Heroin, Murder, and the New Front in the War on Drugs


Sean Harrington has been in jail for more than 16 months. He was extradited from Philadelphia to Polk County, North Carolina, to face a second-degree murder charge. But he didn’t shoot or stab anyone. Instead, he allegedly mailed heroin and cocaine to a friend and fellow addict named Elisif Bruun. She ingested them, probably as a speedball, and was found dead on February 11, 2014, lying face-down in her room at the CooperRiis Healing Community in Western North Carolina.

She was 24, her latest go at recovery her last…

It can be tough to find a true villain among the legions using and selling opioids, two groups that often overlap. This is especially true given that for many, heroin use was preceded by the abuse of widely-prescribed opioids like OxyContin, which as of 2013, was responsible for more deaths than heroin. That includes Bruun who, according to her father, got started on opioids thanks to a friend selling OxyContin taken from his grandmother’s medicine cabinet…

In September 2013, Joseph L. Robinson, an Illinois man living near near St. Louis, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for selling a man who later died two-tenths of a gram of heroin—for $30…

In February 2014, beloved actor Philip Seymour Hoffman became the public face of the heroin crisis after he died from an overdose involving heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines. The New York Police Department was eager to find a culprit other than the actor’s long-term addiction, and quickly settled on Robert Aaron—legal name Robert Aaron Vineberg—a musician and addict who said he sometimes sold heroin to friends. But it was never proved that Aaron’s heroin was involved in Hoffman’s death, and charges were later downgraded from serious distribution to possession, to which he pleaded guilty…

Federal prosecutors in states around the country, including Oregon, Texas, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, are filing these kinds of charges in response to opioid deaths. In Southern Illinois, Porter says that their office began to file such charges after Wigginton’s 2010 appointment, and that he has so far won 11 convictions. In July, a federal judge in Kentucky sentenced a man to life without parole for dealing oxycodone to a user who died; that district’s US Attorney’s Office said it was “the first time in Kentucky that a life sentence was imposed in an overdose death case involving prescription drugs.” (There is no parole in the federal system for crimes committed on or after November 1, 1987.) …

State prosecutors also appear to be pursuing harsh charges with growing frequency. In Wisconsin, prosecutors charged 71 people with first-degree reckless homicide by drug delivery in 2013, an increase from 47 in 2012, according to USA Today.

In New Jersey, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato has made these sorts of charges a focus, and his office is training police around the state on how to investigate heroin-related deaths…

Can Addicts Finally Force the War on Drugs to End?

by Maia Szalavitz


But now a group called Unite to Face Addiction is planning a massive rally in Washington, DC, to attack stigma and call for change. On Sunday, October 4, big names like Steven Tyler, Joe Walsh, Jason Isbell of the Drive-By Truckers, and Sheryl Crow will perform. Speakers will include former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, former baseball player Darryl Strawberry, author William Cope Moyers and current “drug czar” Michael Botticelli, who is in recovery himself…

But while there’s general agreement about what not to do, the movement will ultimately face a difficult battle over its agenda and how, exactly, to address drug addiction without waging “war.”

Too late. The war just keeps getting bigger and bigger, now including pain patients and really anyone who is prescribed an opioid.

Spearheaded by Greg Williams, a 32-year-old filmmaker who kicked OxyContin and other drug addictions 14 years ago, the organization has what he says is a “multimillion-dollar” budget. Over 650 different addiction-related groups are sending members. Among the biggest donors are the Conrad Hilton Foundation and Marriott. “We have [around] 100 different major sources of funding, meaning $10,000 or more,” he tells VICE…

Color The World Orange for CRPS/RSD awareness




Color The World Orange
Yesterday at 6:46am ·
We are so excited to announce that the Brighton Wheel, in Brighton England, will be lit orange on Nov. 2 for Color The World Orange for CRPS/RSD awareness!

3 Teenagers Facing 5 Years in Prison for Marijuana in Washington State


Asotin County, WA — Washington state was one of the first places in the country to legalize marijuana, but many have complained that their regulations are nearly as bad as prohibition.

