Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. and partner Braeburn Pharmaceuticals won approval for the first implant in the U.S. to treat heroin and opioid painkiller addictions, which have reached epidemic levels. On Thursday The Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) approved Probuphine. This implant is the first of its kind, and is intended for people who are addicted to opioids and heroin. The FDA announced its approval of the anti-addiction delivery device which is inserted under the skin of the supper arm and administers buprenorphine in a continues does for six months. Currently, buprenorphine is only available in a pill or sublingual film. In the mist of the opioid and heroin epidemic that plague the nation, this device has caused an intense debate. Some say it will be beneficial for addicts seeking recovery where treatment options are limited, while others criticize and warn that this device remains largely unproven. Members of the FDA advisory believe one of the biggest benefits is that once the device is implanted in the addict’s arm, it releases the medication on its own. Unlike the oral forms of the drug, there will be no risk of the drug being sold on the streets. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have pored over the data and declared Friday that the 28,647 deaths from prescription opioids and heroin set a record in 2014. Deaths involving powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl rose by more than 80 percent, and a number of states experienced large increases in overdose deaths from the previous year, CDC also said. More than 6 in 10 drug overdose deaths were caused by opioids in 2014 as the prescription drug epidemic continued to worsen and the pace of heroin fatalities surged even more rapidly. Everyone seems to be looking for answers to solve the crisis in America, some believe that Probuphine is not it. Former advisory committee chair Judith Kramer, argued against the approval of the device, saying the implants clinical trial data did not prove it is safe and effective. She noted that even some trial participants needed supplemental buprenorphine for relief, which suggested that the implant dose was too low and that it would be tough to eliminate pills altogether.
Buprenorphine and another treatment for opioid addiction, like methadone, trick the brain into thinking it’s still getting opioids. Unlike buprenorphine, methadone users must enroll in a treatment program. Doctors who want to prescribe the Probuphine implant to patients must take a four-hour training program that includes practice implanting the device. Richard Rosenthal, who helped lead the implants clinical trial, said the value of this device is providing a steady level of medication into the bloodstream, allowing an individual to avoid the peaks and troughs that can increase cravings, and avoid the risk of relapse. The clinical trials showed results that a substantially higher percentage of people on the device managed to stay off illicit opioids for the entire six months, compared to those on the oval versions.
The only downside of the fix is that it may cost a great deal based on market demand. While the company making the drug promises to be reasonable in pricing, one never knows exactly how that will go in reality.
“The company says it will price the implants to be competitive with other injectable treatments used to battle opioid addiction, including a shot that costs about $1,000 a month. Buprenorphine pills, in comparison, typically cost $130 to $190 for a month’s supply.”
The company is exploring “value-based reimbursement programs” to provide insurers with rebates if the overall cost of care for a group of patients on Probuphine exceeded the cost of treatment either for the same patients in a prior six-month period or for a comparable group of patients taking other forms of buprenorphine or other anti-addiction medication.
American college and university campuses are hotspots for some of the hardest partying in the country, a place where students report using drugs and alcohol to relieve stress, fit in, have fun and forget their problems.
A 2005 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that scores of college presidents, deans, trustees and alumni view alcohol and drug abuse on campus as a harmless rite of passage and have not only tolerated but also facilitated a culture of substance abuse at their colleges.1
Abusing drugs and alcohol on campus is the norm and not the exception, but large numbers of students pay a high price for the opportunity to engage in largely unchecked substance abuse. The CASAColumbia study found that nearly 25 percent of all college students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse or dependence, compared to just eight percent of the general population.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the number of students between the ages of 18 and 24 who sought treatment for a substance use disorder nearly doubled between 1999 and 2009. The National Institute on Drug Abuse points out that daily marijuana use among that demographic is at its highest since 1980 and exceeds the number of people in that age group who smoke cigarettes.2
Texas is no stranger to high rates of drug and alcohol abuse on campus. In 2015, the University of Texas at Austin conducted their biennial Texas Survey of Substance Use Among College Students, garnering 20,110 responses from four-year universities and two-year colleges across the state.3
This eBook examines and discusses the findings of the survey and takes a look at what Texas colleges and universities are doing to curb drug abuse on their campuses and support students who are in recovery from a substance use disorder.
