(CNN) The Obama administration is making it easier for doctors to use anti-addiction drugs in the fight against an exploding epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse.

It’s part of a package of new initiatives announced Tuesday that includes other efforts to expand addiction treatment and increase coverage for mental health and substance abuse services. These initiatives are in addition to the $1.1 billion he proposed last month.

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In Washington, PA, a heartbreaking hour filled with heroin overdoses puts a somber spotlight on our nation’s addiction problem.

As the founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation, I have made it my life’s work to help others overcome the same obstacles that I faced in fighting my addictions. I have found that, even though the main role I fill in the battle against drug and alcohol abuse is to offer an effective recovery program, I simply can’t stop there. There is so much more that I must do in order to be a part of the solution to this problem. One of those additional responsibilities that I have taken on is in making efforts to raise the public awareness about various topics that relate to addiction and recovery, including trends in drug use, innovations in treatment and recovery methods, and highlighting anti-drug efforts across the country.

It is important to shine a positive light on the stories of successful recovery from addiction, and to focus on effectual approaches to rehabilitation in such a way that those who might be struggling with addiction can find hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. Sadly, it is equally as essential to speak out about and discuss the tragic consequences of the dangerous and deadly path that drugs and alcohol offers. Which brings me to the sad tale that I read recently about one American county’s desperate struggle with an epidemic of heroin-related overdoses and deaths.

In a recent Washington Post article, I heard the story of an area in Pennsylvania that has seen a swift increase in opiate use and the subsequent public health issues that have arisen as a result. It told of one particularly extreme Sunday evening in August in Washington, PA, where eight overdoses were reported in a matter of just over an hour in an area that only has around 200,000 residents. In total, 16 heroin overdoses had occurred in 24 hours, and 25 over a period of two days. Despite area first responders having been supplied with a fast-acting antidote for heroin overdose called “naloxone”, following a recent decision by authorities, three of these overdoses resulted in deaths. The rash of overdoses in the area is an example of the tremendous increase in overdoses that residents have been struggling with over the past few years, and the number indicates that the problem is beginning to reach epic proportions.

With investigations still underway, authorities believe that a major contributing factor in these recent problems is the strong possibility that the two types of heroin that have been flooding the area are laced with fentanyl. I have written several blog entries describing the dangers of fentanyl and expressing my concern about this drug. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate that is reportedly 5 to 15 times more potent than heroin, and has been used to cut the drug, making it stronger and cheaper. And also deadlier. Additionally, the user who goes into overdose as a result of fentanyl is often misdiagnosed, as the treatment for fentanyl overdose is not the same as for heroin. ER doctors and nurses across the country are seeing more and more cases of these overdoses, with no signs of the epidemic slowing down.

One of the biggest problems with this is the fact that heroin users are not being educated about the possibilities of their drug being laced with fentanyl. As a person who is addicted finds out that people are overdosing on a certain branded label of heroin, they tend to seek out that particular label, because it is stronger. They think that it must be a really good batch. Which is furthest from the truth.

If we can learn anything from the Washington, PA rash of overdose occurrences, it is that our efforts to fight the problem of substance abuse must be heightened, not only in that area but also all across the country. Due to its location, the Washington County area is even more highly susceptible to a massive influx of drugs. Situated very close to several state borders, Washington County is located at the intersection of two major national highways, Interstates 70 and 79, which are trafficking lines for all points in the nation, east and west, north and south. And until we find an effective way to decrease the demand, the supply will continue.

Rehabilitation is increasingly becoming more socially acceptable as a solution for drug abuse, being recommended by prosecutors, defenders, and even judges nationwide. Rather than incarceration, where the offender is imprisoned and the addictive behaviors are not properly address, and which costs taxpayers millions, society in general can benefit much more from the treatment of these individuals and their eventual return to functional and productive roles in our communities and economy. The cost of rehabilitation is also much lower than incarceration, bringing the additional advantage of having more money to put towards prevention and education. The concept really has no downside. And with the changes in the healthcare system of the United States, effective treatment is now available to millions more people who need it.

There is yet another problem to be addressed. In America today, we have approximately 77 million people who are using drugs or alcohol in some way, whether they are prescribed or they are self-medicating. Around 7 million of those people need treatment, yet only a small percentage actually receive effective treatment from a professional rehabilitation center. Many who are struggling with substance abuse in their lives don’t know where to turn and feel helpless and hopeless.

We must, as a society, reach out to educate people on the dangers of substance abuse and the treatment options available to them, and to offer them the hope for a better world that we all can share. The worst thing that we can do in this fight is to become complacent, to sit back and accept it as if there is nothing that we can do to stop it. If we stand together, shining a light on the truths around this epidemic and the different approaches we have to battle it, we can truly beat this thing that we call addiction. But we have to be willing to help.

