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Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in September of 2013 doctors in Arizona were understandably alarmed after two potentially related cases of a now infamous flesh eating Krokodil drug appeared in the state, one of the first ever reports of the drug in America. That year doctors in Illinois also reported treating individuals suffering serious damage due to use of the corrosive recreational narcotic. Since then the drug has seemingly been absent from the front lines of the opioid epidemic in America. However, after a few recent reports, some are worried it might make a surprising comeback. This time, it appears Krokodil has resurfaced on the East Coast.
What is Krokodil?
The main ingredient in Krokodil is the drug desomorphine. It is a derivative of morphine that is 8 to 10 times more potent. Desomorphine was first patented in the United States in 1932.
The drug got its now notorious nickname from the Russian word for crocodile; due to the fact users often develop scale-like, green skin. Other permanent effects of the drug include:
- Speech impediments
- Erratic movement
Krokodil can be manufactured illicitly from products such as:
- Hydrochloric acid
- Red phosphorus
However, artificially producing desomorphine like this causes the drug to be dangerously impure. It contains toxic and corrosive byproducts from the home-made chemical combination. The rotting effect these chemicals have on the flesh is why many people call it the ‘zombie drug’.
Krokodil in Europe
As a recreational and injectable drug, ill-reputed and home-made Krokodil was first reported in the middle and eastern areas of Siberia way back in 2002. According to medical reports, it then quickly spread across Russia and other Soviet republics with a distressing impact on those it came into contact with. The drug became so popular because compared to the more mainstream opioids like heroin the high is much stronger and it was extremely cheap to produce. The drug is also highly addictive.
This drug has devastating effects on its users, who have an average life span of only 2 to 3 years after they start using. The chemicals within Krokodil literally rot and eat people away from the inside.
Krokodil Coming to America
In 2013 the leg of a young woman in Lockport Illinois named Amber Neitzel, 26 at the time, was photographed because of the intense damage Krokodil had done to her tissue. Most of the previous reports of Krokodil in the U.S. appeared mostly in the Southwest. Now one story has some worried it’s back and getting around.
An overdose patient found all but rotting alive in Manchester, New Hampshire last week told responders he believed he’d been injecting the drug Krokodil. In relation to the story, reporters spoke with Chris Hickey with American Medical Response, who said,
“It’s pretty much the dirty sister of morphine and heroin,’ Hickey said. ‘A lot of times, it’s cut with something like gasoline or the ground-up red phosphorus from the tips of matches or drain cleaner.”
“With someone who is literally rotting away in front of you it turns the stomach of even the most seasoned provider.”
The opioid epidemic is already affecting the vast majority of Americans in one way or another, whether they are struggling or someone they know, and most experts predict we still haven’t reached the pinnacle of the problem.
Already there are awfully hazardous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil being slipped into the illegal drug trade through heroin and home-pressed prescription pill form. These two substances alone have supplied most states with a surge of opioid overdoses and deaths.
If Krokodil is really making a comeback, how much worse could the opioid epidemic get and how quickly will law enforcement, public health officials and communities be ready to respond? Will this be the deciding factor in pushing the overdose death rates to new and demoralizing peaks?
Drugs like these are far too real and costing far too many people their lives. There is another way, but it begins with taking action. Seeking safe and effective treatment can be a crucial step to changing your life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Around the country there is a wave a new and progressive initiatives changing the relationship between law enforcement and drug users. Government officials now lobby in support of such programs, and millions of dollars are being allocated to similar responses to a nationwide addiction epidemic. Probably one of the most famous of these revolutionary programs is one of the first; the PAARI program.
The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) encourages police departments to abandon the old model of arresting and prosecuting people struggling with substance use disorder. Instead, the program encourages police to help people struggling with addiction seek help.
Now we have the first annual report from the PAARI program, and the numbers are pretty impressive.
Taking Pride in PAARI Program Progress
In the PAARI program first year report the numbers include detailed financial inventory. The 501(c)3 non-profit believes in the transparency of their progress, and is proud of the success to far. Of course, with such a groundbreaking and inspirational initiative, who wouldn’t want to show off?
