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Charging Overdose Victims with Crime for Needing Naloxone

Charging Overdose Victims with Crime for Needing Naloxone

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

Overdose victims are the people most obviously struggling with the opiate epidemic. So many have come so close to death that to be revived might be the only second chance they think they get. As the overdose outbreak has grown into such a prominent problem, more has been done to increase access to life-saving resources. Policies are now in place help those who are on the verge of a lethal dose. More is being done to help survivors get treatment. The concept of addiction has finally started to be more understand as something that impacts all walks of life and that it is not a moral failing, but a serious, chronic disorder. Yet, even as compassion and education have taken on more meaning in the fight against drug addiction, there are still some who think punishing addicts and overdose victims is somehow an answer.

It is one thing to argue the idea of charging drug dealers with murder in connection to overdoses. Even that is a controversial topic. But now officials in some areas are supporting a plan that further persecutes people who have suffered from an opiate overdose is a very dangerous development.

Should police be issuing charges to overdose victims who need to be revived with naloxone?

What is Naloxone?

Naloxone, also known by its generic name Narcan, is the antidote medication used to reverses an opioid overdose. It works by neutralizing the opioids and reviving the respiratory system. This medication has become one of the primary resources in fighting the overdose outbreak that has devastated the nation, and over recent years access to the drug has expanded a great deal. Naloxone has been around in ambulances and hospitals for decades to reverse overdose, but the demand for solutions to the rising death rates has made it more mainstream.

Naloxone has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and all over the country new programs have been put in place to make the drug more available. Now you can acquire a naloxone kit from pharmacies in many states, some without prescriptions. Community programs have developed to distribute the drug to the public in some areas where the issue is most prevalent.

Many areas have distributed naloxone to their police departments as well as other first responders, while providing training courses to both the public servants and the community. With some many people in America fighting addiction and losing their lives, it makes sense that more people be prepared to help.

Making Overdosing a Crime

In some states people who overdose are facing some new consequences. While government officials say they are trying everything they can to help people, all it really seems to be doing is further inhibiting the people who most desperately need the help.

Essentially, what officials in some areas have done is emphasized on making overdosing a crime. More specifically, charging people who have to be revived by police or medics with naloxone with inducing panic.

The charge is a misdemeanor, so it isn’t exactly as damaging as other charges often associated with drugs. However, the offense is technically still punishable with fines and jail time. Police are partnering with prosecutors to go on the attack against addiction, but is this the right plan of action?

Washington, Ohio Overdose Victims

One area with a policy like this is Washington, Ohio. Police in this part of the Buckeye State just started the new strategy in February. So far at least seven people who were revived during an overdose through naloxone have been charged with inducing panic.

In this area the offense can entitle someone to up to 180 days in jail and a one-thousand dollar fine. The City Attorney Mark Pitsick claims,

“It gives us the ability to keep an eye on them, to offer them assistance and to know who has overdosed. Sometimes we can’t even track who has overdosed.”

What some may find troubling is the vocabulary Pitsick uses to describe the situation. Saying thing like “keep an eye on them” is already a bit unsettling for some. One of the problems with this whole idea is exactly that; no one wants the police to have to “keep an eye on them”, especially addicts. Therefore, one has to wonder if people will avoid contacting emergency services in the event of an overdose.

How many people will suddenly be even more afraid to reach out for help? How many people are going to be too afraid of adding a charge to their name, paying a fine or even going to jail that they take their chances without naloxone and end up dead?

Is it right to use the legal system this way to keep tabs on people who ask for help?

Not All Bad

One thing the city officials do want to adamantly announce is that people who call 9-1-1 to report an overdose, or the people who may be with the overdose victims, will not be charged. This might make the policy a little easier to handle. At least this means the people who are around someone on the edge of dying could act in the individuals best interest without fear of personally being charged. Pitsick defended his stance saying,

“Service. Follow up. Just them understanding that people do care. We are here to help. We are not here to put them in jail,”

Still, the fact overdose victims are likely to receive charges may deter someone from calling for help for them, no matter how illogical to some that may seem. It is a sad truth that actually happens quite often already. People have allowed others to overdose and even die out of fear of legal repercussions. Would creating a standard of charging people for needing medical resuscitation make it better, or worse? The reality is it will not prevent addicts from using.

While the intention may be good, to try and take a stance against overdose rates, the strategy may be counterproductive. Personally, my opinion is this only pushes people away from wanting help. It inspires fear and feelings of guilt, not hope. It promotes stigma and turns people who are already struggling against the system they were hoping would help them.

