Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ready for a NEW Episode of This Is Us Tonight?! Here's Justin Hartley ("Kevin") Discussing Playing a Character with an Opiate Addiction.

In the past year, we saw more TV shows tackling the topic of addiction than ever before. Variety Magazine sat down with Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin on This Is Us, and captured some of Justin's approach to playing his character, who battles a substance use disorder (SUD) in the form of an addiction to opiates.  Justin's character has been on a downward spiral in recent episodes because he reaggravates a knee injury and he is prescribed opiate pills, to which he develops an addiction for.  At one point, he resorts to forging a girlfriend's prescription to supply his SUD.  “I wanted to make sure that we told a story that was honest and true, especially because this is something that people deal with a lot,” Hartley tells Variety. “It’s very dangerous. You can lose your wealth, you can lose your friends, you can lose your trust, you can lose your dignity, you can lose everything. We didn’t want to just tell a drug story real quick and then just wrap it up in a bow.”

Here is the interview from Variety (source:  http://variety.com/2017/tv/features/this-is-us-justin-hartley-season-2-interview-addiction-jacks-death-1202614001/:  

Kevin was clearly in pain, and a couple of times actually verbalized that, and yet no one could really see him through his celebrity. What were the conversations around why that happened?
Some of the things we came to were just that people just assume that you’re OK. I’ve actually done it — I’ve been on the other end of it where something will happen and it’s catastrophic, and you’re sitting there like, “What the hell? How did this happen out of nowhere?” But then you go replay it, and you realize, “Oh my God, my friend was doing this and I wasn’t paying attention.” The next thing you know he’s in the hospital, and it wasn’t all of a sudden but for whatever reason, I was choosing to think he was OK. And I think part of Kevin’s thing that he goes through is that he had football when he was a kid, he was popular in high school, he’s an actor, he has money, he has friends — I put that in quotes — he had Sophie, everybody likes him. So people just assume he’s always OK. He’s always making jokes, he’s charming.

Do you feel like this episode was Kevin’s rock bottom? Is he ready to get better now?
I hope so. I think something’s got to give. This episode meant so much to me because I know what it means to carry the weight of a relationship on your shoulders and be like, “As long as that person is kicking and breathing and in my life, there’s a chance there will be closure, there’s a chance that something might happen.” And then when he loses that necklace, it was like all hope was lost. So hopefully that’s his rock bottom, because I think sometimes you need that to realize where the hell they are.

At the end, it seems like he finally wants to ask for help from Randall (Sterling K. Brown), but he’s met with another family tragedy in Kate’s (Chrissy Metz) miscarriage. 
And how interesting is that that Kevin and Randall have this very difficult relationship [but] he actually goes back to get help from Randall? How close Kate and Kevin are, it’s interesting that he goes to Randall. He doesn’t have his dad, and I think if his dad was there he’d obviously go to him, but he knows Randall will be there for him. But when he gets there, it’s like, “This is not about you, man. We can’t do this right now.” So he is self-aware enough to realize there’s a bigger story here — which is also kind of heartbreaking, as well, because he needs help right now, and he’s not really in a position to get it. It’s tough.

Do you think Kevin has been aware of the parallels between his addiction and his father’s?
The injury happened, and I think there was a moment where he didn’t want to take the medication for fear that he would go down that path. I don’t think he just took it and thought, “Well, whatever.” I think he is aware of the gene in the family, that they’re all addicts, more than anyone else. He sees what Kate goes through and what his dad went through, and he’s aware that he has that in him. And so, when he finally chooses to take the medication, I think it was just because the pain was legitimately too much, and he didn’t want to fail at anything, and he was going to go to whatever lengths to succeed at this one thing and that it would be fine [because] he only needed it for a second. But of course that’s not how that stuff works. And I think once he was in that state of being high and drunk and depressed and alone, he just kept shoveling crap on top of himself. He was the one inflicting pain on himself, and he’s not capable of dealing with it. And once he was in that state of f–ked up, I don’t think much was going through his head about drawing the parallels, it was just, “How can I feel sorry for myself and inflict as much pain because I deserve it?” It was just a self-loathing, awful place.

That being said, he didn’t spiral down a completely dark rabbit hole of partying with teenagers. 
Well, he’s not a criminal! He’s got morals, he’s not a bad person.

But sometimes when you’re that messed up, you’re not thinking clearly and you do reprehensible things.
Yeah, and one of the things that happens with Kevin is that I think he’s aware of the fact that he doesn’t really want to bring anyone else down there with him. That’s a kid — she’s probably 18 in the show, but that’s a child, and he’s 37 years old. And also, he’s not in a position where he’s trying to have company. The whole Charlotte thing happened, in my mind, because he’s smart enough to realize that she’s a doctor and has access to something that he needs. I think that was a calculated move on his part.

Kevin didn’t fully break down and ask for help until he realized he lost his father’s necklace. So do you feel like he won’t be able to truly fix the other things in his life until he finally deals with his father’s death?
I think so. It’s not only his father’s death, it’s how he died and the whole Miguel thing and the rift that he had with his mom. It’s all of that combined. I think it’s all together. I think the knee will heal on its own, and I think he can kick this drug habit that he has for a while, but at the root of it, eventually he’s going to have to go down that path and deal with his father’s death  or otherwise it’s a slippery slope and like a record that just keeps repeating. He had to deal with the fact that that necklace and whatever it symbolized to him meant so much to him. It was the last physical object he had of his father, and he never got any closure of his relationship with his father. And you start to see what he was going through with his father when he died — and they weren’t in a good place. He carries that around with him, and I think that necklace that he wore was the promise of a better day.

How will the show shed more light on how Jack died in the next few episodes?
We’ve seen it with Kate, we’ve seen her kind of admit that she feels responsible for her father’s death, and I think what you see as the show goes on is they all have that guilt that they carry. You can blame yourself for anything — you can blame yourself for things that might not be your fault. And I think everybody involved carries a lot of guilt, especially for Kevin because as you see in [this] episode, in that moment in time, he was not nice to [Jack]; he was a little prick. But at the same time, I see both sides of the story. He was embarrassed. His father told him certain things, and he sees his father in a certain way and thinks, “This guy doesn’t make mistakes, and I’m going to be just like him,” and that’s not at all what it was. He’s got some anger and resentment toward his father, and he’s at that age where all of your anger and resentment comes to the surface anyway. It’s kind of a perfect storm.

Were you operating under the assumption that the necklace came from Jack’s brother and that Kevin even knows his father has a brother?
It’s difficult because this show is constantly changing. When you think you know something, something else will happen, and you’re like “OK,” and that’s the nature of the show. I choose to operate under the assumption that yeah, I do know, but I also know he doesn’t talk about it. But I could be totally wrong, by the way. I could find out that Kevin doesn’t know. What we do know, what he says, is that he was given it at a time when he was lost and had no direction and felt like he had no purpose. So, that story will be told.

BTW, a NEW episode continuing season 2 is TONIGHT  Enjoy!

Special Thanks to Variety -- http://variety.com/2017/tv/features/this-is-us-justin-hartley-season-2-interview-addiction-jacks-death-1202614001/

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lawsuits against Opiate Manufacturers are Cranking Up: Anyone Remember the Cases Against Big Tobacco?

This year, multiple lawsuits have been launched against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Since the national opioid crisis now has resulted in more than 300,000 deadly opioid overdoses since 1999 (greater than the population of Cincinnati), there’s a push to hold accountable the people and companies behind the products that spawned the epidemic.

Please contact Judd Bean Law if you either a) need personal help with Florida's Marchman Act or b) want to help a loved one struggling with their addiction/substance use disorder by filing a Marchman Act petition against them to involuntary substance abuse detox and treatment.

