Author: Justin Mckibben
The past week the country watched as yet another powerful natural disaster loomed overhead. Hurricane Irma had been measured as an intensely powerful Category 5 storm. By the time it reached Florida the storm was spanning at 400 miles wide. Winds topped over 130 miles per hour on Sunday. All this came only about a week after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey struck the state of Texas. Landing as a Category 4 on the west coast of South Florida, the dangerous winds of Hurricane Irma reached out to Miami and even West Palm Beach on the eastern coastline.
Areas have begun experiencing flooding, and there were even earlier reports of tornadoes picking up as more than 4.7 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power.
Shelters across the state had been utilized to help thousands and thousands of residents, while well over 30,000 evacuated from the Florida Keys ahead of the storm. As of Monday, Hurricane Irma had downgraded to a tropical storm with dwindled intensity as it nears Georgia. Resources are currently working diligently in Florida to assure the residents’ safety and restore power and clear roadways.
As the incident unfolds and recovery efforts begin, the recovery community of Florida stands strong as well.
Of course in a situation like this staying connected is crucial for everyone. Whether people choose to evacuate and travel outside the projected path, or if they stock up on supplies and fortify their homes, communication is key.
By staying connected people can get updates on the possible dangers that may still be present after the initial storm. They can also stay informed on relief efforts in their area if needed. Some may feel they are safely out of harms way after the perilous gusts and overwhelming rains have ceased. However, there are still residual risks that come after these storms.
Staying connected can be made even more difficult with power outages.
For the recovery community in South Florida staying connected has helped so many people keep track of their peers in the recovery community to provide support. Not only are accredited addiction treatment providers coordinating with local officials to ensure the safety of their clients and staff, they are also connecting with families and loved ones to help clients update their contacts about current conditions.
Meanwhile, people within the recovery community continue to check in with their peers. Many of us are dedicated to ensuring our friends in sobriety are safe and protected. In situations like this sometimes those in recovery also need someone to reach out to. These stressful times can be all it takes to push some individuals toward risk behaviors. In this case, relapse prevention maybe mean as much as staying connected through Hurricane Irma.
Service and Support
Supporting each other within the community is a vital piece of the recovery process, both in the aftermath of a natural disaster and in the addiction recovery community. When something tragic impacts so many lives people always band together to restore stability to family, friends and neighbors. First responders and volunteers try to help people clear out wreckage, provide food and other important amenities, and rescue those in need. Public officials coordinate with other organizations and community efforts to help repair what needs repaired and ensure citizens’ health and safety.
In short, great numbers of people commit to doing service to aid in the recovery.
In the world of drug and alcohol addiction, service to others and giving back can be a pivatol aspect of the recovery process. Men and women in recovery from addiction band together to provide each other with the means to be safe and supported. Recovering addicts and alcoholics volunteer themselves to working with those most in need, and they take on positions of service in order to ensure everyone has an opportunity to stay healthy and safe.
All this can be seen in South Florida after Hurricane Irma, when both aspects of the community (recovery and non-recovery) have worked independently and collaboratively to protect the people in need and support each other. Addiction treatment and mental health services have actively coordinated with first responders. Meanwhile, individuals offer assistance to their peers through meetings and service work. Sometimes something as simple as a ride to work a place to stay with power makes a huge difference.
Rebuilding after Hurricane Irma
Most of the eastern coastline was spared the brunt of the storms destructive power. Still, Hurricane Irma still managed to impact those farthest from the landfall. Palm Beach County alone experienced an estimated 375,350 power outages, while areas like Miami-Dade reached up to 623,820 outages.
So far there has been a great deal of effective restoration efforts after Hurricane Irma. All Florida highways are now open. Gas supplies are still struggling, but the state is coordinating with the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers to open ports for tankers carrying fuel. Now shipments to the tune of millions or gallons are flowing toward Port Everglades. Airports have reopened and curfews have either been lifted or shortened. Electrical companies are working diligently to restore services to the state, but that effort could be ongoing for some time.
The Florida Keys suffered a great deal of damage, and efforts to help revive the area are ongoing, thought this too seems like it will be an uphill battle for now. The fight today has become a mission for the return to normalcy for most Florida residents. Officials are hoping to get people back to work and get businesses back to serving their communities as well.
