Archive for the ‘Personal Stories’ Category

The Need for Proper Drug Education Has Never Been so Bad

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Is it possible that we’re hearing too much about prescription drug abuse? Whether it’s in celebrity magazines, nightly news, newspapers or the sheer number of articles written about this subject on online news sites as well as their social media pages, these types of drugs are certainly making headlines and in the opinion of many health experts, doctors and special interest groups there needs to be even more awareness before any solution can truly be labeled as effective, but with top medical organizations claiming that these types of drugs are causing an epidemic across North America, there are a growing number of calls for someone to act decisively to end this fast growing trend. With new statistics presenting themselves to us everyday, it seems that in one particular case in the Journal of the American Medical Association 67.8 percent of emergency room visits for overdose in 2010 were caused by prescription painkillers and their subsequent abuse. In another finding by the Lose Angeles Times, pain reliever overdoses have surpassed traffic accidents as a leading cause of death. In the Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse study, it was found that 12 percent of the boys and eight percent of the girls surveyed admitted to having abused prescription drugs, and to add insult to injury most of them believed that because the pills were prescribed by a doctor that they were inherently safer than illegal drugs sold on the streets. A misconception that we now know to be completely false.

According to the White House Office of National Control Policy, the most cost-effective and “common-sense” approach to dealing with the epidemic are proper drug education and prevention. Particularly in trouble communities, cities and states that have found themselves inundated with a fast growing drug problem. Providing young people with the facts and statistics they need to make a smart choice about drug experimentation (and potential abuse down the road) is still the best policy we are armed with today in order to fight back against the addiction issues facing North American communities, with a strong focus on adolescents and young adults who are the target group for potential experimentation with substances.

The following quotes from real people who have found themselves in a struggle with prescription meds is an excellent way to provide the cold hard facts that many teens, young adults and pretty much anyone who may be faced with the harsh truth of addiction. The documentary is called “The Truth About Drugs – Real People, Real Stories.

“I had no idea [these drugs] were addictive until the morning I woke up and I was freaking out ….”
“Within a week or two I was taking them morning, afternoon and night and needed them to function.”
“You’re spending $300 or $400 dollars a day just to get by.”
“No one told me that it was addictive. No one told me about the side effects.”
“It makes your life a hell on Earth eventually.”

In creating the film, director Gary Ravenscroft interviewed more than 100 former drug addicts who had been on various drugs. “I found there were only a few reasons they all had for starting to take drugs: boredom, group pressure, and, the main one, ignorance of the effects of the drugs themselves. Nearly every former addict told us that if they had known how dealers and their so-called friends were lying and what these drugs would do, they would not have taken them.”



The Counterfeit OxyContin and Fentanyl Pills Are an Epidemic in Canada

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

It’s a story that gets sadder and more depressing and frustrating every time we hear it. It’s the story of prescription drugs gone wrong, and how they have been manipulated and morphed into something new and far more dangerous. Addict Kayle Best has injected heroin and meth into his arm, smoked crack and overdosed on the prescription drug Dilaudid. But he says that none of those come close to the experience he received from snorting some tiny green pills up his nose. And he says that no other drug in his life has ever caused so much pain and destruction. Best has no doubt in his mind that these pills are an epidemic, and makes no mistake in telling the public just how deadly they can be.

Counterfeit OxyContin, green pills labelled “CDN” on one side and “80” on the other, contain fentanyl, a highly addictive opiate. On the streets of Saskatoon, they are known as “greens,” and they are deadly.
The pills have been associated with at least two deaths in the city in the last month. According to Best, those deaths are not the only ones. In the last year, he said he personally knows at least seven other people who overdosed and died on the fentanyl pills. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the pills are 80 times as potent as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.

According to Mr. Best, “everyone is doing these pills”. He even pointed out that young teens in Grade 9 even were abusing them, and to that he simply said “It’s just insane”. Best first discovered these pills on the street five years ago, and they were labeled as counterfeit oxyContin. The drugs don’t even contain OxyContin, and are much more dangerous and powerful than any legal prescription. Best said that he and his girlfriend were snorting 20 pills a day, at $40 per pill. Their habit cost upwards of $1,000 a day and they resorted to theft from their parents as well as from strangers on the street in order to feed the habit. “I was running with a pellet gun, jacking kids for weed to maintain my pill habit. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.

As sad as this story is, it isn’t a unique one to Canada. According to statistics from the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, 243,000 Canadians reported abusing opiates in 2012. It was also reported that in 2010 nearly one of every eight deaths of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 in Ontario were related to opioid use.

