Pekin Event Aims to Educate Public About Addiction

A mother who lost her son to a heroin overdose last year has gone lengths to increase awareness about the dangers of addiction. She has organized the first annual Fight the Fight Addiction Awareness Walk which takes place August 7 from 2-4 p.m. at the Mineral Springs Park lagoon. She shares her story with Pekin Daily Times.

Pekin Daily Times Reports:

A person is injured, they are prescribed opioid painkillers and they become addicted. Unable to obtain the pills, they turn to heroin, on which they overdose and die, leaving a grieving family to question how it all could have happened.

This story has been told too often, which is why one mother is doing something to stop it.

Wendy McCready, who lost her son Alan Vaughn to a heroinheroin overdose last year, has taken strides to help educate others of the dangers of addiction and what it could possibly lead to. She has organized the Fight the Fight Addiction Awareness Walk in an effort to do so, which takes place from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Mineral Springs Park lagoon.

Throughout the afternoon, eight community members and experts will speak about the signs, effects and consequences of heroin addiction, McCready said.

“A lot of people aren’t educated on addiction, just like I wasn’t before my son became an addict,” she said. “I certainly didn’t know he was about to die from it.”

Alan Vaughn’s fatal battle began eight years ago, when he was prescribed opioid painkillers for his back pain. This lead to an addiction and physical dependence on opiates, which eventually landed him in the firm grasp of the cheaper and more easily obtainable heroin. This was something his mother, who described Vaughn as having the biggest heart of anyone she had met, said she would have never seen coming.

“If you think it could never be your child, then you really need to stop thinking like that,” she said. “… We raised our kids right, taught them morals and right from wrong, but addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter where you live or what color you are, everybody is at risk and needs to be educated.

Pekin Police Public Information Officer Mike Eeten — who will speak Sunday — echoed this sentiment, citing opiates’ physically addictive characteristics as a cause.

“When we think of addicts, often we think of a guy living in a tent down by the river or something,” he said. “But with heroin, it’s people that you wouldn’t ever think of as a drug user, or even a drug dealer. We see kids that come from great families that get addicted to heroin.”

McCready believes that if people better understand how to respond then lives will be saved.

“Parents need to know that they need to be ready when their child or loved one is ready,” she said. “Addicts need to get help right when they want it because if they wait just one more day, then they might not want the help anymore”

After the speakers, those in attendance will walk once around the Lagoon in solidarity and support. McCready encourages those taking part to bring signs covered with the pictures of lost loved ones, or displaying messages to the tune of “I hate heroin.”

Eeten, who has investigated several overdoses firsthand, said even those that haven’t been effected directly should consider attending the walk.

“It is never an easy thing to see a young life cut short because of addiction,” he said. “In order to put up a good fight against this, we need the whole community to buy in.”

Eeten said a major step for everyone is the better monitoring of when and how opioid painkillers are being used and where extras are ending up.

Once the lap around the Lagoon is complete, a short “fight song” will be performed, while walkers receive balloons for a balloon release around the lagoon.

Throughout the evening, several local rehab clinics and medical experts will have tables available for added information.

Once such table will aim to promote Narcan, a drug used in emergency situations to treat overdoses of both synthetic and natural opiate overdoses. Those that visit the table will receive training on how to use the drug, as well as a kit to have in their own home in case of emergency.

Immediately following the walk and balloon release, Gateway Pekin will be holding an open house at its Pekin treatment center. Experts and counselors will be on hand to answer any questions regarding drug and alcohol abuse. Light refreshments will be served and attendance at the walk is not mandatory to attend the open house.

McCready hopes that the two events will save other parents the heartache she has gone through.

“My son was one of my best friends,” she said. “… My goal is to keep any other parent from having to bury their own child.”

Are you concerned a loved one may be addicted to opioids? Learn more about prescription drug abuse online at RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673) for a confidential consultation.

Pekin Community Unite to ‘Fight the Fight’ Against Addiction with TWO Events

Please join members of the Pekin Community on Sunday, August 7th in the first annual ‘Fight the Fight’ Addiction Awareness Walk at Mineral Springs Park in Pekin, IL. The walk is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and does not require registration. All community members are invited.

iStock_000022659105SmallThis short, scenic walk will be accompanied by speakers on the to pics of recovery, the
disease of addiction, Narcan and harm reduction, a coroner’s report  and more. Speakers include those who have lost their loved ones to addiction, individuals in recovery, Gateway Treatment Centers, Tazewell County Coroner, Pekin Police Department and more. A short “fight song” will  be performed while balloons are released to honor and remember those who lost their battle with addiction.

Gateway Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centers and JM Industrial Supply are the Gold Level sponsors of this walk.

