Author Archives: HUGS Recovery, Inc

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Racial Groups Divided In the Opioid Epidemic

Huntington is one of the cities that has felt the negative outcome of the nation’s crisis on drug abuse. It is a state situated in the western West Virginia with a community of nearly 50,000. Between 2009 and 2013, it realized an increase in mortality rates from drug overdoses that rose by 65%.

It is one of the states that has been heavily affected with 70 deaths out of 900 people who overdosed in 2015. Jim Johnson, a director of the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy in Huntington, explains how the trends of drug abuse have shifted over the past years in the city of Huntington.

He talks of how several families have been affected by drug addiction ever since he started serving in the police department. “I came onto the police department in 1972, and the people … on heroin were that part of society that you were walking down the street, and you would want to go to the other side” He said. “Now there has hardly been a family that has not been affected” He added.

Since 2002, the rate of overdose deaths related to heroin have quadrupled nationwide. According to the reports, it was estimated that 30,000 people die from opioid overdoses in a year reflecting the scope of the epidemic. Minority populations have experienced a less dramatic increase in overdose deaths and drug addiction compared to the young white adults.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of heroin increased by 114% among the white adults between 2004 and 2013. During the same period, the rate among nonwhite adults remained relatively unchanged.

The professor of health policy and management at Boston University’s School of Public Health, Dr. David Rosenbloom, said that for decades, blacks have been undertreated for pain. The rapid rise in addiction has a long history back to the use of prescription pain relievers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. The opioid analgesic prescription medications have been on the increase since Oxycontin was introduced in the mid-19990s. About 259 million prescriptions written for opioid drugs were also reported in 2012.

Regulators began implementing more strict limits only a few years ago on the number of pain pills to be prescribed by the doctors. Although it led to lower rates of prescribing opioids, it also led to a sequential increase in the use of heroin. It was regarded as an easier and cheaper alternative to prescription pain medicines.

According to the 2008 JAMA study, it was found that in an emergency department, whites were more likely to receive opioid for pain compared to the minorities. It was also stated that physician prejudice was the resultant cause of prescribing opioids less frequently for the Latino and Black patients as compared to the whites.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an executive of Physicians for Responsible Opioid prescribing highlighted the issues faced by the minorities in the hospitals when prescribing the pain relievers.

“It would appear that the prescriber may be more concerned about the possibility of the patient getting addicted or maybe the possibility that the pills will be diverted and sold on the street if the patient is black. If the patient is white, they may feel like there’s nothing to worry about,” he said.

Other people contend that the issue deals more with the white patients, as they have had greater access to health care services in the past compared to the minority patients. In essence, it has heightened their chances of receiving pain treatment unlike the other patients.

John Kelly, an associate in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said that more risks related to drug overdose lead to the differences in prescribing the pain treatment.

“It could be that the overall ability to be able to be prescribed these medications has resulted in more exposure among the whites and more risks in terms of addiction and overdose,” said Kelly.

The urgent call to action among the lawmakers, presidential candidates and law enforcement officials is said to be the primary cause behind the changing face of drug abuse. It could also be a similar case to the increased call for treatment unlike the previous ‘war on drugs’ that focused more on the mass arrests and incarceration.

Kolodny said that it was a criminal justice response on how they had responded to the crack cocaine epidemic. “Whenever you hear people talking about our opioid crisis, within the first few minutes you hear someone saying something to the effect that we can’t arrest our way out of this problem,” he added.

The democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have both initiated plans which would emphasize “rehabilitation and treatment” for nonviolent and low-level drug offenses over prison.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican presidential candidate has called for faith-based treatment. He also lost his half-sister who died from a drug overdose. Similarly, he has also advocated for disruption of the drug supply by securing the U.S. border.

Solutions based on treatment have already begun taking shape to address addiction. The District of Columbia and other forty-two states have passed legal protections for medical professionals dispensing naloxone. It is a prescription drug that counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose. Needle exchange programs are some of the controversial measures for drug users that have gained support in the United States and municipalities nationwide.

The needle exchange programs in Huntington have helped combat another health problem regarding the intravenous use of drugs. In 2013, it was recorded that West Virginia had the highest rate of hepatitis B infections. According to the CDC, there were 10.5 cases for every 10,000 residents. Kentucky, a neighboring state, had the second highest rate of hepatitis B infections during the year. It recorded 4.9 cases per 10,000 residents.

