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2018. Time to Fight The Epedemic 

2018...THE REAL TEST OF HUNTINGTON 

2017 was a lot about realization and acceptance for Huntington.  It was the year residents moved past the shock of the murders and overdoses.  It was the year that we accepted our once innocent small town has the same dangers and demons as larger cities.  The problems have been here before now but in 2017 they were in WalMart's parking lot, McDonald's and Sheetz restrooms, and our living room.  Netflix, BBC, CNN, and other networks spread our drama worldwide. 

We were no longer shocked to see ambulances and firetrucks at Kroger's.  Citizens started carrying NARCAN with their pepper spray.  Alligator Jackson even quit posting pictures of overdoses and reports of overdoses because the awareness of the problem replaced the denial of the problem. 

But acceptance of a problem is not always quitting.  Acceptance is not always about admitting defeat.  Acceptance of the problem often means we know about the problem and we are ready to fight it. 

We began to fight harder in 2017.  Heroin(e) the documentary is some of the proof.  We began to hear more about a young hero Justin Ponton helping Rocky Meadows.  Recovery Point continued to grow.  Even Heroin Hearse emerged to help.  Citizens began to clean up their communities.  The National Guard and wVSP moved in to help. 

The fight to take back our city began in 2017.    2018 will be the continuation of progress.   2018 will be the real test of the heart of our city.  Will we roll over and let the epidemic steal our loved ones away or will we rise and fight adversity like Huntington has before?  We know what the enemy is and are prepared to fight it. 

I believe in Huntington.  In the past, I have been pegged as a negative Chicken Little type saying the sky is falling.  I just wanted awareness.  As negative as it may seem, we have to know the enemy before we fight it. 

We know the enemy.  It's time to fight.  It's 2018.  Please Huntington... Join me in the fight.  It's no longer about pictures or police reports.  It's dealers and killers in jail and addicts in Recovery.  Let's fight the supply and demand.  It's 2018....it's time to fight harder.  This time next year let's be the example of a city coming together.  It's your Huntington.  It's my Huntington.... It's OUR Huntington.

Vivitrol 

There are two addiction issues that are often discussed on threads on my site that run hand in hand. One is if jail is enough of a detox for addicts and another is if the relatively new opiate blocker Vivitrol is effective long-term. 

In an article written on November 27, 2017 https://www.cincinnati.com/…/addictions-myths-bu…/880167001/ 

An expert Betty Tai, director of the Center for Clinical Trials Network for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, wrote: "With just detox, and not providing additional treatment, the relapse is almost instantaneous," Tai said." 

The article continues, "Only about 5 percent to 10 percent of people who detox will be able to stay drug-free with just detox, said Theresa Winhusen, professor and director of the Addiction Sciences Division within the UC College of Medicine psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience department. 
But detox is necessary for one of the FDA-approved medications for opioid addiction. Tai noted that research shows people who detox in a jail can remain free of opioid-seeking behavior if they follow incarceration with injectable naltrexone, known commonly as Vivitrol, and counseling. The non-narcotic blocks the effects of opioids." 

A friend of mine recently was locked up for a year. They were drug free for that time and was interested in remaining clean. When the person returned to their home, they gradually began using. If the person would have received Vivatrol, they may have remained clean. 

The hospital I work at has made Vivitrol available. They do not use Suboxone or Methadone. The hospital also offers extensive counseling and therapy. 

Vivitrol is a form of Naltrexone in a 28-day extended-release method that blocks the effect of heroin. Test results released the last two weeks reveal Vivatrol is as effective as suboxone. 

According to https://www.pbs.org/…/long-awaited-study-finds-monthly-vivi… 19, 2017 1:19 PM EST 

"The largest head-to-head study to date between two leading drugs to treat opioid addiction has found them roughly equivalent — an outcome that could dramatically change prescribing habits and boost the fortunes of the newer drug, Vivitrol. 

