Friday, December 29, 2006

Call for Nominations of the Richard Lane Patient Advocacy Award

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Joycelyn Woods MA-CMA (212) 595-NAMA/6262
Fred Christie AFIRM (516) 897-1330
Chris Kelly ARM (202) 246-6850

For Release:
December 29, 2006

Call for Nominations of the
Richard Lane Patient Advocacy Award

The National Alliance of Methadone Advocates (NAMA) in collaboration with Advocates for the Integration of Methadone and Recovery (AFIRM) and Advocates for Recovery with Medication (ARM) is seeking Nominations for the Richard Lane Patient Advocacy Award to be presented by the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) at the 2007 National Conference.

The award will be presented during the Conference Banquet to be held in San Diego (October 20-24, 2007). The recipient will receive roundtrip Coach Class airfare to the conference, two (2) nights in the hotel and full conference registration.

Richard Land was a long-term heroin user who, upon release from prison in 1967, was instrumental in establishing one of the Nation’s first methadone treatment programs. In 1974, he became the Executive Director of Man Alive (Baltimore) and later served as Vice President of the American Methadone Treatment Association and as Vice Chairman of the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Maryland. Mr. Lane was a passionate advocate for methadone treatment and, by disclosing his own treatment experiences, provided inspiration to patients and colleagues alike. This award was established in 1995 and recognizes extraordinary achievements in patient advocacy.

The following criteria should be applied in making the selection:

Only one (1) nominee can be submitted to the AATOD Conference Awards Committee. There may be a number of nominees, who will be fielded by The Committee in the methadone patient advocacy movement, however, The Committee will be responsible for submitting only one (1) “consensus” nominee to receive this honor.

The nominee must have been involved in the field of methadone advocacy for a period of five (5) years.

The nominee must have been actively engaged in methadone advocacy for a period of five (5) years.

The nominee must have made meaningful and consistent contributions, which have had a significant impact on opioid treatment within a state or region of the United States.

The Committee will be responsible for completing the nomination form and retaining letters of support describing the nominee’s achievements, which are required before any final nomination can be submitted to the AATOD Awards Committee.

All submissions should include the completed Richard Land Patient Advocacy Award Nomination Form that is included.

Deadline for submissions is February 14, 2007.
Please email to

Please distribute to all interested persons.
Download Press Release

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

NAMA is Proud to Announce the World Famous CODAC All-Stars Holiday Music Jam at the Catfish Cafe

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates

Contact Person: Joycelyn Woods, President

For Release:
December 6, 2006

Saturday, December 9, 2006
Providence, RI
The CODAC All-Stars and Friends bring you a night of music, stories and holiday favorites.
Saturday December 9th at 7 PM
Come early for the Jam Session 2-6 PM

The Catfish Cafe at The Mediator
50 Rounds Avenue, Providence RI

Or A New Unwrapped Present for Kids 1-16 Years

Refreshments Available

The Mediator is easy to find - just off Narragansett Avenue (near Reservoir)
or from Elmwood and Roger Williams Avenue
Call 401-263-7232 for Directions

For More Information

James Gillen "Catfish Jim" is the manager of the CODAC All-Stars and founder of Tales from a Small Planet a project in which Gillen uses his passion for storytelling, music and audience participation. Gillen also uses his storytelling abilities to give presentations on substance abuse and tobacco prevention in schools and other facilities. Additionally, an experiment using musical therapy to help people recovering from addictions tap into the creative energy within has blossomed into an ever-expanding group of musicians, singers and drummers. They are now known as the World-Famous CODAC All-Stars. This group has appeared as part of the Catfish Café, which included a performance that brought down the house last year at the City of Providence’s New Year’s Eve Bright Night event.

Jim Gillen is a director of NAMA's Rhode Island chapter MARC, a Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional (LCDP) and Certified Criminal Justice Professional (CCJP) in the state of Rhode Island.

The state of Rhode Island's Division of Substance Abuse presented Jim with the 2003 Counselor of the Year Award. In March of 2006 Jim was named recipient of the prestigious Jefferson Award for RI for outstanding service to the community.

For booking information for “Tales From a Small Planet” or the “CODAC All Stars”, e-mail:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Rhode Island MAT Patients Celebrate Recovery

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person: Joycelyn Woods, President

For Release:
September 17, 2006

Rhode Island MAT Patients Celebrate Recovery

Reported by Jim Gillen

Yesterdays RI's celebration was beyond belief in a good way, from perfect weather to a HUGE crowd. Did I say a HUGE peaceful, joy filled crowd!!!!!

The role that medication assisted patients, staff from clinics, methadone advocates were a big,big part of this celebration. From the band (MAT patients) to the set up and break down crew - first ones in and last ones out.

We painted faces, distributed food, blew up over a hundred balloons, set up tents. I wanted to put the NAMA/MARCAP table next to NA but they came later - wouldn't that just be a hoot!!! Oh well, there is always next year!!!

This event to me is a great blueprint for success - mix it with a big general public event !!! Go figure!

We got our MARCAP first aid kits with phone number and on it. If any one wants a few we could send some off.

Sharon Dembowski of NENAMA-MOM was great yesterday as usual and has photos of the event.