The rates of hepatitis C infection have been on the increase nationwide with more Americans switching to intravenous drugs. According to the CDC, the rates of infection between 2006 and 2012 in four states collectively rose by 368%. These states include West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Of those cases, 73% risk factor was cited on the intravenous use of drugs.

Johnson said that he used not to be a great supporter of the programs that were to reduce harm for substance users. After witnessing the devastating effects of the drug epidemic that the entire community was going through, he changed his mind towards adopting more of a public health approach.

“In our county, we were spending at a minimum of $50 million to $100 million a year just on the healthcare,” said Johnson. “When we started talking about syringe exchange it was like, ‘why aren’t we doing this?’” he added.

On a national level, there have been changes on the approaches taken towards drug abuse. President Barack Obama proposed allocation of $1.1 billion over two years as part of his fiscal 2017 budget. It was to help fight against opioid and heroin drug abuse. In addition, $920 million of the total amount would be used to expand the medication-assisted treatment.

It is still not evident whether the current approach will be applicable to any future drug epidemics that affect the entire racial groups. It has also not yet been proved on how addiction is perceived in the country.

Marc Mauer, an executive director for the Sentencing Project, said that he thought the approach would provide a change to some extent. “I would like to think it would help to shift the climate somewhat, but I am not overly optimistic. We still have ways to go I think to broaden that perspective on how we approach substance use,” added Mauer.


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A Group Of Physicians Propose Addiction To Be Treated As A Chronic Medical Condition

Members of the public have been requested by the American College of Physicians to assist in reducing the stigma revolving around addiction. They have also urged individuals to actively participate in the fight against substance use disorder. According to a paper that was released last week, the largest professional group of doctors gave a proposal that addiction should be perceived as a treatable chronic medical condition.

This approach was solidified by the American College of Physicians (ACP) by position paper that was published in the ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’. Deaths resulting from drug overdose is said to have heightened with the pain relievers that are prescribed to patients. The president of ACP, Dr. Nitin S. Damle said, “Drug overdose deaths, particularly from opioids such as prescription pain relievers and heroin, is a rising epidemic”.

He further mentioned that diabetes and hypertension are some of the chronic medical conditions that could be treated in a similar way to substance use disorders. Other measures were to be taken if the proposal was to turn out to be effective. “That should be addressed through expansion of evidence-based public and individual health initiatives to prevent, treat, and promote recovery”. Said Damle.

Substance use disorders is stressed in the position paper as being common, and also addresses the widespread social consequences that are likely to occur due to these medical conditions. More complications are brought about by treatment of substance use disorders since individuals’ access to treatment is limited or inconsistent.

This point was illustrated by the American College of Physicians comparing the rates of treatment for substance use disorder with other chronic illnesses. It was estimated that 18% of people who required medical attention for substance use disorder in 2014 received any treatment. This estimate is lower than the rates of treatment for individuals with major depression (71%), diabetes (73%) and hypertension (77%).

Members were called upon by the ACP to fight against the addiction stigma. The American College of Physicians encouraged the best practices for treatment and recovery. They also urged people to be updated on the innovations in treatment. The president of ACP mentioned that patients should be given education on their conditions and proper prescriptions that would help solve their problem. “Physicians can help guide their patients towards recovery by becoming educated about substance use disorders and proper prescribing practices, consulting prescription drug monitoring systems to reduce opioid misuse, and assisting patients in their treatment”. Said Damle

Opioid epidemic could be addressed specifically through the measures put in place by the ACP. They called for more widespread use of prescription monitoring systems and increased access to the overdose antidote naloxone. The monitoring systems would be useful in preventing the patients from taking too much of the painkillers. “ACP strongly urges prescribers to check Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs in their own and neighboring states as permitted prior to writing prescriptions for medications containing controlled substances”. Said the ACP president.

According to the position paper, members of the public could help minimize the stigma around addiction so that doctors can participate actively in the fight against addiction. The paper further mentions that for centuries, substance use disorders have been termed as a moral failing. A harmful and persistent stigma has been established by a mindset that affects how the medical fraternity perceive addiction.

“We know more about the nature of addiction and how it affects the brain function, which has led to broader acceptance of the concept that substance use disorder is a disease, like diabetes that can be treated”, states the position paper.

Most of the communities across the country have confronted an opioid epidemic that has led to more overdose deaths. The physicians have been on the forefront by playing a significant role of controlling the situation. They have also spurred the lawmakers to reassess the drug control policy of the nation as it would be essential in creating awareness to the public.

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.


