Author: Justin Mckibben
Overprescribing of powerful prescription medications is just one part of how the current American opioid crisis came to be. While incredibly dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl came pouring in from across the globe, the pharmaceutical industry right in our own backyard thrived off of the devastation it was helping create. And as more people became aware of how prescription drugs were contributing to one of the worst drug epidemics in the country’s history, Big Pharma has come under fire for a number of things over the years. To name a few, we’ve seen arguments against drug companies for:
With recent reports, such as the explosive piece of 60 Minutes last month, we have also been exposed to the corruption, greed and a disregard for the well-being of the consumer.
The Big Pharma propaganda machine has paid out countless dollars for criminal and civil settlements over the years. Now even state officials are resorting to lawsuits against drug manufacturers in the fight against the ongoing opioid crisis.
So how did all this happen? How deep does the Big Pharma propaganda go? Some of this you might already know, but some of it might actually surprise you.
In case you didn’t know, the pharmaceuticals and health products industry spends the most money on lobbying politicians. And not even by a little.
Big Pharma and Health Products spent $3,714,580,815
That means that Big Pharma spends:
- $1,134,783,913 more than 2nd place- Insurance Companies
- $1,717,237,691 more than Oil/Gas Companies
The pharmaceutical industry, including dealers of medical products and nutritional/dietary supplements, is consistently a top contributor more to federal campaigns than any other industry.
In essence, drug companies spend big money on politics.
Whether we can always see it or not, this kind of financial incentive is more than likely playing into our current work on policy. For example, moves to pass legislation earlier this year were called into question by one source who pointed out 13 senators who were trying to push through a bill that would benefit the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies were receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from these companies between 2010 and 2016, including:
- Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch led the way with more than $471,000
- Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell with over $433,00 in donations
FUN FACT- Many lobbyists working on behalf of Big Pharma companies have previously held government jobs.
Truthfully, drug companies spend several years before a drug even makes it to the market on planning a strategy for selling it to you. Part of that strategy is proving drugs have value for treatment. However, according to some industry insiders, a lot of the time there is not enough comprehensive data to prove that value.
What you might also find surprising is that some of the earliest information drug companies have published about their products aren’t actually from credible sources. Ad agencies will hire writers to produce articles on behalf of the drug maker highlighting benefits of a drug. But the data is often cherry-picked and incomplete.
These articles are then sold to the public as ‘scientific’ because they are printed and published by some of the biggest scientific and medical publications, such as the New England Journal of Medicine. Those articles are then picked up by television and other news sources.
So essentially, drug companies often team up with marketing companies to fool not just doctors, but the public into thinking their product provides something that has yet to be proven. Big Pharma propaganda corrupts the research into their drugs and makes people believe their products are safer and more effective than they are.
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Big Pharma’s Billions in Ads
It isn’t just behind the scenes that Big Pharma propaganda takes place. Drug makers spend around $21 billion a year just to pedal products through advertising. One big problem for Americans is that many of their promotional techniques have been called out for being false advertising or misleading, to say the least.
- 2015, the industry spent a record-breaking $5.4 billion of direct-to-consumer ads alone.
- The same year, Americans spent over $450 billion on prescription drugs.
Some sources indicate there are about 80 drug advertisements per hour. While drug companies want people to think it is raising awareness, it is most definitely a commercial to sell you something.
Many pharma companies even have deep financial ties to medical communication companies (MCC) like WebMD or Medscape. This is just one more way they can influence physicians and consumers without people realizing the drug makers are funding the information.
Doctors Recruiting Doctors
But the drug makers don’t stop with recruiting politicians to support them. They also utilize doctors to help them push their products. The main target audience in most of the campaigns pushed by Big Pharma propaganda is not necessarily the consumer as much as it is the person who writes the prescriptions.
Drug companies giving kickbacks to doctors is nothing new.
So drugmakers create an advisory board, where some of the most successful and well-respected doctors are put on the payroll with huge payoffs to help drug companies design a marketing campaign that will help promote the drugs to other doctors. Once these doctors have helped highlight the best ways to convince other physicians these drugs work, they themselves validate the drug in a way that encourages other doctors to prescribe the drug.