The problem is so wide-spread that young children are becoming hooked on these pills as low as grade 8. The most frustrating part is figuring out what to do about the issue. Perhaps it is time that high schools start teaching in specific courses the dangers of drug use and abuse, and presenting kids with the facts they need to prevent them from getting involved with such dangerous and unpredictable chemicals. Education has to be key in dealing with the young drug market, because it can’t all be left to the police, for instance, to stamp out a problem that is growing more and more deadly by the day.



A Story About an Addicted Police Officer and his Struggle to Get Well

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

It’s sad to see when a public servant with a great career gets caught up in the world of drugs, and not just drugs but outright addiction. It’s a tragedy when addiction can flip someone’s life upside down and ruin just about everything for them. In this case it is about an Ontario police officer who was the youngest ever cadet on the Toronto police force at only 17 years of age. Officer Peter Moore had a distinguished career as a cop, but when he became addicted to prescription painkillers his life was changed for ever and he may as well have been shooting up heroin due to the severity of his opioid addiction. Officer Moore’s lowest point was perhaps when he bought illegal medications of an informant who was a well know drug dealer. That is perhaps the absolute low for Officer Moore who described his actions as “That’s as bad as it gets”.

Officer Moore acknowledges that he did not have a good career, he had an excellent one because of his quick progression through the ranks as a cop. He was a detective constable before the age of 30 and even worked in the tactical division as well as the police force’s intelligence unit. Things turned sour very quickly after a terrible car accident that left Officer Moore in rough shape with an injured back that had already been a problem for him in the past. But due to his devotion to the police force, and with yet another promotion on the way, he ignored the pain and returned to work just two weeks following the accident. In his mind he believed he could simply get through the pain as he didn’t believe it was that serious. Unfortunately he was wrong. The pain intensified to a level that required him to take two Percocets a day because of his doctor’s concerns. Sadly that number multiplied to 18 pills per day very quickly and eventually turned into a full blown addiction that he simply couldn’t handle on his own. He voluntarily checked himself into one of Canada’s top rehabilitation centers where he was treated with methadone which was an ordeal that was truly a difficult and trying experience for him. His methadone treatment lasted about a week and upon leaving the facility he promptly returned to work. Sadly he continued to abuse prescription medications in order to deal with the pain he was still experiencing after two failed back surgeries. Due to this he landed himself back into rehab, this time for 30 days. He was off the percocet now and he was completely off painkillers until his doctor was introduced to a new a new drug called OxyContin. His doctor assured him that this new drug was slow-release, and therefore could not lead to addiction, but Officer Moore discovered that if you bit down on the pill the effects were felt much sooner, and he quickly spiraled out of control once again. Officer Moore began using his badge as a means to get multiple prescriptions around the province until one doctor caught on and informed the police department about Moore’s sketchy drug seeking behavior.

Officer Moore was never suspended or fired due to his actions, but decided to leave the police force in the late 1990s. For several years he continued to use methadone to treat his pain and was eventually helped by a doctor who specialized in anesthesia.

The main part to take away from this story is that pain is a real problem for many people, and the drugs available are available for a reason, but the tragedy is the number of people becoming addicted and never addressing their main concern which is pain. If the source of pain is identified and treated effectively then the possibility of addiction goes away. Not everyone’s pain can be treated promptly or even years down the road, and that is perhaps the saddest part of addiction because it’s nearly impossible to manage certain kinds of pain without the drugs, no matter how much rehab or therapy is available.



The Real Breaking Bads

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Arguably one of TVs most watched series Breaking Bad and main character Walter White have entertained the masses for the past few years on AMC and Netflix. But did you know there are a few real life bad breakers who have been brought to the attention of the media recently? Lets take a look.

A Montana man in his 50’s also named Walter White has been sentenced to 12 years on drug and fire arm charges for dealing what the DEA calls: an “extraordinary” quantity of methamphetamine. Oddly enough, just like the fictional Walter White, the real White said that drug dealing wasn’t something he would ever do, but once he started he became “addicted” to selling meth. Although the fictional Mr. White was a high school chemistry teacher and literally brewed his own methamphetamine, the real Walter White did not cook up his own supply, but instead dealt the drugs who were supplied to him by a counter-part in California. Upon the real Mr. White’s arrest the DEA and police found two handguns, $15,000 and four ounces of meth, which the judge involved in the case said was nothing in comparison to the 32 pounds of meth he is accused of dealing all across the state.