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Voting On The Use of Marijuana To Treat Heroin Addiction in Maryland

Unorthodox treatments for opioid addiction is on the lookout by lawmakers despite lacking a scientific backup for their proposal. A law is being decided by the Maryland legislators that would permit the medical attendants to use medical marijuana in providing treatment to opioid addicts. Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat, said that the issues they experience with heroin addicts could be dealt with using the law to be enacted in the region. “With the problems we’re having with heroin, this is something that should be available in the state of Maryland.” She said.

It is meant to improve the medical marijuana program in Maryland and that the proposal is part of a larger bill overhaul. Patients who are afflicted with opioid use disorder will be prescribed the medical marijuana giving doctors the green light after the bill is passed. In 2016, there was an estimated number of 2000 opioid and heroin overdose deaths in Maryland. Unorthodox solutions to the crisis have also been made open by the bill advocates.

Lisa Lowe said that, “we need to support any and all paths to recovery”. She was with the Heroin Action Coalition of Maryland which is an addiction treatment advocacy group. Lack of scientific evidence supporting the claim that marijuana could be useful in treating patients’ dependency on opioid was also pointed out by the critics of the bill. Dr. Daniele Piomelli, a University of California, cannabis researcher and Irvine professor mentioned that there is proof of the medical drug being active in getting rid of different types of pain. The only problem was that it lacked the affirmation. “There is evidence that cannabis may be effective in alleviating certain forms of pain, and may be useful therefore in reducing opioid use. But there is no evidence that cannabis may help reduce opioid addiction”, he said.

Using one drug to fight another is a notion that is still under debate since some of the lawmakers are not convinced if that can be possible. Kathy Szeliga, Baltimore County Republican, said that replacing one habit with another may not be a good idea. They feel like it is not a clean and sober approach to treat opioid addiction with marijuana.

According to the bill advocates, the decision will still rest on the doctors even if medical marijuana is proved to be inappropriate in treating opioid addiction. The Baltimore Democrat leading the rewriting of the bill, Del. Sandy Rosenberg, said that, “we thought we should leave it up the doctors”, “we do not legislate medical judgment”, he added.

Opioid abuse is said to have reduced by almost 23% in the United States, the fact that there is no adequate scientific research backing up marijuana’s potency in treating opioid addictions. The decrease in the number of addicts using opioid was estimated in regions where the medical marijuana was legalized in the US. Marijuana is being used by one of Los Angeles rehab to assist weaning off of addicts using strong drugs. The bill advocates greatly support the proposal that Marijuana can help treat patients addicted to opioid in Maryland despite lacking a scientific evidence.

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.


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The Use of Cocaine Aggravates For The First Time In A Decade

There has been an increase in production of Colombian cocaine as indicated by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). For the past five years, the numbers have been relatively steady in the United States.  The reported number of deaths resulting from Cocaine overdose shows a 54% increase from 2012 to 2015. It is the first time Cocaine use advances with a high margin after a period of about ten years.

From 2014 to 2015, the number of Cocaine addicts increased by 26% as depicted by the ONDCP report. The U.S Customs and Border Protection said that the cocaine seizures rose from 2014 to 2015 nationwide. Since 2007, the number of overdose deaths related to Cocaine recorded in 2015 was the highest. “There are troubling early signs that cocaine use and availability is on the rise in the United States for the first time in nearly a decade.” The report further explained that in 2014, there was a 39% increase in Coca cultivation in Colombia. In 2015, the numbers rose to 42% covering a vast region close to 159,000 hectares. The United States is said to possess the effects brought about by the surge in this production.

Increasing border security is one of the strategies inaugurated by the US president, Donald Trump. It has been substantially supported by the report to fight the epidemic of addiction in the United States. Tommy Loving, the Director of Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force, comes up with a new perspective on what is expected in the following years concerning Cocaine use and trafficking.

“With commuted sentences recently by the former president, some number of the upper-level crack cocaine traffickers are going to be released from federal prison that has much experience in trafficking of cocaine and crack cocaine, so that something we’ll be watching and also may be a partial driver in the increase. We’ll be paying attention in this area”. Loving told the Bowling Green Daily News.  During President Obama’s time in office, he had commuted 1,715 sentences for non-violent drug offenders. Tommy Loving was basing his references on these sentences which are some of the largest numbers ever brought out by any president in the United States.

It is also said that people serving 25-years to life sentences behind bars for non-violent drug offenses have no evidence of being granted clemency and that will increase drug trafficking. The reason why ex-offenders always make the repeat their trends is because of the challenges they face when they are exposed to the society for the second time. They also lack support services that can help monitor their behaviors. Despite this, the number of people who had been imprisoned reconnect with their families, friends and also impact positively towards the community.

