States Begin Receiving Money From $26B Opioid Settlement

Families hope the money can help combat an epidemic some say is just getting worse, as fentanyl claims lives and targets younger generations.

Opioids rocked households and seized people of all walks of life. 

Kim Humphrey, a commander with the Phoenix Police Department at the time, thought he had it all.

“A marriage, a home, a wonderful life raising two sons,” he said. “It was really good.”

But a call about his 15-year-old son ignited distress that would span nearly a decade:

“‘My daughter goes to school with your son and she’s very concerned that he’s going to overdose,'” he continued. 

A drug test confirmed their fear — it came back positive for opioids. The struggle spiraled and extended its grip to their second son.

“As a parent, we’re looking at this and saying, ‘We must be the worst parents on the planet,'” Humphrey said.  

It took Humphrey and his wife years to find a nonprofit support group called Parents of Addicted Loved Ones, also known as PAL, which he now leads.

“That was the first time that we were sitting in a room full of people who understood,” Humphrey continued.

The opioid crisis contributed to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. in two decades. At the epicenter — three major pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. A yearslong multistate lawsuit led to a historic $26 billion  settlement over the next 18 years.  

Now, some of that money is starting to come in. This year, by the end of August, 27 of nearly 50 states that filed lawsuits had received a total of $310 million. Of that, Arizona received $16 million of their more than $540 million settlement — money Humphrey hopes will trickle down to PAL, which is in dire need of financial assistance following the pandemic.

“What we do is this peer-to-peer support that has plenty of research behind it that it works. And it did for us,” Humphrey said.

Each state and county has a say in how the money is spent. In Wisconsin, a spending dispute temporarily blocked funds from distribution. 

Sara Whaley, a research associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the school put together five planning principles to help guide states on spending.

“This is the opportunity to kind of look at what you’re doing and where you’re investing money, and if there are any gaps,” she said. “One, is to spend the money to save lives. Two, is to use evidence to guide spending. Three, invest in youth prevention. Four, focus on racial equity. And five, create a fair and transparent process.”

She adds that the settlement includes basic payout guidelines.

“They are things like broadening access to naloxone or increasing the use of medications to treat opioid use disorder, enriching prevention strategies, improving treatment in jail,” Whaley said.

It’s treatment desperately needed as fentanyl fuels deaths and overdoses, with a holistic and smart spending approach.

Humphrey hopes families can find the peace his has now reached. Both his sons are now clean.

Source: newsy.com

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This Year Marks The Fifth Anniversary Of Hurricanes Maria And Irma

By Newsy Staff
September 20, 2022

Five years on, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still rebuilding and repairing after hurricanes Irma and Maria.

This month marks five years since hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  

Both Irma and Maria were Category 5 hurricanes that made their way through the regions within two weeks of each other, killing dozens of people by the official count — although many experts believe the actual tally was far greater. The hurricanes also caused billions of dollars in damage to both those island regions. 

In the U.S. Virgin Islands in particular, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Maria damaged or destroyed 70% of the buildings on St. Croix, the region’s largest island. The hurricanes tore through a lot of the island’s infrastructure, including schools and the island’s only hospital. The power and communications networks in most of the USVI went down, with 80% to 90% of transmission and distribution systems destroyed. It was damage that would take months to repair and restore. 

That’s a daunting task for any region, but especially so for one that’s as small and isolated as the USVI. 

“It’s almost scary at times because you think ‘how do you do an $11 billion repair with 87,000 people and a workforce of only about 42,000?'” said U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. 

Bryan spoke with Newsy about the challenges and successes in their recovery, and where there is still work to be done.  

While acknowledging the intense damage, Bryan said the recovery efforts offer new hope for rebuilding in a way that better prepares the homes and the power grid in the area for future hurricanes or similar natural disasters. 

“But what we’re seeing is better building codes produce more resilient buildings. And then we’re having an opportunity through this storm. We built our our power grid three times in the last 30 years, completely. This time, we’re undergrounding more than 50% of the grid. You have some opportunities for renewables. That’s going to make every Virgin Islander a little more energy independent. And we’re just seeing a way now to because the most debilitating factor in our economy is the price of power,” said Bryan. 

The price of power is no joke. The USVI has some of the highest electricity rates in the U.S. and the world.  

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, midway through 2021, the average price of electricity paid by U.S. Virgin Island residents was about 43 cents per kilowatt hour. To compare, the average for the U.S. was about 14 cents for that same time period.   

