5 Ways to Navigate this Election Season While Being Sober

November 7, 2016 by  
Filed under People and Culture, Politics and Government


Saint Louis, MO, USA - March 11, 2016: Donald Trump talks to supporters at the Peabody Opera House in Downtown Saint Louis.

Though the election season is (thankfully) coming to a close soon, the negative news regarding political candidates continues and seems to be intensifying. And, unfortunately, we are seeing a great deal of that evidenced on our social media feeds, preferred news outlets and in our daily conversations, even within our recovery communities. The latter reality can be straining on a newly sober mind.

As such, it is important for those of us in recovery to find ways to navigate this election while being sober. Thankfully, that’s not as difficult a task as steering clear of political conversations altogether. In fact, the desire to do so brings us to the first suggestion:

1. Set boundaries.

Though reality is something we all have to learn to deal with in recovery“”something we are generally accustom to escaping or avoiding””we do have the right to set personal boundaries when reality becomes overwhelming. Whether those boundaries are by way of social media””like unfollowing or unfriending someone who is not respectful of your views or seemingly toxic””or face-to-face conversations, you have a right to simply suggest a change of subject or, if needed, disconnect from someone completely, even if just temporarily.

2. Accept and respect differences.

It’s really quite simple; agree to disagree. That’s the easiest way to deal with opposing views. This late in the game, there’s likely no way you’re going to change your mind, and the same goes for the other person. So, to avoid the loss of a friendship or connection, it is best to simply accept the fact that you don’t agree and respect each other, regardless. And, since you cannot control what another person does or doesn’t do, if this is not a workable solution for someone else, it may be time to set the aforementioned boundaries involving disconnection.

3. Take breaks from social media and TV.

It’s always a good idea to take a break from social media and television. The more we stay plugged in, the less likely we are to enjoy nature, social events, connection with family and friends in face-to-face settings, etc. Getting away from the noise of political chatter blaring across the tv screen and social media news feed is a very healthy and needed way to maintain serenity and sanity.

4. Engage in solution-oriented conversation.

Conversations about issues surrounding politics can often be very important, intellectually stimulating ones. In that way, it can be a time of growth and progress for everyone. But it important to engage only in those conversations which offer solutions or, at least, pose some positive spin, rather than merely focusing on the problems and burying everyone in negativity. The world’s current issues may, indeed, be bleak. However, as recovering individuals, we are more aware than anyone of ways to find a sliver of hope in even the darkest day. As such, if we can’t find a solution-oriented conversation, or one focused on a shift in perspective, it may be a call to start one.

5. Express yourself, regardless.

Though it seems like no post on social media goes undebated, there is still a need for you to feel free and, more importantly, emotionally safe to express yourself. Your thoughts, opinions, feelings, ideas and experiences all matter just as much as anyone else’s, and you have just as much right to express them. If you’re not yet comfortable to stand firm in that truth and face potential conflict while carefully confronting those who seek to debate, this is likely not the best time to throw yourself out there. However, you do still need to find a safe way to express all the thoughts and feelings likely surfacing and swimming around as a result of all the chatter. Keeping a private journal is a great way to do this. Additionally, talking things out with trusted friends (whose views are similar), with yourself (aloud, in your home or while driving in your car) or with a helping professional (life coach, counselor, spirit guide, etc.) can be very helpful methods of venting and processing.

Regardless of the ways in which you decide to navigate this election while maintaining sobriety, be sure to guard against your serenity and sanity too. Remember, recovery is more than mere sobriety. And, of course, it’s a lifelong process. The election season is not. This too shall pass.

Toshia Humphries is a Texan freelance writer, artist, life coach and talk radio co-host of Girl Power Hour on Blog Talk Radio. She has been writing for two decades and possesses three degrees in counseling and psychology with a focus on addictions and women’s studies. She is also the creator of Threads Locks & Rock””a performance art show which utilizes personal experiences and stories to inspire each show and its performers, healing and empowering them and audience members alike. Much of her work is fueled by her own life experience and education.

