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Friday, February 26, 2016

Taking God Out of Alcoholics Anonymous

If you have ever been to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), there is good chance that you have heard some things said or read that reminds you of a sermon you've heard from a pulpit. The Lord’s Prayer is often times recited at the end of a meeting in place of the Serenity Prayer. While it’s hard to argue that reciting such words is not religious, it should be understood that AA has no religious affiliations and the only requirement  for membership is “a desire to stop drinking.” While every member should create a relationship with a higher power of some kind, it does not have to be a deity and can be whatever you choose. One’s higher power can differ from everyone else's.

Interestingly, a man from Toronto, Canada, plans to file suit against AA World Services and its local chapter in Toronto, Ontario, Toronto Sun reports. Larry Knight is claiming AA of discriminating against atheists and agnostics by refusing to list secular groups on their website. Toronto has two secular AA groups, Beyond Belief and We Agnostics.

In 2011 the two groups were expelled and “delisted” from the local meetings roster after they’d removed the word “God” from AA’s 12 steps to recovery found in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and replaced it with the words “mindful inquiry,” according to the article. The two groups were also barred from voting “on matters that are important to all AA members.”

“The reason we went this way is because after three years of discussion, nothing happened,” Knight told the Sun. “The clock ran out and we’re still not allowed to vote. It’s important to feel that we are equal partners with an opportunity to speak.”

“The only requirement for membership in AA is this desire to achieve sobriety and to help others in this achievement,” Knight told a summary hearing last month. “AA was not meant to be presented on any religious terms and ... atheists and agnostics have been included as members in other parts of Canada and the United States over the years in order to promote an inclusive approach to AA membership rather than promote any religious perspective.”

Friday, February 19, 2016

Draconian Drug-Induced Homicide Laws

Last week we wrote about caution to heroin dealers from prosecutors. If you sell heroin to someone which results in a fatal overdose you may be looking at a over 20 years in prison. It turns out that you may not have to be a heroin dealer to receive a life sentence after all. A man in Louisiana was given a life sentence for injecting his girlfriend with heroin that resulted in an overdose death, Fox19 reports. The stiff sentence raises a lot of questions about culpability.

The case of Jarret McCasland, 27, is not simple. While the man has a history of selling drugs, he did not sell the heroin that resulted in the death of his girlfriend Flavia Cardenas, 19. Nevertheless, 19th Judicial District Judge Don Johnson gave McCasland the maximum sentence possible for a second degree murder charge.

"There are two consenting adults who were using drugs,” said McCasland's attorney, J. Rodney Messina. “this thing could have flip-flopped. He could have been the one that's six feet under, and then they would be prosecuting Miss Cardenas." 

We know for act that treating addiction with jails and prison is not effective in deterring drug use, and it certainly does not cure addiction. In recent years, in the wake of the American opioid epidemic, we have seen a dramatic change in how lawmakers look at addiction. Many of which now believe that treatment is the most effective weapon for fighting addiction. Apparently, lawmakers in some parts of the country did not receive the memo. A drug policy reformist at Roosevelt University, Kathie Kane-Willis, contends that draconian drug-induced homicide laws need to be changed, according to The Fix.

 “It may seem like a kinder gentler war on drugs and perhaps for folks in urban areas that is the case,” said Kane-Willis. “In the Midwest and the South that is not the case at all, in fact we are seeing really disturbing trends in the ways that these cases are being handled.”

Keep in mind, If you or a loved one is battling opioid addiction, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. We can help you learn how to live free from addiction and begin your journey of recovery.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Drug Dealers and Overdose Deaths

We have a seen a dramatic change in recent years regarding how we treat those who suffer from a substance use disorder. More and more states are seeing that addiction is not something that is going to disappear, and it definitely cannot be treated with jail cells. Referring people to addiction treatment centers is the best thing that law enforcement officials can do when they come in contact with addicts. Locking addicts up only serves to overburden penal institutions and rarely results in addicts getting the help they desperately need, which is why the majority of drug addicts use again upon their release.

On the other hand, how drug dealers are treated is getting stiffer, especially if their drugs can be linked to overdose deaths. In Virginia, a warning was made to drug dealers, if their drugs resulted in a death they could face 20-year and above sentences, The Washington Post reports. The dealers were put on notice by U.S. Attorney Dana Boente and Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring.

“We hope that they understand that they will be prosecuted and there will be severe penalties for selling heroin when someone dies,” Boente said in an interview. “And if people sell heroin, sooner or later, someone will die from their sale.” 

The stiff sentences have already been handed out. Recently, Gregory Hatt, 28, pleaded guilty to selling heroin which resulted in a death. If Hatt had not plead out and fought the charge and lost, he was looking at a 20-year minimum sentence. In 2014, a federal judge in Alexandria, VA, sentenced a dealer to 30 years for selling heroin that was linked to three deaths, according to the article. The Supreme Court has issued guidelines restricting when such methods should be used. Drug dealers that are arrested whose narcotics were not involved in a death will not face such stiff penalties.

 “If we can charge that within the requirements of the law, we’re going to, in appropriate cases, charge that case, and we’re going to be aggressive in those investigations,” Boente said.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Over The Counter Naloxone

It cannot be stressed enough; there is need for greater access to the life saving opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone in the United States, especially when you consider that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 44 people die every day from an overdose. In recent years, there has been call from both addiction experts and lawmakers for expanded access to naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan. The drug was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in nasal spray form, which makes it easier for people without any medical knowledge to administer the miracle drug.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that expanded naloxone access could save more than 20,000 lives per year in the United States. It is estimated that the drug saved 10,000 lives between 2006 and 2010.

In a number of states and cities across the country, naloxone can now be acquired without a prescription. This means that both opioid users and their families can purchase the drug with little effort, and more lives will be saved. CVS pharmacies in 13 states are preparing to offer naloxone over the counter, EMS 1 reports. With the rise in heroin use across the country, a byproduct of the prescription opioid epidemic, the likelihood of overdose rates increasing is great.

"Over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States and most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled substance pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin." said Tom Davis, vice president of pharmacy professional practices at CVS/pharmacy. "Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives." 

The states where naloxone will be offered over the counter include:
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin
Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject below:

Having trouble watching the video? Please click here.

If you or a loved one is battling opioid addiction, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. We can help you learn how to live free from addiction and begin your journey of recovery.
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