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Number of Home Meth Labs Declining

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs

methAccording to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the number of home meth labs in the Midwestern United States is declining. Authorities state that in 2014 the number of meth labs seized across the country was 9,500, down from the national high of 24,000 in 2004.

While this is good news, it does not mean that meth use is down. “What we’re hearing throughout the Midwest from our colleagues is they’re all seeing meth labs drop, but it’s critical to note that no state is saying meth use is down,” said Mark Woodward of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. “It’s just that they’ve switched sources from cooking it to importing it. Meth use and addiction are still epidemic.”

Today, Mexican cartels are manufacturing and bringing meth into the United States. Many users have simply switched from making their own meth to buying it from traffickers. In the long run this will likely pose more of a safety issue, as drug cartels slowly take over this market with their acts of crime and terror.

What’s the solution? How do we stop the use, sale, and trafficking of meth, and is this the next drug crisis that the DEA will try to face? Read more of the story here.

“Narcos” and the War on Drugs

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs

2385B88A00000578-0-image-11_1417000484506A new drama has been added to the Netflix lineup, and it is expected to both entertain and educate. Called “Narcos,” the show tells the story of Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar, and the DEA’s efforts to stop him. The show is set in the 1980s, and traces both the drug cartel’s cocaine trafficking, and the actions of those who dedicated their careers to stop it.

Director Jose Padilha said in an interview that the show blurs the lines between good and bad, reflecting the real life conflict that was the war on drugs. “We’re not doing a movie where … the bad guy is the guy who produces drugs and the superhero is whomever represents the American government, and the victim is the guy consuming drugs,” Padilha said. “We didn’t do this at all for the simple fact that this is not even close to what the reality is.”

Learn more about the show, which airs today, here.

Hepatitis C a Risk for Opiate Addicts

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs, Prescription Drugs

CDC-RAccording to the CDC, our country is now seeing the repercussions of the high numbers of heroin and prescription painkiller users manifested in a new threat: Hepatitis C. A new study by the CDC estimates that there has been a 12.6 percent increase in those who use syringes to inject prescription painkillers. Now, many of those people, as well as the many who use heroin, are at risk for contracting diseases like Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease that affects the liver. It causes liver damage, itchy rashes, skin lesions, and extreme fatigue, and it can be passed from one individual to another through dirty needles. The CDC estimates that over 3 million people have Hepatitis C, and officials are afraid that the number will continue to rise as the opiate epidemic increases in our country.

In order to combat this problem, many are suggesting needle exchange programs. Others believe law enforcement needs to crack down on those who sell and misuse opiate drugs. The only real way to help those struggling with opiate addiction is to provide treatment in the form of rehab and therapy, and to educate the public on the dangers of heroin and prescription painkiller abuse.

Learn more about the CDC’s study and its recommendations here.

White House Develops a Plan to Stop Heroin Epidemic

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Government/Law, Illicit Drugs

file000863634145It’s what the country has been waiting and hoping for – a real plan that can finally help do something about the tragic rise in heroin addiction and overdose in our country. The White House announced this week that it will implement a plan that will focus on treatment rather than prosecution of heroin addicts.

Called the Heroin Response Strategy, the plan will work to locate the sources of heroin and prosecute dealers and distributors of the drug, but will coordinate law enforcement and public health workers in order to work on prevention and treatment, and training first responders to administer overdose-reversing medication.

“It’s something that’s very much on the president’s radar,” said Eric Schultz, White House deputy press secretary. “This is a pretty severe threat that we face and so this program is an unprecedented partnership with both law enforcement and public health officials to really get at the root of it.”

The initial $2.5 million for the program will be funded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and will tackle the heroin problem in 15 states. “The new Heroin Response Strategy demonstrates a strong commitment to address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic as both a public health and a public safety issue,” Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy said in a statement. “This Administration will continue to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, pursue ‘smart on crime’ approaches to drug enforcement, increase access to treatment, work to reduce overdose deaths, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.”

Read more about the program here.

