(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
The opioid epidemic is a complicated manner with a myriad of potential plans of action. Throughout the country, different strategies are being implemented to reduce the number of deaths
Florida Governor Rick Scott believes community workshops are a part of the solution. Palm Beach County will be the first of four counties next month to host community workshops as part of Governor Scott’s plan to combat the opioid crisis.
The first “community workshop” is set for May 1, according to the Department of children and families.
Monday, May 1, 2017 – 15:00 to 16:30
West Palm Beach Police Department Community Room
West Palm Beach Florida 33401
Two counties will also have the workshops on May 2—Manatee and Orange counties and Duval County’s workshop will be May 3.
Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi announced the workshops on Tuesday. The state Department of Health and the Florida Development of Law Enforcement will host the conferences, and believe the conferences are a good step moving forward.
“Similar to many communities across the nation, Palm Beach, Manatee, Duval, and Orange counties are facing an increase in opioid-related deaths,” DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said in an email sent to local officials.
“Community workshops will provide important opportunities for DCF, DOH, and FDLE to directly hear the specific needs of affected communities as well as provide information on existing resources, best practices, and grant opportunities.”
Will These Workshops Help Fight Opioid Epidemic?
The opioid epidemic in Florida has reached number unheard of in previous years. The main cause for the increase in overdose deaths is related to fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is nearly 50 times stronger than heroin, while carfentanil—another controlled substance— is strong enough to tranquilize an elephant!
These powerful opioids get cut into the heroin supply tremendously increasing the risk of overdose fatalities. A recent report stated every 15 hours; someone dies from an opioid overdose in Florida. This does not include drug overdoses from alcohol or other non-opioid drugs.
Governor Rick Scott says the issue is personal for him.
“I had a family member dealing with drug abuse and he struggled with drug abuse his entire life, and I can tell you wish I had known exactly what to do for him,” said Scott.
“I can just tell you it was devastating. His life has been devastated, and it also had a dramatic impact on my mom’s life. And, she died a few years ago, and I can tell you what bothered her the most is that she could not change my brother’s life.”
In addition to contributing to reducing heroin abuse, Gov. Rick Scott says he is eager to hosting community workshops across the state. Law enforcement agencies are also contributing to the effort.
Scott stated in a news conference that he is directing these state organizations to hold workshops:
- Florida Department of Children and Families
- Department of Health
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement
If you are in Palm Beach, Duval, Manatee or Orange country, please check with your local agency on the location and time for the next workshop.
Do you think these workshops will be effective in generating ideas on how to fight the opioid epidemic? Clearly, it is a complex problem with a myriad of solutions. Furthermore, if you are struggling, we have professionals waiting to guide you. Do not wait. Call toll-free today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
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
Author: Justin Mckibben
Sometimes new policy can be good. Sometimes, not so much.
The opiate epidemic in America has hit some states with staggering rates of overdose and death. The paralyzing truth gripping the nation today is that more people are dying from drug overdose than homicides and car crashes. Heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers collectively decimate entire communities. People from all over are starting to push officials and lawmakers for more progressive and effective solutions.
Addiction has led to an overdose outbreak that shakes the country to the core, everywhere. Now, Florida lawmakers are pushing for new legislation to try and protect and serve those who suffer from an overdose. One of the first bills on the 2017 agenda is one that hopes to change how law enforcement treats overdose victims.
Although, another bill is trying to turn things in a very different direction.
Florida HB 61 Bill
Florida Representative Larry Lee, a Democrat from Port St. Lucie, has filed a proposal titled HB 61. If approved, this piece of reform would require several new policies for healthcare providers, starting with hospitals.
- It would require hospitals to screen overdose victims to determine the need for additional health care services
- Prohibits hospitals from discharging overdose patients to a detox or treatment facility until stabilized
- Requires attending physician to attempt contact with patients primary care physician, or other treatment providers, who prescribe controlled substances to notify them of overdose
- Requires hospital to inform medical director of treatment center (if patient is currently in treatment) of the overdose
- Hospital must inform overdose victim’s family or emergency contact of overdose
- Must inform contacts what drugs they suspect to have caused overdose
- Attending physician must provide list of drug treatment providers and information about Florida’s Marchman act and Backer act in case the family or contact wishes to seek legal action to protect the addict
The Big Change in HB 61
Lastly, what is probably the most progressive part of this legislation, is the HB 61 bill would prohibit criminal charges from police officers and prosecutors against the overdose victim for possession of any drugs found on them during the incident.
