Opioid Overdoses Continue to Rise in 2017

Opioid deaths are on the rise in states such as Ohio and KentuckyFor many people, a new year symbolizes new beginnings and habits. But for some addicts in Ohio, 2017 has meant a rise in deaths for those still struggling with opioid abuse.

In February,The New York Times reported the Dayton, Ohio, coroner’s office handled 25 deaths—18 deaths were from drug overdoses. In January, the same office handled 145 bodies, “in which the victim’s bodies had been destroyed by opioids,” according to the article.

And bodies are now piling up at the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office in Ohio.

The article reported that the coroner’s office is “crammed” with bodies and had to ask a neighboring funeral parlor to take in four bodies, a first for the office.

“We’re running at full capacity,” Kenneth M. Betz, the director of the coroner’s office, said in the article. “We’ve never experienced this volume of accidental drug overdoses in our history.”

In recent years, Ohio has been immensely affected by the national opioid epidemic causing fatal overdose rates to quadruple since 2007. Last September, the state made headlines when seven overdoses were reported in the Cleveland area in one day.

Unfortunately, Ohio isn’t the only state witnessing the devastating sweep of the deepening heroin epidemic. Other states such as New Hampshire, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Rhode Island have become the setting for frequent opioid overdoses.

Just last week, the Louisville Metro Emergency Services responded to 52 overdose calls between midnight Wednesday and Friday morning. Most of the calls were reportedly heroin overdoses.

Opioid Users on Heroin Overdose in Louisville, Kentucky

With heroin overdoses on a steady rise in Kentucky, authorities suspect the main culprit could be the newest opioid drug to hit the streets—fentanyl.

Although none of the overdose victims died, clusters of overdose deaths have been prominent in both Ohio and Kentucky in the past month, according to the CNN article.

Opioid deaths continue to pose a threat in states such as Ohio and KentuckyIn January, the Louisville Metro Emergency Services answered almost 700 overdose calls, averaging about 22 calls a day.

As the city makes efforts to infiltrate street drug dealers, the mayor plans to hire 150 more officers and add two new squads of detectives to handle narcotic crimes.

The article also noted that hospitals in the area have to use a higher dose of naloxone, an opioid sold under the brand name Narcan that is used to reverse the effects of opioid use and revive repeat patients.

The spikes in overdoses in Kentucky and Ohio are only foreshadowing a new year for the US to continue battling drug deaths.

Seeking Help for an Opioid Addiction?

If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin or prescription painkiller addiction, PBI is here to help you triumph over drug abuse. Call our 24-7 addiction hotline at (855) 534-3574. Our addiction specialists are available to answer any questions about insurance, treatment, and withdrawal.

We understand drug addiction is a disease that takes a lifelong decision. That’s why our staff provides a family-oriented atmosphere to help clients progress in treatment and in recovery. Take the first step toward your path of recovery and call now.

Crackland Olympics: Gang Run Brazil and the Crack Plague

As the 2016 Olympics continues to proceed, pregnant women are smoking crack in Rio de Janeiro. Children are drug dealing, trafficking, and holding assault rifles in the favela—a Brazilian shantytown or slum. Gangs are running the streets and the city with police control having little to no effect on bringing order. This is a day in the life in the drug hubs of places like São Paulo and Rio, ashutterstock_283692584lso known as Cracolândia—Crackland.

When it comes to the drug culture, Brazil wins the gold medal.
Rio’s Crackland has citizens relentlessly smoking a crack rock on the side of the street in broad daylight and in the dark of the night, where most addicts have no home besides the road, pavements, and a tent—if they’re lucky.

With drug dealers selling bags of cocaine rocking the Rio 2016 Olympics symbol, the world games should bring more constructive light to the decaying society that is the citizens of Rio and other parts of Brazil. Instead, it has brought Brazil in debt to fund the Olympics as well as forcibly carry drug users and “street children” off the street in the wake of the world event.

The Crack Plague

According to the Daily Mail, Brazil is the No. 1 crack consumer in the world with an estimated count of 1 shutterstock_9106855million users. Crackland gets its name from the drug that is cocaine in its most potent state—a cooked form of the white powder—and its abuse does not discriminate against the children of Rio.