Now, that pricing is in part because of petroleum fuel surcharges. The island relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to power its grid. But in rebuilding since the hurricanes, Gov. Bryan says the goal is to rely more on renewables like wind and solar energy. 

“So we depend a lot on the tropical wind making that power shift, the things that we’re able to do, adding new generators to the plant, creating a microgrid, adding a whole lot of solar power will allow us to get our power built a little bit closer to what normal Americans or mainland Americans [experience]. And that alone is going to just strengthen our families so much and, of course, create some resounding effects in our economy,” he said. 

Bryan also mentioned the caveat of climate change. Its growing effects could complicate life on the Virgin Islands further and increase hardships for its residents. Many of those residents are still coming to terms with the toll of Irma and Maria — not just in the physical aspects of their lives, but also in the mental aspects. 

“I think when you see in the Virgin Islands, we look at the mental health wholeness that’s in our faces, the people on the street, whether drug addiction, alcohol, they’re self-medicating themselves. But the real problem is a deeper problem, a deep seated problem, where as people of color, we don’t like to talk about our mental health. And we if there’s such a stigma around it, we’ve come a long way it with that. But we have a lot to go,” said Bryan. 

While the USVI’s rebuilding efforts have seen relative success, many areas of Puerto Rico are still struggling to recover from the massive devastation the hurricanes brought five years ago.  

Puerto Rico is not only a much larger territory, but it is also governed in a different way. It has 78 mayors through whom relief efforts and money needed to be individually funneled and utilized, while the USVI has a unitary executive branch. That means there are no mayors, and governors hold those responsibilities. 

Puerto Rico’s power grid also runs mainly on fossil fuels, but its recovery has not been on par with the USVI. And the company that currently controls its power grid has a problematic record. Newsy has previously reported on the damage from Maria and Irma in Puerto Rico as part of our documentary series, “In Real Life.” We investigated the region’s continuing power failures and how a private sector monopoly over the grid could be what’s keeping Puerto Ricans in the dark. 

Source: newsy.com

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Officials: 8 Injured In Chicago Apartment Building Explosion

By Associated Press
September 20, 2022

The explosion at the three-story, 36-unit apartment building in the South Austin neighborhood occurred shortly before 9:30 a.m., officials said.

At least six people were rushed to hospitals after being injured when an explosion Tuesday tore through the top floor of a Chicago apartment building, officials said.

The explosion at the three-story, 36-unit apartment building in the South Austin neighborhood occurred shortly before 9:30 a.m., officials said. At least 10 ambulances were on the scene, according to the Chicago Fire Department, which requested help searching the structure.

“Requesting manpower for searches in structure,” the department tweeted.

Photographs and video posted on the Chicago Fire Department’s twitter page shows that much of the top floor of the four-story brick apartment building on the city’s West Side was destroyed by the blast. Scores of bricks and other debris had fallen onto the street, crushing at least one car and seriously damaging two others.

Several people who lived in the building said they were home when the explosion rocked the entire building.

“I was asleep, and all of a sudden there was a loud booming,” Lawrence Lewis, who was asleep at the time, told WGN television. “I woke up to my windows gone, my front door blown open. I just saw smoke, and I ran out of the house. I was asleep. I’m shook up right now.”

No cause of the explosion had been determined. The department said in a series of tweets that the Chicago police bomb squad and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on their way as well.

The Fire Department said conditions of three victims range from serious to critical.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

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Why Do Some People Live So Long?

The CDC predicts life expectancy to grow for Americans in the next few years from 76 years old to about 85 years old.

The U.S. life expectancy is 76 years according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Others are living beyond that benchmark. Government numbers show there are more than 72,000 centenarians in the U.S., or those who’ve reached the age of 100.  

The CDC predicts life expectancy for all Americans grow to 85.6 years by 2060.  They credit current patterns in mortality caused by an more vaccinations, fewer infectious diseases, and alcohol and smoking prevention programs.   

Jan Gantz is already past that. She celebrated her 90th birthday in April surrounded by friends and family at her home in Sarasota, Florida.  

“I’m almost 5-6 months from my 91st year and I still don’t know how I got to be 90. And as I told somebody, it happens one day at a time. And then all of a sudden, it’s like what?” said Gantz. “The party was beautiful, they put so much planning into it.”

You’re probably wondering what her secret is to staying happy and healthy. 