Keep the faith!!!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

SAMHSA Awards $9.8 million for Peer to Peer Recovery Support Services

Date: Sept 6 , 2006
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press
Telephone: 240-276-2130

SAMHSA Awards $9.8 million for Peer to Peer
Recovery Support Services

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) today announced the award of seven Recovery Support Services grants totaling $9.8 million over four years. These grants to community-based organizations are designed to deliver and evaluate peer-to-peer recovery support services that help prevent relapse and promote sustained recovery from alcohol and drug use disorders.

"Peer recovery support services are expected to extend and enhance the treatment continuum," said Assistant Surgeon General Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H., SAMHSA's Acting Deputy Administrator. "These grants will help prevent relapse and maximize the opportunities to create a lifetime of recovery and wellness for self, family, and community. And, when individuals do experience relapse, recovery support services can help minimize the negative effects and if needed make sure there is an appropriate referral to treatment."

The seven awards in five states are funded up to $350,000 per year in total costs. Continuation of these awards is subject to the availability of funds as well as the progress achieved by the grantees. Total funding for year one is $2.4 million.

The Recovery Community Services Program grantees are as follows:


Pima Prevention Partnership, Tucson -- $350,000 to recruit and train a 10-member core group of peer leaders in recovery, who will develop and implement the service infrastructure in four months. Recovery Services will be offered at the partnership's Learning Center and offer peer-led emotional, informational, instrumental and affiliation support services five afternoons/evenings per week, including Saturdays.

Tohono O'odham Nation, Sells -- $350,000 to implement a comprehensive peer-to-peer system to support individuals in recovery with a full range of recovery support services provided locally in the 11 districts that make up the federally recognized tribe, which has one of the highest rates of substance abuse among all populations in the United States .


Recovery Consultants of Atlanta, Inc. -- $350,000 per year to provide peer-led support services that help sustain Atlanta's inner city addiction recovery community. The program will provide a recovery center offering more than 40 weekly 12-step, faith-based, health-specific (HIV and Hepatitis C, a liver disease), gender-specific and family-specific support groups.

New York

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates, Inc., New York City -- $349,998 per year to provide peer-to-peer recovery support services to patients of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs. The overall goal is to create a climate for recovery among a population usually neglected by the larger recovery community.

Center for Community Alternatives, Inc., Syracuse -- $350,000 per year to develop a network of peer-lead community services for individuals in recovery and who also have past criminal justice involvement. The project will extend services into two additional cities, Rochester and Albany.


Oklahoma CART System, Oklahoma City-- $350,000 per year to implement Sister to Sister, the states first model of peer-driven substance abuse recovery support services for women in Oklahoma County. This project expects to serve over 580 women in all stages of recovery and their children.


El Paso Alliance, Inc., El Paso-- $350,000 per year to enable the Recovery Alliance to improve existing services and support the development of new ones through a peer recruiting and retention system.

SAMHSA, is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is responsible for improving the accountability, capacity and effectiveness of the nation's substance abuse prevention, addictions, treatment, and mental health services delivery system.

SAMHSA is An Agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Letters Needed for Our Friend Dr. Shinderman

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person: Joycelyn Woods, President

For Release:
September 7, 2006

Letters Needed for Our Friend Dr. Shinderman

NAMA, patients and concerned professionals have been watching the situation in Maine concerned that a fellow advocate, Dr. Shinderman would be facing serious criminal charges. On July 20, 2006 a federal jury convicted him of crimes relating to prescribing ancillary medication when the jury was instructed not to consider his good faith in relying on another physician’s permission to prescribe. Specifically when Dr. Shinderman began working in Maine he applied for a state license to prescribe. While waiting for the license approval he was informed that it would be all right for him to use the medical director of the clinic’s license. This was all done in the course of treating patients for ancillary medications. The point is that these were extra doctor’s appointments and the patients were not charged. Only a very few methadone clinics treat patients for other conditions and even fewer do not charge for these services as is typical at CAP Quality Care. This demonstrates Dr. Shinderman’s care of his patients; he really treated his patients and considered their total medical care as part of their addiction treatment.

A civil lawsuit filed by the government against the Westbrook Clinic. The clinic CAP Quality Care is owned by his wife where Dr. Shinderman was a consultant.

The media has sensationalized this case because the clinic was a methadone clinic. Several writers have been using the case to write distorted news and promote their careers. This has been at the expense of all methadone patients without concern for the impact it will have on their lives. This would have never occurred if the same thing had happened in diabetes or pulmonary clinic but because the clinic treats addiction it is easy picking for the media and the DEA.

In spite of the support Dr. Shinderman has received from local officials and policy makers he is facing difficult opposition and needs our support.

Now You Can Help Dr. Shinderman!

He needs letters seeking leniency and extolling his good work. This certainly will not be difficult for advocates because there is a lot that can be said about the good that Dr. Shinderman has done. He has helped individual patients and consulted with other physicians about the problem, research that has impacted medication assisted treatment in the U.S. and abroad, his advocacy and support of patient issues and to how he delivered treatment with dignity and respect.

