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By Cheryl Steinberg
In the past, we’ve written about the ibogaine plant and how some have used it in order to treat their drug addictions. Many claim that this shamanistic treatment has helped rid them of their disease of addiction, especially when it comes to opiate addiction.
We’ve also recently told you about how reality TV star Scott Disick — of Keeping Up With The Kardashians fame — announced that he had chosen to undergo ibogaine therapy at a treatment center in Costa Rica.
Considering that the drug is currently illegal in the U.S. and claims vary among users, it’s no wonder that that treating addiction with ibogaine in controversial, at least in the country.
But can ibogaine become not only accepted for use in the U.S., but an integral part of the way we treat substance use disorder and addiction? Well, there’s been talk of a radical new treatment modality in Vermont, utilizing ibogaine as a tool in treatment.
How Ibogaine Works
Ibogaine is derived from the iboga shrub and is a naturally occurring compound that serves as an interruption in the cycle of substance use disorders, and especially opioid abuse and addiction. It’s reported that ibogaine use also provides other neurological and psychological benefits in that it opens up “deep personal insights” in its users.
As it stands now, people seeking ibogaine treatment will travel to other countries, such as Mexico, where ibogaine is not illegal.
Some people who have undergone ibogaine treatment report a lasting reversal of symptoms related to their addiction. And although ibogaine has an immense amount of reported benefits, like any other drug, it is not without its risks. Ibogaine is known to have cardiovascular implications, having caused complications and even death in people with preexisting health issues.
So far, ibogaine is listed as a felony Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S.
Unfortunately, in a relatively short amount of time, Vermont has become the epicenter of the national heroin epidemic and the focal point for concerns regarding opiates and opioid use disorders.
According to the Vermont Department of Health, the number of heroin-related deaths was 35 in 2014, an increase of 66% from 21 deaths in 2013. Opiate abuse is so prevalent in the northern state that just last year, its Governor Peter Shumlin spent his entire State of the State address speaking to the heroin issue in the state, citing Vermont’s 250% increase in heroin treatment and 770% increase in treatment for all opiates since 2000.
Ibogaine in Addiction Treatment…in the U.S.?
Recently, a bill was introduced in the Vermont’s House of Representatives that goes beyond the state’s initial controversial legislation: that of regulating and taxing marijuana.
The bill, H. 387 would allow for a pilot program that utilizes ibogaine in the treatment of substance use disorders. On March 10th, Rep. Paul Dame (R-Chittenden-8-2) and Rep. Joseph “Chip” Troiano (D-Caledonia-2) introduced the bill. It has since been referred to the House Committee on Human Services.
The bill would allow for the development and implementation of a three-year pilot program to dispense ibogaine in the treatment of drug- and alcohol- addicted individuals. Eligibility required that the person is diagnosed with a severe and persistent substance abuse disorder by a health care provider and that such diagnosis was made in the course of a legitimate health care provider-patient relationship. The individual’s physician must also verify that medical efforts were made but to no avail as the patient’s reliance on drugs or alcohol has continued. An ibogaine dispensary would be operated by the Department of Health combined with a nonprofit organization.
Rep. Dame has said of the ibogaine treatment “[it’s] an interesting idea that has shown results in other countries.” He sees the bill as having the potential to save the millions of dollars in reduced treatment costs as well as shortened waiting lists for treatment programs.
“We talk a lot about protecting people’s freedoms, and here is a way we might be able to help Vermonters free themselves from a serious addiction,” he said.
Vermont’s H. 387 is actually not the first piece of ibogaine legislation in the United States. Back in 1992, then New York State Senator Joseph Galiber introduced a bill that that would make it mandatory for the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to encourage and support ibogaine research as a treatment for heroin and cocaine addiction. Unfortunately, that bill never moved out of committee.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, it can make for a very desperate situation. We here are Palm Partners know and understand that. That’s why we offer a safe and comfortable place for you to begin your journey back to good health and a healthy, happy overall well-being. We offer holistic treatments interwoven with all of the industry standards that have stood the test of time. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
When we discuss the ‘true cost of the heroin epidemic,’ we’re not talking about fiscal dollars, although that is a factor in this latest chapter of American tragic history.
We’ve reported on the toll heroin is taking all over the country: from New Jersey, to Vermont, to Ohio, and now Oregon, Colorado, and who-knows-where else.
Heroin is spreading like wildfire across America. And the toll on our communities is evident. Indeed we are paying some steep prices for the heroin epidemic.
In Butler County, Ohio, 911 calls for heroin overdose are so common that the seasoned EMS coordinator compares the situation to “coming in and eating breakfast — you just kind of expect it to occur.” And the resources just aren’t available: a local rehab facility has a six-month wait.
Butler County’s Sherriff Richard Jones admits, “There are so many residual effects. And we’re all paying for it.”