“I play mahjong several times a week, I go to the gym twice a week — that doesn’t mean it’s fun necessarily, I try and do water aerobics, entertain at least once a week and I go out socially,” said Gantz. 

The number of Americans 90-and-older has nearly tripled since the 1980s. 

But Jan still has some ways to go to reach the bar set by these two: Jeanne Louise Calment of France and Jiroemon Kimura of Japan. 

The oldest female and male ever lived to 122 years and 116 years, respectively, according to Guinness World Records. 

Family members say Calment had a good diet, but had a sweet tooth and ate about two pounds of chocolate a week. 

Kimura’s life motto was reportedly “eat light to live long.” 

There might be some truth to the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” 

A study out this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed obesity and diabetes can deter how long we live. Researchers recommended a Mediterranean diet focused on seafood and veggies and went light on meat and sugar. 

Regular exercise can slow down father time and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. 

German researchers analyzed a handful of studies and determined regular exercise can add almost four years to some people’s life span. Good genes also factor in. It’s estimated about a quarter of the variation in life span is dictated by genetics. 

Yet the science to all the specific genes and how they help longevity is still in the works. And then there’s lifestyle. 

The more seniors stay mentally active, the more it can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institute on Aging. 

It’s something Jan Gantz at 90 has been able to do, even through isolation during the pandemic. 

“I spent time reading, interacting on the computer with people playing mahjong and games, and it was just a different time. And I feel very blessed to have gotten through that and not feeling scarred by a lot of it,” said Gantz.  

When asked what advice Gantz has for others looking to live a long and happy life, she gave an answer that’s reflective of how she’s lived hers.  

“Be kind. And smile. You go out with a smile, you’re always going to meet somebody. And kindness I think in today’s world is going to go so far,” she said. 

Source: newsy.com

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Mexican Faith Leader Jailed For Sex Abuse; Flock Stays Loyal

Legions of Naasón Joaquín García’s followers remain loyal to him, viewing his imprisonment as a challenge that will strengthen their church.

Their spiritual leader is behind bars in California after pleading guilty to sexually abusing minors. Yet legions of followers of Naasón Joaquín García in his home base in Mexico remain fervently loyal to him, viewing his imprisonment as a challenge that will strengthen their church, La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World), rather than weaken it.

His continued hold on his flock was evident recently at the Christian church’s main temple in Guadalajara, as thousands gathered to pray for their absent leader during their Holy Supper, the most sacred festivity for La Luz del Mundo. To gasps of surprise, Joaquín García addressed the congregation by telephone from his Los Angeles prison, where he is serving a 16-year sentence.

“I do not see the bars that separate me from you,” he told his followers. “I see your beautiful faces … because you are the children of God.”

Even outside the temple, the sound of his voice stirred emotions among dozens of devotees guarding entries to the sanctuary. Nearly all closed their eyes. Many lifted their fists. Some knelt and wept.

Near the end of the call, Joaquín García asked his followers to raise their hands and their voices to God and repeat after him: “I promise you, Lord, that whatever the suffering, I will never abandon you.”

It seems clear that many members of the church, founded in Mexico in 1926 and now active in many countries, aren’t ready to abandon Joaquín García as their “apostle” — the term used for the church’s leader. Many believe he was sent by God to preach to them and are convinced he is innocent, despite his guilty plea.

“The apostle always shows determination to move forward,” said Phares Ruiz, who traveled from El Salvador to attend the Holy Supper. “He’s firm in his convictions, and the church is firm as well in its purpose of moving forward.”

Ruiz told The Associated Press that his family has belonged to La Luz del Mundo for three generations.

Joaquín García, 53, was arrested in 2019 in California. He initially faced more than 20 charges, but most were dismissed after a plea deal with prosecutors. The church contended that prosecutors withheld or doctored evidence, and said Joaquín García pleaded guilty because he didn’t think he could get a fair trial.

“The Apostle of Jesus Christ has had no choice but to accept with much pain that the agreement presented is the best way forward to protect the church and his family,” the church said.

The home base of the church is the Guadalajara neighborhood of Hermosa Provincia, Spanish for “beautiful province.” Jericho, Bethlehem and Nazareth are among the names of roads converging on the white temple that locals call “the cake,” for its white tiers that diminish in size as they rise upward.

Congregation members in the neighborhood call each other “brother” and “sister” and take pride in helping one another. The church’s media relations office claims there is no crime in the area.