This final aspect of HB 61 this writer thinks is a big deal, because from personal experience I have seen and heard many stories of individuals not calling for help in the event of an overdose out of fear of prosecution. In some cases people actually die because of the fear of criminal punishment. Adding this kind of measure to the bill is an attempt at eliminating the loss of life due to fear of discrimination. Even if it is not a perfect system, this kind of reform takes first responders and law enforcement a step closer to dealing with addicts who are fighting a fatal illness like sick people instead of criminals.
Florida SB 150 Bill Attacks Fentanyl
From across the aisle we see another push from Republican Senator Greg Steube from Sarasota. The question is, will this push go in the right direction? On December 12, he introduced bill SB 150. This is set to be a direct attack on fentanyl.
For those who are not yet familiar, fentanyl is an incredibly powerful, and lethal, opioid painkiller. It’s medical use is to sedate surgical patients and relieve chronic pain. However, being several times more powerful than heroin, it has crept into the illicit drug trade in various parts of the country. And with its arrival also came a horrifying increase in overdose and death.
This proposal means to make 4 grams or more of fentanyl a first-degree felony through:
November 20, the Palm Beach Post released an analysis of people who died in 2015 from heroin-related overdoses. Out of the 216 individuals profiled in this report, 42% of the cases were found to involve fentanyl. So of course, with Steube coming from a district hit particularly hard by the opiate epidemic, it is logical to want to do everything you can to cut the flow of fentanyl off.
Yet, some say that this kind of strategy is too close to the concept of mandatory minimums.
Is SB 150 Too Close to Mandatory Minimums?
For those who need more clarification, mandatory minimum sentencing laws were a “one-size-fits-all” strategy implemented originally back in 1951 against marijuana, then repealed in the 1970s, and refined in 1986. In 1973, New York State enacted mandatory minimums of 15 years to life for possession of more than 4 ounces of any hard drug.
The idea is that regardless of the individual or the circumstances that a certain crime will have an inflexible punishment across the board. Ever since their introduction, criminal justice advocates have fought these laws, and they have always been surrounded by debate and controversy.
Essentially, some are already saying that SB 150 will ruthlessly make addicts into victims of the already overpopulated prison system. To be clear and fair- the bill does not seem to directly require a specific prison sentence like mandatory minimums, but it’s similar in that it treats every issue related to fentanyl the same.
The issue has already been argued time and time again that non-violent low-level drug offenders have spent excessive amounts of time in prison for possession of a substance. In some cases, an individual will do more time behind bars for possessing a large quantity of drugs than someone who has actually killed someone. Some have come to the conclusion that this tactic just doesn’t work.
The fear with SB 150 is not about the manufacturers or the dealers as much as it is for the consumers. Sometimes individuals purchase drugs on the street believing it to be heroin or another substance without even knowing there is fentanyl in it. So this bill would make first-degree felons out of desperate addicts?
What is Right?
The big question we all face at the end of the day is- what is the right thing to do? How is the best way to handle something that feels so utterly out of hand?
Well, it would seem like its time to finally let go of the archaic stigma. More states and law enforcement officials are turning to compassionate and supportive progress. Many places in America are starting to do everything they can to help people struggling with addiction to find help before it is too late. So why move backwards?
In my opinion, strictly based on what has been presented so far, SB 150 seems dangerous. There are countless advocates out there who say that intensifying the punishment is not how you deter the crime. Especially when it comes to addiction, because this kind of method still suggests it is a moral failing and not a psychological and physical illness.
HB 61 seems to be trying to call health care providers to action and add more accountability on the front lines in the fight against the overdose outbreak. At the same time it seems to move in the opposite direction of SB 150 by trying to limit the persecution of addicts. HB 61 makes more room to help preserve life and offer treatment and solutions. By now we should already know, the solution isn’t a War on Drugs, it is community and compassion.
