Friday, May 30, 2008

State orders Wilmington detoxification facility to suspend operations

State officials have ordered a Wilmington facility that treats mental health emergencies and substance abusers to suspend its operations, calling conditions there detrimental to the health and safety of patients.

Southeastern Center for Mental Health, which operates the center, also faces $13,500 in penalties in connection with a number of alleged violations centering around the death of a 27-year-old woman late last year.

The woman, who is not named in the state report, had sought inpatient treatment at the center's facility-based crisis program for heroin addiction.

After being admitted and starting the detox process, the woman began complaining of chest pains and went back and forth between the center and hospital, according to a report by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

She collapsed at the South 17th Street facility on Dec. 27 and died later at the hospital. The original cause of death was listed as heroin overdose. But a pathologist with the state medical examiner's office concluded last month that the woman actually died from pneumonia.

The state pathologist said the examiner who came up with the initial cause of death did not check her heart tissue or run tests for heroin, but made his decision based on reports to him that two heroin packets were found in the woman's room after she was taken to the hospital.

"That's a pretty galloping pneumonia she had there, it didn't happen overnight," the pathologist was reported as saying in an interview to state regulators.

The suspension order, which Southeastern officials said they received Thursday, accuses the facility of neglect for failing to investigate the woman's 17 complaints of neck and back pain in the several days she was there and not communicating effectively with the hospital emergency department's physicians.

It points to the facility's nurses with not reporting the woman's low blood pressure to the on-call physician as required and for giving her a certain medication though a doctor's order said not to if her blood pressure was low.

The 60-page report also faulted Southeastern for not having a set policy of getting patients to and from the hospital emergency department, not providing proper supervision to prevent drugs from being snuck back in while they were at the hospital unattended and not reporting the woman's death properly.

The facility's medical director did not report the death to the state regulators within three days as required because it did not happen there, according to the findings.

Vicki Steele, chief financial officer for Southeastern, said facility officials are currently working on a plan of changes based on the cited violations. The plan will be submitted to the state.

"We are concentrating on the quality of care for the client," she said. "I would say that everything that we are recommending in our plan of correction has that in mind."

The center also can appeal the suspension as well as the penalty. Steele said officials would decide whether to do that once Southeastern's area director returns from vacation.

The facility stopped admitting people late last week and is referring those needing help to either area hospital emergency departments or private mental health providers, depending on the severity of the cases.

The center runs both a 12-bed detoxification center, where most of the violations were recorded by the state, and a crisis station.

The detoxification program can last up to two weeks, but averages about a week for most participants.

When the suspension order came down, the program was full. But only one person remained as of Wednesday to finish up their treatment protocol, center officials said.

The facility's other service, a crisis station, functions somewhat like a psychiatric emergency room, officials said, when someone is threatening to harm themselves or someone else or is going to be involuntarily committed.

Steele said Southeastern is discussing with the state about whether the crisis station's operations should be included in the ruling's suspension.

She said the crisis station sees an average of three to five people a day and as many as 30 a week.

"I'm very sorry this happened because it does affect a lot of citizens in our tri-county (service region)," she said. "We're working very diligently to make sure these clients are cared for.

"I think anytime you have a situation of this type, it's going to have lingering effects, but I'm hoping that we'll be able to get through this process and get through the plan of correction so the services can be restored."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Teen treatment centre gets green light

A proposed teen addiction treatment centre cleared a major hurdle yesterday on its way to securing provincial funding.

Champlain Local Health Integration Network board members unanimously approved the latest proposal, which calls for a 20-bed facility to be built in rural Ottawa.

The proposed site, at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group-owned Meadow Creek farm in Kanata, will include a 15-bed facility for anglophone residents, and a separate five-bed facility for francophones.

Champlain LHIN CEO Dr. Robert Cushman said he is "very optimistic" the province will offer up the $5 million capital costs, as well as the $2.4 million annual operating budget.

"We've been in discussions with the ministry of health and long term care for many months," said Cushman. "It's not coming as a surprise. It's not coming out of nowhere."

