Archive for May, 2017

‘Deadliest Catch’ cameras captured Alaskan’s addiction – and inspired him to get sober

Posted on: May 24th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

Nick McGlashan’s lowest point as an addict came last fall, while the “Deadliest Catch” cameras were rolling.

McGlashan, who spent his childhood between the remote Aleutian village of Akutan and the commercial fishing hub of Dutch Harbor, had been working on crab boats since he was 13. As an adult, he’s gained a measure of fame as a deck boss featured on the past four seasons of the Discovery Channel’s popular, long-running reality TV show about Bering Sea crabbers.

Years of worsening alcohol and drug addiction had stripped away much of what had been good about the 29-year-old’s life. He’d managed to hang on to his job — and identity — as a Bering Sea crabber.

“Nick was good at hiding it,” said his father, Bruce Lanford, a veteran Alaska commercial fishing captain who now lives in Florida.

But by last fall, McGlashan couldn’t hide it anymore. He was working on the crabbing boat Summer Bay for Bill “Wild Bill” Wichrowski, a captain who considered McGlashan “the best deck hand in Alaska.” The “Deadliest Catch” film crew and everyone else noticed McGlashan at his worst: pale, slurring his words, coming down off drugs. He could only hide that he was drug sick for so long.

When his captain learned of his stash of drugs in Dutch Harbor, McGlashan was fired, a moment also captured by the cameras.

“All I ever wanted to do was be a fisherman, and I lost that,” said McGlashan. “I lost the ability to work at sea because I forgot how to live on land.”

It’s a strange situation: Lots of people in Alaska and all over the United States are struggling with opioid addictions, McGlashan said. Very few have reality TV crews following them around for the worst of it.

As brutal and public a reckoning as it was, McGlashan credits it for pushing him to get sober and launching him on a new path as a very public example of what recovery can look like.

‘I didn’t know what I was doing’

After being fired by Wichrowski, McGlashan said, he flew to Anchorage with $10,000 in cash and bought heroin. Then he bought a one-way ticket to Florida.

“I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said.

The next stop was inpatient drug and alcohol treatment in Washington state. He walked through the doors of the treatment facility on Nov. 11 and has been clean and sober ever since, he said.

In early May, he wrote his story in a confessional essay published in the online magazine Chosen. He admitted that he’d overdosed three times, and had been drinking a “half-gallon of vodka and shooting two grams of heroin, and one gram of meth” daily before he went to rehab.

“My addict self was killing me and I was struggling to die,” he said.

The story of the “Deadliest Catch” crew member battling a heroin addiction resonated. Fox News picked it up, as did the New York Post and MSN. McGlashan found himself in a place he hadn’t expected: using his notoriety to talk frankly about addiction.

Addiction is a problem not only in the commercial fishing industry but all over Alaska, all over the country, he said. There is no magic to what he is doing, and he is still early in his recovery. But for him, the best thing to do is talk about it.

His former captain said he isn’t surprised by the way McGlashan has thrown himself into being a public figure for sobriety.

“As obsessed with getting loaded as Nick was, he’s that obsessed with being sober,” said Wichrowski.

Lanford says he’s proud of his son.

“The heroin epidemic in this country is just way out of control. People are dying every day,” Lanford said. “If because of what he’s doing he can help one person, save one person’s life, then he’s doing a good job.”

McGlashan says he can’t talk about his fate on the show, or whether his captain will give him another chance, because of a non-disclosure agreement with the Discovery Channel. But he is working in the fishing industry again. He has sought out other people in recovery on the boats he works on.

“We have meetings on the boat every day,” he said. “We go out on the forepeak, where it’s quiet.”

