The heroin epidemic affects EVERYONE. You may not be personally affected right now but you probably know someone who is or has been indirectly.
Look at the graph below, the number of fatal overdoses has risen by huge amounts over the past few years.
Image from http://www.overdosefreepa.pitt.edu/
I am personally affected by this epidemic and it is devastating every single day. Losing someone you love to an overdose leaves you with so much heartbreak.
What else could I have done to prevent it?
I have to live with this question for the rest of my life, among others. Seeing a life taken way too soon, questioning if you did enough. How could you have saved a life?
I was happy to see that one county in Pennsylvania is now going to classify heroin overdose as homicide and dealers as murders.
“If you chose to sell heroin, you’re killing people and you’re murdering people. You’re just as dead from a shot of heroin as if someone puts a bullet in you,” Kiessling told The Daily Item of Sunbury.
“Calling these accidents is sweeping it under the rug,” he said.
School are now stocking Naloxone in schools to help save lives. We still need to do more. People suffering from addiction need to be treated as someone with a disease. They need help. Their families need help.
This is a HEALTH CRISIS!
There is an Overdose Epidemic
One person dies every 19 minutes from unintentional drug overdose (Paulozzi, 2012).
Pennsylvania is among the ten states with the highest opioid use and overdose rates (Paulozzi, 2012).
For the years 1999—2007, drug-induced deaths were second only to motor vehicle fatalities (CDC, 2010).
Opioid overdose is preventable and treatable (reversible) through the use of naloxone (UNODC, 2013).
Well, I feel that stocking Naloxone or Narcan in schools is a great idea. We need to save lives. We also need to increase education, prevention and recovery. We need to be aware and not just act like it won’t happen. There are ways to save a life and we need to have these resources available to help.
Children are using at younger ages than ever before. We need to make sure they understand the dangers of trying drugs just once. We need to also give them the tools to deal with drugs WHENthey are confronted with them. Let’s face it, be real, they WILL be confronted, thinking they won’t is just being naive. How will your child handle that situation?
Their first experience with drugs may be from a legal prescription of a strong narcotic. YES. That is true. Children are being prescribed very strong narcotics at very young ages. Pain management can lead to addiction and has in many people of all ages. Depression and anxiety can lead to addiction. Children are prescribed drugs to deal with these very real medical issues but this can also lead to addiction and overdose.
Addiction does NOT discriminate. It doesn’t what matter your race, age, gender or financial status is in society. Addiction and fatal overdose affects EVERYONE!
So, I am not tell you anything new. This information is available everywhere.
But, I am asking you to do something.
Talk to your children and family about addiction, don’t just telling them to not use drugs. Tell them how to handle situations WHEN they are confronted, yes WHEN. Explain to them how to handle legally prescribed drugs and monitor their usage. Question if you or anyone you care for actually needs strong drugs. Ask the doctors if there are other ways to deal with medical situations. LOCK UP your narcotics! If you have narcotics in your house, secure them. Many people have legal narcotics in their house that are prescribed and used correctly. LOCK THEM UP. Children are taking them from parents and using or selling them.
Show LOVE. People that are fighting addiction need help. Don’t enable them, but love them. They are fighting a very real battle every day to not use. CELEBRATE people who are recovering. Long term recovery is possible, I know many people with long term recovering. Long term recovery is possible. I know many people in long term recovery and they fight every day to not use again. They are very strong people who want to be clean and want to contribute to society and they want to show love and help others.
I hope that you will never have to deal with the pain I have to deal with everyday. I know many people who have to deal with this same pain every day. Some have not lost their loved ones, some have. Some have to deal with the NIGHTMARE of addiction every day. They are frightened every time the phone rings, waiting for that call.
There are many organizations that can help you. Here are a few:
I have been keeping a journal for a long time. I find it very therapeutic to write my thoughts down and reflect on them. I started with pen and paper, writing entries in notebooks. The last few years I started to use Day One on my iPhone. I wanted to have a way of having my journal with me so I could record my thoughts whenever and wherever I was. I tried a few other applications on my phone, I really wanted something that I could use on my computer and iPhone. Day One currently works on Apple products but the intuitive user interface and stability of the application is well worth it. I have used it on my iPhone and also used it on an iPad and found it to be a clean interface. I am able to just write what I am thinking and move on to what I am doing. I record simple thoughts throughout the day. I have tried other apps several times but keep coming back to Day One because I find this system to be so well put together and it lets me focus on my thoughts.
I use a Windows laptop which was a limitation with Day One until very recently. I have tried using the third party apps but didn’t really like working with a Windows app. I wanted something that was web based and can be used anywhere but have a full keyboard. Most of my entries are created using an iPhone but at times I like to write more detail and prefer to type on a full computer. If you are a Mac user, Day One has a Mac app which I have used on my kid’s Mac Book Air. This works wonderful, but I use Windows most of the time (for now).
This month Day One released an update that includes a channel on IFTT which makes it possible to use other platforms to record your entries. I was very excited about this release and quickly looked into how I could use this to better record my thoughts.