Be blessed,

Monday, August 7, 2017

NO One is Immune from America's Substance Use Disorder Crisis, Not Even Those Enforcing Drug and Alcohol Laws

Here, heroin spares no one, not even the sheriff's wife

Story by Poppy Harlow 
Article by Zach Wasser, CNN
Video by Jeff Simon, Haley Draznin and Zach Wasser, CNN

Updated 3:36 AM ET, Mon August 7, 2017

Robert Leahy was sitting on his couch, watching TV, when his wife,Gretchen, walked through the front door.

It was about 10 p.m. She'd left for the grocery store hours earlier. Now, she "bumbled" about the room, Leahy says, incoherent and vacant. He'd seen her like this before.

"What the f**k are you doing?" he asked. "You're high."

After the initial shock wore off, Leahy was angry and embarrassed. He worried about his reputation and what his colleagues at the Clermont County Sheriff's Office would think. He'd been a law enforcement officer for more than a decade, and now he was married to a heroin addict.

He needed to save himself and their young son. He had done all he could to save her.

Just weeks earlier, Gretchen had returned home to Madeira, Ohio, from Crossroads Centre Antigua, an addiction treatment facility founded by musician Eric Clapton. It was one of a handful of times she'd received treatment for opiate addiction in the past five years. Leahy says he spent more than $16,000 -- nearly all of their life savings -- to cover the cost.

And now she was high again.

On September 7, 2005, Leahy filed for divorce and a temporary restraining order. At the time, the US opioid epidemic was in its early stages. Abuse of prescription painkillers was a growing, if hidden, problem, and heroin addiction had yet to ravage rural and suburban America. That would soon change. Nearly 15,000 Americans -- 500 from Ohio alone -- died of an opioid overdose in 2005. In 2015, those numbers soared to 33,000 and 2,700 deaths, respectively.

At first, Leahy could not understand why his wife had let herself become an addict, why she had made that choice. But as he watched her struggle for years to stay clean, his knowledge of addiction matured. He began to see it as a disease in need of treatment and compassion.

More than a decade later, as Ohio grapples with one of the deadliest drug epidemics in American history, the state's criminal justice system has undergone a similar transformation. Local officers and judges know that they can no longer treat all addicts like criminals. To stop an epidemic, they have to think like medical professionals.

'This is a mass fatality crisis'

On July 31, the White House's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released an interim report asking President Donald Trump to declare the opioid epidemic a national health emergency.

Ohio has been one of the states hit hardest by the crisis. Last year, 86% of overdose deaths in the state involved an opioid. In Montgomery County, the situation is particularly dire. Local officials say that more than 800 people will probably die from an opiate overdose there this year, more than double last year's record of 349 opioid deaths.

Law enforcement officials say the county's location has made it an ideal distribution hub for Mexican drug cartels. Interstates 70 and 75, two major arteries that crisscross the nation, intersect in the northeast corner of the region. Officials say the cartels ship their product directly to Dayton, less than a 10-minute drive from the intersection. Then, local dealers hop onto one of the "heroin highways" and circulate opioids throughout the country.

Most nights, the freezer in Montgomery County's morgue is stacked floor-to-ceiling with bodies. Dr. Kent Harshbarger, the coroner whose office services more than 30 counties, estimates that 60% to 70% of these corpses are the result of an opioid overdose.

"What's most challenging is seeing the same story repeated over and over again," he said. "It seems, from my perspective, inevitable."

Since last year, to deal with the surge in overdose deaths, Harshbarger has hired six part-time coroners, two autopsy technicians and three field investigators. He also extended some of the staff's workday by three hours so they had time to perform more autopsies and remodeled the morgue freezer to fit more bodies.

Several times in 2015 and 2016, the office was overwhelmed, and he had to house some of the corpses in mobile morgues -- trucks with refrigerated trailers. The state purchased the trucks in the mid-2000s with a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. They were intended to be used in the field to store bodies after a mass-casualty event like a plane crash or a terrorist attack. Harshbarger says the current crisis is not so different.

