Methadone Overdoses kill more Teens and Young Adults than Guns Do

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 10th, 2013

Week in Review

Colorado and Washington have recently decriminalized marijuana.  Pot shops can now legally sell marijuana without violating state law.  They are still violating federal law but the Obama administration has stated that they won’t prosecute recreational users in those states.  Even the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) is looking to organize these pot shops.  It seems everyone wants to cash in on greater drug use.  And why not?  What could possibly go wrong with that (see Drug Users Turn Death Dealers as Methadone From Bain Hits Street by Sydney P. Freedberg posted 2/8/2013 on Bloomberg)?

While the number of U.S. overdose deaths involving methadone peaked in 2007, it was still almost six times higher in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, than in 1999.  The data don’t reflect the source of the methadone—whether it’s addiction clinics or pain prescriptions.  More than one drug might be involved in each death.

So how many overdose deaths where there in 2010?  About 4,500.  More than the 3,889 dead from firearms in 2010 for ages 15-24.  Common ages for drug addiction.  So to stop these needless deaths we should do everything we can to prevent drug addiction.  From keeping addictive opiates illegal.  And any drugs that may serve as a gateway to these harder and more dangerous addictive drugs.  Such as marijuana.   Often the first drug many addicts start with.  We should do everything we can to get these drugs away from our kids.  Even if it only saves one life.  The rational President Obama uses for sweeping changes in gun control laws that many on the Left even concede will not prevent the kinds of tragedies like that in Newtown, Connecticut.  Yet President Obama has stated that he won’t prosecute recreational marijuana users in Colorado and Washington.  Even though more teens and young adults die from drug overdoses than from guns.

In the small towns where CRC has clinics, its methadone has surfaced in criminal cases, police and prosecutors say. Dearborn County, Indiana, officials are planning a $10 million expansion to the local jail, needed partly because of crimes tied to CRC’s clinic in Lawrenceburg, said prosecutor F. Aaron Negangard.

“We’ve had people come down to the methadone clinic and rob a bank because they need money to pay for methadone,” he said. “We’ve had people at the McDonald’s shooting up. Whether it’s dealing or someone giving take-homes to a friend, it’s been a huge problem…”

In Virginia, 3-year-old Trevor Hylton died on Sept. 30, 2009, after drinking methadone that his mother, Lisa Michelle Hylton, said she left on a kitchen counter in a cough-syrup cup.

Not only does drug addiction destroy the lives of the drug addicts but of the people around them.  Those people robbing banks to pay for their legal methadone.  And once they get it they go and shoot up at the local McDonald’s.  Where young and impressionable kids can be found.  It’s a “huge problem.”  Also, a 2-year old died from this legal substance when it was brought into the house.  Clearly something should be done to stop drug use.  Even if it only saves one life.  Because it is  destroying the lives of addicts.  And those around them.

In methadone maintenance treatment, an almost 50-year-old field, drug addicts get daily doses of the synthetic narcotic. In appropriate amounts, it alleviates the symptoms of withdrawal from heroin or other opiates without getting users high. In combination with counseling, methadone can help addicts stay off illegal drugs and live with more stability, research shows.

Counseling is “the backbone of addiction treatment,” said Elinore F. McCance-Katz, a physician who has advised California state officials on treating opiate dependency. Without it, there’s a “good possibility” that patients won’t reduce or stop their drug use, she said.

Once addicted it’s a bitch to kick.  A lot of people fail trying.  Some don’t even try.  As getting high is more fun than trying to get clean.  Further proof that we need to do something to stop drug use.  Even if it saves only one life.

With the Obama administration looking the other way to flagrant violations of federal drug laws in Colorado and Washington and the UFCW helping to decriminalize marijuana to profit off of drug use one has to wonder why anyone cares about a story about methadone addiction.  This is not the kind of story you want to run when you’re trying to ease drug laws to lock in the youth and drug addict vote.  So why is this even in the news?

Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, paid $723 million for CRC in 2006, corporate filings show. Romney, who left Bain in 1999, had no input in its investments or management of companies after that, he has said…

“With a nonprofit, the incentive is to get people to treatment and wean them off,” Bragg said. “When you have a for-profit and cash-only business, there is no incentive to detox them. In fact, there’s an incentive not to detox them because of the continual cash flow.”

Oh, that’s why.  It’s Mitt Romney’s fault.  Of course.  And that contemptible profit incentive.  It’s never the drug addict’s fault.  Or the societal decay that condones drug use.  Because kids are going to be kids.  They’re going to experiment with drugs as much as they will experiment with sex.  No point telling them not to.  Because kids have to be kids.  Besides, who are they hurting?