New Drug Causing Trouble in Florida

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in New Drugs

AMBULANCE 4A new drug has made its way to Florida and parts of the Midwest, and it has officials concerned. The drug, called flakka, is a potent stimulant that is made in laboratories and sold online. Flakka, also known as gravel, has been causing trouble in Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio for the past few years. It causes the user to suffer psychotic episodes, become delusional and aggressive, and experience hallucinations. It also raises body temperature to dangerous levels, and can cause cardiac arrest. According to Florida state officials, the crime lab at the Broward Sheriff’s Office went from analyzing one flakka case in January 2014 to 80 in September and an average of 100 a month this year.

Drugs like flakka are often more dangerous or cause more problems than better known drugs simply because they fly under the radar. There are no prevention programs in place for drugs like flakka or new synthetic drugs, and many of these drugs are even legal for the first few years until the government has time to ban them. Even though people should know better, many continue to get sucked in by drugs that are new, exciting, and that aren’t warned about in prevention campaigns. This doesn’t make the drugs less potent or dangerous, however.

“Flakka is whole different animal,” said one treatment provider. “What we’re seeing when these individuals come in (for treatment), cognitively something has changed in them. Paranoia, anxiety and aggression comes out of nowhere. They are fine, having a great day, and then they have a wave come over them.”

If you are a parent, the best thing you can do is talk to your child about the dangers of using any kind of substance. Give your teen reasons to avoid drug use by showing them addiction statistics. Keep yourself up-to-date on the latest drug trends as well, so you know what things are going on around your child and can watch for the warning signs. Flakka and drugs like it are not just being abused by teens or young adults either. Many adults are finding themselves in bad situations because of flakka. We all need to be aware of new drugs and the dangers of using any type of substance.

Click here to find out more about flakka and the dangers of this drug.

What are the most Effective Ways to Handle the Heroin Addiction Epidemic?

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs, Prescription Drugs

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By now we’ve all heard that heroin abuse and addiction are still on the rise, leading to shockingly high numbers of overdoses. According to the CDC, between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013.

The CDC has a lot of information on their website about what is being done and what can be done about this problem. Basically, it will take education, prevention, and treatment for those at risk for this type of addiction. More people need to understand the risks associated with any type of opiate use, and also learn how easily a person can switch from using prescription painkillers to heroin.

According to the CDC, here is what is being done, and what else can be done:

The Federal government is:

  • Providing educational training and resources to health care providers so they can make informed decisions and ensure the appropriate prescribing of opioid painkillers.
  • Increasing access to substance abuse treatment services through the Affordable Care Act.
  • Expanding use of Medication-Assisted Treatment.
  • Supporting the development and distribution of the life-saving drug naloxone to reduce prescription opioid painkiller and heroin overdose deaths.
  • Supporting the research of pain medications that are less prone to abuse.
  • Track trends and target prevention strategies.

States can:

  • Address the strongest risk factor for heroin addiction: addiction to prescription opioid painkillers.
  • Increase access to substance abuse treatment services, including Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), for opioid addiction.
  • Expand access to and training for administering naloxone to reduce opioid overdose deaths.
  • Ensure that people have access to integrated prevention services, including access to sterile injection equipment from a reliable source, as allowed by local policy.
  • Help local jurisdictions to put these effective practices to work in communities where drug addiction is common.

Health care providers can:

  • Follow best practices for responsible painkiller prescribing to reduce opioid painkiller addiction, the strongest risk factor for heroin addiction:
    • Use prescription drug monitoring programs and ask patients about past or current drug and alcohol use prior to considering opioid treatment.
    • Prescribe the lowest effective dose and only the quantity needed for each patient.
    • Link patients with substance use disorders to effective substance abuse treatment services.
  • Support the use of Food and Drug Administration approved MAT options (methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone) in patients addicted to prescription opioid painkillers or heroin.

Everyone should:

Learn more about the risks of using heroin and other drugs.

Marijuana and Professional Sports

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs

file0001998098992 (1)The marijuana controversy rages on as people continue to argue about whether or not the drug is dangerous, whether it can be medically beneficial, and whether it should be legalized. In a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune, a number of athletes talk about how they believe marijuana can help them in their profession.

A different sort of drug than the performance-enhancing drugs that are so common in professional sports, many believe marijuana can have its benefits in the world of sports. “It’s natural for football players to lean toward marijuana to deal with the violence and trauma of the game,” said former Denver Broncos tight end Nate Jackson. “Teams will prescribe you bottles and injections that are really bad for you. Cannabis was what my teammates and I preferred.”

Marijuana is illegal in all major sports leagues, as well as college sports, and many people feel it should stay that way. Marijuana can exacerbate mental health problems, cause suicidal thoughts, result in cardiovascular problems when it is smoked, negatively impact brain development, and cause dependence. What is more, many young people look up to professional athletes, and seeing them openly use marijuana would send confusing messages in our already drug-saturated society.

As the debate continues there will be athletes that use marijuana regardless of its status in professional sports. These individuals put their health and their profession in jeopardy, but many are willing to do so. Read more about these athletes here.

New Drug Trends, 2015

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Health and Lifestyle, Illicit Drugs, New Drugs

 

file0001337084503We live in a society today that relies heavily on substances like drugs and alcohol to meet a variety of needs. Some people use substances to numb pain or help deal with stress or emotional issues. Others get caught up with substance use because it is something their friends are doing and they are pressured to try it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse regularly publishes reports about the emerging trends related to substance use in America. Below are some of the trends this organization found recently.

Surge in Fentanyl Overdose Deaths. Overdoses of the opioid Fentanyl have skyrocketed across the nation since 2013, often as a result of using heroin that has been laced with the much stronger substance.

Increasing Overdoses from Synthetic Cannabinoids (“Spice,” “K2,” etc.) in Several States. According to NIDA, more than 160 patients were hospitalized following synthetic cannabinoid use in under two weeks in mid April, 2015.

New Synthetic Drug, “Flakka” (alpha-PVP) used in Florida. This synthetic drug is very dangerous and causes hallucinations, violent aggression, suicide, and heart attacks.

Caffeine Powder. Last July, NIDA warned the public of a trend in caffeine powder use. The pure form of caffeine powder can cause erratic heartbeat, seizures, vomiting, disorientation, and even death.

It is important that parents, teachers, and even young adults learn about the trends young people might be faced with today. By educating yourself and your kids, you can be more prepared to avoid these dangerous drugs. You can view the NIDA page yourself here to keep up to date on the latest drug trends.

State Announces Art Contest to Help with Heroin Crisis

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs

drugfreeIn today’s world, we need to use every tactic possible to help curb opiate abuse and addiction. Many different ideas have been presented and implemented, including better monitoring of prescription drugs, better law enforcement, prevention campaigns, and more awareness about the benefits of rehab.

A statewide contest encourages citizens to help create awareness about heroin abuse in New Jersey through their art. The goal of contest organizers is to help prevent more heroin overdose deaths, a problem that has been steadily rising in the past several years. Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division said, “This contest is a great way for New Jersey residents to use their creative talents to spread the word about heroin addiction. Our aim is to raise awareness about this problem and to reduce heroin addiction and overdoses.”

The contest is being held by the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and sponsored by the DEA-New Jersey Division and New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. It is open to all residents of New Jersey, and the winner will receive a grand prize of $500. Contestants are encouraged to submit original artwork on the theme of heroin abuse, addiction, and recovery. If you are interested in entering the contest, visit drugfreenj.org for more information. The deadline for submissions is July 28, 2015.

New Jersey Eclipses National Statistics for Heroin Overdoses

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Illicit Drugs

DSC06922 (1)New Jersey has achieved some unwelcome statistics. In a report released earlier this month by the CDC, the national numbers of heroin overdoses have skyrocketed in recent years, quadrupling from 2002 to 2013. The report also shows that the heroin situation in New Jersey is even worse – overdoses in New Jersey are more than triple that national rate.

Triple the national rate means that in New Jersey, more people die from heroin overdoses than homicides, suicides, AIDS, or even car accidents. The numbers are astounding: 741 heroin-related deaths in 2013 in New Jersey, which is 8.3 deaths per 100,000 people in the state. National figures put heroin overdose deaths at 2.6 per 100,000 people.

Read about what New Jersey officials have to say about the epidemic here.

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