Alcohol Abuse on Texas Campuses
The University of Texas survey found that 76 percent of its student respondents reported using alcohol in the past year, and 61 percent reported drinking in the past month.
Of the respondents:
Over half described themselves as light drinkers
26 percent described themselves as moderate drinkers
4 percent described themselves as heavy drinkers
Half of one percent described themselves as problem drinkers
Only 16 percent of respondents reported abstaining from alcohol completely.
Underage Drinking on Texas Campuses
Around 12 percent of underage respondents to the survey reported obtaining alcohol with a fake ID, and 22 percent noted that they were able to drink in bars or purchase alcohol in stores where they weren’t carded. Students reported that restaurants are the easiest place for underage students to get served, followed by gas stations, off-campus bars, and grocery stores. Seventy-four percent of respondents to the survey reported obtaining alcohol from a friend who was over 21.
Nearly 70 percent of underage respondents reported drinking alcohol in the past year, compared to almost 90 percent of students who are of legal drinking age.
Drug Abuse on Texas Campuses
Drug abuse abounds on campuses as well. Around 25 percent of students who have a history of using illegal drugs reported using more drugs now than they did upon entering college, compared to 20 percent in the 2013 survey, and 50 percent reported that their drug use decreased or stopped since entering college, compared to 61 percent in 2013. Marijuana and prescription opiate and stimulant drugs are the most commonly used illegal substances among Texas college students.
Of the students who reported continuing to use illicit drugs in college, 73 percent said they typically use marijuana, and 26 percent of students reported abusing prescription drugs. Opiate painkillers were the most commonly abused prescription drug, with 16 percent of respondents using Vicodin, OxyContin or similar opiates to get high at least once in their lifetime.
Only 8 percent of surveyed students used opiate prescription painkillers in the past year, and just two percent used them in the past month. Around 15 percent of respondents reported using prescription stimulants like Adderall or Concerta at least once in their lifetime, with 9 percent reporting past-year usage and 4 percent reporting using stimulants in the past month.
The Difference Between Abuse, Addiction and Dependence
It’s important to understand that drug abuse, addiction and dependence are not the same thing, although drug abuse may lead to addiction and dependence, particularly in students who have risk factors for developing a substance use disorder to begin with.
Drug abuse, addiction and dependence are not the same thing.
Drug abuse is the act of using a legal or illegal psychoactive substance in a way that causes negative consequences.4 These consequences may include:
Problems with school or work, including skipping classes or calling in sick due to a hangover.
Engaging in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence or having unsafe sex, as a result of using alcohol or drugs.
Legal problems like DUI or citations for public intoxication or minor in possession.
Problems with interpersonal relationships, such as frequent arguing with friends or family members while under the influence.
Becoming irritable or depressed while drinking.
Binge drinking is the most common form of drug abuse. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as consuming enough alcohol in the space of two hours to bring your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, levels to the legal limit of .08 g/dL.5 This typically occurs after four drinks for women and five for men.
In the Texas survey, 35 percent of women and 41 percent of men reported binge drinking at least once in the past 30 days, and five percent of female and 10 percent of male respondents reported binge drinking at least six times in the past 30 days.
Chronic drug or alcohol abuse can transition to addiction. Addiction is characterized by compulsively using drugs or alcohol despite negative consequences relating to relationships, finances, the law, work or school and health.
Addiction is the result of changes in brain function related to memory and reward. Signs and symptoms of addiction include:6
Continuing to drink despite the problems it’s causing in your life.
A loss of control over the amount and frequency of drinking.
Neglecting hobbies and activities you once enjoyed.