A Community in Recovery
For the addiction recovery community, getting back to helping those in need is also a priority. Getting people into safe environments that help their sobriety; pursuing further outreach efforts to those in active addiction who may be suffering now more than ever; support groups re-opening to be there for their members.
There is a strong presence in this area of those who are already experienced in bouncing back from devastation and desperation; the recovering alcoholics and addicts of South Florida. Some of us are used to going without amenities. In sobriety many of us are used to giving all we can to others. Now is definitely the time to put those unique experiences to good use.
Today, all of Florida recovers from the effects of Hurricane Irma. Those of us in addiction recovery should always be willing to give back to the community that has given us so much. We can find a way to volunteer some time, or make donations to support those with less than us. Now more than ever we should offer assistance to the addicts and alcoholics who still struggle. But don’t stop there. All of Florida is now a community in recovery. We are all in this together, so lets all be part of something to make it better. We will recover.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those effected.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma the South Florida area is still home to one of the strongest recovery communities in the world. This is a community with a strong commitment to safe and effective treatment options. South Florida is full of amazing individual’s working hard to hold each other up. 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
Author: Justin Mckibben
Ohio has been a major epicenter of the overdose outbreak. In 2014, Ohio was #2 of states with the most overdose deaths. Since then, Ohio has topped the list for heroin overdose deaths in the country, and remains in the top 3 states with the highest overdose death rates, both overall AND per capita. In fact, the overdose capitol of America is actually Montgomery County, Ohio, with over 365 opioid-related deaths in the first 5 months of 2017.
So with Ohio being one of the states hit the hardest by the ravishes of the opioid epidemic and the overdose crisis, you would think that Ohio officials would be more apt to adopting progressive and preventative measures for saving lives. In some areas, yes. However, in others… not so much.
Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones says his deputies won’t carry Narcan, despite its effectiveness reversing the effects opioid and heroin overdoses.
Butler County Overdose Deaths
Making this a much more controversial issue, drug overdose is killing more people than any other cause in Butler County. According to a statement by Dr. Lisa Mannix’s office, in the first 4 months of 2017 the coroner investigated 175 deaths, and 96 of them were lethal drug overdoses.
The month of April was especially deadly for drug users in the area. According to Mannix, her office-
“- has never seen that many deaths of any kind in a single month.”
In just those 30 days, 30 people died from drug overdose. According to the coroner’s office, 83% of the overdose deaths involved illegal opiate substances. This includes the now infamous synthetic opioids such as:
If this deadly trend continues, the coroners office expects those rates will see a 50% increase from the total overdose deaths in 2016.
The Sheriff Says “I Don’t Do Narcan”
He’s Jones just happens to be the only sheriff in Southwest Ohio whose department does not use the opioid overdose antidote Narcan, or the generic Naloxone. And apparently, he has no intention of starting anytime soon.
Jones was asked about the lack of Narcan use by his police department shortly after the now controversial comments made by a Middletown city councilman suggesting a policy to refuse giving a response to overdose calls. According to the sheriff, local residents and even social workers often ask him why law enforcement continue to revive people who overdose multiple times. His response was simple; his deputies don’t. When interviewed and asked about it, Jones stated:
“I don’t do Narcan.”
Yes… let that just sink in for a second.
This is a man who has the job description of ‘protect and serve’ but when it comes to addicts, he would prefer to do neither.
So what was his justification?
Jones went on to rationalize his opinion by, according to the original report, ‘talking about babies he has seen born addicted to heroin in his jail and mothers who teach their teenage children how to use heroin so they can shoot the mom up.’ When the reporter pressed on about the lack of Narcan in his department, Jones stated:
“They never carried it. Nor will they. That’s my stance.”
The sheriff went on trying to validate his rationale by claiming safety was the primary priority. He argued that people revived from an overdose are often violent and are almost never happy to see the police.
So in short, it sounds like this sheriff would let sick and suffering men and women, even teens, die from overdose rather than save their lives… because they might be upset or aggressive?
What Do You Do?
As expanded access programs to provide Narcan to first responders have become more popular it seems some have gone on to debate how long should tax payer money do to saving lives, and how many times should someone be revived.
This is a tough conversation to have. For some there is no easy answer. Those who are more focus on being monetarily minded and conservative will typically argue that resources should not go to repeatedly paying to save addicts from death. But is it fair for anyone to decide whether someone should die or not simply because they are addicted to drugs? Are we really willing to let people die to boost the government’s budget?