Following the walk, Gateway invites all community members to visit the Pekin treatment center and enjoy light snacks and refreshments from 4:30pm-6:30pm. Gateway’s substance abuse treatment experts will be available to answer questions about drug and alcohol abuse and treatment options available. Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers would like to extend a special thank you to our local Hyvee and Panera Bread for their generous donations towards the open house event immediately following the awareness walk.

The Fight the Fight group was formed in 2016 by a local family who lost their son to a heroin overdose. In an effort to help others struggling with addiction, the family aims to bring awareness to addiction and treatment options.

To learn more about heroin abuse and treatment options visit RecoverGateway.org

International Overdose Awareness Day: Know the Signs Of Heroin Overdose

In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) a  global event held on August 31st each year that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers provides you with potentially life-saving information regarding heroin overdose:

Know the Signs of a Heroin Overdose

  • Decreased level of consciousness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Heart rate and breathing slow down or stops
  • Lips and nails turn blue due to insufficient oxygen in the blood
  • Seizures, muscle spasms and vomiting (vomiting can cause death due to choking hazard)
  • Unable to awaken even if name is called or if shaken vigorously

Naloxone

heroin overdose-overdose-awareness-dayLegislation passed in 2009 made Illinois one of 16 states that allow distribution of naloxone with out a doctor prescribing every dose. Naloxone is an opiate antagonist that reverses the effect of overdose from opiates like heroin. The law’s implementation ended what had been a legal conundrum of how to distribute a drug to someone to give to someone else, or to a user who might not need to take a dose for months.

It is very important to give help to an overdosing person right away. Brain damage can occur within only a few minutes of an overdose as the result of a lack of oxygen to the brain. It can lead to coma and even death due to respiratory failure. Naloxone gives concerned loved ones and care givers a window of opportunity to save a life until emergency medical help arrives. 

“The increase in heroin overdose deaths is troubling. That is why we do everything we can to ensure the health, comfort and safety of the teens and adults we treat for opiate dependency,” says Sally Thoren, Executive Director, Gateway Chicago West. “Before the law was enacted, in the event of a heroin overdose treatment centers would have to call 911 and lose precious minutes waiting for the help to arrive.”

The Good Samaritan Overdose Law

Many residents may not be aware but Illinois is one of 14 states that have passed the Emergency Medical Services Access Act/The Good Samaritan Overdose Law (Illinois Public Act 097-0678), which went into effect on June 1, 2012. To help reverse the trend of deaths attributed to heroin overdoses and other opiate overdoses, The Good Samaritan Law is meant to encourage bystanders witnessing a drug overdose to seek medical help for the victim. The bystander who calls 911 or seeks medical help will receive immunity from criminal charges for drug possession (except for marijuana). The overdose victim is protected, too. Before the law, too many victims were dropped off alone and unconscious outside the doors of hospitals or even abandoned by friends to die for fear of criminal prosecution.

Learn more about heroin addiction treatment at RecoverGateway.org/Heroin or call our 24-Hour Helpline at 877-505-HOPE (4673)

Gateway CEU Trainings to Enhance Heroin Overdose Prevention Awareness

heroin overdose, gateway treatment centers, naloxone, free ceu trainingGateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment will host two expert-led webinars in November regarding the importance of expanding Narcan® or Naloxone-friendly zones to help remedy the heartbreaking heroin overdose trend in Illinois. Healthcare professionals may earn 1 continuing education credit compliments of Gateway while increasing knowledge surrounding heroin abuse via online trainings offered Thursday, Nov. 13 and Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

According to The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, the most severe heroin problem in the nation as measured by emergency room visits resides in the suburbs of Chicagoland. In 2010, Chicago metropolitan hospitals recorded 24,360 admissions related to heroin—the most in the nation.

“We have an unprecedented heroin problem here in Illinois, which calls for exceptional vigilance and a concerted community-wide response. Arming first responders with Naloxone has proven to save lives in areas hit hard by heroin, like DuPage County, so we must continue awareness efforts in order to expand Naloxone-friendly zones in Illinois,” explains Carl Scroggins, Program Supervisor, Gateway Treatment Centers.

Led by Carl Scroggins, Gateway’s resident expert on overdose prevention, participants will learn valuable information about heroin abuse and overdose prevention, including physiological effects of opioid/heroin abuse and steps healthcare providers and families can take to implement overdose prevention strategies. Healthcare professionals logged on for the entire duration of the 1-hour training will earn 1 continuing education credit—courtesy of Gateway Treatment Centers.

To sign up for a webinar, please visit RecoverGateway.org/Training. For resources about heroin abuse, please visit RecoverGateway.org/Heroin.