Why Cocaine is Complicating Peace Talks in Colombia

March 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Politics and Government


18892Colombia’s history is flush with cocaine-related crime and the cartels that have been terrorizing the citizens of Colombia with their rampant territorial violence for decades still exist and evoke justified fear. But Colombia’s leaders–ranging from the Vice President to notorious cartel members–have been in talks in Havana, Cuba regarding how to establish peace in the region. Cuba and Norway are facilitating these talks and encouraging resolution. In many ways, these talks have been successful so far, at least in theory.

As a part of an agreement from May 2014, illicit drug production within the country of Colombia was to be banned. Through many stalls in the progression of peace talks, they are now continuing bilaterally and many are beginning to wonder: will Colombia finally find peace? And what will happen to cocaine trade as a result of these peace talks?

It was in war-torn Colombia that the cocaine trade and the reign of Pablo Escobar came to life and power. Since 1997, Colombia has supplied nearly all of the world’s cocaine and the bloodshed surrounding the illegal trade in Colombia has been monumental. The drug cartels in Cocaine were exporting up to 500 to 800 tons of cocaine each year in the 90s. Although many large cartels in Colombia have been dismantled since then, smaller groups have continued to run the trade.

If peace talks in Colombia could work to decrease the amount of cocaine coming out of Colombia, it could have an impact on the amount of cocaine that reaches addicts in the US, perhaps increasing cost of an already notoriously expensive drug and giving some addicts enough of a push to finally get clean. However, cocaine is a complicating issue for the Colombian peace talks because cocaine has its own sort of economy in Colombia. From the farmers to the manufacturers to the distributors to the businesses that depend on money from customers involved in the trade, this highly sought-after drugs has complicated the internal workings of the Colombia economy and how negotiators will strike a deal that works in the long-term regarding cocaine in unclear.

Some of the negative side effects of cocaine use include:

  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Violent behavior
  • Lung damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Stomach ulcers

If you are addicted to cocaine, it’s time to find the help that you need. Contact a healthcare professional near you, whether it’s a counselor, a physician, or both, and discuss your options. Depending on the severity of your addiction, you might find that a detox and rehab center is the best place for you to go to recover from your addiction. Recovery isn’t a one-time action–it’s an everyday action, a choice, and a lifestyle. You’ll find that there are groups near you for others who were also once addicted to cocaine and in those groups, you will likely find some of the initial support that you need to help get you through your recovery. Getting clean isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.

Elizabeth Seward has written about health and wellness for Discovery Health, National Geographic, How Stuff Works Health, and many other online and print publications. As a former touring rock musician, Elizabeth has firsthand experience with the struggles of substance abuse and the loss of loved ones because of it. She believes in the restorative power of yoga, meditation, talk therapy, and plant-based diets and she is an advocate for progressive drug policy reform.

Legislation Aims to Curb Drug Abuse Among Seniors

September 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Laws and Legalization, Politics and Government


A shot of a senior asian man taking a medicine

Opioid pain medication addiction is now considered an epidemic as the number of those who are addicted quadrupled in the past two decades. The highest age group plagued with this addiction are senior citizens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is set to introduce a new bill for bipartisan legislation that aims to tackle prescription drug abuse among seniors. With approximately 170,000 people receiving Medicare benefits impacted by this epidemic, the bill can save an enormous amount of taxpayer funds.

Putting an End to Multiple Prescriptions

Use of multiple doctors and pharmacies is one way that drug seekers can obtain multiple prescriptions and the drugs they need to fuel their addiction. The new bill would limit the use of doctors to one and the use of pharmacies filling their prescriptions to one. This eliminates what addicted patients have access to. The practice of “doctor-shopping” and “pharmacy hopping” would be stopped by this limitation.

Better use of Medicare funds will allow these funds to serve more patients, thus ensuring funding availability for those in future generations.

Better Foothold on Medication Costs

Increases in costs of Medicare-approved drugs have created a huge loss of revenues being filtered into the Medicare system, over a period of many years. The current problem is exponentially increased due to the sheer numbers of those reaching Medicare age in the Baby Boomers generation. These are people born between the years 1946 to 1964; whose ages today are from 51 to 69. This age group is raising costs of Medicare-provided services through the roof, with little or no end in sight.

