Could Online Drug Class be Cure for Heroin Abuse?

by Mike Miller September 20, 2013

How scared are you that heroin use is on the rise? If you are not terrified, you should be. This is going to cost US taxpayers millions and millions of dollars.

While it would be impossible to pinpoint an exact reason for the resurgence of this very powerful and lethal drug, most certainly we could look at prescription pain medication. The use and abuse of these high-powered narcotics has to be one of the main reasons for the recent spike in heroin use. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

Not only is this drug widely available, but it is extremely inexpensive relative to other drugs. One dose of heroin could cost as little as $5, while a high-octane OxyContin pill might sell for $80.

For the past few years the increase in use and availability was centered in highly-populated urban centers and very bad neighborhoods. However, the increase in use by the middle class has brought buyers to these dregs and now dealers are finding their way to just about anywhere in the country.

Many cities across the country are experiencing an inordinate number of heroin overdoses. There are overdose deaths in the bathrooms of fast-food restaurants and other public venues.

This is the second in a series of blogs looking at the rampant rise in heroin use. If you or someone you care about used heroin, please seek help immediately. A drug class is a good place to start. If you prefer to maintain anonymity, there are online drug classes too.

Drug Education Abates Heroin Addiction

by Mike Miller September 18, 2013

Once the most feared drug on the planet, so powerful it would scare away would be users, heroin is making a comeback. It is both strong and lethal.

Heroin, which has flourished in the nation’s big urban centers over the past few years, has been making an alarming comeback in the smaller cities and towns of New England. From quaint fishing villages on the Maine coast to the interior of the Great North Woods extending across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, there has been a sharp rise in the availability of the crystalline powder and in overdoses and deaths attributed to it. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

How bad is the issue in this area? Pretty bad. Here in Portland, better known for its laid-back vibe and lively waterfront, posters warn of the dangers of overdose. “Please,” they say: “Do Not Use Alone. Do a Tester Shot” and “Use the Recovery Position” (which is lying on one’s side to avoid choking on vomit). I can hardly imagine signs like these in my own town and I am a counselor for both in-class and online drug classes.

The city, like many others across the country, is experiencing “an inordinate number of heroin overdoses,” said Vern Malloch, assistant chief of the Portland Police Department. “We’ve got overdose deaths in the bathrooms of fast-food restaurants. This is an increase like we haven’t seen in many years.”

Heroin killed 21 people in Maine last year, three times as many as in 2011, according to the state’s Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. New Hampshire recorded 40 deaths from heroin overdoses last year, up from just 7 a decade ago. In Vermont, the Health Department reported that 914 people were treated for heroin abuse last year, up from 654 the year before, an increase of almost 40 percent.

“Heroin is our biggest problem right now,” said Capt. Scott Tucker of the Rutland, Vt., police.

One reason for the rise in heroin use is the restrictions on doctors in prescribing painkillers. The tightened supply of pain pills, and physical changes that made them harder to crush and snort for a quick high, have diverted many users to heroin, which is much cheaper and easier to get. Dr. Publicker, president of the Northern New England Society of Addiction Medicine, said that some doctors in the region had been overprescribing painkillers, which can be gateway drugs to heroin. A federal study in 2011 showed that the treatment admission rate for opiate addiction was higher in Maine, and New England, than elsewhere in the country, though communities everywhere are reporting problems.

“We had a bad epidemic, and now we have a worse epidemic,” Dr. Publicker said. “I’m treating 21-, 22-year-old pregnant women with intravenous heroin addiction.”

Yet the rise in heroin abuse here predated the restrictions on painkillers, leading some officials to blame the simple law of supply and demand. Distributors in New York see a wide-open market in northern New England, where law enforcement can be spotty and users are willing to pay premium prices. A $6 bag of heroin in New York City fetches $10 in southern New England but up to $30 or $40 in northern New England, law enforcement officials said. The dealer gets a tremendous profit margin, while the addict pays half of what he might have to shell out for a prescription painkiller.