The program will accept teens aged 13-17.

Cushman said the key part of the program is continuing care. Residents will be monitored for six months after discharge to prevent relapse.


"We want to have better results than the Hollywood-style treatment," said Glenn Barnes, chairman of the Champlain Addiction Co-ordinating Body and one of the architects of the program.

"One of the black clouds that follows residential treatment is the Britney Spears syndrome -- where these people go in for rehab, they're 30 days dry, but when they get out they're just as screwed up as before."

A comprehensive patient assessment will include a mental health evaluation, Cushman said.

"We know 80% of these addicted youths have mental health problems," he said.

"We're talking about a subset of youth that are our most vulnerable and have extreme needs."

While initial plans called for a 48-bed bilingual facility, Cushman said the cost savings in the current proposal would strengthen transitional housing, in-school prevention programs and youth outreach initiatives.

"We need to do this well before considering an expanded program," said Cushman. "We want to decrease the numbers coming into residential care through prevention programs, and also the numbers coming back in after relapse."
source: The Ottawa Sun

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On isolation and recovery – an excellent article by Ian Wardle

The past few months have been very interesting times for what I can only describe as an urgently needed recovery agenda in the UK.

Yesterday, we saw published online an erudite discussion on recovery and the UK treatment field by the CEO of Lifeline, Ian Wardle. He has written an excellent article, one which should be read by all people working in the treatment field, as well as by politicians and others who impact in one way or other on our efforts to help people overcome substance use problems.

I would love to devote a good deal of time discussing this article, but my three youngsters have come to stay for a week and have left me somewhat brain-dead. However, it would be wrong of me to say nothing about Ian’s article. So, ‘please keep quiet upstairs!’

I found Ian’s focus on the isolation of the treatment field and the implications of this isolation fascinating. In my opinion, there is no doubt that embedding drug treatment in the criminal justice system is greatly hurting our efforts to help people overcome substance use problems, as I will discuss in one my forthcoming Wired In Reflections.

The field is also hurting itself by getting bogged down in arguments about harm reduction vs. abstinence, as has been discussed in some of my other Blogs. As Ian points out, we are isolating ourselves from each other. This is unnecessary, as the recovery writings of Bill White and colleagues reveal.

Ian emphasises that we are becoming isolated from people outside this field. People from outside the field that I know (and trust) who are aware of what I am doing are horrified by some of the dogma they read in our field. They cannot believe that some people seem more interested in looking after the system than the clients.

Ian also points out that we are isolated from the new personalisation and recovery-orientated philosophies that are inspiring people in other sectors of health and social care. It has surprised me how many people in the drug field are so inward-looking – they don’t look to learn from other fields, which is naïve given the relatively new discipline in which we work.

I believe it was an excellent idea of Ian to focus on the isolation issue. It has certainly made me think about this issue more explicitly. There are a number of suggestions for the future way forward that are indicated by Ian’s article.

However, I felt that two messages may not have got come through strong enough – I apologise to Ian, if I have misread things. Firstly, there is a lot we can learn from the writings and actions of the US recovery movement. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but at the same time our recovery efforts in the UK will take us in some different directions.

Secondly, we must listen much more to people who are recovering or recovered from addiction – and learn from them. We generally do not do this well in the UK.

Thanks for a very thought-provoking article, Ian.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Local authorities shirk responsibility in treatment of alcoholics

Public health officials say that people seeking treatment for alcohol abuse are clearly in worse shape than a few years ago. There are queues for long-term treatment, even though there is no actual shortage of available treatment facilities.
One problem is that municipalities are cutting costs by refusing to sign vouchers for alcohol treatment, even though doctors see an urgent need for the treatment.
Finnish drinking habits are also changing. Near teetotalers are becoming “moderate drinkers”, while former moderate drinkers are becoming heavy consumers.
“As the number of heavy consumers grows, the damage caused by alcohol accumulates on that group”, says Kalervo Kiianmaa, research professor at the National Public Health Institute. This is seen in increased pressure on public health clinics and treatment centres.
“The quantity is decisive”, Kiianmaa says. “Some have wanted to believe that by encouraging the consumption of mild drinks rather than spirits, it might be possible to reduce the harm that is caused, but in spite of this development, the damage has just increased.”