The past decade has shown a slow increase of heroin use in Americans, specifically in populations of urban, non-hispanic whites aged 18-25 years old.

States in the Midwest and Northeast have taken the brunt of the affliction. Between the two regions, the Midwest has seen the largest spike in recent years according to the CDC. Whereas the highest number of heroin-related deaths in 2005 were located in the Northeast, with the Midwest trailing far behind, today, the Midwest sees four heroin related deaths per 100,000 population, the highest rate in the country.

States like Indiana have witnessed the tragic results of increased heroin abuse in facing a consequent HIV outbreak.

Candidates on the campaign trail have called the dire situation an epidemic, citing the necessity for better treatment and education. Democratic hopeful, Hillary Clinton, said, “This is a quiet epidemic and it is striking in small towns and rural areas as much as any big city.”

While many voters have attacked previous attempts at battling drug use, considering the War on Drugs ineffective and short-sighted, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a new initiative to battle heroin and opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose. This new initiative supports increased access to naloxone, a drug in the same class as naltrexone, expansion of Medication-Assisted Treatment, and further education for medical professionals on modern approaches to abuse.

Heroin Facts From the National Institute of Drug Abuse

  • Four million Americans 12 years and older have used heroin.
  • Twenty-three percent of heroin users become addicted.
  • Since 1999, the number of annual heroin overdoses has risen by 119 percent.
  • Naltrexone is a new, life-saving drug for heroin and opioid treatment.
  • Only 33.4 percent of patients of naltrexone programs receive the drug.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) combines medication with behavioral therapy.

The White House’s Initiative

To coincide with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ initiative, the White House announced its own $5 million initiative to battle heroin use in the United States. According to the AP, the White House intends to allocate the funds not only to fight general abuse, but also to combat trafficking, especially in the Northeast.

In line with the consensual drift away from War on Drugs policies, the initiative will link law enforcement agencies with medical practices in an approach focused on recovery instead of punishment.

I learned that on Thursday, August 13, 2015 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it has approved the use of OxyContin for children ages 11 to 16 who are suffering chronic, severe pain.  As founder and CEO of seven drug rehab centers, I find it very disheartening when a government authority takes a drug as seriously addictive and as high powered as Oxycodone and makes it legal for someone as young as eleven years of age.  What is going to happen because of it is that more parents will be able to get prescriptions for their kids which allows more pills to be on the market of the United States of America, this great country, which will also allow more addicts to get more pills.  So, in terms of doing this, not only are you taking the life away from the 11-year-old, but you’re also putting less opposition to get more drugs.  The fact is, when it comes down to being able to buy a prescription for someone as young as 11 years old, do they really have control of what they take, of the money, or how their body feels?  No, they’re not in any control because they’re only eleven years old, and of course the person that controls the medication controls the ability to sell the medication, to take the medication for themselves, and/or, even worse, give it to an eleven year old.

So, I see OxyContin for young children as a double-edged sword.  It cuts not only the young child, but it also cuts society.  Hey, what are we trying to do to our society?  Just bring more and more and more drugs out there because we’re a grandiose society whether it’s money, whether it’s drugs, whether it’s sex, we want the most of all of it!

Creating a New Generation of Addicts?

You and I know that juvenile delinquency and shattered lives in the US stems directly from corruption.  Drugs are not there because of any other reason than somebody wants to make money.  Again, this new law that was written, the FDA, do I need to say more?

One thing about children, if we permit the child to receive these pills, you’re going to start a future of new addicts.  You guys reading this article, think about this for a minute.  It’s bad enough to give an aspirin to a kid, let alone start a kid on opiate pills at a young age.  They’re going to get used to pills and receive a product that doesn’t really fix the pain.  Most chronic pain needs physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, stretching, amino acids, all the building blocks of the body, not pills.  This is going to create so many addicts, we’ll never recover from it.  If we start them out young, what do they learn how to do?  They learn how to receive something to mask something instead of fixing the problem themselves.  Again, not confronting the pain, not handling the pain, just taking a pill, is not the answer.

Some Facts on Why We Need to Be Worried About OxyContin

OxyContin is a long-acting version of the opioid Oxycodone and was designed to provide around-the-clock pain relief.  This drug is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and addiction, however, it is one of the largest selling opioid drugs on the market today.  Since its introduction to the market in 1995, doctors have prescribed OxyContin to adults for a wide range of needs including chronic post-surgery pain, cancer pain, arthritis, migraines, and many other ailments.

