Remembering Anthony Bourdain: Cooking, Traveling and Giving Up Heroin

Remembering Anthony Bourdain: Cooking, Traveling and Giving Up Heroin

Anthony Michael Bourdain, born June 25, 1956, was a man with a rich and vibrant legacy. He took us on exotic adventures to explore the world and tried to expand the view of the audience on culinary arts and culture. He was much more to so many than a celebrity chef.

Anthony Bourdain was an author, travel documentarian, and television personality. He used programs like A Cooks Tour and No Reservations to travel across the globe, focusing on the international culture, cuisine, and the human condition. He has sat down for humble lunches with President Obama, and his explosive personality has even been featured in cartoons like The Simpsons and popular FX series Archer. Bourdain has taken us to some of the most secluded corners of faraway places to chat with the locals and enjoy a simple dessert. Anthony Bourdain was widely regarded as one of the most influential chefs in the world.

On June 8th, 2018 the world was shocked to hear that Anthony Bourdain had died at 61 years old. Even more heartbreaking was to learn his death was a suicide. Over the last several days, his passing has sparked a continuous stream of dialog about mental health and the need for treatment resources. Over the years the famous traveling chef fought against drugs like heroin, as well as depression. As we remember who Anthony Bourdain was, and as we call for letting go of stigma and pushing forward with helping those in need, it is important to look at the whole story.

Kitchen Confidential

Anthony Bourdain first fought his way up the kitchen ladder in New York to become a long-time chef at Brasserie Les Hallas. Around this time, he wrote his breakthrough memoirs titled Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, which took him beyond the cutting boards to carving his way through the literary map.

Part of this first memoir describes the long journey that brought him to become a chef, and a notable element of his story is extreme excursions into drugs, strung out over years. In the book Kitchen Confidential he wrote about his experiences back in 1981 working at a restaurant:

“We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in refrigerator at every opportunity to ‘conceptualize.’ Hardly a decision was made without drugs. Cannabismethaqualone, cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms soaked in honey and used to sweeten tea, secobarbital, tuinal, amphetamine, codeine and, increasingly, heroin, which we’d send a Spanish-speaking busboy over to Alphabet City to get.”

Later, Bourdain became more open about discussing his drug use. He’d even said some of these problems should have killed him in his 20s. In 2014, he did an episode of his show Parts Unknown that highlighted the ongoing opioid epidemic in Massachusetts. During the episode he says,

“Somebody who wakes up in the morning and their first order of business is (to) get heroin — I know what that’s like,”

Parts Unknown went on to be honored with five Emmy awards.

Eventually, Anthony Bourdain found himself kicking heroin in the 80s in drug rehab. When talking about finally getting clean he said,

“And we’re the lucky ones. We made it out alive. There are a lot of guys that didn’t get that far. But you know, I also don’t have that many regrets either.”

However, he admits to still worked long hours in New York kitchens interspersed with binges that consisted of cocaine and alcohol. Following rehab that Bourdain had cleaned up his act, although he continued drinking alcohol. He later wrote,

“Most people who kick heroin and cocaine have to give up on everything. Maybe because my experiences were so awful in the end, I’ve never been tempted to relapse,”

On June 8, 2018, Bourdain was found dead of an apparent suicide by hanging in his room at the Le Chambard hotel in Kaysersberg, France. At the time he had been traveling with friend Éric Ripert. Ripert reported that he became worried when Bourdain missed dinner and breakfast. According to the public prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny du Fayel, Bourdain’s body showed no signs of violence. At this point there has been no official word on toxicology tests to determine whether drugs or medications were involved in his tragic death.

Legacy

It is hard to put into words the life and legacy of a man as dynamic as Anthony Bourdain. He wasn’t just a face on TV, he was a voice trying to tell us to embrace more of the delicious variety in life. It is easier to just look at some of his many accomplishments. Bourdain wrote multiple bestselling nonfiction books over the years, including:

  • Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
  • Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
  • A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal
  • The Nasty Bits

His articles and essays appeared in many publications, including:

  • The New Yorker
  • The New York Times
  • The Times
  • Los Angeles Times
  • The Observer
  • Gourmet
  • Maxim
  • Esquire

He even co-wrote an original graphic novel titled Get Jiro! For DC Comics/Vertigo.

Between 2002-2018 he hosted a number of shows, including:

  • A Cook’s Tour
  • No Reservations
  • The Layover
  • Parts Unknown

He worked on various other television shows, doing everything from judging to producing.