The neighborhood has cafeterias, clinics, a recreation center and a store that sells Bibles and religious-themed games for children. From the walls hang photographs of Joaquín García, smiling and wearing a tuxedo. Spanning the main street is a sculpture spelling “innocent” in Spanish.

Sara Pozos, 49, is among many in the neighborhood who believe their leader’s imprisonment has strengthened the church.

“I think it changed for the better in the sense that now we feel more united, and we feel more empowered,” she said.

“It has been a very difficult issue, of course, for him and for us,” she added. “We all suffer something in life, but one learns to know those moments where you see that God is doing something to help you, to get ahead, not to let you fall.”

Another neighborhood resident, Sailem Castillo, also said she was upbeat despite Joaquín García’s imprisonment.

“For us everything is very nice, everything continues to work,” she said. “Ministers, pastors and deacons have their same duties. They bless the bread, the wine, and do other things as if he were here, although physically he is not.”

The jailed leader is the grandson of La Luz del Mundo’s founder: Eusebio Joaquín González, a member of the military who began preaching in 1926. He’s known to church members as Aarón — a result, he said, of God asking him to change his name.

Aarón’s wife was the church’s first member. Today it claims a membership of more than 5 million in some 50 nations.

La Luz del Mundo is sometimes described as evangelical, but its members do not embrace this term. The church’s doctrine is learned from the cradle. Parents give biblical names to their children and take them to the temple at 40 days old to promise they will guide them to follow their path.

Most teachings translate into something quotidian. During services, the women sit to the right and men to the left. In some cities, people tithe more than 10% of their monthly income to the church. Biblical verses are cited to explain behavior.

Castillo, a recently married woman of 25, told AP the church advises members how “to lead a decent life,” in which women may not drink alcohol or go out on frequent dates. Like other women in Hermosa Provincia, she wears dresses and skirts that are not form-fitting, eschews makeup and earrings and wears her hair long.

The religion is “very demanding,” said Arlene M. Sánchez-Walsh, a professor of religious studies at Azusa Pacific University, a Christian institution near Los Angeles.

“It is not sufficient to say ‘I have converted’ or “I have baptized'” she said. “You have to follow certain steps to prove your loyalty.”

For some young people, these steps include memorizing songs honoring the apostle, reading the Bible before bed and not marrying someone from outside the church.

“All this goes to show that although you are part of this world, you have accepted a very particular way of life because you are Christian,” Sánchez-Walsh said.

Those born in the community are baptized at 14 because, according to the church, that lets them decide whether to reaffirm or leave the faith. Nevertheless, there are former members who say their ceremony was not optional.

Ahead of the baptism, in a ritual known as “the revivals,” children undergo days of prayer and fasting inside a temple. The revival consists of repeating “Glory to Christ” nonstop until the youths are heard speaking in tongues to testify that the Holy Spirit has entered them.

For Raquel Haifa, 43, fulfilling the revivals was a traumatizing experience that she considers abusive, because minors are not able to decline to take part.

“I did cry, because I was saying, ‘God, deliver me from this, make this time pass quickly,'” Haifa said from Texas.

Currently, journalists are not allowed to attend services or take photographs inside the church’s temples. Since Joaquín García’s arrest, La Luz del Mundo’s media relations team says it cannot make official statements on his case because litigation is ongoing.

On Sept. 8 a lawsuit was filed in California against Joaquín García and four church members alleged to be complicit in the sex abuse. The suit was filed by five women who — under the pseudonym Jane Doe — were identified as victims in the original criminal charges against him.

It accuses Joaquín García of conditioning victims, under the guise of religion, to serve him above all else, ultimately resulting in the sexual abuse over the course of several years.

The lawsuit includes detailed accounts from the five plaintiffs alleging that they were pressured by Joaquín García and his associates into performing for pornographic photo shoots, and were forced to engage in sex acts with him.

“The church weaponized the faith of their most vulnerable members,” said Jonati Joey Yedidsion, one of the lawyers handling the lawsuit. “Instead of protecting those innocent women, Naasón and the church fostered and then brutally preyed on their blind trust and allegiance in the ‘Apostle'”.

The case has been difficult for some former members who have distanced themselves from the church.

Speaking on a podcast called “I Left a Sect,” Lo-ami Salazar said Hermosa Provincia used to be her “happy place.”