The growth in problems has also been noted by the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (STAKES), which makes an annual survey of visits to health centres in which intoxicants were involved in one way or another.
Last October's survey showed more than 12,000 such visits. In about 90% of the cases, alcohol was the drug that was used.
In the previous such assay, in 2003, the number was 10,946.
Pressure is also on home services. With older people, the use of alcohol, which might have been problem-free previously, can prove to cause problems later. The body becomes more frail, and medicines can bring surprises.

The need for longer-term treatment has increased, and there are queues for treatment.
“The shortage of money in municipalities is also a problem”, says Pekka Puska, Director-General of the National Public Health Institute. “Occasionally, existing vacancies for treatment are not utilised.”
“When a problem has emerged over years, even decades, it requires long and repeated courses of treatment”, says STAKES development chief Airi Partanen. “Unfortunately, local authorities call them into question.”
Pekka Heinälä, head physician at the A-Clinic Foundation, says that he has seen situations recently in which doctors say that the need for treatment is clear, but the municipality rejects the idea.
“Sometimes it can happen that the customer does not want any dealings with the local authorities, because the lady next door works at the municipal office.”

The threshold for seeking treatment has risen, and it can also be seen. “Those seeking help today are in much worse shape than a few years ago”, Partanen notes.
Private treatment facilities are available for those with enough money. “Their share will undoubtedly grow”, Heinälä predicts.
Now local authorities deal with more than half of the treatments of alcohol addicts. The A-Clinic Foundation handles about 40%, and private care takes care of 10%.

Failure to intervene in time can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. For researchers, cirrhosis mortality is a key indicator of the prevalence of alcohol problems in a society.
Nobody gets cirrhosis without being an alcoholic”, says Kalervo Kiianmaa.
In 1970 there were 200 deaths of the liver disease in Finland. Now the annual death rate is about 1,000.
Not all alcoholics succumb to cirrhosis - only about one third. Nevertheless, the figures suggest that the number of alcoholics has increased at least fivefold.
In 2006, 3,049 people in Finland died of alcohol-related causes. About 2,000 deaths were attributed to diseases and accidents caused by drinking.

Alcoholism radiates to a very wide area”, Kiianmaa says. “It also often causes a chain reaction of social problems. Drinking causes problems at work; a person is fired, which leads to economic problems, which cause marginalisation.”
“Alcoholics are also a burden on the health care system. Intoxicated people are prone to accidents, and drinking causes diseases. About 11,000 people are on disability pension because of ailments caused by alcohol”, Kiianmaa says.
He sees only one way to reduce the harm caused by alcohol: consumption needs to be reduced.

Kiianmaa proposes immediate and tough measures against youth drinking. “Now it is too easy to acquire drinks that are favoured by the young. Beer and cider are available anywhere and at any time, and young people consume them a great deal.”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Treatment center's sole focus: Sobriety

The people living in a former bed and breakfast at the base of Pikes Peak are diverse: A chiropractor. A teenage boy. A welder from California. A woman recently apprehended by celebrity bounty hunter Duane "Dog." Chapman.

But for all their differences, they have at least two things in common: a fight with addiction and a place to wage it.

They are the most recent patients at Peak Addiction Recovery Center, which opened April 7 and appears to be the first local inpatient rehab center focused exclusively on sobriety.

Colorado Springs has some rehab programs, but those are either for specific groups of people, such as the homeless, or they include substance-abuse programs among other services. Cedar Springs Hospital offers treatment, for example, but it is a general psychiatric facility.

Peak Addiction, by contrast, is a 16-bed residential facility geared solely toward helping people get sober, stay that way, and live a better life afterward.

It was started by Dr. Charles Stephens, a doctor specializing in addiction medicine, and Executive Director Michael J. McKelvey, a former addict with a long career in nonprofits. The idea started from a conversation about the lack of services in the region. Most cities the size of Colorado Springs have at least two rehab centers, McKelvey said.