Due to its addictive quality, short-lived high, and cheap costs, Crackland Brazilians like Tatiana, according to CNN, turn to tricking—prostitution—in exchange for a rock. The using community prostitute, steal, and/or trade recycled goods to use, and they abuse this drug to cope with living. In a place where child prostitution is prevalent as well as low employment opportunities, it is a wonder how this problem will be resolved.

In Crackland, drug-addicted children as young as age seven “sleep by the roadside and beg for change” in some of Rio’s richest neighborhoods, according to the International Business Times(IBT).

It is also not out of the norm for pregnant women to abuse crack in this drug-ridden place. From 22-year-old Patricia Sebastiao expecting her third child to people like Bobo, who collects recyclables to sell for just one more rock, it is clear the efforts made by the government have not worked as of yet.

Brazilian Police Sweepsshutterstock_196778861

Brazil’s attempt to hide the violent, homeless, and shanty truth of the streets of Rio has led police officials to execute a sweep of drug addicts out of plain view. There have been many sweeps in Crackland in an attempt to get addicts into rehabilitation, but most return to smoking this toxic drug.

“The government will make a plan—a huge plan for the Olympic games—with the police, with the army, to clean the area, to let no poor person come in, to make sure no child is on the streets, to make everything beautiful,” said Daniel Medeiros, a Happy Child International volunteer, which grants and operates a shelter for girls in Recife, to IBT.shutterstock_430546273

Unfortunately, sweeping the drug and homeless problem out of the public eye does not get rid of the problem that is Crackland.

With 43 police officers killed, 238 civilians killed by police, and the state being deeply bankrupt while pulling a loan of $860 million for the 2016 Olympics—according to the New York Times—it’s a wonder how Brazil will put everything in order so that fewer people will die.

Crackland Gang Takeover

The favelas of Brazil are not only run by gang leaders and members, but they also take advantage of this privilege and sell their drugs in plain view. At various drug points in Brazil—bocas as they call them, or “mouths”—crack, cocaine, and marijuana are openly sold. Dealers sell their toxic goods on street corners or even on a train’s platform where middle-class drug abusers arrive to buy their drug of choice from near and far.

shutterstock_239555281Many Crackland children and teenage drug traffickers join a gang because they find no other way to survive or be protected. “Nearly all [traffickers] would get out tomorrow if they could,” said Nanko van Buuren, an IBISS advocate, to The Guardian.

IBISS—“Instituto Brasileiro de Inovações em Saúde Social” or “Brazilian Institute for Innovation and Social Health Care”—is an organization in Brazil whose effort is to enact “empowerment of the socially excluded people in the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, so they can participate in society as full citizens.”

Organizations like this aim to get Brazilians trapped in the endless cycle characterized by drug abuse, trafficking, and dealing for a safer, healthier, and happier way of life.

Nonetheless, the crack epidemic is still predominantly in the Cracklands of Brazil, and it would take a lot of police, government, and economic reform to make this country a safer and more progressive place.

Here at Palm Beach Institute, we have professionals that have studied addiction in all its forms. We understand how hard it can be to not only stop abusing crack, but other substance(s) as well. Asking for help can be hard, but we are waiting 24-7 for your call to guide you or a loved one to freedom from active addiction. For help now, call us at (855) 534-3574 today.

Orlando Shooting May Lead to PTSD and Addiction

orlando-shooting-lgbtq
Flowers and other tributes were left in front of the landmark Stonewall Inn in New York City to honor the victims of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in June 2016.

The June 12, 2016, mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., has left thousands of people in shock over the gun violence that claimed the lives of 49 clubgoers and injured 53 others, and a nation reeling in the aftermath of what has been called the most deadly shooting on American soil in recent history.

The effects of what has transpired will be felt for many years to come by those who survived. The wounds of such violence go beyond the flesh, tearing into the spirits of everyone who is trying to make sense of a senseless crime and figure out how to move forwardif they can.

Some survivors of traumatic events will struggle with the guilt that they are among the survivors. Some will feel shame and a grave sense of loss; others will feel angry as they work to regain the sense of safety and freedom they felt before bullets took that away on that fateful night.

An already vulnerable community

The LGBTQ+ community in Orlando and abroad grapple daily with violence, discrimination, bullying, and rejection, which they face over their sexual orientation and identity.

