America’s Heavy Drinking: Where Do All 50 States Rank?

America’s Heavy Drinking: Where Do All 50 States Rank?

Even though the country is very aware of the opioid crisis that continues to claim lives every day, one of the most dangerous drugs in America is still alcohol. Heavy drinking in the US is also a deadly epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 90,000 people die from excessive drinking every year.

Another new report also indicated that those who do die from alcohol abuse actually die an average of 30 years prematurely.

With more deaths related to heavy drinking than any other drug, which states have the highest rates? A new piece released on 24/7 Wall St. from last week went to work ranking all 50 states.

Defining Different Drinking

In order to better understand how troubling the data truly is, we first have to understand what qualifies as “excessive drinking”.

The CDC categorizes an alcoholic drink as something containing 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol. Therefore, the CDC considers excessive drinking to include terms like:

For women, excessive drinking is four or more drinks on a single occasion. For men, it requires five or more drinks in one sitting.

When it comes to “heavy drinking”, by CDC standards:

  • Women consume at least eight alcoholic drinks per week
  • Men consume at least 15 alcoholic drinks per week

24/7 Wall St. analyzed CDC data on heavy drinking, along with census bureaus and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to create their report. What it shows is that 18% of Americans drink excessively, but that the difference between states it dramatic.

America’s Heavy Drinking States

  1. Tennessee

  • Adults drinking excessively:2%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:0% (11th lowest)
  1. West Virginia

  • Adults drinking excessively:4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:0% (25th lowest)
  1. Utah

  • Adults drinking excessively:4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:7% (the lowest)
  1. Alabama

  • Adults drinking excessively:0%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:4% (17th lowest)
  1. Mississippi

  • Adults drinking excessively:3%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:3% (3rd lowest)
  1. New Mexico

  • Adults drinking excessively:8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:1% (25th highest)
  1. Oklahoma

  • Adults drinking excessively:9%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:9% (19th lowest)
  1. North Carolina

  • Adults drinking excessively:9%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:3% (24th highest)
  1. Arkansas

  • Adults drinking excessively:3%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:4% (13th lowest)
  1. Idaho

  • Adults drinking excessively:4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:4% (23rd highest)
  1. Maryland

  • Adults drinking excessively:5%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:8% (20th highest)
  1. Nevada

  • Adults drinking excessively:8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:8% (21st highest)
  1. Arizona

  • Adults drinking excessively:0%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:6% (9th lowest)
  1. Kentucky

  • Adults drinking excessively:3%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:5% (14th lowest)
  1. South Carolina

  • Adults drinking excessively:6.4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:8% (7th highest)
  1. Delaware

  • Adults drinking excessively:46%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:9% (6th highest)
  1. Indiana

  • Adults drinking excessively:8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:6% (5th lowest)
  1. Georgia

  • Adults drinking excessively:8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:4% (4th lowest)
  1. Kansas

  • Adults drinking excessively:9%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:3% (8th lowest)
  1. Texas

  • Adults drinking excessively:3%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:9% (8th lowest)
  1. Virginia

  • Adults drinking excessively:4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:5% (20th lowest)
  1. Florida

  • Adults drinking excessively:4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:2% (12th lowest)
  1. Wyoming

  • Adults drinking excessively:5%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:3% (10th highest)
  1. New Jersey

  • Adults drinking excessively:6%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:3% (20th lowest)
  1. Missouri

  • Adults drinking excessively:7%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:7% (23rd lowest)
  1. South Dakota

  • Adults drinking excessively:7%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:2% (11th highest)
  1. Washington

  • Adults drinking excessively:8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:0% (12th highest)
  1. Rhode Island

  • Adults drinking excessively:9%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:4% (3rd highest)
  1. California

  • Adults drinking excessively:0%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:0% (15th lowest)
  1. Pennsylvania

  • Adults drinking excessively:1%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:0% (24th lowest)
  1. New York

  • Adults drinking excessively:2%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:0% (2nd lowest)
  1. New Hampshire

  • Adults drinking excessively:4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:2% (22nd lowest)
  1. Connecticut

  • Adults drinking excessively:6%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:4% (18th highest)
  1. Louisiana

