Author: Justin Mckibben
If you haven’t noticed, death by drug overdose continues to kill in staggering numbers, and the country’s population remains poisoned by the plague of prescription painkiller abuse and heroin addiction. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that an estimated 120 people die every single day from accidental drug overdose in the U.S. Experts have predicted that the snowballing sum of death is still years away from its peak, and that the body-count will reach 50,000 annual deaths before it shows any sign of stopping.
One of the key elements in the spread of the overdose epidemic is the limited and inefficient access to lifesaving resources and skills. There could be real improvement if we were about to see more availability to assets such as:
- Opiate overdose antidote Naloxone
- Training for Naloxone administration
- Substance use disorder treatment
- Mental health care
- Education opportunities for youth, adults and professionals.
Thankfully there are officials out there who appreciate the importance of these causes if the country can hold out any hope of recovering from the outbreak. There are several different initiatives in different states hoping to make some revolutionary changes and get their communities the support they need.
Making an Impact
In just one week alone there were two huge developments in Illinois implemented that were designed to directly address the ongoing spike in opioid overdoses.
- Chicago Naloxone Clinic
The Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois saw the opening of a clinic that will distribute naloxone with permission from the Illinois Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. This is the first overdose prevention clinic of its kind in Illinois; because it is allowed to freely distribute the life-saving naloxone medication to anyone who may need it, including drug users themselves.
- The clinic is run by volunteers of the community, which involves:
- Training people to administer naloxone
- Providing opioid overdose education
- Offering treatment referrals
- Providing a safe place for concerned families and loved ones to get support
Many of the volunteers involved in this clinic have been directly affected by the growing number of heroin overdoses occurring around Chicago, and the clinic also has a medical doctor on staff.
- Passing Lali’s Law
Lali’s Law was inspired by Chelsea Laliberete. Laliberete started the Live4Lali organization with her family after losing her brother Alex to an overdose in 2008, and ever since has become a strong voice in the cause of overdose prevention activism.
This measure, which was unanimously approved by the senate’s public health committee vote, would make it legal for pharmacies to dispense naloxone and train people to administer the drug to someone overdosing.
Chelsea was quoted as stating,
“It creates a very needed and obvious access point to a lifesaving intervention in naloxone.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people enter their local Duane Reade, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid every day to get their prescription medications and syringes. So why shouldn’t they also be able to get the drug that’s going to save their life if they overdose?”
This kind of action isn’t all that outrageous, considering CVS recently announced that it would offer the opiate ‘antidote’ Narcan without a prescription at all of its 60 pharmacies in Rhode Island to help combat the overdose outbreak in the area. Chelsea boldly made the claim that with how bad this drug problem has become it’s almost irresponsible not to pass this bill. Seems like a legitimate argument considering that the demand for a steady supply of overdose disruptors.
Last year the FDA fast-tracked approval for a new auto-inject-able naloxone device, so with user-friendly naloxone gadgets from a variety of new pharmaceutical companies it should make this transition to more access to the general public a lot easier. It seems Big Pharma is still putting up a fight for prices, but maybe if more states get more naloxone clinics then the demand will help spread out the cost to supply.
So how much good do you think would come from having a naloxone clinic in your area? With this medication being the difference between a second chance at life and a heartbreaking and sudden death, could it be worth it for your state to provide resources to prevent overdose death? Or would they let someone like me slip through the cracks?
Education and resources save lives whether people realize it or not. It may not seem like putting together clinics across the country to train people on administering naloxone will change the world, but it is a step in the right direction as far as implementing more proactive forms of harm reduction. With the opiate epidemic dragging communities through hardship, educating communities on how to fight back is putting the power to change the trend in the hands of the people.
Naloxone is one of the most vital weapons we have in the war against the opiate overdose epidemic in America. It is our life-support on the front lines against addiction, and with a second chance at life further treatment can be given that helps recovering addicts find a more fulfilled life with freedom from drugs. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Drunk driving is a terrible and irresponsible action that too frequently results in death, whether for the driver, passenger or an unsuspecting motorist who becomes a victim in an accident. Drunk driving seems to be slowing down, and while some credit it to the efforts put forth by authorities to raise awareness or to technological advancements designed to provide safe alternatives for intoxicated drivers, the issue of driving while intoxicated has not completely disappeared.
