Monday: Trump Anticipated to Suggest Dying Penalty for Drug Offenses in Lengthy-Awaited Response to Overdose Disaster

Administration Embracing Discredited Drug Struggle Insurance policies Confirmed to Worsen Each Mass Incarceration and Overdose Deaths
Assertion from DPA: As a substitute of Losing Assets on the Dying Penalty, Administration Ought to Concentrate on Steps That Work

On Monday, President Trump is predicted to announce a plan for his administration’s response to opioid habit and overdose. As a substitute of specializing in overdose response measures which can be recognized to work, the administration is reportedly planning to name for the dying penalty for individuals who promote medication.  The plan additionally requires ramping up the already extraordinarily harsh federal sentences for drug legislation violations.
“Fairly than serving to folks susceptible to overdose and their households, Trump is cynically utilizing the overdose disaster to enchantment to the worst instincts of his base, and pushing for measures that can solely make the disaster worse,” Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, govt director of the Drug Coverage Alliance. “If this administration desires to avoid wasting lives, it must drop its obsession with killing and locking folks up, and as an alternative focus sources on what works: hurt discount methods and entry to evidence-based remedy and prevention.”

A few of the measures Trump has endorsed up to now embrace steps to extend entry to remedy and the overdose reversal medicine naloxone, which might be useful if carried out with a give attention to evidence-based remedy and placing naloxone within the arms of people and neighborhood teams. However in observe he has completed little to supply a public well being response to the disaster. Nor has he endorsed efficient measures just like the institution of supervised consumption websites, drug checking companies, syringe entry packages, 911 Good Samaritan legal guidelines, or evidence-based drug schooling. Moreover, the administration’s efforts to intestine the ACA and limit Medicaid will dramatically scale back entry to efficient remedy.

In the meantime,  the administration has been escalating the struggle on medication and embracing discredited insurance policies confirmed to worsen each mass incarceration and the overdose disaster. President Trump has repeatedly expressed help for “sturdy legislation enforcement” approaches to coping with drug habit. Lawyer Basic Jeff Periods has pursued a hardline agenda on drug coverage. Harsh sentencing legal guidelines have already been in place for many years, and have confirmed wholly ineffective at lowering drug use and habit, whereas having devastating results on folks of colour and different marginalized communities.

Proof-based prevention, remedy, and hurt discount interventions may help to stem the tide of opioid overdose fatalities. The Drug Coverage Alliance has detailed particular coverage proposals in a latest report, A Public Well being and Security Plan to Tackle Problematic Opioid Use and Overdose. The plan provides greater than twenty coverage proposals that, if carried out, will enhance entry to efficient remedy, develop hurt discount companies, forestall additional opioid misuse, scale back the position of criminalization and reduce incarceration, and reduce racial disparities.  
“Any significant plan to deal with opioid overdoses has to start with recognizing how the drug struggle has set the stage for this disaster, by driving drug use underground, depriving folks of primary details about how you can scale back the harms of drug use, and failing to spend money on and overdose prevention and efficient remedy,” added Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno.

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Fuel Station Loos Use Blue Lights to Cease IV Drug Use

Will blue lights put an end to IV drug use in gas station bathrooms?

Will blue lights put an end to IV drug use in gas station bathrooms?

Gas station bathrooms have become a common place for IV drug users to shoot up. They’re often unlocked, can be accessed without making a purchase, and provide a place out of sight from police.

For the homeless, gas station bathrooms are one of the few places where it’s considered “safe” to inject.

Casting a New Light on IV Drug Use

In New Kensington, Pennsylvania, 174 overdose deaths occurred in 2016; the numbers are expected to be much larger this year.

Those numbers led several New Kensington gas stations to take action against bathroom drug use in an unusual way: instead of lighting their bathrooms with regular lights, they installed “blue lights” – the kind of glow-in-the-dark lights you’d expect to see in a haunted house, but not necessarily a gas station bathroom.

The reason behind this “blue light special?” It makes it much more difficult for IV drug users to see their veins.

According to a CNN article, Sheetz gas stations’ public relations manager, Nick Ruffner, said that the blue light strategy is “designed to help our customers and employees avoid dangerous situations.”

Their perspective is understandable – using a public restroom where dirty syringes could be left on the floor or where someone could overdose would be dangerous to the public and gas station employees alike.

A Rising Death Toll

As IV drug users lose their homes or can’t find shelters to accept those who are still using, they become more desperate to find “safe” places to use. Rural areas where there are fewer shelters and social services or harm reduction services, such as needle exchanges or safe injection sites, are seeing more overdoses in public places because homeless drug users have nowhere else to go.

The effect on the non-using population can be extremely upsetting. Sean, who grew up in Huntington, West Virginia, a town that experienced 26 overdoses in less than four hours back in 2016, recalls the day his sister found a person who had overdosed in a gas station bathroom. He said,“You feel like you’re not safe anywhere.”

Compassion or Scorn?

Is the danger real or is it simply fear of the stereotypical addict? And is it reasonable to expect that making it harder for drug users to see their veins will cut down on drug use? Or is it more likely the blue lights will just drive users to further injure themselves by trying to shoot up in virtual darkness?

Safe injection sites, social service programs, and decriminalization of drug use could save lives, reduce harm, and protect the public from dirty syringes. And gas station customers could use the bathroom in regular light.

Additional Reading:   Does Data Show Supervised Injection Sites Save Lives?

Image Source: iStock

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Saturday three/17: Free Expungement Truthful at Los Angeles Commerce–Technical School for Individuals Clearing or Decreasing Marijuana Data

In an effort to assist folks cut back or clear their legal data, the Drug Coverage Alliance is internet hosting a sequence of 4 free report expungement gala’s within the Better Los Angeles space. These occasions are a sponsored challenge of MedMen Enterprises.

The primary honest on this new sequence will probably be Saturday, March 17th, at Los Angeles Commerce–Technical School close to Downtown Los Angeles.

California’s marijuana legalization regulation permits folks to retroactively cut back or clear marijuana convictions for exercise that’s now authorized or much less severely punished since Proposition 64 handed in 2016. The expungement gala’s will present free entry to attorneys and paralegals from partnering organizations to assist those that have been impacted, and are a part of a broad array of providers being supplied, together with employment, well being care, immigration session, and voter registration.

What:             Free Expungement Truthful for Individuals with Felony Data
When:            Saturday, March 17th, 2018, 10am – 2pm PDT
The place:           Los Angeles Commerce–Technical School
                       400 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90015

Attorneys and paralegals from the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Workplace will probably be on web site offering free post-conviction reduction for anybody with an eligible Los Angeles County legal conviction. Different attorneys will probably be on web site to help individuals who have convictions outdoors of Los Angeles County. Members will be capable to discover out if they’ll take away their conviction from their report or if it may be decreased to a decrease penalty and can obtain direct help in doing so.

“Doing this work is about defending folks from the results of our outdated, failed drug legal guidelines,” stated Eunisses Hernandez, a California coverage coordinator for the Drug Coverage Alliance. “Prior marijuana convictions can create obstacles to housing, employment, and even make folks a goal for deportation, principally impacting poor communities and communities of colour. California’s historic marijuana legalization initiative has already helped 1000’s clear or cut back a marijuana conviction from their report, however we have to get the phrase out to the lots of of 1000’s of different Californians who may gain advantage from this groundbreaking provision.

Adam Bierman, CEO of MedMen – a Los Angeles-based hashish firm with services and operations in three states – commented, “It’s a accountability we’ve got as leaders of the brand new, authorized trade, to assist reverse the devastation attributable to selective enforcement skilled throughout the failed warfare on medicine. It is a new lease on life for these people which in flip begins a course of to re-strengthen households and communities.”

