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Opioid Epidemic Declared a Public Health Emergency by Gov. Rick Scott

Opioid Epidemic Declared a Public Health Emergency by Gov. Rick Scott

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

It’s the moment many were waiting for…

Today, May 3rd, Gov. Rick Scott issued a statewide public health emergency over the opioid epidemic. This declaration is in response to multiple requests from local officials and residents.  Furthermore, more than $27 million will be distributed immediately to communities throughout the state of Florida to reduce the devastation of the opioid epidemic.

In a press release, Governor Scott said,

“Today, I issued an executive order which allows the state to immediately draw down more than $27 million in federal grant funding which will immediately be distributed to communities across the state to deal with the opioid epidemic. HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price awarded the Opioid State Targeted Response Grant to Florida, and I want to thank the Trump Administration for their focus on this national epidemic. I have also directed State Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip to declare a Public Health Emergency and issue a standing order for Naloxone in response to the opioid epidemic in Florida.”

Rick Scott initiated four opioid listening workshops that took place earlier this week.  The first workshop was held at West Palm Beach on May 1st. Three other opioid workshops were held later in the week in Manatee and Orange counties.

The Early Stages

Originally, Governor Rick Scott created the opioid workshops to gather information about the opioid epidemic on a more local level. Both public figures and members of the community joined to discuss potential plans of action.  The meetings were capped at 90-minutes. Those in attendance were uncertain of the action that would take place from those meetings.

Therefore, those in attendance called on the governor to declare the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency in order to expedite funding efforts.

Shortly after the Zika virus entered South Florida, it was declared a public health crisis, yet the opioid epidemic did not receive the same treatment, despite overdose fatalities reaching an all-time high.

“If we were able to move that quickly on (the Zika) issue, why can’t we move more quickly on this (heroin) issue?’’ Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinley stated during the opioid workshop held in West Palm Beach.

Now, upon hearing this news from Gov. Rick Scott,  McKinley feels a sense of relief.

“Today I feel relief. relief that the voices of so many were finally heard. For the pain of loss so many families have faced, to those struggling to overcome addiction,” she said.

“I am hopeful that the governor’s direction to declare a public health crisis in response to the opioid epidemic will open the door to a truly meaningful plan to fight this disease.”

The Palm Beach Post published an investigative report titled “Heroin: Killer of a Generation” in which they profiled all 216 people who died of an opioid overdose in its coverage are in 2015. The goal was to draw attention to the magnitude of the addiction epidemic in a way statistic simply could not do.

The Results:

Looking at the statement Gov. Rick Scott released, a few key things are happening:

  • More than $27 million in federal grant funding which will immediately be distributed to communities across the state to deal with the opioid epidemic.
  • Dr. Celeste Philip is ordered by Gov. Rick Scott to declare a Public Health Emergency.
  • Naloxone will receive a standing order in response to the opioid epidemic in Florida

The opioid epidemic is taking away lives throughout the nation. Every 15 hours last year, someone died of an opioid overdose in Palm Beach County. Is this a step in the right direction?  What should the next step be?

This epidemic does not discriminate. Everyone is affected. If you are struggling with addiction, please reach out. Do not wait. Your life depends on it. We are here to help. Call now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

New Hampshire Introduces Tougher Opioid Prescription Laws

Author: Shernide Delva

New stricter legislation on opioid prescriptions aims to reduce the amount of prescription pills roaming the streets of New Hampshire. New Hampshire has one of the highest opioid death rates in the country. In an attempt to reduce the devastation, the legislation will require medical professionals to conduct a patient risk assessment before writing a new prescription. There are a variety of other changes implemented as part of the new legislation.

With the new legislation, patients must sign an informed consent form showing they understand the risk of addiction from the drugs they are receiving. The request is then checked against a database compiled by the prescription drug monitoring program.

In addition to the above precautions, the legislation requires pain patients to be prescribed the lowest effective dose of pain medications. It also forbids doctors in emergency rooms and urgent cares from writing a pain prescription for longer than seven days. Additionally, the law requires patients who are on opioid medication for more than 90+ days to undergo random urine analysis designed to ensure they are still benefiting from the drug.

Overall, the new legislation in New Hampshire will:

  1. Require patient risk screening before writing a new prescription
  2. Ensure all patients prescribed pain medication understand the risk of addiction
  3. Limit the dosage of pain prescription to the lowest effective dose
  4. Forbid doctors in ER and Urgent care from prescribing a prescription longer than seven days
  5. Requires patients on pain prescriptions 90+ days to take a urine analysis designed to ensure they are still benefiting from the drug

Will This Work?

The objective of the new legislation is simple: prevent misuse of prescription drugs.