Controlling costs of medication has become a national concern over the last 10 years, especially as these seniors reach age 65 and the Medicare system is hit with such high numbers of applicants and their medical expenses.

Increasing numbers of seniors with addiction to pain medication creates a severe hit on the funds allocated for Medicare treatment, threatening losses in the billions of dollars to these programs.

Cost-cutting measures have been established across the country as each state has implemented programs to offset the losses. This current proposal is another way to address the issue.

Keeping the Medicare System Alert

Looking for those who are guilty of seeing multiple doctors, who are filling more than one prescription for their addictive medications is a big part of the bill. These measures are similar to those already in place for Medicaid and private insurance programs nationwide.

Anyone with a propensity toward abusing prescription pain medications would be singled out of the plan for inclusion into a drug-diversion type of treatment program. They would be allowed to determine a preferred provider for prescribing their required medications and filling prescriptions. Limitations would be placed on how much and how often these could be refilled. Controls and monitors would be exercised in this person’s use of medications.

All members of the team of doctors and providers within the Medicare system would be encouraged to remain watchful of patients in the system to determine possible problems with drug-seeking behaviors and possible dependency issues around the medications seen as problematic. They would also implement necessary interventions and recommendations for treatment of drug dependencies where needed.

Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act

  • Preference for their provider and pharmacy use would be granted, unless that provider or pharmacy has been determined to contribute to abuse in the past.
  • The beneficiary will be notified when they have a change in status of benefits and a clinical review provided to determine which members require high doses of pain medication, keeping them out of the program as needed.
  • Determining clinical criteria for who is eligible and at-risk of abusing opioid pain medication.
  • Those who receive hospice care or long-term care in nursing homes will be determined eligible for exemption from this ruling.
  • Create guidelines for data sharing between providers, plans and contractors to decrease opportunities for abuse of the plan, as well as fraud and waste problems.
  • Address any areas of concern for prescription drug abuse aside from opioid pain medications.
  • Create procedural criteria for any member’s inclusion in the program and their appeal rights.

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma and recommends essay help online with professional writers wich have years of experience in this field and they can help you with any written work!. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

Eight Drug Smugglers Killed By Firing Squad in Indonesia


iStock_000015916460_LargeSimilar to the six people executed in January 2015, Indonesia has slayed eight more people via firing squad.

The April 29 execution of two members of Bali Nine, a group of heroin smugglers arrested in 2005, has led an Australian foreign diplomat in protest of the executions. Other Bali Nine members are currently being held in prison, but none are serving a death sentence.

After serving almost a decade in prison, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who are Australian nationals alleged to be ringleaders of Bali Nine, were executed after being given a 72-hour notice. Australian authorities sought clemency for the two men, claiming they had been fully rehabilitated during their time in prison.

Further allegations towards Indonesia include the sentencing the two men to less than 20 years in prison atop a payment of $100,000. However, court official in Jakarta has denied the allegations stating that they were made too long after the trial to be considered.

One of the drug offenders executed by firing squad was a Brazilian man said to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Documents were introduced during his trial that offer diagnostic evidence from more than 20 years ago, showing he has suffered from a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. His execution violated the international humane treatment laws that prohibit those with mental illnesses from execution for their crimes. His prosecution and execution are also in violation of Indonesian laws governing the sentencing of the mentally ill. He was arrested in 2004 for attempting to smuggle cocaine into Jakarta in surfboards.

One member of the group slated to be executed for drug smuggling is a woman, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, from the Phillipines. She was given last-minute stay of execution when another Filipino woman came forward to testify that Veloso had been tricked into smuggling drugs she did not know were in her possession. It is reported that the woman was her employer and planted the drugs on Veloso, whose suitcase held heroin. Veloso is expected to testify in a new trial against the woman, who is being held in the Philippines on charges of human trafficking.

Four Nigerian men were also executed, namely: Martin Anderson, 50, who was arrested in Jakarta in 2003 with heroin; Jamiu Owolabi Abashin, 50, who had been arrested in 1998 for smuggling heroin and originally sentenced to life in prison, but was accelerated to death after prosecutors appealed his sentence; Sylvester Obiekwe  Nwolise, 49, who was arrested in 2003 when he landed in Jakarta Airport from Pakistan possessing heroin; and Okwudili Oyatanze, 45, who was arrested in 2001 in Jakarta Airport with heroin he smuggled from Pakistan.