However, for some of us the answer is easy- you cannot put a price on a life. Struggling with substance use disorder does not diminish the value of a person. It should go without saying that if the resources exist to prevent death from overdose, than we should use it. Narcan may not be the cure to addiction, but it might keep just enough people alive long enough to find help and make a difference in the world.
Thankfully, this isn’t how all of Ohio is handling the opioid overdose outbreak in their state. Sheriff’s deputies in surrounding counties carry the opioid overdose antidote, including:
- Warren County
- Clermont County
- Hamilton County
Other expanded access programs in Ohio are going strong and saving a lot of people, but of course the next step to solving the issue is helping to establish sources of effective treatment.
Drug addiction treatment can be the decisive variable that allows for these overdose victims and others suffering with substance use disorder to get a new chance at life. Holistic healing with innovative and personalized recovery programs has the potential not to just save a life, but transform lives. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Naloxone expansion is something we consistently see as a topic of discussion. Naloxone, or the name-brand Narcan, is an opioid overdose antidote that is in high demand as one of the primary tools in the fight against the ongoing overdose outbreak. Law makers and law enforcement agencies have joined with community organizations and pharmacy companies in trying to provide this medication to more and more people.
New legislation across the U.S. has made access to Naloxone more common than ever. Now, the drive for Naloxone expansion is leading us to another avenue. This is beyond supplying the families of addicts, the addicts themselves and first responders.
Some may remember, back in September, the Food and Drug Administration launched a competition to app developers in the name of improving resources for naloxone expansion. The contest was seeking a mobile app for connecting people experiencing a drug overdose with someone nearby who can administer naloxone. With technology being used to expedite just about everything in our world, it only made sense to use it to help save lives if possible.
The winner of the Naloxone App Competition has been announced this month, and the $40,000 cash prize has been claimed. Their mission: to make it possible for more people to be first responders for opiate overdoses.
The OD Help App
The winning app is the OD Help App, creared by Team PwrdBy, a small start-up in Venice, California. The start-up’s CEO Jared Sheehan says this innovation stems from the idea of making naloxone assistance as available as ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. With Uber and Lyft drivers being so spread out, the idea is the app could cover a lot more ground and reach more people in the event of opioid overdose.
Sheehan says there’s still a lot of work to be done before the app is made available to the public. To implement this kind of program with Uber or Lyft, it would require reaching out and coordinating with ride-sharing companies. Sheehan stated:
“Is there a way if every Uber driver had a naloxone kit in the back of their car, that you could call someone and they’d be able to come over and administer naloxone?”
So in essence, the idea of the OD Help app would be to be able to alert naloxone carriers of an overdose (OD) and give them the option of being dispatched to help revive someone experiencing the overdose.
Expanding Team PwrdBy Naloxone Plan
According to Sheehan, ride-sharing apps are just one avenue that Team PwrdBy is setting its sights on. The company is also exploring more traditional distribution systems.
One such method Team PwrdBy wants to look to for inspiration for the OD Help app is the AED network, the automated external defibrillators network across schools. The goal is to better comprehend how these programs are funded and distributed. Modeling after an already successful style of expanded access for other emergency medical supplies may be vital to changing the way we expand naloxone access.
All of this is to save as many lives as possible.
How OD Help Works
The OD Help app connects opioid users with a crowd-sourced network of naloxone carriers. Using GPS, it specifically connects someone who may experience an overdose with someone nearby who has access to naloxone. The app is also able to be personalize to the user’s specifications. One feature lets you set it up so in the event of an overdose the app would only alert people in your selected support network. And naloxone carriers can disable alerts if they are not able to respond.
Another feature available with the OD Help app is a breathing monitor. This can be helpful for people who use opioids alone. It gives the app a way to communicate with others when the user can’t. The wearable monitor is able to detect if the individual’s breathing rate is dangerously low, a sign of overdose. In this case the OD Help app automatically alerts a naloxone carrier nearby.
The app also features information on:
- How to correctly identify an overdose
- How to administer naloxone
Another hope is that the app will also inform younger generations about the dangers of opioid abuse, and about overdose prevention. The hope is the app could reach a younger population and make them aware of how to get access to naloxone and how to administer it. Many young people don’t think of pharmacies as a place to get the drug that could save their lives.
