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Author: Shernide Delva
The first of four opioid workshops took place May 1st in West Palm Beach, Florida. Florida Governor Rick Scott initiated the workshops as a way of addressing the opioid epidemic, yet he was not in attendance for the meeting. Instead, 22 public figures attended the workshop ranging from Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip and Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinley.
Protesters stood outside of the West Palm Beach Police Department Community Room. Some held signs; others held photos of loved ones who had passed. Many wore shirts with the words “Fed Up!!” printed on the front.
A live broadcast of the discussion streamed via the Palm Beach Post Investigations Facebook page. Christine Stapleton, an investigative reporter for the Palm Beach Post, reported live from the event. Around 1:30 PM, Stapleton walked along the front of the building conversing with protesters prior to streaming the opioid workshop which began at 3:00 PM.
Protesters marched holding signs and chatting amongst each other. Some were parents of children who had died from overdoses. Others were Registered Nurses who witness overdose victims on a regular basis. People gathered from all walks of life with one thing in common: they were all fed up with the response regarding the opioid epidemic.
Unfortunately, most felt the workshop they were attending was not the best plan of action regarding the opioid epidemic. Some deemed the workshop pointless. However, it was a much-needed conversation and an opportunity for the community to be heard by public officials.
The timeframe of the meeting was set at only 90 minutes which received massive criticism due to the complexities of the opioid epidemic. Furthermore, Governor Rick Scott was not in attendance which only further lowered the morale of some in attendance.
Protesters Speak Out: Desperate for Action
Outside of the facility, hundreds of purple strips of cloth hung on clotheslines. Behind the strips of cloth is Gaynelle Gozland, a parent advocate whose son, at just 13 years old, became addicted to opioids. She explains to Stapleton how she wishes she had known what she does now about prescription painkillers.
At just 13 years old, Gozland’s son was prescribed a 5-day opioid prescription for a broken arm. Not long after, her son spent his 14th birthday in rehab, addicted to opioids.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” she says in the live stream. “My son, who is 19 now, still says to me ‘thank you for what you did because if you hadn’t, I’d be dead or strung out on heroin.”
As for the hanging strips of purple cloth, they are memorial banners. Gozland says the strips represent those who have passed away due to overdoses. Gozland’s mother, who passed away from alcoholism, influenced the idea for the purple strips of cloth. Her mother used to run a clothesline art show stringing up kids art.
“So, I’m stringing up memorial banners, and the banners are basically prayer flags so that as the wind blows, the memory of these human beings are carried on the wind,” she says.
Inside the Opioid Crisis Workshop
At about 3:00 PM, Stapleton walks us into the opioid workshop in which public figures sit in the middle of the room.
Several called on Governor Rick Scott to declare the opioid epidemic as a public health crisis. They believe this would speed up funding. Why is the Zika virus considered a public health crisis, yet not heroin? However, Attorney General Dr. Celeste Philip says the declaration does not always result in faster funding.
“What happened in [(sic) Zika — the declaration occurred in February, and funding was not made available until several months later when we saw that the delay in federal funding was longer than we expected,” says Philip.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinley summed up the tone of the room:
“I’m angry today,” says McKinley. “We just did this in January in Tallahassee. We held this press conference with the Attorney General. We had this conversation. We laid out a plan of what was needed. Nothing was done.”
“If we were able to move that quickly on (the Zika) issue, why can’t we move more quickly on this (heroin) issue?’’ she asked.
The crowd erupts in applause.
Overall, one thing was clear from the workshop: talk is cheap. People need action. These opioid workshops do raise awareness and grant a voice to the community. However, the plans discussed need implementation. Not much will happen without action.
“I’m (expletive) tired of it. I’m tired of losing my friends,’’ Jordan Meyers, a recovering addict from Boca Raton, sums up in the workshop.
The remaining workshops are to be held Tuesday and in Manatee and Orange Counties and Wednesday in Duval County.
What do you think of Rick Scott’s opioid workshops? Do you feel they are making a difference? The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that should be taken just as seriously as any other disease. If you are currently struggling with substance abuse, reach out. We can get you on the right track. You are now alone in this fight. Call now.
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Author: Justin Mckibben
Here we are going to discuss some expert opinion on the molecular neurobiological aspects of each of The 12 Step Program.
Understanding of the neuro-molecular biological keystones of The 12 Steps may actually be an important step toward sobriety for some, especially those who rely heavily on the tangible logic of scientific reasoning. To understand and embrace principles of molecular neurobiology could ultimately lead to a better quality of recovery from addiction.