The US Department of Justice reveals that over 13 million people in the United States have used Oxycodone (OxyContin) for recreational purposes. Prior to 2010, people who wished to abuse OxyContin were able to crush the tablets for injecting or snorting. The problem with addicts crushing these time-released tablets is that he/she is ingesting a powerful, 24-hour dose of the drug all at one time, and this can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Purdue Pharma discontinued this older version of the pill and distributed a reformulated, improved version that was more difficult to crush.

Anytime that you take a pill for a problem, you’re not really confronting the problem are you?  You’re taking a pill to mask the problem.  The problem is, after the pain is masked, your body gets addicted to the drug, this is just a blatant fact.  If you take enough opiates your body will want more opiates and then you’ll have to come to us to get withdrawn from them and that’s a fact.  It is well-documented that repeated or prolonged use or abuse of this drug can result in increased tolerance leading to dependency and eventual addiction, overdose, or death.

Do We Really Want to Put this Dangerous Drug Into the Hands and Bodies of Kids?

The answer should be “NO”.  Kids this age do and will get addicted to drugs.  Although we don’t treat juveniles in our facilities, we have had phone calls about kids this age needing treatment for opiate problems, heroin problems, Vicodin addiction, and the list goes on.  All the pills are a problem and have been for ages, down into the 11-year-old age group, down into the 5th grade level, heroin addiction has started.  I’ve heard this from other people that run rehabilitation centers here and in other countries like India, where it actually starts younger than that.

Opiates are a very physically addictive drug.  Do we need to worry about this new FDA approval?  Of course, we do.  More opiates, more addictions.  More pills, more addicts.  It’s a numbers game, plain and simple.

Of course, as adults, we don’t like to see children suffer. Anyone involved in administering this drug to a young child must observe only the most stringent safety precautions to ensure that no child suffers overdose or death.  As always, we must be advocates for protecting our young people from all the things they might not realize or perceive as a danger.

Sports fans across the country are reacting to the unwelcome news today that Josh Hamilton of the Los Angeles Angels has admitted to a recent cocaine relapse.

Joshua Holt “Josh” Hamilton, born May 21, 1981, is an American professional baseball outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has also played for the Cincinnati Reds (2007) and Texas Rangers (2008–2012).

Although Hamilton has enjoyed a successful career, his problems with drugs and alcohol began in 2001. After spending time in a rehabilitation program, he continued to struggle with substance abuse, failing drug tests, and being suspended for the season more than once. All in all, he was out of baseball for almost three years due to his drug and alcohol problems. Josh had been clean since 2005 but succumbed to a brief relapse with alcohol in 2009, and again in 2012. Since then, he has returned to baseball and must submit to drug tests three times per week. When asked about his struggles, Josh admits that his faith in God is what brought him back from the edge, and he went on to write about this in his autobiography entitled “Beyond Belief.”

Josh Hamilton has inspired many people to overcome their own addictions and get back to enjoying life, so we have to wonder what happened to send this successful, talented person back to using cocaine or alcohol. Many factors could be at play when public figures like Josh must strive to live up to the high standards expected of them. Thousands of popular celebrities and sports figures have fallen under the spell of drugs or alcohol through the years, leaving behind ruined careers, poor health, and damaged relationships. For many of these people, cocaine was their drug of choice.

Why Choose Cocaine?

Fear of failure, stress, peer-pressure and many other physical or emotional factors can fuel the desire to use cocaine as a tool to get through it all. Using cocaine gives a person the sensation of being highly alert, energetic, talkative, and euphoric, all the better to get through a hectic, demanding day. Unfortunately, the effects only last for a short time. More cocaine is needed to get back up to speed, and this cycle of repeated usage often leads to addiction. When attempting to discontinue usage, the person often suffers withdrawal symptoms such as depression, restlessness, irritability, panic attacks, and paranoia. These uncomfortable symptoms eventually lead to continued use of the drug, and the individual will need professional help to overcome the addiction.

What Are the Benefits of Professional Treatment?

As with any other addiction, cocaine addiction is a combination of physical, emotional, environmental, and spiritual factors. When a person attempts to discontinue cocaine use on their own, they are only dealing with the physical aspect of the addiction. Before lasting recovery can be achieved, the other contributing factors must also be identified and addressed.

Professional, inpatient rehabilitation programs are designed to focus on the whole person, not just the addiction. In these facilities, an addict benefits by gaining the skills, motivation, and confidence to handle life’s struggles with evidence-based, proven techniques to help them avoid cocaine or other drugs for a lifetime.

What is Zohydro?

Pharmaceutical companies are constantly researching new drugs to relieve pain and treat diseases. Recently, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of a new drug for pain called Zohydro, manufactured by Zogenix, Inc., a pharmaceutical manufacturer based in San Diego, California. The drug is involved in some controversy because critics fear it

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