Recovery: Lindsey Newcomb on Talbot County’s Upcoming Conference on Opioid Epidemic

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Did you know over the past three years that 272 Mid-Shore opioid overdoses were reported by Shore Regional Health-Memorial Hospital at Easton? That’s according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

That number has been on the mind of Lindsay Newcomb, the Parent Education Coordinator for Talbot County Department of Social Services as well as the challenge of educating kids and their parents that have not been impacted yet by the opioid epidemic in the region.

To help address the problem, she is helping to host a major free  conference on the subject  on April 8, “Opioid Use Across the Lifespan,” which will feature nationally-known guest speaker Tony Hoffman, Pro BMX Competitor and Recovering Addict. The day-long event will be held at the Talbot County Community Center, Easton, MD. Parents, teens, teachers, coaches, medical providers and anyone dealing with youth in our community are encouraged to attend. Some of the conference topics will include safe disposal of prescription drugs, drug abuse trends and prevention strategies, the use of NARCAN, available resources, and personal stories by local residents.

We sat down with Lindsey to talk more about the program and the importance of Tony Hoffman’s message to young people.

 “Opioid Use Across the Lifespan,” on April 8, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Talbot Community Center. The conference is sponsored by the Talbot County Department of Social Services and is free to the public. Space is limited and pre-registration is required by March 24, 2017. Space is limited for the free conference and pre-registration is required by March 24, 2017. Call 410-770-5750 or email Lindsay.newcomb1@maryland.gov.

Recovery: When You Can’t Just Leave by Erin Hill

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It’s a special kind of lonely hell when you love an addict.

Your relationship is teetering on disaster – you’re barely surviving – you’re in a hole so deep the sky looks like a pinhole – you’re ashamed of what you and your life has become. You are afraid that if you let go, the world as you know it will crumble around you. Those around you encourage you to leave. But they don’t understand that you can’t “Just Leave”.

It’s complicated. It’s messy. It hurts.

They don’t understand that just like an addict starts with their drug – we are addicted to our addict. We didn’t get into these relationships thinking “Gee, I think I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to control someone else’s crap” – just like they didn’t wake up one day deciding to be an addict. It evolves.

The dark, sticky, snake-like fingers of the disease constricts every aspect of our lives.

The finances, the employment, the physical health and the mental well-being of everyone in the home is compromised. Before you know it – you’re so entwined in the madness that getting out feels like death. Because it would be. You had hopes and dreams of a happily ever after, and if you leave, that dies.
But just as addiction can wrap itself around your relationship, so too can recovery.

My husband and I have been together 12 years, married for 10 – and he recently celebrated 5 years clean and sober. It’s still not perfect – it’s like that illusive “normal” you hear about – or unicorns and leprechauns. But it’s definitely better than it was.

It takes both of you to work on it.

I thought for sure that if he just quit the drug, things would get better. That if he would just quit drinking. Or get a job. Or spend more time with me and the kids… that it would be OK. I didn’t have the problem – he did. I could run the household, raise the kids, go to work, AND deal with him and his crap –

I was superwoman – right?! Wrong.

I brought a few suitcases worth of my own crap to this party.

It wasn’t until I was willing to take a hard look at my part in our relationship that I was ready to get really honest with myself. I was attracted to him because I thought I could fix him. That if I fixed him, he’d owe me – and never leave. And most of all – because I thought that was the kind of man I deserved – I wasn’t going to do any better. It was disguised as a noble attempt at fixing his problems, saving him from himself, and making everything alright with the world. It was just a thin cloak over the ability to distract myself from my own problems.

When you start looking at your stuff – unpacking those suitcases of stuff from your own history, and tossing what you don’t use or love (The Art of Tidying Up style) and repacking in a loving way what you want to keep, you make room for the stuff you really want. Like recovery. For you.

They don’t have to get sober for you to be happy.

Once you start seeing what it is you want for your own life, you can detach and work on YOU. I found that in our relationship it comes in spurts. He’ll work on himself, then I’ll work on my stuff. It’s a partnership like it’s never been before.

As we know better, we do better.

Getting clean and sober was just the beginning for us. There’s been times that have been more difficult in the last 5 years in recovery that were harder than the drunken rages or nights of fear, tears and despair. It doesn’t get easier, but you get stronger. And just like any other muscle, the more you use it, the stronger you get.

Start small.

Go for a walk, sit in silence with your breath for a few moments every day. Journal, write, sing, speak, or scream. Do something that’s just for YOU. As you come back to yourself, you develop your sense of strength and hope. You know that regardless, you’re going to be OK. And OK is good enough. YOU are good enough.