Drugs to Treat Drugs
A while back there was an ad that ran during the Superbowl that caught the attention of a lot of people. It was an ad selling an anti-constipation drug for those so dependent on prescription opioids that they were suffering from constipation as a side effect.
This is another huge problem with how drugs are marketed to us… in tandem.
Instead of suggesting an alternative treatment, drug companies want to give you more drugs to combat the effects of other drugs. Doctors will often prescribe a second medication for no other purpose than to treat the effects of the first medication. Big Pharma propaganda can literally sell you the illness and the medicine in the same marketing campaign. A 2012 study published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine describes this as “prescribing cascade”.The study indicates that the practice of using drugs to treat problems with other drugs is a key component to the heavy reliance on pharmaceuticals in healthcare.
Another devastating way this has taken place is when doctors prescribe powerfully and potentially habit-forming narcotic medications to combat illicit drug use and substance use disorder. Heroin addicts are being treated with other strong narcotics, which can actually have their own withdrawal symptoms and side effects. They even highjacked the opioid overdose antidote and several makers gouged the prices to offensive new heights during the rise of the opioid epidemic.
Drug Companies Abuse of Americans
Now let us be fair; modern medicine does provide us with some life-saving resources that can be paramount to the health and wellness of our population. Thanks to great strides in medicine doctors are able to treat some conditions or illnesses that were once thought of as a death sentence. Today, we have some of the greatest opportunities to receive quality care with innovative and well-researched treatments.
However, the fact remains that drug companies have been caught red-handed more than a few times misrepresenting their products, hiding the side-effects, falsely advertising their benefits and even recently some huge names in pharmaceuticals have been accused of bribery and racketeering to sell potent and extremely dangerous drugs.
So, what can be done?
- We can take a closer look at how Big Pharma propaganda influences or elected representatives and their decisions on policy.
- We can pay attention to how the information provided by pharmaceutical companies or marketers is not always as reliable as it may seem.
- Look into excessive advertising for potent drugs
- Do more to combat drug makers from paying doctors to promote their drugs to other doctors.
- Pursue other forms of treatment that don’t require expensive and powerful drugs.
When it comes to drug abuse, maybe we shouldn’t let the drug companies continue to make massive profits from a problem they have a large hand in creating. There needs to be more commitment to finding alternative treatments that don’t rely so heavily on drugs in order to help people get healthy.
Holistic drug addiction treatment is a unique and effective way of helping people struggling with substance use disorder. The fact that powerful drugs help cause addiction, let us not forget the value of offering healing options that don’t require more drugs. Building a strong foundation with personalized therapy and innovative treatment opportunities helps thousands of people all over the nation overcome addiction. Palm Partners Recovery Center is committed to providing quality care for those dealing with drug abuse, whether it is illicit drugs or prescription drug dependence. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
While we acknowledge the importance of maintaining personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films, this recent declaration made at the opening night of the Democratic National Convention was one that took a lot of courage and was done with some very real intentions. The Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, took what many would be considered a very strong stance on breaking stigma. Marty Walsh opened his speech at the DNC with the line:
“My name is Marty Walsh, and I’m an alcoholic.”
Walsh shared a very personal story about his journey to rock bottom. He talked about his path to recovery, and used both as a means to emphasize his support for Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton.
So how much meaning does this kind of declaration add to a political message? Was it right for him to break his anonymity on such a massive media scale?
Rock Bottom Politics
Marty Walsh is already considered perhaps the most prominent elected official who is open about his recovery. As part of his opening speech, Walsh even recalled a dark and hopeless time for him. This kind of transparency is actually quite admirable in a sense for such a public figure.
During his time on stage at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia e stated:
“On April 23, 1995, I hit rock bottom. I woke up with little memory of the night before and even less hope for the days to come. Everybody was losing faith in me, everybody except my family and the Labor Movement.”
Walsh attributed his surviving his alcoholic life to the labor community. He said they helped get him the help he needed that gave him the second chance that changed his life.