One serious problem with Washington’s new marijuana laws is the fact that teenagers caught with the plant can be charged with felonies, and face up to five years in prison. This sentence makes no sense considering that marijuana is legal in this area. This would be the equivalent of throwing a 17 or 18-year-old in prison for 5 years for drinking a beer.

This week, it was reported that a prosecutor in southeastern Washington charged three teenagers with felony offenses for simple marijuana possession. According to The Lewiston Tribune, the children were 14, 15, and 17 years old and are now facing up to 5 years in prison for felony possession charges simply for carrying a legal item that they were too young to possess…

A Psychiatrist Explains What ‘Welcome to Me’ Gets Right About Mental Illness


In the funny, fascinating drama Welcome to Me (now in select theaters and available on VOD), Kristen Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a woman with borderline personality disorder who uses lottery winnings to produce a television show entirely about herself. Alice is an unusual movie character, sympathetic in her desire to be loved like Oprah, yet off-putting in her bizarre, irrational behavior. But does she provide an accurate portrait of borderline personality disorder, a condition characterized by unstable moods, behavior and relationships?

According to Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Dr. Steven Schlozman, she does indeed. Furthermore, Welcome to Me offers a much more sympathetic, realistic take on BPD than most Hollywood films, which have generally characterized it as a disorder of stalkers and serial killers (i.e. Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Kathy Bates in Misery). “The compelling storyline of the rageful, murderous person, who is presumed to have BPD, finds its way into movies a lot,” says Schlozman, “but people with what we’d call BPD are hardly ever violent, except maybe towards themselves.” We asked Schlozman to explain how Wiig’s actions in Welcome to Me — from her TV obsession to her angry meltdowns — jibe with her diagnosis. (Warning: spoilers to follow) …



They aren’t drug addicts. They are regular people who are suffering from chronic pain, some even battling cancer. Some are hospice patients.

First Coast News [FL] started investigating this in 2013 and since then the problem has only gotten worse. Local doctors and pharmacists say it has become its own public health crisis and has even lead some to commit suicide…

It’s a conversation Jacksonville pharmacist Bill Napier, owner of Panama Pharmacy, says he has every day with patients. “We will regularly have maybe 30 people a day who we can’t fill prescriptions for,” said Napier. “We had two patients I know of who got tired of the battle and committed suicide…

Under pressure from the DEA he says he created a nine item checklist to decide whose prescriptions his pharmacy can fill. “It’s just continuously gotten tighter and tighter on the supply side from the wholesaler. Only 20 percent of my medicines can be controlled substances.”

At his pharmacy in order to get a prescription for a controlled substance like morphine, oxycodone or hydrocodone filled you must be over the age of 35, undergo a criminal background check and your doctor must be vetted.

“If it’s a new patient, say they have a new cancer, well they are just out of luck,” said Napier. “Especially towards the end of the month I have a lot of people say my pharmacy is out of it, and I try to explain every pharmacy is out of it because every pharmacy has a quota. Once you meet a quota you are done.” …

We want to know if you’ve had trouble getting your prescriptions filled. Use #MedsDenied to join in on the conversation on the First Coast News Facebook page or tweet us on @fcn2go.

Area pharmacies refuse to fill embattled neurologist’s scripts


A local pharmacy chain has decided to stop filling prescriptions written by Dr. Iraj Derakhshan after it was revealed the neurologist is facing a disciplinary hearing before the West Virginia Board of Medicine that could result in a license revocation.

Jerry Leonard, vice president of pharmacy services for Drug Emporium, said his company, which has two locations in Charleston, changed its policy after the Daily Mail’s examination of Derakhshan’s history of writing opioid-based pain killer prescriptions by the thousands…

We’re willing to fill a month’s worth of (Dr. Derakhshan’s) patient’s prescriptions one more time, if the pharmacist on duty feels it’s medically appropriate, for select patients who are already established with Drug Emporium,” he said. “But if they haven’t filled a prescription regularly over the last 6 months, we will refuse them.” …

“I didn’t have a real good feeling about cutting people off cold turkey, but in some cases it was warranted,” he said.