FBI data show that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be targeted for a hate crime than other minorities, reportsThe New York Times. One statistic reads that people in this community, “are twice as likely to be targeted as African-Americans and the rate of hate crimes against them has surpassed that of crimes against Jews.”

The FBI also reported in 2014 that of the 5,922 single bias incidents reported in 2013, sexual orientation was the second-largest of the top three bias categories at 20.8 percent. Race was No. 1 at 48.5 percent and religion was No. 3 at 17.4 percent.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) recently released its National Report on Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2015, which said there were 24 reported hate violence homicides in 2015, a 20 percent increase from the 20 reported anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2014. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people of color made up the majority of those homicides, according to the report.

“Anti-LGBTQ hate violence can no longer be viewed in isolation from other forms of bias-motivated violence that our community members are experiencing based on their identities,” authors of the report wrote.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that people in the LGBTQ+ population are three times more likely to experience a mental health condition. LGBTQ+ youths are four times more likely to attempt suicide, and questioning youths are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers who are straight. “Between 38-65% of transgender individuals experience suicidal ideation,” NAMI reports.

Also, according to the alliance, the LGBTQ+ community reports higher rates of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use than that of straight people. Prejudice, discrimination, lack of cultural competency in the healthcare system, and lack of peer support were cited as major factors as to why.

How this latest wave of violence will affect the mental and emotional health of the LGBTQ+ community in the US and abroad, as well as the larger community, won’t be realized for quite some time. But some observers say the fact that the gunman targeted a club where people in the community felt they were safe to go and be themselves has shattered their sense of security. Some may never feel safe again.

PTSD common after mass shootings, research shows

woman-reflectiveMany of the victims who survived the shooting at Pulse will likely experience mental and emotional distress. This is known as post-traumatic stress disorder, the condition in which a person experiences extreme stress or anxiety after seeing or being a part of a disturbing and traumatic event.

Many of the 300-plus patrons in the Pulse club that night who survived won’t forget the rounds of gunfire, or the chaos and confusion, and loss of life that played out over three hours on that morning.

Clubgoer Norman Casiano, who was shot in the back twice during the ordeal and recently released from the hospital, reported to The New York Times that he could hear gun shells “clattering to the floor” and the gunman reloading the weapon he carried. Casiano also said he’ll never forget that the gunman laughed or the sound of his laugh. Another Pulse club patron, identified in the Orlando shooting, told the newspaper, “People were screaming, begging for their lives.”

These and so many more sights and sounds will be remembered, and any memories or reminders they have could contribute to the post-traumatic stress disorder shooting victims may endure.

According to WebMd, in “1 out of 10 Americans, the traumatic event causes a cascade of psychological and biological changes known as post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“Simply put, PTSD is a state in which you ‘can’t stop remembering,’” WebMd says, which often happens after people experience military combat, violent assaults, natural disasters, car or airplane accidents, sexual assaults, kidnappings, and abusive and threatening situations, among others.

Symptoms are defined and can include having nightmares, flashbacks, jumpiness, emotional detachment or emotional outbursts, and aggressive behavior, among other disturbances. Affected persons may also isolate themselves or suffer from depression. They also may be startled by loud noises or have trouble sleeping or concentrating.

The National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder has studied the effects of mass shootings in the US, concluding that “the psychological consequences of directly experiencing or witnessing a mass shooting are often serious.” The study also found that of the shootings examined, “prevalence of postdisaster diagnoses (predominantly PTSD) in these studies ranged from 10 percent to 36 percent.”

Link between PTSD, substance abuse

When violence strikes, the questions that come to mind are, “What happens to people who are left behind in its wake? How do they move forward?”

Unfortunately, some survivors with PTSD turn to substance use to manage their condition.

Sadly, as people attempt to put their lives back together, some will seek out to abuse substances, a common scenario for people affected by PTSD. Drinking alcohol or doing drugs may be the only way some people know how to cope with their illness.

Alcohol and drug use does not always lead to substance abuse. But WebMd says there are red flags that signal there is a problem with alcohol and/or drugs. Problematic substance use can lead to addiction.

The VA reports that drinking a lot of alcohol makes one more susceptible to having PTSD, along with multiple other factors. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can lead to chemical dependence that leads to substance abuse or an alcohol use disorder.