Increasingly neglecting responsibilities at school and work.
Taking serious risks to procure drugs or alcohol.
Experiencing problems in relationships with family, friends, classmates or co-workers.
Hiding the extent of your drinking from friends and family.
Increasingly neglecting personal hygiene.
Addiction is the result of changes in brain function related to memory and reward.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse points out that willpower and good intentions alone are rarely enough to help someone overcome an addiction. Professional help almost always necessary for long-term recovery.7
Drug or alcohol dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms that set in as your brain’s way of telling you that neurotransmitter activity has changed to the point where the brain now operates more normally when a substance is present than when it’s not. Withdrawal symptoms that set in upon quitting the use of a substance indicate that physical dependence has developed.
Effects of Drug & Alcohol Abuse by College Students
Aside from increasing the risk of developing a substance use disorder, abusing drugs and alcohol can have devastating consequences for college students.
Problems with Academic Performance
Students who abuse drugs or alcohol have statistically significant lower grades, although the differences between the GPAs of those who are light, moderate and heavy drinkers are relatively small. Students who use illicit drugs on a monthly basis have an average GPA of 3.14, according to the Texas survey, and those who use drugs casually have an average GPA of 3.24. Students who have never abused drugs or alcohol have an average GPA of 3.33, while both light and heavy drinkers have an average GPA of 3.10.
More than five percent of light drinkers, 22 percent of moderate drinkers and 51 percent of heavy or problem drinkers report having missed at least one class during the year as a direct result of drinking. Additionally, eight percent of light drinkers, 26 percent of moderate drinkers and 47 percent of heavy drinkers got behind on their schoolwork due to drinking.
Around 27 percent of moderate and 52 percent of heavy drinkers report engaging in unplanned sex due to alcohol consumption. Twenty percent of moderate and 42 percent of heavy drinkers report engaging in unprotected sex while under the influence. Among those who were under the influence of illicit drugs, around 12 percent reported having unplanned sex, and 12 percent reported having unprotected sex.
Over nine percent of all drinkers reported having injured themselves as a result of drinking. That rate climbed to 42 percent for heavy drinkers, five percent of whom reported needing medical attention as the result of an alcohol overdose. By way of comparison, just six percent of illicit drug users reported injury as the result of abusing drugs.
Driving Under the Influence
The survey found that 23 percent of respondents report driving under the influence at least once in the past month. Around 25 percent report having ridden with an intoxicated driver in the past 30 days. Over two percent reported being involved in an accident involving a drunk driver, and 25 percent of those students reported being the driver at fault in the accident.
It’s encouraging to note that almost 50 percent of students reported serving as a designated driver at least once in the course of a typical month.
Almost 50 percent of students reported serving as a designated driver at least once in the course of a typical month.
Assault, Sexual Assault and Rape
CASAColumbia reports that each year, nearly 100,000 college students are victims of sexual assault and rape involving alcohol, and an additional 700,000 students are physically assaulted by classmates who are under the influence.1
Drug Abuse & Mental Health on College Campuses
Research shows that college students have an increased risk of developing mental disorders, including depression, anxiety and eating disorders, due to various stressors and life transitions. Mental illness often leads to substance abuse as a form of self-medication, increasing the risk of developing an addiction. Additionally, drug and alcohol abuse can worsen existing symptoms of mental illness or cause them to set in where none existed previously.
The Texas survey found that heavy drinkers on campus reported more frequent feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or depression than light and moderate drinkers. Illicit drug users were most affected by these feelings, with over half reporting feeling hopeless some of the time and nearly 20 percent reporting feeling this way most of the time. Likewise, around 20 percent of drug users reported having feelings of anxiety most of the time and nearly 80 percent felt anxious some of the time.