The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that a monthly shot of naltrexone (sold as Vivitrol) is as effective as its main competitor, the daily pill of buprenorphine and naloxone (sold as Suboxone). Researchers found that about half of people with opioid addiction who took either drug remained free from relapse six months later. 

Previously, there’s been a “widespread belief” that patients “don’t do as well on naltrexone as they do on buprenorphine,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIDA. “We’re hopeful this changes the prejudice 

I have known several people who say they like Vivitrol and it keeps them clean. The drawbacks are that it is very expensive at about $1000 a shot and a person has to be 5 to 7 days clean before they can start using the shot. 

Detox, of course, is necessary to get clean but if applied with counseling and perhaps medication, the odds increase that a person will not relaspe.

Street Names For Drugs 

STREET NAMES OF DRUGS 

LOCAL POPULAR NAMES 

Hard means crack. Powder is cocaine. Dog food and food is heroin. Ice is crystal meth. Speed, clear, go, glass, are crystal meth. Xanax bars are sticks. 

Nationally known 

Cocaine - blow, , C, candy, coke, do a line, freeze, girl, happy dust, Mama coca, mojo, monster, nose, pimp, shot, smoking gun, snow, sugar, sweet stuff, and white powder. 

Crack- Base, beat, blast, casper, chalk, devil drug, gravel, hardball, hell, kryptonite, love, moonrocks, rock, scrabble, stones and tornado 

Depressants 
Backwards, blue heavens, downie, drowsy high, green dragons, idiot pills, joy juice, M&M, no worries, peanut, rainbows, red bullets, stoppers, stumbler, tooles and yellow. 

Fentanyl- 
Apache, China girl, China town, dance fever, friend, goodfellas, great bear, he-man, jackpot, king ivory, murder 8, poison, tango and cash and TNT. 

Heroin- 
Aunt Hazel, big H, black pearl, brown sugar, capital H, charley, china white, dope, good horse, H, hard stuff, hero, heroina, little boy, mud, perfect high, smack, stuff and tar. 

Methamphetamine- 
Beannies, blue devils, chalk, CR, crank, crystal, crystal meth, fast, granulated orange, ice, meth, Mexican crack, pink, rock, speckled birds, speed, tina and yellow powder. 

Marijuana- 
420, Aunt Mary, baby, bobby, boom, chira, chronic, ditch, ganja, grass, greens, hash, herb, Mary Jane, nigra, Pot, reefer, rip, root, skunk, stack, torch, weed and zambi.

Dual Diagnosis 

The argument of is addiction a disease or a choice often comes up on my page. There is a condition that clouds the argument. It is accepted in the psychiatric field that there can be underlying mental illness disorders that can trigger or amplify addiction. This is called Dual Diagnosis. 

At the mental health hospital I work at, we see many cases of this. In order for the drug aggiction treatment to be effective, the mental health condition has to be treated as well. 

Often addicts suffer from anxiety, depression. PTSD, bi-polar, schizophrenia, or a borderline personality disorder. These disorders can trigger addiction. The patient may also be self-medicating by taking drugs. The addict may be suffering from stress caused from the mental illness problems that cause them to turn to drugs to deal with it. 

This is not to say that all addicts are mentally ill, but it does explain why some addicts actually do not have as much of a choice as others to use and their use is driven by some sort of illness that triggers their addiction. 

Dual diagnosis can be harder to detect because the symptoms of some mental illnesses and addiction are the same. Dual diagnosis can also explain why a person relaspes from rehabilitation. The relaspe often happens because the addiction is treated but the underlying mental illness is not. Once the person gets out of rehab, the mental illness disorders arise and again triggers the addiction. In the case of dual diagnosis, the person has a better chance of staying clean if both conditions are treated through therapy,counseling, and perhaps medecine.

Trending: A Switch from Heroin to Meth 

There has been a big change in Huntington in the last year has many heroin users have switched to meth or ice. While it is true that many addicts will do whatever drug is available whether it is heroin, crack,meth, or Xanax; there are a few reasons for the change. 

