There is a lot of inspiration to be found in the story of hip-hop star Gucci Mane. Not only did he overcome a traumatic childhood to become one of the country’s hottest rappers, he’s also successfully beaten a drug addiction.
Speaking with The New York Times, Mane discussed his mantras, his music and the clean lifestyle he’s learned to embrace. For nearly 20 years, Gucci battled a dependency to alcohol, prescription pills and lean, the extremely dangerous cough syrup cocktail.
“In hindsight I see it for what it was: I was a drug addict. I was naïve to the fact that I was numb.”
Mane went on to describe the challenges of rehab and withdrawal, which he described as “deathly”-feeling.
“It feel like death,” he added. “Your body just craving lean bad. Stomach tore up, can’t think straight. Just mad at the world. Temper so short, so violent, so aggressive. So just rude and toxic.”
But, in time Gucci was able to turn a corner and now describes himself as a recovery advocate. And, not surprisingly, he is also channeling his experiences into his music. Mane’s new album, Everybody Looking, was just released and includes some inspiring track titles, like “Pick Up The Pieces” and “1st Day Out Tha Feds.”
As anyone who follows our page is well aware, we are champions of the recovery cause and will do whatever we can to get the message out. This week, we’re spreading the word about Behind Familiar Faces; an important addiction-centric docu-series that just got funded on Kickstarter.
Familiar Faces filmmaker Evan Goldstein definitely knows a thing or two about the topic. As he revealed in a recent interview, he lost five friends in a year to overdoses. It’s a terrible statistic and one he hopes to change with his new project.
Familiar Faces will be broken apart into individual episodes, each portraying a tragic loss at the hands of addiction. Part 1 is titled “In Loving Memory of Billy Derr” and focuses on Evan’s recently deceased best friend.
“I’ve had to bury five friends this year alone to overdoses, one of whom was my best friend, Billy, who had been sober for 2 years before falling off the bandwagon himself.” he explained. “His mother and I have been talking about ways through which the doc series could help open the unknowing world up to addiction and help those struggling, whether it be by losing a loved one or losing themselves.”
Well now that the funding is in place, Evan is ready to get the cameras rolling. Make sure to followhis official sitefor details on Familiar Faces release dates.
Every now and then, we come across stories that truly devastate us. As recovery advocates and animal lovers, it is terrible to hear about innocent pets getting subjected to drugs and alcohol. But it is a reality and a subject that deserves attention.
One particular story started out tragic, but ultimately led to a happy ending. In Orange County, a seven-month-old puppy named Bubba was discovered high on heroin and methamphetamine at a local motel room. The Jack Russell terrier-Chihuahua mix was in terrible shape when found by police…cold to the touch, listless and lethargic.
Thankfully his owner was found with him and promptly arrested for drug possession and animal cruelty. But that didn’t help Bubba, who had to go through seven months of treatment to recover from the incident.
Well the good news is, after his miraculous full recovery Bubba has found a new home. An anonymous couple from nearby Orange has adopted the dog, offering him a safe environment and new German Shepard companion.
The real tragedy is that these stories are not isolated incidents. Often times, drug and alcohol abusers find it amusing to “share” their narcotics with their pets. Let us be clear when we say THAT THIS IS NEVER OKAY. It can easily lead to permanent damage to the animal or even death. If someone you know is abusing a pet in this way, we urge you to reach out to authorities.
If you’ve been following our blogs, then you’re well aware about the nation’s opioid epidemic and the naloxone prescription that’s been flagged as a “miracle cure.” Well just to be straight, miracle cure it is not. Naloxone does, however, aid in the treatment of opiod overdoses and is now the subject of a leading headline on The New York Timeswebsite.
Their lengthy piece profiles both the strengths and weaknesses of naloxone (also known as Narcan). Advocates claim it gives people a second chance and can help motivate them to seek treatment. It does have its share of opponents though, including top elected officials.
“Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose,” Maine Governor Paul LePage told the outlet. “Creating a situation where an addict has a heroin needle in one hand and a shot of naloxone in the other produces a sense of normalcy and security around heroin use that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.”
Not so, say those who have tried the treatment. According to an addict who was interviewed by the Times, naloxone causes vomiting, diarrhea and other serious ailments. Not something that they look forward to trying again.
The story goes on to profile several real case studies, ultimately deciding that naloxone’s benefits outweigh its detriments. We agree and are hopeful that articles like this can help bring the story to the forefront.
If you’ve been following the news, then you’re well aware of all of the political happenings the last few weeks. Last Monday, Republicans took center stage at their National Convention in Cleveland and now, it’s the Democrats’ turn in Philadelphia. Well, interestingly enough, the Dems have put addiction as a hot topic on their agenda, starting with a moving speech Monday night.
Zeroing in on the nation’s opioid epidemic, the party brought out New Hampshire grandmother Pam Livengood. Livengood went on to describe the devastating effects that addiction has had on her family, particularly with her grown daughter.
Pam explained how she now had custody of her grandchild because of daughter’s opioid problem. And why was she chosen to speak? Because of her personal connection to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Apparently Clinton singled Livengood out at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. After hearing her plight and personal connection to the opioid epidemic, the party felt her story needed to be heard. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s an avid Hillary supporter.
“She is not cold, she spoke to me and when I spoke to her, she looked in my eyes and she listened,” Pam said from the stage. “It was so cool, I loved meeting her.”
Politics aside, we’re just grateful that the topic is being heard loud and clear from one of the nation’s largest platforms.
We never get tired of saying how proud we are to be part of the Santa Clarita community. And now, that community is making national headlines because of the devastating Sand Fire. Thankfully, our Newhall facility is currently out of harm’s way. But for hundreds of our fellow residents, the flames have led to evacuations and displacement.
Right now, we hope to do our part by spreading the word about Sand Fire relief. Whether or not you live in the area, there are many ways that you can help. For one, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region is accepting food and donations for families who have lost their homes.
Also, the Associated Student Body of Saugus High School is accepting donations for our brave firefighters. Gatorade, water and snacks are what is requested, with a drop off location of 21900 Centurion Way.
Cedarcreek Elementary School at 27792 Camp Plenty Road is accepting sunscreen, baby wipes, and granola bars for displaced families. And if you want to help the local horses, Hansem Dam Stables at 11127 Orcas Avenue in Sylmar is taking apples and carrots.
Generous financial donors are urged to visit the YouCaring crowd-sharing fund link, which is accepting monetary gifts for the families of firefighters who lost their homes. Right now, they’ve reached over $10,000 from helpful people in the community.
Everyone impacted by this terrible tragedy is in our thoughts and prayers. Thankfully (as of Tuesday), the Sand Fire does look more contained and hopefully on its way out.
Recently The Los Angeles Times published an in-depth expose on the Southland’s growing OxyContin epidemic and one doctor in particular, who supplied nearly one million pills to criminals and addicts. The story made front page headlines in the paper’s Sunday Edition and garnered tons of engagement on social media.
So who was at the center of this devastating scandal? A 70-year-old physician named Eleanor Santiago. Apparently DEA agents flagged Santiago’s Purdue Pharmacy after they discovered that a slew of 80-milligram, maximum strength OxyContin prescriptions were coming out of her clinic.
For the record, 80-milligram Oxy pills have the strength of 16 Vicodin tablets and are generally reserved for patients with severe, chronic pain. Santiago was allegedly writing thousands of prescriptions, which (after diligent DEA detection) were traced to a network of drug dealers throughout L.A.
The dealers would pick up their pills at local drugstores and eventually caught the attention of pharmacists and cashiers.
“The first few of these prescriptions…looked legitimate,” an anonymous tipster told the Times. “[But] after those were filled, a steady flow of younger, more ambulatory, customers came in with the same prescriptions.”
Eventually, the team of investigators helped shut down Purdue and put Santiago in front a U.S. District Court Judge. We found the entire story fascinating and a must-read for local Angelenos.
There is no doubt that addiction-related lyrics have crept into many hit songs. But never before have we heard of an entire record devoted to the topic. That is, until Sum 41 lead singer Deryck Whibley announced the release of 13 Voices.
According to the frontman, 13 Voices will chronicle his life-threatening battle with alcoholism. Whibley has always been very open about his struggles, including the medically-induced coma he had to be put under after alcohol damaged his kidneys.
“The doctors said I was lucky to be alive and that there was still a chance I could die.” he explained about the 2014 experience. “Mentally, I don’t even want to drink again anyway. If I literally hadn’t done it to death, I might feel like I’ll be missing something, but I’m not missing anything. I’m done with it.”
So, like many artists do, he decided to channel his pain into his songs. 13 Voices is still in the recording process and, as Deryck explained, it will work as a musical diary; starting with his alcoholism and ending with his sobriety.
“I would go as far as to say it’s a concept record about my entire experience,” he added.