  • Adults drinking excessively:8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:6% (22th highest)
  1. Oregon

  • Adults drinking excessively:8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:8% (19th highest)
  1. Colorado

  • Adults drinking excessively:1%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:7% (13th highest)
  1. Ohio

  • Adults drinking excessively:2%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:3% (14th highest)
  1. Massachusetts

  • Adults drinking excessively:5%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:8% (10th lowest)
  1. Vermont

  • Adults drinking excessively:6%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:4% (17th highest)
  1. Maine

  • Adults drinking excessively:6%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:8% (4th highest)
  1. Michigan

  • Adults drinking excessively:0%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:4% (16th lowest)
  1. Nebraska

  • Adults drinking excessively:4%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:6% (9th highest)
  1. Hawaii

  • Adults drinking excessively:5%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:0% (5th highest)
  1. Iowa

  • Adults drinking excessively:0%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:4% (7th highest)
  1. Minnesota

  • Adults drinking excessively:1%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:9% (21st lowest)
  1. Illinois

  • Adults drinking excessively:2%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:2% (15th highest)
  1. Montana

  • Adults drinking excessively:8%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:3% (2nd highest)
  1. Alaska

  • Adults drinking excessively:1%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:8% (16th highest)
  1. Wisconsin

  • Adults drinking excessively:5%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:9% (8th highest)
  1. North Dakota

  • Adults drinking excessively:7%
  • Alcohol-related driving deaths:7% (the highest)

What State Stats Tell Us

Looking at some of the data, you might be surprised at where some of these states ended up in the rankings. One thing that comes to no surprise is that the state with the highest rate of excessive drinking- North Dakota- also has the highest rates of alcohol-related driving deaths.

But there are things that you might not be able to tell from these numbers at face value. For one, the director of the NIAAA George Koob claims,

“There is a clear correlation between a state’s excessive drinking rate and income.”

For example, the top 25 states with higher drinking rates also have similarly high median household income. Out of those 25, 14 of them have incomes that exceed the national average of $57,617. Compare that to the 10 states with the lowest drinking rates, with 9 of them having household incomes well below that same average.

However, Koob cautions us not to see this correlation too cut and dry, stating:

“If you look at individuals, the [drinking-to-household income] pattern is somewhat different.”

Someone may look at the report and suggest that affluent individuals frequently drink to excess, however, they don’t appear to drink as heavily. In fact, it seems low-income individuals drink to excess less frequently, but when they drink, they drink heavily more consistently.

Overall, we should take notice of just how prevalent excessive drinking is in different areas all over the country.  In 2016 the population of North Dakota (#1 on the list) was around 757,952. Based on this number, 24.7% excessive drinking comes out to around 187,214 adults. Even with Tennessee, the state with the lowest rate, the numbers are pretty serious. With a 2016 population of 6.651 million, 11.2% comes out to 744,912 adults drinking excessively. So almost the entire population of North Dakota.

We have to be able to acknowledge risk behavior like excessive and heavy drinking in order to help those who may be struggling with alcohol use disorder. With alcohol doing real damage to so many lives in every corner of America, providing treatment programs for those struggling with alcohol use disorder is incredibly important. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. You are not alone.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

War on Drugs or Human Rights: Philippines President Resists Investigation

War on Drugs or Human Rights: Philippines President Resists Investigation

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte proclaimed a bloody war on drugs back in June of 2016. As of 2017, the murderous “drug war” resulted in the deaths of more than 12,000 ‘suspects’, according to Human Rights Watch in the World Report 2018.

Each time his violent anti-drug campaign is questioned, President Duterte responds by harassing and threatening critics. From the beginning, officials have publicly reviled, humiliated and even jailed human rights advocates. Some contest that not only has Duterte resisted calls to end this bloody war on drugs but has actually gone on to use populist rhetoric to ridicule activists from investigating his chaotic crusade.

Recent remarks from American President Donald Trump are also being brought into question as he seems to believe executing drug dealers is a reasonable approach. Transcripts from a call Trump had with Duterte actually say that he was praising the Philippines President for encouraging carnage in his own streets.

