The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) resigned last week, only a day after a POLITICO report was released stating that she had purchased stock in the tobacco industry after taking the position. The move has garnered a lot of public attention recently, as many view it as a glaring conflict of interest for someone in such an important position.
Conflicting with CDC Mission
When Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald took the position as Director of the CDC, she should have known that tobacco is one of the very drugs she is supposed to be fighting against. The slogan of the CDC is:
“24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People.”
To many, this is in direct opposition to the tobacco industry, with cigarette smoking being the leading cause of preventable death in America. This year alone cigarettes will result in the deaths of approximately half a million Americans. So how could someone in charge of an organization that is supposed to save people invest in something that kills so many?
Before taking office, Fitzgerald owned stock in tobacco companies:
According to the initial report that was released last Tuesday, Fitzgerald purchased “tens of thousands of dollars in new stock holdings in at least a dozen companies,” including one of the largest tobacco companies in the entire world, Japan Tobacco. So before getting rid of a lot of these assets in October, she had her hand in 4 out of the “Big Five” tobacco companies in the world.
As if that were not suspicious enough, the very next day after purchasing these stocks, Fitzgerald reportedly took a tour of the CDC’s Tobacco Laboratory. This is the entity that researches the harms of tobacco’s chemicals on human health. Then, almost as if to add insult to injury, news outlets have looked back to Fitzgerald’s statement in November when she said,
“Too many Americans are harmed by cigarette smoking, which is the nation’s leading preventable cause of death and disease.”
She then vowed to “continue to use proven strategies to help smokers quit and to prevent children from using any tobacco products.”
For someone with such substantial monetary involvement in tobacco companies’ interests, it wouldn’t be very beneficial for her to follow through on her promise to fight the use of tobacco products, would it?
According to the Wall Street Journal, Fitzgerald claims that she did not make the investments herself. She says the stocks were purchased by someone working for her investment manager, and that she directed them to sell the stocks when she did find out about the purchase.
Stocks and Scandals
Dr. Fitzgerald is definitely not the only official to be facing backlash for investments that seem to be in conflict with their official responsibilities. While executive branch employees are forbidden to work on issues in which they have a financial interest, members of Congress don’t play by the same rules.
Lawmakers are allowed to write and vote on bills that would impact themselves financially. They are required to disclose their financial positions and report when the assets are bought and sold. This includes holdings of their spouse and dependent children. But when you take a close look at some of these instances, it is kind of rattling.
Last month, Democratic Senator Patty Murray had claimed Fitzgerald’s ability to perform her role was hindered by conflicts of interest. And yet, when Murray was the top Democrat on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) her husband owned an account with a manager who bought and sold stock in Reynolds American, another tobacco company.
Aides to Senator Murray state,
“The disclosure form shows the liquidation of an account managed by a broker without guidance.”
Even the most senior Republican in the Senate, Orrin Hatch from Utah, who is also a member of the HELP committee, owned stock in Marlboro manufacturer Philip Morris International. In late 2012 Hatch was a joint owner with between $15,001 and $50,000 of stock in Philip Morris.
Fitzgerald had also recently procured stocks in two Big Pharma giants, Merck and Bayer. While the CDC does not regulate the pharmaceutical industry, their recommendations and policies do have an impact on drug manufacturers.
To be fair, there is no evidence thus far that Fitzgerald has committed any wrongdoing; there is no indication her financial ties influenced her leadership, and she has denied she was aware of the purchases being made in her name. The same goes for Murray and Hatch.
However, the fact that this shake-up is making headlines for all the wrong reasons has some people wondering how many politicians involved in public health are using stocks to bet against healthcare getting better.
How could private investments indirectly impact other areas of healthcare, like pharmaceutical drugs or mental health and addiction treatment resources? How could the issues currently surrounding the CDC end up impacting the fight against addiction and the opioid crisis?
The CDC and other health agencies play a big part in helping fight the opioid epidemic and other serious issues pertaining to drug addiction. The more resources we have, the more chances we have of turning things around. The same goes for people trying to recover from drugs or alcohol. The more resources you have, the more chances to get better. Palm Partners Recovery Center offers personalized holistic treatment options to help you transform your life. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in March we talked about the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and how Republicans had been less than willing to vote for additional funds to be added to the legislation. In the face of an overwhelming outbreak of heroin and opiate addiction some would say it still falls short. However, as of Wednesday the Senate will advance the legislation forward.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) is a critical piece of policy for fighting addiction in America. While it may still be an imperfect reform, it is still something to work with. Thankfully, life is about progress not perfection.
A Victory for Fighting Addiction
Some of the primary purposes of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act are to:
The whole intention, as we have stated before, was to formally authorize the federal government to utilize a more compassionate response system in address addiction. This would replace relying on prison and a cycle of punishment that only feeds into the problems so closely connected to drug abuse such as poverty. The bill is a product of:
- Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio
- Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island
Despite concerns over funding, Democrats in the Senate decided not to block the measure. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act passed with a rousing 90 votes for and only 2 against.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, stated:
“By increasing prevention, treatment, recovery and law enforcement tools, CARA can help prevent more people from struggling with addiction to begin with, and it can help foster long-term healing for those already struggling with addiction,”
It is more than logical to attack the issue with addiction on the back-end while also address the root causes. Hopefully this new legislation can follow through.