A Beautiful Mess was created by Erin Hill to educate and inspire women to Care for themselves, Communicate their needs, and Connect with their tribe of women who “get it”. Erin is a coach for women and blogger about life. She lives in Cambridge Maryland with her husband and 3 children. More information can be found at www.beautifulmesslife.com

Recovery: Tony Hoffman, Pro BMX Competitor and Recovering Addict, on Opioids April 8

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Did you know over the past 3 years that 272 Mid-Shore opioid overdoses were reported by Shore Regional Health-Memorial Hospital at Easton.

Mid-Shore communities are increasingly facing new risks from marijuana, heroin, and prescription drug abuse.  The report adds that prescription drugs have become established as significant substances of abuse, alongside illicit drugs among young adults, with prescription opioids being the second most commonly misused illegal drug after marijuana among persons aged 16 to 25 years old in Talbot County. Between 2010 and 2014 clients in Talbot County reported heroin as their drug of choice has grown 927%. Users cut across all income levels, but for Talbot County, most of the users are young.

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Pictured is Tony Hoffman, Pro BMX Competitor and Recovering Addict

On April 8, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Talbot County Department of Social Services will host a free conference, “Opioid Use Across the Lifespan,” featuring nationally-known guest speaker Tony Hoffman, Pro BMX Competitor and Recovering Addict. The day-long event will be held at the Talbot County Community Center, Easton, MD. Parents, teens, teachers, coaches, medical providers and anyone dealing with youth in our community are encouraged to attend.  Some of the conference topics will include safe disposal of prescription drugs, drug abuse trends and prevention strategies, the use of NARCAN, available resources, and personal stories by local residents.

Tony Hoffman’s story is full of redemption as he has seen some of the highest highs, and the lowest lows.  His BMX career started in high school, as he was a top-ranked BMX amateur with multiple endorsements. As a native of Clovis, CA, where he attended Clovis High School, Hoffman started drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, and using prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin by his senior year. His life took a turn for the worse as he became addicted at such a young age, losing everything. In 2004 he committed a home invasion armed robbery, and was ultimately sent to prison for two years in 2007.  Hoffman began rebuilding his life’s purpose while he spent two years in prison.

Hoffman has dedicated his life, to bringing awareness around the country, describing how dangerous prescription pill and heroin abuse are, as well as advocating a shift in thinking towards current addiction-recovery processes. He has been sober since May 17th, 2007 and is the Founder and Director of The Freewheel Project, a non-profit organization that mentors thousands of youth through action sports: BMX, skateboarding and after-school programs. The Freewheel Project focuses on teaching kids leadership skills, and making healthy life choices, including substance abuse prevention, each year. In 2016 he also began writing his first book, titled, “Coming Clean.” He is a Former BMX Elite Pro and is currently ranked #2 in Masters Pro class, coaching in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with Women’s BMX PRO, Brooke Crain, in his lineup.

Space is limited for the free conference and pre-registration is required by March 24, 2017. Call 410-770-5750 or email Lindsay.newcomb1@maryland.gov.

Recovery: Maryland Public TV to Air ‘Breaking Heroin’s Grip’ February 11

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Maryland Public Television (MPT) and over two dozen other local TV and radio stations to air a new program called Breaking Heroin’s Grip: Road To Recovery on February 11 at 7 p.m. The program was produced in association with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene – Behavioral Health Administration .

The program focuses on the struggles and recovery efforts of three Maryland residents, in rural and urban settings, dealing with opioid addictions. The documentary portion will last 40 minutes and will be followed by a 20 minute live phone bank staffed by crisis hotline staff who will provide callers with information on treatment. The number to call is 800-422-0009.

The program was arranged with broadcast and print media as part of an effort to bring localized coverage of the opioid epidemic. Maryland is among many states with surging numbers of fatal overdoses largely from opioids, which include prescription painkillers and heroin.

For more information please go here  http://www.mpt.org/breakingheroin

 

Profles in Recovery: Talbot County Health Department Prevention Office

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Did you know that 85 percent of people in recovery for alcoholism still smoke, according to the Association of American Family Physicians (AAFP)? In fact, the AAFP says people in recovery may have a greater addiction to nicotine than smokers without a problem with alcohol.

In addition, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism highlights the connection between smoking and alcohol:

  • 80-95 percent of alcoholics smoke.
  • Alcoholics smoke at a rate of three times greater than non-alcoholics.
  • 70 percent of alcoholics are classified as heavy smokers, who smoke more than a pack per day.

Just like quitting alcohol or drugs, giving up cigarettes is one of the best things you can do for yourself. In fact, research shows that quitting smoking actually improves the rate of recovery from other addictions.