“If the market is flooded with low-priced, high-grade heroin, a significant population is addicted,” Captain Tucker of Rutland said. “That’s the free market.”

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs in the world. About a quarter of everyone who tries it becomes dependent on it. Users can quickly develop a tolerance, prompting them to seek more and more until the pursuit takes over their lives and, often, leads to ruin.

Theresa Dumond, 23, who lives on the streets of Portland, said she sells her body three times a day to support her heroin habit. She lost custody of her two young children about a year ago (“I can’t keep track”), and their father died.

“I’ve lost everything,” she said as she and a companion, Jason Lemay, 26, walked to an abandoned train tunnel, littered with old needles and trash, to shoot up. “The heroin numbs the pain and makes you not care about life,” she said.

Her only concern now is scoring more heroin. She pays no attention to food and sleeps where she is or in a shelter.

Once deep inside the train tunnel, she helped Mr. Lemay inject a needle into one of his legs — he had no good veins left in his arms — and then jabbed a needle into her own arm. “It’s the best feeling ever,” she said. “It’s the warm rush.” With more people becoming addicted, officials in New England are bracing for the likely consequences: more burglaries so addicts can support their habits and heavier demands on health, welfare and law enforcement services. Novice users are more likely to share needles, leading to an expected increase in infections like H.I.V. and hepatitis C.

Maine is the first state that has limited access to specific medications, including buprenorphine and methadone, that have been proven to be effective in treating addiction, a step taken to save money. Many here worry that such restrictions are likely to make things worse and lead to more fatalities.

For now, emergency responders are busier than ever.

“We used to have just two or three overdose calls a week,” said Terry Walsh, Portland’s deputy fire chief, who oversees emergency medical services. “Now we’re seeing two, three, four a day.”

Most of the heroin reaching New England originates in Colombia and comes through Mexico, federal law enforcement officials said. The number of seizures along the border jumped sixfold in 2011 from 2005. But enough is getting through to major distribution centers in the Northeast, including Philadelphia and New York, that it is flowing steadily into northern New England, often through Lowell, Lawrence and Holyoke, Mass. In May, six people were arrested in connection with a $3.3 million heroin ring in Springfield, Mass., and Holyoke, where investigators seized 45,000 single-dose bags.

The purity of the heroin varies widely, which law enforcement officers say is partly responsible for the increase in deaths, and bad batches have been reported throughout the region. Even an experienced user might not be prepared for the strength of a particular bag. And because heroin reaches the brain so quickly — and witnesses hesitate to call for help immediately — overdoses are often fatal.

Lourdes Watson-Carter, 34, who lived in a small town near here, had been a heroin addict for several years, according to her family and friends. They said her addiction led her to prostitute herself to pay for her next fix.

After her most recent term in prison, for drug trafficking, her friends and family thought she was clean. She was even preparing to go back to school in cosmetology and hairdressing and hoped she might regain custody of her young son.

But one night last month, Ms. Watson-Carter injected some very pure heroin, according to her father, Michael Watson, a retired Amtrak police officer, who lives in Maryland.

“She was taking the same amount she would usually take, but it was so concentrated and pure that she overdosed,” he said. By the time an ambulance arrived, she may have been brain dead; he received conflicting reports. She caught pneumonia a few days later and then died.

Her death was especially awful, her father said, because he thought she was finally turning her life around. “But I knew I was going to get that call someday,” he said. “You try to prepare yourself for it, and you think you can handle it. But you don’t handle it very well.”

Physicians Are Part of the Problem With Prescription Abuse

by Mike Miller September 16, 2013

This is the third in a series of blogs looking at the role of physicians in prescription medication abuse. It is hard to fathom that doctors, motivated purely by greed and with no concern for their patients, are flooding patients with prescription medication.

In one investigation in it was determined that a North Jersey doctor bilked Medicaid to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars he owed to members of the mafia. What is this “The Sopranos?” As reported in www.thedailyjournal.com.