Campus Drug & Alcohol Policies
Although almost all Texas colleges and universities have a written alcohol and drug policy in place, the survey found that nearly 40 percent of students were unsure whether theirs did. Sixty percent were unsure whether their school had a drug and alcohol abuse prevention program, and 77 percent didn’t know whether their school had a peer education program for alcohol and drug abuse.
Almost all Texas colleges and universities have a written alcohol and drug policy in place.
Only 30 percent of students said that they had received information on alcohol policies on campus, and 22 percent reported having attended an abuse prevention event sponsored by their school.
Top Ten Reasons Why College Students Stop Drinking
Over 46 percent of Texas college students report having decided to quit or cut down on drinking at least once in their lifetime. The most common reason for doing so was related to the fear of drinking and driving, followed by the expense of drinking. The third most common reason for quitting or cutting down on drinking was that students didn’t like the way it made them feel. Other reasons included weight gain associated with drinking, the effect of drinking on academic or athletic performance and family disapproval.
Challenges in Recovery on College Campuses
Students in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction or chronic abuse have made a voluntary commitment to living a sober lifestyle and engaging in activities on and off campus that promote good health and well-being. Relapse rates for addiction are between 40 and 60 percent, which are similar to the relapse rates of other chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.8
A college student in recovery faces a number of challenges in the quest to maintain long-term sobriety:
Social norm of substance abuse. Using drugs and alcohol is considered to be a normal part of college life, and trying to live a life of sobriety on campus when only 16 percent of the student body is abstinent can pose a serious challenge to a student’s ongoing recovery.
Stress. Stress is a major contributor to addiction relapse.9 College students in recovery must find ways to control their stress, which can be difficult. Common stressors on campus include being on your own for the first time, maintaining good grades, managing relationships and holding down a job, and these can quickly contribute to relapse.
Triggers. Dormitories, Greek houses and apartments near campus are notorious for their weekend parties. Additionally, many campuses, such as the University of Texas at Austin, are in very close proximity to a number of bars frequented by college students. Football games, which commonly involve tailgating or attending pre- and post-game parties, occur nearly every week during the fall and winter months. The high prevalence of drug- and alcohol-fueled extracurricular activities can make maintaining sobriety very difficult for many students.
A lack of a sense of belonging. Students who find that their campus offers little support for their recovery may feel like they don’t belong, and this can lead to disengagement with peers, high stress levels, low self-esteem and a number of other problems that are, in themselves, potent factors for relapse.
Mental illness. Stress and feelings of isolation that are common among students in recovery can lead to symptoms of mental illness, especially depression and anxiety. These mental health problems can lead to relapse as a form of self-medication in an attempt to alleviate these feelings.
Where Students Go for Help for Problem Drinking or Addiction
The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Students in Recovery is a stellar program that helps students in recovery maintain sobriety while offering a number of drug- and alcohol-free activities to help ensure a healthy social life and a genuine college experience.
The center is student-run, and it’s located inside the athletic facilities that are attached to the football stadium. Students in recovery socialize, support one another in sobriety and engage in community service, such as speaking in high schools and offering seminars for emergency room doctors.
So successful is the Austin program, according to NPR, that in 2012, the University of Texas invested nearly $1 million in expanding the recovery program to every University of Texas campus in the state.10
Texas Tech is another school with a popular and highly effective recovery program. Students take a one-credit course in relapse prevention and complete 10 hours of community service each semester. The program was recently awarded a $700,000 federal grant to teach other colleges to establish and operate similar successful recovery communities. The relapse rate for students in this program is a nearly unheard of six percent.
The Association of Recovery in Higher Education is a 501(C)3 nonprofit organization that represents and supports collegiate recovery communities and compiles a list of American colleges and universities that offer some type of recovery program.11
In addition to the University of Texas system and Texas Tech, schools in the state that currently have a high-quality recovery program include Baylor University, the University of Houston and the University of North Texas.