"It opens up treatments to populations that haven't been able to receive this locally in the past," said Michael Allen, vice president of Connect Care, a part of Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group, which administers public money for substance-abuse programs.

Allen typically sends clients to rehab centers in Denver and Las Animas, but the patients have a higher risk of relapse when they return to Colorado Springs without a support system in place.

"I think demand is going to be huge," Allen said.

The program relies on proven models such as the 12-step method used by Alcoholics Anonymous, behavioral and motivational therapy, group sessions and individual counseling. But it also includes holistic methods such as yoga, exercise, a proper diet and relaxation.

In its first two months, the center has enrolled about two dozen people, and there is a waiting list for men.

Several clients, many of whom have been in and out of rehab, said they were more hopeful about long-term sobriety from their time in Peak Addiction. The atmosphere, more bed-and-breakfast than institution, keeps their spirits at ease and makes them more willing to focus on their lives.

David Packard, 19, said he'd fallen into cocaine and marijuana and within a year had resorted to stealing. He went to Cedar Springs in April and relapsed less than four hours after getting released. He was arrested days later for possession.

At Peak Addiction, he said, "It's like a family."

He's learned lessons that were lost on him before. The focus goes beyond drugs, but the program delves into the reasons patients have turned to them and how to be a productive, happy person without them.

A 30-year-old patient, who asked that her name is not used because of ongoing legal concerns, said meth addiction had left her on the streets and resulted in jail time. She'd been in and out of rehab, and said she feels hope for the first time. "It makes my heart melt almost, you know. It gave me another chance at life."

Most of the staff members have overcome addictions of their own, which serves as a source of inspiration for clients. The program also includes a detailed plan for sobriety upon leaving.

McKelvey said the rehab center charges clients on a sliding scale. Treatment, which can last as long as 45 days, generally costs between $4,000 and $10,000. The center is planning to pursue grants, and it accepts donations. It also accepts insurance.

The center is partnering with other organizations, including the court system, to help substance abusers.

Jeff, a chiropractor, was leaving on a recent morning after spending a month at the facility. He thought he'd beaten his drinking problem after a year of sobriety, but relapsed with a night of heavy boozing, which scared him.

As he waited for his ride home from the center, he said he learned that everyone has problems and ways they deal with stress. An addict's ways are just especially dangerous, and the brain is wired for destruction.

"Once I get alcohol in my system, I don't have a choice of whether or not I can drink anymore," he said. The program has taught him not just how addiction works, he said, but how to use that knowledge to stay sober.
source: Colorado Springs Gazette

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Drug Rehab and Addiction Treatment

Drug addiction is a manageable disorder. By the treatment which is tailored to individual needs, patients can learn to control their condition and live normal, productive lives. Selecting a drug rehab center is one of the most important and difficult decisions that you will take in your life. The majority of the drug rehab and alcohol rehab centers use predominantly group therapy to treat their clients because it is more cost effective. Like people with diabetes the cardiac disorder, people in treatment for drug addiction learn behavioral changes and often take medications as part of their treatment regimen. Drug treatment programs in prisons can succeed in preventing patients return to criminal behavior, in particular if they are related to the programs community-based which continue the treatment when the customer leaves the prison. There is no fast difficulty for the diseases of thedrug abuse and alcoholism. Recovery is a continuous process.

A drug rehabilitation treatment center should offer a variety of treatment programs which meet individual needs. Programs can include inpatient, residential, outpatient, and/or short-stay options. The person usually takes drugs because they attempt to compensate for a certain insufficiency or personal situation of the life. They can be depressed, in pain or incapable of dealing with a loss of a loved one or extreme circumstance. It could also be as simple as a need to fit in and make friends, or a manner of losing the weight. Behavioral therapies can include counseling, psychotherapy, support groups, or family therapy. Treatment medications offer help in suppressing the withdrawal syndrome and drug craving and in blocking the effects of drugs. The ultimate goal of all drug abuse treatment is to enable the patient to carry out the lasting abstinence, but the immediate goals are to reduce drug use, improve the patient’s capacity to function, and minimize the medical and social complications of drug abuse.