Author: Michelle Theriault Boots

Updated: 1 day ago, Published 1 day ago

Synthetic drug potentially too powerful for overdose reversal

Posted on: May 18th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – A powerful drug has made its way to the Upstate, and a popular remedy could not be as effective in treating potential overdoses.
The synthetic drug U-47700 or “pink” became more widely known in the Upstate after two people were arrested and indicted on federal charges for selling it out of a Greenville apartment complex.
FAVOR, an addiction treatment center, says it’s an escalating issue in the Upstate. They held a meeting Thursday evening to make an action plan on how to prepare for it entering the community.
Currently, police and EMS use NARCAN as a way to reverse the effects of an overdose.
Greenville police say people usually respond in minutes after taking it. However, depending on the overdose, police may have to administer a second dosage.
According to FAVOR, 79 people overdosed in Greenville last year, but NARCAN helped reverse 721 overdoses.
The problem is with “pink” and other synthetic drugs, it’s not working as easily.
“NARCAN works a certain way where it was designed to kind of knock the opioid molecule off the receptor, and since this really isn’t truly an opioid molecule, it’s having difficulty kind of knocking it off the receptor, so much as if they’d have to have another version of NARCAN to kind of knock it off,” said FAVOR CEO, Rich Jones.
Even just a little of the drug is extremely powerful, and it takes a lot of NARCAN to reverse the effects. Law enforcement officers have to wear Hazmat suits around the drug.
Jones says the introduction of this drug in the community is scary.
“We’re losing people,” Jones said. “People we know, people that we’ve known along the way, good kids, older people who’ve fell prey to this, so it’s very personal to us.”
He believes more of the drug and more drug dealers are coming to Greenville, so he wants his team to make a plan, now.
“This is going to have to be guerilla warfare against addiction,” Jones said. “We need to be in the community. We need to be with the people.”
One of the ways FAVOR is doing that is by partnering with Greenville Memorial Hospital. If someone has an overdose, their team members will be there at the hospital to help. They hope to have that program up and running by the end of summer.
“You can’t wait for people to hit bottom, not with this stuff, there’s not wiggle room,” Jones said.
Last month, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a law that banned both “pink” and fentanyl in the state.

Synthetic drug potentially too powerful for overdose reversal

By Eryn Rogers Published: May 11, 2017, 9:19 pm Updated: May 11, 2017, 10:38 pm

Opioid addiction crisis spurs brutal candor in obituaries

Posted on: May 15th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

Andrew Oswald kept a secret. Friends and neighbors in his hometown of Hamilton, N.J., knew Oswald as a gifted writer, a music buff and the kind of guy parents wanted their sons to hang around and their daughters to date.

On Jan. 27, Andrew died at the age of 23. His parents unsparingly shared his secret in his obituary.

“Our beautiful son, Andrew, died from an overdose of heroin,” read the first sentence.

It’s a grim trend that follows the explosion of deaths around the country due to opioid addiction. Once a forum for sweet memories and floral language, obituaries for the casualties of opioids are becoming a platform for frank cautionary tales.

“We want to share his story in the hope that lives may be saved and his death will not be in vain,” Oswald’s parents explained farther down in the obituary. “Addiction is a mental illness. No one plans to be an addict.”

If baring the shame behind the failed struggle of a lost soul is jarring to other friends and family, that’s just the point. Now, there even is a Twitter account that posts links to the obituaries of people who have died of overdoses or tainted opioids.

“None of his friends knew he was doing drugs until he went to rehab,” said Andrew’s mother, Stephanie, of her only child. “It’s the dirty little secret.”

Health experts liken the opioid epidemic to that of the early spread of HIV in the 1980s. It defies boundaries, sowing death and misery in cities, suburbs and rural areas alike, and claiming victims from the ranks of the homeless and the ultra-successful.

The roots of this addiction, typically a pain-inducing injury and a well-intended treatment that festers long after serving its purpose, explain its egalitarian reach.

Though recognized medically as a disease, addiction carries a stigma. And when dependence on prescription drugs prompts victims to turn to their illicit cousins, such as heroin, the stigma looms even larger. People can take a dark, condemning view of them and their families.

The Oswalds knew they were sacrificing their son’s sanitized legacy, but believe they did so for a higher purpose.

“I was hesitant,” Stephanie Oswald said of writing a forthright obituary. “I felt like I would outing my son,” said the mother about her only child, whose ashes she wears in a locket on a chain around her neck. “My husband said ‘We’re putting it in there. Tell them, tell them that they’re playing Russian Roulette’ if they take opioids or heroin.”

It didn’t take long for the family to see the impact of the agonizing decision.

Hundreds showed up to Andrew’s funeral; many were relatives of people who were dealing with addiction, or who had died of overdoses. They told Andrew’s parents they had found comfort in the obituary’s message about how the addiction was not a failure or weakness, but a disease.

In Connecticut, corporate executive Amy Andreana hid her daughter Lisa’s battle with opioid addiction from co-workers and bosses. Lisa had become dependent on opioids first, and then heroin. She battled through numerous detox programs as she clung to her dream of going to Harvard. During her windows of sobriety, she envisioned going to schools with her mother to talk about opioids and addiction.

“You live with this burden of secrecy,” Andreana said. “I kept it private. I work in a high level job in insurance. I didn’t want to bring it to work with me. I compartmentalized it.”

Last June, Lisa died at age 22. Her mother said Lisa apparently thought was she was consuming heroin, but it was fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller that looks like heroin but is 50 times stronger and 100 times more powerful than morphine.