With the sudden news of Bourdain’s death, people from all across the world have paid homage to the man who did so much to try and share the beauty of diversity with us all. In the days following Bourdain’s death fans paid tribute to him outside his now-closed former place of employment, Brasserie Les Halles on New York City’s Park Avenue.

Fellow celebrity chefs and other public figures expressed sentiments of condolence, including Gordon Ramsay and Andrew Zimmern.

Beyond his amazing adventures of cooking in different countries, Bourdain also believed in making a difference for those less fortunate. He championed industrious immigrants from places like Mexico, Ecuador, and other countries in Central and South America.

He became a big advocate in the fight against sexual harassment in the restaurant industry in 2017, calling out other celebrity chefs and people in Hollywood.

Depression and Suicide

Anthony Bourdain had also been open about his struggles with depression. In 2016 he did an episode of Parts Unknown where he traveled to Argentina for psychotherapy. At one point he tells the camera,

“I will find myself in an airport, for instance, and I’ll order an airport hamburger. It’s an insignificant thing, it’s a small thing, it’s a hamburger, but it’s not a good one. Suddenly I look at the hamburger and I find myself in a spiral of depression that can last for days.”

While the passion he had for his work is quite obvious, traveling around 250 days of the year can take a toll. More than once he described his life as lonely. During an interview with People magazine, he said he was living the dream, but admitted that it did come at a cost. That cost may have had something to do with the ups and downs of marriage and divorce he experienced over the years.

Only a few months ago, when discussing his 11-year-old daughter Ariane, Bourdain had said he felt he had to “at least try to live” for her. Although he explained he also felt he did have things to live for. Sadly, it seems that over time, the iconic chef started losing his battle with the feelings he wrestled with on the road.

Anthony Bourdain’s death is another tragic loss in a trend we have seen a spike over the years, including among celebrities. Only three days before Bourdain’s own death, fashion designer Kate Spade took her own life. Suicide is a growing problem in the United States. According to a survey published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Suicide rates increased by 25% across the country over nearly two decades ending in 2016.
  • 25 states have experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%

While Anthony Bourdain may have been clean for decades, there was still pain there. While overcoming drugs may have been a huge victory in his inspiring legacy, other fights can still wear us down.

There is Help

As we remember the incredible impact that Anthony Bourdain had as an adventurer and advocate, we emphasize the importance of supporting those who need it the most. Sadly, we don’t always know when people need help. But we should always work to make sure people know that there is help, no matter what they are struggling with.

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

Anthony Bourdain

June 25, 1956 – June 8, 2018

Mental health is an important part of recovery for people who struggle with drugs or alcohol. Fighting depression and suicide prevention means supporting well-being and fighting for mental health support. For those struggling, treatment for mental health disorders and addiction is not always the easiest thing to seek out, but as we as a nation continue to evolve the conversation and raise awareness more people are finding out about the amazing pathways to a life in recovery that are out there. We urge you to seek yours. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, please call toll-free now. You are not alone.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Bill Nye the Science Guy Tries to Debunk Myth of Addiction as a Choice

Bill Nye the Science Guy Tries to Debunk Myth of Addiction as a Choice

That quirky Science Guy with those theoretically-funky and quantifiably-fresh bow ties from your childhood is back to work making science fun with the help of celebrities and strange experiments. Since 1993, Bill Nye has been trying to teach kids, and the world, about the importance of exploring science. Now, with two seasons of his Netflix series Bill Nye Saves the World already in the bag, our boy Bill has made his way to a hard-hitting topic that has a huge impact on America today- addiction. And according to the science guy himself, one of the biggest myths he is out to debunk is that addiction is a choice. In fact, this kind of stigma may be one of the single greatest hurdles for those who need treatment.

Now we can admit that Bill Nye is not necessarily an authority on mental health or behavioral science. However, the American science communicator began his career as a mechanical engineer for Boeing Corporation, inventing a hydraulic resonance suppressor tube used on 747 airplanes. He eventually left the company to pursue a career in entertainment, and following the success of his show, Nye continued to advocate for science. He became the CEO of the Planetary Society and helped develop sundials for the Mars Exploration Rover missions. So while he may not be an expert himself, it is safe to say he is a smart man who knows how to do his research.

In a recent interview with The Fix, Bill Nye shared some of his thoughts on some of the most crucial questions we have to examine when looking at addiction and its effects. Beyond that, we look at some of the topics covered in the Netflix piece.