To update anyone who doesn’t know- the PAARI began in Gloucester, Massachusetts, after the local police department announced on June 1, 2015 that anyone who walked into the police department and turned in either drugs or paraphernalia would not be arrested. The announcement told the citizens that instead any individual willing to seek help would be sent to treatment. This is the response from law enforcement in the wake of a spike in overdose rates in the area.
The report now boasts an amazing impact on the community. In the first year of the PAARI program, just Gloucester Police Department alone helped more than 400 people enter treatment!
Spreading the Message
That 400+ count doesn’t even scratch the thousands more being helped across the country due to the establishment of similar programs. The initial response from the Gloucester community was incredibly enthusiastic. This helped spread the concept of the PAARI program, as they moved to help other police departments implement similar programs. According to the report, the PAARI program helped train 143 police departments in 27 states.
- Augusta, Maine began training volunteers last November before implementing their own program.
- This summer Newark, Ohio, began its program. Officials said they felt driven to try something new once they were receiving at least one overdose call per day.
- According to the report, the PAARI program has partnered with 300 treatment centers in 20 states
- The PAARI program also secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship funds to help people access the treatment they need.
- Distributed more than 5,000 doses of nasal Naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with this progressive approach. Some still believe that criminal justice is an appropriate response to drug use. Cape Cod, Massachusetts police department chose not to implement their own program because they didn’t agree with diverting the focus away from criminalizing active users. Some still think that shifting this perspective is somehow promoting drug use or giving permission.
Reinventing Police Intervention
Last April the Obama administration praised the Angel Program and PAARI program, siting that they reduced “crime and costs associated with substance use disorders in Gloucester” and rebuilding “trust between the police and the community.”
The first annual report makes a very exciting statement, saying:
“Communities that have joined PAARI have observed as much as a 25% reduction in crimes associated with addiction, cost savings by diverting people into treatment rather than triggering the criminal justice system, as well as an enormous increase in trust from their communities.”
Participants in the program speak in heavy praise of its methods and compassion for those it exists to assist. Even insurance companies contribute to the progress in the direction of compassionate and effective change.
Without question, these numbers are a new hope to so many. Over 400 lives in just one area over a year may have been saved thanks to PAARI. And at the end of the day, isn’t that the point; to protect and to serve all lives? The hope is that more programs like this can shatter the stigma of addiction, while simultaneously bridging the gap between the disenfranchised and the established authority to create a community that is better and brighter for both sides.
Drugs and alcohol have torn apart too many communities. Now the time has come for better treatment options and more compassionate health care. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, do not wait. Please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
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Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in May of 2015 we first wrote about how a police department in Gloucester, Massachusetts was stepping up with a revolutionary and progressive program on striking back against drug addiction, specifically heroin addiction, by helping addicts find treatment for their addiction instead of arresting and imprisoning them. Now, even more resources have stepped up to the plate, as insurance companies are now offering their help to these police programs to fight addiction.
Recap on the Revolution
Police Chief Leonard Campanello led the charge for change and quickly garnered the support of countless advocates and sponsors. The Gloucester Program started inspiring other law enforcement officials and politicians to rethink the way drug abuse and addiction were being dealt with in their own communities. It started off spreading to other Massachusetts areas, and now several other states are putting in energy and resources to design and initiate similar programs.
The Gloucester Program even went so far as to have police officers knocking on doors of addicts and offering help getting into treatment, while assuring their communities they were not on a witch-hunt to lock up addicts, but instead to give opportunities that would save lives in the presence of a mounting overdose death rate.
Insurance Stepping In
Now that so many people have been inspired by the growing movement to create more compassionate treatment opportunities for addicts in these areas of Massachusetts, health insurers in Massachusetts are deciding to step in and make their own compassionate contribution to help the Gloucester Police Department with their now well-known and highly celebrated program to get heroin addicts off of the streets, out of emergency rooms for heroin overdoses and into treatment.