“By putting fewer pills out on the street there’s less chance for diversion and misuse,” Dr. William Goodman, chief medical officer at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, told WMUR.

The prevalence of prescription opioids has been a major issue in New Hampshire, as it has the rest of the country.

“We know that—[with] this crisis we’re in now with the opioid epidemic with people suffering addiction and overdoses and so on—we know that looking back, the number of prescriptions has quadrupled since about the year 2000,” Goodman said.

The New Hampshire program is similar to programs implemented in other states including New York, New Jersey and much more. While New Hampshire had a prescription drug monitoring program since 2012, the new regulations are aimed to have a bigger effect.

“What’s being done here has been shown to be effective elsewhere. And we hopefully will have the same success in seeing fewer pills on the street and fewer people suffering from the side effects of opioids,” Goodman said.

Along with the new legislation, Goodman encourages doctors to find alternatives to opioid pills for treating pain and other chronic conditions.

“Some of the safer and very effective alternatives are often difficult to afford, either because they’re too expensive or health insurance companies don’t support their use.”

There are a variety of treatment options deemed as alternatives to prescription opioids; however, they often are not utilized. Some of these alternative routes include medical marijuana, nerve blockers, or herbal remedies like capsaicin. There are a variety of reasons why alternatives are not common including, costs, the uncertainty of efficacy, and the lack of incentives compared to prescribing opioids.

The country is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Any step to reduce the impact of this epidemic is a step in the right direction. Do you think the new legislation will help in reducing the amount of dependence seen in this country to opioids? If not, what other methods should be sought out? If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please call now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Drug Policy Barely Discussed During Republican Debate


Author: Shernide Delva

The opioid epidemic is discussed in the media every day now. Every week, money is being proposed to help end the prescription pill and heroin addiction crisis. In addition, marijuana reform has continues to be a controversial topic in legislation.

Drug policy has never been a hotter topic but you wouldn’t have guessed that from watching last week’s republican debate.  Only a handful of candidates mentioned anything about drugs and drug policies, and when the topic was brought up, the specifics were lacking.

Republicans on Drug Policy

Here is a brief overview of the under ten-minute discussion on drug policy.

  • Rand Paul (R-KY) in the past has spoken in favor of drug policy reform. In the debate, he said there was a need for more rehabilitation and less incarceration. He delve in a bit deeper than the other candidates by making note of the intersection between race and drug policy. He stated, “I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome and it’s something that’s really damaged our inner cities.” In terms of marijuana reform, Rand Paul stated he did not believe the federal government should override state policies citing the Tenth Amendment for limitation on federal powers.
  • Jab at Jeb: Jeb Bush was scrutinized for his former pot smoking days by Rand Paul when he stated, ““There is at least one prominent example on the stage of someone who says they smoked pot in high school, and yet the people going to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren’t.”
    Jeb Bush responded that Rand Paul was talking about him. “He’s talking about me,” he admitted.
  • Jeb Bush- Speaking of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor mentioned the heroin problem in New Hampshire. He went on to endorse drug treatment through drug court bragging on how his state Florida has the highest amount of them than any other state.
  • Chris Christie– New Jersey Governor Chris Christie touched on drug policy reform stating it was a “pro-life issue” saying the life of a 16-year-old drug addict incarcerated is important. He also went on to exampling how New Jersey’s approach on drug policy is working.
  • Carly Fiorina- Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina put in her opinion on the dangers of marijuana abuse:

“We are misleading young people,” she said, “when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer. It’s not. And the marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same as the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago.”

She took the matter to a personal level when she mentioned how she and her husband “buried a child to drug addiction.”

All in all, drug policies took up at most 10 minutes of the three-hour debate. Not a very eye-opening conversation on a disease that is killing lives day after day. Hopefully clear policies and funding will be proposed to combat this serious epidemic.

Some—like Paul—have made drug policy a regular talking point however clear policy proposals have yet to be announced by most of the candidates like they have by some of the democratic candidates. Hillary Clinton just announced a 10 billion dollar plan to combat addiction a short while ago.

Close to 8% of Americans ages 12 and older use illegal drugs and around 20% are using prescription drugs for non-medical uses. Of the adult population, 10% say they used to have a substance abuse problem and do not anymore.

This is an issue that affects everyone. Whether you struggle with addiction or know someone who does, drug addiction is taking lives without discrimination.

Substance abuse should be getting the attention is deserves. Hopefully the discussion on drug policies will gain priority in the upcoming months. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Florida Passes Emergency Treatment for Opioid Overdose Act

Florida Gets Emergency Treatment for Opioid Overdose Act

Author: Justin Mckibben

New legislation is being processed and approved all over America with the intention of irradiating the increasing opioid epidemic, with officials teaming up across parties to participate in the discussion and development of initiatives to put the opportunities out there for saving and changing lives of addicts across the nation.