A person may be developing an Alcohol Use disorder when they are:

  • Unable to control their temper after drinking
  • Feeling guilty about drinking or using drugs
  • Avoiding personal responsibilities, obligations to themselves and others
  • Drinking to numb their feelings or deal with stress
  • Trying unsuccessfully to quit drinking, doing drugs
  • Engaging in risky behavior, such as driving under the influence or operating machinery
  • Spending a great deal of time trying to obtain illicit substances

If you, or someone you know, are exhibiting signs of an alcohol use disorder, and have experienced trauma in the recent, or not-so-recent past, that person may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and needs to seek help as soon as possible.

Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers can undergo treatment that helps them regain control over their lives, says the Mayo Clinic. The primary treatment is psychotherapy, which teaches sufferers how to address their symptoms and helps them learn healthy ways to cope with their symptoms should they arise again. Medication is also prescribed for affected individuals, though the biological, psychological, and social determinants of each person must be considered before it is.

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, may include:

*Cognitive therapy. In this method of therapy, clients recognize and identify negative and inaccurate thinking patterns in normal, everyday situations that might keep them stuck. The Mayo Clinic says this type of therapy may also be used along with exposure therapy.

*Exposure therapy. This behavioral therapy method allows individuals to face their fears so they can cope with them effectively. Individuals may participate in “virtual reality” programs in which they re-enter the setting in which they experienced trauma to help them manage or overcome their reactions to it.

*Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Known as EMDR, this therapy method uses exposure therapy along with guided eye movements to help the individual process traumatic experiences and change their reaction to those events.

PTSD treatment may also include antidepressants, which can help improve concentration and sleep, and medicines that treat anxiety.

We are here to help

If you, or someone you know, are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder with a co-occurring substance use disorder, or if you suspect you have symptoms of the condition, please call Palm Beach Institute at 855-534-3574. There is no better time than now to take your first step toward gaining control of your life. Our specialists are available anytime, day or night, and waiting for your call. Begin your journey to lasting health, happiness, and sobriety today.

First Look: The Drug Policies of 2016’s Presidential Hopefuls

In 2008, Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African-American man to be elected a president. This was a significant period of time for another reason as well, namely the economic crisis that swept the nation—and the globe—at the end of the Bush administration and plunged the United States into the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. With the subsequent 2012 election, Obama continued his presidency by winning his second, and final, the presidential term while the pressure continued to answer millions and millions of Americans’ economic prayers.

Over the course of Obama’s presidency, we’ve seen a number of policy changes and advocacy that has, more or less, made very little difference. Whether you’re red or blue, the fact remains that despite President Obama’s efforts, the middle and lower classes have continued to suffer throughout Obama’s presidency. In fact, rates of unemployment and poverty have increased—especially among minority groups such as African-Americans and Hispanics, both of whom happen to have been some of Obama’s biggest supporters over the course of his presidency—while rates of federal aid have risen in an effort to supplement the nation’s rather disheartening financial state.

Meanwhile, the controversial Affordable Care Act, also known colloquially as “Obamacare,” has imposed laws that obligate citizens to retain health coverage of some form while stripping many of the limitations that providers imposed in order to discriminate against those individuals with preexisting conditions who would require more frequent and more expensive treatments. Perhaps most importantly, the Affordable Care Act allowed mental health and addiction treatment services to be covered under most health plans, which meant that one of the greatest obstacles that prevented many addicts from receiving treatment for addiction—the prohibitive cost of addiction treatment—would no longer be preventing individuals from seeking recovery through rehabilitative services.

Whether you’ve been pleased or disappointed by the Obama administration, we’re coming to the end of an era and must begin looking forward. With next year’s presidential election ebbing ever closer, potential candidate and presidential hopefuls have been campaigning for our votes by making known their political views, identifying the topics about which they are most passionate, providing commentary on the previous eight years, and discussing legislature that we may or may not need. At this point in the game, there are a number of names in the air as contenders, but it’s too soon to know for sure which will be on the ballots when it comes time for the primary elections.

What’s more, the candidates represent quite a variety of individuals, from CEO-level executives to the expected political officeholders to even a retired neurosurgeon. However, it’s as good a time as any to look into the stances that some of the more pronounced and most-supported presidential hopefuls are taking when it comes to drug policies. Here’s what you can expect from these candidates. Which one will be the next President of the United States?

