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VAN DREW BESTOWS CONGRESSIONAL ACT OF APPRECIATION TO RECOVERY FORCE

As an unexpected honorable gesture, Congressman Van Drew presented the Recovery Force 501c3 organization with a formal proclamation from the House of Representatives for it's "exceptional efforts to promote and improve our community". The proclamation further recognized Recovery Force as "an inspiration to all and whose energy and achievements help us glimpse a future of hope and promise", and concluded by referring to the organization as one which has "brought honor and pride to the community and to the citizens of this state, New Jersey and the United States of America".  Recovery Force spokeswoman Katherine Landberg accepted the award for the group along with several of its members. For its part, Recovery Force was humbled by this incredible act of appreciation and is simply honored.


To end overdose deaths in South Jersey and to enable a full and purposeful life after addiction, South Jersey must finally create a recovery oriented system of care and end the acute care model. Recovery Force is a CCAR Recovery Coach Academy (c) and a staff-supported volunteer recovery force with a focus on providing long-term recovery coach support upon attainment of recovery.  Our work is aided substantially through our partnerships with national organizations like the Addiction Policy Forum, Connecticut Center for Addiction Recovery and Faces and Voices of Recovery. What Recovery Force provides to the residents of South Jersey is always informed and influenced by the leading experts that are ending the substance use epidemic. 

IN THE NEWS.....

With the release of his new book, Dope World: Adventures in Drug Lands, Niko Vorobyov has become the Anthony Bourdain of drugs and the worlds they inhabit, a modern day Hunter S. Thompson. By interviewing cartel members, big-time drug dealers, street guys, gang members, and even government officials, Vorobyov seeks to understand humanity’s bond with drugs. Before our interview, Vorobyov told me about one surreal night in the mountains of Sinaloa, Mexico, where he and his buddy had traveled for a meeting with one of El Chapo’s relatives. Deep in cartel territory, with posted guards everywhere brandishing AK’s and AR-15’s, where one wrong move could mean death, El Indio, the guy who owned the ranch, threw a sushi party. Vorobyov remembers all these guys standing around with assault rifles slung over their shoulders eating sushi. One of the gun-toting sentries even came over to Vorobyov and started chatting to him about movies. He came away with the feeling that El Chapo’s family were pretty normal, if you forgot about the guns.Tributes to Malverde, the Sinaloa patron saint of narcotraficantes.The Fix: Why did you decide to examine every angle of the drug war and how has the drug war affected the whole world?Niko Vorobyov: There’s a lot of great books about this already — Chasing the Scream is one of my favorites — but they take a very Anglo-centric point of view. I wanted to explore other places that we don’t hear about so much like Russia, Japan, and the Philippines. Some people like to say it’s all America’s fault and that they started this whole mess with Richard Nixon, but it goes back way before that, all the way to China and the Opium Wars. Right now, America’s legalizing weed while Russia, China, and the Philippines are fighting the drug war the hardest.Why do you think you got involved with drugs in the first place?Growing up I was quite a weak person with low self-esteem, so I kinda thought if I acted in a certain way, that would help me accept myself; that drugs and criminal activity would get me friends and respect and all that. I started getting a lot into the underground rave scene and became a student drug dealer. And once you start moving in those circles it’s quite easy to make connections and meet a supplier. From then on, I worked my way through ups and downs till I had a small crew running weed, coke, and MDMA through the hallowed halls of East London universities. But I got reckless and ended up doing a 2½ year prison stretch which really changed my outlook on life — it made me question who I was and what I was doing here. Sitting in a cell on 24-hour lockdown I read everything I could about the history of drugs and drug bans, how and why they were forbidden, and what the consequences of that may be. When I got out, that led me on a journey across 15 different countries on five continents, from the coca plantations of Colombia to the mean streets of Moscow.Looking back now, how did your early drug use and even prison prepare you to write Dope World?I’ve always had an anti-authoritarian streak; I’ve hated others telling me what to do, especially if it was “for your own good.” Of course I’ve taken drugs — if I haven’t, would that make me more [qualified] or less qualified to write about this topic? I keep reading articles where you can tell they’ve never dabbled in any psychedelic pleasures because none of them have a clue what they’re on about. Looking back, I wasn’t really very political before I went to prison because it’s easy to feel detached when it’s happening to someone else. But when you’re locked in a cell for 23½ hours a day and there’s not enough staff because someone wanted to save a few pennies, you start to see all these abstract ideas are life-or-death shit. And when you see all these poor, working-class people or ethnic minorities while the government’s laughing all the way to the bank — the UK’s one of the biggest legal weed exporters in the world — it makes you ask what’s wrong with this picture. You interviewed Freeway Rick Ross. What did that teach you about the crack era in L.A. and across the nation?The first thing you need to know is the real Rick Ross is not a rapper – that Rick Ross actually batted for the other team as a prison guard. Freeway Rick Ross was the biggest crack kingpin on the West Coast