Saturday, December 31, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Today we need to watch our words and how we speak about ourselves and others. Did you ever notice that you say something negative about your day or a certain situation and it happens. The Bible teaches us that what we speak can set the course for our day. We must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Instead of thinking about yesterday and letting that decide how your day is going to be, start with 5 minutes in quiet and tell yourself today is a new day, I can and will have a great day and overcome all of life's challenges! REMEMBER JESUS LOVES YOU!
James "Tinny" Trasp was motionless and blue in a chair at his wife's makeup stand in their Jefferson Hills bedroom. His wife, Toni, frantically pumped his chest in a futile attempt to restart his heart.
A syringe lay nearby."Somewhere along the way he started using intravenous drugs," said Toni Trasp, recalling that afternoon of July 25, 2008. "I didn't know about it. I had no clue."
To outsiders, Trasp, 49, a father of two, seemed unlikely to die of a drug overdose. He was white, middle-aged, an iron worker who lived in Jefferson Hills, a middle-class South Hills suburb.
Yet a computer-assisted examination by the Tribune-Review of Allegheny County Medical Examiner records from 2006 through 2008 reveals the circumstances of Trasp's death are not unusual.
Drug overdoses killed about 650 people in that period -- more than murders and car crashes combined, records show. That does not include 70 drug-related suicides during that time.
The drugs most often involved came from the medicine cabinet, not street corners.
"If it's not blunt-force trauma, not homicide and not an obvious suicide, I almost just assume it's going to be a drug overdose," said Dr. Karl Williams, the county medical examiner. "That's how frequent of an experience it is here."
The perception that drug addiction and deaths largely affect inner-city black men couldn't be further from the truth, Williams said.
The Tribune-Review analysis shows:
â€¢ 2 of 3 deaths involved at least one prescription drug.
â€¢ 4 of 5 victims were white.
â€¢ 7 of 10 were men.
â€¢ 2 of 3 victims lived in the suburbs.
Between 1990 and 2006, prescriptions for painkillers nationwide increased tenfold, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overdose deaths increased about fivefold during that same span, the CDC reported.
"There is no real mystery here of where (the overdose deaths are) coming from," Williams said. "It's in exact correlation with the prescribing of these drugs."
Fatal overdoses here have quadrupled since the 1980s, when the county averaged 58 a year. Drug deaths topped 100 for the first time in 1998; four years later, the figure doubled to more than 200 annually. It has not dropped below since.
Drugs and suburbs
Twenty-five years ago, it was rare for a National Honor Society student from an upper-middle-class family or a 45-year-old accountant with an MBA to fatally overdose, said Dr. Neil Capretto, medical director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, which has 20 locations in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio.
"Now, it is commonplace," he said.
Nearly 7 million Americans abuse prescription drugs -- "more than the number who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, ecstasy and inhalants combined," according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Between 1992 and 2008, the percentage of people 50 and older seeking drug-abuse treatment nearly doubled, according to a recent study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Alcohol still leads admissions, but sharp increases were seen in the number of people seeking treatment for heroin, cocaine and marijuana, the study noted.
Hydrocodone, which includes the name-brand drug Vicodin, is the most-commonly abused pharmaceutical in the United States, according to the DEA.
It ranked fourth locally on the list of most-common painkillers discovered by toxicologists in medical examiner's cases, trailing methadone, oxycodone and fentanyl.
Those narcotics are manufactured to mimic pain-numbing properties found in opium, the source of heroin. Once metabolized by the body, heroin turns into morphine. Such was the case for Trasp.
A combination of hydrocodone and morphine was found in Trasp's body, a toxicology report showed.
"We now have a record number of people addicted to heroin in Western Pennsylvania, and the majority started on prescription drugs," said Capretto, who estimates he has treated more than 1,000 people who became heroin addicts after starting with narcotic painkillers. "A lot of people are getting prescription drugs, and not from going to the North Side at 3 in the morning."
After prescriptions expire, addicts often turn to family members' prescriptions, the Internet or drug dealers to get more, experts said. When that becomes too expensive -- the street value of an 80 mg OxyContin pill is about $60 -- users increasingly turn to heroin, which costs about $10 a dose, said Holly Martin, chief operating officer of Greenbriar Treatment Center, which operates 10 facilities in Western Pennsylvania.
"The physical dependence to those painkillers and the physical dependence to heroin is the same," Martin said. "And there's more heroin than ever because they need it."