“Knowing that these abuses took place there, in my happy place, in my safe place, is horrible,” she said.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Former Senior CIA Officers Describe Their Mental Health Struggles

They discuss how they got help amid high stress jobs. The CIA’s Director of Medical Services says she sees anxiety, depression, and family problems.

Imagine you’re a Black intelligence officer in a foreign country, tasked with recruiting a person who’s profiting from slave labor; or spending your nights at the office, watching drone footage of explosions after your mother dies of cancer. 

Janaki Kates, a former senior intelligence officer at the CIA, and other former senior intelligence officers spoke with Newsy for this story. They have never shared their mental health challenges with a news organization.  

NEWSY’S SASHA INGBER: Do you think that people on the outside understand what intelligence officers go through?  

JANAKI KATES: No, I don’t. I don’t believe that people on the outside can fully comprehend what intelligence officers go through. I was one of the few minority females, and female leaders at the agency. I, because of the stigma around mental health, really felt like I didn’t want to admit that I needed help. 

Kates had worked in a war zone, but says another battle began after her second son was born. 

KATES: Suddenly I woke up after his first birthday and realized, why do I still cry every day coming into work? And why do I still have these thoughts of like, he’s going to get really sick, or something really terrible is going to happen? 

She was later diagnosed with anxiety and delayed postpartum depression.  

For Douglas Wise, also a former senior intelligence officer for the CIA, the particular problem was alcohol. 

DOUGLAS WISE: They could smell it on me when I came to work in the morning. So the first time I knew was when, literally, it was an intervention by my colleagues and by my supervisor and literally called me into the office and said, ‘you have a serious problem and you need to do something about it.'” 

INGBER: Are there a lot of intelligence officers who seek out your advice and want to learn about your experience? 

WISE: I would say I probably get a call about every month, every other month.  

Intelligence officers aren’t allowed to share classified information with a therapist outside of their agencies, and some worry that speaking candidly with a therapist on the inside may hurt their careers. 

“In a place to keep secrets, there are no secrets when it comes to your personnel file,” said Brian Scott, another former senior intelligence officer for the CIA.  

Scott calls it a “hallway file.”

“If a manager needs to understand what kind of a person he or she is getting in their field office,  or if a promotion board wants to make sure before they elevate someone to a senior rank,  issues that should be handled with confidentiality and only between that officer and his or her mental health support system will be made available to those assignment and/or promotion boards,” said Scott. “And once one person knows, it’s not a secret anymore.”

We sat down with the CIA’s director of medical services, who asked that Newsy conceal her appearance and just use her first name, Victoria.  

VICTORIA: We are not immune to life. Life happens to our folks just like everybody else. And so we do see anxiety and depression in our workforce. We also see marital issues and family problems and family stressors. And again, sometimes this is related to what we’re asking our officers to do, to move around, to serve in different parts of the world, to be away from their families for long periods of time.

INGBER: Some intelligence officers say that they fear seeking any kind of mental health support because they’re scared that it’s going to jeopardize their career. Is there any truth to that?  

VICTORIA: We definitely heard that. And we very much are trying to address it. I would say what’s most likely to jeopardize someone’s career is if they have an issue and they don’t seek out support and it gets worse and worse and worse and then starts to impact their reliability, their judgment and their stability. 

She says the stigma around mental health issues has been slowly lifting. 

VICTORIA: Senior leaders share their own experiences, both with mental health struggles and with seeking help from our employee assistance program or other resources. And that is really setting the culture and setting the tone that, yes, you can have a problem, address the problem, and still very much succeed in your career.

Kates first saw an agency therapist, then got a recommendation for a professional outside.  

INGBER: And what kind of help worked for you?  

KATES: I had been trained for so long to keep this facade of “nothing is wrong.” My therapist was able to help me latch onto my logical brain and think through, ‘why am I feeling this? Where is this coming from?'”   

Wise says he went through a 30-day treatment program, followed by two years of counseling and another year of monitoring. He says what really helped him was never feeling judged. 

“They’re not judgmental,” said Wise. “They’re not assessing whether you’re a good person or a bad person. You are just a person with the disease of alcoholism. The combination of the agency’s rehabilitative program and the loving support of my wife, you know, allows me to do this interview today. You’d be talking to me, you know, in front of a gravestone in Arlington is what you’d be doing.”

Eventually, he was able to return to every part of his job. 