These are some of the initial responses to recommendations recently made by the grand jury. Every day there are countless people suffering. And every day there are countless more recovering and fighting to help others recover. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Recently the big election season of 2016 came to a close. Not only do we have a new president, but also a few new states with big marijuana reforms. Florida is among the states to turn the tide and legalize medical marijuana, with specific restrictions of course. But one restriction that could be imposed most people probably don’t know about with medical marijuana is one on gun-ownership. So when taking a look at what some U.S. courts have ruled in the past, should medical marijuana block your gun ownership rights? How could this impact medical marijuana in Florida?
Rowan Wilson VS 9th U.S. Circuit Court
The case of S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada resident, is what recently brought this subject to light. In 2011 Wilson attempted to purchase a handgun but was denied when the gun store owner recognized her as a medical marijuana cardholder. She insisted that she only obtained the card as a political statement in solidarity with legalization. In court Wilson maintained that she does not herself use marijuana.
In August of 2016 Wilson’s hopes were shot down. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided in a 3-0 vote that if you have a medical marijuana card, you can’t buy a gun. This result came based on the idea that medical marijuana:
“-raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.”
This isn’t only limited to regular marijuana users or even specifically addicts, but to anyone who has a medical marijuana card. According to the court, this ruling actually does not violate the 2nd Amendment. They claim to be in agreement with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, saying that firearms retailers should assume that medical marijuana card holders use the drug, even if they do not. This courts jurisdiction includes:
- District of Alaska
- District of Arizona
- Central District of California
- Eastern District of California
- Northern District of California
- Southern District of California
- District of Hawaii
So how will it play out now that there is medical marijuana in Florida?
The 4th Circuit and the Federal Level
Federal law already prohibits gun purchases by those who are described as:
“-unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance.”
Back in 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms insisted that the law applies to marijuana users-
“regardless of whether [their] State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.”
This makes sense, since even though many states are legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use, marijuana remains illegal for any purpose under federal law. So medical marijuana in Florida is subject to the same idea of federal regulation.
In the case of United States v. Carter in 2014 the connection between marijuana and violence came as the court cited a number of studies suggesting a significant link between drug use and violence. This included marijuana. In the words of the 4th Circuit, those studies found:
- “Probationers who had perpetrated violence in the pastwere significantly more likely to have used a host of drugs — marijuana, hallucinogens, sedatives, and heroin — than probationers who had never been involved in a violent episode.”
- “Almost 50% of all state and federal prisoners who had committed violent felonieswere drug abusers or addicts in the year before their arrest, as compared to only 2% of the general population.”
- “Individuals who used marijuana or marijuana and cocaine, in addition to alcohol, weresignificantly more likely to engage in violent crime than individuals who only used alcohol.”
- Among adolescent males, “marijuana use in one yearfrequently predicted violence in the subsequent year.”
The 4th Circuit argues that the question of correlation vs. causation doesn’t matter. They insist it was not the government’s responsibility to prove a causal link between drug use and violence. Simply put, they didn’t need to prove if drug use causes violence or if violence causes the drug use. To ban someone from owning a gun all they need is to make any connection.
Which, when you think about it, seems almost lazy.
Medical Marijuana in Florida VS Other Substances
So what we want to ask is- should using medical marijuana keep you from owning a gun?
Essentially the courts say that anyone who uses medical marijuana or any substance has an increased chance of risk behavior. They say that if someone has a medical marijuana card, basically they are too dangerous to allow a firearm.
But given this logic, it should apply to every substance. There are plenty of other drugs that technically fit the bill, and not just illegal ones.
Drug policy researchers Mark Kleiman, Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken have pointed out that research also indicates that tobacco users also are more likely to engage in crime relative to the general population. The team published a book in 2011 called Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know. In this publication they wrote:
“Compared with nonsmokers, cigarette smokers have a higher rate of criminality,”
“Smoking in and of itself does not lead to crime, but within the population of smokers we are more likely to find individuals engaged in illicit behavior.”