The local neurologist’s patients, Leonard said, have the choice of either staying with him or going to another practitioner.

He said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has put the onus on pharmacists for identifying whether a patient is in legitimate need of opioids rather than putting that burden entirely on the prescriber… According to the DEA’s pharmacist manual, “a pharmacist also needs to know there is a corresponding responsibility of the pharmacist who fills the prescription…

But Drug Emporium is not the only local pharmacy frequently refusing to fill prescriptions written by Derakhshan. Several of the doctor’s current patients contacted the Daily Mail to say they have been unsuccessful in filling his prescriptions for opioid-based pain medication.

Bernerd Slater, a West Side resident and a patient of Derakhshan’s, said he has tried going to every pharmacy in the Kanawha Valley region to get his prescriptions for oxycodone, Xanax and Topamax.

“Everywhere that I tried to get them filled said he was locked out when they looked on the system,” he said. The system, Slater believes, is the controlled substance monitoring database...

Found in my search terms: Wisconsin pharmacies refusing prescription


margaret of Lake Geneva, WI on May 4, 2015

To my extreme dissatisfaction my Insurance chose Wal-Mart as our prescription provider. I cannot say enough about how unprofessional, unbusinesslike and uncaring Wal-Mart pharmacies are. Yesterday was the last straw! Today I filed a formal complaint with BCBS against WM pharmacies. I suffered a severe fall in 2013 that caused a whiplash and damage to my cervical spine. I have been on and off pain meds ever since. Each time I need to fill a prescription I call WM pharmacy a week in advance. They have failed 85% of the time to even order my medication. Seriously, I fill it every 2 weeks and it is not cheap!

Even though I call a week ahead of time, when I go in to fill my prescription, they do not have the medication in stock! I called a week ahead and again the night before you had to fill prescription. And this is medication you can’t just stop taking because you become severely ill and thanks to wal mart, I have become severely ill, once even requiring hospitalization. But yesterday, after calling twice in advance to make sure they had medication, I went in to have it filled, and for the 28th time, even though they told me they would order it, and told me they had it the night before, when I went in to drop it off, after waiting an hour, I found out, again, they lied to me and did not order the medication!

We missed our grandson’s First Communion because we had to drive 24 miles to another WM to fill prescription. This is an ongoing problem that we never ever had with Walgreens! WM has lost prescriptions, miscounted pills and failed to order medication that I have had to fill biweekly and once monthly for over 2 years. On several occasions, my husband has been forced to take a $250 vacation day to drive over an hour each way to find a WM that has my medication, a widely prescribed pain medicine. But yesterday was the END! I will not tolerate the totally inept service I have been putting up with at the WalMart pharmacies.

I spent an hour on the phone with my insurance company only to learn that I am one of hundreds to file a complaint. And I have spoken to the pharmacists, store managers, pharmacy managers and they just don’t care! What if it was heart medication and I was 75 years old and could not drive an hour each time I had to fill a prescription? I will tell you what would happen, I would have a heart attack and WM would not care. Seriously, this has been happening for 2 years. Well no more WM, because I am taking my business to Target and have already successfully met with them and they are taking my medication needs seriously and WILL order my medication so I don’t have to put up with this anymore! I seriously am considering contacting my attorney!


S of Milwaukee, WI on April 13, 2014

For years we have been using this pharmacy. Very good until lately. 1. Puts my Hubby’s label on my prescription and charge my insurance. 2. I’m calling to check on a refill from doctor, needing approval. Walgreen’s tells me Dr refused and wants to see me. I called Dr. NOT CASE AT ALL! Dr. gave me 2 refills. 3 Steadily filling my prescription at 6 days. Charged my insurance but refuses to give to me! I’m filling to early or stockpiling to possibly sell!! I can understand if these were Oxycodone to contin, but they are not. A 5 mg. Hydrocodone. Gimme a break. Have no history of abuse and for him to suggest I’m stockpiling is ludicrous. I am in constant contact with my Dr. Will be changing pharmacies.