Step 1- We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.
There is science behind the “powerlessness” of the first step. Admitting personal powerlessness over addiction is actually supported by the mechanisms involved in the neurobiological circuits of our brain. Stress and the toxic-effects of the drugs themselves induce changes in brain functions such as:
These changes create:
So scientifically it is very true that the individual is powerless. The substances themselves continually short out the circuits in the brain that are meant to give people control. The recipe requires genetic predisposition and environmental elements, but everyone is technically susceptible depending on these variables.
Step 2- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Breaking down the wording of the step one could infer:
- Sanity- sound judgment
- Insanity- repetitive behavior despite the harm
Poor judgment, or “insanity,” could be a cause of unusual substance seeking behavior despite risk of harm. These decisions are made worse by environmental factors including:
- Drug availability
- Non-nurturing parents
- Social-economic burdens
The individuals sanity also may be impacted by their relationship with a “power greater than themselves.”
In this case, let us look at relapse. The prefrontal cortex and cingulate gyrus are critical areas involved in relapse regulation. Impaired neurochemical functioning of these regions obstruct recovery and induce relapse, typically due to:
- Toxic substances
- Toxic behaviors
Understanding the molecular biology of the brain reward system highlights the importance of positive input from a fellowship such as the 12 Steps offer. Positive input from peers can offset unwanted gene expression. Ultimately, this can enable an individual to achieve a state of sanity and make right choices. The power greater than yourself can simply be the environmental element of your recovery.
Step 3- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
Will-power is extremely difficult to regulate in individuals born with a compromised reward system and low levels of endorphins. Will-power is based on both the interplay of genes and environmental elements in society, such as stress or shock. Early stress can cause substance use disorders in adult life as seen with epigenetic effects on Glucocorticoid receptor express.
Because the hard wiring of our brain’s reward circuitry is so difficult to override, it only makes sense the recovering addict seems obvious to look for reward outside of our genome. So in this step, the idea is to turn that focus away from drugs and toward something such as the fellowship or a spiritual path.
Step 4- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Fearless moral inventory must include the drug of choice and other Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) related behaviors. A particular drug or behavior is not the only element of an addiction, it includes a range of observable characteristics resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment..
However, the inventory cannot be labeled as “right” or “wrong” because it their own evaluation of self. To understand that there are genetic and environmental aspects to addict means to understand that blame and guilt are not conducive to true self-appraisal.
Step 5- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
This step involves open reflection on our issues with using drugs. This includes the toxic effects of recurrent exposure to these substances on our minds and how that translates into our actions that impact others.
The damage of drugs on the brain’s reward networks is very physiological, and these physiological changes can result in psychological effects such as anxiety or aggression. By evaluating the inventory we have taken, we can consider the “nature of our wrongs” as being the psychological deterioration caused by drugs.
Step 6- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Many would argue that technically our character is shaped by genetic (evolutionary) forces far outside our individual control. So in that mindset it is not necessarily within our ability to change who we are genetically speaking. So, wouldn’t it be up to something greater than us, be it a ‘God’ or our own evolution of perspective, to remove the character traits that do not serve us?
With that said, our environment may influence how we have developed our responses and attached meanings to circumstances. Achievement of step 6 requires:
- Deep character analysis
- Painful realization
- Ability to dissociate the present self from the past self
By rethinking in terms of the “wrong” or “right” of an individual act, we can leave behind our attachments to actions or behaviors and offer up our character defects to the province of a higher power.
Step 7- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Humility is accompanied with gratitude and grace. Spiritual faith and humility challenge someone to accept that good intentions and honest effort alone will not always be enough to succeed. This could lead to chronic depression and relapse, especially with genetic predisposition.
However, the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions together ask the person to believe that evil, injustice and cruelty will not necessarily always win either.
Humility and faith are not necessarily synonyms for passivity. They actually support the belief that our shortcomings can be removed by our willingness to believe that things can work out. Positive feelings translate to positive epigenetics in the brain, enhancing the chances of removing our shortcomings by expressing more effective and positive genes.
Step 8- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Behind part of this step is the old saying “water seeks its own level,” because it may be an effect of a genetic association. People often seek friends who not only have similar characteristics, but similar genotypes.
So by making amends which may eliminate certain friends that would not be conducive to recovery, an individual is truly going against the genetic grain on a molecular neurobiological level.