Then of course there is the obvious other substance that should be on the chopping block; alcohol. The authors wrote that there’s a much stronger link between violent behavior and alcohol than there is for many illegal drugs,
“There is a good deal of evidence showing an association between alcohol intoxication and pharmacologically induced violent crime,”
The truth is, alcohol is probably one of the most dangerous drugs in the world, yet because it is “socially acceptable” it is not under nearly as much restriction. So if we are going to consider medical marijuana in Florida as means to restrict our 2nd Amendment, shouldn’t we see it the same for alcohol, or even other prescription medications?
We have said it time and time again- a drug is a drug. If we truly believe any substance, legal or not, that can be abuse is equally dangerous in terms of addiction and risk behavior than should we treat them equally? Should we restrict the right to own a gun for anyone who uses anything? Does medical marijuana make someone too dangerous to own a gun? Or is this discrimination?
Overall, the issue of marijuana reform is an increasingly complex issue and in the future, solutions to the problems of legalization will be addressed. But for those who struggle with addiction marijuana can still be a dangerous substance. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
Author: Justin Mckibben
According to some statistics, opioids killed nearly 30,000 Americans in 2014. This includes illicit narcotics and prescription painkillers. In the last two years there have been reports from all over the country of surges in overdoses and deaths, leading one to believe that number has been magnified with the growing epidemic. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in our country.
1 in 4 families are directly impacted by drug overdose. Whether that is you or not, you can see the impact it has on our communities. Now Palm Beach County is continuing to advocate for more resources to help the people most at risk fight back.
There will be Narcan Training events for local communities of Palm Beach County starting this month. The first seminar will be in Boca Raton, Florida at the St. Jude Reception Hall. This is about saving lives, and with so many lives be lost and others suffering, the time is now to learn how you may save a life.
The Problem in Palm Beach County
In 2014 there were an estimated 2,062 deaths due to prescription drugs. Many of these were opioid-related deaths, and heroin accounts for thousands more. In Florida, the total drug-related death toll increased by 14% in the first half of 2015 compared to 2014.
Palm Beach County saw an overdose rate increase of 425% so far in 2016 compared to 2015. There were 13 overdoses alone in Delray Beach last weekend. Hundreds more overdoses happened throughout Palm Beach County last month. The opiate epidemic has not spared any corner of the county, and many government officials and community organizations are pulling their resources in an effort to create strategies to prevent drug overdoses and save lives.
More about Narcan
Narcan, or the generic form Naloxone, is a life-saving opiate antidote. Some examples of opioids include:
An opioid overdose can cause breathing to slow down or stop completely, putting someone’s life in immediate danger. Narcan works by blocking the effects of opioids and can actually reverse an overdose in order to get medical attention to someone who is in need.
One major plus is that Narcan has no euphoric effects and cannot get someone “high” so abuse is not an issue. The overdose antidote is essentially harmless if there are no opiods present in someone’s system. If given to a person who has not taken opioids, there will be no effect. Narcan can still be effective when alcohol or other drugs are present with opiates.
Administration to opioid-dependent individuals may cause symptoms of opioid withdrawal, including:
- Fast heart rate
There are other measures that can be taken to help ease these symptoms as well.
Narcan and Naloxone expansion programs have become a huge part of states everywhere trying to solve the overdose death outbreak. Many communities have equipped their first responders with Narcan kits and given training on how to administer the antidote. Some police departments in Palm Beach County now carry Narcan or Naloxone kits. Now these programs are trying to empower more people in Palm Beach County.
The first free seminar on Narcan Training is October 24th at 6 o’clock PM. The training takes place in the St. Jude Reception Hall in Boca Raton, Florida. For more information and events, visit the website here.
The seminar is open to the public and will be teaching participants more about the dangers of drug overdose, as well as about Narcan.
Palm Beach County has seen what an opioid overdose can do. It has also seen how effective Narcan and Naloxone can be to helping prevent an overdose from turning into a death. Not only are there expansion programs out there making the medication more available, but the community in Palm Beach County is actively working to help the people understand how to utilize their resources. Putting this life saving medication in reach and teaching people how to use it can help us from having to helplessly watch our friends, family members or neighbors die.
Palm Beach County also has a strong recovery community, and many people got there through effective and innovative holistic drug and alcohol treatment. It is incredibly important to preserve life, and beyond that to improve the lives that are saved. Drug and alcohol treatment can be the first step to a new life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135