Bill Nye Acknowledges the Prevalence of Addiction

One of the first things Nye does is to point out how widespread the issue of addiction truly is. When asking his studio audience if they know someone living with addiction, whether in recovery or not, almost everyone in the room raised their hands. Nye tells The Fix,

“Addiction is a huge problem for our society. It’s very expensive. You have addicts getting addicted to all sorts of things and they become unproductive, they destroy their families, and they, for better or for worse, have very low qualities of life,”

Bill Nye emphasizes that addiction is not limited to a specific economic or social class, sharing a story about the wife of a close friend. This was a person who became addicted to the powerful opioid Oxycontin after breaking her ankle. This family quickly fell apart due to the addiction, despite being successful and affluent.

“It was horrible. It went on for years and years…she got into harder and harder drugs. She was an accessory to murder with a drug dealer, and this was a family that was very well off because of their success and careers. It was really heartbreaking.”

Throughout the segments, Bill Nye continues to expand on the brain’s involvement in addiction. He even bring in people to discuss treatments, and talks about behavioral addictions.

Addressing Choice and Changes in the Brain

Early on in “The Addiction Episode” of Bill Nye Saves the World, the science guy makes a point to distinguish from “really liking chocolate or re-watching episodes of Game of Thrones” and “real conditions that do real harm.”

He immediately points out that our society often believes addiction is an obvious choice, an avoidable weakness, or a moral failure. If you have been awake for the past few decades, you have probably seen this opinion expressed at some point. From lengthy articles like this one (but with better writers) to viral videos on social media featuring some guy yelling at a camera phone because it makes him an expert, people have argued that if people were strong enough they would fix themselves. Bill Nye says,

“I’m here to tell you that just ain’t so.”

Now, while Bill Nye may not be an addiction expert himself, he has surely done his homework over the years by interviewing various experts in the field of addiction medicine and recovery. This isn’t even the first time he’s tried to debunk the myth of addiction being a choice. Years ago he did a similar episode addressing addiction on the show The Eyes of Nye, which featured addictionologist, Dr. Drew. In this past interview, Dr. Drew makes a very strong argument stating:

“The definition of a disease, to me, would be an abnormal physiological process brought on by a relationship between the genetics of the individual and the environment that creates a set of signs and symptoms that progress in a predictable way which we call ‘natural history,’ and by effecting the natural history we can create a predictable response to treatment. That is a disease, and addiction does fit that.”

On Bill Nye Saves the World, he uses his trademark fun and goofy way to explain how dopamine released in the brain’s reward center by particular behaviors over time actually changes the brain, with the help of orange trees and a light-up LED brain. Nye states,

“When and if this happens depends on both the hand you are dealt- your genes- and what’s going on around you- your environment- it’s akin to the old question of nature versus nurture. Except with addiction, it’s both. It’s nature… and nurture!”

Bill Nye explains later on how the human ability to adapt is intimately connected to addiction, adding that while we can get used to just about anything when our brains and bodies adapt to a drug it makes quitting incredibly difficult to accomplish, especially when you factor in withdrawal symptoms.

Putting Addiction into Perspective

But good old Bill doesn’t expect you to just take his word for it, either. Throughout the episode he speaks with various people concerning the truth about addiction and different kinds of treatment for addiction. The conversations include people with various points of reference, including:

  • Maria Bamford, comedian/actress

Bamford sits with Bill to discuss her own experience with what she calls an “addictive process”: an eating disorder. She talks about finding a 12-Step program at 21 years old, and the value she has found in connecting with others.

  • Cara Santa Maria, science communicator and journalist

Cara Santa Maria talks about the importance of having individualized treatment options that go above and beyond the traditional 12 step programs. She also believes that people should also consider connecting addiction to deeper psychological issues, such as trauma.

  • Neuroscientist Carl Hart

Dr. Carl Hart advocates that there is a real need for more comprehensive assessments concerning addiction. Dr. Hart believes the vast majority of people who use drugs, including heroin, do not become addicted. Dr. Hart believes also putting too much focus on the drugs and not enough focus on the behaviors makes treatment less effective.

  • Lieutenant Robert Chromik Jr. of a Sherriff’s Office in Ohio

The officer from Ohio states that his precinct has been working to help people get clean instead of arresting them. He says that out of 2,400 “clients” involved in the program, 81% are now living clean. Lt. Chromik also agrees with his fellow panelists that specialized treatment is essential because there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

In the end, the episode is pretty interesting. This writers only critque would be that the ending itself seems almost incomplete. It includes an unrelated, but pretty cool segment about aquaculture with a guest scientist. Still, without a definitive signing-off moment to summarize the concepts Bill covers, the impact of a scientific understanding of addiction almost feels lost. However, between the piece from The Eyes of Nye and this new episode, there is a lot of interesting information that is essential to our society learning to treat addiction, and those who are suffering, better. Overall, one of the most important parts of the conversation is the emphasis on compassion and supporting effective and individualized treatment options. Bill Nye and the many individuals throughout the episode present various perspectives on the issue of addiction. Surely, not all these people agree on everything. Still, the episode works hard to offer a simple explanation of the scientific evidence in the brain and the body as to how addiction really works. Hopefully, more people can appreciate the science behind it.

