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Palm Beach County: Opioid Overdose Deaths Double to Nearly 600

Palm Beach County: Opioid Overdose Deaths Double to Nearly 600

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

Author: Shernide Delva 

The numbers of overdose deaths in Palm Beach County continue to rise with each passing year.  Shocking numbers released from last year overwhelm local authorities and residents.

In 2016, reports reveal that someone died of an opioid overdose in Palm Beach County every 15 hours. This is double the rates of fatal car crashes and murders in the county.

In total, 590 overdose deaths occurred last year. That number is twice as many as the year before, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis of records from the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“That’s just a phenomenal number,” state Dr. Michael Bell, the medical examiner. “I don’t see any stop.”

The numbers of deaths related to fentanyl rose to 310 from 91 the year prior. Fentanyl is a painkiller 100 times more potent than morphine. It is often cut with heroin to produce a more powerful high.  Fentanyl in heroin increases a person’s susceptibility to an overdose.

An even more deadly combination is heroin mixed with carfentanil. Carfentanil is an elephant tranquilizer that was not even tracked before 2016. Carfentanil is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. At least 109 overdose deaths were linked to heroin laced with carfentanil.

Since 2012, opioid-related deaths have almost quadrupled, according to statistics shared Tuesday with the Palm Beach County Commission.

A 2015 Palm Beach Post investigation focused on 216 heroin-related deaths— those that contained heroin, morphine or fentanyl, but not Oxycodone and its derivatives.With similar standards applied to the 2016 opioid-related deaths, about 90 percent appear to be heroin-related. Of those, 6 percent were determined to be suicide.

In 2016, Bell’s office first started testing for and tracking carfentanil. Carfentanil killed more people than homicide in Palm Beach County. The constant changes can be difficult to keep up with.

“It becomes a real challenge to be able to keep up with all the changes that can be made to that molecule of fentanyl,” Bell said. “It’s much more dangerous; it’s much more more fatal in smaller concentrations than heroin or morphine.

“And probably the biggest problem is that nobody takes just one drug anymore. The overdoses we see are combinations of drugs,” he said.

The majority of the 590 people who died from overdoses had more than one chemical in their system. Combining drugs only increases the risk of an overdose, and increases the fatality rates.

The variety of drugs in overdose patients results in more funds used on naloxone, a drug that reverses the effect of opioids, also known as Narcan.

Last year, Palm Beach County spent $205,000 on naloxone, up from $18,000 in 2012. A typical dose is half a milligram. Rescue crews are now administrating as much as 10 milligrams to revive a patient.

“That is unheard of. We are first in the country to step up to that level,” Fire Rescue Capt. Houston Park said. “We are combating a drug that was much stronger than anything we have seen before.”

Unfortunately, the pace continues to rise in 2017.

Through April 6, Bell says his office has already received 157 overdose cases involving all drugs. While he does not know how many cases primarily involve opioids, the toxicology reports will identify this in the future.

The workload in his office topped 2,000 cases.

“That’s a 60 percent increase in the last two years, which is almost exclusively due to these opioid overdoses,” Bell told county commissioners on Tuesday. “It’s not like we’re getting more homicides. We’re not getting more heart attacks, more elder falls and head trauma. This is all due to opioid fatalities.”


The numbers in Palm Beach County continue to rise year after year. It is devastating to see these numbers in our backyard. That is why it is crucial you reach out for treatment. With powerful combinations of heroin with carfentanil or fentanyl, your next high could be your last. Do not wait. Call now.

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Chris Brown and Lil Wayne Targeted in Federal Drug Investigation

Chris Brown and Lil Wayne Targeted in Federal Drug Investigation

Author: Shernide Delva 

Chris Brown and Lil Wayne are in hot water after both artists were alleged to have incriminating text messages.  Both were named in a federal drug investigation of music producer Harrison “Cuban Harry” Garcia, who stands accused of dealing cough syrup and other narcotics.

Garcia allegedly sent incriminating texts that have implicated himself, Chris Brown and Lil Wayne in drug dealing.  Authorities presented screenshots from Garcia to one of Lil Wayne’s underlings that reference a marijuana deal:

“I’ll shoot u some trees… It’s for Wayne.”