Overdose death is not to be underestimated anymore. People every day lose their life to the fight against addiction. But there is help out there for those who are willing to take action. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Politicians Split Over Pot Policies

Politicians Split Over Pot Policies

Author: Justin Mckibben

American politicians are soon to face an unprecedented number of US cities and states putting to the voters tomorrow the decision on whether they should follow suit with marijuana legalization as in Colorado and Washington. With so many keeping a close eye on how things have started to shape up in these states, especially concerning the crime rate and economy, politicians are basing a lot of their campaign power off of pot policies and reforms.

Reform Strategies in the States

Some of the most notable legislations and initiatives being considered include:

  • Alaska and Oregon have measures on the ballot to fully legalize recreational sale and possession of cannabis.
  • Another surprising change on the way may be that Florida would be the first Southern state to legalize medical marijuana.
  • The US territory of Guam is aiming to pass a similar medical marijuana law,
  • Municipalities in New Mexico, Maine and Michigan are all voting to make various reforms to their pot laws.

Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project stated,

“Since 2012, weʼve started to see more and more support from different areas and demographics that weʼd been trying to get to work with us for years. I think a lot of state lawmakers have looked at the issue and began working on policy alternatives in their own states—and 2016 should see even more than this year.”

Pot Focused Power Shift

The coming midterm elections are expected to produce a Republican wavelet. The New York Times made one last analysis of the polls showing the Republican party, also known as GOP (Grand Old Party) winning the necessary six seats they would need to take control of the Senate even as the party increases its majority in the House.

Midterm voter turnouts are typically lower numbers, and the demographic often tilts to a significantly whiter, older and wealthier majority. There has been a strong hope among Democrats that the marijuana ballot initiatives might stimulate a more sufficient turnout among their typical supporters.

Democrats are counting on younger people, people of color and progressives to help push the Democratic candidates over the top, and they are expecting all the possible reforms for marijuana to bring those people to the polls.

The Florida gubernatorial race has been tight, and the medical marijuana initiative may encourage younger and more progressive voters to go to the polls, and they hope this will help to elect a Democratic governor.

Florida Gets Action on Amendment 2

Florida’s Amendment 2 has gone the distance against a heavily funded opposition that has built a strong armory of fear-mongering advertising. But it has one extra mountain to climb that most other states do not: a 60% approval rate because legalization requires a constitutional amendment.

In July when a poll showed that 88% of Florida voters approved of medical marijuana this seemed possible. However in recent weeks the Drug Free Florida Committee has pushed those controversial anti-2 TV ads around the clock in an attempt to persuade moderate and undecided citizens to vote against the initiative. A whopping 85% of the anit-2 group’s $5.8 million in funding has come from Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnet whose wife is an addiction specialist, and who is a major Republican bankroller.

Following this barrage of ads, a poll taken by the local media showed only 48% of likely voters approved of Amendment 2. Ben Pollara, executive director of United for Care, the main backers of 2 said,

“Theyʼve outspent us ten to one over the last two weeks. Weʼve bled about as much as we can bleed, but weʼre going to hold the fort”

But despite this early assumption, a more recent poll by a Democratic firm done last week found that “yes on 2” votes had climbed back up to 59%—just 1% shy of the requisite 60%.

Amendment 2 has been endorsed by Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, a former moderate Republican governor of the state who is now running as a Democrat. Other Democrats came out early in support of Amendment 2, and additional Democratic support comes from Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Alcee Hastings and Rep. Corrine Brown.

Republican Governor Rick Scott has opposed all efforts to reform drug laws, including those for marijuana for medicinal uses. But in June, he approved a bill providing select patients with a low-THC medical marijuana treatment, which is effective against only neuropathic pain and nausea. He remains opposed to Amendment 2.

Although rates of pot use are comparatively low in Florida—only 6.65% of the state’s citizens admitted to having gotten high in the last month, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—the state has a high proportion of senior citizens, who often support marijuana use for medical as opposed to recreational purposes.

Next President May Need Pot for Power

Victories in the coming state reforms for marijuana could spark a domino effect for similar initiatives in other states. Some speculate there will be ballot initiatives in 2016 to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in:

  • Nevada
  • Massachusetts
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Maine
  • Montana

Advocates are looking to hit the ground even harder, which is likely to bring the cause even more attention, support and financial backing—and raise the issue’s profile in the presidential campaigns, which begin to gear up directly following midterms.

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, has already given signs of a shift. Apparently she softened her approach to pot, not only showing more enthusiastic approval for medical marijuana, but showing enthusiasm on the subject of Colorado and Washington stateʼs legalization in a recent CNN interview.