Thanks Bill. Science still rules.

Another important take away from this episode is that personalized treatment is a unique and life-changing tool to helping get people off of drugs or alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling, there is professional and innovative help for you today. Please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Sober Slim Shady: 10 Years of Eminem in Recovery

Sober Slim Shady: 10 Years of Eminem in Recovery

Eminem; Marshall Bruce Mathers III; The Real Slim Shady, is not just an icon in rap who had an unfathomable impact on hip-hop culture. He is also a man who has endured a lifetime of public controversy, private conflict, personal loss and emotional pain. Not only does this make his music career that much more powerful, but it makes his journey through addiction and recovery that much more gripping. With Eminem celebrating 10 years of sobriety this month, we take a quick look at the story of sober Slim Shady.

Eminem Celebrating Sobriety

A few days ago, between his headlining sets at this year’s Coachella, 45-year-old Marshall Mathers took to social media to share a message with his fans. On Instagram Slim Shady posted a photo of his ten-year medallion on Saturday, April 21. The circle, marked with an ‘X’ for the Roman numeral ten, is a token he received to commemorate a decade of continuous sobriety. To caption the image, he wrote:

“Celebrated my 10 years yesterday”

In just 2 days’ time, the image had already garnered over 1.7 million likes and over 33,000 comments. He wasn’t the only one utilizing his social status to share that powerful moment. Fellow rap artist and friend in sobriety Royce Da 5’9” also took to Twitter to give the real Slim Shady a shout out for his recovery milestone, writing:

“Happy sobriety birthday to my mentor @Eminem… Keep fighting the good fight homie… I love you for life”

Eminem has also shared moments of his journey through recovery with other famous sober peers, including Sir Elton John. The post prompted many fans on social media to congratulate Mathers on his anniversary. Others shared how he had helped inspire many others in recovery.

The last ten years have not been easy for Slim Shady, but it seems they have been worth it.

A Quick Look at a Legend

Long before Eminem got sober, he was a household name and best selling artist. Over his whole career, he has had a truly incredible list of accomplishments, including:

  • 10 number-one albums on the Billboard 200
  • Five number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100
  • 4 million albums sold in the US
  • 220 million records globally
  • He is among the world’s best-selling artists of all time
  • He is the only artist to have eight albums consecutively debut at number one on the Billboard 200
  • Winner of 15 Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album

All of this, not to mention successful clothing lines, the creation of his label Shady Records which helped launch artists like 50 Cent and Yelawolf, and his own Sirius XM Radio channel, Shade 45. He gave us such gifts as D12 and Slaughterhouse, while also inspiring countless other artists.

Eminem isn’t only known for his music, but also for the controversy surrounding him. Whether it was the ugly battles with his mother, ex-wife, or the legal trouble he was conflicted with publically, it all fueled an image of a man who lived in a courtroom fighting painful scandals. He used the pain in his creative process, and the world was given a lot of angry, violent, and even poetic moments.

The Academy Award-winning film 8 Mile, which he starred in, made him the first rap artist to ever win the award for Best Original Song with “Lose Yourself”. Followed by various other film and entertainment ventures.

Oh, and don’t forget the Marshall Mathers Foundation, which aids disadvantaged youth.

The list just goes on and on. There is not enough time here to cover the truly immeasurable impact Eminem has had on not just hip-hop culture, but on the overall culture in America.

Getting to 10 Years

Slim Shady has always been pretty public about his struggles with addiction to prescription drugs. It is laced in his image over the years and is a prominent subject of his music. Back in 2002, a fellow artist said he had been trying to straighten out, but while working on 8 Mile he was introduced to Ambien and this prescription took him deeper down the path. When talking about working on his album Encore, Slim Shady once said he would “just go into the studio and goof off [with] a pocketful of pills”.

In 2007, Eminem suffered from an accidental methadone overdose after his addiction had spiraled out of control. At one point he revealed that he was taking up to 60 Valium and 30 Vicodin pills a day. After adding Ambien to the mix, he made his way to methadone by the end of his substance abuse. In 2011 when interviewed about the overdose, he stated:

“The doctors told me I’d done the equivalent of four bags of heroin… They said I was about two hours from dying.”