This new extension of these collective efforts will be officially launching in a pilot program Monday, January 11th. As part of this new pilot program members of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans will be helping people struggling heroin addiction devise and direct their long-term addiction treatment options the moment they walk through the police station doors.
Since the program has started it offered all people struggling with addiction the chance to report to the police station and ask for help, suggesting they turn in any substances or paraphernalia they may be in possession of without threat of prosecution. Now insurance providers are adding in their resources to help facilitate the process for those who may not have the adequate coverage.
Health insurance companies will be making sure each person trying to escape their addiction has a comprehensive treatment plan in place once they complete a detox program, and they also intend to collect data to track each individual’s progress through addiction recovery and assess the impact of the program.
In the beginning of the Gloucester Program probably the biggest draw for a lot of local officials on the outside looking in was that extra costs had been described as “minimal” for the police department, and have all been paid using some of the city’s drug seizure money. Beyond that the costs of drug treatment for participants, who are Massachusetts residents with no insurance plans or plans covering treatment, were covered by state funding.
This new aspect of the initiative will undoubtedly add more backing to the movement to provide treatment to those suffering in the state of Massachusetts with addiction. In 2015 there was a lot of damage done by drug abuse and heroin addiction, and the country as a whole has been waking up to the reality of these circumstances. We hope to see more politicians, police departments and insurance providers step up to the call to action in helping addicts across America get the help they desperately need.
Taking advantage of this kind of opportunity can be the difference between addiction and recovery for many people. While it may seem like drugs and alcohol have you cornered there is always a way. Palm Partners wants to help you find that way. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Well the weather man might not get the joke, the truth is the New York City Police, working alongside federal law enforcement agents, have recently made a bust that will cancel the white Christmas in NYC. According to Police and federal agents who broke the story, this week they have seized what they described as a “staggering” cargo of cocaine in the Bronx.
2 Names Making the Naught List
Apparently this massive shipment of cocaine had been shipped from Massachusetts, and in the course of the bust two men from Puerto Rico were arrested in connection to the bust. The two are allegedly part of a major drug trafficking network, and now they are definitely making the naughty list this holiday season for their involvement with this immense amount of illegal drug possession. Those two men were:
- Mark Soto
- Xavier Herbert-Gumbs
So far these two men have each been charged with two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Brand Name Bust
The sleigh-ride for these traffickers was cut short when a joint operation with New York Police Department detectives and Homeland Security Investigations agents stopped their cars this past Thursday evening. The law enforcement officers then discovered brick-shaped packages of cocaine pressed into bundles and marked with brand names in the vehicles.
According to local new networks in the area authorities stopped a rented vehicle around 6:15 pm, finding 110 pounds of cocaine inside. 24-year-old Herbert-Gumbs was reportedly a passenger in the car and confessed to the authorities that he had placed the box holding the cocaine bricks in the vehicle.
About an hour later, authorities stopped 23-year-old U.S. Army Reserves private Mark Soto as he was taking a duffel bag out of the trunk of a different vehicle. The new report claims that these authorities found 26 pounds of cocaine inside the bag.
After the hauling the two into custody the officers took their inventory and according to the court records, the defendants were allegedly transporting 136 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $3 million! New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said during a statement concerning the case,
“The sheer amount of cocaine seized in this case is staggering. This is the largest seizure of cocaine being transported in the region that our office has handled in recent years.”
But there was even more gifts to be unwrapped by the officers, because following the arrests investigators claimed they also seized $6,000 and a U-Haul equipment contract in the name of “Mark Gomez,” an alias they said Soto used, after officers had searched an apartment Friday evening on the block where Soto had been stopped.
Reports have also shown that police found identifying documents belonging to Herbert-Gumbs inside the vehicle Soto was using when he was arrested, suggesting it is evidence that the two were working together in some capacity while trafficking their respective bricks of “cheer” for special delivery. Glenn Sorge, acting special agent in charge HSI New York, stated:
“The violence associated with cocaine trafficking and the illicit proceeds poses a major threat to our communities’ welfare. HSI remains at the forefront of combating criminal organizations that threaten our homeland by smuggling drugs into the United States.”