Within the state of California, there are four,800 obstacles to housing, employment, and citizenship that exist for somebody with a legal report. Decreasing or expunging prior convictions, together with prior marijuana convictions, removes 1000’s of obstacles that enable folks to totally reenter their neighborhood and society. It’s not straightforward to deal with decreasing or expunging your report with out authorized assist, so these free gala’s are essential for serving to attain extra individuals who want help.

The retroactive penalty discount provisions of Prop. 64 had been a precedence for the Drug Coverage Alliance when the initiative was being drafted. DPA and its companions have hosted dozens of expungement gala’s like this and have already helped lots of of individuals get their data modified. These gala’s have generated in depth media protection throughout the state of California – and even nationally within the Los Angeles Instances and Washington Submit – and have helped this situation acquire momentum on a systemic stage. Earlier this 12 months, San Francisco’s district legal professional introduced that the town will clear or cut back 1000’s of marijuana convictions relationship again a long time. Seattle then made the same announcement the next week, and final week the Sonoma County district legal professional’s workplace stated it’s going to start clearing or decreasing practically three,000 marijuana-related convictions.

Individuals searching for extra data on how you can get their data decreased or expunged can discover out extra on the Drug Coverage Alliance’s web site.

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Do You Drink Or Use to Repress Your Rage?

Many people mistakenly believe substance abuse helps them get rid of anger.

Many people mistakenly believe substance abuse helps them get rid of anger.

Women in general are trained not to show anger – Southern women especially. I grew up in the South in the Reagan years, the daughter of a divorced mom. I was close to my dad, step-mother, step-brother, and grandparents.

No one ever argued; no one ever fought. The one or two times I said something in anger, I was swiftly and harshly reprimanded.

Nice Girls Don’t Get Angry…Right?

I learned to repress all anger, any rage. Eventually, in my late twenties, I discovered an easy way to get rid of the anger: wine! Family holidays became fun as the wine and margaritas and Bloody Mary’s flowed freely. I would sometimes throw up in the morning, but I was always so nice – never feeling any anger or really much of anything at all.

Later on, when I was in a long-term relationship and owned a house with my boyfriend, I would get drunk and finally vent my anger at him over things I couldn’t talk about sober. One night I even threw a full glass of wine across the kitchen. It made a terrible mess, leaving shards of glass all over the floor (and making me realize that, if you’re going to throw a glass of wine, it should be white, not red).

The angrier I got – at my job, my boyfriend, even my family – the more I drank. I didn’t know how to communicate or negotiate, I only knew how to smile politely when sober and either drink to the point of almost passing out at the local dive bar or get drunk at home and throw a fit.

5 Ways to Release the Rage

In sobriety, I had to learn how to confront the rage in a healthy way. With the help of my therapist and a few close friends and family, here’s what I learned.

  • Keep Communication Open

    If you’re angry at a friend or family member, find a quiet time. Ask if they are open to talking about what’s bothering you. That keeps those emotions from getting repressed.

  • Find Healthy Ways to Get the Negative Energy Out

    Run, do yoga, even just take a walk.

  • Plan Ahead

    When you know you’re walking into a situation that will make you angry, have a strategy for how you handle it.

  • Talk to Someone Uninvolved

    A therapist is a great person to talk to, or a trusted friend who isn’t embroiled in the situation.

  • When You Do Feel Rage, Forgive Yourself

    It’s a natural human emotion. Don’t beat yourself up for being angry. Let yourself off the hook. I used to feel so guilty the morning after a fight with my ex. I’d grovel to him, then resent the groveling.

Remember, anger is normal. Repressing it can be a quick way to relapse. Protect yourself and your loved ones by finding healthy ways to let it out!

Additional Reading:   Clean, Sober and Totally Pissed Off: A Bad Trifecta

Image Source: iStock

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Free Expungement Gala’s to Take Place Throughout Los Angeles County for Individuals Clearing or Decreasing Marijuana Data

In an effort to assist folks cut back or clear their prison data, the Drug Coverage Alliance is internet hosting a collection of 4 free report expungement festivals within the Higher Los Angeles space. These occasions are a sponsored venture of MedMen Enterprises.

California’s marijuana legalization legislation permits folks to retroactively cut back or clear marijuana convictions for exercise that’s now authorized or much less severely punished since Proposition 64 handed in 2016. The expungement festivals will present free entry to attorneys and paralegals from partnering organizations to assist those that have been impacted and are a part of a broad array of providers being provided, together with employment, well being care, immigration session, and voter registration.

The primary truthful on this new collection will likely be Saturday, March 17th, at Los Angeles Commerce–Technical School close to Downtown Los Angeles.

Attorneys and paralegals from the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Workplace will likely be on website offering free post-conviction aid for anybody with an eligible Los Angeles County prison conviction. Different attorneys will likely be on website to help individuals who have convictions outdoors of Los Angeles County. Individuals will have the ability to discover out if they will take away their conviction from their report or if it may be diminished to a decrease penalty and can obtain direct help in doing so.

“Doing this work is about defending folks from the implications of our outdated, failed drug legal guidelines,” stated Eunisses Hernandez, a California coverage coordinator for the Drug Coverage Alliance. “Prior marijuana convictions can create limitations to housing, employment, and even make folks a goal for deportation, principally impacting poor communities and communities of shade. California’s historic marijuana legalization initiative has already helped 1000’s clear or cut back a marijuana conviction from their report, however we have to get the phrase out to the a whole bunch of 1000’s of different Californians who may benefit from this groundbreaking provision.”

Adam Bierman, CEO of MedMen – a Los Angeles-based hashish firm with services and operations in three states – commented, “It’s a accountability we now have as leaders of the brand new, authorized business, to assist reverse the devastation attributable to selective enforcement skilled through the failed conflict on medicine. This can be a new lease on life for these people which in flip begins a course of to re-strengthen households and communities.”

Within the state of California, there are four,800 limitations to housing, employment, and citizenship that exist for somebody with a prison report. Decreasing or expunging prior convictions, together with prior marijuana convictions, removes 1000’s of limitations that enable folks to totally reenter their neighborhood and society. It’s not straightforward to deal with lowering or expunging your report with out authorized assist, so these free festivals are essential for serving to attain extra individuals who want help.

The retroactive penalty discount provisions of Prop. 64 have been a precedence for the Drug Coverage Alliance when the initiative was being drafted. DPA and its companions have hosted dozens of expungement festivals like this and have already helped a whole bunch of individuals get their data modified. These festivals have generated intensive media protection throughout the state of California – and even nationally within the Los Angeles Instances and Washington Put up – and have helped this situation achieve momentum on a systemic stage. Earlier this 12 months, San Francisco’s district lawyer introduced that town will clear or cut back 1000’s of marijuana convictions courting again a long time. Seattle then made the same announcement the next week, and final week the Sonoma County district lawyer’s workplace stated it would start clearing or lowering practically three,000 marijuana-related convictions.

Individuals on the lookout for extra info on the right way to get their data diminished or expunged can discover out extra on the Drug Coverage Alliance’s web site.

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four Obstacles Plaguing On-Demand Habit Therapy

We can get our favorite TV shows on-demand. We can find just about anything we want online. Amazon even offers easy buttons now, to reorder your favorite stuff with just one click.

We’ve come so far with technology, convenience, and efficiency to quickly meet so many of our wants and needs. Yet, we’re still losing 140 Americans every day to overdose. Why? It’s partly because more than half of the 2.2 million Americans with an opioid use disorder aren’t receiving treatment. As the death toll continues to rise, medical professionals and lawmakers are working on an idea that could save countless lives and revolutionize the addiction treatment industry: Instant access to treatment.

Why the Delay in Treatment?