The last man to be executed was Zainal Abidin bin Mahmud Badarudin, 50, from Indonesia. He was arrested at his home in 2000 with marijuana.

The executions are the response of President Joko Widodo to what he claims is a “national emergency” and to push forth his efforts to stop drug abuse and trafficking. He has rejected all appeals for clemency from international heads of state and declared that he is exercising Indonesia’s “sovereign right to exercise our laws.”

Allegations against Indonesia is that those being tried and convicted in the country for drug crimes are not given fair opportunity for interpreters and appropriate legal representation. There are currently at least 64 other drug convicts on death row at this time. All reported appeals for clemency on their behalf are being rejected.

“For those countries that exercise the death penalty, they have to make sure that the best mechanisms of the judicial system should be open to and exercised by the convicted person,” Haris Azhar, coordinator of the Indonesian human rights group called the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, told New York Times in April. “This is not the case in Indonesia.”

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

New Technology Tests Breath for Illegal Drugs


iStock_000001996195_LargeFor many years, testing urine samples have been the primary method of checking for the presence of drugs and alcohol. However, this can be an invasive and challenging process, depending on circumstances. Urine samples can present problems such as the following:

  • Samples are easy to manipulate, those being tested can purchase drug and alcohol-free urine.
  • Samples may be easily tainted with other substances, such as water and/or other easy to obtain items,
  • The sample must be procured by witnessing the person creating the sample, often considered an invasion of privacy.
  • Results can be complicated by the presence of other medications and is not always accurate.
  • Samples are messy and may be mishandled easily.

The search for more accurate forms of testing has been ongoing. Blood tests are one option, but are lengthy to perform and require medical staff to obtain, as well as process. Expensive lab fees and long waiting periods for results are other reasons this method is less popular.

What is the new approach?

New technology being developed eliminates many of these factors. Analyzing the breath of the person being tested happens with a process called liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. This is a highly sensitive method for detection of drugs in the system of the person being tested.

Basically, this technology captures small aerosol particles being exhaled and tests them for the presence of drugs. The device collects these particles and filters them for presence of drugs, such as amphetamines, methamphetamines, marijuana and cocaine.

How will it be applied?

Those most often impacted by the waiting period for testing of urine or blood are law enforcement officers and personnel. Others who will find this form of testing valuable and viable are employers who perform random testing, emergency room personnel who must act quickly in medical situations, treatment professionals who perform regular testing of participants, school officials who suspect drug use on campus, sporting officials who must perform random testing on athletes in competitions, and all those who need to save money on testing procedures as well as obtaining access to fast results of the testing.

What is the importance of testing?

Recent studies have shown that approximately 75 percent of those aged 18 and higher who use drugs, even only occasionally, are employed. They often use drugs while on the job and in the workplace, therefore making them a high risk group for workplace accidents and loss of productivity.

Using the percentage above, this translates to about 42,000 people per year who are coming to work high or getting high while in the workplace. This can lead to liability for the employer in many arenas. Is it any wonder that more employers are beginning to see the benefit of drug testing for their employees? It is estimated that approximately three quarters of the Fortune 500 companies now regularly perform drug tests.

Retraining costs and loss of productivity from employees who begin to lose work and eventually either quit or are laid off has created the trend toward pre-employment drug screens. It is estimated that 71% of employers now utilize this practice. Waiting times for blood and urine samples, along with high costs of lab and medical fees for this practice make the new technology very appealing for small to medium sized companies who currently do this type of testing.

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

The Current State of Marijuana: Signs of New Chemical Make-Up, Legislation


close up of Doctors hands holding medical marijuanaWhile there is a clear distinction between marijuana crops grown for recreational use and medicinal purposes, new research in Colorado may debunk any chemical differences in the two, including claims of users getting a different type of high.

Recent consumer demands for more potent marijuana have come to fruition as marijuana strains currently being tested in Colorado’s research labs present triple the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, has increased from less than 10 percent potency 30 years ago to nearly 30 percent potency in the said strains.