The investigation also discovered a chiropractic office operating out of a seemingly abandoned building in Camden that had boarded-up windows and a battered front door in a normally desolate area of the city that it described as suddenly springing to life on Tuesdays.

Dr. Randy Zeid , during a 19-month period, dished out an estimated street value of nearly $10 million of the narcotic drug oxycodone. It was a regular “painkiller-prescription emporium.”

He has yet to be arrested for any crime.

Here are a few tips for trying to alleviate the problem with prescription medication abuse.

  • Stronger oversight of the medical community, particularly around establishing explicit prescription standards for physicians.

  • Tougher financial and criminal penalties for offenders.

  • Better regulation of medical practice ownership and management.

  • Creation of a statewide task force to assist in investigations involving prescription pill and heroin cases.

  • Boost regulation of prepaid cellphones, a key tool for illicit drug dealers.

Police in New Jersey estimate that at least 50,000 small glassine packets of heroin flow into the county every week, retailing for between $5 and $10 apiece on the street, compared to as much as $80 per pill for the strongest dosage of oxycodone.

What do you think should be done? I am open for suggestions.

Physicians Creating Need for More Drug Classes

by Mike Miller September 14, 2013

Could the headline above possibly be true? Are doctors actually creating a need for more drug classes? In essence, the question is, are they fueling their patient’s chemical dependence issues. The answer to all of these is a resounding yes!

A recent study conducted in the state of New Jersey uncovered a serious problem with doctors shuttling patients around to help them get many different prescriptions. That, to me, is inconceivable and completely reprehensible. As reported in www.thedailyjournal.com.

Just how condemning was the study on these doctors? The report says the doctors told patients they could either consume the drugs themselves or sell them on the street, and then handed out a $10 gift card as thanks for coming in.

The doctor then billed government health insurance, netting $1.4 million, and funneled the money to associates with whom he was working who were linked to Russian organized crime.

The doctor moved his operation several times around the state — with one facility becoming so overrun with drug addicts that a bouncer was hired — over drug use on-site.

Can you believe the audacity? That is totally nuts. These doctors not only should lose their license to practice medicine but should spend a significant amount of time behind bars. What do you think?

Don’t Kid Yourself, Parents Need Drug Awareness Programs Too

by Mike Miller September 12, 2013

When I was a kid I did not know any parent that supported their child using marijuana. Alcohol was taboo too. Given today’s liberal parenting, it is no surprise that some actually do not have a problem with the kids smoking weed.

Other parents who support legalization of marijuana also expect strict regulation of its availability to kids and teens. As reported in www.usatoday.com.

The nationally representative online survey was done for the Partnership at Drugfree.org, a New York City-based non-profit organization formerly known as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. It reached 1,603 adults, 1,200 of whom are parents of kids ages 10-19. About 35% of parents favored legalizing marijuana for recreational use, 46% said it should be decriminalized, and 70% supported legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

About half of both mothers and fathers said they had used marijuana. The number saying so in Colorado was 62%. Voters in Colorado and Washington state made marijuana use legal last year.

About 90% of moms and 94% of dads say the legal age for marijuana use should be 21. As opposed to what? 18?

Some other findings

  • About 95% of moms and 96% of dads say marijuana should be prohibited in public places where smoking is banned. About 92% of Colorado parents and 96% of Washington state parents agree. Still 4-8% of parents think public use is perfectly acceptable?

  • About 88% of moms and 90% of dads say marijuana advertising should be banned. Who are these other 10-12%?

  • About 90% of moms and 85% of dads agree that marijuana can have strong negative effects on the still-developing brains of teens. Do they really have any sort of education on the issue?

The data bring to life the fact that parents have serious expectations that legal marijuana will be regulated and restricted to protect kids and teens. The scariest thing is that those expectations far exceed how legal marijuana is being implemented. So the fact remains, whether marijuana is legal or not, much more needs to be done to protect the health of our children.

