Thursday, September 26, 2019

Hope for Those Caught in Addiction's Grip

There is a ruthless killer on the loose in Mississippi. From dark alleys to dimly lit streets, to winding dirt roads leading to single family homes and through gated neighborhoods to the wealthiest in town, this killer has no mercy and finds its victims of all races, creeds and incomes. The state of Mississippi has yet to stop this merciless killer and with each passing year, the lives of so many more are ended. The killer is a chameleon of sorts, taking on different forms and fashion and unrelenting in its pursuit of victims. The culprit lurks not in the form of a vicious villain roaming the street, but quietly nestled in bottles and syringes as prescription pain killers, synthetic opioids and illegal drugs such as heroin.

 Mississippi Community Education Center’s Families First for Mississippi program is a beacon of hope for those Mississippians who feel hopelessly clinched in the cycle of addiction and through educational and recovery resources to circumvent the devastating drug overdoses in Mississippi. Through offering Adult Addiction Education Program free of charge, Families First for Mississippi offers resources to begin the process of healing and recovery for those suffering with addiction and their family members. “Families First for Mississippi is here to connect the dots to get those suffering from addiction the adequate services they need to help support addiction recovery,” said Dr. Nancy New, Executive Director of Mississippi Community Education Center.

When thinking about opioid drug addiction, the statics are staggering. Nationwide, more Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016 than those Americans killed in the Vietnam War. During 2017, over 3.3 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed in Mississippi. On average, over half a million pills were dispensed every day during last year. The preliminary number of suspected overdose deaths reported to Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics reached 256 during 2017. Opioid-related deaths accounted for two-thirds (173 or 67.6%) of those deaths.

With Mississippi being a leading prescriber of opioid painkillers, ranking 4th nationwide, with the equivalent of approximately 70 opioid pills for every man, woman and child in 2016, youth and adult addictions are rapidly on the rise in our state. "During the past 30 years that I have been in practice, it was typical to see 18 or 19 year-olds starting in the fledgling stages of drug usage and now it is very common to see 13 or 14 year-olds start using heavy, heavy drugs. These teens are getting these highly addictive controlled substances like Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, and Valium from their parents’ medicine cabinets, from friends and on the street,” said John Owen, CEAP, CAS, of Recovery Consultations and Addiction Educator Director of Families First for Mississippi.

With readily available prescription painkillers which are easily accessible and rapidly prescribed and commonly found in households for adults and teens, the opioid epidemic is ravaging Mississippi. “Opioids act on the mu opioid receptor in the brain. It stimulates that receptor and after a period of time your body stops producing the natural endorphin that your body produces. When you cease taking opioids, now with having the extra receptor sites in your brain, your body now is crying out for it and your body is not producing it; so you get terribly sick. An opiate addiction can occur within 5 days and most will not understand that he/she is addicted until they do not feel well when they do not take it,” Owen stated.

Many people who become addicted to prescription painkillers often move on to heroin, as access is easier and cheaper. Now with the introduction of fentanyl through the illegal drug market, the death rate for opioid-related overdoses are rapidly rising. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. In October 2017, the CDC reported that fentanyl was involved in over half of opioid-related overdose deaths across 10 states.

Looking beyond the numbers and facts, the painful reality is that lives are shattered, ended all too soon and lost in the midst of deep physical and emotional suffering. The first step towards bringing hope and healing is a transformation in the mindset of many Mississippians. “I believe the most important thing is that there is a perception that addiction is a situation of people who are of low economic status or the less intelligent and more vulnerable. The reality is, and all data shows, that is absolutely a misnomer. Until we break that stereotype and that notion, we are going to keep trying to deal with this as something that happens to others. In reality, if you take any family of any neighborhood in the state of Mississippi, regardless of their socioeconomic status or educational status, you are going to find that they have addiction in their family,” said John Owen, CEAP, CAS, of Recovery Consultations and Addiction Educator Director of Families First for Mississippi.

With addiction comes judgement and shame many times for those involved in the cycle of abuse. Becoming openminded that many times those who abuse drugs are suffering and don’t know how to get help, brings empathy and compassion to a situation that seems rather hopeless. John Owen pointed out, "Many people wonder why someone would go to great lengths to get drugs and say, ‘I would never do that!’ Well, get off your high horse because if you’ve ever been thirsty or hungry, it is amazing what you will eat or drink to live. That is addiction. What happens with addiction is that the brain gets tricked into thinking that the substance is necessary for survival. There is a place where you stop getting high - you simply use it to feel functional. If you find someone that has been involved in addiction for a while, they are not just trying to get high - they are just trying to get up and get through the day. They will tell you that they are miserable and that they hate it.”

Now in a generation of social media savvy adults and teens, social media can add to the idea that for those suffering from addiction because of the pictures of perfection on Facebook timelines, Instagram feeds and Snapchat stories, that everyone else has their life together. This ever present element, saturated pictures of “happiness” on social media and others living “happy-go-lucky lives,” can fuel depression. "Social media is an amplified example how people judge their insides by other people’s outsides. People put on social media how they want to be portrayed and how they want to be seen, but that is rarely the truth. Everybody has problems and everybody is hurting. They see their friends doing so well, so they turn to medicating themselves and suicide,” Owen said.

With easy access to prescription opioids in homes and other illegal and powerful drugs being sold on the illegal drug markets, parents should be vigilant in their mindfulness and become educated about addiction to help safeguard their children. “One thing that I would do is get out of this notion that we don’t look through their things because we are upsetting our teenagers' privacy - no, you need to look through their things and if something is concerning you, ask the questions. Many parents innocently put prescription opioids in their medicine cabinet and a lot of kids may know what it is and tell their friend, who in turn will ask to get some pills for them. Parents need to educate themselves about what do you do about these medicines; how should they be dispensed and how do you get them out of the house. You don’t keep them around in case you hurt later. If you hurt later, you go back to the doctor,” Owen stated.

With Mississippi being a leading prescriber of opioid painkillers, Mississippi’s opioid and heroin crisis needs a solution for all those suffering. Families First for Mississippi hopes to bring out to the forefront of the minds of Mississippians that we have to come together as a community with a transformed mindset cultivated in empathy for those suffering from addiction and with unified dedication to offer education and resources free of charge to create an avenue for recovery. John Owen, CEAP, CAS, of Recovery Consultations and Addiction Educator Director for Families First of Mississippi said, “As Mississippians we should think that what makes us the most similar, strangely enough, are where we are wounded. Everybody can find the sameness and the connection universally in pain and suffering. With our services at Families First for Mississippi, I always tell those suffering from addiction that we will find them help. The good news is that addiction is very treatable and Families First for Mississippi will connect you to resources that you need for recovery.”

For more information on Families First for Mississippi Adult Addiction Education & Recovery Program, visit or call 601-366-6405.

 This is a sponsored post by Families First for Mississippi. 

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS