Author: Justin Mckibben
Narcan, or the generic version Naloxone, is the opioid overdose antidote that we have heard so much about in recent years. The opioid epidemic has left us no choice but to talk about it. While opioid addiction spreads, the overdose death rates skyrocket and community leaders all over the country are trying to find ways to expand access to Narcan and Naloxone. Now some advocates in South Florida, and specifically in Palm Beach County, are pushing for discussion on having Narcan in schools.
This isn’t a brand new concept, and it obviously doesn’t come out of the blue. There is a steadily growing number of kids prescribed legal pain killers, especially after the FDA ruled to allow OxyContin to be prescribed to children 11 years old and up back in 2015.
So with the conversation trying to get off the ground, we might want to take a serious look at the benefits of such resources. This is not the first time the question has been raised about utilizing the overdose antidote in schools, so is it a good idea or not?
Examples of Narcan in School
There are already several states across the country that use Naloxone and Narcan in schools. State programs are set up differently, with some requiring the medication and others leaving it to individual school districts to set their own requirements. Just a few examples of states with Narcan in the classroom include:
January of this year Ohio Governor Kasich signed a bill making it possible to have Narcan in schools and homeless shelters. Just this week there was a 5 to 1 vote in Akron, Ohio by the Akron Public Schools Board of Education that passed a motion for police officers who work in the district’s middle schools and high schools to be equipped with Narcan in district buildings.
A law passed during the legislative session allows West Virginia schools to stock opioid antagonists, such as Narcan and Naloxone, for drug overdoses.
The state of New York has a program set up to provide Narcan in schools for free. So far 64 districts are participating in the narcan expansion program.
In 2016 there were 268 schools in the Pennsylvania Public High Schools system approved for Narcan intranasal kits from Adapt Pharma for free.
Also back in 2016, the Illinois General Assembly voted to override the Governor’s veto of a bill to allow Narcan in schools so nurses have access. The Illinois legislation specifically authorizes school nurses to administer the drug to anyone they believe may be suffering an opioid overdose.
Every middle school, junior high and high school is required to have a stock of naloxone on the premises.
The kicker is there are currently no programs for Narcan in Florida schools.
Palm Beach County Debate
Of course with programs like these we will always see some standing against it saying it promotes, or at least enables, illicit drug use by students. However, there are plenty of others who have stood on the fron lines and seen how opioid addiction can stem from legal and innocent beginnings. Maureen Kielian is one advocate who spoke up about the possibility of Narcan in schools recently, stating:
“My son became addicted to legally prescribed opioids,”
South Florida Recovery Advocates is a group actively advocating for schools to have Narcan, and Maureen has joined the fight to make a difference for kids like her son. Kielian states,
“We are on it. We just need cooperation from our leaders to save lives,”
Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche plans to meet with local law enforcement officials and school leaders to try and pursue a future Narcan program for the South Florida schools. He acknowledges that the biggest hurdle may be funding, but Valeche insists that saving lives is more important. He and other advocates understand the cost is nowhere near the value of a life.
While schools try to get their hands on an antidote that might save the lives of their students, people everywhere are still fighting for their lives. Don’t wait for an overdose to get help. Make the choice now. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Boynton Beach is beautiful area in South Florida, just north of Delray Beach and south of West Palm in Palm Beach County. The area has been described as “America’s gateway to the Gulf Stream.” Boynton Beach has also been hit by the affected opiate epidemic. Roughly 250 overdoses have occurred this year in Boynton, which is the third largest city in Palm Beach County. While some cities have seen similar spikes in overdoses and drug-related deaths for some time, Boynton Beach experienced a record breaking jump in overdoses overnight this past Tuesday.
The reports of drug overdoses started before sunset. By Wednesday morning police and paramedics had been called to the scene for five separate overdose incidents. For one night, this is the most the city of Boynton Beach has ever seen. As if that weren’t intense enough, all the overdoses occurred in a 12-hour span.
Out of the five, two died and three survived thanks to the life-saving efforts of first responders. This is just another example of how hard the opiate epidemic has hit some cities now more than ever. It is also an indication some of the efforts being made in Palm Beach County are for good reason.