in the 80s and early 90s — this dude supplied the Bloods and the Crips. Ricky’s a tough man to get ahold of; he was actually on his own book tour as I was trying to reach him, so I’m glad he came through. Where his story gets really interesting is when he was involved in the Contra cocaine scandal. The CIA was allowing the Contra rebels in Nicaragua to smuggle coke into the U.S. for buying more firepower and fighting communism back home. Freeway Ricky unknowingly took the Contra’s coke and cooked it up into crack before selling it in South Central, without realizing he was just a small pawn in a chess game of global politics. I’m not really a conspiracy nut, but it’s amazing that this whole scandal came to light—how the Agency knowingly used a foreign army pumping crack into the hood — and it makes you think about what else they might’ve done that we don’t even know about. At the same time, the Feds were going down hard on the inner city to fight the so-called crack epidemic. Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act 1986 which meant that mostly black and brown people who were caught with five grams of crack got the same sentence as someone with half-a-kilo of regular blow. Freeway Ross ended up getting life, while none of the top players who approved the Contra plan wound up going to jail. That tells you everything you need to know about the hypocrisy, racism, and corruption in the war on drugs.In the book, you write about LSD in Tokyo. Can you talk about that?So the chapter on Tokyo is all about meth, LSD, and synthetics. I mostly fucked with the Yakuza (Japanese organized crime) and found out how they roll with being among the top meth dealers in Asia. But there was another group that was also quite interesting — a cult named Aum Shinrikyo or “The Supreme Truth,” which in 1995 carried out the deadliest terrorist attack in Japan, poisoning 13 people on the Tokyo subway with sarin gas. Like the CIA used to do in the 50s, the cult used LSD as part of their brainwashing. Maybe being on psychedelics made their wacky conspiracy theories believable. Of the places you visited, which had the worst addiction problems? When I was in Lisbon, the head of an NGO showed me a video of how this neighborhood used to look like. In the 1990s, Casal Ventoso was one of the biggest open-air drug markets in Europe and it really looked like a nightmare version of The Wire or a cheap movie set of the bad side of town. Dystopian scenes; crowds of ragged-looking addicts shuffling past crumbling buildings and filthy, trash-ridden streets. One guy was missing his arm. Portugal had a major heroin crisis — something like 1% of the population was addicted — but it’s precisely because their crisis was so bad that they managed to push through reforms and de-stigmatize addicts.Of the places I’ve been to now, it’s hard to say — everywhere has its problems — but probably the most widespread I’ve seen was in Kerman, an Iranian city near the Afghan border. It seemed like every household had at least one member smoking opium, or taryak, and you can see people lighting up pipes or spoons in the archways of the old market. Iran’s a very religious country and opium’s tolerated more than booze. But I’d say every other young person drinks, and there’s a rising alcohol problem because they’re too scared of getting help.Vafoor, or opium pipe, in Kerman, Iran.When do you think the world will stop criminalizing addiction?I think we’re slowly moving in that direction. The police in some parts of the UK have stopped targeting low-level user-dealers. A lot of the people I’ve talked to are cops, and as a former drug dealer that’s not a conversation I expected to have six or seven years ago! Then you’ve got someone like Boris Johnson inhaling a South American nose remedy, and he’s gone on to be leader of a country that used to own half the world. I’m not saying they’re connected, but we’re starting to realize taking drugs doesn’t always lead to the worst-case scenario. A couple of months ago Malaysia, which was putting convicts to death, announced they’re following Portugal and decriminalizing drugs which means that you won’t end up in jail for having a gram in your pocket. And that’s a very conservative country; much more conservative than, say, Ohio. So I think there’s hope.What did you learn the most during your travels and writings?I think the most important thing is no matter how much you read, you’ll never truly know how the world works from your bedroom (or in my case, my cell). You’ve got to go to places and talk to people. Listen to them, even if they’re chatting complete bollocks, and try to understand why they think the way they do. We try to put everything in boxes — good or bad, left or right — but our world is too complicated for that. My agent called my book a fucked-up travel guide. I hope I’ve inspired someone to check out these places, if I haven’t scared the shit out of them already.There’s a sense that this is it, you’re fucked now. No one’s coming to get you. When you and I get stressed now we can take a walk; go outside; talk with our friends; but when you’re in prison, you’re stuck alone in a tiny cell till they let you out, and you start going crazy. When I was inside there were so many cutbacks they didn’t have enough staff to run the show properly, so sometimes we’d be locked up 23½ hours a day— suicides went sky-high that year.What takeaways do you want readers to have after reading your book?Look, you might not like the idea of your little cousin bouncing off the walls after a line of Bolivian marching powder. My mum read the book and she was fucking mortified. But dopeworld is everywhere, from scuzzy housing projects to the highest echelons of power, so we’ve got to find a way of living with it, otherwise families will keep getting torn apart and the bodies will keep piling up, whether it’s through prisons, gangs, or ODs. We’ve tried drug war, now let’s try drug peace.Search results from the dark web.