Besides the more obvious problem: the spike in heroin-related overdoses and fatal overdoses, the heroin epidemic has all kinds of tragic fall-out. Families are being torn apart as more and more children are being forced into the already overloaded foster care system. Crime is on the rise as the desperate drug-addicted people are turning to criminal acts – shoplifting is particularly popular – to support their insatiable habit.
The Heroin Epidemic: Shocking Statistics
It’s true, there are other drugs out there being abused but, heroin’s rapid escalation is, to say the least, troubling. Just last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said of the 45% increase in heroin-related overdose deaths between 2006 and 2010 that it’s an “urgent and growing public health crisis.”
In 2007, an estimated 373,000 people were using heroin in the U.S. By 2012, that number was 669,000, with the 18 to 25 age bracket seeing the greatest increase in users. Astonishingly, the number of first-time heroin users nearly doubled in a six-year period, from 90,000 to 156,000 people.
We know why this is happening: experts note that many opiate users turned to heroin after the “pill mill” crackdown, making painkillers like OxyContin harder to find and much more expensive. For example, on the street, a gram of prescription opiates might cost upwards of $1,000 whereas that same gram of heroin will sell for $100.
Heroin is More Powerful Today
Heroin today is more fatal because it’s either extremely pure or laced with other powerful narcotics, such as the latest batch of deadly heroin, known to be cut with fentanyl – an equally powerful opiate. That, coupled with a low tolerance once people start using again after treatment, is what oftentimes leads to the fatal overdoses in fresh from treatment addicts.
Heroin Epidemic: Users are Getting Younger and Younger
One Butler County school recently referred an 11-year-old boy who was shooting up heroin intravenously.
Portland, OR’s Central City Concern, a mentor program in Portland, OR says of its clients that, in 2008, 25% of them were younger than 35. Last year that shot up to 40%.
“I thought my suburban, middle-class family was immune to drugs such as this,” says Valerie Pap, who lost her son, Tanner, at age 21 to heroin in 2012 in Anoka County, MI, and speaks out to help others. “I’ve come to realize that we are not immune. … Heroin will welcome anyone into its grasp.”
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Surprisingly, Vermont has been ranked as the state with the highest rate of illicit drug use – with 15% of people saying they’ve used a substance within the past month. This rate appears staggeringly high when compared to Utah’s 4.2%, which is the lowest-ranking state for illicit drug use. These trends were documented by surveys conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2010-2011.
Vermont Drug Abuse: Factors
According to Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner for alcohol and drug abuse programs at the Vermont Department of Health, this trend is a due to such factors as weather, politics, and proximity to big cities.
“You have everything from the colder climate, which tends to be a reason some people give, to more liberal attitudes, to higher income levels, to people having more access, but I don’t think anyone knows for sure,” Cimaglio told Business Insider.
Vermont Drug Abuse: Trends
Perhaps the main reason that Vermont ranked so high – no pun intended – due to its residents’ use of marijuana, alone. The state ranked highest in the U.S. for marijuana use, with about 13% of people saying they’ve used the drug within the past month.
However, statistics show that Vermont drug abuse doesn’t discriminate when it comes to drug of choice; the state ranked the highest for almost every type of drug, from marijuana to cocaine.
And just like the rest of the country, heroin use is taking off in the Northeastern state. The Burlington Free Press reported in 2011 that prescription drug use has also risen dramatically in Vermont, as it has around the country. Many Vermont heroin addicts started out with prescription painkillers, like oxycodone, Vicodin, and Lortab. When it became difficult or too expensive, addicts turned to heroin – a cheaper version of these pharmaceuticals.
Vermont Drug Abuse: Why Vermont?
Trafficking from out-of-state drug dealers is one main way that has exacerbated Vermont’s drug abuse problem, because the state’s highways dump into big cities.
On this aspect, Cimaglio said, “I think Vermont is really in sort of a perfect storm because we’re on that highway between Montreal, Boston, New York, and also going to Philadelphia. You have to go through Vermont to get to some of the bigger cities like Boston, so it seems like some people are just trafficking along the way and Vermont is one of the stops.”
The street drug is coming from cities like New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Chicago. In fact, copious amounts of heroin are coming into Vermont from big-city dealers who can sell the drug at a higher price there. For example, a bag of heroin might cost $5 in a big city but, dealers can sell it for as much as $30 in Vermont. Despite this hike in price, Vermont is seeing an uptick in heroin use, Cimaglio confirmed.
Vermont Drug Abuse: Crime
As is suspected with issues of drug abuse and addiction, drug-related crime is on the rise in Vermont, too. Cimaglio stated that, within the last year or so, she’s heard more stories of burglaries related to drug trafficking and more stories about people being arrested in Vermont who aren’t from the state.
Vermont Drug Abuse: Plan of Attack
Vermont is taking a proactive approach to the increasingly problematic issues surrounding Vermont drug abuse trends.
“We’ve enhanced our treatment services greatly, and also law enforcement,” Cimaglio said. “We’re addressing it on all fronts.”