There has been progress, and less people are driving drunk. However more people are hitting the roads high. Whether they are under the influence of marijuana or prescription drugs, according to two new reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drugged driving is the new drunk driving. Apparently too many people think that they can ‘control’ themselves better depending on the buzz, but end up endangering lives anyway.
Driving Intoxicated Increases
Drunk driving is a devastating reality that does far more damage than most people realize. One of the recent reports released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stated that every 2 minutes a person is injured in a drunk driving accident, and every single day 28 people on average die from a drunk driving accident.
A recent study from another source stated that the rate of driving under the influence of alcohol has declined by nearly a third since 2007, but according to a 2014 survey an estimated 1 in every 4 people on the road tested positive for marijuana or prescription drugs. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind was quoted saying,
“The latest roadside survey raises significant questions about drug use and highway safety. The rising prevalence of marijuana and other drugs is a challenge to everyone who is dedicated to saving lives and reducing crashes.”
The survey used for this data was taken every five years, whereby drivers can volunteer to pull over at an anonymous data-collection site. So these numbers do not come from arrest records. The survey found that in 2014
- 8% of people driving on weekend nights had booze in their system, A little over 1% were above the legal limit, a 30% drop for the presence of alcohol from the rate in 2007.
- 20% of drivers had drugs in their system on a weekend night. That was actually increased from 16.3% in 2007. Also, the rate of driving under the influence of pot had nearly doubled.
There is still no direct evidence the shows a correlation between marijuana use and accidents. NHTSA did determine that drivers who used marijuana were at a higher risk of car accidents, but the same can be said about how common marijuana use is among young men, who are already at higher risk of an accident than female drivers, regardless of marijuana consumption.
Mark Rosekind also expressed gratitude that some results had shown from the efforts to fight drunk driving, but acknowledged the urgency and importance of the need to better understand how illegal drugs and prescription medicines affect highway safety. In the past there have been people trying to create and perfect devices that can be used like marijuana breathalyzers, but as of now none of these had proven wholly effective.
So for now, the best tool that we have to stop drugged driving from taking up the mantle where drunk driving is falling behind. With marijuana reform, the plague of prescription painkiller problems, and a war against opiate overdose and other dangerous narcotics, this battle is an essential one. Getting behind the wheel under the influence, regardless of the substance, is a blatant disregard for the lives of those around you, and your own.
Drugged and drunk driving are both terrible and deadly actions that can always be avoided. If you find yourself so out of control that you are repeatedly in this situation, or getting arrested for DUI’s, then it may be safe to say you could use some help before someone gets hurt. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
America, not to mention a good chunk of the rest of the world has been experiencing a grave increase in drug related issues, including overdose deaths. In America it has been stated that prescription painkiller overdoses have become the leading cause of hospital visits, surpassing even car accidents.
Even though there are strong forces allied together that are pushing for drug policy reform, and harm reduction is expected to make major strides in 2015, some are still predicting even more overdose deaths to come in the next few years.
Straight From Farr’s Law
According to a recent study conducted by Columbia University that was published in the journal Injury Epidemiology, the drug overdose epidemic in the United States will actually peak in 2017, at about 50,000 annual deaths. The study came up with this figure by being the first to apply Farr’s Law on the rise and fall of epidemics to an outbreak that is not from the strict perspective of epidemiologists infectious in origin.
In the United States more than 40,000 people die every year by unintentional drug overdose as of now. Looking at the number over overdose deaths in 1980 that number has multiplied 10 fold! Salima Darakjy, a doctoral student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, is an author of the study who stated,
“To some extent, drug use is a social behavior and has the potential to spread like a contagious disease among individuals in a network.”
The Columbia University study does however estimate some good news. According to their figures the drug overdose epidemic may soon be ending, despite the coming spike in fatalities. How did they come up with that if the future is looking to grim? In the mid-1800s a study on smallpox done by pioneering British epidemiologist William Farr, it was discovered that that the rate and duration of the epidemic’s rise was mirrored in its decline.
Things Get Worse Before They Get Better
Using that same formula, the researchers measured the progress of the drug overdose epidemic. Using Farr’s Law, the study found that the drug overdose epidemic should hit its peak at about 50,000 annual deaths in 2017, but then start declining to a non-epidemic state of approximately the same rate it was before the epidemic, putting the body-count at about 6,000 deaths in the year 2035.