The premise of on-demand treatment is simple: when someone asks for help with a substance abuse issue, they get help right away. True on-demand treatment provides immediate assistance to inhibit cravings, stabilize the patient, and provide a long-term treatment plan. This method could prevent many needless deaths, but several factors stand in the way of this valuable treatment resource, such as:

  • Availability: People seeking addiction treatment discover a shortage of professionals and extensive wait times. With so many people hooked on opioids, there simply aren’t enough counselors, treatment centers and beds to go around. No US city currently offers all forms of treatment on demand.
  • Access: Even when treatment options are available, not all patients can easily access them. They lack transportation. They have no phone to call for help. They may not even realize the options exist. Someone on one side of a city may never encounter a treatment center on the other side. Another may never encounter the hotline number that could save their life.
  • Finances: Treatment isn’t cheap. Just like everything else in the healthcare arena today, most rehabs cost a lot of money. Insurance may cover some of it, but not all. And, not everyone has great insurance coverage to begin with. Those that do may need pre-authorization to receive coverage. Working their way through this red tape is a far cry from treatment on-demand.
  • Stigma: Let’s imagine a near-perfect scenario where someone dependent on opioids knows about on-demand treatment in their city, can access it and can even pay for these services. They still have one more barrier to overcome. They may not seek this treatment due to the stigma associated with chemical dependency. Hesitant to admit their struggles, they fear facing shame, exclusion, punishment, judgment and more.

Getting the Help You Need…When You Need It

If someone can work up the courage to ask for help, it needs to be available without delay. In the midst of a tornado of addiction, it’s easy to want help one minute and give up the next. Waiting for an open bed, open enrollment, or open arms aren’t always realistic options. In fact, these delays are often deadly. If we want to reduce the number of overdose deaths, we must remove these barriers to on-demand treatment.

Perhaps if we made treatment as easy to access as sitcom reruns, we could turn the tide on our nation’s opioid epidemic.

Additional Reading:   Treatment Waiting Lists Can Be a Death Sentence

Image Source: iStock

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U.S. Delegation Heads to Portugal March 19-22 to Study From Nation’s Groundbreaking Drug Decriminalization Coverage

What has Portugal discovered since they carried out the decriminalization of all medicine in 2001? How did the nation go from having the very best charge of overdose fatalities within the E.U. to the second lowest? How did they go from having the very best charge of injection drug-transmitted HIV infections within the E.U. to the bottom charge of recent HIV infections from intravenous drug use? What has been the impression of Portugal’s dramatic decline (60 %) of individuals arrested and referred to prison court docket for drug legislation violations? What can the U.S. be taught from Portugal’s accomplishments in a second when the present Lawyer Common is in search of to roll again positive aspects made by drug coverage reformers in lowering the ensuing harms of the drug struggle?

A delegation of individuals organized by the Drug Coverage Alliance who’ve been hit hardest by the U.S. struggle on medicine – from those that have been incarcerated for drug offenses to those that have misplaced family members to an overdose – are heading to Portugal March 19 – 21 to research these questions and extra.  Over 70 contributors might be arriving from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, North Carolina and different cities throughout the nation, together with representatives of greater than 35 organizations and several other media shops which were devoted to overlaying the drug struggle and mass incarceration.

“Portugal’s experiment in decriminalizing all medicine has lowered stigma and normalized hurt discount protocols, which has resulted in distinctive public well being outcomes—and the discount of individuals incarcerated for low-level drug legislation offenses. It demonstrates that there’s one other strategy to method drug use in a society that’s way more profitable than the strategies that the U.S. has superior for the reason that Nixon administration. Portugal measures success within the saving and high quality of an individual’s life, not just by their abstinence or how a lot we will punish them,” mentioned asha bandele, Senior Director of Grants, Partnerships and Particular Tasks on the Drug Coverage Alliance. “If we will perceive methods to forestall overdose and new HIV infections from intravenous drug use; and if we start to dismantle a number of the structure that drives jail and jail populations, we will start to totally notice a nation whose public well being and security protocols are centered on human rights and justice.”

The delegation will hear from João Goulão, the Portuguese Common Director for Intervention on Addictive Behaviors and Dependencies; in addition to consultants from the Ministry of Public Well being, NGO leaders, lively drug customers and previously incarcerated folks. The delegation will even go to the biggest drug remedy heart in Lisbon; tour methadone upkeep vans situated all through the town providing an opioid substitute; and shadow hurt discount avenue groups that do direct intervention with lively IV drug customers, together with refugees, chronically homeless folks, and intercourse staff.

Within the U.S. there are nearly as many drug overdose deaths per 12 months as there are lives misplaced to weapons and automobile accidents mixed.  As well as, the criminalization of drug possession is a serious driver of mass incarceration and mass criminalization. Every year, U.S. legislation enforcement makes greater than 1.5 million drug arrests. The overwhelming majority — greater than 80 % — are for possession solely. Discriminatory enforcement of drug possession legal guidelines has produced profound racial and ethnic disparities in any respect ranges of the prison justice system.

Additional Particulars about Portugal’s Decriminalization Coverage and its Impacts

In 2001, Portuguese legislators eradicated prison penalties for low-level possession and consumption of all medicine and reclassified these actions as “administrative violations” (the equal of a visitors ticket). The coverage additionally included a serious growth of remedy and hurt discount providers, together with entry to sterile syringes, methadone upkeep, and the elimination of most obstacles to such very important providers.  Drug trafficking stays unlawful and remains to be processed by the prison justice system.  The outcomes? In keeping with the Drug Coverage Alliance report, It’s Time for the U.S. to Decriminalize Drug Use and Possession, which examined the outcomes of Portugal’s drug coverage:

  • Between 1998 and 2011, the variety of folks in drug remedy elevated by greater than 60 % (from roughly 23,600 to roughly 38,000). Over 70 % of those that search remedy obtain opioid-substitution remedy, the simplest remedy for opioid dependence.
  • The variety of new HIV diagnoses dropped dramatically – from 1,575 instances in 2000 to 78 instances in 2013 – and the variety of new AIDS instances decreased from 626 in 2000 to 74 instances in 2013 (in a rustic of simply over 10 million folks).
  • Drug overdose fatalities dropped from about 80 in 2001 to simply 16 in 2012.
  • The Well being Ministry estimates that solely about 25,000 Portuguese use heroin, down from 100,000 when the coverage started.
  • The proportion of individuals behind bars in Portugal for drug legislation violations has decreased dramatically, from 44 % in 1999 to 24 % in 2013.
  • The proportion of individuals arrested and despatched to prison court docket for drug possession declined by 60 %.
  • The Portuguese Well being Ministry spends lower than $ 10 per citizen per 12 months on its profitable drug coverage. In the meantime the US has spent some $ 10Okay per family (greater than $ 1 trillion complete) over the many years on a failed drug coverage that leads to greater than 1,000 deaths every week.
  • Maybe most importantly, by eradicating the specter of prison penalties, Portugal took away the worry and stigma related to in search of remedy. Now those that want remedy come to it voluntarily – and usually tend to succeed consequently.
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Thursday: Discussion board on Racial Justice and Marijuana Legalization at Bethel AME Church in Woodbury

Woodbury, NJ—On Thursday, March eighth, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Woodbury, Gloucester County NAACP and the Drug Coverage Alliance will host, “Marijuana Legalization: Religion, Info & Fiction,” at 7:00 pm at Bethel AME Church (32 Courtland Road, Woodbury, NJ 08096).

Because the political debate round marijuana legalization heats up in New Jersey, the discussion board will focus why laws to legalize marijuana in New Jersey should be truthful and equitable and should restore previous harms to communities of coloration.