This truly isn’t anything new for Marty Walsh, alcoholic. He actually applied it to his incredibly progressive and groundbreaking campaign approach. As a mayoral candidate, he made no effort to hide that he was a recovering alcoholic. During this time leading up to him being appointed to office, Mart Walsh publicly related to and advocated for the recovery community in various public and political venues. This is a man who found his way into politics while still taking steps to apply and practice his principles in all of his affairs. Even though some would look at this as ignoring the tradition of anonymity in most 12 Step Fellowships, it should be noted that he has made it his personal responsibility to help people both on and on the campaign clock.
Working with Others
At 20 years as a sober alcoholic (as of 2013) Walsh was actively attending 12 Step meetings while continuing to work with others both in and outside the rooms of his fellowship. As a state senator, he advocated for more recovery services. Throughout his time in recovery Walsh is actually known for personally helping people find drug and alcohol treatment.
During one 2014 interview Walsh addressed the issue of making such privy information a public fact. He stated:
“I don’t really care who knows I’m an alcoholic because if it helps someone else … then they’ll ask me for help if they need it,”
So was it right of his to let his guard down and share his experience with the world?
Some might say it is safest to tread lightly on such grounds. Others may say that as long as he does not directly name his fellowship or claim to represent it, he should be confident in his actions to shed stigma and raise awareness. Altogether, in my opinion, this is a strong message. To have a politician admitting to the world he is an alcoholic AND a success story in the recovery community could be tremendously powerful. Showing the world an example of a recovered alcoholic who has gone on to help countless people stands to shatter the stigma.
Principles before Personalities
Then comes another question for the importance on anonymity. Walsh went on after making his speech about recovery to endorse Hillary Clinton. This is where the lines blur, because then people start to ask if 12 Step Fellowships are endorsing Hillary, or even the Democratic Party in general. One of the biggest reasons why 12 Step Fellowships aspire to stay disconnected from politics and religious organizations to an extent is to insure that the fellowships remain all-inclusive and attractive for anyone with any belief system or political values.
So I guess the question is now- is this a “violation” of the suggested traditions in 12 Step Fellowships? Or is it up to the individual to decide their own level of anonymity? There are no “rules” in groups like AA, but is this crossing a line concerning principles before personalities?
Personally, I think what he has done his is inspiring and progressive. This kind of open discussion can be useful in the evolution of America’s perspective on stigma. When it comes to dealing with people in recovery, it is nice to see some people step up and show how far they have come. In a way this can give some people hope. His experience, strength and hope could push someone to make a change, and push others to see the addict and alcoholic with a more open mind.
With the presidential race getting closer and closer to its climax, and with progressive politics and compassionate drug programs being so vital, it seems we should be paying particularly close attention to how drugs and addiction are handled on both sides. Meanwhile, safe and effective treatment for the alcoholic who still suffers is more important than ever! If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
It’s Friday! Hope you had a wonderful week. This week, we wrap up the top crazy news stories that circulated all over social media. Tons of stories this week grabbed our attention and these are just a few that stood out to me that relate to addiction. Which one stood out to you?
1. Kris Jenner Offers Son $1 Million to Check Into Rehab
Would a million dollars get you sober? Kris Jenner seems to think it might work for her son. Recent reports have revealed that Kris Jenner is trying to get her son, Rob Kardashian sober by offering him a $1 million to check into rehab.
Rob Kardashian had struggled with weight gain and is rumored to have an addiction to painkillers, Xanax and other substances. The 28-year-old was recently diagnosed with type-2 diabetes after being rushed to the hospital for stomach problems in December.
“She thinks that one way to get through to him might be by using money,” a source close to the Kardashian family stated.
However, getting Rob Kardashian sober might not be Kris Jenner’s only motivation.
“Kris looks at Rob’s health crisis as a potential storyline for the show,” said the source. “She wants him to let cameras inside of his struggle because she believes that his downward spiral would make for great ratings.”
Jenner has reportedly ordered a private chef, psychologist, nutritionist and therapist to help her son, yet according to sources, she still has yet to go to the hospital to visit him personally.
