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Federal Policy & Massachusetts Ballot Question 3 Could Negatively Affect the At-Risk LGBTQI+ Community

The LGBTQI+ community encounters many stigmas every day that the heterosexual community does not. Harassment, discrimination, violence, and other stressors have a profound effect on the health and wellness of LGBTQI+ individuals. As a result, they tend to have higher rates of substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health issues. For this reason it’s important we examine two policy initiatives that will increase the risk of developing SUDs and mental illness in the LGBTQI+ community: a national memorandum on the classification of a person’s sex, and Massachusetts ballot question 3.

Recently the New York Times reported on a memo by the federal Department of Health and Human Services which stated a proposal to define a person’s gender as either male or female “based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth… The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

This system of labeling based on anatomy is flawed and dangerous. Not only does it go against widespread medical understanding of biology and gender identity, failing to take into account people born with sexual anatomy variations, it marks civil rights breach for a population who, under the Obama administration, enjoyed recognition in public spaces like schools or hospitals. Indeed, part of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) protects trans people from discrimination by health programs or organizations that receive federal funding.

Which brings us to Massachusetts.

On November’s ballot, the residents will vote on three ballot questions. Question 3 considers the 2016 state law granting LGBTQI+ individuals the right to use public restrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity, not, as the Trump administration is now attempting, on their anatomy. A yes vote would keep the law in place, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. A no vote would repeal it.

Fears have been stoked by messaging surrounding question 3. Those in support of no vote cite the possibility of someone using the law as a means of gaining entry into bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex for malicious purposes. But the Association for Behavioral Healthcare (ABH) came out in support of a yes vote on question 3, saying there’s no statistical data to support this baseless reasoning.

“The reality is that there is no credible evidence that there is any threat to public safety by protecting transgender persons from discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort, or amusement,” said the ABH. “ABH urges our members to reject bigotry and discrimination by voting Yes on 3.”

Related: Transgender Governor Candidate Helps Focus Attention on LGBTQI+ Substance Use & Mental Health

Both policies, federal and state, have major implications for the LGBTQI+ population. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), stigma and fear of discrimination can lead to depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, SUDs, and thoughts of suicide; LGBTQI+ are nearly 3-times more likely to experience a mental illness.

To cope, many turn to substances and ultimately develop a disorder. Between 20% and 30% of LGBTQI+ people misuse substances, compared to approximately 9% of the general population.

El Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that sexual minorities—the LGBTQI+ population—are “more likely to use illicit drugs in the past year, to be current cigarette smokers, and to be current alcohol drinkers compared with their sexual majority counterparts… more likely than sexual majority adults to have substance use disorders in the past year, including disorders related to their use of alcohol, illicit drugs, marijuana, or misuse of pain relievers… more likely than their sexual majority counterparts to need substance use treatment.”

SUDs and mental health issues are so rampant in this community that the American Psychological Association developed guidelines to specifically assist “transgender and gender nonconforming” people with treatment services.

It’s important for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, to understand the consequences of the Department of Health and Human Services’ policy attempts, and the misrepresentations of question 3 on the Massachusetts ballot. Concerns of the opposition are incited by fear and a lack of understanding. If we as a society truly want to combat the opioid crisis, overall substance use, and mental health stigmas, we need to fully acknowledge that the LGBTQI+ community is severely at risk and in need of support.

The Gándara Center fully recognizes the rights and needs of the LGBTQI+ community. Our youth residential programs have the capacity to, and are operated by staff trained to, engage and support this population.

We are dedicated to fighting stigma and supporting the LGBTQI+ population mentally, physically, and emotionally. We hope you are too.

Featured image via Creative Commons/ Ted Eytan (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Por |octubre 30, 2018|Eventos, Noticias, Política|Comentarios desactivados on Federal Policy & Massachusetts Ballot Question 3 Could Negatively Affect the At-Risk LGBTQI+ Community

What Is Narcan, How Do I Use It, and Where Can I Get It?