“When she died, I immediately thought ‘I am not going to hide this,’” Andreana said. “I called my boss and told him. The support I got was overwhelming.”

Like the Oswalds, she decided to address the addiction in Lisa’s obituary. She was met with bewilderment by some relatives.

“They said ‘Can you soften it?’” she recalled. “I said ‘How do you soften it?’ They said ‘Do you need to say this in the open right now?’ I said ‘Yes, we do.’”

In February of 2016, Keith Kinsman, a business owner, walked out of his Towanda, Pa., home one morning and found his son Ben, 28, lying dead in the snow in their front yard. Kinsman had spent the night worried sick about the whereabouts of Ben, who developed an opioid addiction after getting a prescription for a collapsed lung. He had been drug-free for several months, but took a lethal dose of heroin.

Kinsman’s eulogy combined his son’s many endearing qualities with a warning to the community not to turn a blind eye to the killer in town.

“I told the truth at Ben’s funeral,” Kinsman said. “I knew he would have wanted me to.”

He wanted people to stop seeing addicts as losers.

A recording of the eulogy was downloaded thousands of times, and reached countless strangers far and wide. A vigil for Ben and addiction awareness drew hundreds of people. Neighbors, friends and strangers sought the elder Kinsman out to confide about their own opioid addiction, or that of their child or spouse.

“Young people came to me and said ‘Keith, you need to tell them, I’m sick of seeing my friends addicted, dying.’”

In 2014, when such candor in obituaries and eulogies was rare, New York father Brian Hunt wrote an open letter to his community. It appeared in a full page in the Staten Island Advance newspaper after his son Adam died of acute heroin intoxication following months of staying clean.

“My 23-year-old son Adam passed away on March 2nd as result of this terrible drug epidemic that has a grip on Staten Island,” the letter began. “My son was a good, loving young man and had all to live for… I want to make my son’s life and the struggle that he had to stay clean mean something.”

As with other parents, Hunt made the painful decision to memorialize a loved one with a brutal honesty that he could only hope might spare another parent his anguish.

“I want other parents to know you can no longer say ‘not my kid,’” said Hunt, who recently addressed a gathering of parents of addicted children in a Staten Island school.

“You guys are blessed,” Hunt said. “Even though you have a child with an addiction, you know what you guys have that I don’t? You have hope, you have a whole world of tomorrows.”
By Elizabeth Llorente

Published May 14, 2017 Fox News

Another state declares an emergency over opioid addiction

Posted on: May 12th, 2017 by sobrietyresources

Opioid addiction is a medical epidemic, a law-enforcement crisis and now officially an emergency in two states whose governors are taking steps to increase funding to fight it. Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, allotting $27 million in funds for prevention and treatment services for opioid addiction. Florida followed Maryland, which was the first state to declare a state of emergency related to the opioid crisis in March, when it unlocked $50 million in new funding over a five-year period allocated for the epidemic.
In 2015, overdoses of opioids — both street drugs such as heroin and prescription medications such as oxycodone — caused more than 33,000 deaths across the United States. The declared states of emergency give the respective governors power to spend funds immediately for prevention and treatment efforts, without seeking approval from the Legislature. According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics, opioids were responsible for deaths of 3,896 people in 2015. In Maryland, there were 1,089 opioid-related deaths in the same year.
In March, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement, “We need to treat this crisis the exact same way we would treat any other state emergency. … We must cut through the red tape so that we are empowering the important work being done in our many state agencies and at the local level all across our state. This is about taking an all-hands-on-deck approach so that together we can save the lives of thousands of Marylanders.”
The state of emergency “delegates emergency powers to state and local emergency management officials, enabling them to fast-track coordination among state and local agencies and community organizations, including private sector and nonprofit entities, to ensure whole-community involvement,” Maryland’s office of the governor told Yahoo News.
Florida’s Scott expressed a similar sentiment last week when signing the executive order: “Families across our nation are fighting the opioid epidemic,” he said in a statement. “The individuals struggling with drug use are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends, and each tragic case leaves loved ones searching for answers and praying for help.” The newly freed-up funds will reportedly be distributed to regions based proportionally on opioid-related deaths in the area.
The signing of Maryland and Florida’s states of emergency come at a time when the Trump administration continues to offer an unclear plan as to how it will combat the epidemic on a federal level.
On Friday, the White House unveiled proposed cuts by 95 percent to the 2018 budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, from $388 million to $24 million. Known as the office of the drug czar, the ONDCP is set up to reduce illicit drug use, trafficking and its consequences. The proposed cuts came a day after the American Health Care Act, the replacement of Obamacare, passed in the House.
If the AHCA becomes law, many people who are currently eligible to receive addiction recovery treatment through Medicaid may lose those services. Furthermore, substance abuse and recovery could now be considered a preexisting condition under the new plan, allowing insurance companies to deny an individual care because of it.
Trump acknowledged the opioid addiction crisis several times during his campaign, promising to “stop the heroin from pouring in” to the country. In March, the president appeared to attempt to make good on his campaign promise, creating a White House Opiate Task Force led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Trump said: “We want to help those who have become so badly addicted. … This is a total epidemic, and I think it is probably un-talked about compared to the severity we are witnessing.”
But his budget proposals since taking office offer a stark contrast to his promises on the trail, experts say.
What will happen if the AHCA passes into law is that the burden will be shifted from the national system to the state system, said Scott Novak, PhD, senior research scientist and manager in opioids and substance abuse research at Battelle Memorial Institute.
“A lot of states simply don’t have the appropriate resources to deal with a public health problem like this one,” continued Novak.
Opioids — both prescription medications and street drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil— are now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. The 33,000 deaths in 2015 were more than any year on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About half of those involved prescription opioids.
Experts acknowledge the complexity of the crisis, in which addicts often begin with a legally prescribed painkiller and later turn to a cheaper, more potent high from illicit drugs like heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil.
“The opioid crisis is different than other drug crises in our history in that abusers have a different pathway to addiction — through pain medication, pharmacies — than other addicts,” Faye Taxman, professor of criminology, law, and society at George Mason University, told Yahoo News. “The new strategy must reduce the barriers to treatment and also provide for a path to deal with the stigma of having a drug addiction problem.”