A new report states that President Duterte has actually told his police and soldiers not to participate or cooperate in any probes against his militant anti-drug warfare. Will the Philippines President continue to resist any attempts to curb his brutal campaign?

Extrajudicial Killings and the Bloody War on Drugs

Firstly, let us clarify what an extrajudicial killing is (also called extrajudicial execution). This is when a person is killed by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process. Essentially, these executions bypass due process and are mostly regarded as unethical. The Philippines bloody war on drugs is truly horrific considering their president has:

  • Urged citizens to kill suspected criminals and drug addicts
  • Ordered police to shoot-to-kill
  • Offered bounties for dead suspects

President Duterte has even admitted to killing suspected criminals personally, and all of which seems to fit right into the category of extrajudicial killings. Duterte was a mayor in Davao for more than 20 years. During that time, he stalked the streets with the infamous Davao Death Squad in attempts to find and kill suspected drug criminals.

This is all pretty terrifying. Especially when you consider that out of the estimated 12,000 deaths:

  • Approximately 4,000 occurred during police led operations
  • The rest- estimated 8,000- we killings by “unidentified gunmen”

A huge factor to remember is they aren’t only killing suspected dealers, but also drug users or suspected addicts. When most of the world is working to make help available to those who desperately need it, this president thinks murdering addicts will eliminate the drug problem.

There has been mounting pressure from local and international entities to investigate the thousands of slayings by police. But in a speech delivered to elite armed police forces in Davao City, Duterte stated:

“When it comes to human rights, or whoever rapporteur it is, my order to you: Do not answer. Do not bother.”

Duterte defends his order toward security services, saying:

“Who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country? You know very well that we are being swallowed by drugs.”

This definitely is not the first time President Duterte has made some harsh comments while pushing back against outside influence.

Zero Tolerance for Any Interference

In 2016 a lot of things happened concerning the bloody war on drugs in the Philippines. We won’t break down the entire timeline. However, we encourage everyone to do a little reading into the series of disturbing events. At one point, the UN rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard was formally invited by the Philippines government to investigate the controversial deaths. Then, President Duterte had an abrasive change of heart, saying he would “slap” Callamard if she began her investigation.

Not only did Duterte attack outside influence, he also encouraged police to attack human rights advocates in the Philippines. He has reportedly told the police to shoot these individuals “if they are obstructing justice.”

Duterte publicly condemns the official Commission on Human Rights. He has even threatened to abolish this entity entirely, despite it being mandated by the country’s constitution. It seems as though the government of the Philippines is prepared to stop at nothing to continue waging this gruesome war on anyone and everyone connected to drugs. Now that means going to war with those fighting to defend their human rights.

Examining the International Outcry

Last Tuesday, Duterte said he would accept the UN investigation into his brutal drug policies. However, he claims that Callamard is biased and that he will not cooperate if she was leading the investigation.

In February, another examination into the war on drugs in the Philippines was opened by the International Criminal Court (ICC). While this examination could eventually lead to charges of crimes against humanity, the process itself could take several years. By then, how many more victims could this ongoing onslaught claim? If Duterte continues to instruct law enforcement and military to resist investigations, how much harder could it be to stop the killing?

Human rights groups have said many of the killings by police have been outright executions. However, law enforcement officials deny these allegations. Even with surveillance footage that contradicts their claims.

So far, the killing has not stopped. Between December 5, 2017, and February 1, 2018, almost 50 people suspected of using and selling drugs were killed by officers.

The drug problem is serious; there is of course no denying that. Opioid overdose rates in America have continued to rise, and death rates related to drug use continue to be a leading cause of death in the US. However, the majority of experts agree that our own war on drugs was extremely flawed and ultimately failed, especially concerning the more punitive aspects, and it was not nearly as violent or aggressive as the actions we see now in the Philippines. If all of this teaches us anything, we should be able to see that aggressively attacking and executing addicts and suspected drug dealers is not going to solve this problem.