Virdie Channing Compton, 30, of Council, Virginia, was on methadone maintenance for more than four years at a CRC clinic in Cedar Bluff after opiate abuse that began in his teens, he said in an interview. After a year or two, he was shooting up his take-homes, he said, and abusing other drugs.

“I was strung out” worse than before, Compton said. He beat the clinic’s drug tests, he said, by sneaking in clean urine in a bottle tucked in his underwear.

On June 3, 2011, Compton had gotten his dose at the clinic and was driving through Council in an unlicensed farm truck when he veered into some oncoming motorcycles. He hit William Van Nortwick, a retired teacher from Safety Harbor, Florida, who was traveling with two sons and a friend on vacation.

Van Nortwick died. Tests showed Compton was under the influence of methadone and Alprazolam, an anti-anxiety drug. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He’s serving a nine- year prison sentence.

Kids can hurt a great deal of people when they grow up into drug addicts.  Would that have happened if Bain Capital didn’t take over these methadone clinics?  Probably not.  As these clinics would have been shut down by the state due to budget problems.  Which is why they were privatized in the first place.  So these people may have survived.  But this guy would have still been a drug addict.  An untreated drug addict.  Who may have continued to work his way up to harder drug use.  And turned to crime to support his habit.  Perhaps even becoming a drug dealer.  Possible taking even more lives in the long run with his untreated addiction.  Maybe sharing needles in a heroin addiction.  Catching and spreading AIDS.  Or simply dying earlier from a drug overdose.

Some states are more stringent than others. Ohio has banned for-profit methadone clinics for decades, after state mental- health advocates and leaders decided addiction care was “more in line with the mission of not-for-profit organizations,” said Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services.

That doesn’t keep CRC from treating Ohio addicts. The company’s East Indiana Treatment Center in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, saw 2,479 patients in 2011, state records show; only 380 of them were Indiana residents. Almost 45 percent, or 1,111 were from Ohio. Most of the others, 987, were from Kentucky.

Part of the reason for the inflow: Indiana’s rules on take- home doses are more lenient than those in Kentucky or Ohio, said Vidya Kora, a past president of the Indiana State Medical Association. Kora, a LaPorte County commissioner and former coroner, has called for turning all methadone clinic operations over to non-profit agencies.

While Indiana adopted legislation in 2008 aimed at mandating marijuana testing for methadone patients, creating a central registry of patients and decreasing the maximum number of take-home doses to 14 from 30, the rules are still less stringent than others, said state Senator Ron Grooms, a Republican whose southern Indiana district includes a CRC clinic in Jeffersonville.

Apparently using marijuana is a problem for methadone patients.  Do they test for beer and bourbon?  For according to marijuana proponents smoking marijuana is no different from drinking beer or bourbon.

When the Netherlands decriminalized marijuana one of the unintended consequences was the drug tourism that it attracted.  And the crime.  Causing them to later demand proof of residency before buying marijuana in their coffee shops.  The more potent marijuana with higher levels of THC has caused further unintended consequences.  Which they want to prevent the sale of.  Complicating their drug policies.  Something Colorado and Washington will have to deal with.  And the states that are in close proximity to them.

If they kept all drugs illegal there would probably be at least one child less that experiments with marijuana.  And moves on to a heroin addiction and a methadone detoxification.  Shouldn’t we do this?  Even if it only saves one child?

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FT116: “Free stuff is rarely good stuff.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 4th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

Free is Nice but Sometimes it’s just worth Paying for Something Nicer

Often times when someone offers us something for free some of us say, “If it’s free it’s for me.”  Because we like free stuff.  Who doesn’t smile when they see the free samples in a grocery store?  Who doesn’t like getting the free swag from a visiting salesperson?  Sure they have a corporate emblem on them but free flashlights, pens, coffee mugs, baseball hats, etc., are nice.  Because they’re free.  But not everything free is nice.  Those free samples in the grocery store are.  Because they want to get you to buy some of that stuff they’re giving away free.  And if it doesn’t taste delicious that isn’t going to happen.  But the swag is often not high quality stuff.  Or something you would not necessarily buy yourself.  Sure, you’ll use a coffee mug at work with a corporate emblem on it.  But if you have to pay for that mug chances are you’re going to get something you like.  And when you do chances are it’s not going to have a corporate emblem on it.