There are indicators that the opioid crisis in Massachusetts is beginning to wane. El latest available data from the Mass. Department of Public Health shows that after reaching a peak of 2,154 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016, the state had 2,069 in 2017. By no means does this mean the Commonwealth has solved one of the most pressing issues of our time. But it does mean that some methods to combat the crisis may be taking hold. Public education and community awareness around opioids are critical to saving lives. Just as important is the proper knowledge and use of Narcan. What is Narcan? Naloxone. You may have seen it in the news:  Naloxone, is commonly referred to as its brand-name Narcan, is an antidote that reverses the symptoms of overdose. It has been credited with saving countless lives.

We at the Gándara Center are committed to ensuring everyone has access to, and knows how to administer, naloxone. There are no restrictions on how to get your hands on some; it’s as easy as walking into pharmacy and simply asking. We firmly believe naloxone should be in every home and every business, as universal as keeping and maintaining a fire extinguisher.

Let’s begin by getting down to the basics.

What is Naloxone (aka Narcan)?

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. The compounds of the drug block the opioid from working. An opioid-related overdose will cause the victim’s breathing to slow down or stop. Once administered, naloxone reverses that process. Keep in mind, it’s not effective in treating overdoses of benzodiazepines, barbiturates, clonidine, GHB, or ketamine.

How Do I Use Naloxone?

There are multiple ways to administer naloxone. It can be ingested intramuscularly (a shot in a muscle), intravenously (a drip in a vein), and intranasally (a spray in the nose).  Nasal sprays are the preferred method since they’re easier to carry and quicker to use—intramuscular and intravenous methods require users to fill the proper dosage and find the correct place to inject. Nasal sprays remove those extra steps and allow people to respond quickly to overdose victims in a time-sensitive situation.

Related: Gándara Center Partners with Tapestry to Provide Community Narcan Trainings

Is Naloxone Dangerous?

One of the beauties of naloxone is it’s free of side effects and is perfectly safe to have around. If someone not exhibiting overdose symptoms ingested naloxone, nothing would happen. For people who do exhibit overdose symptoms, naloxone is still safe. You can’t take too much of it and you can’t abuse it. In fact, the victim may require more than one dose if he or she is unresponsive. Fentanyl, for example, is a substance estimated to be between 25–50 times stronger than heroin, and 50–100 times stronger than morphine. As such, if someone is overdosing on a drug potent as fentanyl, multiple doses of naloxone may be required.

Where Can I Get Naloxone?

In Massachusetts, anyone with health insurance or MassHealth can obtain naloxone from your preferred pharmacy. Be sure to check with your provider about co-pays, as these will vary from plan to plan, and bring your insurance card with you.

Want to Learn More?

We’re partnering up with Tapestry Health to bring offer community Narcan training sessions throughout the Pioneer Valley, including two Spanish-speaking trainings in Holyoke and Springfield. Here, you will learn how to properly inject naloxone, how to conduct rescue breathing on overdose victims to maintain respiratory stability, and everyone will take home a dose of Narcan to carry on them at all times if desired.

We hope to see you there:

trainings narcan

Featured image via Image via James Heilman, MD (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Por |octubre 18, 2018|Eventos, Noticias, Ciencia|Comentarios desactivados on What Is Narcan, How Do I Use It, and Where Can I Get It?

4 Tips for Enjoying Halloween Sober [Infographic]

Halloween can be a difficult time for individuals in, or seeking, recovery from substance use. Regardless of which night it falls on, Halloween is often viewed as excuse for people to party and engage in mischief making. For people who want to enjoy an evening of scary fun, this makes it extremely difficult to abstain from those kind of antics. As avid lovers of this ghoulish holiday, we want to make sure you can enjoy it to the utmost. There doesn’t have to be temptation, and you don’t have to white-knuckle your way through the night. We want to support you and your recovery journey. Here are 4 tips for enjoying Halloween sober.

 

sober-halloween-infographic

Por |octubre 29, 2018|Eventos|Comentarios desactivados on 4 Tips for Enjoying Halloween Sober [Infographic]

Regarding a Local News Story on Child Exploitation [Statement]

“We are disappointed that the focus of a local news story shifted so drastically to the misconception that the MGM casino is a hub for child exploitation. Our clinicians were using the casino as one example of potential opportunity to exploit young people. Our aim is to create awareness around an issue that is happening to young people through social media and other online networks much more prominently than in the entertainment settings. We do not consider the situations our experts encounter to be slavery, in fact circumstances are often subtle and manipulative, making it more difficult to identify. We are committed to working with local law enforcement and government agencies to identify warning signs and treat the young victims of commercial sexual exploitation.”