It certainly sounds exciting to us. You can expect to see Sum 41’s 13 Voices on iTunes this October.
The Chipotle Mexican food chain has certainly had its share of problems in recent months. First there were accusations of e-coli poisonings in the food and now, a senior executive at the company is facing felony drug charges.
Mark Crumpacker is Chipotle’s Chief Creative Officer and has spent over seven years with the brand. Back in May, New York DEA officers began building a pretty significant case against him, which ultimately led to seven counts of cocaine possession.
Crumpacker turned himself in to authorities this month and later bailed out at $4,500. He was accused of being one of 18 “repeat customers” of a narcotics shipping service centered in Manhattan. Wiretaps showed Crumpacker ordering drugs and spending nearly $3,000 on deliveries.
“We are aware that Mark presented himself to authorities earlier today. He remains on a leave of absence from his job to focus on these personal matters.”
This once again proves our point that even the most successful people can struggle with crippling addictions. We hope Crumpacker gets the help he needs and that the so-called “easy cocaine delivery service” gets a permanent shut down.
Everybody knows that addiction to heavy drugs ran rampant in the 1980’s. And one of the key culprits behind the cocaine movement was Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar. Now, a new film titled The Infiltrator is exploring his brutal empire and the U.S. Custom agents that brought him down.
Starring Breaking Bad vet Bryan Cranston, The Infiltrator is classified as a hard drama and explores some intriguing topics in regards to the U.S. drug trade. One particular topic happens to be the business behind illegal narcotics and how cartel leaders laundered the money they made off of addictions.
It also shows how legitimate banks were involved in the schemes and (directly or indirectly) played a role in illegal drug dealing. We find it both fascinating and tragic, particularly when you think about how many lives were lost back then to cocaine use.
Infiltrator producers Donald Sikorski is quite proud of the movie and the way it shines a light on corruption.
“The impact I hope this movie has, when it comes to the War on Drugs, is that we might take a look at the banking industries and how they never get prosecuted,” he explained. “You see them fined a couple of hundred thousand dollars all the time, but they are hardly ever prosecuted. In the case that The Infiltrator is based on, numerous bankers were convicted and we don’t see this that often. More often than not, nobody is held personally accountable on the banking end.”
Sometimes it takes a first-person account of addiction to scare people straight. And this month 21-year-old college student Hanna Lottritz did just that, with a brutally honest blog that reached 400,000 readers and profiled her descent into binge drinking.
Outlets like The Today Show and US Magazine covered Hanna’s story, publishing her “selfie” from an ER hospital room. In it, you can see her unconscious and hooked up to ventilators and heart monitors.
According to her blog post after the fact, Lottritz went above and beyond with her campus partying. Just prior to her 21st birthday, Hanna consumed shot after shot of “Black Velvet Whiskey.” From there things got progressively worse, with a complete blackout and a call to the paramedics.
“I was in critical condition, suffering from acute respiratory failure and acute alcohol intoxication,” Hanna wrote. “My blood alcohol concentration was .41 when I arrived at the hospital, five times over the legal limit. The doctors thought I was brain dead because I was completely unresponsive.”
Indeed, Hanna’s binge drinking put her into a 24-hour-coma, with doctors fearing she may be brain dead. Thankfully, she made a full recovery and decided to share her story with the world.
“I’ve learned to respect alcohol — that it is serious,” she added. “You can’t just drink and drink and drink. It’s not a game. You can’t play games with it.”
We know how scary it can be to make the choice to enter a rehabilitation program. For a celebrity that can be even movie nerve-wracking, knowing about the gossip and negative stigmas the media tends to attach to addiction. That’s why we tip our hat to legendary singer Chaka Khan and her sister, who both chose to publicly acknowledge their problem and seek help.
Sometimes having a family member beside you can be a key step in choosing recovery. For Khan it seemed to be a driving force, as both were battling dependencies to prescription drugs. Interestingly enough, in a joint statement they acknowledged Prince’s tragic passing as a catalyst as well.
“The tragic death of Prince has had us both rethinking and reevaluating our lives and priorities,” they wrote. “We knew it was time to take action to save our lives. My sister and I would like to thank everyone for their support, love and prayers.”
One other interesting note is that Chaka had to cancel multiple summer concerts and a recording session because of her rehab stint. To us, that is also something to be admired. As with any job, it can be very easy to fall into the trappings of lucrative opportunities. But at some point it’s important to STOP, put the work on hold and get yourself to a better place.
