Author: Justin Mckibben
That’s right, you read the headline correctly. Law enforcement could soon be giving heroin to addicts, for free, in an attempt to fight addiction. While harm reduction is an admirable concept to preserve the lives of those suffering from addiction, this is a hard bit to chew.
Various countries are working to drastically reform drug policies. Some states in America have even started to pursue expanding access to naloxone, needle exchange programs and even safe injection sites. Other countries around the world have gone to new lengths in decriminalization, while others go to new extremes in the War on Drugs. Yet, despite all this variations of progress, giving away heroin seems like the most abstract idea yet.
Police in Durham, a city in northeast England, are planning to offer free heroin to drug users. Why? They say the objective is actually to reduce both crime and addiction.
The Free Heroin Plan?
Durham Police and Crime Victims Commissioner Ron Hogg spoke recently on his logic for providing heroin to addicts. In his statement he said,
“The aim would be to enable people who have become addicted to heroin to follow a program that would stabilize their addiction in a controlled environment, and reduce their dependency on heroin until they stop taking it,”
The idea isn’t just to give addicts free heroin and let them loose, but to create a very distinctive atmosphere of support in hopes of inspiring recovery. The proposed free heroin program would work in combination with a traditional substance abuse support program, and the users would be monitored on use and tapered off. According to the Independent newspaper, the free heroin clinics could be established in the Durham area before the end of this year.
What do Police Think of Free Heroin?
It seems the police department is hoping that if drug users have access to free heroin then they won’t have to resort to crime to support their addiction. While they are aware of how this idea might seem strange, the idea is that they may be able to further decrease all other devastating results of addiction on the community. Crime, spread of disease, overdose death and more.
According to the Independent newspaper, Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton also says the initiative would take away from drug dealers’ profits. With drug users having access to free heroin they hope it will cripple the trade on the illicit drug market. Barton states:
“We need to get over our moral panic about giving people heroin as part of a treatment plan,”
“Our primary concern is to prevent crime. If we’ve got people who are addicted to Class A drugs committing crime, it makes good sense to get that person off drugs.”
Commissioner Hogg also goes on to say,
“The aim of the initiative is to save the lives of addicts, shut down drug dealers and reduce acquisitive crime,”
“It would also reduce demand on police time, and the courts, and I believe it should also help lower the prison population.”
The impact of heroin on the U.K. should of course be noted as a cause for desperate measures.
- 2015-2016 statistics show there were 149,807 people receiving treatment for opioid use disorder in England
- Between 2012 and 2015, heroin-related deaths doubled from 579 to 1,201 deaths in England and Wales
So of course, as the opiate epidemic rattles countries all over the world, a few have decided to react in very different ways. Apparently, some parts of the U.K. are moving toward a very, very liberal stance.
Fix Rooms and Safe Injection Sites
England is not alone on this. Let us also note that Switzerland has actually offered a free heroin maintenance program since 1994. Other governments in the U.K. have approval for similar safe injection initiatives, including:
- The Netherlands
Last October, Glasgow, Scotland became the first city in the U.K. to approve plans for “fix rooms”. These are sites where people will be provided medical-grade heroin and clean syringes with the intent to contain the heroin epidemic.
The free heroin program in Switzerland began in Zurich. It is now credited with decreasing crime in the area. Information indicates this program has expanded to 23 clinics. But it isn’t just free heroin in these locations. These “fix rooms” also provide counseling and support.
Harm Reduction… or Reorganizing?
Now, we have to ask, is this as crazy as it sounds? While the police in these areas seem to be openly admitting that giving away free heroin is indeed enabling, they seem very convinced that things have gotten so bad this is the best they can hope for at the moment. Again, they are hoping to contain the fallout of heroin abuse in their communities and provide information and treatment resources. The idea sounds pretty intense, but some would say desperate times call for desperate measures.
So is this harm reduction, or just reorganizing? Is this tactic set to prevent even more suffering and destruction, or is it a feeble attempt to make some semblance of order out of the chaos of the opiate crisis?
From a personal opinion, as an addict in recovery, I can say I honestly don’t know. It sounds incredibly dangerous and almost irresponsible to say that law enforcement will provide free heroin. Yet, I have to try and understand their logic; that it might be able to prevent some crime. It might take a nice piece of money out of drug dealer pockets, and it might preserve lives long enough to convince them to get treatment. Then again, an addict like me might just take advantage of the free heroin program and get more off the street while also getting free, government funded drugs too.