Por |octubre 04, 2018|Gándara en las noticias|Comentarios desactivados on Regarding a Local News Story on Child Exploitation [Statement]

4 Reasons to Start Your Career with Gándara [We’re Hiring!]

The Gándara Center is growing. Fast. In response to the opioid crisis and the increased need for substance use and mental health treatments, our facilities are staffing up. Everyone has been touched in some way by the crisis, so we’re boosting all our efforts to improve the health and safety of our community members and loved ones. Can you empathize and organize? Are you willing to make a lasting positive impact? Can you engage and connect with administrators and community leaders alike? We’re hiring a part-time Marketing and Development Assistant.

If you’re looking for a nonprofit job in addiction and mental health treatment, look no further. Gándara is looking to fill a flexible, part-time position that will have a hand in almost every aspect of our services. We have over 800 employees in facilities across Massachusetts, and with your help we’ll be able to serve every single one of their clients, while, on the administrative end, we’ll be able to connect with foundations, government, and the community at large.

Here are 4 reasons to start your career with Gándara:

1. You’ll Tell Meaningful Stories

The clients we serve all have powerful testimonials about their history with substances use disorder, mental health disorder, and their own pathways to recovery. These people and their stories often inspire others to seek treatment as well. In this position you will play an important role in conveying these stories over social media platforms, email newsletters, blog posts, and in the community. Using communications best practices and marketing analytics, you’ll help us determine the best ways to get our clients’ messages out to those who need them the most.

2. You’ll Help Plan and Participate in Community Events

Gándara prides itself on not only serving the community, but being an active part of it. You’ll actively participate in our pillar events—such as our annual Frozen Yogurt 5K fundraiser, ArtSong reception to provide artistic outlets for youths, and Holyoke Recovery Day to celebrate the recovery efforts of our clients and individuals seeking treatment. We’ll give you responsibilities for helping plan and execute the logistics that make these events possible, and rely on your creative input to help us put together events in response incidents taking place in the moment, like our campaign to support the Puerto Rican community affected by Hurricane Maria.

3. You’ll Have Flexibility

This is an entry-level, part-time position. That means our organization is committed to providing the right candidate an opportunity to expand their resume, take on leadership roles, learn to be proactive instead of reactive, and gain an understanding of how nonprofits operate. We also realize that you may have another job. Or that you may be pursuing an education. Or that you have family obligations. We understand that life is busy and you may be juggling a number of priorities. This position is designed to accommodate your life outside the workplace without sacrificing the chance to gain professional experience. This job is intended to support our substance use and mental health programs, our outreach efforts, and your potential to grow with us.

4. You’ll Give Back to Under-served Populations

Statistically, in terms of occupation, income level, and ethnicity, the Latinx and African-American communities are at a higher risk of developing substance use disorders. We work directly with, and directly on behalf of, these populations and everyone else seeking treatment. As the marketing and development assistant, your work planning events, drafting communication, engaging on social media, and joining communities will make an immediate and direct impression on the people who need it most.

We look forward to evaluating candidates for this job and welcoming someone to our growing team. Learn more about the job description and submit your application today.

—-

The Gándara Center provides residential, mental health, substance abuse and preventive services for children, adults and families across the Pioneer Valley and eastern parts of Massachusetts. Founded in the Latinx community, we value cultural diversity and strive to provide culturally competent, innovative services to a diverse community.

The Mission of the Gándara Center is to promote the well-being of Latinxs, African-Americans and other culturally diverse populations, through innovative, culturally competent behavioral health, prevention and educational services.

Por |octubre 02, 2018|Eventos, Gándara en las noticias, Noticias|Comentarios desactivados on 4 Reasons to Start Your Career with Gándara [We’re Hiring!]

Sights and Stories From the Recovery Day Rally Celebration in Boston

The energy was electrifying.

Cheers roared through the building as speaker after speaker approached the podium, introduced themselves, their stories, their addictions, and their recovery efforts, and connected with a crowd that overflowed out into the summer heat. Enthusiastic shouts of encouragement echoed throughout the outdoor marketplace. Even among strangers, you could feel the strong sense of community. It was palpable.