According to the researchers at Columbia, the rate of deaths from prescription painkillers, which again are credited for 2/3 of all the overdose related deaths, has already showed signs of decreasing. With stricter regulations being implemented on painkillers to combat the ‘pill mill’ and ‘doctor shopping’ trends, many users have chosen to switch to heroin, which is cheaper and more readily available. Even with taking this substitution effect into account, the experts believe it is still unlikely to alter the course of the epidemic.
However in order for this kind of positive change to take place, public health efforts cannot take a break. Once the epidemic starts to dwindle, the country will still have to continue to take action to reverse the overdose problem.
Director of the Center for Injury Prevention at the Mailman School and professor of Epidemiology, Dr. Guohua Li stated,
“A decline in overdose deaths shouldn’t be used as justification to pull back. That would be wrong. If there is no intervention then the epidemic will last much longer.”
With National Center for Health Statistics data and continued public health resources being used to prevent overdoses, the study concluded that this revolutionary change in statistics was possible. For the year 2014 Congress has committed $20 million in spending on resources to fight the overdose epidemic plaguing the country. It is truly troubling to suspect that we may see a devastating increase in deaths sooner, but hopefully there is some light at the end of that tunnel.
The pandemic of drug overdoses in America is a harsh reality that our country has been faced with in the past few years, and some believe it might only get much worse too soon. While some believe that relief is just a few years away, it is possible for each of us to take the opportunities in front of us. If you are still alive, then you still have a chance. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Symptoms of Addiction
Treatment for prescription painkiller abuse is intended to address people of all walks of life who are suffering from the same types of circumstances and symptoms. Some of the signs of addiction range in severity and can affect each individual differently, especially depending on the method which the individual abuses the substance. If you are considering treatment for prescription painkillers you may or may not experience several or all of these symptoms, but they are indicators.
- Increased tolerance
- Decreased level of testosterone for men
- Enlargement of the prostate for men
- Excessive sweating
- Swelling in the arms and legs
- Chronic constipation
- Dry mouth
- Respiratory distress
Then again, if you have taken the time to look up and article to give these answers, it’s safe to say you should consider it, whether you have all these symptoms or not.
Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Signs of Withdrawal
One thing that tends to hold people back from getting the treatment for prescription painkiller abuse that they desperately need is the withdrawal process, because they are afraid to experience the discomfort. Treatment for prescription painkiller abuse should also include a stage where those symptoms are addressed and the maximum amount of comfort is provided throughout. Some on that list of painful and problematic withdrawal symptoms seem more intimidating than others, but treatment for prescription painkiller abuse means you will have access to a medical staff ay any point. These withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle and bone pain
- Muscle spasms
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Chills and goose bumps
- Intense anxiety
Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Detox
Before you do anything in treatment for prescription painkiller abuse you must go through the detox process. At treatment for prescription painkiller abuse they will give each individual an assessment and go through detoxification prior to starting your treatment and therapy. In detox, they will give you a drug screening and analyze which substances are in your system.
By seeing the drugs in your system and the levels they are at, they can determine how to medically detox you properly. You will be started on medication and gradually weaned off in a reasonable period of time without having to experience the great discomfort that can come from prescription painkiller abuse. The goal is to make you as comfortable as possible and to get you physically cleared of all substances before sending you to rehab.
Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Therapy and Treatment
After someone has completed the detox stage of treatment for prescription painkiller abuse, the next step is to go into the inpatient rehab phase and start therapy, which provides one-on-one and peer counseling for learning how to stay sober.
In treatment for prescription painkiller abuse they will ask you a series of questions first to better get to know you and understand your history, in order to know the best plan of action. Once they have asked you these questions, they will choose a therapist that is best suited for your specific needs prior to you getting started on your treatment plan. Programs on treatment for prescription painkiller abuse typically take you to 12-step meetings daily and get you acquainted with the recovery community around you. In treatment, you learn coping skills and how to live your life without drugs and alcohol.
Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Long-term Sobriety
Once the treatment for prescription painkillers has determined that an individual is ready to leave to structure of inpatient rehab, they will be given the opportunity to attend an IOP program. IOP (intensive outpatient program) is the phase of treatment for prescription painkiller abuse where you continue therapy and group sessions, but you no longer live in the rehabs residential facility anymore, and thus have a lot more freedom.
A lot of individuals opt to go into a halfway house once they have finished inpatient treatment for prescription painkiller abuse. A halfway house offers more stability than being on your own, but you are still able to have much more freedom than rehab itself. Individuals are commonly required to stay accountable to a few things, like:
- Have a job
- Go to meetings
- Paying rent
- Clean and do chores
- Be drug tested
- Get a sponsor
- Work a program
After treatment for prescription painkiller abuse, it is important to know you are in a good and safe sober living environment. A halfway house where they want you going to meetings and working a program of recovery is especially productive, because that atmosphere promotes positive growth. Treatment for prescription painkiller abuse can be difficult for some to get involved with, but seeing the many people who stick around and recover is an amazing experience, and treatment for prescription painkillers is that first step.
For all those who are struggling with prescription painkillers, or even abusing other drugs or medications, there is a massive community of recovery all over the country to help you get the care you need. Treatment for prescription painkiller abuse can be the first and most important step, so be sure to step up. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
2014 is just about done, and as we prepare ourselves for whatever series of adventures awaits us in 2015, we look back at a lot of historical moments we experienced in many areas of our culture, and a big one is the ‘War on Drugs’ and its progress internationally thus far. It was a year that was thick with violence, corruption, incarceration, addiction and stigma just to name a few. Many insist that the ‘War on Drugs’ is a failed enterprise that we will regret not having a better hold of later on, in fact 82% of Americans recently surveyed believe it has failed.
Some stories echo our larger issues and concerns such as military and economic resources. But when we take a closer look at these 6 headlines and see the bigger picture, these are just a few of the articles out there that seem to sift through the grimes to highlight why the policy of prohibition actually sustains the very drug war between governments, citizens, and cartels that claim lives on all sides.
- “El Chapo” Is Captured in Mexico
Not a single shot was fired when Mexican soldiers and cops closed in on “El Chapo” Guzmán, Sinaloa Cartel boss and former Forbes list billionaire back on February 22, 2014 in Mazatlán. While some say that’s the best possible outcome, others insist there is an underlining meaning that is a lot less optimistic.
The event made great copy. Attorney General Eric Holder called the arrest
“landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States.”
However, according to an expert on Mexican drug traffickers George Grayson,
“The takedown of El Chapo is a thorn in the side, but not a dagger in the heart of the Sinaloa Cartel.”
Drug-related violence has continued in recent months. Second, was it all a set-up? Retired DEA officials seem to believe thiese circumstances sound a little more than far-fetched.
2. China’s Tobacco Epidemic
In China the tobacco habit is severe, killing around 1 million annually.
- Nearly 30% of adults smoke
- 53% of men smoke
In April The WHO encouraged China to use graphic warnings on cigarette packages to fight the tobacco epidemic.
Why did the epidemic emerge? According to law professor Charles Whitebread, a long-term change in US smoking patterns created partly by federal and state regulations helped prompt this drastic change in Asia. Cigarette companies were soon confronted with a restricted market in America, so many opted to shifting their operations out of the United States and into China, Whitebread concluded.
At a 2012 conference, officials proposed the idea of price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, among the idea for graphic warnings and other initiatives.
China may adopt these proposals. Its government is considering a hike in cigarette taxes, while Beijing is considering a ban on smoking in all the city’s indoor public spaces, on public transport and in the workplace.
3. Pot Legalization Politics
Tuesday November 4th, 2014 the voting midterms drew to a close by early evening and as all the results were tallied and laws were forged and forfeited, it became clear that voters were largely in favor of legalizing marijuana in several states.
Oregon, Washington D.C. and Alaska were among the states in America that had weed winning in the midterms for various forms of legalization of marijuana.
A year ago Uruguay became the world’s first country to legalize the production and sale of marijuana. And in May, it publicized the regulations that will govern its marijuana market. President José Mujica argued that comparing Uruguay’s pot policies with Colorado’s that the United States marijuana model is one where “you prescribe it yourself” as opposed to the Uruguayan system, which regulates consumers.