A form of happiness is that people exist in comfortable networks of social collectives. So as we reach out to those we have hurt to amend our relationships and our character, we reconnect with a new source of happiness.
Step 9- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
In Step 9, the achievement of making amends is subject to correlations among:
Relationships and happiness are based on neuronal hard wiring. So overcoming relationship issues is both an arduous challenge and a clear answer to achieving healing.
The degree to which someone can make amends is crucial to a healthy recovery. This is partly because mending of relationships is a gateway to the attainment of happiness. Making amends can also activate a natural release of dopamine in reward centers of the brain.
Step 10- Take personal inventory and admit to being wrong
Step 10 is the maintenance for Steps 4 and 5. It continues the practice of taking personal inventory in the 12 Steps to evaluate the self. It is important that addicts realize that depending on their genetic risk taking inventory and feeling good about the self-appraisal is a temporarily “dopamine fix”.
Beyond just having the ability to keep yourself in check and have a positive impact, when addicts continue to “work the steps” on a daily basis it also gives them a primary source from which to replenish dopamine in the brain.
Step 11- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Meditation and prayer, as suggested in step 11, increases the release of dopamine at the synaptic level. Applying the process of step 11 on a daily basis will also offset the genetically induced “hypodopaminergic brain function” by continuing to release dopamine in the synapse.
Increased dopamine will result in a subsequent proliferation of dopamine receptors, even in those with the most sensitive predisposition. The increase in D2 receptors translates to enhanced dopamine function, which will ultimately promote:
- Greater confidence
- Better comprehension
- Stress resistance
Looking outside the 12 Steps, most who study spirituality know the positive effects of prayer and meditation on the brain.
Step 12- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Here it says that working all the steps can allow an individual to have spiritual awakening. For some, one of the most fulfilling experiences they can have is sharing emotions with others. This experience itself and the impact may be decided by the synthesis and release of the brain chemical oxytocin.
Oxytocin is an important human bonding neuropeptide. However, independent of personal genetic makeup, alcohol and opiates significantly impair the synthesis and release of this chemical. So it is important to take advantage of this opportunity to create positive emotions while establishing connections.
So, by carrying the message and sharing experience we can bond further in our recovery, which helps us to rewire the brain with expressions of positive genes while also letting us detach from old meanings and produce more dopamine. All in all the 12 Steps have a pretty decent formula for working with the science of the brain to recover from a pattern of destruction.
The 12 Steps and similar programs of recovery are all very powerful tools. A holistic treatment program like Palm Partners respects the science of addiction, and many seek help here in order to establish a strong footing to move forward. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
President Obama has granted clemency to hundreds of inmates in prison for nonviolent drug crimes. However, the War on Drugs is still very much alive. In fact, last week a crime report released by the FBI revealed that law enforcement made nearly 1.5 million “drug abuse” arrests last year.
FBI Report: “2015 Crime in the United States.”
The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program report, titled “2015 Crime in the United States,” marked 1,488,707 total arrests for drug abuse for that year. “Drug abuse” is defined in the report as the sale, trafficking, and possession of narcotics. The FBI noted that the report reflects the number arrests, not the number of individuals.
When we break this down this into percentages, the numbers reveal close to 83.9% of drug arrests were for mere possession. Only 16.1% were due to drug sales or manufacturing, and of the arrests for possession, marijuana possession made up 38.6%.
The Washington Post elaborated stating that in 2015, there were over 1,500 arrests per day for marijuana possession. Following marijuana on the list were “other dangerous non-narcotic drugs” (20.2%), and heroin or cocaine and their derivatives (19.9%).
It should come to no one’s surprise that the U.S. prison system is full of people incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes like possession. Substance abuse arrests are more common than property crimes (1,463,213), drunk driving (1,089,171) and “other assaults” (1,081,019) trailing slightly behind. Crimes like murder and non-negligent manslaughter pale in comparison (11,092).
Shifting the War on Drugs Mindset
While efforts are being made to change the War on Drugs mindset, it is a slow process at best. There have been gradual shifts towards placing non-violent drug offenders in treatment rather than in prison. This eliminates the need for excessively long sentences due to drug possession.
Furthermore, President Obama has gained extensive media attention for granting 673 clemencies for non-violent offenders during his two terms so far. Many of these prisoners were serving life sentences.
“While I expect that the President will continue to grant commutations through the end of this administration, the individualized nature of this relief highlights the need for bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, including reforms that address excessive mandatory minimum sentences,” said White House Counsel Neil Eggleston in a statement last month. “Only the passage of legislation can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure our federal sentencing system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.”