Faneuil Hall in Boston added another memorable celebration to its long history of significant events. On martes, septiembre 17, the Recovery Day March and Celebration took place. Organized by the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR), the event brought together numerous individuals who have been touched in some way by substance use disorders, as well as the organizations who have helped these people on their pathways to recovery. The Gándara Center was well represented by groups from Hope for Holyoke and Stairway to Recovery.

Things kicked off at Boston City Hall at 9 a.m. People assembled. Father Joe White, himself in long term recovery, led everyone in a prayer.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey swung by. She mentioned as chief lawyer for the state, it’s her responsibility to sue people, not the least of which includes Purdue Pharma. Healey is suing the pharmaceutical company for allegedly misleading the public on the powerful side effects and addictive nature of OxyContin, a prescription medication that’s fueled the opioid crisis.

“Thank you,” Healey told attendees. “Thank you for your courage, and coming forward, and sharing your stories with the world.”

Healey had to leave to meet with Chris Herren, the community activist, motivational speaker, and former Boston Celtic from Fall River who’s in recovery. But before she left, she helped hype the crowd.

It wasn’t long until City Hall Plaza erupted with: “Join the voices for recovery! This is what recovery looks like! We do recover! Recovery is possible! When I shine, you shine, we all shine together!”

The march then wove through Court and Congress streets, chanting in unison, before entering Faneuil Hall. The building quickly reached capacity.

Maryanne Frangules, executive director of MOAR, and Marylou Sudders, secretary of Health and Human Services, helped keep the intensity up. Frangules, in recovery since 1981, rattled off the names of all the organizations present. Sudders, who lost her mother from complications due to addiction and mental illness, similarly touted everyone county by county. The tone of the speakers never faltered.

Once Frangules and Sudders vacated the stage, state lawmakers explained the importance of recent legislation that passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously. They then brought up representatives from the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS) who also serve as recovery coaches.

A woman named Julia has been in recovery since septiembre 4, 2017. Julia’s addiction took hold when she was prescribed medication for a spinal infection. Like many others who joined her, she found reprieve in her recovery coach who helped find her housing and meals, supported her clean living, and inspired her to do the same. She intends to become a recovery coach in her own right, and impart her wisdom and life experiences on those who need it.

“I find it not necessary to use drugs and alcohol ever again,” she said to overwhelming. “I live life on life’s terms.”

Shedding light on a population not outwardly associated with substance use and mental health disorders, a group of deaf recovery coaches likewise received a resounding ovation. Massachusetts is a national leader when it comes to providing substance use treatment to the deaf and hard of hearing community; in fact, Massachusetts is the first state to develop deaf recovery coach trainings. To date, over 20 deaf recovery coaches have been trained across the Commonwealth.

A coach named Katie has been in recovery since 2001. She sees coaching not only as a way to connect with an individuals in need, but as a way to advocate in communities and across regions. That she, Julia, and their peers have gone through the many similar challenges facing their clients today is an invaluable asset to their work. Many were, and some are, without transportation, jobs, homes, and the comforts of family. “We have the ability to give a voice to the voiceless,” she said. “The lived experience speaks volumes.”

You are the Face of Recovery

“I’m Marty and I’m an alcoholic.”

The speaking part of the program was capped by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Walsh is an alcoholic in recovery and has been a vocal proponent of increased access to treatment services, from improving the city’s treatment infrastructure to connecting with people on an emotional level.

Walsh aims to build a bridge to Long Island in Boston Harbor, which once was home to a residential treatment facility, and he continues to speak directly to his constituents. He mentioned one young lady, with whom he “talked about that sense of not being worthy” which he remembers as a major hurdle to overcome as part of his own journey to recovery. He didn’t see her again after that, thought she disappeared. But on one of the annual recovery day celebrations he mandated as part of his community outreach when he was a state representative, she showed up. She was unrecognizable. She was six-months sober.

He urged people to reach out. Ask how they’re doing. This can make a world of difference. A lot of people ask him about the intersection of Melnea Cass Blvd. and Massachusetts Ave., which has earned the dubious nickname “the methadone mile” because of the dense concentration of substance users who cluster around a nearby methadone clinic.