Hillary Clinton (D), Former Secretary of State

hillary clinton

This won’t be Hillary Clinton’s first rodeo. Many of us remember Clinton running against Obama to be the official Democratic candidate in 2008’s presidential election. Widely considered the Democratic frontrunner and a shoe-in for Democratic candidacy, Clinton is adopting a more liberal stance this time around in an effort to garner the support of voters who elected Obama in the past two elections. Hillary Clinton popularized the term “ordinary people,” which she uses in lieu of the broadly-defined “middle class” with its loose connotations. Clinton is known for her views on education and supports universal preschool, making preschool available to all families. Additionally, Clinton wants to incorporate same-sex marriage in the Constitution, which opposes statements she made earlier in her career, but is more congruent with the views of Obama’s supporters, and also wants to offer undocumented immigrants a clear path to citizenship.

In terms of drug policy, Clinton has expressed the need to divert addicts from the legal system to the treatments that they need. Rather than merely sentencing alcohol and drug addicts to lengthy prison sentences, Clinton believes that non-violent drug offenders should be diverted to addiction treatments and “drug courts.” Clinton has voiced her opinion on medical marijuana and legalization, saying that while she approves of medical marijuana use in appropriate cases, recreational legalization should be left to state-level jurisdiction. For what it’s worth though Clinton was definitely a flower child, she played it straight by staying far away from alcohol and any drugs throughout her formidable years.

Ted Cruz (R), United States Senator of Texas

ted cruz

Texas Senator Ted Cruz was the first to announce his candidacy, making his official declaration on March 23rd via social media. Known for his conservative politics and for taking a traditionally Republican stance on most issues, Cruz is an advocate of national security, highly critical of “Obamacare” and considers the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, believes global warming to be a natural phenomenon that’s unrelated to human activity, doesn’t support recognition of same-sex marriage at the federal level, and doesn’t support abortion unless a pregnancy endangers a woman’s life. In terms of drugs, Cruz is supportive of the war on drugs, disagreeing with Obama’s move toward decreased enforcement of certain drugs laws and criticizing the decriminalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington despite admitting to previous experimentation with marijuana himself. Interestingly, the fact that Cruz was born in Canada has led to certain eligibility concerns, making it yet to be seen whether he’ll actually be on the ballot when it comes time for next year’s presidential election.

Rand Paul (R), United States Senator of Kentucky

rand_paul

You probably remember Ron Paul’s bid for presidential candidacy against Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. His son, Rand Paul, is a Kentucky Senator and announced that he was campaigning for Republican candidacy on April 7th of this year. Although Rand Paul identifies himself as a Tea Party follower with social conservative and libertarian conservative views, who advocates for smaller and more controlled government, Paul also claims not to be beholden to any singular party and instead takes the most practical and needed ideas from both sides of the political coin.

Paul’s political positions include a reduction of government spending, supports alternative energies while opposing energy subsidy, opposes the PATRIOT Act and controversially considers TSA unconstitutional harassment, state-level jurisdiction for same-sex marriage, repeatedly voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, restoring voting privileges to felons five years after receiving a conviction, eliminating the federal Department of Education and returning educational control to the community level, and would like to see “Obamacare” repealed.

In terms of drug policy, Rand Paul has is considered “the first top-tier presidential candidate from either party to make marijuana reform a major campaign issue.” In fact, unlike his father Paul recently supported federal legalization of medical marijuana, is highly critical of the war on drugs, has proposed elimination of a mandatory minimum sentence for nonviolent drug-related convictions, and generally believes that many of the laws regarding drugs, particularly marijuana, are too harsh and that addiction requires diversion to treatment rather than punitive repercussions. Paul’s politics seem to appeal to a quite diverse coalition of voters that consists of his father’s supporters, Tea Party Republicans, conservatives, college-age conservative voters, African Americans, as well as other small and niche groups to which he’s been paying special attention in his campaign thus far.

If you or someone you love is currently suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs, the Palm Beach Institute can help to end your suffering. Our knowledgeable specialists can match those suffering from addiction to the treatment programs that will deliver them unto a life of recovery and health. Call us today.