With the increase in THC in marijuana now being tested, researchers have also found a decrease in the Cannabidiol (CBD) content. CBD is one marijuana’s least active ingredient and does not contribute to its “high,” but researchers believe it appears to be the medicinal component that may possibly help treat schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington disease, depression and anxiety.

Researchers in Colorado are also finding a certain amount of contamination in the marijuana crops they have tested. While there is little chance of completely eliminating the organic fungal growth that is bound to occur in pot, further testing is being done to determine the levels of fungal growth on the buds of the plant that are used for production that may be considered contaminated. No safe levels of chemical contamination have been determined as of yet. The research has also shown varying levels of butane, which have not been legislatively determined as safe or unsafe.

Crafting New Legislations: Taking Lessons from the Past

As other states are looking at the legal processes of decriminalization and possible legalization of marijuana, and watching both Colorado and Washington State as they implement and iron out problems with their new laws regarding pot, the U.S. is expected to look to the processes of controlling and regulating both tobacco and alcohol for guidance in the coming years.

As legislative measures are taken to reduce criminal penalties for possession, the use and production of marijuana in each state may learn from the hard lessons of legal precedent set for both substances over the course of history.

These issues run the gamut from interstate transport of the products to taxation and legal age for use. Sales and development of the product are also contained within the legislative history of both substances. Lessons hard learned in regulating tobacco and alcohol may assist each state to develop their new laws.

The widespread use and abuse of medical marijuana may also assist lawmakers when writing new legislation. It is expected that public outcry for lowering of penalties regarding recreational use of marijuana will continue past the decriminalization stages and into the future for legalization.

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

New Alcohol Detection Technology Paves Way to Safer Roads


iStock_000037841112_LargeThe U.S. has long implemented ignition interlock devices (IID) or sobriety systems that lock a vehicle’s steering column if a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) tests too high. The current technology involves measuring a driver’s BAC through blowing into the device, and then automatically disabling the ignition if results are above the legal limit of 0.08 or higher.

In 50 states, these devices, which are essentially installable car breathalyzers, are part of post-DUI conditional reinstatement of driving privileges. However, it is estimated that before one person is convicted with a DUI, they would have already driven drunk an average of 80 times.

Within the following decade, proposed devices are expected to roll out a more advanced device that would either be pre-installed in new cars or incentivized by insurance carriers to be installed in most cars. Armed with newer technology, the device will be able to use infrared light mechanisms to do the same job as IIDs, as well as make for a more cost-effective vehicle production and new vehicle purchases. Future devices would also take less than half a second to measure BAC with either the driver’s breath or fingertips.

Technology Advancement that Phases Out Costs

DUI driving accidents have created serious fiscal concerns in many states. They cost federal and local governments and tax payers about $51 billion each year. An estimated $1.25 million is spent on injuries caused by drunk drivers. At the same time, the U.S. has to pay costs of police enforcement for DUI traffic violators, costs for legal processing of DUI convictions, or the staggering costs of imprisoning repeat offenders who usually end up serving longer sentences in most states.

This is why outcomes for these new devices could be substantial, given an estimated forecast of about 85 percent reduction in alcohol fatalities. With this device installed in most cars, the U.S. will be able to reduce the numbers of drunk drivers caught each year by generally disabling most drunk drivers from being on the road.

Phasing in the fruits of this project, which the organization Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) started in 2008, would take an estimated 15 years. Ideally, an incentive for the small installation cost of the technology could be found with insurance carriers. For those with current DUI convictions, the benefit would be the reinstatement of driving privileges with the device. For new car purchasers, benefits would include reduced rates for those with previous DUI and a possible discount for all drivers. A similar incentive was given in many states with the advent of air bags in new vehicles.

Industry Leaders Lay the Groundwork

DADSS, which has piloted this program, is an organization comprised of the two most powerful government and private sectors, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS). The NHTSA is a U.S. Department of Transportation agency that carries out traffic safety programs across the country. Meanwhile, ACTS represents the world’s leading automobile manufacturers.

As part of the effort to push the project forward, a federal transportation bill was proposed in 2012 that contained a measure that would give the NHTSA $24 million over a two-year period for the development of a program that will fully augment the new devices in vehicles.