Now Florida has a new law that will undoubtedly help with the threat of overdose deaths. Republican Governor Rick Scott signed off on a new pieces of legislation that will put the power of the opioid overdose antidote in the hands of the people who need it most, which stands to have a pretty legitimate impact on the vast recovery community in the area.

With a Republican majority, the fight against the mounting and disturbing mortality rate has been a bipartisan battle. This month Florida joins the ranks of 28 other states, both conservative and liberal, with similar bills being approved to make naloxone more accessible, also known as Narcan (opioid overdose antidote).

Behind Bill HB-751

On June 10th2015, just this past week, Rick Scott signed off on a new piece of legislation that will give first responders, caregivers, and patients in Florida the authority to prescribe and administer naloxone, a pure antidote to opioid overdose.

Bill HB-751, AKA the Emergency Treatment for Opioid Overdose Act, was ratified recently and authorizes healthcare providers and pharmacies to prescribe and dispense naloxone to patients and caregivers, who can then administer the drug to anyone who they think, in good faith, is experiencing an opiate-related overdose.

The bill has been sponsored by Pensacola Senator Greg Evers, and Representatives Julio Gonzalez of Venice and Doc Renuart of Ponte Vedra Beach. It has been aimed at alleviating Florida’s overdose death rate, which now is 11th-highest in the country.

The important difference created by the Emergency Treatment for Opioid Overdose Act is the same that sets it and other bills which extend the access of naloxone to third parties apart is that it offers civil liability to caregivers and others who may end up administering the drug.

What does it mean?

It means a person attempting to save a life with this overdose antidote is protected from being held responsible in case something were to go wrong, so the individual will not face legal ramifications for any adverse effects that could be argued as caused by administering naloxone.

This has been a matter of some debate, considering that many ponder how many lives may or may not be saved if healthcare providers are afraid to administer a medication which could mean the difference between death or recovery for an addict at the edge of oblivion.

Acknowledging the Epidemic Every Day

Where does this change come from?

Well harm reduction has already been gaining some serious ground in this discussion, and for these reforms in policy to be effective and encouraged people have to acknowledge the epidemic every day.

A report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed overdose deaths involving heroin have nearly quadrupled from 2000-2013, and keeping with statistics of epidemic outbreak patterns, it’s likely the numbers in 2015 are much higher. There are already reports from several states flooding in about severe overdose rates just half-way through the year.

As the opiate issue becomes increasingly calamitous, more states are likely to develop programs to make naloxone more accessible.

That is welcome news, especially considering the change in public opinion. Almost exactly 1 year ago we reported on the Governor of Maine Paul LePage vetoing a similar bill that had passed in 2013, calling the overdose antidote an “excuse to stay addicted” and openly admitting that he would oppose future legislation to make naloxone more accessible.

On the other end, October of 2014 Staten Island was handing out Narcan kits all over the place trying to fight the growing epidemic. Illinois law makers even debated just this past March about making overdose antidotes available to school nurses given the overdose deaths of students in the area.

The concept has never been completely cut and dry, but it seems like the overall opinion is shifting a bit, and Florida has made its move.

For a state with such a thriving recovery community, especially South Florida which is often referred to as the recovery capitol of the nation, it only makes sense to have more resources for health care providers to… ya know, provide healthcare… duh!

Saving a life shouldn’t be something people are afraid to do. What sense would it make to expect addiction specialists, who strive to save addicts and help them rehabilitate, to just let an addict die from fear of legal punishment?

I wouldn’t be here today if doctors were afraid to use anti-overdose medications, so I support empowering physicians to save more lives. Sure regulation and proper training should definitely be in place, but you don’t clip the wings off of a guardian angel. Why take the weapons away from soldiers on the front line?

Overdose death and addiction have destroyed enough lives already, and they continue to hurt people everywhere. Now more methods are becoming available to help those who are hurting, and a healthy future is much closer than you think. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135


Jay from “Jay and Silent Bob” Speaks Up about Addiction

Jay from "Jay and Silent Bob" Not-So-Silent about Sobriety

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Author: Justin Mckibben

Have you ever seen a movie with the characters Jay and Silent Bob? If not, go watch one right now… don’t worry, I’ll wait…  RIGHT?! How awesome was that?!

“Ladies, Ladies, Ladies, Jay and Silent Bob are in the hizzouse!” 

All jokes aside, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the hysterically funny actor Jason Mewes, he has a face that is synonymous with pop culture. The man is a comedic cinema icon, and has been part of a lengthy list of films and media including:

  • Clerks
  • Mallrats
  • Chasing Amy
  • Dogma

He has been a feature in all films made by Kevin Smith, who plays the other half of his dynamic duo ‘Bob’, while Jason himself plays ‘Jay’. As the more vocal half in the Jay and Silent Bob partnership, he has come to define the fast-talking and all imaginative “marijuana-enthusiast” character known for snatching the spotlight in every scene he was in.