According to the Ella Baker Center 2015 report, the confinement has impacted negatively on both the incarcerated persons and their families. Crack-cocaine arrests and other related crimes have been on the increase in the recent years as presented by officials in Kentucky. The Director of Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force also raises his opinion on the matter at hand. He says that the increase in crack cocaine arrests will lead to depletion of the limited resources at a point in time where they haven’t been an increase in federal funding that can be useful to the drug task forces. “And until the federal government can control drugs coming across the border, it’s difficult for me to buy that this is a state and local issue.” Said, Loving.

The Trump administration is controlling some drugs that are imported. The policy of whether it will be effective or not is still unknown. It was seen to be a system failure on the entire levels when it was tried in the past by the United Nations. (UN).

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.


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Reintroduction of Jessie’s Law With Bipartisan Support

“The addiction history would be consolidated into a patient’s record according to the Legislation, provided they give their acquiescence.”

The bill was reintroduced by Senators from West Virginia and representatives from Michigan to ensure that doctors have the addiction history of patients who accept having indulged in drug and substance abuse. Using this information, they would make appropriate decisions before prescribing the pain pills. The new law that was introduced was built upon the spin-off of a woman who had a heartbreaking story related to drug overdose.

‘Jessie’s Law’ is the legislation that acquired its name from the late Jessie Grubb, a former drug addict. She died at the age of 30 following an opioid overdose. The story of Grubb was first mentioned in West Virginia during a town hall meeting.   The parents shared with President Obama, the story of their daughter who was an opioid addict. At this time, Grubb was in her residential treatment facility in Michigan while watching the conversation as it streamed live. She rose people’s eyebrows five months later after having a critical level of overdose.

Jessie was prescribed oxycodone that was to help nurse her pain having undergone a hip surgery. The hospital had already received warnings from her parents that she was a drug addict. It might have been a tough time for Grubb having struggled for seven years under the influence of opioid drugs. She was found to have overdosed on the pills the next day in the hospital. Her father also mentioned that at that time, Jessie had an addict’s brain. “I think it was just too much temptation for her to resist” he said.

The lawmakers and Jessie’s parents supported ‘Jessie’s Law’ with high hopes that it will change the approach in which addiction is taken into consideration by the medical staff. Her father gave an example that if an individual is addicted to penicillin, it should be on their records such that a doctor would be barred from prescribing that drug once they read the documents. “And the same is true with drugs that interact with one another improperly. Any time you do that, it’s part of the medical records, and they’re all electronic.”

The addiction history would be allowed by the legislation to become part of the files of a patient if they consent to have indulged in drug abuse before. Jessie’s Law was not made out of the Congress ever since it was introduced last year. The bill has been strengthened by the Bipartisan support in the houses of Congress. Tim Walberg, a Republican representative, mentioned that there is no need to lose the people we love as depicted by the case of Grubb. “Jessie’s story is a heartbreaking example of needlessly losing a loved one to this battle,” He said.

He further added that the demanded information about a patient’s record should be accessible to doctors so that they can handle them with considerable attention. The support by the Bipartisan bill is meant to save the lives of people and create an awareness of drug addiction. “It is vital for medical professionals to have access to the information that they need about their patient’s history so they can provide safe treatment and proper care. The Bipartisan bill will make a real difference in fighting back against the deadly opioid epidemic and help save lives in our communities”, said Walberg.

Debbie Dingell, a Michigan representative, and Democrat tells the story of how her sister passed on because of the drug overdose and that her father was an opioid addict. She spoke out to her audience of how terrible and painful it is to live with a family member who is addicted to drugs. Dingell also talks about how individuals tend to have a constant ache that they may lose their loved ones because of the addiction.

She goes ahead to come up with measures on how people can solve this problem. “It is important that in our discussions to seek solutions, educate and prevent abuse that we ensure we do not stigmatize those with real and legitimate needs,” Dingell said. The Michigan representative creates awareness of drug addiction by saying that every person has a responsibility to confront the drug overdose epidemic like in the case of Jessie’s family.

“The addiction history would be consolidated into a patient’s record according to the Legislation, provided they give their acquiescence.”

The bill was reintroduced by Senators from West Virginia and representatives from Michigan to ensure that doctors have the addiction history of patients who accept having indulged in drug and substance abuse. Using this information, they would make appropriate decisions before prescribing the pain pills. The new law that was introduced was built upon the spin-off of a woman who had a heartbreaking story related to drug overdose.