Past data might show some support to this innovation. I guess we will just have to wait and see what becomes of this. Until then, there should always be an emphasis on the possibility of effective and comprehensive treatment. Even with the free heroin program, the idea is to get people the treatment they need.
We want to know what YOU think.
Addiction and drug abuse have become relevant in every aspect of American life. Police, politicians, educators and community leaders are trying to create radical changes in perspective. Not every perspective is easy to understand, but the common goal is inspiring lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.
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Author: Justin Mckibben
Drug addiction kills every day, in fact every hour over a dozen people in this country alone lose their lives to drugs or alcohol, and while the circumstances may vary the outcome is always the same- devastated families and friends with far too many questions unanswered and plenty of pain to go around. An overdose death rate outbreak has swept across America with a consistent escalation over the past few years, and a lot of addicts dying from withdrawal symptoms perish without the help they desperately needed… even in police custody.
These deaths by withdrawals in police custody have been reported time and time again in recent years, all alongside the soaring statistics of opiate abuse and drug overdose deaths, with many families speaking out against what they feel is the neglect that caused these deaths.
My intention here is to highlight a handful of these incidents and bring awareness to the issue, because the significance of these life-threatening circumstances should never be overlooked, and all law enforcement agencies should be willing to protect and preserve life, even the lives of drug addicts.
$1.2 Million Withdrawal Death Case
Years ago in 2013 a federal lawsuit from a case in Adrian, Michigan closed on a settlement for some big money. This suit was concerning a woman who died from alcohol withdrawal while in county jail, and the U.S. District Court of Detroit approved to give her family $1.2 million dollars.
Back in 2007 Brenda Sue Smith was arrested on a parole violation. Smith had a history of alcohol abuse, and while in the Lenawee County lock-up she began to hallucinate and experience debilitating tremors. The case presented by the family contended that jail officials refused medical treatment for three days until Smith collapsed and lost consciousness, dying shortly afterwards at the hospital from what was described as alcohol-withdrawal and respiratory failure.
Michigan Man Dies in Mental Health Unit
September 2015- David Stojcevsk was sent to jail for reckless driving after being unable to pay $700 plus fine, and ended up dying in police custody. First Stojcevski was sent to the Macombfor County Jail in Mt Clemens, Michigan for 30 days because he could not afford to pay, where we deteriorated and died due to severe neglect.
Early accounts of the incident claim that Stojcevski lost an astonishing 50 pounds in just 17 days in police custody. His family filed a lawsuit which indicated his doctor had prescribed him a list of medications to help him cope with his withdrawals while trying to detox from illicit drug abuse, including prescriptions for:
Stojcevski was placed in a mental health jail unit with increased monitoring of inmates; he was even on suicide watch with a camera in his cell. Supposedly for his own safety the jail officials stripped him of his clothes, but without his medication he was not safe at all, and his cause of death was eventually ruled as ‘acute withdrawal from medications’.
Dr. Frank McGeorge, who is a medical custody expert, stated in relation to this story,
“There is no reason for an incarcerated person who was watched for this period of time to die in custody, he should have had medical attention… people do not die from withdrawal all the time, they die from withdrawal when there is neglect associated with it.”
Even under surveillance cameras and what was supposed to be periodic check-ups, Stojcevski died naked on a concrete floor in police custody.
21 Year Old Dead in DuPage County
February of 2016 the body of 21-year-old Sebastiano Ceraulo was found inside the DuPage County jail, dead in police custody. The young man’s father Totuccio Ceraulo, of unincorporated DuPage County near Lombard, filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the DuPage County jailers alleging that they ignored his son’s signs of violent heroin withdrawal and allowed him to die as a result of neglect.
According to the lawsuit, the jail staff should have known about Ceraulo’s heroin addiction based on previous arrests.
Court records indicate that Sebastiano Ceraulo was taken into custody January 4, after Judge George Bakalis revoked his bail for violating terms of his probation. The violation was the result of a positive drug test after several missed tests.