“Probably the most immoral factor we may do is permit prohibition to proceed when it has devastated our communities,” mentioned Rev. Charles Boyer, Pastor of Bethel AME Church. “Hashish prohibition was devised to regulate communities of coloration and it has labored as meant. We should finish the drug battle which is a battle on individuals.”

“Politicians and authorities officers have used hashish prohibition to focus on and criminalize Black and Brown individuals and throw them in jail,” provides Loretta Winters, President of the Gloucester County NAACP. “We within the Gloucester County NAACP are asking for reparations from authorities officers and firms that stand to revenue!  We demand that an enormous piece of the enterprise that this laws will generate make up for all of the ache, struggling and lack of income that our Black and Brown communities have been subjected too.”

“New Jersey’s marijuana legal guidelines are failing individuals of coloration,” mentioned Richard Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Convention. “Our state’s prison justice system has positioned a disproportionate burden on individuals of coloration and ending marijuana prohibition for adults is a begin to lifting it. Our state has a alternative: it could possibly generate income to spend money on our communities, or it could possibly waste sources to focus on our communities for arrests unfairly and unnecessarily. The reply is obvious: it’s time for legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana for adults.”

Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director of the Drug Coverage Alliance, agrees, “Till lately, with the passage of Proposition 64 in California, marijuana legalization initiatives haven’t gone far sufficient to restore the harms of marijuana prohibition. What we’ve seen in California is what we need to replicate right here in New Jersey. Legalization laws in New Jersey should embody computerized and retroactive expungement and resentencing, significant entry to the marijuana trade for individuals of coloration, together with these with prior convictions, and funding of the tax income generated into these communities most harmed by marijuana prohibition.”

The discussion board shall be facilitated by Loretta Winters, President of the Gloucestor County NAACP. Panelists embody:

  • Assemblyman Arthur Barclay, New Jersey State Legislature
  • Reverend Charles Boyer, Bethel AME Church, Woodbury
  • Pastor Willie Dwayne Francois III, Mount Zion Baptist Church, Pleasantville
  • Roseanne Scotti, Esq., Drug Coverage Alliance
  • Richard T. Smith, NAACP New Jersey State Convention
  • Charles A. Fiore, Esq., Gloucestor County Prosectuor

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is a historic church in Woodbury, New Jersey. Bethel’s church organizations are dedicated to sowing Christ’s love all through the world by being the epicenter for worship in sanctuary and group, increasing the Kingdom one soul at a time via discipleship, salvation, sanctification and social justice. The Gloucester County NAACP department works to make sure the political, academic, social, and financial equality of rights of all individuals and to eradicate race-based discrimination. The New Options Marketing campaign of the Drug Coverage Alliance has advocated for prison justice reforms in New Jersey for almost a decade. Truthful and equitable marijuana legalization is the following initiative in its marketing campaign to reform New Jersey’s damaged prison justice system.

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Albuquerque Metropolis Council Information Invoice to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

Greater than 50 P.c of Voters in Each Albuquerque Metropolis Council District Help Decriminalizing Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana

Albuquerque, NM – At the moment, Albuquerque Metropolis Council members, Pat Davis and Isaac Benton, filed a brand new invoice to take away felony sanctions pertaining to possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia from town’s municipal codes.

The proposed ordinance makes one ounce or much less of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia a civil infraction with a high quality of $ 25. A civil infraction is just not thought of a felony conviction. The ordinance additionally takes away the potential for jail time. Presently, an individual can spend greater than two weeks in jail for a primary offense and 90 days for a subsequent offense.

Albuquerque residents voiced their assist on the poll field for decriminalizing marijuana. In November on 2016, voters in Santa Fe County and Bernalillo County voiced overwhelming assist for marijuana decriminalization – Bernalillo County voted 60 p.c and Santa Fe County voted 73 p.c in favor of statewide decriminalization. Greater than 50 p.c of Albuquerque voters in all 9 metropolis council districts voted to decriminalize small quantities of marijuana. On March 2nd, the Albuquerque Journal reported that Shaun Willoughby, the president of the Albuquerque police union, will assist the laws.

“It’s time that cities resist Jeff Classes’ battle on marijuana and stand as much as the Trump administration,” acknowledged Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director of the Drug Coverage Alliance. “Cities know greatest the contours of their very own issues – and are due to this fact greatest positioned to craft significant options to these issues. Will we wish to be the type of society that arrests and jails adults – who’re disproportionately individuals of colour and low-income – for possessing a substance that’s unequivocally been proven to be far much less harmful than alcohol or tobacco? Why would we knowingly put our youngsters and cops in danger by stretching our regulation enforcement past their means with low-level crimes that don’t threaten our neighborhood? The individuals of Albuquerque have clearly demonstrated that they need a extra simply society. I’m very assured that this measure will take us one step nearer to that objective and I sit up for working with elected officers and Mayor Keller to deliver sensible marijuana reform to Albuquerque.”

Santa Fe decriminalized small quantities of marijuana in 2014. In 2015, former Councilor Garduño and Councilor Benton sponsored the same measure that handed the council 5-Four on a celebration line vote. Nonetheless, it was vetoed by Mayor Berry.

In February, the Jackson, MS metropolis council voted unanimously to decriminalize marijuana. Jackson joined Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans as marijuana reform picks up momentum in southern municipalities. Greater than 120 million individuals – or one-third of the U.S. inhabitants – dwell in jurisdictions the place marijuana has been primarily decriminalized, which means there is no such thing as a jail time related to possession.

The Drug Coverage Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s main group of people that imagine the battle on medicine is doing extra hurt than good. DPA fights for drug insurance policies primarily based on science, compassion, well being and human rights.

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Baton Rouge On Brink of Decriminalizing Marijuana

This week, the East Baton Rouge Metropolitan Metropolis Council voted Eight-Four in favor of an ordinance to decriminalize marijuana in East Baton Rouge Parish, which incorporates the state capital of Baton Rouge.  If Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome indicators the ordinance, it would go into impact on March 31.

“This may be a major step towards repairing the devastating harms of mass criminalization on communities of coloration,” stated Michelle Wright, coverage supervisor for the Drug Coverage Alliance. “The information reveals that arrests for marijuana possession are largely based mostly on race and sophistication. Black individuals are arrested for marijuana possession at thrice the speed of white individuals in Louisiana, though each teams use marijuana at related charges.”  

Following the ordinance change, co-authored by East Baton Rouge Metropolis Councilmembers LaMont Cole and Chandler Loupe, a first-time marijuana possession offense with lower than 14 grams would carry a high-quality of $ 40. A second-time offense would carry a high-quality of $ 60, a third-time offense could be $ 80, and every subsequent offense would carry a high-quality of $ 100. Historically, the regulation mandated that these in possession of below 14 g or much less face a potential sentence of 15 days in jail and a $ 300 high-quality, even for a primary offense.

“I do not assume we should always spend police assets on this,” stated Councilman Chandler Loupe, who’s sponsoring the ordinance change, including that he would “quite see police spend their time on different crimes.”

Nationally, help for marijuana legalization is at an all-time excessive – with practically two-thirds of Individuals supporting legalization, together with a majority of Republicans. In current months, Atlanta, GA and Jackson, MS have enacted marijuana decriminalization ordinances. In 2016, Nashville and New Orleans turned the primary cities within the Deep South to approve marijuana decriminalization.

Sadly, all through many of the Deep South, harsh marijuana legal guidelines stay the norm.  Black and Brown individuals are arrested, convicted, and sentenced for drug regulation violations at disproportionately excessive charges. Because of this whereas some individuals in authorized marijuana states could revenue from manufacturing and promoting marijuana, individuals in different states – particularly individuals of coloration – are nonetheless arrested and incarcerated in huge numbers for merely possessing it. The implications of those harsh insurance policies have been devastating for hundreds of thousands of people, their households, and communities.