Mikaela Conley, Yahoo News, May 10, 2017

'Deadliest Catch' star Nick McGlashan says he was 'a full blown junkie' addicted to heroin, meth

Posted on: May 3rd, 2017 by sobrietyresources

By Carole Glines Published May 03, 2017

Captain Wild Bill Wichrowski’s longtime deck boss, Nick McGlashan, revealed he was a former drug addict during Tuesday’s episode of Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch.”


And now, McGlashan detailed his addiction to fans via an article he linked to on Twitter. He revealed his substance abuse was even worse than what “Deadliest Catch” showed.

McGlashan wrote that he was “a full blown junkie” addicted to heroin, meth and alcohol.


In an article on Chosen Mag called “The Deadliest Disease” McGlashan implied that his dangerous crab fishing profession could have been the reason he got addicted.

“My life went from Bering Sea badass to full blown junkie very rapidly. Hidden from me was that passion I had for life,” he wrote. “Taken from me was my ability to live. I was at war with my addiction and it was winning.”


McGlashan added, “To say I was lost would be an understatement. I was broken and soulless. I was living without any hope of happiness. All I wanted was to stay loaded. Every bit of happiness stripped away by a powerful, cunning, and baffling disease.

“I was three overdoses into my addiction and a heavy alcoholic. My addict self was killing me and I was struggling to die.


“When I ceased to be an active addict I was drinking half a gallon of vodka, shooting two grams of heroin, and one gram of meth every day. My mind, body, and spirit were so diseased, I welcomed my own death, I was ready to die.”


McGlashan believes a higher power helped save his life.


He wrote on “Chosen” that he went into a treatment facility on September 11, 2016.

Although it was the “scariest thing” the fisherman had “ever done,” it got him clean, he said.

Now, McGlashan said he stays sober by hanging out with like-minded friends, getting help from a sponsor and attending sobriety meetings.


“The greatest thing about my recovery is that I can change someone’s life just by talking about my addiction and recovery,” he wrote. “When I look at my life and feel at peace with the changes I’ve made, that’s recovery.”


McGlashan’s role on the current “Deadliest Catch” season is unclear, at the end of Tuesday’s episode he was left behind and his personal items were left on the dock as Wild Bill steamed away on his boat at episode’s end.



Can algorithms help kick addiction?

Posted on: May 1st, 2017 by sobrietyresources

by Sara Ashley O’Brien  @saraashleyo April 25, 2017: 9:46 AM ET
The word “addict” has a lot of stigma attached to it.

“We were sold years ago on the idea that addicts were people that lived under a bridge,” said Jamison Monroe Jr., founder of teen addiction recovery center Newport Academy.

But in the last few years, opioid abuse has hit epidemic proportions, and white people have had the largest increase in heroin addiction.