"Staff is overwhelmed," he said. "This is a mass fatality crisis."

What started as a heroin epidemic quickly turned even deadlier. Experts say the spike in overdose deaths in Montgomery, and in many places across the country, is largely due to heroin's opiate cousins: fentanyl and its more potent analogues like carfentanil. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin. Carfentanil, originally designed as a large-animal tranquilizer, is 5,000 times more potent than heroin.

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer says that when addicts think they're purchasing heroin, they're more likely buying one of these synthetic opioids.

"We need to quit calling it a heroin epidemic; this is fentanyl." he said. "It's really not a heroin issue anymore."

The numbers back him up. In 2016, 251 of the 349 opioid-related overdose deaths in the county involved only fentanyl or carfentanil, with no heroin present, and an additional 34 involved heroin laced with fentanyl.

To stem the tide of overdose deaths, the sheriff's office is spearheading a new program called Get Recovery Options Working, or GROW. As part of the initiative, a sheriff's deputy, a social worker, a medic and a member of the clergy visit a home where an overdose occurred within the past week. Together, they provide literature about Cornerstone Project, a local drug treatment facility, and talk to family members about how to best help their loved one, and if the individual is willing, the deputy will drive him or her to treatment that day.

"We just stop and tell them, 'We love you and we care for you, we want to seek help for you,'" Sheriff Plummer said. "And we're having tremendous success with that."

Since the program started on January 1, GROW has reached out to 162 people who have overdosed, 57 of whom have entered treatment at Cornerstone Project, Plummer says. More than half of those who entered Cornerstone because of the initiative are still in treatment, says Cornerstone Project Community Outreach Manager Wendie Jackson.

'A stopgap'

By 2014, Leahy had climbed the ranks to chief deputy in the Clermont County Sheriff's Office. That year, drug overdose deaths were also steadily climbing in the county, from 56 in 2013 to 68 by year's end. It was the sixth year in a row the number of overdose deaths had risen.

Leahy recognized the trend and had an idea. He'd heard about law enforcement agencies in other parts of the country equipping their officers with a drug called naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan. Administered as a nasal spray, the drug could reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and was easy to use. Leahy lobbied Sheriff A.J. "Tim" Rodenberg and volunteered to lead the initiative.

Rodenberg, Leahy says, was receptive but not convinced. He needed more information. The topic would be controversial, he told Leahy. Some in the community would, of course, think it's a good idea, but others would consider it a waste of taxpayer money.

Leahy called other sheriff's offices in the north of the state that were using Narcan and learned about the success they were having in saving lives.

He told Rodenberg what he'd heard and laid out the pros and cons of buying Narcan. Then, Leahy decided to speak from personal experience. He didn't bring up Gretchen by name, but "I think he realized some of the decisions that I made, or the things I pushed along, were related to that."

Leahy and Gretchen still shared custody of their son, but he says she was rarely around. She would stay clean for a few weeks -- periods he calls "flashes of brilliance." Each time, he hoped she'd turned a corner. But really, he was just waiting for her to relapse. If she overdosed, he would want the responding officer to have all the tools available to revive her, so she'd have the chance to fight another day.

"How can you get people into recovery if you can't save their lives?" Leahy asked Rodenberg. Within months, the deputies were equipped with Narcan.

'The challenge is to keep them alive'

In Montgomery County, the average opioid user is a 38-year-old white man, according to data collected by the sheriff's office. But officials say the number of young addicts in the area has increased exponentially over the past five years.

County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi estimates that nearly a quarter of the young defendants in his courtroom are addicted to either opiate painkillers or heroin.

"I have jurisdiction over children until they reach 21," Capizzi said. "The challenge for me right now is to keep them alive that long."