Tracking the Problem
The only available details on the five victims so far include:
- 5:19 p.m. report of a man found in a parked car near Seacrest Boulevard
- 9:44 p.m. a man was found in a car at the 7-11 convenience store
- 10:31 p.m. a 40-year-old man was found dead in his bathroom at the Las Ventanas apartment complex on Federal Highway
- 30 minutes later, a man was found near the Rosemary Scrub Park
- 2 a.m. a man identified as Thomas Varner was found unresponsive at the Homing Inn on Federal Highway — a place police know well for its number of overdoses
Varner, who was the final overdose of the five, received CPR from police officers at the scene. After an attempt to revive Varner by paramedics using life-saving medication Narcan, used to reverse the effects of opiate overdose, he was rushed to Bethesda Hospital East. where doctors tried to save him. Unfortunately, Varner did not survive his overdose. Police Captain Mike Johnson, the shift’s commander during the evening in question, expressed his own concerns with the news, saying:
“We’re in the business of saving lives and when you can’t do that, especially when you have two last night that were fatal, that’s frustrating. But we also recognize that we’re just one prong of this public health crisis.”
Boynton Beach is Not Alone
Boynton Beach is definitely not the only city dealing with increasing drug overdoses. The outbreak of overdose rates and overdose deaths is nationwide. For Palm Beach County, the ‘recovery capitol’ also faces its obstacles with addiction.
- In Lake Worth alone there were 220 overdoses from January to August of this year
- Palm Beach County firefighters responded to 1,246 opioid-related overdoses in that same period
- Delray Beach already had about 394 by late September
Thankfully, Narcan and Naloxone are readily available for first responders, and expansion programs continue to progress across the country. In this 12-hour period four of the victims were taken to Bethesda and were given Narcan.
The fifth man he had already died at the scene.
Not Just Heroin?
Another question is concerning recent reports from several spots in the country where other dangerous drugs are being mixed in with heroin. According to Police Captain Mike Johnson this is- “more likely than not a new batch of heroin hit the city in the last couple of days.” So the question becomes, is there a new batch mixed with something even more toxic set to hit Boynton Beach.
At Las Ventanas, where one victim was found dead, police believe they found the painkiller Fentanyl in the apartment. Fentanyl is an opiate said to be more than 50 times as powerful as heroin. This is not the first time Fentanyl has caused some problems for Palm Beach County. Medical examiner records indicate Fentanyl also played a role in more than 100 overdose deaths in Palm Beach County in 2015. Captain Johnson said,
“It’s an obvious public health crisis. Law enforcement is only one component of addressing that health crisis. The amount of heroin that’s being sold on the street and the amount that’s being cut with Carfentanil or Fentanyl is increasing.”
Due to the rising risks present in some communities Palm Beach County is already organizing events and seminars to properly educate and arm the public with resources for overdose prevention.
One of the most prominent aspects of attacking the addiction issue is the existence of effective, supportive and compassionate drug addiction treatment. One powerful way we can prevent overdose is to make sure those suffering get the quality of care they deserve. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Music is always better when it means something, and sometimes that music needs to be heard so you have to play it really loud to get the message across. At least that’s what comes to mind when I think of a gang of rock bands and musicians getting together to jam out for a serious cause that could help make a real difference. Now in order to raise heroin awareness, a popular club in downtown Lake Worth, Florida called PROPAGANDA will be hosting a concert to raise money and awareness to fight heroin addiction and overdose deaths in their neighborhoods.
Florida Fighting Heroin and Fentanyl
It’s troubling to acknowledge that the heroin problem has become such a commonality, yet the truth is right there. Americans in every corner, from every walk of life are impacted every single day by this lethally illicit substance. Then the intense sedative Fentanyl only magnified the issue, while prescription painkillers lured more and more people into the grips of addiction.
Florida is no exception, and South Florida has seen its share. According to a recent report, from January to June of last year:
- Orlando was the Florida city with the most Fentanyl deaths- 50
- Miami was the second most heroin deaths- 40
- West Palm Beach had the most heroin deaths- 63
- Fort Lauderdale had third most heroin deaths- 34
So with heroin and opiate addiction being such a huge problem, more and more people are fighting to make a difference in their communities. With South Florida having such a prominent recovery community, and Delray Beach being referred to as the “Recovery Capital” there are more than enough people in South Florida willing to make a difference. Why not put together a lineup of local artists and ask them to tear up a stage to raise awareness?
Bands Take a Stand Against Heroin
According to Google, PROPAGANDA is a “Spartan bar with a hip vibe” showcasing performances from several styles of music including:
According to the PROPAGANDA website the fundraiser is scheduled for August 13th from 6 pm until 2 am. In the details section of the event a statement was issued stating:
“The tragic results that surround heroin abuse are real and can take the life of a friend or family member in the blink of an eye. The true spirit and identity of an individual can be masked when the dependency becomes so strong that decision making no longer reflects the individuals true desire.
Join us August 13th as local musicians, artists & people join together to shine the spotlight on this ongoing and recent spike in the destruction of people’s lives or even death as the result of the use of heroin.”