All the more reason why mandatory drug classes should be implemented for kids and parents!

Drug Awareness Classes and Technology Help Fight Prescription Medication Abuse

by Mike Miller September 10, 2013

The problem with prescription medication abuse in this country is a serious concern. If not brought under control, it could drastically increase medical costs for years to come.

Back when doctors only wrote prescriptions with pen and paper, forgeries were a problem. As reported in www.kumv.com.

You could scratch out a zero, and add an 8, or something to increase the pills a patient was getting. Now doctors are moving to electronic prescriptions.

If you were to attempt a forgery or adulterate an electronic prescription, they would obviously have to have access to the database. The databases are quite secure.

There are extra stringent rules to fill prescriptions of controlled substances, like oxycodone or morphine. For controlled prescriptions, it still has to be printed out on paper, but this paper is tamper-proof, so if you try to photocopy it, it turns out as invalid.

But even if you're not purposely abusing prescription medications, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that accidental overdose deaths have risen 300 percent since 1999.

Electronic prescriptions processed through the national database Sure Scripts helps doctors keep track of multiple medications, even if they're prescribed by someone else.

Nowadays, doctors prescribe a medication on the computer, and it will alert me if the patient has an allergy to that medication. Or if the patient already has a medication in that class, it will also catch that and alert the user that maybe that's not the appropriate medication to use, which is very helpful..

Electronic prescriptions are more efficient. They're submitted to the pharmacy within five minutes, and the information is always legible.

If you or someone you care about has a problem with prescription medication abuse, please seek help immediately. A good drug course is a place to start. If you prefer to maintain anonymity, there are online drug educational classes too.

Doctors in Dire Need of Drug Education

by Mike Miller September 8, 2013

Addiction can happen to anyone. There is no sex, race or creed immune to its virulent talons. This also is true of every profession. Yes, even physicians suffer from addiction issues. Sometimes it is for drugs, other times for greed – sometimes for both.

The most recent buzz came mostly by word-of-mouth but also from fliers circulated among New Jersey’s homeless Medicaid recipients and drug addicts. It told them where to get pain pills — and fast — prescribed by corrupt doctors who then bilked government health insurance out of millions while operating out of makeshift medical facilities, authorities said. As reported in www.thedailyjournal.com.

The doctors, joined by unscrupulous entrepreneurs, were the subject of a two-year report by the State Commission of Investigation that highlights illicit medical practices that it found to be fueling prescription drug and heroin abuse and distribution in the state.

The cases included one operation where a van picked up patients in Newark and took them to a medical center in a Passaic strip mall. There, a doctor conducted cursory examinations and bogus diagnoses that resulted in prescriptions for painkillers, sedatives and cough syrup.

What do you think these physicians are addicted to? My guess is greed. It is especially sad because their greed is fueling many others chemical dependence. I would say all of these docs should lose their licenses and be mandated to a good online drug education course.

Could an Online Addiction Course Help Lamar Odom’s Future?

by Mike Miller September 6, 2013

Drugs and alcohol never make your life better. Addiction is a terrible thing and ruins many people’s lives. Such is the sad case for NBA basketball star Lamar Odom.

Things seem to be going from bad to worse for this once great basketball player. As his career winds down Odom appears to have a major crack cocaine addiction. After being kicked out of the house by wife Khloe Kardashian, Odom disappeared for more than three days, reportedly on a bender, only to surface at a car wash in the San Fernando Valley in California last week. As reported in espn.go.com.

It’s a good thing he had a clean car. It may have helped police notice his vehicle when he was driving under the influence.

Odom was arrested on August 30th on suspicion of driving under the influence. He was taken into custody at 3:54 a.m. after a California Highway Patrol officer saw his white Mercedes-Benz traveling erratically on a San Fernando Valley Freeway. The CHP report said Odom's car was observed traveling in a "serpentine manner" before he pulled off the freeway.