“Let them know where your life was, where your life is, and where your life is headed,” he suggested. “You are the face of addiction, you are the face of recovery.” After a lunch break, the event broke up into separate agendas. In one area of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, artists held therapeutic workshops. Back on stage, live performances like interpretative dance and spoken word poetry took place. The incredible turnout for the various events is a testament to the strength of those in recovery and the compassion of those willing to lend a helping hand.

Every September, the Gándara Center participates in National Recovery Month, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This longstanding observance is designed to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, celebrate people in recovery, and laud the contributions of treatment and service providers.

Por |septiembre 18, 2018|Eventos, Política|Comentarios desactivados on Sights and Stories From the Recovery Day Rally Celebration in Boston

4 Reasons to Apply for Gándara’s Recruitment Marketing & Sourcing Specialist Job

It’s a good time to find a job in Massachusetts, especially in the nonprofit sector. The state’s unemployment rate sits at an optimistic 3.5%, the lowest since 2000. As a result, local nonprofits are growing and need people to help push their marketing and recruitment efforts. The Gándara Center is experiencing growth of its own. This trend has created a need for individuals who recognize how to implement employer brand strategy, attract and retain new talent, and rally the community at large.

Gándara is the leading provider of substance use and mental health services for Hispanic, African-American, and minorities. If you want to work on behalf of causes that affect people across the state, and ensure a safe and healthy place for you and your neighbors to live, here are 4 reasons you should apply for the Gándara Center’s recruitment marketing and sourcing specialist job:

1. Mesh With the Community

With your help, Gándara will be able to build upon its already strong community ties. We oversee a number of events that engage neighborhoods and raise funds for new services in our locations. Whether we’re hosting a 5K road race, submitting a float for a cultural parade, providing arts and crafts for youths, or rallying at the State House, we’re constantly standing with and for the populations we serve. And we’re always looking for new ways to voice our support and compile helpful resources for those people and places.

2. You’re a People Person, Online and Offline

While yes, the work we do requires some person-to-person interactions, the role of recruitment marketing and sourcing specialist also requires tech savvy and enthusiasm for social media. Your work environment will combine the best of digital and human elements. You’ll sift through resumes, cover letters, and online profiles to recruit people with the right personality and experience to fill various roles. If you love meeting and talking with new people, analyzing data, executing marketing strategy, promoting job listings, and maintaining brand pages, then this may be the right job for you.

3. Advocate for the Underserved

All paths to recovery are welcome. Gándara is willing to help anyone who complies with the rules set by each program, especially people who identify as Hispanic and African-American. You will be on the front line of providing support to these at-risk populations. They—family, friends, neighbors, coworkers—are disproportionately at risk for developing substance use disorders, mental health disorders, or both.

In Massachusetts from 2014–2017, opioid-related deaths among Hispanics more than doubled in Massachusetts, a rate higher than any other demographic. When broken down by occupation, industry, and income, statistically Hispanics and African-Americans proved more susceptible to substance use and mental health disorders.

Our programs need knowledgeable staffers, caregivers, and clinicians to keep up with the demand for assistance. That’s where you come in.

4. Help Us Scale

Massachusetts is in the midst of a nonprofit resurgence. El latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows approximately 17% of employed residents work for nonprofits—well over half a million people. Specifically, locations where Gándara Center has one or more facilities are among the top places in the nation to work for nonprofits.

Most of our programs are conducted in Hampden County, where more than 200,000 residents are employed in nonprofits. The rate of employment, too, is on the rise, as are average weekly wages. In Suffolk County, where nonprofit jobs compose 29% of all employment, Gándara hosts a Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) program in Boston. In Hampshire County, nonprofit jobs make up 25.9% of all employment. Here, Gándara operates a substance use recovery program for men, a sober living facility guided by the National Association of Recovery Residences, and a support home contingent on a six-month commitment to sobriety, located all in Northampton. Also in Hampshire County is our substance use and alcohol treatment recovery program for youths in young women in Ware.

Apply Today

The person who fills this role will have the opportunity to not only build their own professional experience, but to improve the lives of Massachusetts residents who are chronically underserved and under-resourced. If making a positive difference in the lives of others is your primary goal, we urge you to consider working with us.