Capizzi presides over the county's Juvenile Treatment Court. The young people in his courtroom have substance abuse issues and often, as a result, lengthy criminal histories. Capizzi puts the vast majority into some kind of treatment program; detention centers are the last resort. Three and a half years ago, Rachel Chaffin walked into Capizzi's courtroom. She was one of the first young defendants addicted to heroin that he'd seen in his 13 years behind the bench in Montgomery.

Chaffin was 15 years old. She had been captain of the JV cheerleading squad in high school and dreamed of one day cheering on the sidelines for the Dallas Cowboys. But growing up, her life was chaotic and unstable. Her family often teetered on the edge of homelessness. In December 2013, Chaffin got pregnant.

"I was 14. I was freaking out," she said. "said. "I ended up having a miscarriage."

A drug dealer in her neighborhood later asked her whether she wanted to be a "tester" for his product and check the quality of the dope. She was scared but took the leap, fueled by a depression that consumed her after her miscarriage.

"Once I started doing it," she said, "I didn't want to stop."

She landed in front of Capizzi after multiple felony and misdemeanor charges. Eventually, the judge removed her from her mother's custody because she continued to use and put her in foster care. For the next three years, she bounced from group home to foster home, sometimes clean, sometimes not. She overdosed, and was revived by Narcan, three times.

Now 18, Chaffin eventually found a good foster home and graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA. She says she's been clean since March, when she relapsed after another miscarriage. She says she struggles every day to stay clean, but when she feels weak, she remembers what a counselor told her during a recent stay in rehab.

"My counselor said, 'I want you to picture your mom coming to the morgue to identify your body,'" she said. "That just broke me. I can't picture putting my mom through so much."

Before there's no hope

In 2013, the Clermont County Sheriff's Office collaborated with local mental health officials to open the Community Alternative Sentencing Center inside the local jail. The voluntary program offers people who have been convicted of a misdemeanor and have a substance abuse issue the opportunity to serve their sentences in a wing of the jail that is separated from the general population. Nearly 40% of the participants at any given time were once addicted to opioids.

The center is operated by Greater Cincinnati Behavior Health Services. The participants -- or "clients," as staff refer to them -- receive group therapy and drug rehabilitation treatment, such as participating in Narcotics Anonymous.

In 2016, the voters of Clermont County elected Leahy sheriff. He says he never had aspirations for the position, but in 2015, Rodenberg told Leahy he was retiring and wanted Leahy to be his successor. Leahy ran unopposed. Now, he was in charge of a program he'd help shepherd for years.

Alternative Sentencing Center clients technically are not inmates, and there are no correctional officers in that wing of the jail. The clients are on probation, and as part of that, they've agreed to complete their treatment. But if a client leaves the program early, he is in violation of his probation.

Leahy says these programs can help people before they're burglarizing homes or robbing people to feed their habit -- before they're burdened with a rap sheet full of felonies. Once a person reaches that point, they often believe there's no hope. Leahy saw Gretchen fall into a similar abyss, and it took her years to claw her way out.

"If you can catch people in the early stages, where their life is starting to go south but it's not totally out of control," he said, "there's a chance for them."

He doesn't want people to mistake his compassion for weakness. Those who commit felonies, he says, deserve to be in jail. But most people with substance abuse issues are better served in treatment, he says.

So far, the program has helped men exclusively, but in the fall, Leahy and GCBHS will open a women's version in another wing of the jail. The Clermont jail now houses between 90 and 100 female inmates, nearly double the number a decade ago, Leahy says. Virtually the entire increase in population, he says, can be attributed to the crisis. Opioid overdoses have increased 2000% in Clermont County since 2007.

Both the Narcan and Alternative Sentencing Center programs seem to be paying off. Overdose deaths in Clermont County decreased from 94 in 2015 to 83 in 2016.

"Is it too early to tell? Well, I think by the end of 2017, if we can get two or three years in a row with those numbers trending down," Leahy said, "I think people will realize and say, 'I think somebody's doing something that's working.' "

Leahy says he speaks with Gretchen only occasionally now. There's no ill will, but since their son has grown, there's also no need. Gretchen says she's been sober for three years, and Leahy gives her the benefit of the doubt. Not that he would ever ask. She doesn't owe him any explanation, he says.