In a 2011 New York Times interview Slim Shady said,

“I used to get pills wherever I could. I was just taking anything that anybody was giving to me.”

Following that near-death experience, the Detroit rap legend chose to attend an addiction treatment program in Michigan. However, he ended up relapsing short of a month out of the hospital.

He reported that his star status made rehab difficult for him to focus on himself. Instead, he chose to detox at a hospital and dove into counseling and therapy. He credits his children, including his biological daughter Hailie, and two adopted daughters Lainey and Whitney. He also gives credit to exercise, saying that running helped him find a healthier high that helped him sleep.

When looking at his story, it is absolutely remarkable the impact that Slim Shady had had on the world of hip-hop or just music in general. He has been described by many as one of the greatest artists of all time, with billions of fans all over the globe. To hear about the life he lived; through poverty, depression, desperation, and addiction, to be a living legend only speaks to the inspiration in his experience, strength and hope. We celebrate the path Eminem walks and the work he has done over the years to make it this far.

Thank you for sharing, Slim Shady.

It can be a real inspiration to see some of the most successful people are recovering alcoholics and addicts. It reminds us that we all can suffer the same way and that we all have the same chance to build a better future. The more heroes we have every day that step up and share their message of hope, the more hope we may have that people seek the help they desperately need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Trump Makes Promise to Support a Law Protecting Cannabis Industry

Trump Makes Promise to Support a Law Protecting Cannabis Industry

When the Trump administration’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in January he was determined to “return to the rule of law” in America, with the intention of enforcing federal prohibition of cannabis in all 50 states, it created quite a bit of backlash. Many officials in states where marijuana had been legalized either medically or for recreational use spoke out against it.

Just a few days after former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner endorsed decriminalization, it seems there is more big news concerning cannabis.

Now, it seems President Trump himself is turning on Sessions. A recent report states that Trump has promised to support legislation that will protect the marijuana industry in states that have already legalized the drug.

Trump and Cannabis

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump was relatively inconsistent about his own position on cannabis. At one moment, he would pledge that he was going to respect state’s rights when it came to legalized marijuana. Then, he would criticize legalization and imply that it had to be stopped.

In 2015 at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he said recreational pot was “bad.” He even criticized Colorado, which was the first American state to legalize recreational marijuana sales, saying:

“They’ve got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado – some big problems,”

But then a year later, on the campaign trail, Trump changed his tune during an interview in Colorado, saying:

“I’m a states person, it should be up to the states, absolutely.”

While it isn’t impossible to be opposed to recreational use while still supporting a state’s right to decide for themselves, many were still blindsided when Sessions made his announcement back at the beginning of the year that he doing away with the Obama era policy of non-interference with state laws on cannabis. At the time, Sessions stated:

“The previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission.”

One person in particular who was taken aback was Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who said Sessions had promised him he’d do nothing to interfere with Colorado’s growing marijuana market.

Gardner Fought Back

Senator Gardner was not prepared to sit this one out, either. In protest of Sessions, Gardner used his power as a senator to block all appointments to the Department of Justice. Gardner’s pledge is especially impressive as a Republican fighting an administration run by members of his own party.

It did not go unnoticed. Other GOP members were not happy about Gardner’s insistence. Last month Gardner actually allowed some nominees to proceed as a show of “good-faith”. For months the senator has been meeting with the Justice Department to discuss the issue. Now it finally seems it may be all paying off for Gardner.

Following a promise from the Trump administration, Gardner said he would be fully releasing his holds on DOJ nominations. Gardner states,

“Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole Memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.”

Gardner also states that President Trump has promised Gardner-

“-that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the administration’s position and said that Senator Gardner’s statement was accurate.

Currently, the drafting of legislation to protect states with legalized marijuana is underway. Some speculate it may be modeled after another Obama era budget amendment that prevented the Department of Justice from spending money to enforce federal laws against states where marijuana had been legalized, permitted the state law was being followed.

While at this time Sessions has not made a public statement about this development, sources familiar with the topic report that the Justice Department was not consulted before the phone call between Trump and Gardner.

So the next question is, will President Trump follow through on this promise? What kind of legislation is he willing to support? What language will be used to ensure that states have the ability to decide their own legal status and regulations for cannabis?