“The changes we are trying to make by way of marijuana enforcement is step one in long run crime prevention,” stated Councilmember LaMont Cole, who co-authored the ordinance.

“For a lot too lengthy in our group now we have allowed the penalties for marijuana to create a caste system retaining individuals from taking part within the American imaginative and prescient,” added Cole. “If we wish safer communities the place residents really feel empowered to reap the benefits of alternatives we should comply with the lead of bigger cities and assist our residents. Fortunately we have been capable of take a step in that course immediately.”

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How prescription and non-prescription drug abuse impacts optometry

The opioid disaster within the U.S. continues to blow up as some sufferers are turning to avenue medicine as soon as their prescriptions run out. Thuy-Lan Nguyen, OD, discusses how ODs may be a part of the answer when sufferers present indicators of prescription or non-prescription drug abuse.

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President Trump Advocating Demise Penalty for Drug Sellers

5 sources throughout the Trump Administration point out that the president repeatedly makes statements indicating he wish to emulate insurance policies of China, the Philippines, and Singapore by executing drug sellers, in keeping with a report by Axios.

“Given Trump’s embrace of the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, who has overseen a large-scale marketing campaign of state-sanctioned homicide, it’s no shock that Trump is saying he desires to execute drug sellers,” mentioned Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, government director of Drug Coverage Alliance. “However executions will not be solely barbaric and unlawful beneath worldwide legislation—additionally they don’t work. It’s appalling that within the midst of a serious overdose disaster, Trump continues to disregard confirmed insurance policies that save lives, and as a substitute seeks to emulate the habits of killers.”

Trump has praised President Duterte’s response to medicine within the Philippines, which has led to 1000’s of extrajudicial executions of individuals for his or her suspected involvement in medicine. The Worldwide Felony Courtroom is assessing whether or not this coverage constitutes against the law in opposition to humanity.

Utilizing the dying penalty for drug offenses, as Trump apparently desires to do, is a violation of worldwide legislation. It’s a coverage that has primarily been adopted by autocratic or extremely repressive states like China, Iran, and Singapore; even when it labored at decreasing drug provide or use—and these states have supplied no significant proof that it has—it’s a completely disproportionate and abusive state response to problematic drug use.

In distinction to ineffective draconian insurance policies, by adopting an built-in strategy to prevention, schooling, hurt discount, together with guaranteeing widespread distribution of naloxone, and evidence-based therapy, it’s attainable to dramatically cut back the variety of deaths associated to opioid use.

Along with prevention applications that educate folks with sincere details about opioids, hurt discount methods and applications have a powerful observe report of bettering the well being of individuals utilizing opioids and stopping overdose deaths. There are a variety of well-established hurt discount practices. Some are so simple as instructing younger folks easy methods to keep protected when partying. Different confirmed measures embrace organising protected consumption websites, enacting Good Samaritan legal guidelines that encourage folks to hunt assist when somebody is in misery with out worry of punishment, and guaranteeing that individuals in one of the best place to reverse an overdose—individuals who use medicine themselves or their pals and households—have quick access to the overdose antidote remedy naloxone.

One other life-saving hurt discount method is to provide individuals who use opioids a method of testing the substance they’re utilizing to see if it has been adulterated with fentanyl or another substance that would result in an overdose or different opposed response.

Hurt discount applications allow folks with experience in drug use to have interaction with those that are utilizing problematically, earn their belief, and doubtlessly information them towards voluntary therapy applications. Judgment and the specter of being punished for drug use drives individuals who use medicine underground and into better hazard of an overdose or different opposed response. Hurt discount, alternatively, saves lives.

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Monday: Metropolis Council Listening to on Marijuana Enforcement Amid Ongoing Marijuana Arrest Campaign and Abuses in Police Custody

New York, N.Y. –  On February 26, 2018, the New York Metropolis Council Committees on Justice System and Public Security will maintain a joint listening to on marijuana enforcement and knowledge gathering in New York Metropolis. This listening to comes as advocates decry one other 12 months of 1000’s of arrests for low-level marijuana possession – greater than 17,800 in 2017 – regardless of the state legislature decriminalizing private possession forty years in the past and Mayor de Blasio acknowledging in 2013 that clear racial bias in arrests present “this coverage is unjust and incorrect.”

These arrests additionally proceed to be marked by extraordinarily excessive racial disparities below Mayor de Blasio, as was the case below the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations. Black and Latino New Yorkers proceed to comprise 86 % of the greater than 70,000 folks arrested for low-level marijuana possession on Mayor de Blasio’s watch. Most individuals arrested are younger Black and Latino New Yorkers – in 2017, practically 40 of these arrested have been below 21 years outdated.

Marijuana prohibition enforcement continues for use as a justification for enormous violations of civil and human rights in New York Metropolis. The latest indictment of two New York detectives for raping and kidnapping an 18-year-old girl they arrested for allegedly possessing a small quantity of marijuana following an pointless search (because the younger girl sat in her parked automobile) illustrates the dramatic hurt that may end result from continued marijuana arrests. The difficulty of sexual consent whereas in custody may also be mentioned on the listening to.

Speaker Corey Johnson on Friday tweeted his help for marijuana legalization, saying, “I help legalization for a wide range of causes: eliminates the black market, enforcement is biased towards communities of colour, creates income, creates jobs, research have not confirmed that kinda will get hooked with legalization and the sky won’t fall. No rooster little.”

Monday’s Metropolis Council listening to will function testimony calling for an finish to New York Metropolis’s marijuana arrest campaign from a broad spectrum of advocates, together with representatives from civil rights, felony justice reform, policing specialists, immigration rights advocates, former regulation enforcement, and drug coverage reform. Representatives from the Begin SMART NY marketing campaign (SMART stands for Smart Marijuana Entry via Regulated Commerce), a coalition that helps ending marijuana prohibition in New York, will testify on the listening to.

What:             Metropolis Council Committees on Justice System and Public Security (hyperlink to agenda)
When:            Monday, February 26, 2018, 10 AM
The place:           Metropolis Corridor—Committee Room
Who:              Broad coalition of advocates, together with:

  • Kassandra Frederique – Drug Coverage Alliance
  • Brandon Hicks – Nationwide Motion Community
  • Catherine Gonzalez– Brooklyn Defender Companies
  • Anthony Posada – Authorized Help Society
  • Corey Pegues – retired NYPD
  • Joanne Naughton – retired NYPD
  • Darian Agostini – Make the Highway
  • Joyce McMillan – Youngster Welfare Organizing Challenge
  • Marsha Jean-Charles – Brotherhood/Sister Sol

The continuing marijuana arrest campaign has led to greater than 800,000 folks being arrested for possession of small quantities of marijuana in New York State over the previous 20 years, with over 700,000 arrests by the NYPD alone. On common, 60 New Yorkers are arrested on daily basis for marijuana possession, making marijuana possession one of many high arrests within the state. Though drug use and drug promoting happen at comparable charges throughout racial and ethnic teams, Black and Latino people are arrested for possessing marijuana at vastly disproportionate charges. In 2017, greater than 86% of all these arrested for marijuana possession in NYC have been Black and Latino; practically 83% of these arrested have been below 30 years outdated; and 38% have been below 21 years outdated.

“New York’s marijuana arrest campaign has resulted in vital harms for many who are most susceptible and has been used as a justification for the hyper-policing of communities of colour, funneling tens of 1000’s of New Yorkers into the maze of the felony justice system yearly and placing folks susceptible to deportation, shedding custody of their kids, and barring them from employment and housing for nothing greater than possessing small quantities of marijuana,” stated Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director for the Drug Coverage Alliance. “As New York lastly sheds its embarrassing distinction of being the marijuana arrest capital of the world, we should restore the harms of prohibition and finish the biased policing practices which have ruined the lives of so many younger Black and Latino New Yorkers. Finally, the easiest way to handle the disparities and challenges posed by prohibition is to legalize and regulate marijuana in New York.”