Jason is not only a 20-year film veteran with 81 acting credits in his filmography, he is also a man committed to his craft… and his recovery.

Jays Sober Journey

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is infamous as a cult classic, and Jason’s first movie, Clerks, set the standard for independently produced films. Besides doing voice-work for cartoons and video games he is on the road continuing the successful podcast he started with Kevin Smith called “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old.”

He is also very honest and open about his struggles with drugs, admitting that when bored comes his cravings can set in, and now-a-days it seems he as busy as a guy could take.

The irony here is Jason made his name as an actor playing a stereotypical “stoner!” The character of Jay is a drug dealing clown who hangs outside malls and fast-food spots all day selling weed to kids, but the man behind the funny guy is actually clean and sober.

Jason has been pretty public since his recovery about his struggles with heroin addiction and in a recent interview with The Fix, Jason admitted:

“Right around 21 is when I tried opioids for the first time. It’s in my family, I was born addicted to heroin. My mom was a heroin addict. My sister is a drug addict, my brother is a drug addict. It’s in the blood and in the genes.”

“I tried the opioids when I knew it was bad news. At that point, I had done ClerksMallrats, and Drawing Flies which is an independent film, and Chasing Amy. That’s what I wanted to do at that point and I feel like the drugs really hindered me.”

Kevin Smith entered Mewes into the first of a series of drug rehabilitation clinics in 1997, which would be the beginning of a back and forth battle with substance abuse.

In 1999 Mewes was arrested in New Jersey for heroin possession, and was sentenced to probation including:

  • Community service
  • Drug counseling
  • Regular court appearances in New Jersey

In late 2001, after he failed to make a court appearance, a warrant was issued for his arrest. After the death of his mother in 2002 as a result of AIDS, he surrendered himself at a Freehold, New Jersey court and pleaded guilty to probation violation charges in April of 2003. He was ordered to enter a six-month rehab program, but that was also not his last stay in treatment. He ended up going back and forth for a few more years, even bumping into an old friend Ben Affleck who at the time was in rehab for alcoholism.

Further on during the interview when discussing his history with drug use, Jason talked about how drugs had hinders the normalcy of life that was supposed to come with growing up, and about how at one point he didn’t like what he did, and was just doing movies to get up and go in the morning.

Later in that interview when asked about maintaining his sobriety over time, Jason stated:

“To me, it’s really just about being honest and surrounding myself with people.”

“I didn’t want to share with people, or let people know, even though people did know. In my head, and being all messed up, I thought people didn’t know because I thought it would mess up my chances of working. Again, it was obvious, I was like 140 pounds and I was a mess, but every day the podcast is a big help. Surrounding myself with people that are good and just being honest with myself.”

In the past Jason reportedly recounted his bottom hitting after waking up on Christmas morning 2003 to find that he had started a fire after falling asleep near a lit candle while on heroin. Mewes returned to New Jersey, where he was given the choice of attending 6 months of court-mandated rehab or a year in jail.

In a July 2006 interview he reported that he was sober, and harbored no urges to drink or use drugs, but he relapsed in 2009 after having surgery.

Jason expressed that keeping himself accountable to others is a huge part of his program, and that he is tempted at times so he resorts to sharing his thoughts and feelings with those closest to him and telling on himself before anything happens to stay accountable to those around him.

Beyond that he spoke about how his work was a big part of his sobriety, and how important it was that he commit to it. When talking about his podcast and the roll it played in his sobriety, he said:

“I just feel like that has been a big difference for me being honest with everyone who listens to the podcast. I’ve been really accountable. I go into a Starbucks and someone will be like, “Hey man, I listen to your podcast. How many days do you have sober?” I’m literally accountable to all these people and out of the blue someone could ask me.”

However he has apparently been clean since June 28th, 2010.

Asked in a recent interview how long he was clean Jay responded with a resounding 1785 days! That is huge for a guy who got famous playing a guy who seemed like he was stuck on drugs for life. Sometimes you hear the term ‘chronic relapser’ and think ‘how hopeless can it get?’ Well the fact that a guy who plays one of the world’s biggest pot-heads in movies has been sober nearly 5 years is amazing, and if you’re wondering if it’s possible, ask this dude!

Zoinks, yo!”


Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Sometimes the people you least expect can carry a powerful and positive message about how even though addiction held them back, recovery changed their life. A life in sobriety can be far more fulfilling and exciting than people assume, and it starts with choosing to make a change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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