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Painkiller Tax Proposed By California Legislators to Offset Rehab Costs

Painkiller Tax Proposed By California Legislators to Offset Rehab Costs

Author: Shernide Delva

In order to help offset the sky-rocketing costs of addiction and rehab, a California legislator wants to tax OxyContin, Vicodin and other prescription opioids. Should this be considered throughout the country?

Over the last few years, Los Angeles County has led the state when it comes to opioid drug overdoses. As a result, California lawmaker Kevin McCarty announced a new bill that would implement a 1 cent-per-milligram tax on prescription opioids to help offset the expense of rehab services.

“What we have here is a plan to create a surcharge of opiate sales in California and redirect all those moneys to provided needed services for the communities,” McCarty explained.

In 2014, more than 2,000 people died of opioid overdoses in California. In the United States, 91 people die of opioid-related causes every single day.

With this proposed law, taxes would be placed on opioid prescription wholesales, and could also impact prices for manufactures. However, some are concerned that the cost will be passed down to patients.

Emergency Room physician Dr. Stephen Kishineff was concerned that addicts who buy opioids illegally won’t be the ones shouldering the tax.

“Really the end users are going to pay for it because they’re going to pay for it in higher prescription costs or higher insurance premiums,” said Kishineff.

But he added the intention is good.

“As a society, it’s kind of a nice idea for a tax to be put on something that can be abused in order to help somebody who is abusing it,” Kishineff said.

McCarty estimates minimal impact on consumers, and if any, would be roughly a few dollars a month.

“So we think there is a real nexus between the opioid industry and the problem that we’re seeing out there on the streets. So this ties the two things together to address the problem,” McCarty said.

In the past, similar legislation was proposed at the federal level, but if the new McCarty bill becomes law, California would be the first state to enact such a tax on painkillers.

It is important to note that the funds from this tax would go towards funding rehabilitation services. The tax would be imposed on wholesalers, not at the point of sale, and would require two-thirds approval in the legislature.

“California’s opioid epidemic has cost state taxpayers millions and the lives of too many of our sons and daughters,” McCarty said in a statement. “We must do more to help these individuals find hope and sobriety. This plan will provide counties with critical resources needed to curb the deadly cycle of opioid and heroin addiction in California.”

If passed, the surcharge would raise tens of millions for county drug treatment programs. These funds would help the endless amount of addicts who lack the financial support to seek proper treatment.

Do you think a law like this could be effective?

If so, should other states follow suit? One argument is that a law like this opens the door for other prescriptions drug taxes. It also punishes chronic pain suffers who use painkillers in a safe, non-addictive way.

In the comment section of the article, several people argued against the tax, saying it posed an unfair punishment to honest prescription pain killer patients.

One commented:

“I say this proposal is ridiculous. I don’t use that medicine. I don’t believe people should be taxed because of others irresponsibility. If they want to overdose let them it’s their choice.”

Another commented:

“Rub salt in the wounds why don’t you! Unlike cigarette tax, this med tax would compound an already painful and difficult situation for those who really need it, because of those who really don’t…adding insult to injury!”


Clearly, this is a topic up for serious debate. What we know for sure is that addiction is a serious problem and treatment is necessary to overcome it. If you need help, please reach out to professionals. We are waiting for your call. Call now.

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CVS: Tobacco Sale Ban Is Already Having A Major Impact

CVS: Tobacco Sale Ban Is Already Having A Major Impact

Author: Shernide Delva

A while back, CVS made the bold decision to cease the sale of tobacco products in their stores.   Now, new data reveals their decision to stop selling cigarettes contributed to a drop in tobacco purchases from all retailers.  Furthermore, CVS customers were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes, according to research from the American Journal of Public Health.

The analysis comes less than three years after the company stopped selling all tobacco products. The move garnered national attention from public health advocates, doctors, and even the white house.

“After CVS’s tobacco removal, household- and population-level cigarette purchasing declined significantly,” the study concluded.

CVS officially stopped selling tobacco products as of October 1, 2014, at its CVS/pharmacy stores. The decision had the greatest impact on customers who bought cigarettes only at CVS drugstores. Those particular customers were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes altogether.

To gather those numbers, the study used household purchasing data to examine American households that stopped buying cigarettes for at least six months during the period of September 2014 to August 2015. The study, written by CVS executives and paid for by the company, was a peer-reviewed article, the journal disclosed.