Drugs are essentially a pain-killer. They lessen emotional and physical pain and provide the user with a temporary escape from problems. When a person is unable to cope with something in life and take drugs as a result, they feel they have found a way to deal with the problem. There are a number of alcohol rehab programs in Ohio which provide addiction treatment services for adults and adolescents. Drug rehab programs in Ohio, may or may not include a drug detox or alcohol detox program. It is important to discuss this aspect of a drug rehab program with intake staff, as it can make a tremendous difference in a person’s addiction treatment. Successful drug treatment outcomes depend upon retaining the individual long enough to gain the full benefits of treatment. Whether or not the individual stays in treatment and is successful in treatment depends on both the individual and the program.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Addiction & Depression Treatment in the most comfortable & nurturing facility

Addiction rarely exists as an isolated disease. Unfortunately, many “exclusive” treatment facilities insist on treating it as if it did.

The truth is that substance abuse is a problem with both physical and psychological roots. Addicts are sick both in body and in mind, and it should be no surprise that many addiction victims also suffer from depression or related psychiatric. It should also be no surprise that those sufferers can only get sober after their mental health has been properly addressed.

That’s where it becomes necessary to find an addiction treatment facility that is also a licensed dual diagnosis center.

Where other drug rehabilitation centers ignore the psychological dimension of the healing process. This depression treatment center emphasizes it. They understand that dual diagnosis and depression treatment are essential elements of any recovery program. That’s why so many of their clients achieve meaningful, long-term sobriety. More importantly, that’s how they can help you get where you need to go.

Remember, there are no guarantees in the drug rehab process. Treatment can only work if it’s administered the right way, with an eye towards promoting holistic recovery. The process very often begins with depression treatment. It ends—or should end—with a second chance to live life the way you used to know it. It’s hard to imagine how anything could be more important than that.

Upscale clients from all around the globe make this facility their exclusive treatment destination because they know the staff and clinical team will attack the addiction and depression from all angles.

Friday, May 23, 2008

City overdose deaths drop slightly

Deaths from drug and alcohol overdose dropped slightly last year in Baltimore, according to a report released yesterday by the Health Department. The decline continues a downward trend from the peak a decade ago.

In 2007, 235 city residents died from overdose in Baltimore, down from 244 the previous year.

City health officials said the decline suggests that drug use in the city may be declining. "The numbers are most likely a reflection of how many people are using," said Caroline Fichtenberg, the Health Department's chief epidemiologist, who wrote the report. She said it wasn't clear why drug use may be dropping, but said better prevention and treatment programs may play a role.

But, experts and officials agreed, the report shows that despite the small improvement, Baltimore is in the throes of a severe public health problem.

"The drug problem is enormous," said Bill Latimer, an expert in addiction, prevention and treatment, and an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "The overdose deaths are an important statistic, but just the tip of the iceberg."

Baltimore's death rate from overdose of all drugs, including prescription medicines, was 35 per 100,000 in 2004. For the U.S. as a whole, the rate that year was 10.5 per 100,000. A 2003 federal report found that Baltimore had the highest rate of drug-related deaths out of 35 U.S. cities, including Detroit, New York and Washington. More recent comparative data were not available.

Sixty-four percent of the deaths in Baltimore last year were heroin-related, and 38 percent were cocaine-related. Because many of the dead ingested more than one drug, it is impossible to say exactly which substance caused the overdose.

"Polydrug cases make it difficult to know what's contributing to what," said Dr. Robert P. Schwartz, an expert on drug addiction and treatment. He is medical director at Friends Research Institute, as well as a fellow at the Open Society Institute.

The largest decrease in the city came from cocaine-related deaths, which fell from 116 in 2006 to 90. But the drop came a year after a precipitous increase, from 52 in 2005. The reasons for the rise and subsequent fall remain a mystery, Baltimore health officials said. But Fichtenberg said that she had heard anecdotal evidence, from police and other sources, that decreased supply played a role: less cocaine was being sold on Baltimore streets last year than in 2006.