Other Ways Colleges May Support Students in Recovery
According to a 2011 article published in the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, colleges can accomplish the goal of supporting the personal and academic goals of students in recovery by:12
Promoting campus-based 12-step programs
Offering drug- and alcohol-free housing
Offering sober events that help students network with peers in recovery
Offering substance abuse counseling that’s provided by trained clinicians experienced in substance use disorders
Embarking on education and awareness campaigns to reduce the stigma of substance use disorders
Where to Turn for Help
If your college has a recovery support program in place, you’ll likely find it to be a safe and welcoming place to explore your options if you think you may have an alcohol use disorder. If your college doesn’t have this type of program, you can still find help on campus.
While many colleges and universities aren’t equipped to treat substance use disorders, a therapist or physician at the campus health center can help you find a treatment program that will help you design a recovery plan that’s in tune with your needs and goals. An outpatient program or intensive outpatient program can offer effective treatment while allowing you to continue attending classes.
The most important thing is that you get the help you need and find as much support as you can on campus. Most campuses will at least have a sanctioned or unsanctioned 12-step recovery program for students, which will offer a wealth of resources and the opportunity to develop productive and valuable relationships with non-using peers.
Asking for help in overcoming a substance use disorder is often the hardest part of recovery. It’s difficult to admit you have a problem with drinking or drug abuse, and you may have a number of questions or concerns about different types of treatment.
Seeking answers to those questions and finding some help now will improve your quality of life and help restore your sense of well-being as well as prevent the abuse or addiction from worsening and affecting you more adversely down the road.
The United Nations General Assembly gather in New York for the first time since 1998 for a special hearing on the Failed War on Drugs earlier this year. President Nixon began the war on drugs in 1971 proclaiming “Americas public enemy number one in the United States is Drug Abuse”. In order to win the war President Nixon, lead an all-out offense attack on the prohibition of drugs, military intervention, and a foreign aid to reduce the trade of illicit drugs. America punished manufacturers, locked up traffickers and suppliers and treated the drug addicts as criminals. During this process our police departments militarized and expanded and the prison systems ballooned. With all our efforts, the problem is still here today. The War on Drugs has gained much criticism in the past decade, arguing that it has burdened taxpayers without resulting in a significant reduction in addicts abusing drugs. “Several Decades of scientific research have made it clear that our current approach to this drug epidemic simply isn’t working “said Medical Director Dr. Michael Lowenstein. He has observed firsthand how the War on Drugs has failed the very people it was intended to save. “Under our current drug policy, rates of heroin overdose have quadrupled since 1999. Clearly, we can be doing more to help those who are vulnerable to opiate dependence. Addicted patients and their families deserve an updated, scientifically grounded, compassionate approach to global drug policy. This must include access to the best heroin addiction treatment available.”
Overdose deaths from opioids drugs like heroin, oxycodone and hydrocodone continue to be the leading cause of unintentional deaths for Americans, rising 14% from 2013 to 2014. Every 19 minutes someone dies from an opioid overdose.
The United Nations commissioned a 54-page drug report to evaluate the global progress towards the goal of eradicating drug abuse created by the John Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health. The report stated that the existing drug policies are not scientifically grounded and have contributed to excessive use of incarceration. The report also points out the barriers to humane and affordable treatment. The UN report proposed changes to such as access to harm reduction services such as naloxone, or supervised injection sites, and decriminalization of minor drug offenses. Much like President Obamas plan, the UN report calls for expanded access to effective treatments for drug dependence to help drug addicts.
President Obama Plan:
On top of expanding access to MAT, the White House announced other initiatives:
providing an additional $11 million to increase access to naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug.
establishing a Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force.
Ensuring that mental health and substance use benefits are offered as medical and surgical benefits are for those enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
A $7 million initiative by the Department of Justice toward policing and investigating heroin distribution.
Guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services for federally funded needle exchange programs.
