Archive for January, 2017

National Day of Remembrance for overdose, addiction to be held in Bridgewater

Posted on: January 30th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

The family of Emmett Scannell is hoping to bring together families who have lost a loved one to overdose or who are dealing with a loved one who is battling addiction. A remembrance event is set for Sunday in Bridgewater.

By Sarah Cline
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at 5:08 PM
Updated Jan 26, 2017 at 5:14 PM


BRIDGEWATER – When Aimee D’Arpino and her family were doing everything they could to help their son, Emmett Scannell, beat his battle against substance use disorder, she said it was a very isolating experience, and at times felt her family was alone.

D’Arpino doesn’t want anyone else who is fighting against drug addiction or has faced it to feel that way.

And on Sunday, Jan. 29, they won’t have to.

The Trinity Episcopal Church, 91 Main St., Bridgewater, will be holding a National Day of Remembrance event which honors, helps and brings together community members and families that have lost loved ones to drug addiction.

“It is a completely open event, everyone from anywhere is welcome,” said D’Arpino, who has been involved in putting together the event.

The event, which begins at 5 p.m. at the church, will have a service that includes three families sharing their story about loved ones the lost to substance use disorder, a men’s choir from a men’s sobriety program in Brockton and a candle passing.

After the service there will also be a dinner and information on resources who are actively dealing with addiction, or helping a loved one who is.

“This is a way not only to help support families but also to give them resources,” D’Arpino said. “At the event people will get to meet others who are going through what they went through.”

The National Day of Remembrance, which is occurring all over the country, was initiated by the Addiction Policy Forum in Washington, D.C., and its #129aDay Campaign.

According to the campaign’s website, the #129aDay represents the number of individuals who die each day from a substance use disorder, which in 2014 was 129 people each day.

To honor those individuals who died from addiction, for 129 days the campaign shared a different individual’s and family’s story each day.

One of those stories was of Emmett Scannell, who died from a heroin overdose in 2016 at age 20.

“It was not something people wanted to talk about,” D’Arpino said. “People didn’t want to hear my son is a heroin addict but it had to be put out there because it can happen to anyone.”

Following Scannell’s death the family decided to share his raw and honest story right away, beginning with putting it in his obituary.

“On April 20, 2016 our 20-year-old son, Emmett J. Scannell, lost his battle to Substance Use Disorder and died due to a heroin overdose,” the first line of Emmett’s obituary read.

“You see Substance Use Disorder is not something to be ashamed of or hidden,” the obituary stated. “It is a DISEASE that has to be brought out into the light and fought by everyone.”

Since Scannell’s death his family has continued to share his story and will be doing so again at the National Day of Remembrance event.

“There are too many obituaries where young people have ‘died suddenly’ when that is not the case,” D’Arpino said. “It is not sudden. For Emmett it had been 18 months. We need to know that and share our stories to help the community know they are not alone.”

Of the service she said, “I hope that people leave knowing that there is a little bit of hope, whether that is that the epidemic can turn for the better, whether that is us reducing the stigma of addiction or whether that is making connections with someone else in similar positions.”

To learn more about the #129aDay Campaign visit

“If Emmett were here I know he would be proud of what we are doing,” D’Arpino said. “I just know he is in a much better space now.”

Christie signs executive order declaring opioid addiction a public health crisis

Posted on: January 19th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

Andrew Wyrich , Staff Writer @AndrewWyrich

Published 2:27 p.m. ET Jan. 17, 2017

NEWARK – In front of a small group of recovering addicts, Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order on Tuesday declaring the opioid addiction problem in New Jersey a public health crisis.

The event, which was held at Integrity House – a substance abuse recovery home on South Street in Newark – took place less than an hour after Lt. Gov. Kim Guagdano announced her candidacy to succeed him as governor.