Via The Independent:

Judge says TV character’s namesake distributed an ‘extraordinary’ quantity of methamphetamine across Montana

Second, we meet a Mr. Stephen Doran who teaches math at the Match Charter School in Boston, MA. Mr. Doran, aged 57, has cancer, just like Walter White in Breaking Bad, but the similarities don’t end there. Mr. Doran was arrested by state troopers after they discovered 480 grams of methamphetamine in his possession which were mailed to him at his school by the US Postal Service. The police have said that Mr. Doran was in possession of $50,000 worth of meth, and after searching his home found $10,000 in cash and an additional 38 grams of meth.

Via Daily Mail:

When he appeared in court, bald-headed Doran’s lawyer said he has undergone months of chemotherapy for stage three cancer. ‘His life was on the line – literally,’ he said.

Third, we have Mr. Dicky Joe Jackson, who was spending time in jail for moving a kilo of marijuana in the late 80’s when he found out his son Cole was dying of a rare condition that required chemotherapy and eventually an expensive bone marrow transplant ($25o,000). Because the family had lost it’s health insurance, they were forced to sell off all of their possessions as well as asking friends and even celebrities for help, but in the end they were still $150,000 short of paying for the operation and the expensive treatment that would follow. That’s when a dealer Mr. Jackson knew offered to pay him to transport drugs from California to Texas for $5000 per trip. Jackson made the journeys for a year before being caught.

Via RT:

“I was desperate,” Jackson told Salon. “I had to get the money. Before I had kids, I’d never known there was a love like that. Once you have kids the whole game changes. There ain’t nothing you wouldn’t do for them especially if they’re sick.

“Drink”: An Introduction to the book by Ann Johnston

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Ann Dowsett Johnston’s book “Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” reveals the dark side of female drinking. She epitomizes the growing relationship between women and the bottle with a continuous look back at her childhood, early adulthood and a more recent partnership with dependence. Ms. Johnston’s interesting and vibrant description of her happy childhood makes us wonder why she ever turned to drinking, but throughout the book she reveals that she grew up under the shadow of alcoholism, being raised by two alcoholics. She elegantly separates the differences between her parents drinking habits: Her mother would spend her nights wandering the halls with a drink, and was more obviously a problem drinker. Whereas her father was much more reserved and secretive, although he eventually died from a neurological disease known as Korsakoff’s Syndrome which is caused by “chronic alcohol abuse and/or severe malnutrition.”

Ms. Johnston’s book often focuses on her personal journey to sobriety, which she accomplished after rehabilitation in 2008. She points out through her experiences as well as those she interviewed that women drink for many reasons, and most of these reasons are not the same for men. Many women alcoholics, including Ms. Johnston, drank to cover up pain, emotions and as an escape from their troublesome realities. One of the women she sits down with at the beginning of the book goes by Rebecca, and she captures the essence as to why many young women turn to alcohol as well as develop eating disorders and drug habits. Rebecca tells Ms. Johnston that she moved around a lot as a child, and desperately wanted to fit in. She had a weight problem and was heavily influenced by the media at the time. She drank herself into blackouts as well as becoming anorexic and bulimic. Eventually she moved from vodka to whiskey (for breakfast) and began using hard drugs like cocaine.

Other key points that Ms. Johnston makes include the correlation between sexual abuse and women’s drinking and alcoholism. A number of the women she interviews admit to being sexually violated and abused, some of which were violated at a very young age and subsequently began drinking in their teens and even earlier. Another issue that is well diagnosed by this book is that of the effect of alcohol on unborn babies. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (Or FASD’s) as she describes them are a growing problem, especially with the increase in drinking by women in the Western world.

Another issue discussed in the book, an especially important one in fact, is how “big alcohol” similar to “big tobacco” 40 years ago has a deeply concerning agenda and an army of lobbyists to carry it out. Ms. Johnston points out in her book that a few years ago the alcohol companies took aim at men by using images of women and sex. The alcohol industry now realizes that it needs to sell to women, and they will do so with virtually a free pass on TV and social networking sites.

Before I conclude this introduction I think it is important to discuss one other aspect of the book which is the stigma surrounding women’s alcoholism. Towards the end of the book Ms. Johnston reveals that she asked many women whether they’d rather be viewed as depressed rather than alcoholic. The clear majority said they would rather be known as depressed than a drunk.

I wont reveal anymore of the book as it would ruin the experience, and it is without a doubt a “sobering” tale in which science, personal testimony and interviews merge to address a growing problem in our society.

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston

Over the course of December we will be exploring some of the issues Ann Johnston raised in her recent book “Drink”. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or concerns we can help you with.