‘Jessie’s Law’ is the legislation that acquired its name from the late Jessie Grubb, a former drug addict. She died at the age of 30 following an opioid overdose. The story of Grubb was first mentioned in West Virginia during a town hall meeting.   The parents shared with President Obama, the story of their daughter who was an opioid addict. At this time, Grubb was in her residential treatment facility in Michigan while watching the conversation as it streamed live. She rose people’s eyebrows five months later after having a critical level of overdose.

Jessie was prescribed oxycodone that was to help nurse her pain having undergone a hip surgery. The hospital had already received warnings from her parents that she was a drug addict. It might have been a tough time for Grubb having struggled for seven years under the influence of opioid drugs. She was found to have overdosed on the pills the enext day in the hospital. Her father also mentioned that at that time, Jessie had an addict’s brain. “I think it was just too much temptation for her to resist” He said.

The lawmakers and Jessie’s parents supported ‘Jessie’s Law’ with high hopes that it will change the approach in which addiction is taken into consideration by the medical staff. Her father gave an example that if an individual is addicted to penicillin, it should be on their records such that a doctor would be barred from prescribing that drug once they read the documents. “And the same is true with drugs that interact with one another improperly. Any time you do that, it’s part of the medical records, and they’re all electronic.”

The addiction history would be allowed by the legislation to become part of the files of a patient if they consent to have indulged in drug abuse before. Jessie’s Law was not made out of the Congress ever since it was introduced last year. The bill has been strengthened by the Bipartisan support in the houses of Congress. Tim Walberg, a Republican representative, mentioned that there is no need to lose the people we love as depicted by the case of Grubb. “Jessie’s story is a heartbreaking example of needlessly losing a loved one to this battle,” He said.

He further added that the demanded information about a patient’s record should be accessible to doctors so that they can handle them with considerable attention. The support by the Bipartisan bill is meant to save the lives of people and create an awareness of drug addiction. “It is vital for medical professionals to have access to the information that they need about their patient’s history so they can provide safe treatment and proper care. The Bipartisan bill will make a real difference in fighting back against the deadly opioid epidemic and help save lives in our communities”, said Walberg.

Debbie Dingell, a Michigan representative, and Democrat tells the story of how her sister passed on because of the drug overdose and that her father was an opioid addict. She spoke out to her audience of how terrible and painful it is to live with a family member who is addicted to drugs. Dingell also talks about how individuals tend to have a constant ache that they may lose their loved ones because of the addiction.

She goes ahead to come up with measures on how people can solve this problem. “It is important that in our discussions to seek solutions, educate and prevent abuse that we ensure we do not stigmatize those with real and legitimate needs,” Dingell said. The Michigan representative creates awareness of drug addiction by saying that every person has a responsibility to confront the drug overdose epidemic like in the case of Jessie’s family.

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.


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How Heroin Impacted Ambitions Of Former NBA Player

Chris Herren, a former NBA player, gave a presentation about his encounter with drugs on Thursday afternoon at the Myrtle Beach High School. He described how he almost lost his life four times while under the influence of Heroin and gave the dangers associated with drug abuse. For eight years, Herren was battling with heroin addiction till 2008 where he started a new life. He came up with a new goal of prevention and stayed faithful to his new phase free from substance abuse. After the eight years encounter with heroin, Herren decided to create awareness around the country, giving talks on adverse impacts of illegal drugs. He gives them pieces of advice on prevention and allows them to think of their lives. He makes them focus on school education and engage in productive activities that will raise their social status and reputation in the society.

Chris Herren’s journey on substance abuse began when he drunk his first beer at the age of 13. He advanced to drinking and smoking marijuana at the age of 15, and later introduced himself to Cocaine for the first time when he was 18 years. He also ventured in several other substances that proved to heighten his spirits. His first rehabilitation center was in the early 20s which ‘did not work out successfully. His beginning oxycontin pill quickly secured him after a year with the Denver Nuggets. He realized that the oxycontin was a necessary capsule after being traded to Boston Celtics. “I was taking 1600 milligrams of oxycontin a day. I was spending $25,000 a month on pills,” He said.

Herren’s attempt of getting rid of oxycontin never went as planned after he traveled overseas to play basketball. He turned to heroin the fact that he could not keep up with the diminishing supply of the oxycontin drug. Chris Herren went overboard by overdosing himself during the eight years and would do it close to four times. “Any time you put a needle in your arm for eight years straight, it’s a nightmare. That means eight years in a row I took a chance at dying every day” He said. Despite all attempts by Herren of ending his life, he survived and aimed at starting a new phase. The world has learned from his moving story of addiction, and many have been inspired by his courageous act of starting a new life.