Christie made drug addiction a priority for his administration earlier this month, when he spent a large portion of his State of the State address talking about his plans to help curb the rising number of addictions stemming from opioid abuse. The executive order signed on Tuesday creates a task force that will be able to develop strategies to combat opioid abuse by working with various areas of state government, among other provisions.

During Tuesday’s event, Christie outlined both broad and specific points of his plan to take on opioid addiction that he spoke about in his State of the State speech and heard eight personal stories of recovery by participants in Integrity House’s programs.

“The reason I do this, is because many of the ideas I laid out in the State of the State speech … came from meetings like this,” Christie told the group shortly after signing the executive order.

CHRISTIE: Governor bracing for fight on drug insurance changes

POINTS: Five key plans outlined by Christie for battle against drugs

SPEECH: Full text of Christie’s 2017 State of the State Address


During Tuesday’s hourlong visit to Integrity House, Christie spoke about his plans to fight opiate addiction and spoke to the group of recovering addicts about the struggles they have faced and their road to recovery.

In a “U” shaped table, one man in the center’s recovery program told Christie about his addiction to painkillers – and later heroin – that followed an injury he suffered during a football game in college. Another member of Integrity House’s program told the governor about his addiction that began when he was 16 years old and was still reeling from the deaths of his parents – who were both addicts. At some points, the discussion became emotional.

After his daughter had her wisdom teeth taken out, Christie said, he took away the prescribed 30 Percocet pills she was given by her doctor and handed her Advil instead.

Christie told the group he hopes a bill addressing opioid addiction will be voted on within 30 days.

“Every day we wait there are more kids and young adults getting bottles of pills,” he said. “If we can stop that, we can at least save some lives.”

As part of his plan, he detailed in his State of the State address, Christie announced the launch of a new website,, and a hotline to help addicts simplify their access to treatment. He said he hopes to change school curriculum regarding opioids, adding beds in treatment centers for older teens and limiting the amount of opioids doctors can prescribe patients, among other goals.

The executive order he signed on Tuesday also will direct Attorney General Chris Porrino to limit the initial prescription of opioids for acute pain and establish standards that would make additional prescription renewals require a visit by a patient. The task force will be headed by Charlie McKenna, the executive director of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.

Christie’s event came on the same day that Guagdano, his lieutenant governor for the past seven years, announced her candidacy to replace him in Trenton when his term expires. Guagdano appears to have been distancing herself from Christie over recent months – as his popularity among New Jersey residents continues to remain low.



The susceptibility of addiction in sex and gender

Posted on: January 16th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

By Topher Avery January 15, 2017

A study released last November suggested that the sex of an individual does play a role in determining susceptibility to addiction. However, the effect that sex has on the likelihood of addiction is more complicated than initially believed. As additional data is gathered, it becomes clearer that many factors come together to determine how susceptible a person will be to addiction.

Historically, addiction research has been problematic, often neglecting issues related to sex and gender. Addiction was, at one point, considered to be a ‘male’ problem, creating a scarcity of available data on female addiction. In more recent years, efforts have been made to compensate for this deficiency.

In October 2014, the National Institute of Health rolled out policies that required any preclinical study it funded to include a balanced number of male and female cells or animals as part of a comprehensive plan to increase sex and gender inclusion in scientific research.

Common sex-correlated trends

Research has demonstrated that sex does have an effect on substance abuse. Women tend to have a shorter amount of time between their first experience with a substance and addiction, for example.

The November 2016 study explained that this behavior may have roots in neurobiology. According to the study, when the pattern of dopamine activation shifts from one location in the brain (the nucleus accumbens) to a different location in the brain (the dorsolateral striatum), behavior shifts from casual use to addiction. Among females in rat and human population samples, this shift occurs more quickly than in males, meaning that females begin showing compulsive substance intake sooner than their male counterparts.

The study urges against the conclusion that the differences in addictive behavior between sexes are determined solely by neurobiology, however, emphasizing that there are also sociocultural influences that must be considered. For example, the study explained thatwomen face a greater stigma than men when it comes to addiction, and men are provided with more social support during recovery, which might contribute to a higher rate of relapse for women.