“I ended up as the number two in a national intelligence agency of the most powerful nation in the history of the human race. That says a lot about the intelligence community. And yes, it says a little bit about me, too,” said Wise.  

Newsy’s mental health initiative “America’s Breakdown: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis” brings you deeply personal and thoughtfully told stories on the state of mental health care in the U.S. Click here to learn more.

Source: newsy.com

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There’s A New Experimental Treatment For Alcohol, Drug Addiction

Naltrexone is already FDA approved, but not as an implant. Options are being studied and if all goes well, one could be greenlighted in 2024.

You might know Jeremy Miller from the ’80s family sitcom “Growing Pains.” But it’s the pains of addiction that he wants to share now.

“Even on the show, I never had it together,” he said.

Miller has a family medical history of alcohol use disorder on both sides. He began drinking at a very young age.  

“My grandparents were very traditional ’70s functional alcoholics,” he continued. “Four-and-a-half years old, I would go around my grandmother and grandfather’s parties afterwards and finish off all the beers.”

He didn’t touch alcohol again until age 12, binge drinking during the later seasons of the show. 

As Miller grew up on camera, the alcohol habit worsened off camera. 

“My brain chemistry hadn’t changed to that point yet,” he said. “It wasn’t until after I got back from the second reunion, which was filmed in New Orleans, during Mardi Gras — it wasn’t until I got back from that, I woke up one day and realized that I absolutely, unequivocally needed a drink.” 

He was missing important family events. Drinking and blacking out. At one point he nearly drowned while drunk.  

“Had I ever owned a gun, I do not believe I’d be sitting here — those moments of self-loathing and despair,” Miller continued. “There was no future. It didn’t exist. I saw nothing beyond my next drink.” 

The future, now his present, is 11 years sober with a one-day relapse. That relapse propelled him to try a treatment he says saved his life: an experimental naltrexone implant. 

“It’s the size of a couple of aspirin,” said Dr. Joseph DeSanto, who specializes in addiction treatment.

Patients must go through a minimal surgery where a doctor makes a small incision, inserts a pellet in each side of the abdomen and closes it with a couple of stitches. 

The implants slowly release naltrexone and dissolve away. 

“Nausea and headache are typically the two most common side effects that our patients come across,” DeSanto continued. “And typically those side effects dissipate over time.”

This is how naltrexone works: Inside our brains, we have nerves. Their endings have different receptors that receive chemical messages from neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are linked to feelings like happiness, focus, reward and motivation.  

In an addicted patient’s brain, substances overload the receptors. It’s too much of those reward feelings. On repeat, the brain starts to crave it. Naltrexone fills the slot of the receptor for both opiates and alcohol but it does not activate it: No big reward feelings. The craving isn’t there.  

Another way to think of it: Take baseball, specifically, a baseball glove. You catch the baseball and now it just sits there. No other baseballs can come into the glove. With that ball in the glove, you can’t do much with it. The naltrexone reaction in the brain is essentially the same.  

“I kept waiting for that craving to return, for that want and need. And it never did,” Miller said. 

Mental health experts say overcoming cravings are crucial for the more than 20 million Americans with substance use disorder. They can last for months.  

The latest data from 2019 shows 9% of those in recovery say they used medication as part of their treatment. 

Naltrexone itself is already FDA approved, but not as an implant. Patients currently have two options: a shot that works for 30 days or a daily oral pill.  

Research has found naltrexone implants — like the one Miller got — last months longer and are more effective at preventing a relapse. So, the race is on to make a long-lasting implant and get it FDA approved. 

Three-, six- and 12-month implants are being studied. If all goes well, one could be greenlighted in 2024. 

“Since it’s a new delivery route, we have to show the FDA the safety of that local site since it is a minor procedure,” BioCorRx CEO Brady Granier said.  

Right now, if someone in the U.S. wants to get an implant, they need a doctor to have a compounding pharmacy to make a pellet specific to them.  

The FDA doesn’t approve that custom med, meaning its effectiveness, quality and safety aren’t a sure thing. It’s also not covered by insurance. It’s very expensive. Patients pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.  

Miller says connections and generosity helped him get his implant.  

“There were a lot of roadblocks, you know? Price was a very big thing,” he said.

Mental health experts say these medical implants are not a magic fix. A patient should also undergo treatments like meetings, therapy and peer support. 

Miller says for him, it meant working through his unresolved hurt. 