There are four groups of individuals whose letter of support may be particularly helpful: (1) physicians and other professionals who respect his work and can report to the court both about my contributions to the field of addiction medicine, but also how incarceration will negatively impact the influence of this good work; (2) patients and their families who can report to the court about his impact on their success and survival; (3) family and friends who can talk about his good works, good intentions, and good character; and, (4) government officials who can do the same.

No letter should contain criticism of the Judge or the process. They will not be able to use any letter that contains those. The appeal process will address such issues if they exist.

With regard to other letters to the U.S. Attorney General, Drug Enforcement Administration, Members of Congress and other governmental officials, and the news media, each individual or organization should decide for themselves whether they should make those contacts.

It would be inappropriate for Dr. Shinderman to have any involvement because the prosecutor could then persuade the judge that Dr. Shinderman is attempting to influence sentencing with public opinion appeals.

Support Letters should be sent only to Dr, Spiderman’s legal team and if possible a copy to him because he will need them for any licensing problems which are inevitable in Illinois and Maine.

The letters should go to:
Michael A. Cunniff
McCloskey, Mina & Cunniff, LLC
12 City Center
Portland, ME 04101
Phone (207) 772 6805
Fax (207) 879 9374

The letters should be addressed to:
Honorable D. Brock Hornby
United States District Judge
District of Maine
United States District Court
156 Federal Street
Portland, ME 04101


Some of these articles are available at:
President’s Blog:

Debate over methadone has value for Maine, Portland Press Herald (ME) August 2, 2006
Page A6.

Clinic's troubles a setback for addicts By GREGORY D. KESICH Staff Writer
Maine Sunday Telegram (Portland, ME) July 30, 2006 Page B1.

Clinic doctor guilty of forgery By GREGORY D. KESICH Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (ME) July 21, 2006
Page A1.

No verdict in doctor's fraud trial By GREGORY D. KESICH Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (ME) July 20, 2006
Page B1.

Doctor defends method of writing prescriptions By GREGORY D. KESICH Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (ME) July 18, 2006 Page A1.

Federal drug agent testifies against operator of clinic By GREGORY D. KESICH Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (ME) July 15, 2006 Page B1.

Witnesses: Doctor gave prescriptions By GREGORY D. KESICH Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (ME) July 12, 2006 Page B1.

Methadone doctor facing prescription-forgery trial By GREGORY D. KESICH Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (ME) July 11, 2006 Page A1.

Methadone doctor argues for dismissal of charges By GREGORY D. KESICH Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (ME) April 29, 2006 Page B1.


National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact Person: Joycelyn Woods, President

For Release:
September 7, 2006


This week the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the 7 recipients of the Peer To Peer Recovery Grants. NAMA one of the recipients is the first methadone group to receive a Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP). The grant will provide peer-to-peer recovery support services to patients of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs in the Bronx, NY. The announcement continued, “The overall goal is to create a climate for recovery among a population usually neglected by the larger recovery community.”

This is a project that NAMA has envisioned for a number of years to educate medication assisted treatment patients (MAT) so they understand why they are taking a medication. While MAT patients are educated at the start of treatment when the message comes from another patient the message takes on a new meaning. This importance of peer services was realized during the early years of methadone treatment when Drs. Dole and Nyswander oversaw the program. However as methadone treatment expanded the contributions that MAT patients had made to the program was minimized and almost forgotten. NAMA believes that “peer-to-peer services” was the piece of the program that made methadone treatment so effective during the first 10 years when methadone treatment was initiated. Patients felt they had contributed to the program and therefore felt an ownership towards it.

Patients Were Proud To Be On The Program!

Compare that to today when most patients feel ashamed of the very treatment that has helped them. They feel alone, no longer "dope fiends" but still not a part of society, and with nowhere to turn for support. This situation is hardly conducive to rehabilitation. Yet the majority of methadone patients have proven themselves capable and successful in the practical world, as lawyers and waitresses, construction workers and housewives, teachers and cab drivers.

Medication assisted patients don’t consider themselves as recovering persons primarily because they have never been allowed too. Recovery is defined as a larger construct then sobriety or abstinence. However, Recovery is not possible without sobriety. Until MAT patients understand that sobriety has nothing to do with taking a medication they will not be candidates to move on to the larger construct of recovery that embraces a reengagement with the community based on resilience, health, and hope. The Medication Assisted Recovery Service (MARS) project will work to change the negative atmosphere that patients experience and replace it with a sense of accomplishment, well being and recovery.

The goal of NAMA’s MARS project will be to demonstrate the value of peer-to-peer services and that when these services are paired with the most effective treatment for opiate dependence, namely methadone the results can only be outstanding. NAMA knows that this project would put a “smile” on Dr. Dole’s face who died on August 1st. The later years of his life were spent working to end the stigma and prejudice directed at MAT.

Sunday, August 20, 2006



Special Issue
Women and Harm Reduction: Spanning the Globe

Guest editors:
Susan Sherman, Adeeba bte Kamarulzaman and Patti Spittal

Outline abstracts or other short descriptions (not exceeding 400
words) are invited for contributions to a forthcoming special issue of The
International Journal of Drug Policy on “Women and Harm Reduction:
Spanning the Globe.”