A more complex spectrum

However, the study cautioned relying too heavily on a bimodal gender model, when considering addiction, will lead to an inaccurate understanding of the difference in addictive behaviors among sexes. In particular, it emphasizes a better understanding of what scientists mean when they say that there are differences between the brains of women and men; they do not mean that a person’s brain must be categorized as wholly “male” or “female.”

The study explains that many of the sex differences in the brain do not exist in a bimodal distribution, but instead are arranged along a spectrum. There are many different areas of the brain, and a certain area might display characteristics that are typically more closely associated with femininity or masculinity.

However, research revealed that each person’s brain is a collection of distinct brain areas. Depending on the individual, some of these areas tend to be more feminine, while others are

more masculine. In other words, even within a single person, classifying a brain as “masculine” or “feminine” evokes a binary understanding that does not reflect the actual complexity of gender-associated characteristics, behaviors and categorizations.

A tapestry of components

Ultimately, the study suggested that addiction is best understood as an outcome that is determined by a variety of interacting factors. No single dispositive element can determine whether or not someone will become addicted. Even when a person is categorized as female or male, their susceptibility to addiction must be determined by how this single variable interacts with a variety of other variables, including myriad social, economic and biological factors.

The study also stated that even singular factors, such as sex, must be understood to be more complex than a simple binary. With more research – especially research involving diverse samples of people – a better understanding of the intricate tapestry of variables that determine whether or not an individual will be susceptible to addiction may be achieved.






Fentanyl Causing Brain Damage in Overdose Survivors, Doctors and Paramedics Report

Posted on: January 5th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

By Zachary Siegel 01/05/17

“Fentanyl is so potent. It only takes minutes without breathing and they’ve got brain complications.”
Doctors and paramedics in Canada say fentanyl overdose survivors are more likely to suffer from acute brain damage. The potency of fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opioid, is causing a spike in drug overdoses across Canada and the United States.

The longer an overdose victim remains unconscious, the longer oxygen is cut from vital parts of the brain, which may cause irreparable damage. After four minutes without oxygen, damage in the brain begins to occur.

While increasing access to naloxone is emphasized, there is not enough attention paid to rescue breathing or CPR to prevent brain damage, says Jon Deakin, a paramedic in Victoria, British Columbia. “We’re hearing so much about naloxone and how it’s the antidote, but it’s only one part of the equation,” Deakin told the Times Colonist last month.

Though there are no studies that document exactly how many overdose victims suffer from what’s called hypoxic brain injury, doctors and paramedics say anecdotally they’re seeing it more and more in their patients. One doctor thinks it’s present in as high as 90% of overdose survivors.

Dr. Del Dorscheid, who works in the intensive care unit at St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver, an area ridden with fentanyl, said he is seeing more and more brain injuries caused by overdoses. “Fentanyl is so potent,” said Dr. Dorscheid, “it only takes minutes without breathing and they’ve got brain complications.”

Dorscheid estimates 90% of overdose patients he sees in the intensive care unit suffer from brain injury. The symptoms, he says, range in intensity from minor memory loss to complete loss of brain function. Paramedics say time is the critical factor here, and advocates are trying to come up with solutions to cut down on overdose response time.

The Ambulance Paramedics of British Columbia, for example, wants to station ambulances in areas that see the most overdoses. The quicker paramedics can respond to an overdose, the better they’re able to prevent potential brain injuries.

“It could take five or 10 minutes for an ambulance to arrive,” Heather Hobbs, AIDS Vancouver Island’s co-ordinator of harm reduction, told the Times Colonist. “It’s in those minutes that rescue breathing needs to happen.”

More supervised-consumption sites are coming to the province. In the meantime, temporary overdose prevention sites have been set up to mitigate the toll that fentanyl has had on the city.





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