“When we removed tobacco from our shelves, a significant number of our customers simply stopped buying and hopefully smoking cigarettes altogether instead of just altering their cigarette purchasing habits,” Dr. Troyen Brennan, CVS Health chief medical officer, said in a statement.

“This research proves that our decision had a powerful public health impact by disrupting access to cigarettes and helping more of our customers on their path to better health.”

The decision by CVS to cut off tobacco sales amounted to a loss of $2 billion in annual sales that existed when it sold cigarettes. Still, the drugstore’s overall sales have been increasing in the last three years thanks to new business from the Affordable Care Act which benefit the pharmacy. CVS is growing significantly as a medical service business.

As for its rivals, the CVS decision has not triggered a trend. None of the other stores such as Wal-Mart, Rite Aid or Walgreens Boots Alliance have followed suit with their own plans to stop selling cigarettes. The pressure from the public and some of their shareholders has not made enough of an impact to change their mind. Walgreens, for example, has instead decided to push more smoking cessation products alongside their tobacco products.

The response from customers in regards to the ban was mixed. Some commended the stand from CVS saying it was a step in the right direction. These days, smoking is banned in restaurants, schools, and even certain parks, so the move did seem to follow the ongoing trend.

On the other hands, many people were outraged at the decision. Some stated it was hypocritical because CVS continues to sell alcohol, candy, and sugary drinks, which can be equally as harmful to the health. Therefore, the argument was made that it is the choice of the customer, not CVS, to decide.

With these recent results, it is evident that CVS may have gotten the result they were hoping for. More outside studies are needed to fully determine the impact the ban had on smoking trends. Still, it sends a message loud and clear that CVS will no longer support tobacco products.

What do you think about the ban? Should other pharmacies follow? In recovery, it is important to take steps to living a healthy life. Perhaps quitting smoking is something you should consider. If you are struggling to quit smoking, or are struggling with any addiction, please call now. We want to help.

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Life-Saving Opioid Overdose Antidote Surges in Price From $690 to $4500

Author: Shernide Delva

Remember a while back when the price for a life-saving HIV/AIDS drug hiked up 5,000 percent? The blame was on Mark Shkreli, a brash pharmaceutical entrepreneur who bought the drug only to turn a profit.

Not long after, we heard about the EpiPen price hike led by Heather Bresh, the CEO of Mylan.  The signature EpiPen saw its price skyrocket to more than $600 for a twin pack. That price is considered outrageous considering the active ingredients in EpiPen cost pennies in comparison.

Needless to say, things are not getting better in the price gouging department.

Another lifesaving drug has gotten a massive price inflation.  The Virginia company Kaleo makes a naloxone injector device that is in high demand due to the opioid epidemic. As a result, the price for a twin pack of the overdose antidote skyrocketed from $690 in 2014 to $4,500!

The product is called Evzio and it is similar to other overdose antidotes. The difference is the product talks users through the entire process. The company says the price is justified because it guides users to reversing an overdose. The product lets the user know how long to leave the needle in which increases effectiveness. In conclusion, they believe the product helps save more lives.

How It All Began

In 2014, Evzio won federal approval, and soon it accounted for nearly 20 percent of naloxone dispensed through retail outlets between 2015 and 2016. Evzio also makes up half of naloxone products prescribed to patients between 40 and 64—the group that comprises the bulk of naloxone users.

The cost of generic, injectable naloxone— which has been on the market since 1971— had already been climbing in price. A 10 ml vial sold by one of the dominant vendors prices at close to $150, more than double its price from a few years ago. That price hike far exceeds the costs of the naloxone chemical, researchers say.

Still, according to experts, the Evzio price surge is considered way out of step with production costs and results in a needless drain on a critical health-care resources:

“There’s absolutely nothing that warrants them charging what they’re charging,” said Leo Beletsky, an associate professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University in Boston.

As a response to the controversy, Kaleo is now dispensing its device for free to first responders and drug-addiction programs. The device has been invaluable to patients to combat overdoses, however, at the $4,500 mark, most will not be able to budget for it anymore.

A GROWING MARKET

The opioid crisis has led to more and more experts demanding the expansion of naloxone access. The idea is that increased access to naloxone results in a decrease in overdose fatalities.  Sadly, price gouging will only limit accessibility to the drug.