The issue aims to examine:
Ø the unique factors (e.g. cultural, relational, legal or economic) that contribute to women's use of psychoactive drugs (licit and illicit);
Ø the stigma associated with women's drug use;
Ø proximal and distal effects of drug use on the lives of women
drug users as well as drug users’ female sexual partners;
Ø examine patterns of use and consequences of different types of
drugs (e.g. ATS, alcohol, opiates);
Ø to explore the effects of different types of drugs;
Ø to examine gender-related policies regarding harm reduction
services and treatment; and
Ø to examine innovative programs targeting women drug users.

The issue aims to include work representing a range of geographic
regions (e.g. former Soviet Union, Middle East, South Asia, Southeast
Asia, Africa, Europe/North America).

Papers must be relevant to harm reduction and policy.

We invite several types of contribution:

Scientific review papers (max 8,000 words)
Original research papers (3,000 – 7,000 words)
Short research reports (up to 1500 words)
Descriptions of interesting (positive or negative) programmes or
policies (2,000 – 5,000 words)
Descriptions of problems (e.g. structural barriers) in gaining
access to needed services or programmes (2,000 – 5,000 words)
Policies and/or historical analyses (3,000 – 7,000 words)
Commentaries (max 4,000 words)
Editorials (1,500 - 2,500 words)

The deadline for outline abstracts is September 23, 2006.

Outline abstracts should be sent to If selected
for submission, the deadline for completion of draft contributions will
be in December, 2006. Submissions will be made on the Elsevier on-line
electronic submission system and will be subject to peer-review.

Susan G. Sherman,
Pattricia Spittal,
Adeeba bte Kamarulzaman,

Methadone Survives 4 Decades of Tough Politics (API August 12, 2006)

Methadone Survives Four Decades of Tough Politics
Associated Press Writer
Newsday, August 12, 2006

NEW YORK -- In the late 1960s, a band of black militants paid a visit to a Brooklyn medical clinic to discuss the new treatment it was offering heroin addicts, a drug called methadone.

They came armed with bayonets.

"They were going to kill me," recalled Dr. Beny Primm, director of the Addiction Research Treatment Corp. "They thought I was part of the white man's way of enslaving black folk, and one of the ways they enslaved black folk was to put them on methadone."

Methadone's long struggle for acceptance has been a topic of discussion again lately with the death last week of Dr. Vincent Dole, a founding father of its use as a treatment for addiction.

His passing came eight weeks after another force in the treatment of heroin addiction, Beth Israel Medical Center, marked the 40th anniversary of its methadone program, the first to apply the treatment he and Dr. Marie Nyswander developed at Rockefeller University.

The mood of both events was largely celebratory. Study after study has validated Dole's methods, and Beth Israel's methadone program now serves 6,000 patients at 17 clinics, or about 1 in 6 of all methadone patients in the city.

And yet, supporters of the medication also voiced a regret: Even after four decades, methadone is as mistrusted by the public as the days when militants were banging on Beny Primm's door.

"That's been the frustration of my life for the past 35 years," said Dr. Robert Newman, president emeritus of Continuum Health Partners and a longtime overseer of the methadone program at Beth Israel.

"There are no votes to be garnered by supporting methadone. The knee-jerk reaction of most voters when they hear someone wants to shut clinics down is applause."

Today, the medication is still assailed by critics who say it keeps patients in a drug-dependent limbo. Clinics face resistance wherever they open. Public figures from Howard Dean to Tom Cruise have assailed methadone programs as morally flawed.

As recently as 1998, Rudolph Giuliani, then mayor of New York, announced a plan to do away with methadone treatment in all city-run clinics. The goal of every addict, he said, should be total abstinence.

The plan never got off the ground, but it illustrated how little the debate about methadone has changed since Dole and Nyswander first began promoting the medication in 1964.

Drugs like heroin were then viewed predominantly as a criminal problem rather than a medical one. Addicts were shunned, even at hospitals, which rarely had beds for detoxification.

The suggestion that heroin users be switched to methadone, an equally addictive narcotic, struck some as illogical.

One of the early skeptics was Primm, who had taken to commandeering unused office space in Harlem to offer treatment to addicts.

"I didn't understand it," he said. "We're going to legally give narcotics to people? That was kind of antithetical to what we'd been taught."

Over time, though, methadone won him over because of its ability to alleviate the symptoms that usually make addiction so crippling.

Once their dose is calibrated, people taking methadone don't experience withdrawal symptoms or physical cravings for more narcotics. The drug blocks them from experiencing the euphoric rush from injecting heroin.

It is also cheap and long-lasting. Patients down a dose in the morning and feel normal for the rest of the day _ no different than someone taking pills for high cholesterol.

"It's very boring. There is no high to it," said Lisa Torres, an attorney who has taken methadone for 16 years, including her time at law school.

A downside of methadone is that it only works for as long as someone takes it, meaning that most clinics recommend that patients use it daily and indefinitely.

That might not be a burden, patients say, if getting methadone was as easy as filling a prescription.

It is not.

"This is a magnificent medicine," Torres said. "The problem is what you have to do to get it."

At the Vincent P. Dole clinic in Brooklyn, patients begin lining up at 7 a.m., some having traveled for an hour to reach the office. The clinic, tucked behind an unmarked entrance in a busy shopping plaza, is pleasant enough. What makes it grueling, patients say, is the routine.

