incorporate new ways for the app to be even more effective, such as:
- Feature to detect movement. This feature would trigger an emergency contact message if the phone has not moved for a while, which could also be a good indicator the user is unresponsive from an overdose.
- Feature in the works is to give the GPS coordinates of the user. When the alarm is not acknowledged and the distress signal goes out from the app, the text would somehow provide the users location so the best response can be properly timed.
So could an app like this work? Is it a fair assumption that while not all opiate and heroin addicts use in groups, they could have a better chance if another person was present during an overdose? Is it fair to say that if no one can be right there with them that they might have a better chance of getting the help they need with a resource that utilizes technology most people have?
Sure, not everyone has a smartphone. But for those who do, could an app like this make a difference? Would YOU use it for yourself or a loved one?
Technology helps us with a lot in our lives today. We constantly see new innovations that are making lives easier and safer, so what does technology have to offer for the addict who still suffers? Harm reduction is helping preserve life, and innovative and effective treatments help save lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
April 21, 2016 we lost an amazing artist and musical visionary, and the whole world wept in the wake of this tragedy. The day after the news had hit I wrote a story to acknowledge the passing of this celebrated icon, and also to point out some of the despairing speculation surrounding the circumstances of his death. For Prince, a seemingly healthy 57-year-old rock and roll superstar, to suddenly die in an elevator there was sure to be a great deal of suspicion as to how this could have happened. While most were engaged in commemorating his inspiring legacy, some were taking a closer look to see if there was more to this story.
While some rejected the notion of drugs having any part in the death of Prince, others were concerned about the story of his plane’s emergency landing in Moline, Illinois on the way home to Minnesota, where Prince had to be checked into the hospital. This was just 6 days before this incredibly talented icon died, and the story said that he had received a “save shot” which is suspected to be Narcan to save him from a near-fatal overdose.
When tabloid reports first surfaced that this sudden halt in air-traffic was to treat Prince for a drug overdose, some people were still not convinced- but now it seems there may be more truth to the connection between a painkiller habit and his untimely death.
Prince Tried to get Treatment
According to new reports, the musical legend Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson) had actually signed up for rehab prior to his sudden and heartbreaking passing in order to battle his pain pill addiction. These sources from the Minneapolis news station KSTP 5 Eyewitness News reported that the “Purple Rain” originator knew he was addicted to the prescription painkiller Percocet before his death, so he entered an outpatient treatment program.
In a desperate attempt to try and free himself from the debilitating bondage of his addiction this actual American idol attended an unnamed rehab center to try and separate himself from using the medication, which had initially been prescribed to Prince for his severe hip pain. The publication TMZ was one of the first to report on the possibility of drug-related illness having anything to do with this terrible tragedy. According to their recent reports Prince regularly obtained the opioid pills from multiple doctors, including “a personal friend.” This side of the story again reflects similar celebrity deaths where the stars either have “personal friends” who are dealing dangerous narcotics or they receive excessive amounts of medications from doctors, turning doctors into dealers and maybe ultimately links to the chain of events that cause these deaths.
The week before April 21, Prince had reportedly went to a local Walgreens pharmacy in Minneapolis to fill prescriptions four times! If that isn’t an excessive amount of opioids I don’t know what is. TMZ reported that law enforcement raided the pharmacy the following Friday, searching for evidence that could shed light on Prince’s passing, although at this point officials have yet to release a cause of death.
An official autopsy was conducted last week, but the medical examiner said it will take weeks for the cause of death to be confirmed. So far officials have not confirmed or denied what real role prescription painkillers played in Prince’s collapse, but the county sheriff investigating the death has asked for help from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as painkillers were found in Prince’s possession when he died.
According to NBC News, the DEA’s role-“will be to determine such things as where the medications came from, and what prescriptions Prince had obtained. DEA agents often check those records in death investigations.”
While the painkillers might make this investigation a little more difficult, in the end we can at least hope for the truth to come out and that if these painkillers do have anything to do with the death of Prince, it will undoubtedly raise even more concern about prescription drug abuse and addiction. If doctor shopping and drug abuse has a real connection to this catastrophe it is sure to inspire advocates of monitoring medications and restricting opioid use to be more aggressive with their protestations, and maybe more doctors will be held accountable.
While it is very distressing to hear that drug addiction might have stolen yet another awesome and moving idol from us, it is important to take note that he was trying to get help. How many people lose their lives every day because they want help but don’t get it in time? There is help out there, so no one should wait until its too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-851-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
This week the world lost yet another incredible and iconic artist who gave so much originality and uniquely inspiring efforts to creating a sound and a vibe that changed music. Doves cry now, along with the countless legions of fans and close friends mourning the genius mind of cultural and artistic innovation that was Prince.