The best resource we have at our disposal when facing the addiction epidemic in America is innovative and effective treatment opportunities. Fighting the opioid crisis doesn’t mean fighting the addicts. Recovery means treating the underlying issues and helping as many people as possible find a way out. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

President Trump Talks About Giving Drug Dealers the Death Penalty

President Trump Talks About Giving Drug Dealers the Death Penalty

One of the consistent topics in politics now is how the current administration plans to tackle issues concerning drug policy. There’s plenty of recent news, such as the Attorney General announcing a plan for the Justice Department to support states suing Big Pharma opioid makers, while also claiming that marijuana is partly responsible for the opioid crisis. Reports have indicated China is willing to work with the US to fight fentanyl trafficking, but critics are still worried about the massive cuts President Trump proposed for the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

But that isn’t the only proposal made by President Trump that has inspired debates about drug policy.

This past Thursday, while speaking at the White House event on opioid issues, many believe that a few of Trump’s comments endorse the idea of executing people who sell illegal drugs. Shocking as it may seem to some people, the concept isn’t all that new. In fact, we see people all the time in the comment section of many articles on opioids who seem to think this is an acceptable idea.

We have asked the question before if drug dealing should be considered homicide, with mixed responses. However, now it seems we should be asking- is drug dealing punishable by death?

President Trump Admiring the Philippines

If we take a look back, President Trump has supported this strategy before. Just last year the leaked transcript of a phone call with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines quoted Trump praising the nation’s bloody and brutal War on Drugs. In recent years, thousands of extrajudicial killings have taken place in a country fully immersed in a violent vendetta against drugs. The president was quoted saying:

“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”

However, not everyone shares the president’s admiration. An inquiry by the International Criminal Court is actually investigating the killings of the Philippines drug war. Not to mention, others would argue that the brutal crackdowns in the Philippines haven’t exactly worked out either. In December, the head of the country’s drug enforcement agency publicly stated that they have been unable to stop dealing at the street level.

President Trump on Drug Dealers

This isn’t the only reported instance of the president supporting this extreme tactic. Just days before his Thursday remarks there was a story that Trump had privately told a number of people, including leaders in Congress, that he supports executing drug dealers.

So what did President Trump say at the White House Thursday? In general, he thinks sellers of illegal drugs don’t get punished severely enough in the US, stating:

“We have pushers and we have drug dealers that kill hundreds and hundreds of people and most of them don’t even go to jail,”

“If you shoot one person, they give you life, they give you the death penalty. These people [who sell drugs] can kill 2,000, 3,000 people and nothing happens to them.”

Even back in January, President Trump made comments that some think was a precursor to this conversation. In another report, the president suggested he had an idea for a change in drug policy that might be too dramatic for the country.

“No matter what you do, this is something that keeps pouring in. And we’re going to find the answer. There is an answer. I think I actually know the answer, but I’m not sure the country’s ready for it yet. Does anybody know what I mean? I think so.”

There is not yet any indication the president has committed to go this far. And yet, he has repeatedly vowed to be “much tougher on drug dealers and pushers.”

President Trump also said that his administration will be rolling out policy over the next three weeks, promising it will be “very, very strong.” This administration is definitely consistent with its focus on stricter enforcement and tough-on-crime tactics for the drug problem. So is this recent stir surrounding the president’s comments well-founded? Or is the president’s support for dealing with drug dealers with the death penalty just an opinion of his that won’t go into any actual policy plans?

Should Drug Dealers be Executed?

Surely, we will see plenty of arguments in the comments here. There are bound to be some very strong opinions. Some people do believe that drug dealers are the cause of countless deaths and that they should face the harshest punishments possible.

One person might say ‘an eye for an eye… trade one lethal injection for another.’ But we still need to ask ourselves if this is actually effective.

Many would argue that a lot of street-level dealers are addicts themselves, who peddle their own prescription medications or other illegal substances out of desperation. They might still be people suffering from an illness that leads them to do things they might not otherwise do.

You might say- well, then we should only execute people who provide drugs that lead to a death. But there are plenty of cases where this strict of a penalty seems extremely cruel and unusual. And there are already instances where the individual providing drugs to someone who overdosed has been charged with manslaughter. Some were even charged with second-degree murder. For example, there was the case of Joshua Lore. Lore had gotten himself high on heroin and then prepared and administered a dose for his friend, 23-year-old Kody Woods. After Woods died from the overdose, Lore was charged with second-degree murder. The coroner ruled the death accidental. However, the law still allowed for him to be charged as if he had intentionally shot his friend down in the street.