2. Newlyweds Come Home to Airbnb Guests’ Cocaine-Fueled Orgy
I’ve heard of horrible wedding night stories but this one tops the cake. A couple, Justin Smith and Francisco Peres, came home on their wedding night to find a coke-fueled orgy happening in their home. First, we must premise this story by saying the couple had allowed renters to stay in their Montreal apartment through Airbnb after forgetting to disable instant booking.
If you do not know what Airbnb is, it’s a website for people to list, find, and rent lodging to each other. It basically works as a hotel however you are booking rooms in people’s homes and not hotel rooms. The couple had forgotten to remove the “instant booking” feature which allows customers to reserve a room without having to get approved from the host.
After realizing their error, the couple tried to cancel the reservation because it was their wedding night; however the guests begged and begged to stay since it was New Year’s Eve. They reluctantly agreed. Imagine their surprise when the newlyweds walked in and saw the place was a mess, with half the food in their kitchen eaten and the living room filled with garbage.
It gets worse. After grudgingly going to sleep, the couple was awoken to sounds at 5 a.m. of snorting cocaine, loud bangs and drunken stumbling and sex sounds. The morning after the aftermath, they awoke to strangers perusing their home. The renters apologized profusely and left a note seeking forgiveness for their behavior. They also helped to clean up the mess of the night.
“They’re like, 20-22, just being dumb kids but did their best to make it right,” Smith noted. “Still less than ideal way of starting my day, but could have been worse.”
3. Middle School Teacher Coach Charged with Taking Student’s Pills
A middle school teacher is facing felony charges for reportedly stealing her student’s antidepressant medication. Tania Gerving, who worked at Horizon Middle School in Bismarck, North Dakota, has been placed on administrative leave while officials conduct a full investigation. From Sept. 12. To Oct. 12, police placed surveillance camera in the school and observed Gerving entering an area where the school stored medication and opening a bottle sitting on the counter. She then put the pills in her pocket before placing the bottle back on the counter.
Officer Joshua Brown said Gerving has admitted to taking the pills without permission. She is not responsible for administering medication and would have no reason to handle them. Gerving was sentenced to jail with a set bail at $1500. She is not allowed to enter areas within Bismarck Public School District where controlled substances are stored and must wear a drug patch as a condition of her bond. Further action will depend on what happens with the criminal complaint in court.
4. Internet Addict Develops Painful Disease
Apparently, social media is bad for more than just your mental health. It can actually have serious physical side effects too. A notorious internet addict has developed a painful disease from hunching over her computer. Michele Gore spent 23 hours a day online at one point, which caused her to develop a painful stomach disease called Tietze disease at the age of 21.
After visiting her doctor, she was told that her addiction had put a strain on her rib cartilage, causing the inflammatory disorder – which is characterized by chest pain and swelling between the upper ribs. As a result, he was told to significantly reduce her time online. She realized the day after Christmas how much her addiction was controlling her life.
“I had the laptop wire round my leg, my headphones around my neck, my mobile under my pillow, my tablet charging on my bedside table and my Xbox and PlayStation controls at the foot of the bed. I thought, ‘this isn’t normal’,”she said.
Gore is now spending time away from the internet and is seeking professional treatment for her addiction. She hopes to raise awareness about the reality of internet addiction to others who may be suffering.
5. Tucson Starbucks Plans to Add Liquor to Menu
Residents at a local Starbucks chain are drinking more than coffee these days. A Starbucks at Tucson, Arizona is adding booze to its menu. A few years ago, select Starbucks locations began selling liquor as part of their “evening menu.” Now, many Starbucks locations are jumping on board.
Many customers are excited about the possibility of having a shot along with their double shot of espresso. Starbuck’s first announced in 2010 that they were considering adding wine and craft beer to the menu to help boost business after 4 p.m. when sales tend to dwindle.
However, some customers are concerned about their local coffee shop turning into a bar.
“Downside is that Starbucks has never really been an alcohol type of place so it could change just based on the environment,” customer Ben Strobeck said.
The city council will unanimously vote to approve the liquor license on Tuesday, Jan. 5. If the city council does approve the application, it would then move to the State Liquor Board, which has the final say. If all passes approval, alcohol could be at the Tucson location as early as spring.