In some ways, he has a more clear-eyed view of her disease than even she does. Gretchen is still wracked with guilt from the years lost with their son and for driving her husband away.

"I think that was half of my issue. Every time I would get clean, I couldn't let go of that guilt, shame," she said. "And I still struggle with that to this day."

But Leahy sees it differently. He says that the programs weren't in place to save her, that law enforcement didn't understand what they were dealing with yet. He's learned that the addiction chose her, not the other way around.

"There is no rhyme or reason," he says. "This is one of those deals, it's kind of like fighting cancer. Your first heaviest, hardest hit is going to give you the best opportunity."

Source:  http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/06/health/ohio-heroin-opioid-crisis-morgue-full/#|gigyaMobileDialog

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mental Health Courts: Does Treatment Make a Difference?

Marvin S. Swartz and Allison G. Robertson
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina

Psychiatric Services

Vol. 67: Issue. 4: Pages. 363-363
(Issue publication date: April 2016)

DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.670403

Mental health courts (MHCs), a variant of problem-solving courts, have continued to proliferate, surprisingly without robust evidence of their effectiveness or for their mechanism of action. Broadly, the theory of action is that the court uses its moral authority to leverage privileged access to mental health and substance abuse services, enforce treatment adherence, and tightly monitor and sanction criminogenic behavior. Evidence is accumulating that clients under such a regime have fewer rearrests, but more elusive is the evidence that the behavioral health treatment itself makes a difference—that clients are less symptomatic, function better, and stay out of the trouble that is often attributed to their behavioral health conditions. As a result of these null findings of a treatment effect, some have suggested that behavioral health treatment and improved functioning may play a minimal role in the benefits seen among MHC participants and, rather, that informal counseling by court personnel and community corrections personnel may be the primary mechanism of action.

In this issue, an article by Han and Redlich from the multisite, MacArthur MHC Project provides new evidence that treatment may make a difference. Until now, study investigators reported reduced rearrests at the four MHC sites but, vexingly, no detectable treatment effect. In this new study, arrestees in the MHC and treatment-as-usual groups self-reported the types of behavioral health services they received six months before and after MHC initiation. Both groups received increased behavioral health services in the six months after arrest, but that had no effect on rearrests in the treatment-as-usual group. In the MHC group, rearrests were reduced apparently as a result of increased service use, compared with the prearrest period, combined with improved medication compliance. This finding suggests that the court enhanced the benefit of treatment in reducing rearrest at least partially via enhanced medication compliance. Such a mechanism has been reported in studies of involuntary outpatient commitment, another form of mandated treatment, in which court involvement has been found to yield benefits in reducing hospital recidivism. In those studies, persons with severe mental illness under court order were, like MHC participants, more treatment adherent and reported receiving reminders about adherence from multiple sources: the court, case managers, and their families. Studies of involuntary outpatient commitment have also reported that one of its greatest benefits is the linkage to more intensive services. Indeed, the New York State assisted outpatient treatment program has recognized this and stipulates that all participants receive either assertive community treatment or intensive case management, at a minimum. As a result, the court order not only enhances treatment adherence but also leverages the provision of more intensive treatment.

Han and Redlich’s analysis also offers insights into the extent to which MHCs leverage privileged access to behavioral health services for participants with complex comorbid conditions. Here the findings, if generalizable, are very sobering. Participants at the four MHC sites may have received slightly more behavioral health services than the treatment-as-usual group—but vanishingly little more in absolute terms. In the six months postarrest, the MHC group received an average of 1.08 individual mental health counseling sessions, .68 sessions of group therapy, 1.28 medication management services, and nearly imperceptible amounts of substance abuse services—in a population with a prevalence rate of comorbid substance use disorders of roughly 75%. Despite evidence that cognitive-behavioral therapies can reduce criminogenic behavior, few of the MHC participants could have been receiving such treatment. In some ways this is not surprising because MHCs typically do not have funds to purchase treatment and must compete with other priority populations for scant public treatment resources. Most MHC clients are indigent as well. One MHC judge reported, with some irony, that MHC treatment plans for her clients had to be preauthorized by the county’s managed behavioral health care vendor. In such a scenario, criminal justice involvement may not make a compelling case for behavioral health services under standard utilization review criteria.