The Talbot County Health Department Prevention Office is committed to ending the death and disease caused by tobacco use, and offers free support and resources to anyone ready to quit. They can help you quit cigarettes, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco – even flavored cigars. Their free cessation help includes Chantix, the patch and nicotine gum, along with support on achieving your quit goal. TCHD also can come to any local business and teach smoking cessation classes for your employees. Please call us at 410-819-5600 if you’d like to learn more. Funding for their free cessation support and resources comes from the Cigarette Restitution Fund

Andria Duff, Prevention Coordinator at Talbot County Health Department Prevention Office.

Alexandra Duff, Prevention Coordinator at Talbot County Health Department Prevention Office.

Community Support

The Prevention Office helps community groups, agencies and individuals in providing programs and activities that help prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse. So far this year they’ve provided more than $38,000 in local grants to community organizations, churches and schools on prevention programs and activities and have also launched several mini-campaigns aimed at promoting alcohol-, tobacco- and drug-free lives. Their activities this year also have included several prevention events, both with students and with various community groups.

Talbot County Health Department also work with retailers to reduce tobacco sales to minors, through the Synar program. The Synar program helps ensure our county remains compliant with federal legislation that requires states to enforce laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco products to minors. Each year they conduct educational activities, including youth events, and provide resources for retailers.

Prescription Pills and the Heroin Crisis

The Prevention Office works toward increased awareness and education on the dangers of opioids, including important resources for the community. They work with several community partners on medication drop-off and proper disposal, information on opioids including use, risks and overdose prevention; promotion of the Good Samaritan Law and a host of other activities. Their prevention funding comes from the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant from SAMSHA and the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration.

Underage Drinking and Responsible Retailers

Lastly, TCHD works with local schools and other organizations on preventing underage drinking, binge drinking and impaired driving. They also are working on a campaign geared toward are seniors, many of whom are at risk from alcohol use. In addition, we work with retailers on responsible alcohol practices, offering resources and support where possible. They also support Check Yourself Talbot, a community coalition working to reduce binge drinking here in our community.

The Prevention Office is here to help build a healthier community, and offers a host of resources including educational workshops and a resource loan library. If you’d like information or resources on alcohol, tobacco or drug use prevention please contact Alexandra Duff, prevention coordinator, at 410-819-5600. You can also find resources and information on our Facebook page geared toward parents/caregivers – Be the Parent on the Scene.

Recovery: Barriers discourage Doctors from providing Suboxone to Opioid Addicts

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The Spy took note of a report a few days ago from Maine highlighting a number of state doctor groups having little effect in convincing physicians to become Suboxone providers.

“Boosting the low supply of doctors who prescribe Suboxone is a crucial piece of the puzzle that if solved would help to meet the treatment demand for the thousands of Mainers in the throes of an opioid addiction.

Those efforts haven’t worked yet. Among the barriers are cultural stigmas to treating patients with addictions, financial disincentives, bureaucratic red tape and doctors believing that opening their doors for drug treatment would overwhelm their practices”

Barriers discourage Maine doctors from providing Suboxone to opioid addicts

Profiles in Recovery: The Damon West Story

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It is very hard to imagine the kind of celebrity that is created in the state of Texas for a winning high school quarterback. While Hollywood has attempted this with movies like Friday Night Lights, and the television series by the same name, that state’s high school football culture remains one of the most extraordinarily American phenomenons in the history of sports.

And that is one of the reasons that Damon West story about addiction recovery is so compelling because he was one of those superstars.

With the entire city of Port Arthur, TX (population 40,000) behind his back, Damon led his high school team to championships as well as a starting position with the North Texas University football team. He was adored by that community, and had the good fortune of being the son of one of the most respected sports reporters in the state. In short, very few people have are blessed with such extraordinary gifts and opportunities, And yet, fate and biochemistry had another plan for West.

Fast-forward in 2008 and Damon West is arrested in one of the biggest busts in Dallas history for organized criminal activity for his role in the burglaries to fund his Meth addiction.

The consequences of his drug addiction and dealing led to a severe prison sentence, resulting in a 65-year prison term with very little chance of early parole. He would reentry society as a 93 years-old.

It was under these circumstances the Damon, against these seemingly terminal conditions, began his recovery with the full knowledge that he may be experiencing this new life only within a prison for the rest of his life.

The Spy caught up with Damon at the Bullitt House as he and Jefferson County criminal investigator Marcelo “Mo” Molfino were in the middle of a two-day tour of Talbot County schools to tell local students this remarkable story of recovery. The program was sponsored by Baird, St. John Foundation, and Best Western Plus.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. Damon West does not represent AA in this interview. For more information about recovery programs on the Mid-Shore, please go to the Spy Recovery section here

 

Recovery: Checking out the Whitsitt Center in Chestertown

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Kent County Behavioral Health Staff

Kent County Behavioral Health Staff

Kent County Behavioral Health’s A. F. Whitsitt Center is an inpatient facility in Chestertown offering treatment for adults suffering from chemical dependency and co-occurring disorders.