If you’re interested in applying for the Gándara Center’s recruitment marketing and sourcing specialist position, send us your resume and cover letter today.

Por |septiembre 14, 2018|Noticias|Comentarios desactivados on 4 Reasons to Apply for Gándara’s Recruitment Marketing & Sourcing Specialist Job

Beneficios del juego para la salud: por qué estamos construyendo un patio de juegos en nuestro hogar grupal para niños

Playtime is an opportunity for children to absorb various physical, mental, and emotional benefits. It promotes wellbeing, informs critical thinking, and encourages a level of cognitive function that enables relationship-building, language proficiency, and social development. The health benefits of play abound. That is why we are building a playground at our Mooreland residential group home for children, and we need your help raising the funds.

A study set to be published in the septiembre 2018 issue of Pediatrics highlights the important role play has on the lives of children. It instills in them a sense of how to learn. Through peer engagement, it instructs on how to work together to solve complex problems. Fostering collaboration, creativity, and community is crucial to the positive development of kids, and can be achieved with the help of playgrounds.

The physical influence of play is incredibly healthy. Play is essentially exercise, both for the brain and for the body. It is associated with low levels of fatigue, injury, and depression, and high levels of agility, coordination, balance, flexibility, and range of motion. And after participating in physical activity, children are more likely to pay attention in classroom settings.

Mooreland playground specs

Play has a direct effect on the structure of the brain, stimulating proteins that refine the area of the brain associated with play. In fact, measurable differences can be observed in protein production due to the absence of play. Stress is closely linked with play. High amounts of play are related to low levels of cortisol, which suggests play reduces stress or unstressed individuals play more.

Our Mooreland residential group home for children provides the youngest individuals we serve with some joy during an incredibly stressful time in their lives. For anyone who has experienced trauma in their lives, being removed from their homes and everything familiar to them, to be relocated to group housing, is overwhelming. The most restrictive barriers to play include neighborhood threats such as violence, drugs, and guns; low access to public spaces and recreational facilities; and unstable family infrastructure. Giving these children a safe and fun outlet in their backyard will help provide a positive light to their stay.

The Mooreland home provides shelter and assess youth who are moved from one housing unit to another. Services include comprehensive assessment; medication management; individual and family therapy; anger management and life skills group; education support; sensory therapy; transportation; recreation; and comprehensive case management using a trauma-informed approach.

There is still time to register for the 4 Annual Frozen Yogurt 5K to help us raise money for then Mooreland playground. In return you will receive a timed bib courtesy of RaceWire, free frozen yogurt courtesy of GoBerry, and, if you place in our Male, Female, 12 and Under, and 50 and Over category, a medal.

The Frozen Yogurt 5K will take place on lunes, agosto 26, in Northampton. The starting line will be by the Courthouse lawn (19 King Street), and the race will commence at 9 a.m.

Por |agosto 20, 2018|Noticias, Ciencia|Comentarios desactivados on Health Benefits of Play: por qué estamos construyendo un patio de juegos en nuestro hogar grupal para niños

Synthetic Substances: What is K2 & Why is it Dangerous?

Beginning Tuesday afternoon, people in New Haven, Conn. began exhibiting overdose symptoms  in large numbers. By Wednesday at least 70 people overdosed. By Friday, that number reached almost 90. The cause was the inhalation of a substance known as ‘K2,’ or ‘Spice,’ which may have also been laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl. So what is K2 and why is it dangerous?

What is K2?

K2 is a strain of synthetic marijuana that can be bought and sold at convenience stores, depending on location. Though synthetic marijuana varies from producer to producer, it is essentially dried leaves sprayed with chemicals that affect cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

According to Dr. Kathryn Hawk, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, synthetic marijuana like K2 are often “made in these kind of clandestine laboratories that are predominantly overseas… But they don’t represent, in any way shape or form, something that is kind of diverted from a pharmaceutical company or anything along those lines.”

Why is K2 Dangerous?

What is scary about synthetic marijuana is that nobody really knows what it is produced with. It can be laced with other, sometimes more powerful substances like fentanyl, which was suspected in the New Haven case. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid so powerful it is estimated to be between 25-50 times stronger than heroin, and 50-100 times stronger than morphine.