Would anyone argue that maybe he should face the death penalty because maybe his friend paid him for the drugs? What if?

Criminal Charges for Overdoses

In 1986, Boston Celtics draft pick Len Bias’s death was deemed cocaine-relate. The federal government then implemented stiff penalties on drug dealers whose sales can be directly tied to overdoses. This includes a minimum of 20 years, and up to life in prison. But there is the still scrutiny to prove the allegations against dealers. Back in 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a drug can’t just have contributed to death. It needs to actually be proven as the cause of death.

So where do we draw the line there? Because in some cases an individual may not die directly due to an overdose, but because the drug causes a reaction in the body with a pre-existing condition or counteracts other drugs it turns deadly. What if someone buys drugs from multiple dealers in one day, then dies? Does each dealer get put to death just in case?

Let us say we are only going to consider the death penalty with king-pins and large-scale traffickers. Kellyanne Conway, who is the head of the White House’s anti-drug effort, supposedly told Axios the proposal from President Trump is more nuanced and would only apply to “high-volume dealers who are killing thousands of people.” Fair enough. But how do we measure that exactly? Will it depend on the drug? Are we going to have someone with marijuana farms being executed next to fentanyl traffickers, even though the substance they sell is considered legal in several states?

It all becomes a much deeper conversation about where the mindset of our world is right now. These days it seems our society has continued to embrace the idea of choosing the lesser evil. And we can argue all day about whether or not people think this is ‘right’… but would it even work?

Lesser Evil

Sadly, even if President Trump were to make the necessary distinctions, there are still going to be people who think all drug dealers should face death. But is trying to fight drugs by making an example out of dealers a practical solution?  If people say drug use is still a voluntary act, should selling drugs constitute the death penalty if drugs aren’t forced into the victim’s body? And if we say yes, many also want to know if the president will support holding Big Pharma executives who engaged in corruption and shady marketing to the same standard.

Sure, maybe killing some drug dealers might scare a few others, but it won’t scare them all. If a dealer is taken off the streets, odds are another will take their place. Experts are sometimes split on whether attacking addiction at the supply-side has not been an effective strategy. Some say it makes drugs harder to get and more expensive. However, others say the open market inspires more dealers to take advantage of scarcity with higher prices. Studies even suggest there is no hard evidence that harsher penalties or supply elimination reduces drug use.

The tragic truth is there are already people who think we shouldn’t even be doing so much to save the lives of addicts. They say those who overdose should be left to die.

Is that who we are now? We see the people in our communities in pain and we leave them to die?

President Trump seems to believe a less punitive approach won’t work. So do the people agree? Should we have more compassion or convictions? If we stopped trying to arrest and punish our way out of the opioid crisis, could we be making more lives better?

Should we really be relying on the lesser evil?

The pain of losing a loved one to addiction is undeniable, and the desire for justice is understandable and natural. Even though we see addiction as a disease, we have to know we take our lives into our own hands every time. Sadly, sometimes we don’t make it back. But if you do, take it as an opportunity to make a change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

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Opioid Makers Will Soon Face New Justice Department Task Force

Opioid Makers Will Soon Face New Justice Department Task Force

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made an announcement at a news conference Tuesday that the Justice Department will be creating a new task force to pursue the makers and distributors of prescription opioids. It seems that beyond pursuing new restrictions being put on prescriptions, there will be a more intentional focus on Big Pharma and those who many believe have made the opioid crisis possible.

Jeff Sessions said the task force will “examine existing state and local government lawsuits against opioid manufacturers to determine if we can be of assistance.”

Meanwhile, Sessions also included the Justice Department is going to be backing a lawsuit in Ohio against major prescription opioid makers.

Ohio VS Opioid Makers Lawsuit

In truth, this lawsuit isn’t just about the state of Ohio. It consolidates more than 400 complaints by cities, counties and Native American tribes nationwide. Buckeye Nation has definitely been hit hard by the opioid crisis, but for now, the stage is set here for a massive effort against questionable practices from opioid makers.