“I had an abusive stepfather … a lot of trauma that I did not deal with, was not equipped to deal with and was running from. And it created a lot of anxiety as well. And I found that alcohol soothed that anxiety at a very young age,” Miller continued.

His healing includes his family and paying it forward. He’s worked peer support and volunteers, and he shares his story with others.

“It’s just a message that, yes, there is help. And if you want it bad enough, it can happen.”

The Jeremy Miller story includes pain and hope and chapters that haven’t wrapped yet.

Source: newsy.com

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Police Arrest Memphis Man In Livestreamed Shootings; 4 Dead

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 8, 2022

Records show the suspect is a felon who was released early from a prison term for aggravated assault.

A gunman who livestreamed himself driving around Memphis shooting at people, killing four and wounding three others in seemingly random attacks, was finally arrested after crashing a stolen car, police said early Thursday.

The hourslong rampage had police warning people across the city to shelter in place, locking down a baseball stadium and university campuses and suspending public bus services as frightened residents wondered where the man might strike next.

The suspect, Ezekiel Kelly, 19, a violent felon who was released early from prison this year, was taken into custody at around 9 p.m. in the Memphis neighborhood of Whitehaven, police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said.

Memphis Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said during a news conference early Thursday that four people were killed and three others were wounded in seven shootings and at least two carjackings.

The first killing was at 12:56 a.m. Wednesday, and officers responded to three more crime scenes before receiving a tip at 6:12 p.m. that the suspect was livestreaming himself threatening to cause harm to citizens, Davis said.

Police then sent out an alert warning people to be on the lookout for an armed and dangerous man responsible for multiple shootings and reportedly recording his actions on Facebook.

Three more shootings and two carjackings followed. Police said he killed a woman in Memphis as he took her gray Toyota SUV, which he left behind when he stole a man’s Dodge Challenger across the state line in Southaven, Mississippi.

Kelly was arrested without incident two hours after the initial police alert when he crashed the Challenger during a high-speed chase, and two guns were found in the vehicle, Davis said.

As the shooter terrorized the city, buses stopped running and the Memphis Redbirds cleared the field during their minor-league baseball game. Friends and relatives frantically called and texted each other and TV stations cut into regular coverage with updates.

Police received “numerous tips” from the public during the ordeal, Davis said.

The University of Memphis sent a message to students saying a shooting had been reported near the campus. Rhodes College, which is about 4 miles away from the university, advised students on and off campus to shelter in place.

The area where Kelly was arrested was about 11 miles from the University of Memphis and about 12 miles from Rhodes College.

“If you do not have to be out, stay indoors until this is resolved,” Memphis police said on Twitter, before the arrest.

Police did not discuss a motive or release the identities of those who were killed or wounded. It was too early in the investigation to discuss how the suspect got the gun or guns used in the shootings, said Ali Roberts, acting assistant special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Memphis.

Memphis has been shaken by several high-profile killings in recent weeks, including the shooting of a pastor during a daylight carjacking in her driveway, the shooting of an activist during an argument over money, and the slaying of a jogger abducted during her pre-dawn run.

“I understand it feels like so much violence and evil to experience in such a short time,” Memphis City Council member Chase Carlisle said on Twitter. “We are SO much more than this.”

In February 2020, Kelly, then 17, was charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, using a firearm to commit a dangerous felony and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, court records show.

Records show he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced in April 2021 to three years. Kelly was released from prison in March, 11 months after he was sentenced, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.

“This is no way for us to live and it is not acceptable,” the mayor said. “If Mr. Kelly served his full three-year sentence, he would still be in prison today and four of our fellow citizens would still be alive.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Official: Suspect In Canada Rampage Is Dead At His Own Hand

The suspect died of self-inflicted wounds after his car was run off the road by police Wednesday following a three-day manhunt, officials said.

The final suspect in a stabbing rampage that killed 10 people in and around a Canadian Indigenous reserve died of self-inflicted wounds after his car was run off the road by police Wednesday following a three-day manhunt, officials said.

Myles Sanderson, 32, was found near the town of Rosthern as officers responded to a report of a stolen vehicle being driven by a man armed with a knife, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

Officers rammed Sanderson’s vehicle off the road, said an official who was familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to talk publicly.

The official said the fugitive’s injuries were self-inflicted, but he didn’t have further details on when the injuries were inflicted or when he died. Video and photos from the scene showed a white SUV off to the side of the road with police cars all around. Air bags had deployed in the SUV.