People tend to think that because a substance like K2 is referred to as “synthetic marijuana,” it has the same effects as actual marijuana but that is not true. As noted by the Drug Policy Alliance, negative side effects of synthetic marijuana can include nausea and vomiting, seizures, aggression and agitation, respiratory failure, and loss of consciousness.

Emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers peaked in the early 2010s, but the accessibility of synthetic marijuana makes it a continuous issue. In some cases, users have died of complications.

Is K2 legal?

Generally, K2 and other synthetic marijuana strains are illegal. In 2012, President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, labeling multiple types of the substance a Schedule I drug. Nearly every single state has its own laws, too, though they vary in scope. Synthetic marijuana manufacturers have found ways to circumvent these laws by slightly altering the chemical formulas found in their synthetic products.

In Massachusetts, the law against synthetic drugs is punishable by a $200 fine, six-month prison sentence, or both.

El Massachusetts law states:

“No person shall intentionally smell or inhale the fumes of any substance having the property of releasing toxic vapors, for the purpose of causing a condition of intoxication, euphoria, excitement, exhilaration, stupefaction, or dulled senses or nervous system, nor possess, buy or sell any such substance for the purpose of violating or aiding another to violate this section.”

Some states have also proposed strengthening the laws they already have on the books; for some, the crime outweighs the punishment.

Treatment

Because synthetic marijuana does not contain THC, the cannabinoid agent active in marijuana, K2 does not show up in toxicology results. This makeS it difficult for healthcare providers and emergency response teams to determine patterns for who uses them and which ones they use.

In New Haven, public health officials administered the overdose reversal drug Naloxone, commonly known as narcan. According to the Washington Post, at least 50 doses were given out. Some did not initially respond to the narcan and had to be given higher concentrations at the hospital.

Some people who experienced overdose symptoms were treated only to return to the New Haven Green, take more of the K2, and need narcan treatment again.

Luckily, none of the New Haven victims died.

Image via Public Domain/ Courtesy of the DEA
Por |agosto 17, 2018|Eventos, Noticias|Comentarios desactivados on Synthetic Substances: What is K2 & Why is it Dangerous?

Overdose Death Data Show Spike in Fentanyl Use in Massachusetts & Nationwide [Report]

In 2017, as many as 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses caused by opioids. The statistics were compiled and published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday afternoon. The CDC overdose death data represent a 6.6% increase from 2016 nationally. In Massachusetts, though, overdose deaths decreased in the past year.

It is suggested that the increased use and potency of fentanyl is a major factor behind the rise of overdose deaths. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid so powerful it is estimated to be between 25-50 times stronger than heroin, and 50-100 times stronger than morphine.

Across the U.S., overdose deaths caused by synthetic opioids spiked from approximately 21,000 in enero 2017 to more than 29,000 in enero 2018. Massachusetts is experiencing a similar trend. Fentanyl overdose deaths are on the rise. Between 2014-2017, fentanyl-related overdose deaths doubled.

Also in that same time span, general opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts more than doubled among Hispanics–a rate higher than any other demographic in the state.

In New Haven, Conn. beginning Tuesday evening more than 70 people overdosed after using a synthetic marijuana called K2 or Spice. At least 35 people were treated for overdoses on Wednesday. No fatalities were reported. It is possible the drug was laced with powerful opioids, no excluding fentanyl.

While heroin-related overdose deaths showed signs of decline nationwide and in Massachusetts, cocaine-related deaths rose in both cases.

Specifically in Massachusetts, overdose deaths with cocaine and fentanyl present have risen sharply since 2015. This figure represents polysubstance use, meaning the illicit use of either substances, or cocaine with fentanyl present, hinting at the possibility of cocaine laced with fentanyl.

The data showed minority populations (i.e., Hispanics and Black, non-Hispanics) already at higher risk of experiencing opioid-related overdose, and the recent rise over the past few years was more prominent among these populations.

The Gándara Center provides a variety of addiction treatment services to those in need, from long-term residential recovery to peer-to-peer support groups. We serve more than 10,000 people from all backgrounds per year at 45 locations across the state.

Por |agosto 16, 2018|Noticias|Comentarios desactivados on Overdose Death Data Show Spike in Fentanyl Use in Massachusetts & Nationwide [Report]
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