 

Gateway Embraces Solutions to Heroin Overdose Epidemic

Pictured: Sitting - Patricia Kates-Collins, Deputy Director, Division of Program Services, Illinois Department of Human Services / Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse - Standing - Carl Scroggins, Program Director, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers, Heroin

Pictured: Sitting – Patricia Kates-Collins, Deputy Director, Division of Program Services, Illinois Department of Human Services / Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Standing – Carl Scroggins, Program Director, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers

To help further awareness surrounding the heroin overdose epidemic, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers participated in the first Drug Overdose Awareness Event hosted by the Illinois Department of Human Services / Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (IDHS/DASA) on Aug. 26, 2014, at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Hundreds of attendees gleaned from expert presenters the physiological effects of opioid/heroin intoxication, the importance of adopting overdose prevention strategies and how to get involved with DASA Drug Overdose Prevention.

As part a concerted state-wide effort to save lives, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Program Supervisor Carl Scroggins encouraged other treatment providers to implement heroin and opioid overdose rescue strategies as Gateway has done. Scroggins stressed the importance of training to ensure that staff feel comfortable administering Naloxone in the event of an opioid overdose. He also encouraged attendees with family members who may be at risk for overdose to obtain Naloxone rescue kits and training through participating community agencies.

heroin problems, heroin overdose

According to The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, the Chicagoland area has the nation’s most severe heroin problem as measured by 2010 emergency room visits—24,360 heroin-related admissions—in comparison, the second highest recorded number of heroin-related emergency room visits was 12,226 in New York City.

“Most fatal overdoses are unintentional. That’s why it’s so important to get Naloxone in as many of ‘right hands’ as possible because it has proven to be an extremely effective solution—with the potential to  save thousands of  precious lives. Quick access to Naloxone can mean the difference between manageable drug relapse and death,” explains Dr. John Larson, Corporate Medical Director, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers.

To help individuals recover from heroin and opioid addiction, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers rely upon a personalized, integrated substnace abuse treatment approach. To manage the intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms that occur when heroin use stops, individuals under Gateway’s care have on-site access to medications like Suboxone® and Vivitrol along with substance abuse counseling, therapy and education offered at Gateway Treatment Centers.

For more facts and resources about heroin abuse and treatment options, please visit RecoverGateway.org/Heroin.

25-Year Old Woman Enjoys Life Free of Alcohol and Heroin Addiction

heroin addiction, substance abuse treatment, drug addiction treatment, drug treatment programs, “It’s really important to be aware. When see you personality changes or when someone withdrawals from you, the sooner you intervene, the better the odds you won’t lose a loved one,” explains Angela, a 25-year-old female from a suburban town in Illinois who got help for alcohol and heroin addiction following a heroin overdose.

Like many Americans who suffer with depression and anxiety, Angela abused alcohol and prescription drugs like Vicodin and benzodiazepines to escape her uncomfortable feelings and unresolved emotions, which also chipped away at her self-esteem. She eventually sought out the “ultimate high” of heroin.

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry* reveals Angela’s experience is representative of a growing trend in America: Today’s typical heroin user who has sought treatment is more likely a 20-something white woman from the suburbs. Researchers have concluded that this represents a shift in the demographics of users seeking out treatment over the past few decades.

The study says that Caucasian men and women have turned to prescription pills as their drug of choice, but heroin eventually becomes more attractive to them, as it is much cheaper. According to lead study author, neuropharmacologist Theodore Cicero of Washington University, heroin use in women has rose from 20 percent in the 50s to around 52 percent of heroin users today.

Angela, who is now 73 days sober, is enjoying a very different life since first walking into a Gateway Treatment Center. No longer aching to escape reality, she’s working full-time as a cook and genuinely enjoys appeasing her diners’ hunger. When she isn’t working, Angela likes to unwind by hula hooping, creating music and hanging out with her family.

To get to a better state, Amanda’s integrated treatment for addiction and mental health issues included medication assisted treatment services that addressed withdrawal symptoms as well as cravings for opiates and alcohol. She worked with a dedicated counselor along with other substance abuse experts to create her own personalized treatment plan, one grounded in her own values and life goals. Through individual and group therapy sessions along with education about substance abuse and mental health, Amanda was able to unravel her painful past, working through haunting problems that she had buried and avoided.

“For me, the best thing about going through treatment at Gateway is I discovered the beauty I have inside me and what I have to offer the world. Treatment is all about rebuilding self-esteem,” she explains. “It’s empowering to feel confident in my abilities and positive about my future—I feel so lucky to be alive.”

Gateway Treatment Centers are located throughout the state of Illinois and offer Residential Treatment Programs and Intensive Outpatient Programs for adults and teens struggling with alcoholism and drug abuse. Call today to learn about our free, confidential consultation at (877) 505-HOPE.