Put to Good Use
The truth is, not all people will be able to have access to a consistent supply of naloxone. The drug also doesn’t last forever. For those who would need to have an overdose antidote resource, the OD Help app could be a safe-guard against being completely unprepared for an overdose.
Some people may be embarrassed or have some reservations about personally obtaining naloxone. With the OD Help app they could reach out to someone if they truly needed the help.
If you or someone you loved were overdosing, would it be useful to be able to look on an app and find someone close by with the tools to help? Some people would say you should just call an ambulance, but what if it could get there sooner? Or what if someone is afraid of reporting it? Too many people die for these very reasons, but they shouldn’t have to. Sure, some people may ask if they would let a random citizen administering the antidote. However, some might say any help is worth having.
Then on the other side, would people be willing to come to the rescue if they had the resources? If your phone rang and the OD Help app said someone needed help around the corner, would you? Would you be happy you could?
Something tells me plenty of people would be willing to put this tool to good use.
This writer has said this before; the preservation of all lives should be a responsibility of all who have the ability to help; not just for public health officials, but everyone. As part of that, Palm Partners is dedicated to contributing to the rehabilitation and revolutionary growth possible with holistic treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
The medical field is notorious for being a stressful and overwhelming environment. After all, it deals with saving the lives of sick people. Surely, that has to take a burden. Therefore, it should come to no surprise that medical students were found in a recent study to be more vulnerable to burnout and alcohol abuse than their peers not attending medical school. Young, single students with high amounts of debt were found to be the most prone to alcohol abuse.
The study published in the journal Academic Medicine indicated that there is a need to raise awareness of this issue:
“Our findings clearly show there is reason for concern,” says Liselotte Dyrbye, M.D., Mayo Clinic internist and senior author of the paper. “We recommend institutions pursue a multifaceted solution to address related issues with burnout, the cost of medical education and alcohol abuse.”
To gather results, Mayo researchers surveyed 12,500 medical students, and approximately one-third of those students responded. Nearly 25% of students surveyed revealed that they had experienced clinical alcohol abuse or dependence. Compared to only 16 percent of peers not in medical school, those numbers reveal a significant issue in the community. Feelings of burnout were highly associated with alcohol abuse or dependence among medical students for numerous factors.
The five factors associated with alcohol abuse in medical students were:
- Emotional exhaustion
- Feelings of depersonalization
- Younger age than most peers in medical school
- Being unmarried
- Amount of student loan debt
In the past two decades, medical school costs have increased by 209 percent at private colleges and 286 percent at public schools. The average physician graduating from medical school will owe 180,000 dollars in educational debt. Medical students face some of the most strenuous educational requirements out there. They endure four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school and a three-year residency program. The educational requirements mean that medical students spend long hours in the classroom and at home studying and preparing for exams. As a result, the culture of medical programs can often promote the use of substance to cope with stress.
Drinking patterns among medical students affect the general population because physicians and future physicians play such a crucial role in our society and are important leaders. Also, a medical student’s drinking behavior could negatively affect their education. A medical student who abuses alcohol might have harmful ideas about drinking. There is a correlation between personal practices and counseling practices that could alter how they approach treatment for drug addiction.
Addictive substances are readily available to physicians. The increase in availability explains why the rates of substance abuse are higher among physicians than the general population. Doctors have been caught that were using illegally self-prescribed medications for years, even decades.
The lack of accountability among students further contributes to the risk of addiction. Medical Schools tend to be close nit communities. Therefore, even if student was known for abusing substances, chances are slim that they ever get caught. This is known in the medical community as the “conspiracy of silence,” and unfortunately, not much can be done to change it.
Fortunately, a study like this encourages conversation about the need for programs to address the temptation to abuse substances in medical schools. Through addressing this concern in the early stages, programs can be implemented that prevent this cycle of abuse. The last thing the medical world needs are new doctors entering the workforce with substance abuse issues.
What kind of programs could be implemented to lower this risk? Ultimately, that is the question this study raises. Alcohol abuse and burnout are serious concerns that need to address with an effective treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-561-951-6135.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
In a decision that will undoubtedly be debated at innovative or extremely controversial, emergency responders in Florida are going to be taking a pretty drastic measure in their movements to fight back against the growing issue of the infamous “$5 insanity” of Flakka… using doses of Ketamine to subdue violently aggressive patients.