He also shared his story on a Thursday afternoon to a large group of Seahawks at Myrtle Beach High School. Before Herren took the platform, Principal John Washburn addressed the crowd telling them of how their community was facing some issues. “Unfortunately, we have lost some alumni to drugs,” He said. Horry County has also been on the forefront, battling with the heroin pandemic similar to other parts of the country. Statistics of the previous year have shown that drug overdoses have claimed over 60 lives in the region.

Chris Herren explained that every country he went to suffered the same fate of substance abuse. “This whole country is suffering from this,” He said. He further explained that the stigma related to heroin only affects an individual and severally, he could meet as young as 15-year-old heroin addicts and others in their 60s. “Today’s heroin addict comes in all shapes and sizes, all forms and religions and cultures and from all, all areas of life,” Herren said.

One of the presentations at Myrtle Beach High School targeted the students while the other was for the public. He addressed both audiences with a similar purpose of preventing indulgence in substance abuse. Chris Herren has been prominent in many parts of the nation and has made several presentations in a year. He not only talks about his encounter with drugs but also empowers the youths and encourages them to share their life experiences. “When I first started doing this, it was more about me than them, and I’ve had to learn over the last six years that I’ve had to pivot and switch it and make it more about them,” Herren said.

He thinks that most of us are still in the ancient on how we educate our kids. He feels like parents or guardians do not give their children enough opportunity to share their talks and any issues affecting their lives.  “I often say I won’t stop doing this until wellness becomes a core class, a base class from Kindergarten on. A kid should be able to walk into a classroom and know that, that day he can open up.” Herren mentioned.

He also told the students about helping their friends who were battling with different issues in their lives. They were to consider the wellness of their family before thinking of anything associated with substance abuse. Chris Herren believes that most people have had a wrong perspective on issues related to addiction. He says that most addicts talk about their last day of dependency and fail to talk much about how they were initiated to drugs. He speaks of a situation where our children are only shown pictures of prostitutes and drug addicts to make them aware of what happens to them if they engage in drugs. “Why not rewind those pictures and go back to when they weren’t, when they were walking in high school hallways and having no idea what was coming? The first day is just important as the last day”, stressed Herren.

The Herren Project is a nonprofit organization founded by Chris Herren and focuses on offering mentorship programs, treatment navigation, and educational programs. The project incorporates people who are touched by addiction, and they provide education on the dangers of substance abuse to all age groups. The Herren Project propelled a national anti-substance abuse campaign and Project Purple in 2012. As depicted by his Website for Hoop Dreams, the projects were meant to motivate more people to stand firm against drug and substance abuse. His mission has proved to be successful, and his talks have inspired most individuals. Others have turned towards rehabilitation centers and aim at starting a new life free from drugs and other illegal substances.

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.


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Drug Distributors Sued Following Costs of Opioid Abuse

A town in West Virginia is initiating various efforts in compensating the costs related to opioid abuse by bringing to justice the illegal drug distributors. Five drug wholesalers were mentioned in a lawsuit filed by the Mingo County Community of Kermit on Tuesday. Cameron Justice, the former owner of a closed pain clinic, was among the people named by the court. In 2010, he had been sentenced for a health care fraud and served thirty months in prison. Issuing illegal prescriptions to unauthorized staff members was also among the charges that sent him behind bars. Truman Chafin, the former state Senator, also championed against the distribution of illegal drugs. He mentioned that “The good people of Kermit deserve justice for the ravages done to them by several multinational corporations for money.”

Several other communities are planning to file a lawsuit relating to the same issue. Nicholas County town of Richwood is one of the affected communities, and their grievances are yet to be brought to justice by Rusty Webb, the Charleston attorney. Webb mentioned that most of the counties and cities in West Virginia had been affected by the distribution of illegal drugs which has been costly to the individual communities. These areas have incurred costs which would have been avoided if the pharmacists and doctors did not allow the distributions to take place.

In the early weeks of January, the City of Huntington filed a related lawsuit involving dumping of illegal drugs in the area. The McDowell County Commission sued the drug distributors who took part in the illegal business in December. The state is determined to bring to justice people who defy the law, and it has been prominent in settling cases related to illicit drug wholesalers.