If you’re not familiar with IFTTT (If This Then That), it’s a free web-based service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called “recipes”, which are triggered based on changes to other web services. IFTTT is a great way to automatically add content from many web services including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. You can even set up an SMS trigger to create a journal entry via text message!
I am an avid Evernote user, but keep my journal separate from my notes. With the addition of IFTTT I create a “recipe” that will take a note that I tag with #DayOne and save it to my journal in Day One. This is huge for me, I can very easily type on any computer with a web browser using Evernote and tag it with #DayOne and it is saved to DayOne. I love this feature and was excited to have it available. (I know, I am a geek).
I also have an Apple Watch and have the Day One app installed on it as well. When I first heard that Day One released an Apple Watch app I was not thrilled but after using it I have to say it is amazing. A large amount of my entries come through my Apple Watch now. I simple dictate into the watch and the entry is saved. I also have shortcuts that I used on the Apple Watch. I have a shortcut that I used to record when I take my medicine so I don’t forget if I have taken it already. I will use it to “check in” at a place, so I can very easily without saying anything check in to the location using GPS and an entry is recorded and I can go back later to fill in details.
As you can see in the above image I have reminders set to prompt me for creating journal entries. I like to have this prompt to think of what I am grateful for each day and the reminder is set to add the tag “grateful” to the entry.
I have a separate journal for different types of entries. I have one for just personal thoughts, one for work and now have one for ideas on blogging about. They are easily separated and can be “tagged” with more information if I wish.
Picture logging is another feature I use often, I don’t always want to share the pics, sometimes I just want to record them for myself or my family to later see. I will take a few pictures and add them to a journal entry, add some text if I wish or come back and add the text later.
If you have questions about how I use it or suggestions on other uses I would love to hear them. Reach out to me at @LJRAIN or here in the comments.
My wife suggested that we pickup Apple Watches for ourselves. Originally we planned on waiting for the new Blaze by FitBit to be released. But, being the tech geek that I am, we thought let’s give it a try and if we don’t like it we can return it. It has been nearly a month now and I have to say I really like the Apple Watch a lot.
It is a very comfortable watch and doesn’t get in the way. The big Fitbit Surge and Microsoft Band 2 got in my way when I was typing. Apple Watch is much more comfortable and has a great band that adjusts to fit perfect. There are many selections of bands that you can choose from to fit your style as well.
The battery is one of the issues that I have heard about and was worried if it would last a full day for me. I have no problem charging it every night, I did that with the other devices that I wore already. I have had no problem with the battery lasting a full day with heavy usage. I use the texting (dictation feature a lot).
I have been downloading apps and trying them out to see what I felt was useful on the Apple Watch. I have said that there is not much use for apps on my wrist but I am incorrect and now find it very useful.
One app I use constantly is Day One, Day One is a private journal application that I use on my iPhone already, I have been using it for about one year now and really love the app. I was original not happy that Day One put an Apple Watch app out thinking it would NOT be useful. But, this is an app I use constantly throughout the day to record pieces of my life. Small bits of information about my day that I can reflect on and remind me of later. I will write a more thorough post about Day One in the future. But, I recommend using it and I am VERY anxious for them to release a web app so it will work on more than just Apple platforms.
I have used the maps app a few times and find it very useful, I can lift my wrist and say “Hey Siri, how do I get to …” and it opens the map and prepares for navigation instructions. It doesn’t work very well with my car which is paired with my iPhone. If I have the opportunity I will switch to Waze on my phone which works wonderfully when paired with my car through Bluetooth.
I also use the workout app on the Apple Watch, I mainly walk. I try to walk a lot to move myself to a more healthy life style. I am a programmer by trade and sit a lot at a desk. When I walk I launch the app and select an open walk to record my walk. It records the walk (not GPs of my walk). I can earn badges as I work on my health goals. Currently there are only three goals available, 1) Calorie Burn; 2) Stand Up; 3) Activity. I would like to see this to be improved much more. My personal preference would be a tight integration with Fitbit which has a wonderful community and social challenges with other users.
I found that reminders works wonderful also, I once again lift my wrist and say “Hey Siri, remind me to ….” and it creates a reminder for me and then alerts me about that reminder. This is a nice functional for a smart watch.
Apple Watch allows you to send your heart beat to someone else with an Apple Watch. I do this on occasion with my wife. It’s a fun little feature but I have noticed that it doesn’t work as well. Many times we don’t receive the messages that are sent using the heart beat or the drawing function.
The only other app I use on the Apple Watch often is LoseIt, I am a premium member and log all of my food intake. Trying to be mindful of what I eat and it has been helping with me loose weight. I am currently down 25 pounds!! The LoseIt Apple Watch app just shows you what calories you have available for the day. Easy way to check on how I have been doing.
I am glad we purchased Apple Watches and did NOT return them. We feel there is a lot more value in this device than in just a fitness tracker but having the apps that are available and I am sure there will be more coming. Not all apps will really be useful to have on your wrist though and it will be interesting to see what other innovative ideas people come up with. I am very hopeful that Apple will work more on their Workout app and introduce social challenges and add step goals to the device.