Garcia also admitted to police that he sold “a lot of narcotics” to Wayne.

Garcia has texts sent to a female friend in which he brags about receiving a bank wire for $15,000 from a “Christopher Brown,” according to U.S Homeland Security.

“Look who put money my account,” Garcia wrote to his friend. When the friend questioned what the money was for, Garcia responded, “Drugs … lean and sh*t.”

Lean, also known as “sizzurp” or “purple drank” is a cocktail of prescription-strength cough syrup mixed with Sprite or Mountain Dew and Jolly Rancher Candy. It has been popularized for many decades by rappers like Lil Wayne and R&B singer Chris Brown. It also was mentioned in the song ’Sippin on some Sizzurp” by Three 6 Mafia.

Both Lil Wayne and Chris Brown have a history of trouble with this particular drug cocktail. Lil Wayne suffered seizures, and Chris Brown’s associates claim Brown is sipping his way to rock bottom.

On Garcia’s Instagram, there are photos of stacks of cash funds and drugs; this is what initially attracted federal investigators in the first place. Homeland Security agent Geoffrey Goodwin presented the photos to the jury that featured piles of gold jewelry, a pendant featuring purple liquid in a foam cup (usually what lean is slurped from) and teeth grillz that were “somewhat bejeweled.”

“I had an image to portray, to boost up my followers,” Garcia said in court, explaining the photos. “I guess it’s just the music industry.”

Garcia has been caught selling drugs to informants twice and has been arrested for his involvement in pharmacy robberies in Florida. The investigation is still open.

As of today, Garcia’s accounts are now on private. In the past, he was known for posting photos with extravagant cars, guns, and sneakers.

—-

Lean contains codeine, an opiate similar to heroin, OxyContin or Vicodin. For several years ‘gangster rap’ artists have glorified ‘purple drank’ in the lyrics of rap/hip-hop music. However, the danger of the drug remains despite the glorification. Big Moe, a DJ Screw protégé, who rapped excessively about this drink died at age 33 in 2007, after suffering a heart attack one week earlier that left him in a coma.

Possible short-term side effects:

  • hyperthermia
  • increased heart rate
  • seizures
  • slowed breathing
  • slumping over
  • stiff muscles
  • sweating
  • hallucination

Possible long-term side effects:

Codeine is a light narcotic typically used to suppress a cough, but in stronger concentrations, it can suppress breathing or rapidly lower blood pressure. A common sign of narcotic intoxication is small pupils. Codeine is the ingredient that makes lean addiction. Over time, the effects of lean rear off, therefore the quest continues to get high.

How do you feel this case should be handled? Should Chris Brown and Lil Wayne face charges due to these allege incriminating text messages?

One thing for certain is that this “purple drank” is not fun and games. It is a dangerously addictive drug. If you are struggling with any form of substance abuse, please call now. We are waiting for your call.

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What Are the Long-Term Effects of Opioid Use?

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Opioid Use?

Author: Shernide Delva

As most know by now, the opioid epidemic has reached epic proportions.  In the U.S. alone, more than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs. The leading cause of accidental death in the United States are opioid overdoses, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.

In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin. When these drugs are abused, they present some of the same risks as heroin on the street. Furthermore, as prescription opioids are regulated, more and more people are turning to heroin making the risk of a fatal overdose even greater.

With all that said, how exactly do opioids affect the body? We wanted to explore several areas of the body and understand how opioid abuse specifically affected each area.  Whether it is prescription drugs or heroin, opioids affect almost every part of your body. Long-term use can lead to permanent damage to your health. Read on further to learn how the body reacts to abuse of opioids. Treatment can put a stop to the risk and address issues that may have already arisen in the body.

The Effects of Opioid Use on the Body:

  1. THE BRAIN

    Painkillers are known to have side effects such as extreme drowsiness which can result in needing stimulant medication to counteract this effect. For example, heroin can elicit profound drowsiness. Abusers frequently experience bouts of ‘nodding off’ as they slip in and out of consciousness. Over time, the use of painkillers results in an increased risk fo major depression. Patients using painkillers for more than six months has a 50 percent greater chance of developing depressive episodes.