Politicians now trying to re-imagine the once-criminal enterprise of marijuana into a government regulated industry will be no easy task. There will probably be a lot of trials and tribulations to stumble through one way or the other. Regardless the history of marijuana reform will be changed tomorrow, and no one is watching the issue more closely than politicians on both sides, who must decide whether to stick with that side of the issue in 2016.

While politicians and citizens of several states wait in great anticipation, both sides of the Senate also keep a close eye on the coming midterms to see if they will usher in a new age of pot policies, and to see if the presidential election will be inspired by a weed heavy political climate.

What kind of affect does this have on the recovery community, and how many people will find themselves caught in the cross-fire of marijuana marketing? Will this new change in the way society views drugs and drug use be helpful toward combatting stigma and stereotype? If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Substance Abuse Treatment in Clyde Hill, WA

Substance Abuse Treatment in Clyde Hill, WASubstance Abuse Treatment in Clyde Hill, WA: Knowing the Options

There are various locations for substance abuse treatment in Clyde Hill, WA and each has a different approach to the process of recovery. Make sure you do your research to find what addresses what is most important to you, and make the choice of substance abuse treatment in Clyde Hill, WA based on your personal needs. You should always keep in mind that in substance abuse treatment in Clyde Hill, WA offers a multitude of treatment options to choose from, including:

Anyone can become confused or over-whelmed by asking recovering alcoholics or drug addicts about substance abuse treatment in Clyde Hill, WA or how they personally overcame their substance abuse. They may describe such different and appeal approaches. Some popular suggestions are listed as:

  • Hospitalization
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Counseling
  • Sauna’s
  • Religion
  • Hypnosis
  • Self-help groups

Essential to successful treatment one thing is certain: practically any approach will work for some of the people, some of the time. Simply put, successful recovery has got to be tailor-made for each individual. A great deal of variation exists in the degree of dependence among drug users, and the programs substance abuse treatment in Clyde Hill, WA can provide.

Substance Abuse Treatment in Clyde Hill, WA: Effective Factors of Treatment

Knowing the extent of your recovery program is vital to achieving permanent sobriety. Any substance abuse treatment in Clyde Hill, WA should offer the following services:

  • Safe environment where participants are screened for drugs and alcohol
  • Counseling where individual emotional issues can be addressed
  • Emphasis on healthy living
  • Should be licensed and accredited by appropriate governing authorities
  • Fully licenses and certified staff
  • Continuing recover plans including peer review and counseling
  • Relapse prevention plan
  • Stress management counseling

Substance Abuse Treatment in Clyde Hill, WA: The Purpose of Treatment

Most centers for long-term substance abuse treatment in Clyde Hill, WA typically charge anywhere between $11,000 and $24,000 or more per month. So it is very important to learn everything about the options, from 30-day inpatient programs to hospitalization for addiction before choosing the best treatment plan to begin your recovery. After completing a healthy detox, the usual next phase in combating substance abuse or alcoholism is an inpatient program. These institutions for substance abuse treatment in Clyde Hill, WA create a safe place for patients to transition. Patients attend support groups, group and individual therapy sessions, and are still monitored by a medical staff to ease them through them out of active addiction. This actually makes it easier to understand the disease of addiction for the individual by dealing with both personal problems and clinical staff that can help. Substance abuse treatment in Clyde Hill, WA is designed to teach men and women how to cope with stress, and to learn about substance abuse and addiction, as well as the effects of such behaviors on daily life and the body.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction and is looking for substance abuse treatment in Clyde Hill, WA please call 1-800-951-6135.




The 7 Drug Capitals of America

The 7 Drug Capitals of America

America’s drug problem needs to be addressed. It’s obvious that the War on Drugs has failed us and, now the toll drugs are taking on communities is becoming apparent across the country; not just the likely suspects, either. Here are the 7 drug capitals of America. Some of these cities aren’t surprising but, others might throw you for a loop.

#1. Española, New Mexico

With a population of 10,000, this New Mexico city has been consistently ranking among the top places in the U.S. when it comes to drug overdoses – a trend that’s been revealed by federal statistics. Whereas the national average for drug-related deaths hangs at 7.3, Española had 42.5 deaths per 100,000.

#2. Missoula, Montana

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) household survey, Missoula County, where the city of Missoula lies – the county seat of MT, had the highest rate of illicit drug use. Also according to SAMHSA, averages taken in 2004, 2005 and 2006 showed that 13.8% of Missoula households that were polled reported using illicit drugs in the past month.

#3. Washington, D.C.