A psychotic episode—in which an individual hears, sees or perceives stimuli that does not exist—is a more common experience that might be imagined.Studies have shown that approximately three out of 100 people will have a psychotic episode in their lifetime, with many of these occurring during adolescence or young adulthood. While a psychotic episode is not always indicative of mental illness, it is considered to be one of the primary symptoms of schizophrenia. But does having a psychotic episode also mean that one is schizophrenic? Researchers examined this possible connection by looking at genetic commonalities between individuals who have had psychotic episodes and those with schizophrenia.To uncover a possible link between these two demographics, researchers from across the globe conducted the largest study into genetics by examining data from the UK Biobank study, which compiled genetic information on 500,000 individuals for disease prevention research.Genes and DNA sequences were gathered from more than 6,000 individuals who had reported having a psychotic episode but had not been diagnosed with schizophrenia or any other mental disorder. Data was also taken from more than 121,000 people who had reported never having a psychotic episode.External Factors Likely Play Significant Role in Producing Isolated EpisodesThe researchers' analysis found that genetics did play a role in the possibility of having a psychotic episode, albeit a small one, and that external or environmental factors may have greater influence in producing isolated episodes. In an article for Live Science, the study authors noted that a traumatic experience may increase the chances for such an episode, as could excessive cannabis use.More significantly, researchers also found that the genes associated with psychotic experiences were also linked to a host of other mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, but also depression and bipolar disorder, as well as developmental issues like autism or ADHD. More Research Is NeededUltimately, the study authors concluded that more extensive research into the relationship between genes and psychotic episodes could answer questions that arose during their data analysis. These include the causes of psychotic episodes, as well as the full risks involved in having such an experience.Additionally, how the genes that are associated with psychotic episodes actually cause them to happen remains unclear, which requires additional inquiry into what the authors described as "the biological mechanism that causes these types of experiences."
The Sackler family reaped up to $13 billion in profits from Purdue Pharma, money that some states say the family is trying to protect from going to settlements in the opioid lawsuits. Now, states are trying to stop the family from getting a nine-month stay to protect them from opioid-related lawsuits, The Washington Post reports. The Sacklers are asking for the stay as part of the Purdue bankruptcy case. However, the states say that the bankruptcy can move forward without protecting the family. “The Sacklers used the profits from their illegal scheme to become one of the richest families in the world—far wealthier than the company they ran," twenty-four states argued in court documents. “Now, the Sacklers seek to leverage Purdue’s corporate bankruptcy to avoid their own individual accountability.’’"They’ve extracted nearly all the money out of Purdue and pushed the carcass of the company into bankruptcy."The settlement agreement with Purdue includes $3 billion in funds from the Sackler family, but states say that’s not enough when the family pulled more than four times that amount in profits. Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey, who has been one of the most outspoken critics of the family, said, “The Sacklers want the bankruptcy court to stop our lawsuits so they can keep the billions of dollars they pocketed from OxyContin and walk away without ever being held accountable. That’s unacceptable.”North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein echoed that sentiment, “The Sackler family is trying to take advantage of the fact that they’ve extracted nearly all the money out of Purdue and pushed the carcass of the company into bankruptcy. That’s unacceptable. Multibillionaires are the opposite of bankrupt.’’Some States Feel Short-Changed By Settlement OfferTwenty-four states have agreed to the settlement, and an equal number—plus Washington, D.C.—are filing legal steps to oppose it. While some states are desperate for resources, others feel short-changed by the agreement.Daniel S. Connolly, an attorney for part of the Sackler family, insisted that the agreement was fair, and the family should be protected from further lawsuits. “The Sacklers have agreed to relinquish their equity in Purdue and to contribute at least an additional $3 billion to the fight against the opioid crisis,” he said. “The stay, if granted, will allow parties to focus their efforts on this goal rather than on litigation that will waste resources and delay the deployment of solutions to communities in need.”He said that talking about $13 billion is unrealistic. “The distribution numbers do not reflect the fact that many billions of dollars from that amount were paid in taxes and reinvested in businesses that will be sold as part of the proposed settlement,” he said. 