“There’s a lot of value to this formulation,” said Ravi Gupta, a medical student and lead author of a December op-ed on the pricing issue, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “But it’s not justified. This pricing is not justified.”

For now, those who accept free Evzio devices may soon face withdrawal. Last year, Kaleo’s donation supply was exhausted by July. While the company has added to its donation supply, when they run out, companies will have to pay up.

Policymakers have yet to set strong guidelines when it comes to keeping pricing in line with value. Until that happens, little will change.

“Epi-Pen happened, and everyone was like, ‘Wow, this is terrible, we shouldn’t allow this to happen,’” he said. “And we haven’t done anything about that, and it’s not clear what the solution is. Now, shocker, it’s happening again.”

In conclusion, the price of various life changing drugs continues to spike at alarming rates. Stricter regulations are needed to control unnecessary price gouging. There are lives at stake and price gouging only increases the risk of overdose deaths.

How should this crisis be handled? The best way to reduce overdose deaths is through prevention and treatment. An overdose should not have to be your wake up call to seek help. The risk is too high. Please seek help before your addiction progresses further. Do not wait. Call now.

    CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Gucci Mane Reflects on PTSD and Past Drug Addiction Struggles

Gucci Mane Reflects on PTSD and Past Drug Addiction Struggles

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

 Author: Shernide Delva

Rapper Gucci Mane recently opened up about his struggles with mental health. He discussed his past drug use and decision to get sober in a new interview with ESPN’s Highly Confidential. The 36-year-old also talked about his experience developing PTSD after he was robbed by assailants in 2005.

The rapper, born Radric Davis, said his involvement in the 2005 murder of Henry Lee Clark led to him developing PTSD. Gucci Mane maintains that he did shoot the man, but says it was pure self-defense. The murder charges against him were eventually dropped. The stress of that incident along with the pressure of his music career exacerbated his mental health issues, he admits.

Guilty On Federal Gun Possession Charge

Although Gucci was found not guilty regarding the 2005 murder case, eventually he would find himself behind bars. Eight years later, Gucci was caught with possession of an illegal fire arm.

In December 2013, Gucci faced a possibility of 20 years behind bars. He was charged with two counts of possessing a firearm as a felon. He opened up about his anxiety and paranoia that manifested during this time.

“I felt like I was gonna kill somebody, for trying to kill me,” said Gucci. “I was never afraid. I just kinda, in my mind I felt like someone was going to try to hurt me, try to rob me, do something to force my hand and defend myself and hurt them.”

Prior to entering jail, Gucci says he had a daily routine of using a variety of substances including alcohol and lean (a mixture of soda and codeine/promethazine-based cough syrup).  He ended up going through withdrawals behind bars which Gucci admits made him feel “like death.” However, his motivation to stay sober finally set in during his sentence.

When I was facing 20, 30 years and it was almost on the table, it kind of got worked out where I could only do three years. I felt like I could manage it. I could still have a career when I got out and not lose my whole life. It was like, ‘Let me fix my life,” he said.

“I had time to sit back and evaluate everything, and also dry out from the drugs … I tried to make the time work for me the best I could,” he went on.

“I didn’t want to live the rest of my life in prison. So I was like, one thing that I need to do is be totally sober. I need to have complete clarity. I need to have razor sharp focus on everything I do, every day from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. After you start doing it for like a year, then it turns to two years. Once I got out and start doing it, it makes me a better person, a better artist, it makes me all the way stronger.”

Maintaining His Commitment To Sobriety

In May, after serving three years, Gucci was released from prison. After his sentence, Gucci dropped his album Everybody Looking. More importantly, Gucci continued to stay sober, something he says is an “empowering” feat.

“It’s an extravagant lifestyle I live. And to me it’s kinda being even more cocky. I love to tell somebody, ‘Hey listen, I don’t do drugs. I’m sorry baby, but I don’t want anything to drink. I’ll take a water,’” he said last fall. “I’m proud of doing it. I like doing it. I hope people follow my example.”

Were you aware of Gucci Mane’s drug past? Drug culture is rampant among celebrity culture, and unfortunately the entertainment industry tends to glorify drug use. Time and time again, we see celebrities cycle in and out of treatment. In the past year, we have loss some of our most treasured celebrities to drug-related incidents.