A majority of people in the program must come every weekday for their dose _ even if they have jobs, or come down with the flu, or get hit by a blizzard. Medical vans carry in elderly or disabled patients too frail to commute.

Aside from doses given out for the weekends, take-home supplies of methadone are a tightly regulated privilege.

Many patients only qualify for two or three weeks of take-home doses following years of clean urine samples, which in some cases are collected in the presence of a staff member to eliminate tampering.

"It's so burdensome. It's so onerous. It's so unbelievably awful," Torres said of the clinic system. "There has to be a better way."

Just what the future holds for the treatment is unclear.

In the past few years, a promising alternative called buprenorphine became available on a limited basis, and researchers have said it could hold some advantages over methadone.

Among other things, buprenorphine lasts longer, is more difficult to overdose on, and can be given in a doctor's office _ a potentially huge advantage over the clinic system.

Newman said it is too soon to tell, but he hopes both drugs will eventually overcome the stigma that still surrounds drug treatment.

"I pin my hopes on the fact that people will realize that it has to be better if there are 50,000 or 200,000 fewer people using heroin on the street, shooting up, getting AIDS," he said.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

NAMA Announces the Resignation of Tony Scro and a New Grievance Coordinator Ericka Lear

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact: Joycelyn Woods

For Release:
August 5, 2006

NAMA Announces the Resignation of Tony Scro
a New Grievance Coordinator Ericka Lear

It is with sadness that I am announcing the resignation of Tony Scro from the Board of Directors of NAMA and also from his position as Grievance Coordinator. It has been his knowledge of policy and guidance that has created a respect for NAMA's grievance procedure. His leaving NAMA will most certainly be missed not only by advocates but by providers and policy makers. We wish him well in all future endeavours.

In his place a Grievance Coordinator we are pleased to announce that Erika Lear, CMA will be taking on the challenge. Ms. Lear began her advocacy as Director of Colorado NAMA where she developed a strong relationship with the state methadone authority during the critical years when the new regulations were being implemented. Upon her moving to Pennsylvania she remained to assist in Colorado advocacy issues while working as part of the Pennsylvania NAMA network. In the past year she was appointed as Director of Pennsylvania NAMA and asked to serve as a Regional Director.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

An Open Forum to Discuss the Efficacy of Methadone Treatment (Indiana Forum)

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates
Press Release

Contact: Carmen Arlt*
Phone: 219.476.4643
For Release: July 26, 2006
Valparaiso, INDIANA

An Open Forum to Discuss the Efficacy of Methadone Treatment

Dr. Alfonso Holliday is inviting the community to an open forum to discuss the efficacy of methadone treatment at the Hampton Inn, 1451 Silhavy Rd. in Valparaiso on Wednesday,

August 2, 2006 from 6 to 8 PM. Dr. Holliday has over 40 years experience in the addictions field and has been Medical Director of a methadone treatment program for over 30 years. He is internationally recognized and acclaimed for his success in treating patients who are suffering from heroin and other opiate addictions and certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Dr. Holliday plans to do the following: 1. Inform the public about the benefits of all Medication Assisted Therapies for those addicted to Opioids; and, 2. Inform them that Holliday Health Care will submit an application to the Department of Mental Health and Addictions to open another facility in Porter County to provide methadone treatment services. Dr. Holliday will also discuss a planned Addictions Research, Education and Medicine Campus. Dr. Holliday’s team is currently evaluating a number of sites to locate the projected future growth of this Research Site.

* Carmen Arlt is Director of NAMA's Indiana Chapter The MAG and Co-Regional Director for the Central States.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

3rd International Memorial Day for Deceased Drug Users Friday the 21st of July (BrugerForeningen, Denmark)

Copenhagen, Denmark
22nd July 2006

3rd International Memorial Day for Deceased Drug Users
Friday the 21st of July

Despite an extreme heat wave, an industrial holiday and the start of the weekend, approximately 120 participants gathered at 7 PM to listen to five relatively short, very varied but all very passionate speeches.

120 participants gathered for the Third International
Memorial Day for Deceased Drug Users.

Two poets read from some of their own highly emotionally charged poems and we witnessed the premiere of a song, composed for the occasion and performed by BF's resident singer songwriter; the song, "274 deaths" or "They'll never return" whose refrain, roughly translated as "And we just miss them so" was so warmly received that the audience demanded a repeat performance at the end of the evening program - all together the whole ceremony lasted for 55 minutes.

They'll never return, And we just miss them so.

During a minute of silence, one could literally hear a pin drop, another musical interlude was provided by the audience's loud, heartfelt rendition of the traditional Danish freedom fighters' song "Never walk in fear".

252 pairs of men's and women's shoes remind all that each
represents a real human being who died, mostly alone.

In the two days prior to the event BF activists succeeded in gathering 252 pairs of men's and women's shoes, dramatically lined up on the sunburned city garden lawn, to remind all present that 252 is not only a statistic, but that each represents a real human being who died, mostly alone. Every year we lose far too many relatively young friends to what are, for the most part, preventable, overdoses.

A remembrance wreath was placed next to the engraved memorial:
"Here we commemorate deceased drug users".