Advocates for MHCs and other diversion programs speak emphatically about the need to access evidence-based treatment for justice-involved clients. The good news is that better access to behavioral health services under court supervision can make a difference. The sobering news is that access to reasonably adequate treatment is a long way away. Now that MHCs have been firmly established in the growing list of interventions for persons with severe mental illness with criminal justice involvement, the focus needs to turn to how MHCs can effectively leverage evidence-based treatment for this important population.

View .PDF:  http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.1176/appi.ps.670403

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

From Historic Florida Hotel to a State-of-the-Art Drug and Alcohol Rehab Center

       It's been over two years since the Red Rose Inn & Suites first closed its doors when its owners fell to bankruptcy. Now it will open once again — but not as the ornately-decorated motel Evelyn and Batista Madonia had once operated.  It will be a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, with a soft opening as early as May or June. 
       At a Nov. 9 meeting, the City Commission unanimously approved the rezoning of the eastern half of the 270-room inn. The rezoning allows it to be used as an 80-room rehabilitation center, operated by Florida Rehabilitation and Recovery Services.
       According to Bob Gannon, Florida Rehabilitation’s in-house consultant, the company was in the final stages of purchasing the Red Rose in December. Because the sale has not been finalized, Gannon would not reveal how much the Red Rose is going for.
       There are many reminders of the building’s elegant past.  The spacious rooms hold much of the inn’s stylish furniture, and the sign for the former hotel can be seen by motorists on Interstate 4.  Residents, with memories of ballroom dances and glitzy fundraisers, have expressed concern about the Red Rose’s future as a drug and rehab center — especially with it just blocks away from a school and daycare. 
       But the long-held idea that the Red Rose could retain its former glory was put to rest at the November Commission meeting by Russell Ottenberg, a principal planner of Planeng Inc., the company designing the center: “The Red Rose, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists.” 

       Two years ago, Florida Rehabilitation and Recovery Services opened White Sands, a similar treatment center as the one planned for the Red Rose, based in Ft. Myers. The facility has offices in Pompano Beach and Ft. Lauderdale.
       “We worked hard to be good citizens and to establish a really meaningful program,” Gannon says. “I still speak on a daily basis with a number of clients who went through the program successfully.”
       The center is not Gannon’s first venture in the business world. The Boca Raton resident has owned businesses in the past, including Gannon Family Company LLC and Efficient Realty & Development LLC.
       In January 2008, Gannon, along with Vincent F. Artuso, John Vincent Artuso, Greogry Orr, Philip Edward Forigone and William Larry Horton were charged with fraud, including mail fraud, wire fraud and laundering of monetary instruments.
        “It was an unfortunate situation,” Gannon says. “At the end of the day, we were found to be totally innocent.”
       In October 2008, the Artusos, Orr and Forigone were convicted of RICO conspiracy. The month prior, Gannon was acquitted.
       The City of Plant City was unaware of Gannon’s prior charges. Unless a resident or potential business owner is trying to open a gun or explosives shop within city limits, extensive background checks are not required.
       “It’s not a checklist requirement,” City Manager Mike Herr says. “We’ll Google prospective clients.”
       Gannon’s latest endeavor has seen success with White Sands. The treatment center is accredited by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Better Business Bureau and The Florida Certification Board.
       With one treatment center well-established in the Sunshine State, Florida Rehabilitation and Recovery Services set its sights on Plant City. “From our previous experience, we liked the amenities and features (of the Red Rose),” Gannon says. “We looked at the area itself. There’s really no programs available in this particular region.” 