Money Makers Make It
As far as objections go, there were plenty despite the Democrats being willing to pass the act anyway. When the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act had pushed through the House last week in a nearly unanimous decision there was already concern. Democrats had offered up and amendment to provide $920 million to fighting opioid abuse. Republicans shot this proposal down. The emergency funding provision would have allocated additional financial backing for various innovative programs including:
- $230 million to law enforcement initiatives, including treatment alternatives to incarceration
- $10 million would have gone to state and local law enforcement units that oversee communities with high levels of drug use
- $300 million for state programs focused on prevention, treatment and recovery, and for improving treatment for pregnant and postpartum women dealing with heroin or opioid addiction.
Consider all the work that needs to be done in order to support these initiatives. Why doesn’t more money make it through? Regardless, Democrats recognized the severity of the situation and voted to pass the bill. During the floor debate in the Senate it was noted that more money is needed to provide support for:
- Mental health workers
- Law enforcement
- Addiction beds at addiction facilities
Still, there is some hope for more funding. Republicans have assured they will work to include additional funding in 2017 appropriations legislation. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer stated,
“Until we pass the increase in resources for both law enforcement and treatment, we cannot say Congress has done what is necessary to solve and fight the opioid crisis,”
This is absolutely true. Without putting your money where your mouth is it will be far more difficult to fight this fight. Providing lasting and diverse support for addiction treatment means investing in it. With the prominence of addiction in this country, it is an investment in our own future.
Reforms aimed at addressing addiction and supporting recovery are no walk in the park, but the fact that addiction is being viewed as the health issue it is, not the moral failing people once assumed it was, shows progress. Hopefully support for addiction treatment will grow and more lives will be saved. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Each and every day, my hope dwindles.
My hope dwindles to a place I never thought it would ever dwindle down to.
And when it dwindles down to that point, I write.
And I write more than I ever have before.
Not because it is a release, but because it is all I have left.
Nothing else matters, so I might as well express it.
It the only way I know how to manage, to survive.
I might as well release it. I might as well expose it.
I might as well let it have its way with me.
-Author: Shernide Delva
In my darkest moments, I write. In my happiest moments, I write… less, but I write. Writing has been a form of expression for me for quite some time. In third grade, my teacher made everyone in the class write poems. At the end of the year, we printed out our poems and we created our first poetry book. Still to this day, I have that book. It sits in a drawer in my mother’s nightstand. A few years ago, I reread the poems, and I remember questioning where those complex emotions came from. I had no true conception of the difficulties of life back then, yet through my writing, I was able to express my observations in a beautiful, profound way. I have been writing ever since.
Most people do not have my story. Most people do not write. However, most people really should write because if they did, they would find it to be an incredibly healing tool to have. Writing is not the answer to all problems, but it can help you gain clarity in the midst of the fog that heartbreak, depression, and grieving brings. Poetry can help record your thoughts and emotions so you can finally come to terms with it.
Both journal writing and poetry have similar benefits. Poetry is special to me because it is a way of creating art despite the pain. There is something liberating about having something horrible happen, yet still finding a way to express it in a creative and poignant way. It assigns a temporary purpose for the pain that you feel. Looking back on old poems can be a very healing. I imagine how I felt in those moments, and smile at the way I expressed it. Overall, I gain a sense of closure, and I move forward.
Poetry allows you to record your thoughts and forge your feelings into a perspective you can finally come to terms with. Poetry can help you grow. Reading poetry is just as beneficial because you can grow from reading the way other people express their emotions. There could be a writer out there who uses words in a way that you never identified before.
Poetry is an art form that is healing and transformative. Let’s explore why:
- It changes how you think.
I have no doubt in my mind that reading and writing poetry helped me with critical thinking skills and improved my writing ability. Writing poetry exercises the brain because you are forced to look at things from a multitude of perspectives. You discover the power of language using metaphors, similes, and alliterations. Most of all, you learn to analyze situations that occur in your life in a deeper way. You learn to create something from your emotions instead of being destructive with them.
- It is therapeutic.
Writing poetry can be challenging in the midst of a tragedy, or emotional breakdown. In my deeper emotional moments, I did not always want to write. Writing seemed too painful, like there were not words to encompass how I felt. However, I eventually forced myself to write, and looking back I am so glad I did. Writing has become a regular part of my life. Poetry takes it a step further because it taps into your introspective side. You learn how to develop your emotions in an artistic way. It is a tool of expression. Writing poetry can be very freeing. Free verse poetry is similar to writing in a journal. It does not need a clear structure. A free-verse poem might rhyme, but it does not have to. Free verse writing is when a poet uses a variety of techniques to express themselves with no particular structure. Free verse poetry is a powerful therapeutic experience because you are allowed to express a complex emotion in whatever way you feel.