A large coloured mixed flower wreath with a wide orange silk ribbon marked with BrugerForeningen and LFHN (the parent's organisation in BF) - and several fresh flower bunches placed right next to the granite engraved memorial text: "Here we commemorate deceased drug users" was flanked by two flaming torches.

BF's speaker's rostrum - a glass container topped with a
wooden table - containing bloody syringes and needles,
empty methadone bottles and a mixture of colourful
sandbox toys- was a constant reminder of the reality.

BF's usual speaker's rostrum - a 1.3 metre high glass quadrant container topped with a round wooden table - containing 2.500 bloody syringes and needles, several empty methadone bottles and a mixture of colourful sandbox toys- was a constant reminder of the reality that the hard pressed citizens in the local district right next to the open drug scene, face daily in their own yards and other surroundings. The rostrum is an illuminating tool as we use it every time we have a chance in the ongoing debate about user rooms.

This year BF bought a little 50 cc 220 Volts 650 watt generator. Last year it annoyed us greatly that we were delayed and that eventually we had to move the rostrum out of focus, just because our 50 metres of electrical cable, fell just 1½ meter too short, to reach the friendly home on the second floor where we succeeded in borrowing the needed 220 volt electricity, needed to drive our microphones, the amplifier, loudspeakers and video gear. Now we can place the speakers stand exactly where it needs to be, and we don't need to beg anyone to lend us electricity, which really can be a hassle here in the middle of the summer holiday and a Friday evening when only very few people are home.

Since its planting back at IDUD in 2003 with assistance from user activists from 16 different nations, The Paradise Apple tree had been stripped of its beautiful flowers by vandals. So now it does not really look much like a real tree anymore. Therefore, we have decided to replace it with a red Beechwood tree, which, as well as being beautiful is a Fast Grower. Gardeners have advised us to wait until later in the autumn, a better season to plant trees. We now expect to do it on or around BF's 13th Anniversary on 3rd of November.

When this incident started and the cops came running
I thought that they were annoyed because we were
using our electrical amplifier.

While our resident singer was on the finale of the second rendition of his song, the Police drove by in a large van and abruptly stopped on the street beside the park, four large cops ran up and forced their way up to the front line, where they approached an apparently drunk guy who was drowsing next to the flowers. They swiftly grabbed him and dragged him back to the van - where they body searched him. It was later discovered that they had an alarm from a citizen who had, sometime earlier, seen him handling a pistol around the corner from the memorial ceremony in the Central Station. The allegation was true, the guy really was carrying a toy plastic pistol- so he was quickly arrested and driven away. When this incident started and the cops came running I thought that they were annoyed because we were using our electrical amplifier to boost the sound of the acoustic guitar. As such, I grabbed the written meeting permit issued by the local Police station, so I was ready to explain that what we were doing was legal, but I didn't manage to approach them before they went off with the guy. Incidentally while they were finishing searching the guy and beginning to drive off with the guy and the toy pistol, we had reached the point of the program, where we had to sing the freedom song "Never walk in fear". I couldn't resist commenting on the peculiarity of the whole funny and strange coincidence.

In a Reuter's article published in several of Friday's newspapers, complaining that the Police are not yet able to provide us with a realistic figure for overdose deaths in 2005. In this 'information age' it shouldn't be necessary to wait more than 8 months before we can get a realistic figure of the current situation. Actually it should be possible to follow the overdoses month by month, so we could act on the situation especially if it worsens. In "older days" just back in the mid-1990s we got the statistics from the previous year from the Police in late February or certainly by March. But that was also while we still had politicians, who cared and were interested in whether the numbers went up or down. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case anymore, and we must realize that - as long as no politicians really care to ask about the overdose statistics, we won't get the figures any earlier. Therefore, I promised that I will make it my business, and I'll work hard to make the politicians change their priorities so that this issue returns to the discussion table. Hopefully that will also mean that we know the 2006 figure when we meet at next year's Memorial Day.

As we left to go home - it was a day that we will all remember.

Joergen Kjaer - president

Clinic Doctor Guilty of Forgery (Portland Press Herald, July 21, 2006)

Clinic Doctor Guilty of Forgery
Portland Press Herald, Friday, July 21, 2006

A federal jury on Thursday convicted addiction treatment specialist Dr. Mark Shinderman of forging prescriptions for patients at a Westbrook methadone clinic.

Shinderman, a well-known Illinois psychiatrist who is considered an expert in addiction medicine, faces prison time and fines for his convictions on 58 of the 68 charges against him.

He was found guilty in U.S. District Court of writing another doctor's name and federal registration number on 25 prescriptions for controlled substances. The prescriptions were written during 2001 and 2002, when Shinderman was seeing patients at CAP Quality Care, the for-profit methadone clinic owned by his wife, Noa.

Shinderman also was convicted of 24 counts of aiding and abetting the acquisition of controlled substances by deception, and two counts of falsifying records kept by a pharmacy. The jury split on 15 counts of making false statements on medical records, convicting him of seven and finding him not guilty on the rest.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark said the convictions showed the jury rejected the defense claim that Shinderman committed only minor offenses while providing legitimate medical services to his patients and causing no harm to them.