*JAMA Psychiatry. Published online May 28, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.366

DuPage County Panel Says Naloxone Offers Hope for Heroin Overdose Epidemic

Jim Scarpace, Executive Director at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Aurora, speaks about heroin abuse and the overdose drug, naloxone.

Jim Scarpace, Executive Director at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Aurora, speaks about heroin abuse and the overdose drug, naloxone.

As Chicagoland suburbs continue to combat an onslaught of lethal heroin overdoses, those close to the issue are making a concerted effort to educate area professionals and residents about potential solutions. Earlier this week, Gateway Foundation’s Jim Scarpace joined community leaders in a round-table discussion put together by U.S. Rep. Bill Foster’s office to talk about naloxone, known as the heroin overdose anecdote drug, and how it could be used to fight DuPage County’ overdose epidemic.

A life-saving substance administered by syringe or inhaled, naloxone is an opioid marketed under the brand name Narcan. Panelists unanimously agreed: naloxone saves lives, and it needs to be put into the hands of people positioned to use it for that purpose.

Gateway’s Jim Scarpace explained to participants that naloxone does not create a high and is not addictive. It works to reverse the effects of overdoses on all drugs classified as opioids – this includes heroin and some types of prescription pain medications, such as OxyContin and Percocet.

“Most people aren’t aware of naloxone, and what it can do,” said Jim Scarpace, executive director, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Aurora. “However, access is not easily gained by some people.”

But progress is being made here in Illinois. Naloxone is not available in every state; only 17 states (including Illinois) and District of Columbia have passed laws to distribute it. Furthermore, among these states, Illinois is one of 10 that allow for third parties, such as a family member or friend of an intravenous drug user, to be prescribed naloxone.

Learn more about naloxone and how Illinois legislation is addressing the heroin epidemic.

Other topics discussed include:

  • The Good Samaritan Law, which is passed in Illinois, is intended to encourage bystanders to seek medical help for overdose victims. The bystander who calls 911 or seeks medical help will receive immunity from criminal charges for drug possession (except for marijuana). The overdose victim is protected, too.
  • Issues about naloxone accessibility and whether it should be an over-the-counter drug.
  • Medication available to aid in treating heroin addiction.

Held at the Yellow Box Christian Community Church in Naperville, the round table is one in a series of events organized by Congressman Foster to galvanize community leaders and concerned residents to address the uptick in heroin overdoses. Participating organizations and individuals include: Beacon-News Columnist Denise Crosby; DuPage County Health Department; DuPage Metropolitan Group; Gateway Foundation; Naperville resident Karen Hanneman whose son Justin Tokar died of a heroin overdose in 2011; and Yellow Box Community Christian Church.

Make yourself part of the solution to the heroin epidemic. Create greater awareness to reverse the disconcerting heroin trends impacting our communities. Learn more at RecoveryGateway.org/Heroin.

ADDRESSING HEROIN OVERDOSE ISSUES IN ILLINOIS

Did you more people die of drug overdoses than car accidents in Illinois? In fact, many residents may not be aware but Illinois is one of only 14 states that have passed the Emergency Medical Services Access Act/The Good Samaritan Overdose Law (Illinois Public Act 097-0678), which went into effect in June 2012 to reduce the number of overdose deaths.

Before the law, too many victims were dropped off alone and unconscious outside the doors of hospitals or even abandoned by friends to die for fear of criminal prosecution.

The Good Samaritan Law is meant to encourage bystanders witnessing a drug overdose to seek medical help for the victim. The bystander who calls 911 or seeks medical help will receive immunity from criminal charges for drug possession (except for marijuana). The overdose victim also is protected.

Overdose Anecdote

Legislation passed in 2009 made Illinois one of 16 states that allow distribution without requiring a doctor to prescribe every dose of naloxone, an opiate antagonist that reverses the effect of overdose from opiates like heroin.

The law’s implementation in 2010 ended what had been a legal conundrum of how to distribute a drug to someone to give to someone else, or to a user who might not need to take a dose for months. Naloxone gives concerned loved ones and care givers a window of opportunity to save a life until emergency medical help arrives.

To ensure the safety of opiate dependent individuals in treatment, all Gateway Foundation treatment centers have naloxone available and trained professionals to administer it.

“The increase in heroin overdose deaths is troubling. That is why we do everything we can to ensure the health, comfort and safety of the teens and adults we treat for opiate dependency,” says Sally Thoren, Executive Director, Gateway Foundation Chicago West. “Before the law was enacted, in the event of an overdose treatment centers would have to call 911 and lose precious minutes waiting for the help to arrive.”

If you know someone who needs help breaking free from opioids, Gateway Foundation can help. For a free and confidential consultation, please call 877-505-4673.

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