- It encourages reflection on the past.
With continued writing, poetry can be a reflective experience. You can go back and re-read your poems and understand how you felt at that moment. Reading poetry out loud can be cathartic experience. I am a spoken word poet, and I find that reading my poems aloud can bring back memories of my past, which encourages me to make smarter choices in the future. Writing helps you understand your bad habits and develop tools to help overcome them.
Healing Through Spoken Word Poetry
Spoken word poetry is the oral art form of writing poetry. The best way to understand it is by watching it done live. Spoken word poetry has soared in popularity in the past two decades. Shows like “Def Poetry Jam” and “Brave New Voices” on HBO first brought spoken word into the mainstream. These days, spoken word artists perform at coffee shops, concert halls, and even international competitions!
“I feel incredibly confident now with who I am as a person and how I conduct myself in life because the experience of going on the stage and performing has seemingly validated the person I am,” Robert Gardham, a spoken word poet writes.
Saying your poetry out loud is a very different experience from writing it on a page. It took years for me to feel comfortable performing on stage. Even today, it can be hard to perform new pieces . The good news you can pace yourself. Start writing just for yourself today, and who knows, maybe performing can take your healing to the next level.
Overall, poetry is an art form that many people should take advantage of. It can help improve mental health and helps in the recovery process from addiction. Anyone can write poetry, all it takes it pushing yourself to express yourself. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Substance abuse and drug addiction have made an impact on our country and the culture of our cities in an immense way. The overdose epidemic has laid the casualties of the War on Drugs at the nations feet, along with the aftermath of pill-mill empires, online drug-dealing sites, and continued plagues of synthetic drugs. The threat of drugs is still very alive, and some suggest a whole new strategy is needed to change the tide.
Well along with a seemingly nationwide shift in popular opinion on drug policy toward the means of harm reduction and decriminalization of specific substances, it seems that some states are trying to continue implementing new innovative forms of education and recovery. Soon recovering drug addicts in Massachusetts may have the means to attend new recovery high schools.
Take notes, this will be on the final.
Sobriety Class in Session
Recovery High schools are specifically designed campuses with a curriculum for students recovering from a substance abuse disorder. The concept of these schools was originally introduced back in 1987, and as recovery schools generate awareness, and more states and foundations consider funding such schools, some push for more research to be done to evaluate the most effective methods of this alternative branch of education.
Democratic State Senator Karen Spilka from Ashland, Massachusetts recently announced that $1 million in funding will go towards opening not one, but 2 new recovery high schools in the state, one of which is expected to be in Worcester.
Now this isn’t an entirely new strategy for the state of Massachusetts, which already has recovery high schools in a few areas including:
Now it appears that the local policymakers are re-concentrating their efforts towards effectively helping young people in light of the latest spikes in opiate overdoses in the area. If the bill passes, Massachusetts will provide a total of $3.1 million for the 2 recovery high schools. Senator Spilka stated:
“Substance abuse we all know is a crisis across the state, impacting all our families,”
The concepts of treatment and recovery have been evolving, and until recently much less focus was placed on adolescent treatment than on prevention of adolescent substance abuse. However as these issues become more prominent, there has been information released to better represent those in need. Teen drug abuse is a reality, and more people are taking notice and taking action to address the problem before it gets any worse.
The Senate also aims to provide other resources in the field of drug treatment such as:
- $5 million towards 150 new post-detox treatment beds
- $1 million for a pilot program to purchase Narcan (opiate overdose antidote) in bulk
- $10 million towards a substance abuse trust fund
All this effort is being put in place to contest with the growing issue of teen drug abuse. Many anticipate this new budget proposal could provide support to adolescent drug addicts looking to get clean and stay clean in the face of rampant opioid abuse.
Similar programs have been proposed and put into effect all over. Drug Free Clubs of America are in place to provide incentives and support for avoiding drug use, and in Illinois there has even been legislation proposed to put Narcan in the hands of school nurses.
When you consider that getting kicked out of school in light of drug abuse only keeps a teen uneducated, which in turn will most likely keep them from a stable and healthy career, the results only depress and oppress them further, which often leads to more drug and alcohol abuse.
Therapy for students got a little attention earlier this week as some exclaimed the mental health improvements possible when teens are given an opportunity to receive some level of therapy in school, and others have pushed for drug testing in schools. It is apparent the safety and well-being of young people is paramount, as they are the future. So why not provide a second chance that keeps teens out of the vicious cycle of uneducated marginalization that feeds the patterns of addiction?
Bring and open mind and your number 2 pencils.
While addiction treatment grows and advances with the times and the progression of our understanding, new options and techniques come to light, and maybe the answer to the addiction problem is multiple choice. For those looking for treatment, there are always a special kind of teachers willing to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135