Myles Sanderson’s death comes two days after the body of his brother, 30-year-old Damien Sanderson, was found in a field near the scene of their rampage, which also wounded 18 people. Police are investigating whether Myles Sanderson killed his brother.

Some family members of the victims arrived at the scene Wednesday, including Brian Burns, whose wife and son were killed.

“Now we can start to heal. The healing begins today, now,” he said.

The stabbing rampage raised questions of why Myles Sanderson — an ex-con with 59 convictions and a long history of shocking violence — was out on the streets in the first place.

He was released by a parole board in February while serving a sentence of over four years on charges that included assault and robbery. But he had been wanted by police since May, apparently for violating the terms of his release, though the details were not immediately clear.

His long and lurid rap sheet also showed that seven years ago, he attacked and stabbed one of the victims killed in the weekend rampage, according to court records.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said there will be an investigation into the parole board’s assessment of Sanderson.

“I want to know the reasons behind the decision” to release him, Mendicino said. “I’m extremely concerned with what occurred here. A community has been left reeling.”

Investigators have not given a motive for the bloodshed.

The Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service said nine of those killed were from the James Smith Cree Nation: Thomas Burns, 23; Carol Burns, 46; Gregory Burns, 28; Lydia Gloria Burns, 61; Bonnie Burns, 48; Earl Burns, 66; Lana Head, 49; Christian Head, 54; and Robert Sanderson, 49, One was from Weldon, 78-year-old Wesley Patterson.

Authorities would not say how the victims might be related.

Mark Arcand said his half sister Bonnie and her son Gregory were killed.

“Her son was lying there already deceased. My sister went out and tried to help her son, and she was stabbed two times, and she died right beside him,” he said. “Right outside of her home she was killed by senseless acts. She was protecting her son. She was protecting three little boys. This is why she is a hero.”

Arcand rushed to the reserve the morning of the rampage. After that, he said, “I woke up in the middle of the night just screaming and yelling. What I saw that day I can’t get out of my head.”

As for what set off the violence, Arcand said: “We’re all looking for those same answers. We don’t know what happened. Maybe we’ll never know. That’s the hardest part of this.”

Court documents said Sanderson attacked his in-laws Earl Burns and Joyce Burns in 2015, knifing Earl Jones repeatedly and wounding Joyce Burns. He later pleaded guilty to assault and threatening Earl Burns’ life.

Many of Sanderson’s crimes were committed when he was intoxicated, according to court records. He told parole officials at one point that substance use made him out of his mind. Records showed he repeatedly violated court orders barring him from drinking or using drugs.

Many of Canada’s Indigenous communities are plagued by drugs and alcohol.

“The drug problem and the alcohol problem on these reserves is way out of hand,” said Ivor Wayne Burns, whose sister was killed in the weekend attacks. “We have dead people, and we asked before for something to be done.”

Myles Sanderson’s childhood was marked by violence, neglect and substance abuse, court records show. Sanderson, who is Indigenous and was raised on the Cree reserve, population 1,900, started drinking and smoking marijuana at around 12, and cocaine followed soon after.

In 2017, he barged into his ex-girlfriend’s home, punched a hole in the door of a bathroom while his two children were hiding in a bathtub and threw a cement block at a vehicle parked outside, according to parole documents.

He got into a fight a few days later at a store, threatening to kill an employee and burn down his parents’ home, documents said.

That November he threatened an accomplice into robbing a fast-food restaurant by clubbing him with a gun and stomping on his head. He then stood watch during the holdup.

In 2018, he stabbed two men with a fork while drinking and beat someone unconscious.

When he was released in February, the parole board set conditions on his contact with his partner and children and also said he should not enter into relationships with women without written permission from his parole officer.

In granting Sanderson “statutory release,” parole authorities said: “It is the Board’s opinion that you will not present an undue risk to society.”

Canadian law grants prisoners statutory release after they serve two-thirds of their sentence. But the parole board can impose conditions on that freedom, and inmates who violate them — as Sanderson did more than once — can be ordered back to prison.

Sharna Sugarman, who was organizing a GoFundMe for the victims, questioned the parole board for releasing him and wondered why Sanderson was still on the loose so many months after he was deemed “unlawfully at large.”

“That’s just egregious to me,” said Sugarman, a counselor who counted one of the stabbing victims as a client. “If they claim that they’ve been looking for him, well, you weren’t looking that hard.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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