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Volvo Refuses to Rent Employee Legally Taking Suboxone

Thanks to an EEOC lawsuit, Volvo will pay for refusing to hire a worker undergoing MAT.

Thanks to an EEOC lawsuit, Volvo will pay for refusing to hire a worker undergoing MAT.

Michael Files was eager to begin his new job at Volvo. On the day he arrived for orientation, he didn’t receive a new employee welcome packet. Instead, Files was told the company had “changed its mind” about hiring him.

Somehow, Volvo “discovered” Files was participating in an approved and accredited buprenorphine program. As a result, they no longer wanted him.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed action against Volvo Group North American for this decision. Their suit claimed Volvo’s actions were unlawful due to discriminatory practice against Files and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The EEOC asked for back pay, damages, and job reinstatement for Files. Their action also asked that the Volvo Group make efforts to eliminate any discriminatory employment practices.

MAT Prejudice Lands Manufacturer in Court

EEOC District Director Kevin Berry stated, “Volvo violated federal law when it ignored the qualifications of an applicant, and instead wrongfully rescinded a job offer because he is a recovering drug addict in a medically supervised treatment program.”

Files had applied for work in the fall of 2014 and was offered a job in February 2015. Volvo told Files the offer was contingent on a physical exam, drug screen, and background check. During his physical, Files told the nurse he was receiving Suboxone treatment under the supervision of an accredited physician. At that point, the nurse allegedly told him the car manufacturer considered Suboxone “a narcotic worse than heroin.”

On January 19, 2018, Volvo Group North America, LLC agreed to pay Files $ 70,000 in monetary relief for failing to conduct an individualized assessment to determine what effect, if any, Suboxone had on his ability to perform the job.

Volvo will also institute a three-year consent decree to resolve the EEOCs federal disability discrimination suit; the consent decree is meant to prevent Volvo from violating the ADA in the future. In order to meet the terms of that decree, Volvo must:

  • Distribute an ADA policy to all employees at its Hagerstown facility explaining the right to a reasonable accommodation
  • Amend its policy on post-offer medical and drug evaluations, making it clear as to how the company assesses whether the employee’s (or an applicant’s) lawful use of prescription medication poses a threat under the ADA
  • Provide ADA training and report to the EEOC about its handling of future disability discrimination complaints
  • Post a notice regarding the settlement
  • “They Should Know Better”

    After hearing Files’ story, many treatment providers and recovery specialists were appalled that this type of bias is present in today’s workforce. Sally Friedman, Legal Action Center legal director stated, “In light of the opioid epidemic, it’s outrageous for employers to discriminate against treatments that are widely considered to be the standard of care.” She added, “Volvo’s HR should certainly know better. Unfortunately, a lot of employers don’t know better.”

    Files’ work history included employment as a forklift operator from 2011 to 2013 and sanitation worker from 2013-2015. Under supervised medication treatment since 2010, he’s required to attend monthly counseling sessions and complete monthly urine drug tests.

    Sylvester C. Sviokla, M.D. said, “Many of my private patients work with heavy machinery (many with the knowledge of their employers) and there’s no evidence of Suboxone impairing their performance. There is no evidence that buprenorphine/naloxone impairs cognitive or physical ability.”

    The First of Many?

    Access to medically assisted treatment continues to expand. Many accept it as the gold standard for care, and thousands in recovery across the country receive treatment similar to Files’. When you stop to consider these growing numbers, it’s highly likely this won’t be the last buprenorphine-related discrimination case launched by the EEOC.

    Additional Reading:   Stigmatizing MAT – Here’s Why It Needs to End

    Image Source: iStock

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Drug Coverage Alliance Government Director to Launch Groundbreaking Guide about Corruption, Medicine, and the Battle for Rights in Colombia

Whereas working in Colombia, the epicenter of the worldwide struggle on cocaine, Drug Coverage Alliance Government Director Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno noticed the devastation wrought by the drug struggle firsthand. Her fast-paced new nonfiction e-book – There Are No Lifeless Right here: A Story of Homicide and Denial in Colombia – presents classes in regards to the futility and devastating destruction that flows from the struggle on medicine, which US President Donald Trump and Lawyer Normal Jeff Periods are attempting to ramp up.

Early revelations from the e-book, which focuses on three people’ battle to show the reality about organized crime’s affect on authorities, are already producing important information in Colombia (learn extra right here). One of many major characters, Iván Velásquez, has additionally gained prominence in recent times as the top of the UN Fee Towards Impunity in Guatemala, which has carried out investigations of senior officers for corruption.

Copies of the e-book can be found upon request, and the writer is out there for interviews. McFarland will even be doing e-book readings in New York, Washington, DC, Seattle, San Francisco and extra.


Colombia’s drug-fueled cycle of terror, corruption, and tragedy didn’t finish with Pablo Escobar’s loss of life in 1993. Simply when Colombians had been prepared to maneuver previous the murderous legacy of the nation’s cartels, a brand new, bloody chapter unfolded. Within the late 1990s, right-wing paramilitary teams with shut ties to the cocaine enterprise carried out a violent growth marketing campaign, massacring, raping, and torturing 1000’s.

There Are No Lifeless Right here is the harrowing story of three strange Colombians who risked every part to disclose the collusion between the brand new mafia and far of the nation’s army and political institution: Jesús María Valle, a human rights activist who was murdered for exposing a darkish secret; Iván Velásquez, a quiet prosecutor who took up Valle’s trigger and have become an unlikely hero; and Ricardo Calderón, a dogged journalist from main newsmagazine Semana who remains to be being focused for his revelations. Their groundbreaking investigations landed a 3rd of the nation’s Congress in jail and fed new calls for for justice and peace that Colombia’s leaders couldn’t ignore.

Taking readers from the sweltering Medellín streets the place felony investigators had been hunted by assassins, by the countryside the place paramilitaries worn out total cities, and into the corridors of the presidential palace in Bogotá, There Are No Lifeless Right here is an unforgettable portrait of the valiant women and men who dared to face as much as the tide of greed, rage, and bloodlust that threatened to engulf their nation. The e-book reveals how a number of dedicated people could make an incredible distinction in darkish occasions, providing causes for hope in different international locations going by difficult intervals, together with the US.


Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno is an activist, author, and lawyer. She is the Government Director of the Drug Coverage Alliance, the main group within the US combating to finish the struggle on medicine in the USA and past. Beforehand, Maria held a number of positions at Human Rights Watch, together with because the group’s senior Americas researcher, overlaying Colombia and Peru, and as co-director of its US program. She grew up in Lima, Peru, and now lives in Brooklyn.