Over the past month, federal agencies have been aggressive in implementing new strategies to help fight the epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new opioid prescribing guidelines. The guidelines, aimed at primary care prescribers, state that opioids should not be considered as first-line therapy for chronic pain and that clinicians should first consider non-opioid pain relievers or non-drug alternatives, such as exercise, meditation, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Since I was 13 years old, getting high and drunk was the only way I knew how to have a good time. Life was glum without some sort of drugs in my body and getting sober seemed impossible. Before I entered recovery I pictured a grey dull life in sobriety filled with 12 step meetings, boring conversations, coffee and playing it safe. Although I would often see people enjoying activities such as bowling, or going to the movies or amusement parks, to me nothing seemed worthwhile unless I was under the influence.At 20 years old, completely broken down and tired from the life I had been living for so long I entered recovery. After completing 90 days of inpatient drug treatment I moved into a sober house with 17 other guys. I noticed these men were having fun while maintaining their recovery so I started to ask them what they did. Through their responses and engorgement, I began to understand that while it would take a lot of work, I could learn to enjoy life without drugs and have fun while doing so. It was only a short time after that I began to noticed myself laughing in simple conversations, and having a good time throughout my day. I was genuinely happy despite having no drugs or alcohol in my body. I didn’t have many material possessions when I first got sober, but my life had never been better. Through the process of the 12 steps I was able to remain happy and grateful with the little possessions I had.
Many people begin to use drugs or alcohol because they feel their life is empty, a void of joy flows throughout their body. As a result, learning to have fun while staying sober is one of the most common problems addicts face in recovery but is also one of the most important things. It’s possible to have a life in recovery without the use of drugs and alcohol.
On May 21st 2016 Eudaimonia Recovery Homes sponsored a resident’s fun day at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Tickets were cheap, and the residents invited their friends and family out to enjoy the roller coasters. Throughout the day I bumped into residents. Our conversations were filled with which roller coaster was the fastest and which lines were the shortest. It seemed as if everyone was experiencing a day of bliss. We shared a common problem which was an addiction to drugs or alcohol but that day at six flags we lived like free men. I never would have thought that sobriety would be more fun than using drugs. My experience has shown me just that. Here are some simple steps for making a life in recovery more rewarding.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment, dive into recovery headfirst.
Continued to work the 12 steps, even if your life is great.
Continue to practice spiritual principles in all your affairs, and stay honest with yourself.
Make new friends in recovery, those who share a common peril
Surround yourself with people that make you feel good, especially those with strong programs.
Don’t thank everything so seriously, learn to laugh.
Try new hobbies
Don’t forget to meditate and pray
Remember to hit all three sides of the triangle (Mind, Body and Spirit)
It may seem like the end of the world to remain sober, 23 million people in recovery and myself know that life just begins when you decided to put down the drugs. Recovery has taught me to remain open minded to new things, and I’ve picked up some new hobbies from that. There’s a good chance you’ll discover you can have more fun sober than you ever did using drugs or alcohol.
Everyday 129 families lose a loved one to a drug overdose. That’s like a Boeing 727 losing all of its passengers on a daily. Unacceptable right? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 129 Americans on average died from a drug overdose every day in 2014. Of the 47,055 drug overdose deaths in 2014, heroin was involved in 10,574 drug overdose deaths, while opioid analgesics were involved in 20,808 drug overdose deaths. The ever growing and quickly moving drug epidemic in America is treatable. Washington DC Patch recently covered the emotional event of families pouring their hearts out to Congress, asking for help.May 18th and 19th, Partnership families gathered in Washington, D.C. to meet with their members of Congress, to discuss how addiction shatters families, and why resources to address this chronic disease are desperately needed in every community. Four weeks ago, Emmett Scannell, a sophomore at Worcester State University on a full academic scholarship, died of a heroin overdose. “We never would have thought that heroin would come into his life and steal him from us,” said Scannell’s mother, Aimee D’Arpino. “But it did, just six weeks after entering college.”Because of medical privacy laws, D’Arpino wasn’t notified of the seven overdoses Scannell had suffered – and survived — over an 18 month period. She says he got a “quick, spin-dry detox” in the emergency rooms he ended up in but couldn’t access real treatment because his insurance company said it wasn’t “medically necessary. “Had he gotten treatment — had she had all the information — would he still be alive today? “Those are questions I can’t answer,” she said. “And we’re here today because we don’t want other parents to have those same unanswered questions when they’re thinking about their children.”