       While the traditional-sized rooms in the eastern half of the facility will be rooms for clients, Gannon has plans to convert the Red Rose’s larger suites. Many of those rooms will be offices for nurses and physicians, as well as group therapy rooms.
       While Florida Rehabilitation and Recovery Services was able to think of multiple uses for the Red Rose’s numerous rooms, deciding what to do with the inn’s interior furnishings was not as simple.
       “We ... looked at that and kind of scratched our heads,” Gannon says. “No expense was spared on some of these suites. It’s not appropriate for us. It’s one of the unknowns at this point.”
       Although the former inn’s furnishings — canopy beds, upholstered lounges, marble coffee tables — are high quality, Gannon says they will be removed. Though it remains uncertain exactly what will be done with them, Gannon says that he has been approached by professional organizations that buy such furniture.  It’s also possible that the furniture will be auctioned off.
       As the facility begins to prepare for its new use, a few plans have had to be put aside. Florida Rehabilitation and Recovery Services was willing to rent out the grander rooms, such as the Red Rose’s former ballroom, to civic organizations for fundraisers and socials. But Hillsboro Avenue, which would be the access point to the ballroom, is narrow and needs work before being able to accommodate heavy traffic. For now, Gannon says, no extensive work will be done on the road.
       “We basically would have to re-do the road,” Gannon says. “That’s a tremendous expense. (We’re) not accessing the facility from Hillsboro.”
       Gannon adds that the Red Rose’s sign most likely will not be used for the facility.  It is possible that the sign will be used by the city as a welcome sign that can be seen from the interstate.
       “We really feel very strongly that this is going to be a successful venture for us and Plant City as well,” Gannon says. “We think this is going to come together.”

  • EMPLOYEES: Estimated 150-plus jobs generated. Available positions will include psychologists, nurses, behavioral help technicians, maintenance, and IT staff. 
  • CLIENTS: The facility could reach full capacity of 150 clients in two to three years. They will be at the facility on a voluntary basis and housed in 80 rooms on the eastern portion. 
  • VISITORS: Rooms in the western half of the facility will be used for visiting family members. Members can stay two to three days at a time.
  • PROGRAM: The 30-day program has two parts: 1) treating the addiction through detox and removing toxins from the body, and then 2) reprograming the brain to stay away from to drugs and alcohol. Clients will be monitored 24 hours a day and will be busy from roughly 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • The 110-foot tall sign, right, will likely be used as a welcome sign for Plant City and not as an advertisement for the facility. 
  • The Red Rose’s pool will be retained.
  • A volleyball court will be added.
  • Gym equipment will be upgraded. 
  • The fine furnishings of the Red Rose will likely be sold or auctioned.
Plant City Observer Contact:  Emily Topper at etopper@plantcityobserver.com.

China’s Ban on Chemicals Led to Drop in Some Synthetic Drugs in U.S.

The Chinese government’s ban on certain chemicals has led to a decrease in the synthetic drug flakka in Florida, according to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials. China banned 115 chemicals in October.

Synthetic cannabinoids, also known as K2 or spice, have also decreased substantially in the U.S., CNN reports.

DEA officials recently met with their Chinese counterparts to talk about working together to stop Chinese chemists from manufacturing and selling synthetic drugs in the United States.

Lt. Ozzy Tianga, Sheriff of Broward County, Florida, noted, “Overall, [synthetics have] significantly dropped since the ban — at the epicenter here in South Florida. But by no way are we out of the woods. There will be more molecular changes to substances that will be introduced to society.”

Friday, February 5, 2016

HHS Proposes Changes to the Rules Governing the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Records

Proposed changes would facilitate health information exchange to support delivery system reform efforts while protecting the privacy of patients seeking treatment for a substance use disorder. - See more at: 

HHS Proposes Changes to the Rules Governing the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Records