McKesson Corporation, a wholesaler, based in San Francisco was announced by the U.S Justice Department in January to have settled similar lawsuits after paying an amount of $150 million.  The allegations were associated with the failure of the wholesalers to determine and create awareness on suspicious orders of prescription pain drugs distributed by the pharmacies. The reports from federal prosecutors were that most of the West Virginia Pharmacies had placed suspicious orders. A federal investigation on McKesson was carried out in Grant County where it was settled for an amount of $2 million.

Other drug wholesalers were brought to justice following an investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Close to 1,728 people were overdosed by oxycodone and hydrocodone pills that were shipped to West Virginia for six years. According to the newspaper, approximately 9 million pain pills was received over a two-year period by a single pharmacy in Kermit from the drug distributors.

West Virginia had the highest number of deaths relating to the drug overdose as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the reports, the rates of deaths reported in 2015 was 41.4 per 100, 000 of the total population. It showed an increase of drug overdose deaths by approximately 17 percent from the previous year. The second in the listings was New Hampshire with 3.43 per 100, 000 of the total population. Kentucky and Ohio followed the same trend having a rate of 29.9 per 100, 000 population.

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.


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Dennis Quaid Leading A Great Example Of What Recovery Looks Like

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By Derrick D. Billingslea.

Dennis Quaid is back on the big screen with “A Dog’s Purpose” and leading a great example of what recovery looks like. However in the early 80′ Quaid drug use was out of control and he did not realize it. He told The Times,”Cocaine, back then, was part of the budget. Everyone was doing it, it was everywhere, and it was fun. And then it was fun with problems”.

In a 2002 interview with Larry King and asked Quaid about his motives for using drugs, Quaid responded, “Well, you got to put it in context. Back in the late ’60s, early ’70s. That was back during the time where, you know, drugs were going to expand our minds and everybody was experimenting and everything. We were really getting high, we didn’t know it. And cocaine at that time was considered harmless. You know. I remember magazine articles in ‘People’ Magazine of doctors saying, it is not addicting. It is just—alcohol is worse. So I think we all fell into that. But that’s not the way it was.” When asked if he believed he had ever been addicted to the drugs, he responded, “It was a gradual thing. But it got to the point where I couldn’t have any fun unless I had it. Which is a bad place to be.” He also said,  “Being addicted to cocaine is God’s way of saying you’re making too much money.”

Quaid said,”I had one of those bright light experiences where I either saw myself ending up dead or losing everything I had worked for.” That’s when Quaid checked himself into a 30 day treatment center and has not touched cocaine since.

Quaid recovery has lead him to do some awesome things that many may not be aware of. In 2007, the hospital staff mistakenly gave Quaid’s ten-day-old twins a dosage of heparin 1,000 times the common dosage for infants. Quaid was told the new borns would be fine, but Quaid filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, Baxter Healthcare, claiming that the packaging for the two doses of heparin were not different enough.

The incident with his twins led Quaid to become a patient-safety advocate, producing a string of documentaries on preventable medical errors and co-authoring a medical journal article addressing the positive influence of patient stories in motivating change in healthcare. His first documentary, Chasing Zero: Winning the War on Healthcare Harm, aired on the Discovery Channel in 2010, and the second documentary, Surfing the Healthcare Tsunami: Bring Your Best Board, aired on the Discovery Channel in 2012.

A Dog’s Purpose, is based on the lovely international bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron will be on the big screen January 27, 2017. Cameron is a screenwriter for the new film. The family friendly Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media movie is being released by Universal Pictures and has some heavy hitting stars like Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad, Peggy Lipton, Britt Robertson and K.J. Apa, and is directed by the Academy Award-nominated director Lasse Halstrom.

Photo Credit: WhatsApp Images

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.


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6 Free Mobile Apps For Recovery

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By Derrick D. Billingslea.

For centuries individuals in recovery would carry around notebooks, notepads, pens, pencils, the big book, etc, to help track their recovery progress. Now we live in a technology society where everyone is carrying around this thing called a cellphone/smartphone and with it comes great inventions for convince. HUGS Recovery Centers has found some great apps that will help you with your addiction.