The Tribune-Review analysis found that fatal overdoses occurred in 96 of the county's 130 municipalities and in most of the city's 90 neighborhoods.
"It used to be ... it was an overdose on cocaine, or it was a bad thing of heroin or crack," said James Jobe, owner of Jobe Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Monroeville and Turtle Creek. "Now it seems like they've OD'd on prescription drugs."
Dan D'Alessandro, owner of Thomas Smith Funeral & Crematory in Blawnox and D'Alessandro Funeral Home & Crematory in Lawrenceville, handles dozens of overdose deaths each year from places such as Fox Chapel, Lawrenceville and Stanton Heights.
"There's an awful lot of it, and it crosses all socioeconomic neighborhoods," D'Alessandro said. "It's an epidemic."
In Bethel Park, for example, heroin was officially listed as a cause of death in about half of the South Hills municipality's 11 fatal overdoses from 2006 through 2008.
"I grew up thinking heroin was hippies and back alleys in the city," said Bethel Park police Chief John Mackey. "But that's not what it is. It's middle-class, mainstream America."
In nearby Mt. Lebanon, records show five fatal drug overdoses from 2006 through 2008. The victims ranged in age from 21 to 56.
"We are a suburban community, but there aren't any gates to keep the drugs out," said Mt. Lebanon police Lt. Aaron Lauth.
A Duquesne University freshman overdosed in his dorm room in February 2007. That summer, a 42-year-old Crescent man was found dead in the Omni William Penn, Downtown. Both had used heroin, toxicology results showed.
"This can happen in any family," Capretto said. "It does not discriminate."
Gossip about her husband's death hit Toni Trasp hard.
"Times like that, people forget what a good person you were," she said. "They just want to know the bad stuff."
Jim Trasp disliked crowds and photographs but loved riding his Honda Gold Wing motorcycle, especially with his dog Cody, a Bichon Frise, his wife said.
He was no stranger to addiction, battling alcoholism for years before he quit drinking in 2006.
He continued working in a boiler room at U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant, even after developing rheumatoid arthritis in 2003.
"He often described it as walking on glass all the time," Toni Trasp said.
To ease the pain, a doctor prescribed Vicodin. Toni Trasp said her husband soon became addicted.
At times he took too many pills and ran out of medicine before he could refill the prescription. Those days were filled with pain and symptoms of withdrawal.
"At his request, I then kept it under lock and key in the safe," Toni Trasp said of the Vicodin.
In the months before his death, Jim Trasp began weaning himself off the painkillers.
"It's ironic. He finally sobered up and ..." Toni Trasp said, her voice trailing off.
That is why she and the couple's children -- son Sean, 23, and daughter Sara, 20 -- were blindsided by his death.
Trasp has no idea how long her husband had been using heroin. A friend who went to the same pain clinic as her husband told her that he had used for about a year.
She kept a journal the first year after her husband's death. Initial entries were laced with anger and blame. Eventually, they evolved into understanding and compassion.
"You never think it's going to be you," she said. "You always think it's going to be someone else."
Instead of celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary last month, Toni Trasp now works four jobs and is selling the family's dream home -- a two-story on Collins Avenue, across the street from St. Isaac Jogues, a Roman Catholic parish near the Washington County line.
"I know it's not something he did intentionally," she said. "I think it's something he did out of necessity. He chose to do it, but I feel in my heart it was to get out of pain."
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
We must never forget the ones we have lost in the battle of addiction. Our hope and prayer at Recovery Connections is to reach the living through the lost. Send us your photos of loved ones lost via e-mail.Lets give them a voice, they will ever remain in our hearts, let not there pain and sorrow be in vain. Though they have moved on they will speak from this page louder than they did in life. Just give them the chance!!
Things in life that our difficult are worth doing. Have you ever noticed that the challenges we face that come easy are not as appreciated as much as those things we have to work really hard for. I have been slow going at adding to this blog because it takes hard work and I have been feeling discouraged. I know that this blog will reach people even if its only just one and it helps them find their way to freedom from addiction then all the hard work will be worth it. So no matter what challenge you face in life, do it with all your heart and make it worth doing! REMEMBER JESUS LOVES YOU!
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Todays thought is a thought we must put into action.When considering others our first action shoulb be is to encourage , especially with the ones that are close to us. This blog is work and it would be nice to be encouraged with a comment from someone who reads these thoughts. to be honest am I really reaching anyone .So please encourage me and let me know if I am helping anyone out there.