"The big picture is that the 2006 increase has not continued. That's a relief," said Fichtenberg.

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein said he plans to focus on the kinds of drug treatment the victims received before they died. With this information, officials hope to find ways to improve treatment and reduce overdose risk. "We're trying to get a much better understanding of overdose deaths," he said. "We're looking to understand as many factors as possible."

Sharfstein and others noted that methadone deaths rose for the eighth straight year, to 74, the highest level ever.

"The methadone deaths remain really striking," said Latimer. He said the methadone deaths were in part an indication of the city's "massive" heroin problem.

Methadone deaths are rising nationally, in part because more and more treatment programs are offering the drug, and in part because doctors increasingly prescribe the drug as a pain reliever. Methadone, an opioid, can help heroin addicts kick their habit. It reduces the craving for heroin, and gives users a smaller high. But despite its relative safety, the drug poses risks.

There was one overdose death in Baltimore last year associated with buprenorphine, an addiction treatment drug that has gained popularity as a safer alternative to methadone. Some critics have warned that buprenorphine may itself pose serious overdose risks. In Baltimore, many fewer addicts are treated with buprenorphine – 300 in city treatment programs, compared with 3,900 treated with methadone.

Sharfstein called buprenorphine a "very promising strategy."

"It is an effective treatment for heroin addiction, that is much less likely to cause overdose than either heroin or methadone," he said.
source: Baltimore Sun

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Newport Beach sober-living homes scramble to complete city's permit process

A preliminary rule upheld the ordinance, requiring facilities to fill out a 27-page application and pay a fee. Some operators continue to resist the law.

Following Newport Beach's preliminary courtroom victory against drug and alcohol treatment homes, many facilities are scrambling to comply with the city's strict new ordinance by today's deadline.

Other operators, however, are labeling the process discriminatory and are refusing to obey the court order or are grudgingly filing the required paperwork.

A federal judge last week issued a preliminary ruling upholding much of the ordinance Newport Beach officials passed in January that forces about 80% of the addiction treatment centers to apply for city permits in order to stay open. Many residents contend the homes are a blight on their coastal neighborhoods.

Richard Terzian, an attorney representing the largest treatment operator, Sober Living by the Sea, described the ordinance as "discriminating against the handicapped."

"Any group of college students is going to create a lot more noise, create a lot more ruckus than any of our" recovery centers, he said.

The city ordinance compels sober-living homes -- residential facilities where people receive treatment or counseling off-site -- to apply for the permits; larger state-licensed facilities with on-site treatment for more than six residents must also apply for permits.

Small recovery centers with state licenses, where six or fewer residents receive addiction treatment where they live, are exempt from the permitting process.

The 85 or so treatment facilities in Newport Beach are clustered mostly on the Balboa Peninsula.

The ruling marks the "first time any city in California has been able to use a permitting process on a particular class of homes," said Newport Beach Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff.

If Newport Beach's ordinance withstands further legal scrutiny, other coastal cities hope to emulate it.

"If that ordinance is upheld, we certainly would look into passing it in Malibu," said Mayor Pro Tem Andy Stern, who said similar facilities in Malibu create traffic and septic system problems.

"It would become a high priority rapidly."

Newport's 27-page application requires sober-living homes and other treatment centers to submit detailed maps for transporting clients, floor plans illustrating the number of residents per bedroom, disposal procedures for medical waste, plans to mitigate secondhand smoke, a weekly activities schedule for residents, fire safety compliance, and information about the center's administrator, among other data, plus a fee of $2,200.

A hearing officer will then review the packet and determine if the recovery center can continue operating; city officials expect the process to last through the summer.

So far, the city has received 26 applications from the nearly 60 centers that must meet city regulations, Kiff said.

Newport Beach's attorney in the lawsuit, Jim Markman, believes the comprehensive application could discourage problem operators from staying in business.

If operators are denied a city permit, they'll have about a year before they have to shut down, Kiff said.