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Trying to get sober on your own is extremely difficult and can be risky for an addict or alcoholic. Going to drug rehab in Norwich, VT can be one of the best decisions you could make because they will make sure you are properly detoxed, get the treatment you need and get you involved in meetings to achieve long-term sobriety and recovery.
Drug Rehab in Norwich, VT: First, you must Detox
No matter what happens, don’t try to detox yourself at home. It is unsafe and can be life-threatening. The safest way to get the drugs and alcohol out of your system is to go to drug rehab in Norwich, VT where they can drug test you and get you started on a medical detoxification. They will gradually wean you off of the meds as your withdrawals decrease until you are ready to leave the detox center. This process must always be done immediately because to be able to work on the mental and spiritual aspect of the disease of addiction, we have to first get our bodies physically rid of all the drugs and alcohol!
Drug Rehab in Norwich, VT: Next comes Treatment
Once your body is physically free of drugs and alcohol, drug rehab in Norwich, VT will get you started on your treatment program and assess you to see what type of therapy and recovery plan you need. You will be given a therapist for personal sessions and also for group therapy with the other clients. You get a chance to bond with other clients and do different activities with them. You can learn how to be sober and have fun in treatment. They will also take you to 12-step meetings in the evenings so you can get familiar with the recovery community around you. It is a good idea to also make connections with people in the meetings who have some clean time and knowledge of recovery.
Drug Rehab in Norwich, VT: Halfway and Meetings
Now that you’ve went through the detoxification and treatment parts of drug rehab in Norwich, VT, they will recommend you go to a halfway house or sober living environment. It is vital to your recovery to be surrounded by good influences when early in your sobriety and going into a halfway house can be really beneficial. You usually will be attending IOP (intensive outpatient) with your treatment facility and going to group therapy and one on one therapy. In the halfway house they will drug test you, expect you to pay rent on time, get a job, clean up the house, go to meetings and work a program of recovery.
In the 12-step meetings is where all the real magic happened for me. It was important for me to get a sponsor and work the 12 steps as soon as possible because I was a very sick alcoholic/addict. Going through my steps and doing 90 meetings in 90 days really helped me get connected with good supports in the rooms and work on myself. In drug rehab in Norwich, VT they want to make sure you get on this path to recovery and are successful in your sobriety. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.
Already among the highest in the state, overdose deaths from heroin and prescription drugs in Ocean County, N.J. more than doubled in 2013. And, although we’ve only marked off 16 days of 2014, there have already been three fatal overdoses.
“It is a suburban epidemic facing us throughout New Jersey,” said Angelo Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. “A lot of suburban counties are affected at dangerous levels.”
Ocean County is comprised of a string of beach towns, connected by a boardwalk, and perhaps best known today for the long-running reality series “The Jersey Shore.”
In 2012, 53 people died of heroin and prescription drug overdoses in this New Jersey county, which gave it the state title for highest number of heroin-related emergency room visits – putting Ocean County ahead of more urban counties, such as Hudson and Essex that are more heavily populated.
Put it this way, Ocean County has less than 7% of New Jersey’s population yet, in 2011 it led the state with 11% of all hospital admissions and again in 2012 with 11.4%.
In 2013, Ocean County’s overdose death toll peaked at 112, with the majority of which being heroin-related – roughly 10% of a state total of 1,188 overdose deaths. And now, three more in the few short days of this New Year. The local police department has issued a warning about a possibly tainted brand of heroin being sold under the name “Bud Light.”
The Link Between Prescription Drugs and Heroin
As with opiate and heroin epidemics in other states across the country, the uptick in heroin use can be directly correlated with the outrageous over-prescribing of narcotic painkillers. Kids have easy access to these powerful and dangerous medications – these drugs are just an arm’s reach away in their parents’ medicine cabinets.
“Prescription drugs are a gateway drug to heroin,” said Valente.
Prosecutors for Ocean County have begun resorting to outside-the-box measures by distributing warning cards to funeral homes in order to educate families on the importance of responsibly disposing of unused prescription medications, especially narcotic opiates meds, which may be left behind by their recently deceased family members.
“It is our hope that these unused medications will be disposed of at the designated drop-off points so that they do not get into the hands of those who would use or sell them illegally,” say prosecuters.
Heroin: A Nationwide Epidemic
Heroin and Ohio
Ohio State Attorney General, Mike DeWine said in his State of the State address that his office gathered by his office “suggests 11 people die in Ohio every week from a heroin overdose.”
He goes on to say that this astonishing new trend is a “heroin epidemic” that has affected every community in Ohio.
The past month alone revealed a 107% increase in heroin deaths in over half of Ohio’s counties.
Heroin and Vermont
Federal statistics reveal that Vermont is now ranked among the top 10 states for the abuse of painkillers and heroin, not including marijuana, for people aged 18 to 25 years old. According to the Vermont Health Department, the number of overdose deaths due to heroin almost doubled, increasing from nine to 17 last year.
If you or someone you love is struggling with heroin abuse or other drug abuse problem or drug addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.