Help for Marijuana Abuse

While the legal status of cannabis may change as the government adjusts to new policies, the fact remains that it is still possible to abuse marijuana. Even when drugs are legal, there are still plenty of risks. We know this because there are drugs that have been legal for decades but still manage to negatively impact thousands of people. Habitual substance use can be extremely harmful, especially to someone who struggles with substance use disorder. Even marijuana can have adverse effects on the quality of life for someone with a substance abuse problem.

Cannabis is not commonly considered to be as dangerous as other illicit drugs, such as heroin or methamphetamines. However, people who use the drug can still experience different levels of dependence. Marijuana may not be as physically destructive and addictive as other “harder” drugs. However, psychiatrists also believe the psychological impacts of substances do make a difference. Psychology effects can be just as detrimental.

Getting help for marijuana abuse starts with a secure environment that offers a variety of therapeutic opportunities. Developing a healthy lifestyle without relying on the use of drugs is a crucial element of treatment for marijuana abuse. So as policies and public opinions change regarding cannabis, we should also make sure that there are always resources to help those who struggle with substance use disorder.

There still needs to be resources available to help people who suffer from abuse. Supporting addiction recovery means breaking the stigma and offering holistic and effective solutions. Palm Healthcare Company is here to help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The Trump Opioid Plan: the Good, the Bad and the Border

The Trump Opioid Plan: The Good, the Bad and the Border

The fight against prescription opioid abuse, heroin, and fentanyl in America continues to intensify. Our political landscape may soon see even more drastic shifts because of it. Controversy and conjecture have surrounded many ideas brought to the table on both sides. Even the President himself has been behind some pretty divisive propositions. Then Monday, President Trump unveiled his plan for combatting the ongoing opioid crisis in America while in New Hampshire.

During his speech, the President talked up a few key elements of his plan; some we have heard of before, and others have only recently become a serious topic of conversation. As the administration puts the final touches on their proposals, we thought should take a look at some of the highlights and see which of his plans could actually work, and why experts and advocates believe others probably won’t.

Arguably, there are some pretty good ideas here… and some pretty bad ones, depending on who you ask.

An Opioid Vaccine

Let’s kick this off on a high note.

The Trump opioid plan includes supporting the search for a vaccine. This honestly seems like a good ambition to get behind, but will it work? Researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the National Institute on Drug Abuse developed an experimental heroin vaccine back in December. So far the compound has been tested with rats and mice. Their latest breakthrough found that antibodies in the vaccine bound to the heroin before crossing the blood-brain barrier. This reaction effectively prevents the euphoric effects of the drug.

While this is an exciting development, it is still a vast leap to go from treating mice to treating humans. We still have a long road ahead before this possible vaccine could be approved. However, more funding and resources from the federal government could make a big difference.

Even so, it is important to note that this vaccine will not be a cure-all answer that fixes everything. After all, we have seen opioid blocking methods before. Drugs like Vivitrol and other implants were also developed to hamper the effects of opioids, and they still haven’t stopped the crisis from growing. Experts are already saying this vaccine will only work in the short term and require repeated doses. It is expected to be an incredibly expensive treatment, and it may only be another variation of the Vivitrol shot. Still, some believe this vaccine, used alongside other treatment methods, could be a crucial tool in fighting opioids.

Big Pharma and Prescription Drugs

The Trump opioid plan also takes a look at prescription opioids. The President acknowledged the contribution of pharmaceutical companies and prescription drugs to the opioid crisis. In his statement, he indicated that this administration support research for opioid alternatives.

“That includes federal funding for the development of non-addictive painkillers.”

In talking about prescription drugs, President Trump said the administration also planned on addressing the issue of overprescribing addictive medications. He even touted the Justice Department’s new task force that may soon be fighting Big Pharma companies in court.

“Our Department of Justice is looking very seriously into bringing major litigation against some of these drug companies. We will bring it at a federal level.”

He acknowledges the recent work at the state level to hold Big Pharma accountable. President Trump said his administration will be working to reduce opioid prescriptions by 1/3 over the next three years. Hopefully, as time goes on there will not only be more accountability to those manufacturing these potent medications, but also more options for the thousands of people suffering from chronic pain who do need pain management.

Commercial Campaign

This show we have seen (fail) before. The crisis probably isn’t going to get fixed with re-runs and reboots.

For a long time, Trump has been talking about creating a media campaign to try and combat the opioid crisis. In his remarks on Monday, the president said,

 “We are thinking about doing a really large-scale rollout of commercials that show how bad it is for the kids… Scare them from ending up like the people in the commercials.”