Imagine being able to ease addiction withdrawal symptoms with a simple earbud? That may soon become a reality thanks to the Tennessee-based firm NOVO Healthcare. They’re on the brink of developing a high-tech solution to addiction titled “The Bridge.”
According to a recent article from the Nashville 5 News Network, opioid addictions have tripled in their home state. NOVO founder Windle Morganspoke to the outlet, explaining how his device can “trick” the body into thinking the withdrawal symptoms aren’t as severe.
“People say they feel like they have the flu,” he explained. “So what this does, it helps take care of some of those symptoms so they can get through the detox process.”
The way “The Bridge” works is through electrical impulses sent through an earbud. Opioid users can then reportedly feel relief and continue their path towards recovery. Though it may sound far-fetched, the FDA has already approved its usage.
In his interview, Morgan expressed passion for he cause and embraced technology an effective tool.
“Is it alternative? Yes. Is it innovative? Yes,” he added “But it’s time for us to start doing more innovative work in addiction. we’ve got so many people out there that are needing it.
You can find out more about “The Bridge” at the official NOVO Healthcare Facebook page.
Tragically, when an adult star passes away from an overdose it gets far less coverage than a typical celebrity. In fact, in the past 10 years drugs have claimed the lives of dozens of people from the industry, including stars like Missy, Danni Roddick and Haley Paige. More recently, headliner Amber Raynesuccumbed to her addictions, after a bender of cocaine and alcohol.
Just 31-years-old, Rayne was one of the biggest stars in the business. She recently earned the highest adult honor, an AVN Award for Starlet of the Year. But a tumultuous professional life soon got the best of her, leading to a collapse and overdose at her home in Sun Valley.
Amber’s last year was filled with turmoil. She publicly accused one of her co-stars of sexual abuse, which included alleged face punching. Though that didn’t necessarily hurt her professionally, friends said it took a toll and “may” have contributed to her increased drug use.
In the end, Rayne reportedly abused cocaine for 13-straight hours, mixing substances with an acquaintance at her home. She was pronounced dead immediately after her collapse, much to the shock of the industry.
Of course, there is no direct link between addiction and life as an adult performer. But with overdoses on the rise in the industry, it is important to bring these stories to the forefront; so others can be made aware.
Recently, we published a story on the rising K2 epidemic. Also known as synthetic marijuana, it has been gaining popularity nationwide; particularly in New York. But, as with any synthetic drug, there are some major risks attached with it and now reports are running rampant about NYC overdoses.
This past week, 130 New Yorkers were sent to the ER because of K2 OD’s. And that certainly isn’t a stat that the city is taking lightly. Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly issued a statement after the news, announcing that he we would be increasing a K2 enforcement squad and targeting dealers of the drug. There has also been a citywide health alert, warning medical professionals about the OD epidemic.
The New York Times published a front page story about K2’s rise in popularity, interviewing residents who had accidentally overdosed.
“I blacked out. I woke up and I was listening to the machines, at Woodhull. They said, ‘You passed out; you overdosed on K2,’” local New Yorker Ditrell Barnes told the outlet.
Others interviewed shared their fondness for the drug, highlighting its addictive nature.
“I would just rather have more of it, than less of it,” another resident said. “It’s like food for me. It’s like produce. It’s like something for my brain.”
Clearly K2 is turning into a major issue around the country. We plan to watch these stories closely and do our part to share the dangers of this deceitful (and very addictive) drug.
Actress Kristen Bell has (luckily) never had to do battle with a crippling addiction. But that isn’t to say that the issue hasn’t impacted her. In fact, Kristen’s husband Dax Shepard has had some very public struggles and she said it has opened her eyes to a whole new world.
“I have a particular affinity towards helping people who feel outcast whether they’ve made mistakes, like having past felony convictions or recovering addicts,” Kristen explained. “My husband is in recovery and is almost 13 years sober.”
She emphasized the incredible bond she shares with Shepard and how he was able to change her view of addiction.
“Seeing the world through his eyes has really opened mine to knowing that it is a disease,” she added. “And nobody is choosing to drink more than others, they are doing it because of a variety of reasons and they deserve the attention of a mental health professional, and not the county jail or however else we’re choosing to pretend we’re fixing the problem.”
To prove that she was serious about the cause, Bell donated $10,0000 to Sun Cedar; a nonprofit dedicated to helping people in recovery. We are definitely inspired by Kristen’s gesture and hope more celebrities (whether recovering or not) learn from her example.