Addiction is a brain disease, but there has been surprisingly little research into the brain structures that can contribute to the disease.Now, study authors are arguing that a better understanding of how brain development and damage can contribute to addiction is important to help identify people who are most at risk. “Addiction is a disease of decision-making,” Antoine Bechara, a professor of psychology at the University of Southern California told the school’s news service. “The majority of people have intact brain mechanisms of decision-making that keep them resilient to succumbing to an addiction. The question is, who is more vulnerable and how do we best determine that?”Weak Prefrontal Cortex Plays A RoleBechara is the lead author of a paper published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest. His paper examines the role of the prefrontal cortex and the insula in increasing a person's risk for addiction. The researchers note that a “weak prefrontal cortex”—the area of the brain associated with decision making—can increase risk for addiction. Weakness in that area of the brain can be caused by genetic factors. However, environmental factors including early childhood abuse can also inhibit the development of the prefrontal cortex. When the area is under-developed, a person can become susceptible to substance use disorder. “There are several factors that create the situation where the prefrontal cortex is suboptimal or weak, and the decision-making capacity doesn’t develop normally,” said Bechara. “These are people who become more susceptible to becoming addicted not just to opioids but other drugs they have access to.”The authors would like to see further research into whether brain scanning can predict which individuals are at risk for addiction. They also point out that brain stimulation could potentially help treat addiction.Who's At Risk? Understanding who is at risk for developing addiction could help doctors better respond to the opioid crisis, by finding a middle ground amid what Bechara calls the “two extreme positions” that medical providers have taken. “First, the pharmaceutical companies sold the idea that opioid medications will only be used by people in pain and people won’t become addicted,” he said. “That’s not true, because you have no way of telling who is susceptible to becoming addicted and who is not.”He continued, “The overreaction by doctors is another extreme; because of the fear that everyone is going to be addicted to opioids, they are not prescribing them to people in chronic pain who may need them. There are a lot of people who could benefit from controlled administration of those medications, which work very well to treat pain.”
Prince Harry and musician Ed Sheeran teamed up to bring awareness to Mental Health Day, October 10, taking a moment to run a gag about their shared hair color. On a video shared to both of their Instagram accounts, Sheeran seems to have "mistaken" the purpose of their get-together.“Really excited today,” Sheeran says in what looks like a behind-the-scenes interview. “I'm gonna go and, uh, film a thing with Prince Harry. (He) contacted me about doing a charity video with him, which is gonna be good. I've long admired him from afar.”A Great MisunderstandingPrince Harry pushes along the misunderstanding with ambiguous comments.“This, for me, is a subject and a conversation that's just not talked about enough,” said Prince Harry. “I mean, people all over the world are really suffering.”The two then start to write a song, but soon their misunderstanding becomes evident.“People just don't understand what it's like for people like us,” Sheeran says in the video. “The jokes and the snide comments, and I just feel like it's time we stood up and said, ‘We're not going to take this anymore. We're ginger, and we're going to fight.’”Prince Harry then tries to set the record straight.World Mental Health Day“Um, OK,” he says to Sheeran. “Slightly awkward. This might have been maybe a miscommunication, but this is about World Mental Health Day.”Sheeran tries to play it off.“Oh, yeah, yeah. Of course. No, no. I definitely knew that,” he says, deleting the phrase “GINGERS UNITE” from the document draft on his laptop.The pair get back on message after the gag, encouraging everyone to be aware of those around them who might be struggling with mental health issues.“Guys, this World Mental Health Day, reach out, make sure that your friends, strangers, look out for anybody that might be suffering in silence,” Prince Harry tells viewers with Sheeran sitting by his side. “We're all in this together.”Prince Harry has been an advocate for mental health, struggling himself as he grappled with the sudden death of his mother, Princess Diana, as a child.“My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help?” he told The Telegraph in a 2017 interview. “It’s only going to make you sad; it’s not going to bring her back. So, from an emotional side, I was like ‘Right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.' So, I was a typical sort of 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘Life is great’, or ‘Life is fine’ and that was exactly it.”Recently, Prince Harry has set his sights on the popular video game Fortnite, which he blasts as addictive and irresponsible.

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