There you have it. Your crazy news stories of the week. Now, you can feel grateful you are healthy and happy in your life in sobriety. However, if you are struggling, remember you are not alone. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
The ‘War on Drugs’ is not something that anyone would say should be taken lightly. It is true that addiction to drugs and alcohol is a dangerous disease, and it is true that it has affected the lives of so many people across the world, but drug fear mongering is dangerous as well.
All of these tactics prove ineffective because they ignore the basic realities of the circumstances they seek to overcome. That includes the fact that addiction is a disease, and that these witch-hunts for addicts as criminals or degenerates push people away from getting the help they need. Here are 3 reasons drug fear mongering is dangerous, and to prove the point we will look at details from specific examples.
- Drug fear mongering can actually (ironically) promote drug use
-Example: D.A.R.E. Program
Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) is a very popular program that was created to combat drug and alcohol addiction by trying to educate kids at a young age. Although D.A.R.E. was designed with the best intentions it is completely ineffective and sometimes even counterproductive. That conclusion was actually reached by the congressional General Accounting Office (GAO), the U.S. Surgeon General, the National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Education. Because of the D.A.R.E. programs inability to actually effectively address addiction, the federal government now prohibits schools from spending their Safe and Drug Free Schools funding on D.A.R.E.
The irony of the situation is that based on the fact that after being presented with the concept of D.A.R.E. to keep an eye out for those around you using drugs or drinking, the vast majority of young people greatly exaggerate in their minds the quantity and frequency of drinking among their peers. Therefore, they tend to drink (or drink more) than they would otherwise, in an effort to “fit in.”
So because of the style of awareness D.A.R.E. tried to promote was fueled with paranoia, it actually made things worse by planting the idea to use drug into the minds of children because they believed everyone was doing it.
- Drug fear mongering creates false information and panic
-Example: 80’s Crack Baby Scare
Drug fear mongering also tends to take a ‘boogie-man’ approach to addressing the issue of drugs and alcohol. One of the worst parts of fear mongering is that quite often there is false information that is adopted as fact because the media hopes to use it as a powerful tool to draw a lot of attention to an issue by making it seem more urgent and magnifying the horrors of addiction.
Over the decades of the twentieth century, drug use has gone through cycles of intense public awareness and concern and relative indifference. For some of these decades reformers, the public, the media, or legislators focus on a specific drug which stands in for or represents the drug problem generally. The late 1980s witnessed a drug “panic,” “crisis,” or “scare” specific to cocaine, or more specifically crack cocaine. Drug use generally came to be seen as the social problem of the decade and emerged into the forefront like never before. This was strange because drug use had been on the rise for several years by the time it caught media attention in 1985, yet people were rushed into fear as if it fell out of nowhere.
Widespread use of crack cocaine during the 80’s led to the “Crack Baby” scare, when babies born to crack cocaine users sometimes had symptoms including but not limited to jitteriness and smaller heads. Studies at the time blamed prenatal drug use, and experts suggested that the affected children had irreversible brain damage and predicted dire futures for them. These reports led to widespread media coverage featuring breathless headlines and heart-rending images of tiny sick newborns hooked up to hospital machines.
In recent years experts have mostly discounted any link, noting that so-called crack babies often were born prematurely, which could account for many of their early symptoms. Studies that tracked children beyond infancy have failed to find any severe outcomes. Crack-exposed teens had lower scores on developmental tests than other children but their scores were still within normal limits, so the panic that was induced by the media was quite baseless information that was used to fan the flames of the war on drugs with fear in the 1980’s.
- Drug fear mongering promotes prisons and not proper treatment for addiction
-Example: Heroin Epidemic
In comparison to the 1980’s ‘Crack Baby’ Panic, America is currently experiencing what the media is announcing as a ‘Heroin Epidemic’ that is sweeping the nation. It is true that recently the numbers of heroin addicts recorded has increased, and the use of heroin has spread, however the real question is why it has suddenly become an ‘epidemic’.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that America had 373,000 users in 2007 and 669,000 in 2012. The increase is largely attributed to heroin being much cheaper than prescription opiates, which have become increasingly expensive due to reforms combating prescription pill addiction.