  1. THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM

    Opioid overdoses can lead to a condition known as respiratory depression. It essentially means that breathing slows down significantly. The body goes into respiratory arrest and deprives the brain and body tissues of oxygen.

  1. THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

    Opioids affect the muscles of the digestive system making constipation common. This effect is due to the slowing of the digestive transit. The gastrointestinal motility and chronic constipation associated with opioid abuse can lead to more severe conditions such as small bowel obstruction, perforation, and resultant peritonitis. Nausea is very common among opioid users along with sudden, uncontrollable vomiting.

  2. THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

    The chronic use of opioid painkillers can lead to a syndrome that can increase your sensitivity to pain resulting in a condition known as hyperalgesia. Furthermore, opioid use may result in psychomotor impairment and an overall slowing of a person’s physical movements and loss of coordination.

  3. THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

    Opioid use affects the immune system which means you’re more vulnerable to getting illnesses or feeling under the weather. The opioid receptors regulate immunity so long-term opioid abuse can negatively affect this process.

  1. THE LIVER

    Most people are unaware of how many opioid painkillers contain acetaminophen, the same ingredient found in Tylenol. Excessive use of these drugs can cause liver damage from toxicity. Damage to the liver is an undeniable risk to taking excessive amounts of prescription painkillers like Vicodin. When you add alcohol to the mix— as many opioid-dependent users do—it makes a risky situation, even more,

Overall, opioids affect every part of the body, and we did not even mention the psychological impacts of drug abuse. Opioid use disorder wreaks havoc on your life and the life of those around you. Do not wait for the potentially life-altering consequences of opioid abuse to take its toll. Please call to speak to a professional treatment support specialist today. Please call now. 

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Painkiller Tax Proposed By California Legislators to Offset Rehab Costs

Painkiller Tax Proposed By California Legislators to Offset Rehab Costs

Author: Shernide Delva

In order to help offset the sky-rocketing costs of addiction and rehab, a California legislator wants to tax OxyContin, Vicodin and other prescription opioids. Should this be considered throughout the country?

Over the last few years, Los Angeles County has led the state when it comes to opioid drug overdoses. As a result, California lawmaker Kevin McCarty announced a new bill that would implement a 1 cent-per-milligram tax on prescription opioids to help offset the expense of rehab services.

“What we have here is a plan to create a surcharge of opiate sales in California and redirect all those moneys to provided needed services for the communities,” McCarty explained.

In 2014, more than 2,000 people died of opioid overdoses in California. In the United States, 91 people die of opioid-related causes every single day.

With this proposed law, taxes would be placed on opioid prescription wholesales, and could also impact prices for manufactures. However, some are concerned that the cost will be passed down to patients.

Emergency Room physician Dr. Stephen Kishineff was concerned that addicts who buy opioids illegally won’t be the ones shouldering the tax.

“Really the end users are going to pay for it because they’re going to pay for it in higher prescription costs or higher insurance premiums,” said Kishineff.

But he added the intention is good.

“As a society, it’s kind of a nice idea for a tax to be put on something that can be abused in order to help somebody who is abusing it,” Kishineff said.

McCarty estimates minimal impact on consumers, and if any, would be roughly a few dollars a month.

“So we think there is a real nexus between the opioid industry and the problem that we’re seeing out there on the streets. So this ties the two things together to address the problem,” McCarty said.

In the past, similar legislation was proposed at the federal level, but if the new McCarty bill becomes law, California would be the first state to enact such a tax on painkillers.

It is important to note that the funds from this tax would go towards funding rehabilitation services. The tax would be imposed on wholesalers, not at the point of sale, and would require two-thirds approval in the legislature.

“California’s opioid epidemic has cost state taxpayers millions and the lives of too many of our sons and daughters,” McCarty said in a statement. “We must do more to help these individuals find hope and sobriety. This plan will provide counties with critical resources needed to curb the deadly cycle of opioid and heroin addiction in California.”