The Center provides detox and stabilization for people with substance use disorders and/or mental health disorders in a residential setting. The recommended stay is 21 days.

State funded, Behavioral Health Administration, A.F. Whitsitt Center (AFW) has been open since 1983. Additionally, The Governor’s Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force recently awarded the Center $800,000 to increase its number of beds from to 40.

The Center’s mission is to offer a better quality of life through substance abuse prevention, intervention, comprehensive treatment and recovery support services for addiction and other mental health issues.

AFW’s Crisis Bed Unit offers short-term detox and stabilization for patients whose primary diagnosis includes mental health problems. The average length of stay is 12-14 days, and upon discharge, patients are supported with a discharge plan that includes case management and introductions to appropriate agencies that can further support their well-being as they transition back into the community.

According to Tim Dove, Director of Outpatient Treatment for Kent County Behavioral Health, a recent increase in available treatment beds has resulted in shorter waiting lists, from 45 days in October 2015 to 14 days at present. There have been some instances in which a referred individual can be admitted on the day the referral was received.

AFW also reaches out to county residents through the Care Coordination/Peer Support Services offered by Kent County Behavioral Health (KCBH) by providing referrals and helping to monitor sober living environments. The AFW Recovery In Motion Center offers a wide variety of support groups as well as computer access for the purpose of employment research, resume writing, and job applications.

KCBH also works with other agencies in the county to address the problems caused by substance abuse. KCBH staff participate in the Rock Hall Town Hall Meeting, provide presentations at Rotary Club meetings, and conduct programs in faith-based communities around the county, including Hope Fellowship, Chestertown Baptist, Emmanuel Church of Pomona, and St. George Church of Worton. They also work closely with the Alano Club, a 12-step recovery organization.

Says Dove, “The Whitsitt Center recognizes the ongoing opioid epidemic and seeks to make treatment more accessible while securing additional funding for the growing number of people seeking recovery.”

AFW initiatives and projects include:

Education and provision of Naloxone in the community
Working with University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown to access prompt residential treatment for people who have been revived after an opioid overdose.
Working with Kent County District and Circuit Court in the Post Adjudication Substance Abuse Treatment (PAST) program.
Working with Kent County Detention Center (KCDC) treatment for substance use disorder is provided in the jail. Appropriate referrals for continuing care to facilitate reentry after completing their sentence.
Providing education and administration of Vivitrol, a medication that works in conjunction with counseling and recovery.
KCBH participates in the Kent County DSS multidisciplinary team and contributes to various committees and work groups facilitated by Mid-Shore Behavioral Health.

KCBH employs a wide array of professionals, all of whom have a background in treating people with substance use disorder and / or a mental health disorder. The agency also offers a strong internship program for college? Undergraduate? Graduate? Students pursuing studies in behavioral health and addiction treatment services. These interns, along with volunteers from the community, help KCBH personnel participate in varied church services and activities around the county. Gifts and grant support from public and private entities, including the Town of Chestertown and Kent County Rotary, also support treatment and recovery programs offered by KCBH.

 

KCBH Outpatient Addictions Staff

KCBH Outpatient Addictions Staff

 

KCBH Mental Health Outpatient Staff

KCBH Mental Health Outpatient Staff

 

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Recovery: “Flashlight Tag” Ready for Prime Time with Director Talley Wilford

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Over the year or so, the Spy has taken a significant interest in the development of a film being made locally that chronicles the real and very tragic story of Matt Schilling who fell victim to drug abuse. Talley Wilford, a friend and former classmate of Matt’s, has shared with us through several interviews his personal journey and experience to somehow making sense and purpose out of Matt’s short life.

The film “Flashlight Tag” is one of the end results of that journey. Produced and directed by Talley and his partner, Jen Wagner, it tells a fictional story that closely relates to the devastation of losing a close friend to a drug overdose.

It is no small undertaking to produce a two-hour film, but through the resources of local sponsors, advocates, family and friends, what has emerged in Flashlight Tag is a convergence of local interest and art coming together into a story that is both personal and instructive.

In our third interview with Talley, we talk about the film, the experience making it, and what the future holds for him as a director after the completion of his first major production.

 

This video is approximately five minutes in length. A special screening of Flashlight Tag will take place as the Avalon Theater on November 19th at 7:30 pm. For more information, please go here