Apparently Odom continued to drive when authorities tried to pull him over before he eventually stopped. Odom showed signs of intoxication and was unable to perform field sobriety tests. At the Van Nuys jail, Odom refused all chemical tests.

The 33-year-old Odom was staying at a Los Angeles hotel and friends were trying to help him deal with a drug problem. TMZ also reported that people close to Odom feared he was involved with drugs.

Odom spent last season with the Los Angeles Clippers and has been pursued in free agency this summer by the Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers.

Odom had his best years during his seven seasons with the Lakers, beginning in 2004-05. The team won NBA championships in 2010 and 2011, and Odom won the NBA's sixth man award in 2011.

This is yet another sad tale of a life being destroyed by addiction.

NBA Star Lamar Odom Missing: Needs Drug Class ASAP

by Mike Miller September 4, 2013

Hollywood is chock-full of crazy stories involving drugs, violence and other aberrant behavior. Being married to a Kardashian gives instant celebrity. Being an NBA star in Los Angeles only adds to the hype.

Throw in a public argument, drug addiction and a missing person and the frenzy is incredible. Such is the current state of Lamar Odom’s life. As reported in www.examiner.com.

As it stands now Khloe Kardashian has kicked her husband of four years to the curb due to alleged crack cocaine abuse. Though apparently now living apart, neither party has conducted a divorce lawyer nor Lamar doesn't seem to have made any contact to confirm his safety yet.

The pair were married in 2009 just four weeks after they met and their relationship has been a rollercoaster, with circulating rumors that Odom cheated on the reality TV star. Odom spent three weeks in a rehab clinic outside San Diego and Kardashian had to hire a private security firm to make sure he didn’t leave.

Odom was last seen picking up suitcases from their Calabasas home and driving away.

Odom is said to have remained clean once he left rehab and it did not affect his basketball season with the Los Angeles Clippers during this past year. However, it has been alleged when the season was over he slipped deep back into hardcore recreational drugs.

Odom has not been looking as strong since he left the Los Angeles Lakers for the Los Angeles Clippers two years ago, but the reasons for the 33-year-old's falloff may be more due to drugs than age. He was the first Laker to win the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award after the 2010-11season.

Odom is finding out the hard way recreational drugs can ruin careers and lives. It would be great to see him make a complete recovery and then share his story with kids across America to try to help them stay off of drugs.

We will continue to follow this saga until Odom turns up. I just hope the next time I write he is taking an substance abuse class online or in rehab and not dead.

Lamar Odom is Missing and is Not Enrolled in Online Substance Abuse Course

by Mike Miller September 2, 2013

Drugs ruin lives. Don’t believe me? Just ask Lamar Odom. The 33-year-old Odom is on the verge of losing both his basketball career, his marriage to the uber-hot Khloe Kardashian and possibly his life.

Fears are mounting for Odom's well-being after falling off the radar days ago. Khloe kicked him out and now divorce rumors are circulating. As reported in www.examiner.com.

Kardashian is apparently becoming increasingly worried for the safety of her husband as he hasn't touched base for three days after she booted him out. The pair had had an argument on August 21st that provoked the Kardashian sister to chuck the NBA star out of the house.

Khloe had attempted an intervention related to her concerns over Odom's alleged drug use in the downtime now the basketball season has ended. Odom has battled with crack cocaine addiction for at least two years. A representative for the sports star insists that Lamar is fine but would not disclose any details regarding his whereabouts.

Sources connected to Odom say that attempts to contact the sports star on his own side and Khloe's have proved useless. Concerns have mounted that Odom has gone off the rails, hiding himself away on a days-long crack cocaine bender. Khloe and Lamar are separated and possibly close to divorce. Their separation was effectively declared when Khloe kicked him out when he refused her intervention attempt where she tried to persuade him to go back to rehab.

As a fan of the NBA I hate to see one of its stars modeling poor behavior, however, more importantly, I hate to see drugs ruin yet another life.