Shortly after his tragic passing this week at the young age of 57, Prince’s legacy is being celebrated all over the world- but not unlike many other rock stars before him, his untimely death is being questioned and queried over by sources everywhere while the official cause of death is awaited, and some are looking at the last week of his life to see if a rumored opiate overdose had anything to do with the health issues that stole from this world a brilliant and phenomenal purple light so soon.
The Life of THE Prince
Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since becoming a household name he has been known simply by the alias Prince, while also transitioning to “The Artists Formerly Known as Prince” and even changed his stage name in 1993 to an unpronounceable symbol known as the “Love Symbol” for a brief time. Prince was a verbose and versatile man, described as:
- Record producer
Prince was legendary as an innovator, and has been vastly venerated for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, and wide vocal range. As the pioneer of Minneapolis sound, Prince’s music integrates a wide variety of styles, including:
His album Prince released in 1979 and the successful singles featured on the playlist skyrocketed his record to platinum status. Since then his achievements in the realm of music have amplified, including:
- Selling over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time.
- Winning 7 Grammy Awards
- Winning a Golden Globe Award
- Winning an Academy Award
Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year of his eligibility. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Prince at number 27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
As if that wasn’t enough, he wrote a Batman album!
This man was a stellar performer, a visionary who was hip to the vigilante in all of us, and he could just SHRED a guitar like nobody’s business! He pushed boundaries of the typical American man in fashion and style, and he inspired artists for decades after his first hit.
6 Days before Death of Prince
Prince was exceptional about keeping his personal life pretty private, so many have wondered how such a heartbreaking development happened so fast, and how a presumably healthy vegetarian such as Prince could die at only 57 years old.
Now according to various sources which reported to the tabloid TMZ, Prince was treated just 6 days before his death for a drug overdose.
Prince’s private jet made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois last Friday, hours after he performed in Atlanta. Originally the shows had been postponed when his reps said he was battling the flu. Then after his emergency landing people started questioning this reasoning because his plane was only 48 minutes from home when it made the stop. Why was this flu issue so urgent?
Multiple sources in Moline reported to TMZ that Prince was rushed to a hospital and doctors gave him a “save shot,” which sounds a lot like a Naloxone-type-deal… but could be an emergency flu shot… maybe… if that is a thing? Typically a “save shot” like Naloxone administered to counteract the effects of an opiate.
TMZ has published that further sources stated that doctors advised Prince to stay in the hospital for 24 hours, but that this plan was abandoned after Prince couldn’t get a private room. Prince was released 3 hours after arriving and flew home.
Goodbye to The Purple One
Currently authorities in Minnesota are trying to get the hospital records from his visit to Moline to help determine cause of death, and at the time this article was written Prince’s reps were not able to be reached for comment.
Prince was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m. Thursday, April 21 after begin found unresponsive in an elevator at Paisley Park Studios. While an investigation has been launched into the cause of death, the autopsy is scheduled for today, meaning we may have developments at any moment.
Is Prince another victim of too many pills and not enough people protecting his health? Or is this all just speculation and rumor? Was his privacy a cause for concern, or is it this very kind of speculation and invasive assumption he was avoiding while staying out of the public eye? We have no authority at this time to make an assumption on the cause of death, nor would I as a writer wish to tarnish the name of such an amazing musician… but that being said the emergency landing story does raise a question whether we like it or not. In the past we have seen how the incredibly famous have been pumped full of drugs, be it for legitimate medical reasons (which is possible considering Prince’s health history with the need for hip surgery) or otherwise illicit drug use, and allowed to teeter on the edge for far too long before it costs them their lives.
For now, all we can do is say goodbye to Alexander Nevermind… Jamie Starr… Joey Coco… the Prince who changed lives with Purple Rain and taught us how to party like its 1999 back when it was only 1982. He gave us the Batdance, and he was the baddest soul brother to tear up a stage with a guitar that looked like a chunk of purple abstract art. Remembered as a kind and ambitious force of conviction and astounding talent. Thank you, Prince… for the life you gave to the world.
“A strong spirit transcends rules.”
Artists, musicians, celebrities of all kinds face the same temptations, and sometimes the same circumstances when it comes to substance abuse and addiction, and some have not survived their struggles with substances. While this may not apply to Prince, the message here could at least be that life is precious and every opportunity to make yours better should be a priority. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135