The project’s post goes on to list off the acts set so far to perform that evening under the title of the event- BANDS TAKE A STAND AGAINST HEROIN: AWARENESS AND BENEFIT CONCERT with a tentative lineup that includes:
The Drip Effect
Space Coast Ghosts
This list features styles ranging from melodic and alternative rock bands to underground hip hop artists. As far as the price of admission the page states there is a minimum entry fee of $5 donations. A specific charity is still to be announced at the time of this article.
One of the comments in the event posting states that a non-profit organization Florida Harm Reduction Initiative will also be offering Narcan trainings and overdose reversal kits for FREE at the show. These kinds of programs work with individuals in the community to teach them about the overdose antidote medication Narcan or Naloxone, and show people how to safely and effectively administer the medication in case of an emergency.
So far it seems the concept has been well received. Additional bands have reached out to get involved with the concert to show support for such an important cause.
Communities Coming Together
The organization of this kind of event and the passion that some people seem to have for the cause should come as no surprise, especially considering that reports in the past year have claimed that at least one out of every four people is somehow impacted by the opiate epidemic. It only makes sense then that people from all walks of life, including local rock stars and rap artists, have experienced some extent of the devastation involved with heroin overdose.
One thing that is awesome when seeing something like this is that when you look closely, events are organized all the time all over the country by concerned individuals, or public officials, both directly and indirectly involved in the recovery community. It goes to show that the stigma is being shed slowly but surely, while people are actively supporting each other with conviction and compassion. Regardless of your musical inclinations, the fact these groups get together to raise money and awareness makes me a fan.
Kudos to everyone involved. I’ll be dropping by to make my donation.
For people in this community and all over America that are looking for help, help is always there. Reach out and find it. Palm Partners prides itself on providing an empowering and effective holistic treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Talk about a power-move… these might just be the kind of game-changers we need to see more of in America.
Even though it is an amazing place for living in recovery, also considered the recovery capitol of the country, South Florida has seen its fair share of trouble in paradise. With an opiate epidemic that has gripped every part of America, even this beautiful community has a population of drug dealers and users, but Florida police are cracking down hard.
As someone who lives here in South Florida as a transplant from the Midwest and an active member of the recovery community it brings a great deal of satisfaction to see the area I now consider my home-away-from-home become a better place.
The last couple months there has been reason to celebrate some of the efforts put forth by law enforcement to make these cities safer. With stories in the news about how bad it gets out there, I figured it would be good to highlight two very recent stories of how police have made massive strides in the right direction when it comes to cutting off influence of the drug dealers in their neighborhoods.
Operation Street Sweeper- Delray City Arrests 28
At the end of April the story broke that police in the city of Delray Beach, Florida had arrested 28 suspected drug dealers in only 10 days as part of an undercover operation. One of the most recent arrests made was that of a man who carried a gun that reports said was called the “cop-killer.” This weapon carried condensed rifle bullets powerful enough to pierce bullet-proof vests, and police are happy to have this dangerous handgun off the streets.
The weapon was traced back to 32 year-old Gerald Petion, who was arrested Sunday evening on charges of:
- Possession and sale of heroin
- Possession of a weapon by a convicted felon
Apparently authorities state that Petion had actually left behind his gun during a police chase two weeks ago.
Delray Beach police began “Operation Street Sweeper” in February with the intention of getting drug dealers in this beautiful South Florida area out of the community. Controlled sales with known drug dealers were repeatedly staged by undercover police officers over the course of months in order to conduct a thorough investigation that lead to these arrests. Police obtained the warrants for these arrests in early April and tracked down many of the dealers, but some are still at-large.
Having arrested over 2 dozen alleged drug dealers in less than 2 weeks time is an impressive move sure to make a heavy impact on the drug traffic in the area. Most of the men and women busted by police were selling heroin, although some sold cocaine and prescription pills.
Operation Dope Death- Boynton Beach Busts 13
Boynton Beach police say an operation they labeled “Operation Dope Death” has helped them dole out a major victory over drug dealers in their community, claiming that this operation lead to:
- Arresting 13 suspected drug dealers
- Confiscated 62 grams of heroin
- 5 grams of cocaine
- 4 grams of marijuana
- $4,300 cash
- 8 cars
- 1 gun
Police say the month-long investigation came after the rising number of calls in response to drug overdoses in the city so far this year, with more than 2/3 cases involving heroin and 5 ending in tragic deaths.
Out of the list of suspected drug dealers involved in the arrest, several were given multiple charges and suspected of dealing in multiple substances that are all controlled and dangerous.