The lawsuit that solicits the Justice Departments attention is pending in Federal District Court in Cleveland. It goes after various companies for using misleading marketing to promote prescription opioids, including:

  • Manufacturers
  • Distributors
  • Dispensers

The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of:

  • Downplaying the risk of addiction to these drugs
  • Failing to report suspicious orders by consumers, which would indicate the drugs were being abused

Furthermore, there are some big names in Big Pharma being listed as defendants, including:

  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Purdue Pharma
  • Teva Pharmaceuticals

The suit is also going after large distributors, such as:

  • McKesson
  • Cardinal Health

Not to mention pharmacy chains like:

  • CVS
  • Walgreens
  • Rite Aid

So how will the Justice Department be engaging in the current lawsuit? How will this new development impact the outcome of the case?

For more important information on the dangers of prescription drugs, download our

FREE E-BOOK “Big Secrets of Big Pharma: Why They Secretly Hope You Get Hooked”


Statement of Interest Against Opioid Makers

During the press briefing, Sessions explained that the Justice Department plans to file what is called a “statement of interest” in the Ohio lawsuit. This is a technique that past administrations typically would only resort to in cases that directly affect the federal government’s interests, such as diplomacy and national security.

However, with the intensity of the opioid crisis being what it is, it is perfectly understandable to make it such a high priority for the current administration to get involved with. So far, recovery advocates have been largely unimpressed with the half-measures that have been presented thus far with the Trump administration to address the issue.

By invoking the statement of interest, the attorney general is legally able to argue on behalf of the government’s interest in any court in the country. However, it does not make the government a plaintiff. All things considered, Sessions said his department will use criminal and civil penalties. He states,

 “We will use whatever tools we have to hold people accountable for breaking our laws.”

Which is quite a statement, considering it isn’t at all common for criminal charges to be brought against Big Pharma.

The Devil Is in the Data

What brought the Justice Department into this began with a discussion on access to certain data. This past Monday, lawyers for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) came to the Ohio courtroom to discuss how much data they would share about the national distribution of painkillers.

The DEA said it would only provide two years of information in the case, asserting that the agency did not want to compromise ongoing criminal investigations. However, Judge Dan Aaron Polster’s request is to provide the sides with nine years of data. He said the agency has until next Monday to decide whether it will comply. This data can assist in determining:

  • The number of pills distributed
  • The locations
  • The distributors

This information could be crucial in allocating liability.

Richard Fields, a lawyer who represents state attorneys general and sovereign Native American nations in opioid litigation, predicts that the statement of interest from the Justice Department “will help unlock this data so that we can hold manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies accountable for flooding communities with pills.”

Therefore, it appears Sessions is going to be taking some big steps toward calling out Big Pharma for their involvement in the opioid crisis. Sessions says the government will be taking a hard look at doctors who overprescribe prescription painkillers. Even legal drugs like these too often lead to addiction and abuse of illegal drugs like heroin.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says he believes this is a game changer. With all the suffering communities in Ohio have seen over the past several years, we can only hope.

Holding Big Pharma accountable is a huge step. Nevertheless, we should also highlight the need for state and community officials to promote safe and effective addiction treatment. Innovative and holistic recovery programs can make a dramatic difference in helping heal communities. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

First American Safe Injection Sites May Cause State VS Federal Conflict  

First American Safe Injection Sites May Cause State VS Federal Conflict  

Right now a few American cities are aiming to establish active safe injection sites, with most recent reports indicating the first will probably be San Francisco. Currently, the Golden Gate City is on track to open two of these facilities in July. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is not far behind as city officials are pushing forward with a proposition from January. Other areas fighting for the controversial programs include Seattle and Baltimore.

Now it seems this fight for safe injection sites may soon pit state governments against the federal government, as the DEA under the Trump administration vows to take action against these facilities.

Safe Injection Sites for San Francisco

The city of San Francisco has an estimated 22,000 intravenous drug users. As of now, it has become the norm to see people injecting drugs in broad daylight on a park bench, public transit, or any sidewalk. As a consequence, dirty needles get left out in the open. So the decision by San Francisco officials to establish safe injection sites isn’t all that alarming.