“This well-researched and fantastically informed historical past explains how three civilians rewrote Colombian historical past.” – Booklist

“A deeply knowledgeable account of Colombia’s a long time lengthy civil struggle and the numerous figures who profited from it… An admirable work of journalism within the curiosity of human rights.” – Kirkus Critiques

“The horrific violence in Colombia through the 1990s and 2000s is made painfully palpable on this account of three males who risked their lives to make public the atrocities dedicated by paramilitary forces and the Colombian authorities…. A essentially grim narrative in regards to the results of presidency corruption in Colombia, with rays of hope to be present in Calderón’s, Valle’s, and Velásquez’s spectacular achievements in opposition to formidable odds.” – Publishers Weekly

“In her masterful work, Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno unravels the intrigue, politics, and historical past between Colombia’s authorities and its paramilitaries. Via her exact reporting and chic prose, There Are No Lifeless Right here paints a vivid and harrowing portrait of three courageous people who, regardless of loss of life threats and nice threat to themselves and their households, expose a few of their nation’s darkest secrets and techniques. This e-book is a should for anybody fascinated by Colombia’s advanced historical past.” – Melissa del Bosque, writer of Bloodlines

“A gripping and illuminating portrait of three removed from strange Colombian whose braveness, management, and perseverance proceed to affect and encourage the struggle for justice all through Latin America. In a means, this story supplies a roadmap of the arduous, daring journey towards hope.” – Francisco Goldman, writer of The Inside Circuit

“Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno has written an essential, gripping account of how three people heroically risked their lives to struggle terror and corruption of their nation. The violent dramas and acts of human bravery which can be informed in There Are No Lifeless Right here unfold in Colombia, but additionally provide lucid insights into the fragility of civil society-and of rule of law-anywhere. At a time when the boundaries between tyranny and democracy, fact and falsehood, change into more and more opaque, McFarland’s e-book presents a story that’s unerring in its ethical readability.” – Jon Lee Anderson, writer of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

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CT Web site Affords Actual-Time Therapy Mattress Availability

Will access to real-time bed availability help more CT citizens get into treatment?

Will access to real-time bed availability help more CT citizens get into treatment?

James wanted help. He’d been struggling with opioid addiction for three years, and he desperately wanted to get his life back on track.

He checked with several treatment facilities, but no one had room. One rehab after another told James, “The only thing we can do is put your name on the waiting list for a bed.” After more than a dozen phone calls, James was pretty discouraged. How was he supposed to get help if he couldn’t even find an open bed to receive treatment?

Connecticut Decides to Take Action

James isn’t alone in his unfruitful search. With 2.2 million Americans currently struggling with an opioid use disorder, there simply aren’t enough beds to accommodate the number of patients. Each day, more than 140 Americans die from overdose. Average wait times for a spot in a treatment facility can vary from one month to 18 months.

And vacancies in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs aren’t a whole lot better. In Vermont, more than 500 people are on a waiting list to access buprenorphine. At that rate, it could take years to receive treatment.

In response to these alarming statistics, Connecticut launched a new and innovative website: Addiction Services Bed Availability. The site “provides real-time information on bed availability for addiction services.”

Anyone can access the site 24/7 from their phone, desktop, or tablet. Visitors can search availability for roughly 1,000 beds throughout the state, including those designated for residential addiction treatment, detox services, and recovery housing funded by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). Site administrators update the site multiple times throughout the day to keep availability current.

The website is funded by a grant that provides Connecticut with $ 1 million annually for improving outpatient resources, expanding medication assisted treatment, and enhancing statewide treatment.

Connecticut also provides an ACCESS line to connect people to addiction services (1-800-563-4086).

A Ray of Hope

State officials hope these new bed availability resources prove helpful to Connecticut residents, specifically pointing them in the right direction and preventing multiple discouraging phone calls that often cause a person in distress to give up on recovery.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy noted, “Every city and every town in the country has been touched in some way by substance abuse. We have many resources in Connecticut that are available to people who are in need of addiction services. We encourage anyone who needs help to reach out and get support as soon as possible.”

Though the opioid epidemic has impacted every corner of this nation, more than one million opioid-dependent Americans need treatment. If Connecticut’s Addiction Services Bed Availability website is a success, other states should undoubtedly invest in launching similar sites. When people ask for help in their darkest hours, a resource that points people to recovery options could make a world of difference.

Additional Reading:   Treatment Waiting Lists Can Be a Death Sentence

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Chris Christie Blames China for Our Fentanyl Downside

Governor Chris Christie is no stranger to the opioid epidemic. The New Jersey Republican signed groundbreaking legislation that limits first-time opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply and requires state health insurers to cover at least six months of substance abuse treatment. His pleas for governmental opioid reform and his appointment as chair of President Trump’s newly formed opioid commission made front-page news. But, most recently, he made headlines again – this time for identifying China as the main supplier of fentanyl to the United States.

“You are sending this into our country to kill our people,” Christie said during a November 28 hearing of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee. “The first use can lead to death. It is so lethal that law enforcement officers who come to crime scenes have to be careful.”

China’s Most Deadly Export

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin. Just a quarter of a milligram can kill, and federal data shows it has: an estimated 71 Americans fatally overdose on fentanyl each and every day. In fact, mortality rates more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, making opioid overdose the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

Christie isn’t the only one who believes the bulk of fentanyl shipments are coming directly from China. A U.S. congressional committee agrees with the New Jersey Republican. In a report issued last February, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission found, after interviewing law enforcement and drug investigators, that “China is the main supplier of fentanyl to the United States, Mexico and Canada.” The commission added that Chinese authorities “place little emphasis on controlling its production and export.”

Even though China has cooperated with past anti-drug efforts, including the ban on the manufacture and sale of four fentanyl variations last March, officials are skeptical as to whether it had any meaningful effect. In May, federal authorities were able to purchase Chinese-made fentanyl off the dark web, according to the Washington Examiner.

Stopping the Flood of Fentanyl

Governor Christie believes the country needs to do more to prevent this dangerous opioid from entering American borders, which Christie stressed could be accomplished through additional funding. Although he didn’t give an exact figure, he commented the $ 1 billion package made available under President Obama to combat the opioid epidemic just wasn’t enough.

“I am not, quite frankly, impressed by $ 1 billion,” he said, adding that his state of New Jersey is spending $ 500 million of its own money to combat the opioid crisis.

Christie also called for increased border security, as well as enhanced screening to catch fentanyl shipments coming through the mail. He also addressed the high cost of naloxone and stressed the need for all first responders to have access to this life-saving medication. To achieve this, he recommended state and local governments come together and buy naloxone in bulk at lower prices.

Additional Reading:   The Polypharmacy Overdose – A Killer Trend

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Dependancy Therapy: What’s in Retailer for 2018?

We learned a lot about addiction treatment in 2017, but what's in store for 2018?

We learned a lot about addiction treatment in 2017, but what’s in store for 2018?

What was accomplished in the field of recovery during 2017? Here’s the honest answer: more than some believed possible and less than others had hoped.

As we take the year in review, we see many changes. From the highest levels of government to the smallest town meetings, substance abuse issues affected every individual across the nation this year. Some organizations saw major upheaval, while others offered steady growth in the areas of addiction recovery and treatment. And all have specific hopes and plans for 2018.

Here’s a quick overview of what various organizations achieved in 2017 and what might be in store for this year.

National Policies

In the area of policies and funding, 2017 saw new ideas and legislation. President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. He formed the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. This committee issued sound recommendations to guide policies in 2018.

  • The Excellence in Mental Health Act authorized Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics to expand services by: increasing staff, broadening existing crisis services, and integrating mental illness and substance use treatments. This expansion created new addiction recovery resources for communities that desperately needed them.
  • Support of recovery efforts on both sides of the party line resulted in continued funding and provision for insurance and Medicaid coverage of substance abuse disorders.
  • The Justice Department Civil Rights Division offered a new initiative to remove discriminatory barriers to treatment services.

Medical Community Changes

The push to accept substance abuse as a chronic brain disease made large strides this year. More and more members of the community have begun to see chemical dependency as something our current infrastructure and approach cannot appropriately handle. This shift in thinking resulted in:

  • Addiction medicine being recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties
  • A total of 16 healthcare plans being endorsed by the National Principles of Care for Addiction
  • New policies being passed by the American Correctional Association on medication assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Advanced practice practitioners were given the ability to prescribe buprenorphine to extend the reach of MAT

Overall Awareness

In 2017, we saw a big push for awareness issues. City after city saw the undeniable impact of our nation’s opioid epidemic and towns across America responded by hosting community coalitions and forums. The word is out there. People know it’s a problem, and they know treatment is available.

