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.
Read more: http://www.wpxi.com/news/pa-coroner-starts-ruling-heroin-overdose-deaths-as-homicides/180266150
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).
So, what do I think we should do?
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 WHEN they 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:
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.
I received some feedback on my last post, My Experience with Microsoft Band and wanted to address it here. First, thank you so much for the feedback and for taking the time to read my post. So, the feedback was that I wrote more about my Fitbit than I did about MS Band. So, this post is dedicated to the Microsoft Band 2.
I have worn the Microsoft Band 2 for nearly two months. The first thing about the Band is that it is a very nice looking device. Microsoft really made this device “pretty” and also comfortable. I liked the fact that it is narrow and has rounded edges. The screen is very clear and crisp as well as the navigation of the menu “tiles”.
One of the big things to keep in mind about Band 2 is that Microsoft designed it from the ground up as an activity tracker. It was not designed to be a smart watch, but fits that description very well.
I really like the device a lot, I would swipe to run and start my daily walks. I prefer to use the GPS to track my walks just to see where I have walked and show my wife. 🙂 Walking is the main exercise I do, I am a couch potato trying to get healthy. Tracking your steps with this device is very accurate and I also feel the heart rate was a good form of measurement. I would NOT use this or any activity tracker to monitor my health for safety. Use it for a metric to help you on your journey. Medical issues should be handled by medical professions.
I didn’t get a lot of use out of the UV tracker since it is winter. One of the cool features of the Band 2 is guided workouts, it allows you to build a workout and download one and have it on your wrist. Think of it as a HIIT timer on your wrist that writes out your next activity. You choose from many workouts that are pre-built on the Microsoft Health app or site and then sync it to the Band. You can also assemble your own works and sync to the Band. Once you the workout is loaded you can then swipe to the Guided Workout Tile and start the workout. The Band will guide you through the workout. This is just a wonderful innovation and very useful. Like I said I am starting out and use small workouts which there are plenty of. There is also a Couch to 5K guided workout. These are FREE!
Initially I loaded a lot of tiles and found that the battery couldn’t handle it. I removed tiles that I really didn’t need like Facebook and Twitter. I do like the notification tile which allows you to receive any notification from your iPhone on your Band. Texting, phone calls and appointments are think are a wonderful addition and just make sense on the Band. You will feel a vibrate and glance to see who it is or what appointment and where the appointment is.
Personally, I charge the device every night. I tried the sleep tracking and didn’t find it useful for myself. I also found that the Band and my wrist needed the time to charge and rest.
Final notes on the Microsoft Band 2. I feel the Band 2 (or the Microsoft Health app/site) are missing the social components of the health tracking. Gamification is a great tool if handled right and I don’t think Microsoft is there… yet… I won’t be surprised if they get there very soon though. #DoGreatThings They are handled the social components on social media just need to close some loose ends.
I have been using a Fitbit for several years, I started with the Ultra, moved to the One and then moved to the Surge. I have had very good experience with the product and customer service.
Almost two months ago I participated in a contest with LoseIt as part of their #MyDayMyWay and won a Microsoft Band 2. Needless to say I was very excited about it. I had been considering purchasing an Apple Watch and looked at the Band 2 as well. I liked the fact that the Band was designed from the ground up for fitness (something I am trying to get better at). I feel there is no need to have as many applications on my wrist as Apple Watch offers since I have my phone with me all the time anyway.
I passed my Fitbit Surge on to my father-in-law, who uses it daily now. I strapped the Band on my wrist and used it daily. I quickly stopped using it for sleep monitoring (just like I did with the Fitbit). I noticed that Band needed this time for charging more so than the Fitbit. Also, I didn’t see a huge value in monitoring my sleep. I already know that I have sleep apnea and I like to have my wrist get a break from the device while I sleep.
Now that I have over a month of using Microsoft Band 2 I figured it would be a good time to share my thoughts about this device and the Fitbit.