According to the suit, 21 year old Ceraulo died in custody January 7 as a result of electrolyte imbalance and dehydration, which are both common and dangerous symptoms of heroin withdrawal. However, DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen said his office is still awaiting toxicology reports and records before rendering an opinion on the cause of death in this case.
The big issue I take with these stories and the reason I’m writing about it today is that these are far from a collection of isolated incidents. Deaths in police custody like this occur almost every single day, and apparently no matter how much money is tallied in the lawsuits it doesn’t do not do much to prevent addicts who are arrested from being neglected and allowed to die all over America from withdrawals which are absolutely treatable. These deaths and others like them all over the nation that are still happening are completely avoidable! So what’s it going to take to prevent these terrible tragedies from continuing to occur within the confines of a system that was supposed to be designed to protect and preserve life and justice?
While it is true that some situations have extreme circumstances which cause these tragedies, it is still troubling to see and concerning that not enough has been done to negate this kind of neglect.
Withdrawal symptoms are nothing to be taken lightly, and without proper medical detox a lot of people find themselves in critically hazardous conditions, but there is help out there. Every day Palm Partners works hard to provide quality care with compassionate and comprehensive medical detox and drug treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
By now you’ve probably heard about the two senior Secret Service agents who crashed a government-issued car into a White House barricade last week after allegedly drinking all night. Not surprisingly, they are currently under investigation. This story has a wider reach than just this incident and just these two agents: officials announced Wednesday that a new inquiry is being launched into personal misconduct by Secret Service agents. This has been a long time coming, as the law enforcement agency has been widely criticized for some time now.
Does the Secret Service Have a Drinking Problem?
There was the prostitution scandal in 2012, when as many as a dozen Secret Service agents were caught up in a scandal after being caught with prostitutes. It had also been uncovered that they had been drinking in the days leading to a presidential summit meeting in Cartagena, Colombia.
Then, last year, two agents were dismissed and sent home from a presidential trip in Europe after one of the agents was found passed out in a hotel hallway from a night of drinking. The assignment took place in the Netherlands, and involved members of the Secret Service’s elite Counter-Assault Team (CAT) who was not only drunk, he was falling-down drunk. And several of his fellow CAT members were drunk, too. And no one thought to say, at some point during the evening, “Hey guys, maybe we should call it a night.”
And, last fall a man climbed over the White House fence and made it well into the mansion before he was finally tackled by agents, presumably off their game due to drinking the night prior to the incident. As a result of this serious embarrassment, the agency’s director, Julia A. Pierson, resigned under pressure.
The drinking problem among agents is more widespread than any other problems you might imagine would be rampant among an elite, mostly white, male group; sexism and the other -isms that have been associated with the agency since the prostitution scandal in Colombia still don’t out-rank the apparent alcoholism.
In fact, it’s something that every White House journalist already *kind of* knows if they’ve ever experienced traveling with the president. One former White House clerk said that, although reporters regularly witnessed agents drinking heavily before shifts, “we just assumed they could control themselves. After all, they were the ones who were the most responsible of all of us.”
It seems that, for the most part, the Secret Service agents are fine the day after one of these drinking benders and none is the wiser. It’s a stressful job and there’s been plenty of research to show that high-stress jobs tend to coincide with increased alcohol consumption rates.
But when you consider the string of incidents, many of which we don’t even know about – alcohol is the common denominator. It’s not only a problem with the drink; it’s a problem of peer pressure and the drinking culture that pervade the Secret Service. No agent is going to tell another agent that they’re cut off; it’s more likely that the other agent will join in.
If you or someone you love has a drinking problem, there are ways to get help. If you’re not sure if it’s a drinking problem, alcohol dependence, or full-fledged alcoholism, we can help you figure it out. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Many believe that responsible and compassionate work done by police to support harm reduction has the potential not only to improve public health, but to help heal the damaged relationship between police and public in the wake of several hot button incidents and issues that have sparked endless controversy.
Much can be said about the way that prohibition has had its negative impacts, and many believe that the reforms with marijuana are just one example of how overcoming stigma and combatting addiction should begin with taking a lot of the sting out of police tactics. Is harm reduction really the future of the war on drugs?
Authorities Opposing Harm Reduction
The opposition continues to insist that harm reduction programs are counter-productive and promote drug use. These individuals target such programs as ineffective and irresponsible. Initiatives like:
- Syringe exchange
- Supervised injection facilities
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- Heroin-assisted treatment (HAT)
- Distribution of naloxone to reverse overdoses
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) gathered in San Diego back in 2008 for its 115th annual conference, during which they passed a resolution stating that the IACP-
“strongly opposes ‘harm reduction’ policies and supports law enforcement, prevention, education and treatment policies that result in the rejection of drug use. ”
The IACP further explained that in their opinion the adoption of ‘harm reduction’ policies sends a message, particularly to young people, that drug use is ‘normal’ behavior, and that these types of policies negate the value and effectiveness of law enforcement. This in some ways is an understandable concern. Does providing safe needle exchange and safe injection facilities send the message that the establishment supports drug use? Is drug use ‘normal’?
A LEAP Forward for Harm Reduction Advocates
The organization called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is a group of criminal justice professionals opposed to the war on drugs. LEAP aims to push the debate and popular opinion in the other direction. What is their opinion? LEAP sees prohibition as part of the problem, because they feel it creates an environment for disease, death and addiction to thrive.
Chief August Vollmer, Berkeley police chief from 1909 to 1923, was president of the IACP, established the first School of Criminology at the University of California at Berkeley (1916), where he introduced a curriculum that emphasized the importance of policing through the application of scientific principles for the benefit of the community and public health. Vollmer once stated:
“Drug addiction, like prostitution and like liquor, is not a police problem; it never has been and never can be solved by policemen. It is first and last a medical problem, and if there is a solution it will be discovered not by policemen, but by scientific and competently trained medical experts whose sole objective will be the reduction and possible eradication of this devastating appetite.”
Vollmer believed that there should be intelligent treatment of addicts in outpatient clinics, and that hospitalization of those not too far gone to respond to therapeutic measures should be utilized.
His views on the relationship between substance abuse, social problems and science, including medication-assisted treatment for opioid addicts, were so derived that now they would be considered harm reduction to prevent crime. Vollmer endorsed a strategy that would have required the government to dispense opioids to those with chronic opioid problems, similarly to what we’ve seen with methadone or suboxone.
The police department in Quincy, Massachusetts actually launched a naloxone program that was originally considered a risky reform, but reports state it has now saved over 300 lives, and is being imitated across the country. The idea of putting naloxone in the hands of the police, who are frequently the first responders at the scene, has ignited a paradigm shift in the war on drugs.
Even the Office of National Drug Policy (ONDCP) has been increasingly using harm reduction language in discussing future drug control strategies. To show that the change is being actively pursued, a few months ago ONDCP actually sent its acting head, Michael Botticelli, to address the national harm reduction conference in Baltimore.
The truth is law enforcement has seen a devastating increase in opioid overdose deaths in recent years, resulting directly from what many call the unregulated drug market. While this is a sad reality, the truth of it has sparked a rush for new innovative measures across the country, with some law enforcement leaders taking daring steps to address the police role in supporting harm reduction.
Supporters believe that harm reduction strategies are focused on the health of both the community and the individual. By taking a holistic approach to problematic drug use, harm reduction advocates claim that abstinence and relapse are part of a complex issue.
Harm reduction supporters also boast a collaboration of drug policy reformers from opposite ends of the argument to push laws designed to prevent drug overdose deaths. The passage of more Good Samaritan and naloxone access laws across the country has contributed to a growing acceptance by law enforcement of its role in surpassing the old patterns and contributing to overcoming stigma for the good of public health and raising awareness.
So the question stands as to whether the continued evolution of ‘harm reduction’ tactics should become the primary strategy. Or should we adopt some of these preventative measures to help keep the communities safe, while still pushing for abstinence based recovery programs that teach addicted individuals the importance of leaving drugs and alcohol out of the picture? Personally I feel that my definition of recovery is more based off abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and not putting Band-Aids over bullet-holes, but I will say that any progress on the front-lines is worth having options as long as lives are being saved.
Addiction and drug abuse have become relevant in every aspect of American life. Police, politicians, educators and community leaders are constantly working together to try and create a change in perspective, that can hopefully inspire a change in the direction of the country. Don’t be another statistic that supports the stigma, get the help that is available to you, it could save your life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free e 1-800-951-6135
While there are plenty of shows available to watch that pertain to the production, sale, and use of illegal drugs in our society, there are some that stand out to set examples of situations and circumstances, and give a detailed perspective on the lives damaged and the battles waged over drugs. Netflix has a reasonable selection of shows specifically based on the subject, but these are definitely some of the best shows about drugs on Netflix, for a number of reasons.