Soto and Gumbs were arraigned the following day in Manhattan on charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $400,000. Looks like a lot of people won’t be getting cocaine for Christmas, but there might be a few extra lumps of coal for these two behind bars.
Drug policy and reform are changing the game for the cartels and drug traffickers, while law enforcement is taking a stand against the availability of drugs in response to mounting overdose deaths in America. For those suffering from drug addiction these reforms also mean change in a compassionate approach to help them the choice to get help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Just last week, Massachusetts kicked off a five week campaign to combat the stigma of addiction. The campaign was launched in order to educate the public about addiction and the harms of stigmatizing behaviors.
Unfortunately, the stigma of addiction often prevents addicts from getting treatment even when they have a condition or illness completely unrelated to their drug use. They face judgment and discrimination because of their addiction issues that can prevent them from wanting to see their physicians.
The campaign to combat the stigma of addiction will broadcast on radio, billboards and digital ads. It will feature Massachusetts residents who have experienced stigma first hand. The campaign will also use social media and the hashtag #StateWithoutStigMA to join people together and spread the message further. Gov. Charlie Baker announced the campaign at a recent press conference.
“Studies show that stigmas can prevent people from getting into treatment—holding them back from recovery, stability and success,” said Gov. Baker. “This campaign is another effort to bend the trend and change the way we think about opioid misuse and addiction.”
The #StateWithoutStigMA webpage gives examples of stigma such as the negative connotation associated with words like junkie and druggie, or holding on to the idea of addiction as sign of human weakness, lack or morals, and willpower.
The website conducted interviews with people in recovery from opioids and found that the following were examples of stigma:
- Hurtful words such as junkie, lower; thief, druggie, abuser and addict
- Communities who view addiction as a crime, an act that must be penalizes versus an illness that needs treatment
- Addiction as a result of poor parenting
- Parents unwilling to let their children play with the children of parents in recovery
- Hospitals denying treatment or giving poor treatment to those with a history of addiction
- Those known to local law enforcement being “profiled”
Another facet of the campaign involved YouTube videos where viewers can watch and hear the personal stories of people who talk about how the stigma of addiction made their recovery significantly more difficult.
“I wouldn’t go to the hospital, just because I knew that as soon as I got there, as soon as they looked in my chart and saw that I had a history of heroin addiction or saw the abscess in my arm, I was instantly labeled a junkie,” said Stephanie in one video. “I was left in the hallway for hours, asking for a glass of water. I’d be ignored for hours.”
Drug abuse cannot be ignored like it was previously. It cannot be criminalized in that same manner that it previously was either. Substance abuse affects more than the bum on the treat. It is everywhere. It has reached epidemic levels in the United States Massachusetts is one of the first states to lead the charge to address the debilitating effect of stigmatizing addiction.
The Stigma of Opioid Addiction
When it comes to opioid addiction such as prescription painkillers and heroin, addicts face a wide range of stigma. Biased, hurtful and behavioral prejudices against people with substance use disorder often lead to their discrimination and social exclusion.
Overtime, stigmas can create physical and mental barriers for people with addiction to seeking treatment. Stigmas occur in three different facets and affect addicts in a personal way.
Personal Stigma: Self-disgust, self-hate at one’s appearance, behavior lifestyle and/or physical condition often resulting in feelings of being unworthy of help or recovery.
Social Stigma: Negative perceptions, labels and actions from friends and family; feeling isolated or rejected.
Institutional Stigma: Negative treatment from health care providers, the media, law enforcement, places of work or government agencies.
The campaign is fighting for people to be aware and discuss whether or not we are contributing negatively to the stigma. Are our biased feelings, words or behaviors negatively affecting someone else’s path to recovery and treatment? The campaign pushes for the public to look within and hopefully gain a more positive perspective. Furthermore, the campaign believes that everyone can be a part of the solution to support and encourage people in recovery.
Each of us can address the misconceptions about addiction and long-term recovery. Overcoming the stigma is an effort that will require coming together and raising awareness. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135