One reason is meth will keep heroin users from being sick if nothing else is available. Meth can even be made at home. 

The effect of ice or meth lasts longer. While the price is basically the same, the meth keeps a person from being sick longer. After using for a while it becomes less about chasing the high and more about not being sick. A user starts on Heroin and after going through all of their resources...money, jobs, people giving them money...they switch to meth to keep from being sick longer. 

Meth is harder to overdose from. This makes ice or meth appealing because the threat of dying instantly isn't as high as in heroin. As overdose deaths from heroin increased, many users became scared and switched to ice. 

Even though there are far less overdose deaths from ice, the long-term effects may be worse. The speeding effect is hard on the heart. The speeding effect keeps users up for days depriving their bodies of sleep. The lack of sleep is hard on their mental state. The mental state is harmed by the lack of sleep. I've seen many ice users come into a mental hospital because they are very delusional and often hallucinating. 

Up until the last couple of years, Heroin was the top drug in Huntington, while heroib is still King of the drug scene, meth and ice have crept in from the rural surroundings like Sissonville and Eastern Kentucky and is threatening to take heroin's crown. While meth doesn't kill as fast as heroin, it destroys the quality of life.

Mental Hygienes in WV 

A mental hygiene can be used to ensure someone gets treatment for their addiction. In West Virginia, the mental hygiene will have the person committed into a mental health hospital for evaluation and treatment. 

It must be proven that the person is either a threat to themselves or others. If a person has overdosed multiple times or shows examples of extreme behavoir, they can be taken to a mental hospital. 

It is not always easy to file a hygiene on someone. A person can be filed on if it is proven that they are suicidal or have made threats that they will kill themselves. 

It is harder to prove that their drug use is detrimental to their well-being. Several years ago I filed on someone who overdosed on Soma. They were in the emergency room at St. Mary's in Huntington. The request was denied. A few weeks later they overdosed two days in a row. Their behavior exhibited a pattern of behavior that indicated they were a threat to themselves. They were placed in a mental health hospital. 

In Huntington, a mental hygiene can be filed at the circuit court, a hospital, or through Prestera's. If the hygiene is approved the sheriff's department will pick them up. If the person is at a hospital or mental hospital, the hospital can file. The person will be placed in the psych ward at St. Mary's, Bateman Hospital - a state mental hospital, or River Park Hospital. 

The patient will be held until the doctor releases him. If the person is held for thirty days they will have to appear in front of a judge again. They will receive a new hearing every thirty days. 

Once a person detoxes in a mental health facility, the hospital will often try to convince the patient to receive further treatment at a rehab facility such as Recovery Point or Prestera. 

If a person is in bad enough condition to be admitted into a hospital, it is hoped that once they detox and come to their senses, that they can be convinced to seek more treatment and willfully enter at least a 28 day program. 

A mental hygiene is often a last ditch effort made to force a loved one to get treatment for an addiction that will kill them. There will have to be enough evidence that the person will hurt themselves or others if there is not a legal intervention.

Support Groups 

Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are extremely important for anyone in Recovery. Support groups provide important information how to quit, inspiration, and are there to help pull you back into sobriety if an addict is thinking of relasping. Hearing success stories and just talking about sobriety is a great way to stay on the right track and focus on your recovery. 

Sometimes people think that meetings are boring and will only go to them to get papers signed if they are forced by courts to go. Recovery can be a team sport if you surround yourself with the right supportive team along the way. 

Like other skills and interests, the more you talk about your sobriety and be vested in it, the better you will be at being sober. There are ways to avoid the pitfalls and temptations of relaspe. Someone who has beaten addiction through recovery can help you and inspire you. 

I came across this analogy online and think it is very appropriate in regards to the importance of those in Recovery attending support groups. 