While there have been significant efforts to approach the addiction epidemic through treatment, the reality is hundred – if not thousands—of Americans are arrested by law enforcement for something as simple as marijuana possession.Drug trafficking is a common offense. The controversy splits between whether or not the government should have this level of control when it comes to drug criminalization.
The Prescription Drug Epidemic
Furthermore, prescription drug abuse is one of the major problems in the drug world today. So many people received these prescriptions legally through their doctors and are not dependent upon them. The U.S Department of Health estimates that more than 50% of Americans take at least one prescribed pill a day. These people eventually turn to drugs like heroin because of the cheap high that heroin provides. Therefore, sales of illegal narcotics in the black market have soared. The problem is as complex as the solution. What should the next approach be to the addiction epidemic?
Overall, the amount of arrests for drug possession is still at an extremely high number. How should the government be approaching drug arrests? At the end of the day, addiction is a disease. Treatment should be the first approach, not criminalization. Please seek help for your addiction before it is too late. We can get you on the right track. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
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Author: Shernide Delva
Just last week, Kid Cudi opened up about his battle with depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. Cudi was remarkably candid noting that he’s struggled with depression his entire life and “hasn’t been at peace” as long as he’s been in the public eye. Now, Cudi is finally seeking help for his condition by checking himself into rehab to deal with his mental health issues.
The post was emotionally raw and unexpectedly vulnerable of Cudi, but perhaps the most concerning part of his post was the amount of shame Cudi feels about his predicament. The note concludes with him stating he feels awful and is “so shamed.” He continued apologizing to fans multiple time for “letting them down.” He even describes himself as a “damaged human” and says, quite simply “I’m scared, I’m sad.”
Cudi came to prominence with his 2008 mixtape “A Kid Named Cudi” and its hit single “Day ‘n Nite.” He was first signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music record label and has gone on to form his own labels, direct music videos and compose film scores.
Opening Up About His Depression
The rapper posted the message to his fans about his suicidal urges and lack of peace.
“I checked myself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges. I am not at peace,” Kid Cudi wrote in the post. “I haven’t been since you’ve known me. If I didn’t come here, I would’ve done something to myself. I simply am a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions everyday of my life. There’s a ragin’ violent storm inside of my heart at all times. [I don’t know] what peace feels like. [I don’t know] how to relax.”
Cudi’s struggle for internal peace is not an uncommon one by any means. According to Healthline, one in 10 Americans is affected by depression and the number of patients diagnosed with depression increases by close to 20% each year. Sadly, over 80% of people that have depression are not being treated at all. Around 121 million people in the world struggle with depression and most fear to admit they are suffering.
“It’s been difficult for me to find the words to what I’m about to share with you because I feel ashamed,” Kid Cudi wrote in his Facebook status. “Ashamed to be a leader and hero to so many while admitting I’ve been living a lie. It took me a while to get to this place of commitment, but it is something I have to do for myself, my family, my best friend/daughter and all of you, my fans.”
Moving Toward Healing
Cudi also announced that he wouldn’t be promoting his new album, “Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’,” which has been delayed in publication. He informed fans that the album is still on its way but for now, he needs to get his head on right first.
“My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it,” he wrote. “I can’t make new friends because of it. I don’t trust anyone because of it and I’m tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me? I guess I give so much of myself to others I forgot that I need to show myself some love too. I think I never really knew how. I’m scared, I’m sad, I feel like I let a lot of people down and again, I’m sorry. It’s time I fix me. I’m nervous but ima get through this.”
World Mental Health Day: Spreading Awareness to Others
Today, October 10th is World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy. On this day, thousands of supports come together to spread awareness about the effect of mental illnesses like depression. There is a great need to provide information on treatment options and support available to those who struggle with mental illnesses. There is no need to be ashamed.
Cudi has decided to take the necessary time to get the help he desperately needs. Cudi is only focused on revamping the direction of his future. Over time, depression can lead to alcoholism, drug addiction, and even worse suicide. Fortunately, sufferers from depression can make a full recovery and return tor regular life.
We must commend Cudi for opening up about his depression and getting treatment to make a full recovery. His admission will help in de-stigmatizing the act of reaching out for help to treat mental illness. If he can be brave enough to seek help for his mental illness, you can too. Do not ever be afraid to admit the need for treatment. You are not alone. We can help. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
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