With marijuana legalization laws changing, issues concerning this drug also rose to the surface in 2017. The National Council for Behavioral Health co-hosted the first-ever national cannabis summit to discuss medical and recreational use, benefits, and issues. More states continue to lean toward potential legalization in the future.

In truth, 2018 is likely to be another year of hot debate over the marijuana issue and continued new-law proposals regarding cannabis usage.

Looking Ahead

Do we still have a lot more to accomplish? Absolutely! In fact, 2018 holds the potential for additional breakthroughs in recovery and expanded access to treatment. Policy changes could also cause setbacks in these areas. Potential treatment and recovery issues this year include:

  • Expansion of opioid prevention and treatment services: It’s a “public health emergency.” Treatment providers hope federal and state funding will be made available to implement the necessary responses to this crisis.
  • Protecting privacy and rights of those in recovery: Legal departments hope to take up this cause to ensure policies are in place to protect these rights.
  • Medicaid restrictions based on drug testing Policy makers sit on both sides of this fence. Should drug tests prevent people from receiving aid?
  • Potential for increased treatment under Medicare: Legislators continue to examine what, if any, programs should be covered under this umbrella.
  • Increased access to MAT: Many healthcare professionals hope that improved awareness and greater numbers of medical professionals qualified to administer this treatment will increase the general access to MAT.
  • Appropriate training for clinicians: The country is coming up short on recovery treatment service providers. Healthcare providers hope for solid training and funding to properly train a workforce to handle the load.
  • Improved recovery supports in the criminal justice, child welfare and healthcare systems: Addiction and recovery are intertwined in all of these systems, requiring cooperation between departments and integrated support for those in need.

In 2017, our society really began to open its eyes to the problems of addiction. Let’s hope 2018 will be the year of solutions.

Additional Reading:   7 Ways the Gov’t Could Help the Nation’s Drug Crisis

Image Source: iStock

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Malaysia Set to Execute Extra Folks for Drug Offenses

Last month, six people were sentenced to death for drug trafficking by a Malaysian court. Two are Malaysian and the rest are Indian nationals – another country that maintains the death penalty for drug offenses. While Malaysia has taken steps to make the death penalty for certain drug offenses non-mandatory, slow implementation of the law and the retention of the death penalty means that many more will executed in the name of the war on drugs.

The six people are among hundreds facing capital punishment for drug law violations in Malaysia. And among hundreds more in the region. Less than two months ago, China executed seven people for drug offenses, in front of thousands of onlookers. And just a few years ago, Indonesia executed eight people for drug offenses, despite repeated pleas for mercy from family members, citizens, human rights organizations, the United Nations and governments from around the world.

Even here in the U.S., where the death penalty isn’t applied for drug offenses, the current opioid overdose crisis has led to more criminalization of people who sell drugs. The Governor of the state of Florida recently signed a bill which would expand the definition of first degree murder – a crime for which the death penalty can be applied in the state – to include selling a lethal dose of the opioid, fentanyl.

The United Nations opposes the use of the death penalty for drug law violations, and has repeatedly upheld that using the death penalty to enforce drug laws violates international law. International law limits the application of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes” which does not include drug use, sales, or trafficking.  

Despite this, 33 countries still use this ineffective and draconian measure to deal with drug offenses. In some countries, there have been signs of reform. Iran, which has sentenced thousands to death for drugs, recently amended its penal code, indicating that even countries that have long relied on capital punishment for drug offenses are realizing how ineffective it is.

While the death penalty represents an extreme example of the perverse ways in which governments punish people suspected of involvement with illegal drugs, many more countries around the world of are also guilty of heinous crimes in this misguided global drug war.

Suchitra Rajagopalan is the research coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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New Mexico Passes Laws to Look at Administering Pharmaceutical-grade Heroin or Different Opioids by Medical Practitioners to Folks Fighting Lengthy-term Habit

SANTA FE –  Final night time, on a vote of 57-9, the New Mexico Home of Representatives handed Home Memorial 56 that fees the NM Legislative Well being and Human Providers Committee to take testimony on supervised injectable opioid therapy as a possible, efficient and cost-effective technique for decreasing drug use and drug-related hurt amongst long-term heroin customers who haven’t been conscious of different kinds of therapy. HM56 was sponsored by Consultant Deborah Armstrong, chair of the Home Well being and Human Providers Committee.  This memorial doesn’t have to move the Senate or be signed by the Governor.

Supervised injectable opioid therapy means the administering or shelling out of pharmaceutical-grade heroin, often known as “diacetylmorphine”, or one other injectable opioid reminiscent of hydromorphone, by medical practitioners beneath strict controls in a scientific setting to pick out heroin-dependent individuals. The medicine is required to be consumed on-site, beneath the watchful eye of skilled professionals. This permits suppliers to make sure that the drug shouldn’t be diverted, and permits workers to intervene within the occasion of overdose or different opposed response.

Consultant Deborah Armstrong: “I sit up for studying extra about injectable opioid therapy and the way it can tackle problematic heroin use that has plagued our households and communities for generations. I’m excited that New Mexico has the chance to function a mannequin for treating drug use as what it’s—a well being problem that must be combated with evidence-based, rigorously studied therapies with confirmed advantages for customers, their households, and the neighborhood as an entire.”

Dr. Kimberly Web page, Professor and Chief of Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Preventative Medication, College of New Mexico Well being Sciences Heart: “The medical and social penalties of opioid use are a number of, with profound impacts on the lives of New Mexicans. Including new instruments to assist individuals with opioid dependence places our state within the forefront of working to beat the general public well being menace of this rising downside. Such a program will undoubtedly end in vital well being, security, and price advantages for New Mexico.”

Dr. Laura Brown, Doctor, Santa Fe Restoration Heart: “We’d like extra therapy choices for opioid use dysfunction right here in New Mexico.  Too many New Mexicans are affected by opioid use dysfunction, and dying from the results of untreated and inadequately handled opioid use dysfunction.  Supervised injectable opioid therapy represents a promising choice, already proven in lots of European nations and Canada to enhance well being and therapy program retention, and cut back well being care and prison justice prices.”

Emily Kaltenbach, State Director, Drug Coverage Alliance: “As a scientifically confirmed therapy, the efficacy of which is just about unquestioned – supervised injectable opioid therapy stays just about unexamined and unutilized in the US as a result of home coverage fails to acknowledge and deal with drug use as a well being problem. New Mexico can change that. We can not afford to proceed arresting and incarcerating individuals for one thing that have to be handled as a public well being problem. The failed struggle on medicine has proved as a lot.”

Everlasting injectable opioid therapy applications have been established in Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, with further trial applications having been accomplished in Spain, Belgium, and the UK. The outcomes have been unanimously optimistic. Empirical research have conclusively demonstrated that injectable opioid therapy is a extremely cost-effective intervention that dramatically reduces illicit drug use, crime, illness and overdose whereas enhancing well being, well-being, social reintegration and therapy retention amongst heroin-dependent individuals who failed prior therapy. Injectable opioid therapy may also be a stepping stone to different therapies and even abstinence and might cut back the black marketplace for heroin.

Each Nevada and Maryland have launched laws prior to now to provoke supervised opioid injectable opioid therapy applications.

For many of the previous twenty years, New Mexico has had one of many highest overdose demise charges within the nation. Though NM is now 12th within the nation in overdose demise charges, the state’s price has not declined. The speed for New Mexico overdose-related deaths in 2016 was over twenty-five per 100 thousand inhabitants, larger than the nationwide common of just about twenty deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants. There are areas inside New Mexico with drug overdose demise charges as excessive as ninety per 100 thousand.  Drug overdose is the main reason behind unintended demise in New Mexico, and overdose deaths in New Mexico outnumber site visitors fatalities.

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