An online report from Nissan, the automobile manufacturer, has also spoken about a test model that stops the transmission from operating within the vehicle when alcohol is detected in the palms of the driver. The car would also detect alcohol content in the automobile cabin’s air by using sensors located in several seat compartments. Other systems under development even includes camera technology that measures drowsiness in the driver’s eyes as well as drift control when the driver veers repeatedly from the driving lane.

The NHTSA and ACTS, through DADSS, continue to work collaboratively to develop and implement the tools toward creating safer roads for billions of drivers in the U.S. and, eventually, around the world.

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

Indiana Enacts Law Changes to Protect Drug Abusers from HIV Surge


red ribbonA portion of Southern Indiana has been the site of a rapid rise in HIV cases. The focal point of the recently enacted legislation is the rural town of Austin, Indiana, with a population of about 4,200 people. Indiana’s governor has recently declared a statewide Public Health Emergency in order to bring in necessary medical aid to combat this outbreak. He has reversed the laws in Indiana that prevent clean needle exchanges in order to stem the tide of the number of new cases. At that time, 80 persons ranging in age from 20 to 56 had been identified as being infected. Governor Mike Pence has also increased Medicaid programs in the state to fund treatment for infected persons.

New cases of HIV infection are reported, by law, to the Indiana’s Public Health Department, which is how the trend was first recognized. One report, only a week later, found over 100 cases of positive test results. HIV testing has reached only those who report having sex or sharing needles with persons who are known to have tested positive for the virus which causes AIDS.

Public Reception

Little response to the widespread promotion of exchanging dirty needles for clean ones has been seen thus far. Only four residents had come forward and exchanged over 300 dirty needles. Most of the addicts, who are credited with spreading the virus, are afraid of legal repercussions and will not come forward to receive clean needles.

Most citizens of the small community blame the medical crisis on residents in a part of town called the “North End” and houses designated as “shooting galleries.” These are houses where those addicted to pain medications gather to use drugs intravenously, using and sharing needles, thereby spreading the virus. Police in the community are aware of the high incidence of drug use in this area and have doubled their efforts to control drug trafficking in and out of the neighborhood. Prostitution in this area is another danger, since most of those who engage in this form of sexual activity are infected.


The drug most commonly used by the population of this area is Opana, a narcotic designated for treatment of pain. Crushed pills are mixed with liquid to allow injection of the medication. This gives the user a faster and more intense high than taking the pills orally. Efforts by the makers of Opana in 2012 to make it more difficult to use in this fashion have not succeeded. The pills are sold illegally for an average of $30 per pill.

The only physician in the town of Austin has initiated much of the effort to work with those who test positive to receive treatment and information about the virus. He and his staff are hard at work to educate and inform everyone in town about the dangers of HIV and sharing needles and sexual activity with known HIV positive persons. Several medical professionals from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have been brought in to help test and refer patients for treatment.

Medical treatment for HIV-positive individuals is high, at about $20,000 per year for each patient. The closest clinic to Austin providing HIV treatment is in Louisville, KY, a short commute away. This is the biggest rural outbreak of HIV cases since 1985, when a town in Florida was the focus of concern for cases of the virus.


Goodnough, Abbey. (March 30, 2015) The New York Times. Indiana Races to Fight H.I.V. Surge Tied to Drug Abuse. Retrieved online from: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/31/us/small-indiana-city-races-to-curb-hivs-spread.html

NBC News. HIV Outbreak in Indiana Tops 100 Cases. Retrieved online from:http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/hiv-outbreak-indiana-tops-100-cases-n339611

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

Myanmar’s Heroin War Is Lost–Can America Be Next?

December 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Politics and Government


heroinMyanmar (also known as Burma) has long been one of the world’s leading producers of heroin, and production of this opiate drug derived from poppies does not appear to be slowing. While the heroin export/import ration may have gone down after the 90s, that does not mean that production, import and export of the drug has stopped altogether.

Due to the fact that Burma is the second largest producer of poppy seeds, most countries can link heroin exports to Myanmar. The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime has tried cracking down on the country but it appears that we are far from seeing the end of heroin exports from Myanmar.