If passed, the surcharge would raise tens of millions for county drug treatment programs. These funds would help the endless amount of addicts who lack the financial support to seek proper treatment.

Do you think a law like this could be effective?

If so, should other states follow suit? One argument is that a law like this opens the door for other prescriptions drug taxes. It also punishes chronic pain suffers who use painkillers in a safe, non-addictive way.

In the comment section of the article, several people argued against the tax, saying it posed an unfair punishment to honest prescription pain killer patients.

One commented:

“I say this proposal is ridiculous. I don’t use that medicine. I don’t believe people should be taxed because of others irresponsibility. If they want to overdose let them it’s their choice.”

Another commented:

“Rub salt in the wounds why don’t you! Unlike cigarette tax, this med tax would compound an already painful and difficult situation for those who really need it, because of those who really don’t…adding insult to injury!”


Clearly, this is a topic up for serious debate. What we know for sure is that addiction is a serious problem and treatment is necessary to overcome it. If you need help, please reach out to professionals. We are waiting for your call. Call now.

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CVS: Tobacco Sale Ban Is Already Having A Major Impact

CVS: Tobacco Sale Ban Is Already Having A Major Impact

Author: Shernide Delva

A while back, CVS made the bold decision to cease the sale of tobacco products in their stores.   Now, new data reveals their decision to stop selling cigarettes contributed to a drop in tobacco purchases from all retailers.  Furthermore, CVS customers were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes, according to research from the American Journal of Public Health.

The analysis comes less than three years after the company stopped selling all tobacco products. The move garnered national attention from public health advocates, doctors, and even the white house.

“After CVS’s tobacco removal, household- and population-level cigarette purchasing declined significantly,” the study concluded.

CVS officially stopped selling tobacco products as of October 1, 2014, at its CVS/pharmacy stores. The decision had the greatest impact on customers who bought cigarettes only at CVS drugstores. Those particular customers were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes altogether.

To gather those numbers, the study used household purchasing data to examine American households that stopped buying cigarettes for at least six months during the period of September 2014 to August 2015. The study, written by CVS executives and paid for by the company, was a peer-reviewed article, the journal disclosed.

“When we removed tobacco from our shelves, a significant number of our customers simply stopped buying and hopefully smoking cigarettes altogether instead of just altering their cigarette purchasing habits,” Dr. Troyen Brennan, CVS Health chief medical officer, said in a statement.

“This research proves that our decision had a powerful public health impact by disrupting access to cigarettes and helping more of our customers on their path to better health.”

The decision by CVS to cut off tobacco sales amounted to a loss of $2 billion in annual sales that existed when it sold cigarettes. Still, the drugstore’s overall sales have been increasing in the last three years thanks to new business from the Affordable Care Act which benefit the pharmacy. CVS is growing significantly as a medical service business.

As for its rivals, the CVS decision has not triggered a trend. None of the other stores such as Wal-Mart, Rite Aid or Walgreens Boots Alliance have followed suit with their own plans to stop selling cigarettes. The pressure from the public and some of their shareholders has not made enough of an impact to change their mind. Walgreens, for example, has instead decided to push more smoking cessation products alongside their tobacco products.

The response from customers in regards to the ban was mixed. Some commended the stand from CVS saying it was a step in the right direction. These days, smoking is banned in restaurants, schools, and even certain parks, so the move did seem to follow the ongoing trend.

On the other hands, many people were outraged at the decision. Some stated it was hypocritical because CVS continues to sell alcohol, candy, and sugary drinks, which can be equally as harmful to the health. Therefore, the argument was made that it is the choice of the customer, not CVS, to decide.

With these recent results, it is evident that CVS may have gotten the result they were hoping for. More outside studies are needed to fully determine the impact the ban had on smoking trends. Still, it sends a message loud and clear that CVS will no longer support tobacco products.

What do you think about the ban? Should other pharmacies follow? In recovery, it is important to take steps to living a healthy life. Perhaps quitting smoking is something you should consider. If you are struggling to quit smoking, or are struggling with any addiction, please call now. We want to help.

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