Lately, the gossip blogs have set their sights on former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. Currently a free agent, the football phenom has fallen on hard times…due mostly to his refusal to get help for his addictions.
23-year-old Manziel has been public with his struggles, openly discussing his alcoholic tendencies and his drug-related scrapes with the law. This past June however, his problems went from bad to worse after an NFL suspension for substance abuse.
Since then, the blogs have been relentless…covering Manziel’s partying lifestyle and his refusal to get treatment. They have even gotten quotes from Johnny’s father, who also believes his son has a major problem.
“My son is a druggie and I hope he goes to jail,” Paul Manziel told ESPN. “If I have to bury him, I’ll bury him. That’s the fact. So if not, if he calls me and needs help, I’ll go get him. Until then, he’s on his own. I’ve done everything I can do. There is nothing [else] I can do as a father. Nothing…. It is, what it is. He’s a druggie and everybody needs to accept it.”
But close confidants of Johnny have told outlets like The New York Post that he is working on his sobriety. Though he was caught at several nightclubs this summer, sources claim that they did not see him publicly use.
We certainly are hopeful that Johnny gets the help he needs. Not just for himself, but for his impressionable fans who continue to see him as a role model.
We’ve spoken many times about Naloxone, one of the leading medications used to combat opioid overdoses. Well now, it looks like it is finally being embraced by some national agencies, including the State Parks Division.
The way Naloxone works is it blocks the opioids from the brain and can restore breathing within minutes after an overdose has taken place. Unfortunately, it isn’t very easy to administer and requires proper training. To the State Parks’ credit, they are now requiring that their employees receive those courses and learn how to identify the signs of an OD.
Hocking County, Ohio is one of the first regions to embrace the program, which has been labeled Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone). Their Park Sgt, Jeremy Davis, has already shared his excitement with the press and looks forward to training his team on the proper administration methods.
“With the training being so available, and seeing everything on the news and trying to be prepared for if and when that situation becomes apparent in one of our areas — we will be equipped to handle it,” he told a local outlet.
And Davis’ unit isn’t the only Hocking agency to show interest in the program. Apparently their Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and Volunteer Fire Department are eager to bring DAWN to the forefront as well.
Usually we expect to see blockbuster previews before a movie starts at the local cineplex. But in Maryland’s Harford County, a different type of announcement has been airing on the big screens. One that alerts theatergoers about the state’s growing heroin epidemic.
The 30-second clips carry a somber (but honest) tone, profiling real life survivors of addiction. There are also heartbreaking testimonials from family members of users who overdosed. Granted, these clips won’t be playing during any Disney movies…But we think they make an important statement for people mature enough to see a PG-13 film.
County Executive Barry Glassman was responsible for the new campaigns and feels they’re very important.
“We need to keep these conversations going because nothing is more powerful than parents talking to their kids about drugs,” he said in a statement.
And according to the latest stats, that conversation should reach a sizable audience. The PSA’s are already set to screen in front of over 130,000 moviegoers, with a possible extension after the summer.
Local nonprofits are cheering the effort and encouraging larger national chains to adopt the spots.
“These are the types of stories that are resonating with our youth,” Rage Against Addiction President Wendy Messnertold TheFix.com.
You can see the first movie theater PSA in the clip below.
If you’ve been following our Facebook posts, then you’re well aware of the fantastic partnership we’ve struck with the Recovery Division at Acadia Healthcare. And this week, we had the pleasure of speaking with their Business Development Director, Marina Rodina.
As part of our ongoing Spotlight Series, this conversation reflected on her work in the recovery field, as well as the motivating factors that got her involved in the industry. As Marina explained, it was actually a life changing experience that made her want to choose this career path.
“When I was 19, I was dating someone and he became addicted to heroin. I had no idea how to handle it, because I was not. Regardless, I went through the entire process with him.”
Marina went on to tell us how she was instrumental in getting him into recovery and setting him on a path to sobriety (which he is still on to this day). And though that relationship is behind her, it was the catalyst for a new career path.
“That experience made me want to do something meaningful and something to help people struggling with addiction,” she added. “I knew I was helpful for one person and it made me want to do that for other people too.”
Today, Marina leads a team of treatment specialists at a national organization.
“At Acadia, I have the opportunity to reach out to a lot of people,” she explained. “We’re a big organization of behavioral health facilities. This gives me the platform to reach a much broader audience.”
Indeed. Marina’s work has also helped with referrals to our own facility. We are thrilled to have her as a partner and encourage our followers to learn more about her inspirational work.
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