The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that opioids (including heroin and fentanyl) killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, more than any year on record. And 40% of all opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid.
aloxone (brand name Narcan) is opioid antagonist that temporarily reverses an opioid overdose and saves lives. It comes in nasal and injectable form. It is available without a prescription. It saves lives.
Across the U.S., grant funded programs are reaching out to provide free Narcan trainings to anyone interested - families, addicted persons, school personnel, First Responders, medical and behavioral health providers.
It costs nothing to save a life. If you haven't already done so, set a goal to attend a training near you.
As part of the MFI Homelessness Working Group, Renew T.E.S was pleased to be a participant at today's MFI Tiny Homes Micro Summit. Thank you to all who participated and attended.
Las Vegas has a crisis with homelessness, unaccompanied homeless youth, and a lack of affordable housing. Present were city and county representatives spanning the jurisdictions, along with HUD personnel. Several non-profits, foundations, developers, architects, housing groups, educators, homeless and previously homeless residents, members and a few leaders of faith communities were in attendance. Emily Paulsen and Kate Royer of Nevada Homeless Alliance continued with unflagging energy and support throughout the day. The City of Las Vegas kindly provided printing, food and a lovely venue. Andrew Heben from Square One Villages did an amazing presentation from Eugene, OR., sharing Square One struggles and successes. Sarah and Cruz from Poverello House in Fresno, CA., educated us on their low barrier shelter and centralized service linkages. Las Vegas architect Rick Van Diepen contributions on sustainable design and zoning/coding information was invaluable. All of the presenters expressed the need to offer help in a person-centered and dignified way to build not just housing, but communities.
This morning was bitterly cold. Thirty eight degrees cold. On my way to the summit I saw a man in a wheelchair with hospital socks on and short pants. My heart ached for him. My fingers hurt from the cold as I took the short walk from my car to City Hall. I couldn't help but think what it must have been like to sleep on the ground last night, or in a wheelchair in the bitter wind. And I contemplated how I would feel waking up with no hope of a hot breakfast or coffee.
6,490 people on the streets of Las Vegas every night. It's intolerable to us. If that's intolerable to you, speak up. Tell your elected officials and faith leaders that you want action. Volunteer. Make a difference. It's cold out there. It's time to bring the homeless home.
Ninety people per day now. Ninety people per day die from opioid overdoses across the U.S. Two years ago is was closer to forty per day.
Ninety deaths. Every single day. How did we get here?
Big pharma marketing. MDs giving refill after refill. Insurers wanting to cut detox stays and inpatient costs for a better profit margin. Bias in the recovering community against those that need replacement therapy. Large cities with no clean needle programs. Medicine cabinets without locks. Stigma around getting help. Skyrocketing Fentanyl production in China. The outdated and deadly view that this is an embarrassment rather than an epidemic. On-line "pharmacies." The prescribing of high addictive potential opioids for non-terminal patients and low level surgeries. Denial. Mexican cartels. The factors are complex.
What is your piece of the solution? Talk openly about it. Get informed. Say no to dealers and doctors. Speak the language of treatment and get narcan trained. Attend community forums. Advocate with your insurer to get your loved ones what they need to succeed. Know the telltale signs.
Break the cycle, break the stigma, break the silence. Safe lives.
Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) wrote the following haiku:
Four temple gates
beneath a single moon
It resonates with me because it sums up my experience as a person in long-term recovery. To get and stay clean I had to accept 12-step support, find new music, develop hobbies, commit to poetry and performance art, return to school, study meditation and yoga, give myself permission to find a creative outlet and find spiritual mentors that were right for me. It took not one gate, but many, for me to find joy and gratitude with life on life's terms. As a result, I'm an advocate and practitioner of experiential therapies and traditional, as well as non-traditional, paths to healing from addiction, trauma and mental health challenges.
Through the years I've had the pleasure of knowing many people successful on a variety of paths in recovery. For some the road to freedom from addictions includes music, talk therapy, painting, meditation, photography or scrapbooking. For others it is sky diving, rock climbing, bungee jumping, cliff diving or demolition derbys. Some need to learn to be social and let the world in while some must learn to sit still and become comfortable in their own company. Many people's recovery success is based on the god or religion of their understanding, and many must heal from religious abuses in order to overcome the pull of self-destruction.
There is an amazing organization, One Step at A Time (OSAT), with chapters in several states. OSAT celebrates recovery by hosting outdoor adventures such as biking, hiking, white water rafting, snow sports and scaling very large mountains! I took my 20 year coin at the top of a mountain with an OSAT group of friends, and it was an amazing, fun accomplishment both symbolically and literally.
I believe there is no "right way" to recover except the one you forge with passion, persistence and your own permission to live an expanded life.
I found this TED talk inspiring. Let me know what you think.
Kelly Swan is a counselor, educator, program developer, community activist and a person in long-term recovery.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Domestic Violence Hotline
Nat'l Sexual Assault Hotline
National Human Trafficking Hotline
Rape Crisis Center
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Council on Problem Gambling
Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Admin. (SAMHSA)
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
Treatment Placement and Referral 702-717-3294
Dial 211 for referrals for housing, utility assistance, basic needs, Medicaid funded detox, food pantries, financial counseling, etc.
Heroin Anonymous Las Vegas
Nevada Homeless Alliance
Gamblers Anonymous of Southern Nevada www.gasn.info
Clark County Social Services