10 have been booked into the Palm Beach County Jail since Monday, and there was even a 17-year-old suspect arrested and charged with the sale of heroin.
With these two substantial operations the police departments in South Florida are working towards dissolving a huge segment of the drug trafficking in the area, and hopefully as the community sees this more resources will come together to make moves toward even more change. It will take time, but it appears possible to level the playing field in more ways than one.
Paradise is nowhere near lost, but it will take work. The same is true for the lives of those impacted by addiction. Even in the darkest times having a willingness to move forward can save lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Addiction and drug overdose crosses the borders that we humans put in place; borders that convince people drug abuse and overdose death is someone else’s problem. It’s not. It is our problem… as both individual and unified cultures and communities… we are all pieces of this beautiful and brilliant and complex thing that is humanity, and we have to see the reality of this tragedy as it tears apart lives everywhere.
Overdose death is killing people every single day, and it touches every social class and belief system there is.
The last day of this month we will all be given an opportunity to stop and acknowledge the toll drug abuse and addiction has taken on endless lives around the world, while also remembering those we have lost and showing support for those who are still here with International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD).
Monday, August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day, a worldwide event that puts an emphasis on bringing communities from all walks of life all over the planet to raise awareness of overdose, overdose prevention and the struggles of addiction while empowering people to actively get involved in reducing the stigma attached to drug-related death.
IOAD acts to acknowledge the heartache felt by families and friends in remembering those who have been struck down by permanent injury or death as a result of drug overdose.
International Overdose Awareness Day originated in 2001 after a discussion between individuals with a vision for taking action toward a better future.
Sally J. Finn was involved in harm reduction efforts, managing a needle and syringe program for The Salvation Army in St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia.
Peter Streker was co-ordinator of the Community and Health Development Program at the City of Port Phillip (Melbourne, Australia).
The two decided to hold a local event and give ribbons out to those in the area who sought to commemorate a friend, partner or family member who had passed away. All members of the community could wear a ribbon to offer their condolences to those who had suffered overdose, even if not directly affected, and support was encouraged.
That first year 6,000 ribbons were distributed. The movement reached much farther than expected, and the ribbons reach not only the local community but were distributed throughout the state and even further.
The second year running the steel badge was designed, and the word had spread beyond the original community in Australia. Requests flooded the office for information and badges came from as far as New Zealand.
Jumping ahead a few years, the Internation Overdose Awareness Day event became recognized by the United Nations, the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) and International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC).
Over the years countless community organizations, government and non-government organizations have held events to raise awareness and commemorate those who have been lost to drug overdose, such as:
Since 2012 International Overdose Awareness Day has been organized by the non-profit Australian public health body Penington Institute after Salvation Army Crisis Services transferred responsibility.
Since we are here in South Florida, I feel it is only right to highlight an event being hosted right here in the local recovery community of Delray Beach.
The Delray Beach Community Event for International Overdose Awareness Day will be hosted Monday, August 31st from 6pm- 10pm. It will begin with a meet and greet, which will include a number of recovery community and special guest speakers
- Senator Maria Sachs
- State Attorney, David Aronberg
- Representative, Lori Berman
- Palm Beach County Commissioner, Melissa McKinlay
- Delray Beach Police Chief, Jeffrey Goldman
- Renowned Author, Relapse Prevention Expert, Terrence Gorski
- Film Producer, Steered Straight, Michael DeLeon
The speakers will be followed at 7pm by a Film Presentation of
“An American Epidemic”
A documentary of the CDC declared national prescription drug epidemic produced by Michael Deleon. Following the presentation of the film will be a candlelight vigil, with discussion and fellowship within the recovery community. Look online to find more event information.
Other Event Information
Of course there are events going on all over the world in various countries, so South Florida might not be your go-to. But for more information you can always go to the International Overdose Awareness website to make a donation or find out other ways to get involved and show support.
Simply wearing the color silver is a way to show some recognition for the event and pay respects to the cause. We all have a unique and personal contribution to make. Not every person has to be involved in the same way, but if you want to be part of something this is definitely something worth the effort.
Statistics have stated every 4 minutes someone dies from drugs or alcohol. So by that count, in the time it has taken me to write this article and post it online, dozens of people have lost their lives to addiction. Dozens of families have been shattered, and dozens of friends have lost someone who meant everything to them.
It’s time for us to wake up and truly be aware of what is happening. We are all powerful beyond our own understanding or explanation, so let us make the change. As an overdose survivor I can say it is tragic and heartbreaking thing, but we who are still here can help heal each other, and honor the lives of those who are not.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. Take the action and make the change that might change everything.