“We don’t know everything,” “There may be genetic components. Addictions may be different for different people. What we do know is there are steps that can be taken to get through addiction and get to the other side, and that is under-resourced.” Said Obama during a national Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta earlier this year.
The House passed its 18 related bills and Senate its bills to battle America’s growing drug epidemic of painkiller abuse and heroin addiction, but the White House said the legislation won’t accomplish much unless Congress provides more than $1 billion to fund the new programs
The passage of bills through both chambers of Congress is a huge step, but advocates and members of Congress note that there still has not been a single dollar of new money appropriated to address the opioid addiction crisis. We have an epidemic emergency on our hands, just like in 2014 when Ebola took the lives of 14,000 people, Congress appropriated $5 Billion in emergency funding, we need to see the same type of funding here. The overprescribing of opiates has taken the lives of almost 15 times that number.”
The families will spend the next two days visiting Congressional offices to ask their lawmakers to come to a quick agreement on the bills and send them to the president, fully funded, within the next few weeks. All of these events – the lobby days, the press conference, the hearing – were organized in just 12 days as the House worked through its legislation.
As the Drug Epidemic sweeps the nation, organizations, law makers, institutions, recovered addicts, mourning moms and many others are trying everything they can to help. To help combat the growing number of inmates addicted to drugs and alcohol, a jail in Manatee County is helping with their new Drug Rehab Program. The Recovery Pod program serves roughly 30 men and 20 women in a residential drug program. Currently fifty-one inmates are now housed at the newly created Alcohol and Drug Recovery Pod at the Manatee County jail, where the daily activates includes a faith-based ministry, an intense schedule of recovery meetings and classes in life skills, anger management, employment training and parenting. Inmates say they have new hope for a drug free life. Two separate inmates spoke about their experience with the drug epidemic and what the recovery pod program has done for them. “It’s intense, it’s hands on. You’re learning one on one. There’s respect a family unity here, no fights, not stealing here been nothing,” says Kenneth Stillson, 30. Since he was 18 years old Stillson has been addicted to drugs and using crack cocaine. He has been arrested 39 times and has been stuck in the cycle of drug addiction and incarceration. The Recovery Pod program he says has changed him. “I’ve learned the tools I need to make it out in the world. I know I’m a drug addict. I’ve learned to love myself need to learn how to love others and love God,” says Stillson. The second inmate Darryl Morgan has been arrested dozens of times and has been in and out of the prison for the past 30 years. For that long he has struggled with an addiction to cocaine, racking up possession and dealing charges along the way. Last week, Morgan, 52, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his most recent conviction: selling cocaine. Now, thanks to a new recovery program created by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at its jail, Morgan finally has hope. “After sentencing I had the opportunity to stay in the recovery pod because I thought it was best, no matter the journey, because I still want to get everything out of it,” Morgan said. “The bad part on my behalf … it’s 10 years too late. When you get a certain age, society gets to the point where they kind of throw you to the dogs.” Despite thinking society and the system look at him as being at an age where “recovery isn’t going to do him any good,” he knows he has another chance and that he will get out of prison. “If a person doesn’t make it with all that is given to us, they simply choose not to,” Morgan said. “Through the bad choices, it hasn’t stopped my coming in and out,” Morgan said. “If this was here right, nine years ago, I would go on the line and say that my life would be different.” Looking towards the remaining years on his sentence, he hopes to act as a mentor to others.
“Fellowship, I have learned, is one of the most important things in recovery,” Morgan said. “I am going to take this to the other gates and when I get prepared to leave that system, I am going to already have it in sketched in me.”