President Mujica said the Uruguay policy is not designed to promote and expand marijuana use, just to regulate the present population of smokers. Residents 18 and older will be able to choose between three forms of access to non-medical weed
Each buyer will register with the government and be restricted to 10 grams each week.
4. Amphetamine Accelerates in Asia
In the year 2014 national experts have indicated that in East and Southeast Asia the use of ATS [amphetamine-type stimulants] has both increased and diversified, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s annual World Drug Report.
A paper published in Brookings Institution in March of 2014 further elaborated on this idea, stating that China has increasingly evolved into a producing country of new synthetic substances, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) in particular. The report also stated that China is a final consumption market for those same substances, stating:
“38 percent of registered drug users, almost 800,000 people, were identified as users of ATS.”
5. Afghan Opium Cultivation Reaches Record Levels
2014 also was a year for record level of Opium production in Afghanistan. The US military noted in October that regions opium poppy cultivation has almost tripled since 1994. Mother Jones reported,
“That’s despite more than a decade of American efforts to knock out the Afghan drug trade—at a cost of roughly $7.6 billion.”
Other reports claim the last time opium trafficking and production was markedly reduced in Afghanistan was in 2000—the last year the Taliban was in power.
Then later in 2001, only one of the country’s regions continued extensive cultivation. That region just happened to be the 5% of the territory the Washington-allied Northern Alliance controlled, and the United States had teamed with these warlords to assault the Taliban after 9/11.
Some claim that the US military presence has been enriching warlords at the expense of others, and that the booming “illicit trade” is also a vital source of funding for the Taliban insurgency, and a major contributor to the country’s rampant corruption.
According to a recent disclosure, Washington is actually planning to increase the number of troops in 2015 present in Afghanistan, but with so many claiming that American military activity only seems to promote the drug trade, will this really help the ‘War on Drugs’ in the area?
6. Prescription Painkillers #1 Overdose Offender in America
According to a recent national study of hospital emergency department visits for opioid overdoses published online by JAMA Internal Medicine, 67.8% of the overdoses had prescription opioids (including methadone) involved. This number was followed closely by heroin overdoses, and other unspecified opioids and multiple opioids.
The study analyzed 2010 data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample and was adjusted to generate national estimates. Opioid drugs including:
These were the medications prescribed by doctors that are credited as the cause of the estimated 92,200 hospital visits, which is more than 5 times the number of deaths involving opioid painkillers in 2010.
Researchers found that out of all recorded emergency room visits that were a result of a drug overdose:
- Heroin accounted for 16.1%
- Unspecified opioids accounted for 13.4%
- Multiple opioid types accounted for 2.7%
- While even fewer than 2% of overdoses treated in emergency rooms were fatal.
7. Political Leaders Call for End of ‘Drug War’
The ‘War on Drugs’ has never been limited to US soil, and in many of these international cases we seem how even change in other countries can effect Americans. Earlier this year there was a report published by the London School of Economics titled “Ending the Drug Wars”. The report was signed by several officials including:
- 5 Nobel prize-winning economists
- Britain’s deputy prime minister
- A former US Secretary of State
“The pursuit of a militarized and enforcement-led global ‘war on drugs’ strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage,”
The report went on to state:
“new global drug strategy should be based on principles of public health, harm reduction…and human rights.”
Four months later, the Global Commission on Drug Policy picked up where this report left off, when several high ranking officials called for:
“governments to decriminalize a variety of illegal drugs and set up regulated drug markets within their own countries.”
These 7 are all just a few examples of how politics and policies have played out in 2014, and notes how we can start to see a slight shift in an attempt to try and provoke change in the way the world collectively views and addresses the ‘War on Drugs’ on all fronts.
At the same time, it goes to question whether or not the ‘War on Drugs’ is a wholesale failure, or if the primary method needs to be shifted from prohibition to education and regulation. Some think maybe the focus should stop being put on punishing those arrested for drug charges and more on providing chances for treatment.
While the ‘War on Drugs’ may have a lot of changes coming in 2015, the opinion varies as to whether that means the fighting will dwindle, or if the struggles will rage on as people try to adapt, both citizens, authorities and cartels. One thing is for sure, drug and alcohol treatment will continue to strive toward innovation in whatever way to do its part. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135