"The harm is to the system of regulation," Clark said. "Every step in the closed system of distribution requires a Drug Enforcement Administration number, and the people expect accountability."

Clark said the verdict upheld the principle that Shinderman's disregard for the law is serious.

"The people of Maine expect their doctors to follow the rules," he said.

Although it was not part of the charges against him, Shinderman's 30-year history as a provider of methadone to treat people addicted to opiates such as heroin was a recurrent theme among the witnesses in the trial.

Shinderman owns and operates two methadone clinics in Chicago, Ill. But he testified that since coming to Maine in 2001, he had been the subject of a "witch hunt" by federal authorities, who denied him a DEA registration number to write prescriptions here.

Shinderman was supported by many who treat drug addicts in the state. They said his clinic offered the best treatment, in part because Shinderman, who is a psychiatrist, offered free services that included prescribing anti-anxiety and other medications to help patients deal with their addictions.

Supporters rejected the government's claim that Shinderman wrote the prescriptions to attract patients, saying the drug-addiction epidemic meant Shinderman had more patients than he could handle.

Michael Cunniff, one of Shinderman's lawyers, said that controversy over methadone treatment - giving an opioid addict daily doses of another addictive drug to prevent cravings and withdrawal symptoms - was the backdrop of the prosecution against his client.

"It was evident throughout the trial that methadone was an issue," Cunniff said. "We made every effort to keep it out."

Shinderman, 64, a tall and dignified-looking man with a neatly trimmed gray beard, bowed his head in the courtroom as the clerk read the jury's verdict shortly before 6 p.m. after nearly 13 hours of deliberation.

As soon as the jury left the courtroom, he comforted his wife and about 30 friends and family members before walking outside. He is on bail while awaiting sentencing, which could be in about three months. He faces up to five years in prison on each of the most serious charges and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

"I'm clearly disappointed about the verdict, but I'm happy I had my day in court," he said to reporters. "I just want to say thank you."

The government contended that Shinderman wrote prescriptions for controlled substances that included benzodiazepine drugs, which are known as "benzos" and are popular with some methadone patients because they enhance the euphoric effect of the drug.

Shinderman was also known for his published opinion that for years, doctors had under-prescribed methadone to some patients, causing them to relapse into using street drugs.

Although the normal therapeutic dose of methadone is 80 to 100 milligrams a day and never exceeds 150 milligrams at the only other Greater Portland clinic, according to trial testimony, some CAP patients received much more.

Sharon Pratt, who came to the clinic when it opened after becoming addicted to pain medication she received during cancer treatment, ended up receiving 1,050 milligrams a day. She said Shinderman also prescribed other medications for her.

As a result of her high dose, she said she fell asleep while driving her car and then had a heart attack she attributes to the methadone. She filed a complaint with the state medical licensing board and has a pending civil case against Shinderman.

Pratt testified against Shinderman at his criminal trial and waited at the court all day Thursday for the verdict.

She said patients at CAP liked to see Shinderman because he would write prescriptions without arguing.

"This sounds weird, but I think he did it because he wanted to be popular," Pratt said. "I think he liked the attention he got, with everybody thinking he was awesome."

She said she was grateful for the verdict "on behalf of everyone who was victimized by this man."

Shinderman's methadone practice will be the focus of a pending civil case against CAP by the U.S. government. It is expected to go to trial early next year.

Staff Writer Gregory D. Kesich can be contacted at 791-6336 or at:

No Verdict in Doctor's Fraud Trial (Portland Press Herald, July 20, 2006)

No Verdict in Doctor's Fraud Trial
Portland Press Herald, Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dr. Mark Shinderman

Marc Shinderman admits he signed another doctor's name.

A federal jury deliberated for nearly four hours Wednesday without reaching a verdict in the case of an addiction treatment specialist charged with prescription fraud.

Dr. Marc Shinderman, 64, is charged with using another doctor's name and federal registration number to write prescriptions for controlled drugs used by patients of his Westbrook methadone clinic during 2001 and 2002. His trial in U.S. Distinct Court in Portland ended Wednesday morning as lawyers for both sides made closing arguments in the case, the result of a five-year federal investigation.

Whether he is convicted may have less to do with what Shinderman did than why he did it, lawyers said.

In two days of testimony, Shinderman admitted that he signed the name and wrote the Drug Enforcement Administration number of Dr. Steven Keefe on prescription sheets, ordering anti-anxiety and other medications for patients of CAP Quality Care Inc., the for-profit methadone clinic owned by Shinderman's wife.

Prosecutors charge that Shinderman, a psychiatrist from Illinois, was able to lure patients to his clinic by prescribing drugs that would enhance the euphoric effect of the methadone they were receiving.

But Shinderman, who had the authority to write prescriptions in Illinois but not in Maine, claimed that he mistakenly thought he could use the prescription-writing authority of a colleague who saw the same patients. His lawyer said his actions were mistakes, not crimes.

The stakes for Shinderman are high. The government charged him with 67 separate crimes for forging prescriptions, aiding someone filling illegal prescriptions and falsifying medical records. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison on each of the most serious counts and fines of up to $250,000.

The clinic is the defendant in a civil suit filed by the government, which is expected to go to trial next year.