That being said, by fear mongering the drug use in this situation, we are only putting the real problem behind us, which is that the country has ineffective incarceration policies for the individuals who are arrested in possession, while actually treating drug addiction as a disease is being largely swept under the rug. Or at least it has up to this point. This kind of publicity controlled through propaganda only prohibits people from seeking help, and it makes some addicts believe they must fit into a certain stigma in order to need treatment.
By putting the fear into the American people about the use of heroin and other opiates, it may be creating healthy fear for those who are not yet using, but that is a small victory compared to the thousands of addicts out there who become terrified of getting honest about their opiate addiction and seeking treatment for their addiction.
The devastation and the evils of the disease of addiction are all very real and a lot of the truth is scary without the scare tactics. Fear mongering is counter-productive to keeping people informed and helping them equip themselves with the means to recover from their addictions. The sad part is that instead of making people afraid to use drugs, fear mongering makes more addicts and alcoholics afraid to seek help. How can you save your life when you’re scared to death? If you or someone you love is struggling from substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
It takes a special kind of crazy to change the world of comedy the way that Robin Williams did in his career. His talents went beyond that, with inspirational performances in emotionally charged dramas such as Good Will Hunting or What Dreams May Come delivering graceful wisdom, and even chilled us to the core in thrillers such as One Hour Photo or Insomnia where he stepped outside the genres he was typically found in to terrify us. As one of the most diverse and down-right outrageous actors of our time, he struggled with his own personal demons of addiction, and even though his death has shocked the world, his life inspires us for the ages. Here are just a few of our favorite moments with the hero and comedic legend Robin Williams.
He taught us to stay current…
…or at least to do our best to keep up…
He reminded us the importance of getting chores done, and showed us how to do it with a smile on our face…
…and who DOESN’T know the words.. “Dude looks like a lady…”
We learned the importance of politics…
…and how to be kind to our neighbors.
Robin Williams showed us safety first…
…or maybe this is just too funny NOT to watch!
He tried to show us not to take technology…
…or our jobs…
…or ourselves too seriously!
He taught us to love animals like we do each other…
…and had a passion for laughter that could tickle anyone!
He even gave us ways to laugh through the pain…
…and he reminded us that home and family is where the heart is.
Robin Williams made us unafraid to ask the tough questions…
…or the silly ones…
…because he knew that the answers could change the world.
Robin Williams showed us that our little quirks were not imperfections…
…because we get to choose who sees them, and who we share ourselves with and no matter what happens, there is always something good going on, if we are willing to see it.
Robin Williams reminded us of the beautiful things in life, and that the love those things inspire in all of us are the things we live for…
…and with his love, his passion, and his undeniable laughter…
…Robin Williams taught us all how to fly, and he put magic in our hearts with the magic of his life.
Words are hard to find to express the loss of Robin Williams. From Mork & Mindy, to Dead Poets Society, to Night at the Museum, the life and talent of Robin Williams has captivated and explored all walks of life, and has tugged on our heart-strings in so many ways over the decades. His loving family helped him through his highlights and pit-falls throughout his battle with addiction, and his struggles in recovery, and my prayers go out to them in this time of mourning. Robin Williams was a hero in so many ways, and much will be said and speculated in the near future about the tragic circumstances leading to his death. At age 63 he leaves behind a loving following and a legacy that has impacted countless actors, comedians, artists, children and just about any human being that was blessed to enjoy even one of his many incredible moments. I find myself with not enough good to say about the impact he has had on me, and I can closely relate to the thought of suicide in the face of deep and dark depression. So I guess I’ll end with one thing he said that sticks to me when thinking of recovery, and how the last thing we should do when life hurts us is give up.
“What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.”
July 21 1951- August 11, 2014
Substance abuse and addiction threaten the lives of countless people every day, and it can take us to some of the darkest places in our lives. Sadly, not everyone who suffers survives the disease of addiction. There is help out there, and recovery is absolutely possible, but it takes action. Every day men and women die from substance abuse, addiction, and the mental battles that coexist with this self-inflicted and self-destructive life-style. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please don’t wait until it’s too late. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135