Safe injection sites mean fewer needles on the streets. Reports from public health officials expect that 85% of the intravenous drug users in the city would use these sites, and the city could potentially save $3.5 million a year in medical costs. According to the director of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, Barbara Garcia, officials are already working out the details. Garcia is currently working with six to eight nonprofits that already provide needle exchange programs and other addiction services. Two of them will soon be operating as safe injection sites.

Garcia says that because the cities fiscal year will begin on July 1, the process of opening these safe injection sites should begin close to that date. She also adds that once officials are able to examine how the first two sites are working, they can decide if and when to open the third and fourth sites.

Because intravenous drug use is still against state and federal law, the city will be avoiding liability by funding these sites through private investments. Garcia did not include where the money would be coming from. Garcia also does not appear to be too concerned about whether opening safe injection sites will draw the ire of the Trump administration, saying,

“That’s to be seen. I’m more worried about people dying in our streets.”

Given the rates of intravenous drug use and overdose death in the area, that sounds like a reasonable reason to worry. Part of operating safe injection sites also means providing a supervising medical staff equipped with overdose antidotes, and offering addiction treatment resources to those willing to seek help.

Hope for Harm Reduction

State Senator Scott Wiener is also working to get state law changed to ensure that anybody associated with safe injection sites won’t face arrest or punishment, including:

  • Property owners
  • Employees
  • Drug users themselves

The bill Wiener is pushing was last year passed in the Assembly, but remains two votes short of confirmation in the Senate.

Part of the reason for so many officials pushing to protect and advance this project seems to come from a fair amount of public support. For the first time, the Chamber of Commerce’s Dignity Health CityBeat Poll included a question about safe injection sites this year. It asked respondents whether they support or oppose-

“drop-in facilities called safe injection sites where intravenous drug users could use their drugs, off the street, and in a place where medical and social services are available.”

Out of all those who answered the survey:

  • 67% of respondents said they support the idea
  • 45% of those were ‘strongly’ supportive
  • 22% of those were ‘somewhat’ supportive
  • Only 27% percent opposed it
  • 6% didn’t know

The poll found support for the sites regardless of:

  • Age
  • Homeownership

The demographics also includes support from:

  • Progressives
  • Liberals
  • Moderates
  • Even 42% of self-described Conservatives

Mayor Mark Farrell is another supporter who said,

“I understand the misgivings around it and some of the rhetoric from people who don’t support it, but we absolutely need to give it a try.”

While issues like homelessness, crime and gang violence were all concerns consistent with opening of injection sites, city officials seem to believe the old way isn’t working. The hope is that by providing social services and treatment options, these safe injection sites will not only save lives but help more people get off drugs that otherwise might not have access to these resources.

Trump Says Sites Will Face Legal Action

It still seems these efforts will be met with resistence from the federal government. Last week the Trump administration made it clear they reject any facilities where heroin users can inject drugs under supervision. The president and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions seem to be committed to their ‘law and order’ approach to the drug problem, despite any lessons learned by the failed War on Drugs.

One might note that in general, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency views safe-injection sites as facilitation of criminal behavior. Therefore, it’s an absolute possibility the DEA will take some kind of enforcement action against any safe injection sites that pop up in the states. Katherine Pfaff, a DEA spokesperson, argued that these programs remain federally prohibited. She states,

“Supervised injection facilities, or so-called safe injection sites, violate federal law. Any facilitation of illicit drug use is considered in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and, therefore, subject to legal action.”

However, it appears some of the states that have approved safe injection sites are already preparing to do legal battle with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his Justice Department to convince the courts that this public health emergency is far too critical to pass up any opportunity at harm reduction.

So, what is going to become of this new controversy? More people, including law enforcement officials and conservatives, could be warming up to the idea of cleaning up the streets with safe injection sites in some states. If the DEA make moves to shut them down, what will happen next? Are safe injection sites an acceptable form of harm reduction? If not, what else could help address the opioid crisis?

Let us know in the comments what you think about these programs.

Palm Healthcare Company believes in providing an effective, holistic treatment program to help those suffering who need help. Providing safe and comprehensive care should always be a focus in the effort to overcome the drug problem, and preservation of life should always be a priority. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

  CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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