In 2006, the nation’s capital saw 75 overdoses due to cocaine and by September 2008, one-third of people arrested had cocaine in their system. The Drug Enforcement Administration reported that “cocaine and crack are the most significant drug problems in Washington, D.C.” And in a household survey, the city’s 2nd Ward had the honor of having the highest rate of cocaine use in the entire nation.

#4. Baltimore, MD

In Baltimore in 2006, there were 184 heroin-related overdoses. “Baltimore is home to higher numbers of heroin addicts and heroin-related crime than almost any other city in the nation,” says the Drug Enforcement Administration.

#5. New Orleans, LA

Hurricane Katrina’s fall-out involved the influx of new drug dealers vying for territory while there were some who remained after the devastating storm. The result: bloody turf wars and the highest murder rate in the nation. In 2007, New Orleans had 95 murders per 100,000 people – that are known to be directly related to drugs. New Orleans is also known to have one of the highest crack problems.

#6. San Francisco, CA

Of the metropolitan areas surveyed by SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, San Francisco had the highest rate of illicit drug-related emergency room admissions in 2006. There was an estimated 809 illicit drug-related emergency room visits per 100,000 in the San Francisco area. Heroin continues to be the number one abused drug in San Francisco, while in Oakland, both heroin and crack cocaine, says the DEA.

#7. Atlanta, GA

A network of highways and a large Hispanic population have attracted the most notorious cartels, including the Gulf and the Federation, to Atlanta, making it the East Coast distribution hub of the Mexican cartels that are now running the drug trade. As a result, the Atlanta area has had an increase in violent crimes, especially kidnapping.

Honorable Mentions

The DEA reports that:

  • Chicago, New York and Boston have the highest heroin-related hospital admissions
  • Columbus, Ohio, in 2011 reached an all-time high in drug overdose deaths with 1,765 deaths. The Columbus Dispatch reports that one Ohioan died every five hours that year from a drug over-dose. In fact, since 1999, Columbus’ drug overdose deaths have increased 440%.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.


In the News: State of Washington Gives Out First Recreational Marijuana License

In the News: State of Washington Gives Out First Recreational Marijuana License

OLYMPIA – Sean Green, who operates medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane and Shoreline, Washington, began growing recreational marijuana yesterday after receiving Washington’s first license to grow legal marijuana. He says he has big plans for a nationwide manufacturing and sales empire.

The state Liquor Control Board awarded him the first license issued under Initiative 502. Green was the only one chosen out of approximately 4,700 applicants because he “did the best job of some at filling out forms, passing inspections and otherwise meeting requirements for a license to grow and process marijuana.”

In front of television cameras in a packed hearing room, Green said, “Freedom is what brought us here today. This program is a testament to what we can achieve in our country if we are persistent enough … Cannabis prohibition is over.”

Green added, “I’m coming home with jobs, Spokane,” as he showed off his license. He later explained how growing marijuana is a labor intensive business because marijuana plants require constant care and trimming by hand.

Green, a Washington native and former real estate appraiser, got into the medical marijuana business after the housing market crashed.

He says he started his medical marijuana business in 2011 when an opportunity “landed in my lap.” Before that, Green had been a self-employed appraiser of real estate for about 10 years but, when the recession hit, it was impossible for people to get loans to purchase houses and therefore there was no need for appraisals. Business was at a stand-still. Green struggled to find work but then he read about legislation that required medical marijuana producers and dispensaries to be licensed by the state by May 1, 2011. That’s when the idea came to him.

He filed Pacific Northwest Medical with the secretary of state and started his operation with $10,000 and “a couple of grow lights.” Green then opened his first medical marijuana dispensary in Shoreline at a time when federal drug agents were raiding dispensaries in Spokane; yet went on to open a second dispensary and grow operation. Eventually, he dreamed of growing into a nationwide chain of marijuana production facilities, processing plants and stores.


There was some initial controversy regarding statements made by Sharon Foster, the Board’s Chairwoman. She said that they were “proud” to give its first license to Green. Questions arose concerning a couple of worker complaints made to the state about Green’s medical marijuana business. However, Agency Director Rick Garza said Green passed the Washington State Patrol criminal investigation, a background check that all applicants must pass and added that there’s no check of business complaints. Garza likened the process to that of issuing a liquor license.

One of the biggest obstacles for a marijuana business is finding a bank that is willing to hold its accounts, Green said. Although he built one of his facilities for about $6 million without needing a loan, the company has since had its account closed by six different banks because banks – which are at the mercy of federal law, which still doesn’t recognize marijuana as a legit business – don’t want to do business with a marijuana company.

The Liquor Board expects to approve two or three more marijuana producer licenses this week and then a few each week as its staff finishes reviewing documents and inspecting business locations.

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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