To help fight addiction, state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, has proposed a series of bills to help monitor what addictive medications patients are picking up at area pharmacies and being prescribed to ensure they are not fraudulently getting medications.

Nygren has proposed having doctors check patients’ histories in the Wisconsin Prescription Drug Monitoring Program before prescribing Schedule II-V medication, which are prescription drugs that can become addictive and be abused.

However, in part, the Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare, is actually standing in the way of making these bills successful. That is because a portion of hospitals’ Medicare reimbursement is based on patient satisfaction survey scores. One of the questions on the survey pertains directly to pain management and hospitals are scored based on the “percentage of patients who reported that their pain was ‘Always’ well controlled,” according to the government’s official Medicare website…

When you cannot get adequate treatment for pain at a hospital, fight back — fill out these patient satisfaction surveys.

Pharmacy delays causing more than headaches

Here’s a local news report in Las Vegas, Nevada from April, 2014. One patient went to 30 different pharmacies and a hospital doctor reports that pharmacies won’t even fill prescriptions for acute pain, like a broken bone. Of course, the doctor also said that the ER is “not the place for chronic pain patients.”


Please Support Dr. Larry Eckstein In His Fight Against DEA


My father, Dr. Larry Eckstein, has been a devoted physician for over 40 years working all over the country, and has been a member of Congregation Har HaShem for over 20 years. He has served various communities in medicine and his country in the U.S. Public Health Service in Boston, Puerto Rico, and San Pedro, CA where he was Chief Medical Officer and Lieutenant Commander. His life’s work has been medicine…

In mid-August, an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent arrested Larry during working hours under the accusation that he distributed narcotics in the community. They even searched the office of course finding only nutritional supplements and homeopathics. This was a sting operation to unjustly incriminate Larry for something he never did. This sting operation involved an undercover agent coming to the office presenting chronic pain problems that were not improving. To help the man, Larry prescribed pain medication to help him function in his daily life. Now we are in the midst of dealing with the legal consequences of these ridiculous charges and the regulatory agency in Colorado that has suspended his license, before his reply window closed, and for unjust reasons.

This is happening to doctors all over the country, and Larry was an easy target because he’s an independent physician who is not part of a hospital or an HMO or any large organization…

Please share this post with others.

Jason Eckstein

Hospitals and medical cannabis

Date:  Tue, Sep 29, 2015 12:19 am

To:  csharp@ambercare.com, bruce.tassin@stvin.org, ron.stern@lovelace.com, john.cruickshank@lovelace.com, jhinton@phs.org

Re:  Medical cannabis patients admitted to your hospital

September 29, 2015

Ms. Catherine Rosacker-Sharp, CEO
Ambercare Home Health & Hospice
2129 Osuna Road NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113

Mr. Bruce Tassin, CEO
CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center
455 St. Michael’s Drive
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Mr. Ron Stern, President/CEO
Dr. John M. Cruickshank, Chief Medical Officer
Lovelace Health System
601 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Mr. James Hinton, President/CEO
Presbyterian Healthcare Services
9521 San Mateo Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113

Dear New Mexico hospitals:

As a 30-year intractable pain patient, and an advocate for all chronic pain and medical cannabis patients, I am writing to ascertain your hospital’s plans to accommodate patients who are treating their medical conditions with cannabis.

Any patient using cannabis who is admitted to a hospital for more than a day or so will need accommodations to support their use of this treatment while in the hospital. Considering the current war against opioids and pain patients, I’m concerned that not only will doctors refuse to substitute pain medications for cannabis while patients are in the hospital, but also label these patients as drug addicts and refuse to treat their pain at all.

Without accommodations for medical cannabis patients at your hospitals, I can assure you that these patients will do all they can to avoid going to the emergency room and/or hospital, regardless of the seriousness of their symptoms. Since pain patients currently face overwhelming discrimination from the medical industry and most doctors, I can also assure you that many of them already avoid doctors and basic health care, myself included.

Hospitals must figure out a way to allow medical cannabis patients to treat themselves while in the hospital. To this end, please forward any and all plans each hospital has regarding this issue.

Johnna Stahl
Albuquerque, New Mexico