The program was made possible thanks to a partnership with the Salvation Army. Every day more than 100 volunteers work with those housed in the recovery pod.
Inmates have to volunteer to participate in the program.
Once they are in, everything is mandatory. They can’t opt out of a meeting. They can’t choose not to go to a class. A hundred percent participation is expected of them.
The goal of the program is for inmates to participate for 30 to 90 days. Currently, the first group in the pod has been there for about 60 days.
While it’s true that any drug can become deadly when abused, methamphetamine has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the most dangerous illicit drugs. Despite the warnings and severe risks associated with its use, the intense and long-lasting high keeps meth in great demand on the street.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It is known by numerous names, including meth, chalk, ice and crystal. It increases the body’s metabolism and produces euphoria, heightens alertness and gives a sense of boosted energy. Meth is an odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.
The drug was developed in 1893 from its parent drug, amphetamine, and was used originally in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Today it is primarily used as a recreational drug and less commonly as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity.
Methamphetamine is more potent than amphetamine, and it affects the brain more readily. It also has longer-lasting and more harmful effects on the central nervous system. These characteristics make it a drug with high potential for widespread abuse.
What Are the Symptoms of Meth Use?
Methamphetamine abuse has three general patterns: low intensity, binge and high intensity. Each of these patterns have similar signs, but as abuse intensity increases, more dramatic and severe symptoms will be present.
Typically, a low-intensity user is not psychologically addicted and takes the drug by swallowing or snorting it. Binge and high-intensity patterns involve much greater frequency of abuse and include psychological addiction, along with a preference to smoke or inject methamphetamine to achieve a faster and stronger high.
Meth has a long list of adverse effects and consequences, with the severity and danger rising exponentially with larger doses and increased frequency. Some of the signs and symptoms are:
Aggressive, violent behavior
Paranoia (delusions and psychosis)
Rapid mood changes
Dry, itchy skin
Loss of appetite
Acne, skin sores
Because it is metabolized slowly in the body, the effects of a single dose of methamphetamine can last up to two days. Over time, the damage done to the body and brain accumulate, producing long-term and sometimes permanent adverse health effects, including:
Fatal kidney and lung disorders
Possible brain damage
Behavior resembling paranoid schizophrenia
Disturbance of personality development
Lowered resistance to illnesses
How Prevalent is Meth in Texas?
According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, meth is a significant drug threat to Texas. The predominant form of the drug is produced in Mexico, but the production of meth is increasing in Texas. The number of laboratories seized by law enforcement officials is also increasing.
Due to a readily available supply of high-purity, low-cost forms of the drug, law enforcement agencies throughout the state report high levels of abuse. Based on the responses to the National Drug Threat Survey, 47 percent of the law enforcement respondents rated meth abuse in their jurisdictions as high, and 30 precent reported medium levels of abuse.
In 2014, 6,219 Texans sought substance abuse treatment for methamphetamine and amphetamine addiction, up 590 from the previous year, according to the Treatment Episode Survey data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
What Are Treatment Options for Meth Addiction?
Although medications are helpful in treating some substance use disorders, there are currently no medications available that counteract the specific effects of methamphetamine or that prevent cravings for the drug. Therefore, the most effective treatments for meth addiction are various psychological behavioral therapies.
Cognitive behavioral treatment combines family education, individual counseling, 12-Step support, drug testing, and encouragement to engage in non-drug-related activities. This approach has been effective in reducing methamphetamine abuse.
Other forms of therapy, such as contingency management interventions, provide motivational incentives to encourage those suffering from addiction to participate in treatment and maintain abstinence. Programs of this type have also reported effectiveness in treating methamphetamine addiction, according to the National Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network.
Recovery from any addiction requires hard work and diligence to maintain sobriety. However, due to its potent effects on mind and body, recovering from meth addiction requires even greater levels of commitment and discipline.