Best Shows about Drugs on Nextflix: Reality TV
(2012) 3.8 Stars Rated: TV-14
Drugs Inc. is one of the best shows about drugs on Netflix because it actually takes an indepth look at a variety of narcotics from the perspective of users, dealers, law enforcement officials, and other experts. The 2 seasons available on Netflix takes a look at the production, export, sale, and consumption of the illicit drug trade in a documentary style series. So far the show has included exploring:
- Pill Nation
- Designer Drugs
- Grand Theft Auto
(2011) 3 Stars Rated: TV-14
Weed Wars is centered on the Nation’s largest medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, California, and features some of the biggest names in the industry of Medicinal Cannabis. The first season opens up with a look at the family business, and how the owner Steve DeAngelo has dedicated his life to the development of the industry.
It has become one of the best shows about drugs on Netflix by showing how the changes in the medical marijuana policies had effected those in support of the healing power and culture of cannabis in the Oakland area.
Extreme Drug Smuggling
(2011) 3.6 Stars Rated: TV-14
This series is one of the best shows about drugs on Netflix because it follows the efforts of law enforcement officials across the borders of America as they investigate and combat the evolving tactics used by cartels to smuggle narcotics into the country. These illegal enterprises are constantly adapting their methods, and so law enforcement must change their own strategies to keep up with the cartels as they try to expand their markets.
(2010) 3.6 Stars Rated: TV-14
As one of the best shows about drugs on Netflix goes, Addicted is one reality series that take a deeper and more personal look at the lives and rehabilitation of drug addicts.
This is an American reality television series that follows the lives of individuals who are struggling with addiction as they work with interventionist Kristina Wandzilak. The series originally premiered on the TLC network on March 17, 2010. Addicted returned with a second season on August 28, 2012 on the TV network Discovery Fit & Health, and has also aired on TLC.
On Netflix there a 6 available episodes featuring the stories of several different people who are fighting a few different addictions, and with the detailed views from family members, as well as intensive looks at the afflicted in active addiction, this series has earned a spot as one of the best shows about drugs on Netflix.
Best Shows about Drugs on Netflix: Television Drama
(2005-2012) 4 Stars Rated: TV-MA
Weeds is a very popular television drama series that has followed a suburban mother whose husband suffers a sudden and untimely death, and she finds herself struggling to maintain the lifestyle afforded to herself and her family. Ultimately this chain of unfortunate events leads her to start selling marijuana to her affluent neighbors in order to keep up, and this only brings more misfortune and scandals. This series also shows that the stigma of the ‘drug dealer’ can no longer be limited to the poor and urban communities.
The show is probably one of the best shows about drugs on Netflix based on its healthy mix of comedy and drama, while driving home some lessons along the way.
(2008-2012) 5 Stars Rated: TV-MA
The dynamic, thrilling, and emotionally charged story of Walter White (AKA) Heisenberg has definitely earned its spot as one of the highest rated shows on television, and as in this authors opinion THE best of the best shows about drugs on Netflix(in regards to a fictional drama).
For those of you who have never heard of this show, where have you been and how long have you been sleeping? The series follows a high school chemistry teacher Walter White who is informed that he is dying of cancer. In desperation to leave his growing family with more than a bill for his funeral, he ventures to build a fortune by teaming up with a former student to manufacture and distribute crystal meth.
Breaking Bad does an incredible job of not doing much to glorify the lifestyle, and actually articulates how much damage and horror can come from drug dealing, drug addiction, and the violence surrounding the smuggling trade. Characters are depicted painfully real in this show that displays the rise and fall of a drug empire, and the devastation caused to the lives of all that it touches.
There is a great deal people can learn about the severity of the growing problems with drugs and our culture. With views from all sides of the conflict on drug laws and the war on drugs in society today, and with some dramatic character depictions of fiction based plots centered in the underground drug market, people can see how the problem reaches from law enforcement and politics to the home front and the lives and families afflicted in the struggles of addiction. While there is some entertainment in these, one should be able to see how deadly serious the issue is. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135