While traveling in Tennessee once I stayed at one of those hotels that is just a little more than a motel.  One of those multi-floor things that’s longer than it is tall.  One of the hotel amenities was a free continental breakfast.  Consisting of coffee, tea, orange juice, rolls and jam.  Mmm.  Good.  But I passed.  Because within walking distance from this hotel sat a Waffle House.  And if you’ve ever eaten at a Waffle House you’ll know why.  The All Star Special breakfast.  With Pecan Waffles.  And, of course, hash browns scattered ‘all the way’.  Enough to put you into a food coma.  A comfortable food coma.  And I chose to pay for this delicious breakfast instead of eating the free one.  Why?  Because on a scale of 1 to 10 the free continental breakfast is about a ‘3’.  While Waffle House is a consistent ’11’.

I owned a full-size sedan that was pretty loaded.  It wasn’t a luxury car but it pretty much had everything a luxury car had in the way of comforts.  One day I had to take it back to the dealer for some warranty work.  Being a new car under warranty they gave me a free loaner to use while my car was in for service.  Talk about service.  The car they gave me, though, was a subcompact with no amenities.  Unless you call a roof and a couple of doors amenities.  This car didn’t have power locks or windows.  Or air conditioning.  And it only had an AM radio.  Which made for an unpleasant 45 minute commute one way during the dog days of summer.  I returned the free loaner the next day.  And rented a car with air conditioning.  It cost more.  But for me it was worth it.  Because I didn’t like getting drenched in sweat on the drive in to work.  Free is nice but sometimes it’s just worth paying for something nicer.

For-Profit Utilities pay Premium Wages for Electricians to Go Out in Storms to Start Repair Work for Profits

They say you get what you pay for.  They say that because you do.  Things you pay for will always be better than the things you get for free.  As noted above.  But in other ways as well.  Take your electric utility, for example.  Some people would like to get free electricity.  To have the government nationalize our utilities.  Then tax the rich to pay for both the installation and the maintenance of the electrical infrastructure.  So we the people can get free electricity.  But let’s take a closer look at this idea.  And see how free electricity can be worse than the kind we pay for.  By looking at something that happens all too often.  The electric power outage.

Consider two electric utilities.  One owned and operated by the government.  And one by a for-profit utility.  Which one do you think would have a greater incentive in getting that power restored?  The one that pays for that utility with taxes whether you use it or not?  Or the one that will lose money when those electric meters stop turning?  The one charging by the meter, of course.  Because they lose money during an outage.  Unlike the government.  Where the electric utility is just one of the many things they pay for with the taxes they collect.  And if they roll those taxes into your property tax bill you will pay those taxes at most twice a year.  Well, most of us.  Which means there will be no correlation between paying your taxes and using your free electricity.  Unlike with the for-profit utility. 

If the power goes out for a large section of the for-profit utility’s customers there will be an immediate interruption to their revenue stream.  So much so that they will pay premium wages for electricians to go out in storms to start the repair work.  To get those meters turning as soon as possible again.  Because time is money.  And the more time that passes with those meters NOT turning the greater the lost money.  Money that they can never get back.  Because people don’t have to buy extra electricity to make up for the electricity they didn’t use while sitting in the dark.  So people are much better off with a for-profit utility.  Because the for-profit utility and the people both want the same thing.  To restore that power as quickly as possible.  Albeit for different reasons.

The People Paying for Free Stuff have no Incentive to Pay for High Quality

Beggars can’t be choosy.  If you’re getting something for free the people giving it to you expect you to be grateful.  And they don’t want to hear you complain.  For however bad the quality is that they’re giving you it sure is a lot better than what you had before.  Nothing.  Worse, you’re now in their debt.  If they ask you for a favor it’s hard to say no after they’ve given you something for free. 

If you’re buying something for your family you’re going to make sure you get the best quality your money can buy.  If you’re barbecuing for your family it may be steaks and Italian sausage.  If your nieces and nephews are coming over it may just be hot dogs and hamburger.  If you’re buying for the kids in little league you may just buy the hotdogs.  Or volunteer to bring snacks.  And show up with one large bag of potato chips.

When it’s free you get what you pay for.  Not great quality.  Which is why free stuff is rarely good stuff.  Whether it’s swag, breakfast, a rental car, electricity or food at a picnic.  The people paying for your free stuff have no incentive to pay for high quality.  Which is why we should never expect high quality for anything we don’t pay for.  Including public education.  Public housing.  And, of course, public health care.  To name a few.  Each of which has a higher quality private counterpart.  For when we pay we have choice.  And because we have choice the private sector competes for us by offering higher quality.  Why?  For the same reason a for-profit utility provides better quality than a nationalized utility.  Because profits make things better.  And making a profit is the only thing that will get an electrician to climb a pole during a thunderstorm to restore our electric power.  Something we’re all grateful for.  Especially if you’re taking care of a sick child in bed.  Or a parent.

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