When I came across this story I could not help but be baffled, yet curious as to how exactly this plan of action has been orchestrated and how it will be executed.
So I want to ask… is it a good idea that EMTs in Florida are going to be using Ketamine to fight Flakka?
First- What is Flakka?
For anyone who hasn’t heard, Flakka is one of the newest dangerous drugs to hit the streets that has gained a lot of attention in a short period of time for the dramatic, tragic and appalling stories it has inspired.
The synthetic drug Flakka, also known by other names such as Gravel, is a synthetic version of an exceedingly strong stimulant cathinone, officially dubbed alpha Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (Alpha-PVP). Commonly found in a crystal-like form, Flakka is known to be cheap, addictive, and deadly. When used this can be ingested in various ways, including:
Some of the effects include:
- Body overheating
- Heightened sense of euphoria
- Feeling superhuman strength
- Psychotic episodes
There have been stories of people running naked through the streets, reacting in rage to horrific hallucinations, and even one story of an elderly woman beaten to death by an individual trapped in a Flakka induced violently psychotic episode. These terrible and frightening stories have hit authorities hard, and apparently they are willing to go to great lengths to put a stop to the madness.
So then what is Ketamine?
Ketamine is another synthetic substance that has a history of strange side-effects and street credit for being abused and becoming addictive. It has been used before as an anesthetic and analgesic drug, but earned a bad name for its illicit use as a hallucinogen. It also has a reputation as a “date-rape” drug.
Ketamine is commonly seen as a powder or liquid and was initially used on animals. When used on the streets it is often ingested by:
- Consumed with drinks
Yet more recently we have begun to see more and more people pushing for one reason or another to drop the bad name assigned to Ketamine to promote positive uses for it, such as treating depression.
Synthetic VS Synthetic
Now in a very radical approach some Florida EMS departments are arming their paramedics with Ketamine as a new weapon to fight Flakka. The latest fire and rescue department in the state to start utilizing Ketamine is Indian River County Fire and EMS. Last week the announced that within the next two weeks their paramedics will be trained on how to administer Ketamine and equipped with the substance.
According to officials the thigh injection can sedate a patient within a minute. Battalion Chief Cory Richter in Indian River County told reporters,
“It will knock them out, but it won’t hurt them in any way, shape or form. It will allow us to treat them and get them to the hospital, and it keeps our guys safe.”
Richter went on to explain that patients who are high on Flakka pose a very real threat to paramedics because the drug gives them superhuman strength and also makes them resistant to pain. Indian River County has had several serious incidents involving Flakka in the past few months, so authorities are done taking their chances it seems.
Indian River County is not the first in Florida to use Ketamine for this purpose. The city of Plantation began placing vials of Ketamine on all of rescue trucks, but reported only needing to use them roughly once per month. The officials in these areas insist that Ketamine is more effective than other drugs because it doesn’t affect the patient’s respiratory system or heart rate, making it safer to use as well. Last July Lt. Daniel Tringali of the Plantation Fire Department told reporters,
“If a police officer’s Taser does not stop them, something needs to stop them,”
Again driving home the point that even though many question Ketamine as being a powerful sedative substance it is still a measure many have deemed necessary in contrast to allowing their EMTs, other emergency response teams or law enforcement to be at elevated risk of injury from an aggressive individual in a Flakka induced rage. To fight Flakka it might be necessary to give EMTs an advantage.
I find myself wondering how this would work out. Apparently officials in the areas already using Ketamine to fight Flakka think it is doing a decent enough job of keeping people safe in the most compromising circumstances. Considering last summer 27 people died of Flakka-related overdoses in an 8 month period in Broward County alone, I think maybe it is understandable why people are so desperate to find a new means to fight Flakka. Not sure if substituting Ketamine is the best solution there is, but right now it seems to be a strategy people are willing to try.
Synthetic drug abuse is so dangerous because of the fact the ingredients and the side-effects can be horrifically unpredictable. Chemical cocktails made from mystery compounds in underground labs with lethal potency are a nightmare being sold on the streets, and beyond such a radical idea as pitting one chemical against the other there is real recovery from drug abuse in the Palm Partners addiction treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling please don’t wait, call 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.