The proliferating homes have generated controversy for years, with one citizens group bemoaning the traffic, noise, secondhand smoke, profanity and other problems they said the recovering addicts bring to the densely populated oceanfront neighborhood.

"We do not think that the city went far enough," said Denys Oberman, chief executive of Concerned Citizens of Newport Beach, the nonprofit activist group that's been fighting the sober-living homes.

According to Oberman, these businesses "are saturating and institutionalizing the residential neighborhood." The group's lawsuit against the city and program operators is one of several suits filed on the contentious issue after the ordinance was passed.

Sober Living by the Sea, with about 35 centers, expects to spend as much as $75,000 per group home on new sprinkler systems to meet city standards, said John Peloquin, vice president of operations for CRC Health Group, the parent company.

"If you need a fire clearance in there, what about all the summer rentals?" Peloquin said. "We feel that that's again evidence of being discriminatory to us."

A spokesman for Balboa Horizons Recovery, which treats fewer than a dozen women for drug addiction, said the business viewed the application process as onerous and the fee as more than they could afford, and was filing an application "under duress."

Officials at Pacific Shores Properties, another treatment company, are "examining our legal options" regarding the application requirements and the city ordinance, said attorney Steven Polin.

Several of the facility operators have submitted complaints to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for review.

The judge's preliminary ruling also upheld a prohibition on treatment facilities opening in single-family homes; instead, they must be in areas zoned for apartments or condominiums, Kiff said.

The judge did, however, strike down one part of Newport Beach's regulation, barring the city from aggregating several adjacent facilities of six or fewer people into one larger center, which would have subjected them to the city's rules.

Though the legal challenges have yet to play out, Kiff is optimistic that the city will prevail:

"We're certainly hopeful that the judge will continue to see our ordinance as . . . just a practical way of dealing with the secondary impacts of too many group homes."
source: Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Retired officers head to Ottawa to fight for Insite

OTTAWA — The organizers of Vancouver's safe-injection site took retired policemen from Australia and Britain - as well as a retired Vancouver officer - to Ottawa yesterday to plead for an extension of the site's licence.

With the June 30 expiry looming, Insite is trying to drum up support for its continued existence as a place in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside where addicts can inject their own illegal drugs in clean, supervised conditions.

The three retired policemen told reporters that closing the site would mean more deaths among the most vulnerable members of society - the poor and the uneducated - and would cost the criminal-justice system untold dollars if police were left to deal with overdoses.

"I have travelled halfway around the world to ask the Canadian government to allow the Vancouver safe-injection site, Insite, to keep operating," said retired officer Christopher Payne, formerly a detective sergeant with the Australian federal police in Sydney.

"Shutting down centres that do such good work would, I suggest, be just another heartless decision in what seems to be an endless war on drugs. It would be just another kick in the guts for people who need the most help, the addicts."

Tom Lloyd, a retired chief constable from Cambridge in England, said: "Put quite simply, if it's kept open, lives will be saved. If it's shut, people will be condemned to certain death."

But federal Health Minister Tony Clement, who has yet to make a decision on the site's future, fought back.

Before the news conference had ended, his office gave reporters contact information for Canadian police officers who oppose continuation of the site.

One of them was Superintendent Ron Taverner of the Toronto Police Service. He called Insite's operations a de facto legalization of street drugs.

Supt. Taverner said he would prefer to see funds directed to treatment programs because there is only so much government money to go around.

He is also concerned that crime around the site could increase, although studies have not supported that conclusion.

Mr. Clement has said he is keeping an open mind. When asked yesterday why his office would then provide rebuttals to arguments in favour of Insite, his spokeswoman said it is important that reporters have access to both sides of the debate.

"Illicit drugs take a terrible toll on human health," Laryssa Waler said in an e-mail, "which is why they were made illegal in the first place, and evidently, our Canadian police support keeping them illegal."

But some, such as the Vancouver Police Department, have endorsed the safe-injection site.

And Libby Davies, the New Democratic Party MP from Vancouver East, said it is inappropriate for Mr. Clement to provide counterarguments to the extension of the site's licence while saying he has yet to decide.