Trump said he would spend a lot of money and direct people to make the commercials depict “pretty unsavory situations” claiming that this strategy has worked before with cigarette smoking.

Sadly, the reality is that we have tried this before. Using anti-drug messaging that specifically targets kids and young adults is exactly what was done with the “Just Say No” ad campaign of the 1980s and early 1990s, and the DARE program of the same period. Neither program was proven to be particularly effective in reducing drug use. Some have even argued it did the opposite and actually intrigued young people into drug use.

This is just one part of the Trump opioid plan that reminds people of the ideas pushed in the failed War on Drugs that already destroyed countless lives and only ended up making the problem worse.

So how will this new campaign be different?

The Border

The President also mentioned the importance of combatting the flow of illicit drugs like fentanyl and heroin into the country. He became particularly energized of course when talking about his proposed border wall with Mexico, saying,

“90% of the heroin in America comes from the southern border, where eventually the Democrats will agree with us and we will build a wall to keep the damn drugs out.”

However, many are not so convinced that the wall will be especially effective in stopping drug traffickers. Support for the wall experiences ups and downs as negotiations over immigration continue. Then the President took the opportunity to scrutinize sanctuary cities, calling out California and claiming these places were harboring the most terrible kinds of criminals, including drug dealers.

If part of the Trump opioid plan is to apply even more pressure to sanctuary cities, we may see more back-and-forth when it comes to compromises on immigration policy reform. Recently the Republicans were using DACA as a bargaining chip with Democrats to get the infamous border wall built, but now Trump says Democrats are holding onto it so they can use the issue during the election cycle.

Death Penalty for Drug Dealers

Now, THIS proposal is the one part of the Trump opioid plan that is causing the most controversy, and understandably so.

UPDATE: Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent out a memo Wednesday officially asking federal prosecutors to pursue the death penalty in drug trafficking cases “dealing in extremely large quantities of drugs”. So the administration is now implementing President Donald Trump’s plan to ramp up “tough on crime” punishments in response to the opioid crisis.

In his speech, the President brought having the death penalty for drug traffickers to the forefront. This is an extreme even some of his supporters believed was more tongue-in-cheek than actual proposed policy. The details on this proposal were still pretty scarce at the time. Some support Trump pushing for the death penalty, saying this punishment would only apply to high volume, kingpin-level dealers. But what we should consider is this:

  1. The federal death penalty is available for a few drug offenses. This includes violations of the “drug kingpin” provisions in federal law.
  2. Reports indicate that Trump wants Congress to pass legislation that will reduce the amount of drugs needed to trigger mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers.

So should we assume that the President intends to expand what qualifies as “drug kingpin” activity to make the death penalty easier to enforce? If so, what does that mean exactly? And what does it mean for further enforcing other mandatory minimums?

The Justice Department has said it would seek the death penalty “when appropriate under current law.” While drug-related murder is already a capital offense, no one has ever been executed by those rules. However, President Trump says that he and the Justice Department are working very hard to change the laws. To do so would require an act of Congress, and many believe Congress is highly unlikely to expand the federal death penalty. So will any of this be changing soon?

In his comments, President Trump stated,

“If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we are wasting our time. And that toughness includes the death penalty.”

President Trump’s call for the death penalty is being strongly met with condemnation. The proposal’s critics range from treatment advocates to law enforcement officials and civil liberty organizations.

Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement,

 “If this administration wants to save lives, it needs to drop its obsession with killing and locking people up, and instead focus resources on what works: harm reduction strategies and access to evidence-based treatment and prevention.”

Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office, said,

“Drug trafficking is not an offense for which someone can receive the death penalty,”

McCurdy is referring to a Supreme Court precedent that puts constraints on using the death penalty for a convicted person who did not commit murder.

Furthermore, there are plenty of arguments that this kind of policy is not practical. Some say it would either be so broad it became unconstitutional, or so specific that it would be obsolete. This aspect of the plan has sparked nationwide debate. Americans everywhere are arguing whether or not a drug dealer should be responsible for the deaths of customers.

Sadly, this is so frustrating because past data does not hold with the idea that getting ‘tough’ on drugs is more effective than offering treatment opportunities. One of the best studies backing this is a 2014 study from Peter Reuter at the University of Maryland and Harold Pollack at the University of Chicago. Researchers determined that while simply prohibiting drugs to some extent does raise their prices, there’s no good evidence that tougher punishments or harsher supply elimination efforts do a better job of driving down access to drugs and substance misuse than lighter penalties.