Sober Grid

Beau Mann
iOS Free Android Free
Geosocial Networking
Sober Grid is a free iOS/Android app that connects you with other sober people.
This free, location-based app allows users find and connect with others in recovery who are near them for support, encouragement, information, and sober friendship. You can remain anonymous if you wish. It displays a grid of app users in the general vicinity (giving an approximate distance) and allows you to message that user, post messages to a news feed, or alert others that you are in need of support.
“Sober Grid is just like Facebook, but better. The content on the news feed is so helpful for us in the recovery process. It will give you inspiration and motivation to stay sober. Staff is caring, and so are users, you’ll make new great sober friends who’ll support you every step of the way. Simply amazing!” – Ailette R.
Source

AA Big Book and More
Rob Laltrello
iOS Free
Your ultimate recovery resource.
The text of “Alcoholics Anonymous” otherwise known as the “Big Book”.
This free app is easy to use, helps you keep track of your sobriety, provides the text of the AA Big Book, and offers encouraging messages daily.
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CassavaSM
Falesafe Consulting, Inc
iOS Free
Provides over 150,000 current meetings curated by support group members who can give input/corrections on meetings. A personal scoring system, the Sobriety Score, helps people track their progress, as each recovery activity they participate in on the app goes towards their score. The app also includes Daily Reflections tagged by keyword and no advertising.
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SoberTool
iOS Free Android Free
This app is geared to relapse prevention. It teaches the user how to identify thoughts and feelings which can lead to relapse. Then it leads the user to a daily reading geared to what they are currently experiencing which helps change “relapse” thinking into “sober” thinking. It also calculates sober time and money saved staying sober. It was developed by a licensed chemical dependency counselor who personally has over 27 years of sobriety.
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Quit Now
QuitNow!

Android, free
In English and Spanish. Counts days without smoking, cigarettes not smoked, money saved, and time saved. Covers nine aspects of health that will gradually improve, tips for quitting, and provides a widget.
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Recoverize.com
Cover art
This free mobile-friendly in-browser app includes Daily AA and NA Readings, Speaker Tapes, Chat Room, Recovery Stories, Clean Times, Meditation Mode, and more. Create an account to keep track of your sober time, chat with other members, and get location-based recovery events.
Source

There are many more great addiction apps that are available, fees range from .99 to 35.00 per month.

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Myth “Drinking Alcohol Will Keep Me Warm”

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By Derrick D. Billingslea.

The cold season is among us now, hot chocolate, tea, apple cider, etc. are drinks we love to sip in the winter. Another drink many like to indulge in is alcohol, and mixing it in something hot is called the famous “Hot Tottie”. Spare yourself from this potential deadly mix of cold weather and alcohol.

Free stock photo of cold, coffee, winter, christmas

Alcohol may feel nice and hot going down but the truth is, drinking alcohol when it’s cold lowers your core temperature.  Basic physics means that drinking a cold beverage will draw heat from your body, and drinking a hot beverage will add heat to your body. So, theoretically, alcohol shouldn’t add or subtract heat differently than any other beverage. The false sense of warmth you feel doesn’t translate to overall body temperature, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study by the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, published in 2005, found that after a single drink, the body tries to counteract the brief sensation of warmth caused by increased blood flow to the skin by ramping up its rate of sweating, which only decreases body temperature even further.

Why does it feel like I get warm when I drink alcohol?
The alcohol you ingest widens blood vessels under the skin, so they fill with warm blood. This overrides one of your body’s defenses against cold temperatures: Constricting your blood vessels, therefore minimizing blood flow to your skin in order to keep your core body temperature up. This will make you start to feel flushed or hot.

What effect could drinking alcohol in cold weather have on my body?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states, drinking alcohol in the cold can lead to hypothermia. Hypothermia can set in if your body drops below 95 degrees. The Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, says drinking alcohol in chilly weather also reduces the body’s ability and tendency to shiver, taking away yet another method your body uses to help keep warm when it is cold. If you or your love one has a heart condition you should avoid drinking alcohol in cold weather.

What are the signs of hypothermia?

Mild hypothermia

  • Shivering
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Faster breathing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Slight confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate

Moderate to Severe

  • Shivering, although as hypothermia worsens, shivering stops
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Confusion and poor decision-making, such as trying to remove warm clothes
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Lack of concern about one’s condition
  • Progressive loss of consciousness
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing

Someone with hypothermia is usually not aware of his or her condition because the symptoms often begin gradually. Also, the confused thinking associated with hypothermia prevents self-awareness. This confused thinking can also lead to risk-taking behavior.

As mentioned before there are many beverages to keep you warm, try some that will not risk your life. Also read “Foods That Keep You Warm”

Derrick D. Billingslea is an alcoholism and addictions treatment professional with over two decades in recovery himself and he is the Founder and CEO of HUGS Recovery Centers, located in Atlanta, Georgia.

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