"AN ADDICT FELL IN A HOLE and couldn't get out. A businessman went by and the addict called out for help. The businessman threw him some money and told him to buy himself a ladder. But the addict could not buy a ladder in this hole he was in. 
A doctor walked by. The addict said, "Help! I can't get out!" The doctor gave him some drugs and said, "Take this. It will relieve the pain." The addict said thanks, but when the pills ran out, he was still in the hole. 
A well-known psychiatrist rode by and heard the addict's cries for help. He stopped and asked, " How did you get there? Were you born there? Did your parents put you there? Tell me about yourself, it will alleviate your sense of loneliness." So the addict talked with him for an hour, then the psychiatrist had to leave, but he said he'd be back next week. The addict thanked him, but he was still in the hole. 
A priest came by. The addict called for help. The priest gave him a Bible and said, "I'll say a prayer for you." He got down on his knees and prayed for the addict, then he left. The addict was very grateful, he read the Bible, but he was still stuck in the hole. 
A recovering addict happened to be passing by. The addict cried out, "Hey, help me. I'm stuck in this hole!" Right away the recovering addict jumped down in the hole with him. The addict said, "What are you doing? Now we're both stuck here!!" But the recovering addict said, "Calm down. It's okay. I've been here before. I know how to get out." -Author Unknown"

Deadly Relaspes 

In the beginning of the epidemic, my intentions were to raise awareness of what was going on in our city. Now, that we are all painfully aware of the devastation of the epidemic, I want to discuss different issues centering around recovery. Some of the things I mention may be common knowledge to most addicts but I work with addicts and I feel that they need to be reminded of some basics. 

We are seeing many success stories; while this is wonderful news, it comes with a warning. Relaspes are deadly. Heroin never lets go. Being a part time addict is dangerous. It's like playing Russian roulette with more than one bullet. 

An addict who has not done drugs in a long time has a lower tolerance then when they were using regularly. They try to do the same amount as they used to do and overdose. Their bodies are very vulnerable after they go through recovery. 

We have had several people leave the hospital I work in clean and die days later. One guy was in for a month and overdosed on his way home only to return that evening with another mental hygiene signed on him. 

A recovering addict who is an emerging leader in the Recovery field spoke a few weeks ago that after a long time clean he recently wanted to use so bad that he stayed in his room all day and cried. He couldn't come out of his room because the urge to use was suddenly overwhelming. He called his support system and the urge eventually passed. But the point is that the urge will always be there. An addict must realize that slipping may mean dying. It's not like being on a diet and cheating and eating a Twinkie. Relaspes kill. Cheating with heroin can mean death. 

Recovery is real, but heroin hates to be scorned and awaits it's revenge. It is important that addicts in Recovery keep that in mind.

An Addict Must Change Their Environment 

This Thanksgiving Day, I'm thankful that so many can make a change. I come in contact everyday with people who need to change; people who want to change, and people who refuse to change. 

Breaking addiction is about making a change in ones life. But to change a change a lifestyle and a habit, one must change their environment and who is in that environment. 

Often a reason why people fail to change their behavior, is because they do not want to change the people in their lives. To quit taking drugs, you must quit hanging with the people who take drugs. 

I've seen addicts leave rehab and fail to change their habits. Those who are successful in changing their habits have been able to change who they hang around with. I've seen some people change jobs or even cities, in order to breakaway from the things that prolonged their addiction. 

Sadly, all to often people leave rehab and return to the same environment. Without a change in their environment, they have constant reminders of the past. Most recovering addicts will tell you they never got tired of the high. They don't quit using because they are tired of getting high. They quit getting high because they are tired of what they have to do to get high and the consequences of getting high. So if a recovering addict is around someone high, they just see the buzz and not the consequences. It makes the high seem attractive and they forget why needed to quit. 

It makes it hard when there are other addicts in the family. Holidays like Thanksgiving can be hard because you want to be around people you love. Please be vigilant and string today if you are in Recovery and you are around other addicts today. Be thankful for your recovery. Be thankful for the people who helped you recover. Call them today if you need them. Keep the change today although the reminders of the past can be tricky. Happy Thanksgiving!