Monroe, who is a recovering addict, said it’s helping to change the stereotypes around what an addict looks like. “We’re coming to know that addiction does not discriminate based on demographics or income brackets or zip code.”


In fact, there are 22.7 million Americans who need treatment for drug and alcohol related issues, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Some tech entrepreneurs, many of whom are former addicts, are building businesses focused on addiction prevention and treatment. They believe that algorithms and apps can support addicts and help them relearn healthy behaviors.


Current treatment options largely fall into two buckets: in-patient facilities and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. But after leaving a treatment center, patients get very little followup; and AA, which popularized the 12 step program, is faith-based which doesn’t jibe with everyone. A recent survey found that 89% of AA members are white.

“[It] makes no sense that we’re using the same [Alcoholics Anonymous] model from 1935,” said entrepreneur Sam Frons.


Frons, who is a recovering addict, sees the need for a more data-driven approach to addiction recovery. Her startup Addicaid has developed a three-pronged strategy targeting individuals, clinics and insurance providers.


Addicaid’s free app helps those with a gamut of addictions, ranging from alcohol, heroin and opiates to gambling, codependency and porn.


Users can report information about their personality and situations that make them more likely to use drugs, like hanging out with certain friends or being alone.


Through a combination of machine learning, adaptive artificial intelligence and clinical research, Addicaid personalizes programs for users. Based on what users are logging and the words they’re using, it can predict when people might be at risk of falling into addictive behaviors and intervene.


“We’re pretty comprehensive and innovative in our wheelhouse of common triggers and promising interventions, but the thing about behavioral health is that we simply don’t have a clear picture of every pattern that dictates consequential decisions. This is where the machine learning comes in,” said Frons.


People can also set specific goals for themselves, seek social support through its online community, and find a nationwide meeting directory. Addicaid is not meant to serve as a replacement for existing treatments, added Frons, who says the app is already being used by tens of thousands of users.


Frons, who is currently fundraising for Addicaid, plans to roll out a premium paid version of the app later this year. It will put individuals into support groups based on shared tendencies, as opposed to just the substances they’re addicted to. These tendencies — like “hypercritical” or “entitled” — are drawn from research into the beliefs that fuel certain behaviors. The idea is that in order to address addiction, you also have to acknowledge the underlying factors.

A recent pilot program in New York had a 100% retention rate among its 38 participants during its first month and 75% retention three months later.


“You can show people that they have similar compulsions, and this is something that is treatable and changeable,” she added.


Frons said her addictive tendencies originally manifested themselves in an eating disorder when she was 13. It progressed to alcohol, pot, cocaine, codependency, and more. The overarching addiction, she said, was a proclivity to make bad decisions despite the negative consequences.

“Helping people realize that this is a spectrum disorder and not black and white is a really powerful tactic to combat the general stigma,” she said.


Frons views addiction as a learning disorder instead of a disease, something scientists have been studying for decades but that hasn’t really entered the mainstream narrative. She sees relapse as being nearly inevitable, which is why Addicaid is an ongoing program.


In addition to its app, Addicaid also has a platform to help clinics automate and streamline aftercare. Frons said down the line, the data Addicaid gathers can also be useful for insurance companies, which can leverage it to make cost-effective decisions and help with early intervention.


Another addiction-oriented startup, WorkIt, is focused more on prevention. Its 12-week course is designed to help people kick bad habits before they become full-fledged addictions. It costs $168 per month (it also partners with some insurance companies) and gives individuals access to a certified counselor and a personalized treatment program to curtail the addictive behavior.

Like Addicaid, Workit Health is developing an algorithm to understand a person’s state and intervene as needed.


Cofounders Robin McIntosh and Lisa McLaughlin first met in 2009 at Alcoholics Anonymous. But it wasn’t until six years later that they decide to start Workit. The push came after one of McLaughlin’s close friends overdosed on prescription opiates. “We were tired of watching our friends die,” McIntosh said. “Technology enables human beings to treat [addicts] better.”

For all addiction startups, there’s an uphill battle to prove their worth. Effectiveness and the ability to scale and monetize are significant challenges and are all critical to their success.

WorkIt said it’s currently undergoing two scientific research studies to understand how its service is impacting patients with substance abuse problems.


John Torous, cofounder of the digital psychiatry program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, called innovation in the addiction recovery space “important exploratory work.”

“Addictions are a tricky field,” said Torous. “I don’t think we have a digital panacea — yet. I can’t tell [when it’s going to be, but] I think we will see some important breakthroughs in addiction and mental health that come from using technology.”


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