Ms. Davies accused the Health Minister of playing games with those who are working to keep the site open, and urged him to announce his decision immediately.

The police officers at the morning news conference, meanwhile, offered a passionate defence of the facility and strongly urged the elimination of laws prohibiting drugs such as heroin.

"We know that somewhere between 70 per cent and 90 per cent of all property crimes are committed by drug addicts to fund those addictions. We know that while drugs remain illegal, criminal gangs and organizations will continue to reap enormous amounts of money and they will defend their territories, killing anyone attempting to move in," said Tony Smith, a retired Vancouver police officer.

By handing over the drug distribution system to criminals, the government has ensured that the illegal substances are available to everyone, right down to primary-school children, he added.

Meanwhile, he said, addicts need help.

"Insite is the first and only Canadian site to realistically aid these individuals without condemning them.

"It's prevented hundreds of overdose deaths. It's provided medical assistance to those in need of it and it has assisted those who wish to get clean, to get drugs out of their lives."
source: The Globe and Mail

Drug Rehab Warns Against Opiate Addiction

There are many forms of substance addiction. Addiction in any form, of course, should be a cause for raised concern. There are increased risks however that stem from opiate addiction. Unlike forms of stimulant addiction, opiates run a greater risk of overdosing. For opiate addiction, there is drug rehab. There is a process of detoxification and treatment to reduce the influence and the withdrawal affects cause by opiates. Most cases of opiate addiction can not be overcome without some form of treatment or drug rehab.

Opiates, also referred to as narcotics, are pills and powders derived from the Chinese poppy plant. Many opiates are based in the natural byproduct of this plant, morphine. The majority however are derivatives of morphine and other synthetic substances. Opiates include heroin, and prescription drugs containing morphine, codeine, and synthetics like oxycodone or hydrocodone. Opiates are depressants. They slow the functions of the central nervous system. When introduced to the brain, opiates create a sensation of euphoria (pleasure) and block pain receptors. The ability to block pain has made these prescription drugs valuable pain relievers. However, the rush of euphoria is often the key reason behind abuse and addiction problems.

Heroin is the most infamously known of the opiates. Heroin is primarily taking through snorting or intravenous injection. It is taken in this manner because then the affects of heroin are almost instant. This also increases the addictiveness of the drug. In no time at all, a person can become chemically dependent to heroin. It gets to the point where the body can suffer physically when heroin is not present in the system. Increases in consumption can result in an overdose. Depressants slow down the functions of the body and brain. Heroin overdose oftentimes ends with respiratory failure. Breathing is slowed to the point where it just stops entirely. Heroin addiction cases require lengthier detoxification and a more intensified addiction treatment program.

The newer problem rising from opiate addiction is based in prescription medications. Abuse cases have risen over the past fifteen years by several hundred percent. Prescription drugs have evolved to the point that many of them use a synthetic makeup of chemicals and not morphine itself. These are classed as opioids. Prescription medications when taken correctly are miracles. The question is, when the drugs have served their purpose; can the individual stop taking them? If the person still feels the need to take, regardless of if there is pain or not, chances are it is some form of addiction.

The large majority can use medications with no ill affects. The percentage of those who develop an addiction to pain medications is a relatively small portion of the population. However, because of an increased exposure to prescription opiates, more and more individuals are discovering they are a part of the small percentage, and have a problem. These are individuals who wouldn't normally be subject to illicit drug use. Prescription drug addiction has been a consistent and steady rise since the late 90's. More and more drug rehabs are turning their attention to this type of addiction problem.

Opiate addiction cases primarily require some form of drug rehab. This includes a detoxification to stabilize the individual and eliminate the influence of drugs in the system. After detoxification, treatment and therapy should be utilized for the psychological and emotional elements of addiction. It is remarkable to see the human body recover from the depths of addiction. The right drug rehab program is what can make this possible. This article was provided by Cirque Lodge. Cirque Lodge is renowned as a leading alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility; nestled in the mountains of Sundance Utah.