With drug overdoses at an all-time high, should public figures feel responsible? Regardless, the message is clear at this point. The dangers of drugs and alcohol are not anything to glorify. The amount of drug overdoses continues to peak each year. If you are struggling, understand that your addiction does not have to be a component of your life anymore. Please call now. Do not wait.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

 

Could a Joystick Help Alcoholics Avoid Relapse?

Could a Joystick Help Alcoholics Avoid Relapse?

Author: Shernide Delva

Over the holiday season, I acquired a part time job working as a virtual reality demo associate. It was amazing to see the impact gaming software could have on a person’s life. I saw people in wheelchairs enjoy the feeling of entering a different reality. I saw senior citizens enjoy the immersion of climbing a virtual mountain or sculpting a cat. Technology like this helps take our imaginations to a new realm.

Therefore, when I read about a company using a joystick to help with alcoholism, it fascinated me. An ongoing study in Berlin is using joysticks and alcohol-related images to help prevent alcoholic relapse.  Some of the participants have said that the image-related therapy helped keep them sober.

Miriam Sebold is the study’s lead psychologist. In the study, participants viewed images on a computer screen and were told to use a joystick to push alcohol-related images away. They were also instructed to engage the joystick and pull images of water and other non-alcoholic beverages closer to them,

Researcher Hanna Lesch visited Charité University in Berlin, Germany where the ongoing study took place. She described the parameters of the study:

“Every click of a joystick results in a new pair of images,” said Lesch. “Pushing the joystick forward makes an image grow smaller. Pull in toward you, and the image grows. Sebold’s patients react strongly to images of alcohol and that is the basis of her training.”

Images of alcohol can sometimes make an alcoholic vulnerable. In the same way that Pavlov’s dogs reacted to stimuli related to food, alcoholics can react to stimuli related to alcoholic beverages. Non-alcoholics do not respond any differently to a glass of orange soda or a shot of vodka.

Lesch spoke with a study participant named Freddy while she at the facility. Freddy discussed how after his divorce, he began drinking daily—consuming at least two liters of beer and a few shots of hard liquor per day.

“I’ve tried to take a break from it more than a few times,” said Freddy, “but it was two, three days at the most. Then, I did some rehab, and then I did some more rehab. I was even in long-term rehab.”

Time after time, Freddy kept relapsing. Lesch understand that this is one of the “greatest hurdles” in the alcohol treatment world. The attempt to rehabilitate an alcoholic is difficult, and nearly 85% cannot stay away from alcohol.

Sebold elaborated:

“What it really comes down to is that this addiction is such a powerful illness, that again and again, you have these cases where the patients say, ‘I was dry for 10 years, and then I treated myself to a beer because I figured I could treat myself to something.’ Then, they relapse right back into this very strong addiction, where they’re drinking a bottle of vodka every day. These are very strong mechanisms inside their head that they have very little control over.”

To control these thoughts in the brain, they must learn how to rewire their thinking. In the experiment using the joystick, the purpose was to rewire the way the brain reacted to alcohol stimuli. In the case of Freddy, he found that over time, it was effective in reducing the temptation to drink.

Lesch described Freddy’s experience:

“During the training, Freddy noticed no changes in his own behavior, but then, he did. Whenever he saw a bottle of alcohol inside a store, he was reminded of the images he’d seen during the training.”

Freddy found that the test helped him stay away from the dark days of active alcoholism.  He was able to avoid temptation easier, and best of all stay sober.

“Freddy has remained sober and the 64-year-old was proud to say he was even able to land a normal job,” Lesch said.

Now that the joystick experiment has shown positive results, the future for more studies like this is endless. The hope is to use this same procedure for other addictions and compulsions.

“As soon as they find out exactly where and how this therapy affects the human brain,” said Lesch, “the discovery could help lead to the development of new medicinal-based therapies. For Freddy, participating in the study has been worth it. Today, he’s doing his best to avoid even talking about alcohol.”

While this is not the first joystick study ever done, it is a positive contribution to the pursuit of finding proven methods to keep alcoholics from relapsing. What other ways could gaming be utilized to treat addiction?

Alcoholism is a serious disorder and there is temptation everywhere. Alcohol is difficult to avoid in a society that glorifies it as a social tool. However, a person who has alcoholism should avoid alcohol at all costs. Addiction is a serious disease that ruins lives and destroys families. Do not feel defeated. There is a way out. Call now.

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