I really like the look and feel of the Microsoft Band 2. It is smooth, sleek and comfortable. It doesn’t feel like a watch and offers an easy action of using it. I can easily use it all day without it getting in my way. The clasp that they chose it great, that was one issue I had with the Surge but Fitbit customer service replaced the Surge after issues.
The Fitbit Surge is bulky, it isn’t as comfortable as the Band. It is nice that with the Surge you can see it in direct sunlight where what Band is harder to see because of the display. I think they both have a smooth navigation system on the device.
The Band offers more “Tiles” or apps that you can use than the Fibit Surge, I thought this was nice at first. I loaded them up with the max and noticed that the battery needed charged nightly once I did this. The Fitbit Surge I had no problem going several days with GPS on and not charging the battery. But, I still charged it nightly unless I was away for the weekend.
I was able to look at my steps and my activities on my phone easily with both devices. I could sync the activities from the device to my phone to view the details. Sharing the activities is very different, with the MS Band when sharing if you have GPS turned on your map is shared but not the basic data (miles,steps etc). Fitbit has a very nice sharing feature, even if you have the GPS turned on your map is kept private and your details are shared. Fitbit also provides a way of taking a Selfie or other pic and putting the details of your activities with the selfie. I have turned off GPS tracking on Band because I don’t want to share my location with the world.
Also, the Fitbit app tracks your calories in either by logging food in Fitbit App or syncing with other apps. I use LoseIt to log all of my food and drinks and it syncs directly with Fitbit and I can see my calories in on both LoseIt and Fitbit.
One of the biggest advantages of Fitbit is the community, Fitbit has built a community around their devices and provided features for you to build communities around you. So you can get support, you can compete with others and cheer them on. Fitbit has really talked gamification with their devices and I feel that all other devices can look at Fitbit for gamification.
So, right now I still have the MS Band 2 on me. I am now using my iPhone with the Fitbit app to track my exercises. I have already decided that I will be upgrading to the Fitbit Blaze once it is released. I do have an older Fitbit surge with a broken band that I may try to get working until the Blaze is released.
I have experienced an issue with a Fitbit devices and their customer service is just amazing!
I have decided to purchase the Fitbit Flex for both of my daughters. Because of the community, web app and phone app on the Fitbit I am moving my family to Fitbit devices. My old Surge has velcro to on the band to fix the clasp issue. My wife is using the MS Band 2, once the Blaze is release both my wife and I will be wearing that.
Watch this powerful video, “I Am the Face of Addiction”. This horrible epidemic is taking to many lives from us. We need to understand that people who are addicted need love, their families need love.
There was a story on WPXI this weekend that really upset me, “Some first responders argue Narcan gives opiate users false sense of security“. I feel that this story casts a negative spin on a horrible epidemic that is sweeping our nation and our local communities.
I support first responders completely, the situations that they have to deal with are unimaginable and they save lives. I just feel that this story should have received comments from people with an understanding of addiction.
Narcan will NOT be a safety net for people. People that are in this level of addiction are NOT just out there getting high. They are people who are trying to get a normal feeling that addiction takes away.
When a person is administered Narcan, they are immediately put into a detox mode or “dope sick“, which prevents many people from ever getting clean.
Narcan is NOT a cure to addiction, Narcan is a way to save lives from an overdose. This should be one step in addressing the overdose epidemic, recovery must follow and sadly the person must be ready for recovery.
I am NOT an addiction specialist. I would have preferred to see this story include an addiction specialist, someone who could clarify the information in this story. First responders are there to deal with horrific incidents and save our loved ones lives, they are not expected to be addiction specialists.
I wish Narcan could have been available when I lost Amber, but it was not. Would it have caused her to lead a life of recovery? No one will ever know that… But, if it saves one person it is worth it to me.
WPXI has been doing a wonderful job reporting on Narcan and I thank them for that. I just feel this story left a lot of loose ends and could have a negative impact, which sadly means it could cost lives.
Opinions express are my own.
Image credit: http://www.myemssupply.com/Iron-Duck-36010-narcan-naloxone-kit-bag-pouch-p/36010-sy.htm