In fact, many addiction advocates argue that harsher punishments can actually be counter-productive because they end up punishing people who need treatment, not incarceration. So the need for a more comprehensive approach to opioid addiction treatment is paramount. Hopefully, this administration will see the need to focus on support for treatment, instead of a primarily punitive focus.

Trump Opioid Plan on Treatment

This is a critical and commendable element of the Trump opioid plan, and I applaud some of its intentions. However, I wish we could talk a lot more about this and a lot less about captial punishment.

Still, I give them credit for saying they want to increase access to addiction treatment and adopting harm reduction. There isn’t much detail to go on though, as far as how this will happen. One aspect is to increase the use of medications such as methadone and buprenorphine.

As another highlight, Trump also asks Congress to repeal a rule blocking Medicaid payments to larger treatment facilities, which could provide a boost in the billions to inpatient clinics. Hopefully, this is one factor of the Trump opioid plan that will pan out, because one of the biggest issues the US faces with the opioid crisis is a limited access to adequate treatment options. If the White House allows Medicaid to reimburse larger treatment facilities, more people will be able to get effective care. Still, it is unclear how many resources the administration is willing to commit to treatment resources.

Hopefully, the Trump opioid plan will evolve and we will see a resurgence of resources going toward helping get people suffer the help they need. It is understandable to want to curb the rise of addiction through anti-trafficking measures and raising awareness, but we already have thousands and thousands of people struggling every day all over America who need help. Preventive steps are crucial, and the President is trying to push for them. But it is vital that we also give everyone already struggling more of a fighting chance. The possibility of more people having greater access could help create a huge shift.

Palm Healthcare Company believes in providing innovative and effective holistic treatment options for those who are battling with addiction. Our facilities believe in comprehensive and compassionate care, and our mission every day is to transform as many lives as possible. Together, we can make a difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Usual Suspect Gabriel Byrne Talks 21 Years of Recovery from Alcohol

Usual Suspect Gabriel Byrne Talks About 21 Years of Recovery from Alcohol

Most people who own a television have probably seen Gabriel Byrne at work, but just in case you haven’t, go watch The Usual Suspects. In fact, if you haven’t seen that movie in a few months, go watch it again. Totally worth it. Or you may recognize him from one of many other roles, including:

  • Stigmata (movie)
  • End of Days (movie)
  • Vikings (series)
  • Marco Polo (series)

Gabriel Byrne is Irish born actor who has also a grown into a successful film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator. Since the beginning of his acting career in 1979, he has struck the silver screen and small screen a multitude of times with powerful and intense performances.

He won a Golden Globe Award back in the HBO drama In Treatment, which aired from 2008 to 2011. That role also earned him nominations for various other awards.

But just last week the 67-year-old actor accepted another awesome honor- a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA). The following night, he took the time to reflect on what he considers one of his biggest victories– his 21 years of recovery from alcohol.

Gabriel Byrne on Drinking and Recovery

During an interview on Ireland’s The Late Late Show,

“I think like a lot of people, I drank to escape from myself and to escape from the pressure that I felt around me. But I knew that I could never handle it, I was absolutely allergic to it. It was not a good thing for me to do.”

He continued,

“With this lifetime achievement thing, it’s not about the work, it’s of a life and one of the biggest victories to me in my life was that personal one of stopping that and saying I’m not going to be that person anymore.”

But Gabriel Byrne didn’t stop with discussing his own issues with alcohol. He also spoke about his feeling toward the culture in Ireland which endorses drinking.

“That kind of thing became to me kind of frightening because my drinking was spiraling into a place where I couldn’t remember what I did.”

“One day I woke up and said, ‘If I don’t stop this, I am going to die.’”

Byrne admits that it took him a long time to be brave enough to admit he had a problem and needed help. His agent of 30 years, Teri Hayden, was instrumental in getting him the help he needed. She was the first person he went to for help. Describing walking into a room full of strangers looking for help with his drinking Gabriel Byrne says,

“It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.”

After over two decades in sobriety, it seems Gabriel Byrne seems committed to his work as both an actor, an activist and an advocate for recovery. He also acknowledges that a lot has changed since he left Ireland for the United States, adding that he is actually encouraged by how the culture is shifting. He is happy to see now that it is no longer strange in Ireland for people to recognize their drinking problems and ask for help.

We love sharing celebrity recovery stories because they remind us that anyone can be impacted by addiction. Actors, artists and musicians often experience the same devastation that can be caused when drugs take hold of their lives, and their stories of overcoming fear and stigma to get help can be inspiring. Everyone might not have access to the same resources as celebrities, but there are still effective treatment options. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

  CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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