Controlling Where There’s No Control

Many of the citizens, police and civilians in Myanmar engage in heroin usage. The most common using grounds are cemeteries. The cemetery acts as a safe haven for junkies and social users alike. Many of the citizens of Myanmar contribute the lack of control of this drug to the fact that most of the officials use it as well.

Due to undercover investigations, many officials who set out to control the use have instead become addicted to the drug themselves. When police go undercover, it is their job to ensure that their persona is completely believable. There is no way to convince a dealer that you are a user unless you actually use the drug in front of him. The undercover investigators may have had good intentions to start, but they have fallen short of fixing the problem.

Heroin User Junction

The cemeteries in which the heroin users hang out are littered with addicts–many who end up as fatalities. Every day, there are more than five drug users discovered dead. The cause of death is almost always attributed to heroin overdose. The irony that users are dying in a cemetery that is filled with bodies of drug overdose victims is far from humorous. It is a travesty that needs to be stopped.

Opiates in the United States

Myanmar’s drug exports have touched many countries, including the United States. Many people fear that, if something drastic is not done soon, the United States will succumb to the same fate as Myanmar, if not worse. Heroin usage is a worldwide problem, and it is one that can essentially be the downfall of life as we know it.

According to recent studies, more than 50 percent of major crimes committed in the United States are linked to opiate drug usage. Statistics also state that over $480 billion has been lost due to opiate use, addiction and recovery. Those numbers include loss of wages, cost of hospital bills and even criminal justice system costs.

While the United States has significantly lowered heroin usage among its population, it is still an issue that needs to be tackled. The threat that the problems in Myanmar may be echoed in the United States is a threat that needs to be taken seriously. The war on drugs is an ongoing effort that is still in need of fine tuning.

Cryste Harvey has battled with addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and then continue on to college. She is currently working towards an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.

Devil’s Breath: What Is It and Should We Be Afraid?


Devil's Breath Can Be Confused with Cocaine

Devil’s Breath Can Be Confused with Cocaine

Scopolamine, nicknamed Devil’s Breath, is a Colombian drug known for leaving users or victims in a zombie-like trance and taking away all free-will, temporarily blocking memory receptors in the brain. The drug can take effect while being airborne, ingested by mouth, or absorbed through pores in the skin–all of which make Devil’s Breath a drug to fear.

How Scopolamine Is Administered

Scopolamine is feared and revered in Colombia because of how easy it is to administer to a victim. The most common scheme is to walk down the street, blow the dust in a pedestrian’s face, follow the victim (for approximately five minutes), and then the criminal will take control of the person for his/her own wants and needs. Most people in Colombia go so far as to steer clear of this plant because they are afraid that they will be drugged by walking beside or underneath the flowers.

What Happens on Devil’s Breath?

Victims have been made to empty their bank accounts, perform sexual acts, give up organs, and other abhorrent acts that would normally go against their morals and beliefs. When the drug takes effect, people are easily coerced to do things that they normally would not do. In some instances, people have gone so far as to have victims rape and murder other victims.

Devil’s Breath can be easily camouflaged in another common drug–cocaine. After being ground up, Devil’s Breath (scopolamine) takes on the same color and texture as cocaine, and the two can easily be confused. The white powdery substance is typically stored in small bags or envelopes so that the dealer does not have to physically touch it.

How Devil’s Breath Affects the United States

Devil’s Breath may be a new topic of discussion in the media, but the drug has been around for years. It has even been said that it is more feared than Anthrax. While there are many people who believe that Colombians will keep the drug local, there have been certain instances where people have smuggled some Devil’s Breath across the border in an attempt to test it themselves. Since the United States’ main importer of cocaine is Colombia, Devil’s Breath is definitely a drug to be on the watch for.


Cryste Harvey has battled with addiction since the day she was born. From family issues to personal issues, she has seen many things, but she has taken the leap to be sober and to help inform others of the hardships, trials and tribulations associated with addiction. She is now a mother and wife, and she has vowed to help others on their road to recovery. With little to no help from her parents and siblings, she was the first person in her family to graduate high school and then continue on to college. She is currently working towards an English degree, and she hopes to become a published author.




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