The criminal trial began July 11 and featured testimony by current and former patients and staff of CAP Quality Care, as well as state and federal regulators. Shinderman took the witness stand for two days and freely admitted to doing everything the government alleged. Shinderman said he was more concerned with treating patients than making money.

On Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark, who prosecuted the case, told the jury that the issue was simple: Shinderman intentionally wrote prescriptions in Maine even though he knew he was not authorized to do so.

Clark compared a doctor's DEA number to a driver's license and asked jurors to use their common sense.

"If you need a license, you get it," Clark said. "And if you don't have one and get caught, you don't say, 'My Mom has a licence and she let me use it,' or . . . 'I'm an excellent driver and I don't need a license.' "

For more than an hour Wednesday, Clark methodically showed the jury 26 prescription slips that were filled out by Shinderman using Keefe's name and number. Clark showed how 16 of the slips were connected by investigators to medical records kept at CAP in which Shinderman saw a patient and signed Keefe's name or initials. Clark said Shinderman was falsifying records to cover up what he knew was an illegal prescription writing practice.

"If he had written accurate records, the regulators would have seen what he was doing and would have stopped it." Clark said.

Shinderman's lawyer, Thimi Mina, told the jury that his client should not be convicted of a crime for making a mistake.

Shinderman believed that he could legally write prescriptions, and even if he was wrong, he was not doing anything but treating his patients' legitimate medical needs, Mina said.

"No criminal intent, no crime," Mina repeatedly told the jury.

Mina said Shinderman was not prosecuted for violating the law regarding prescription writing, but for his controversial views on methadone treatment for addicts.

"This case is all about methadone," Mina said. "If Dr. Shinderman were a pediatrician I submit we never would have been here."

In the first year of CAP's operation, greater Portland saw a rapid increase in the number of overdose deaths involving methadone. Shinderman came under special scrutiny because he published his opinion that some patients require much higher doses of methadone than normally prescribed at clinics. While the usual therapeutic dose of methadone is 80 to 100 milligrams a day, Shinderman had at least one CAP patient on 1,000 milligrams.

But Mina said Shinderman is committed to treating patients.

"The government has attacked a man who had devoted his life to treating people that that the rest of us step over," Mina said. "What the government asks for in this instance is not justice."

The closing arguments began at 10 a.m. before a packed courtroom, including friends and supporters of Shinderman, including state Sen. Ethan Strimling, D-Portland, and Gardiner Mayor and state Senate candidate Brian Rines. Other benches were filled with state and federal prosecutors and police officers curious about the outcome of the case.

Jurors are scheduled to return to the courthouse at 8 a.m. today to resume deliberations.

Staff Writer Gregory D. Kesich can be contacted at 791-6336 or at:

Staff photo by John Ewing

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Methadone Clinic's Medical Director Goes On Trial (AP, July 12, 2006)

Methadone Clinic's Medical Director Goes On Trial
Maine Today
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
From the AP WIRE

PORTLAND, Maine — A drug-treatment doctor is on trial in federal court for allegedly handing out illegal prescriptions to patients at his wife�s methadone clinic in Westbrook.

Dr. Marc Shinderman faces charges of falsifying records and ignoring regulations designed to prevent diversion of methadone.

Shinderman, an outspoken advocate for the use of methadone to treat addictions, has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Shinderman has operated methadone clinics in Maine and Illinois for more than 30 years and is well-known among those who treat addictions. His CAP Quality Care, a for-profit methadone clinic in Westbrook, was raided two years ago.

Shinderman's jury trial before U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby was in its second day Wednesday.

Methadone Doctorl Facing Prescription-Forgery Trial (Portland Press Herald, July 11, 2006)

Methadone Doctorl Facing Prescription-Forgery Trial
Portland Press Herald
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Four years after a series of overdose deaths drew attention to his Westbrook methadone clinic, Dr. Marc Shinderman will go on trial today in U.S. District Court in Portland.

The nationally known and controversial addiction-treatment specialist is not charged with causing those deaths. Instead, prosecutors say information collected in a 2003 raid of CAP Quality Care offices by armed federal agents created the basis for charges that Shinderman forged prescription slips and made false statements to the government.

If convicted, Shinderman faces up to five years in prison for each of the 16 allegations that he created false medical records, and four years in prison for each of the 52 counts of violating federal regulations on controlled medications. He also would face a $250,000 fine on each count. The business, which is owned by his wife, is the defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by the government.

The trial will also revive the debate about the public risks and benefits of methadone maintenance treatment for opiate addicts, and will bring unwelcome attention to 1,500 licensed clinics that treat 240,000 patients each day, said Dr. Marc Parrino, president of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependency in New York City.

"It's still strange for some people to embrace the idea that you would use a medication that is itself dependence-producing to treat dependency," Parrino said. "There is a stigma surrounding the whole community, and any news that involves methadone will not be a favorable event."

The trial is expected to begin with opening statements at 8:30 a.m. Testimony in the complex case is expected to last for nine days. The government plans to call as many as 50 witnesses, including patients and former employees of the five-year-old methadone clinic.

According to court documents, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark will present evidence that Shinderman wrote 15 to 20 prescriptions a week using another doctor's DEA number, and forged the doctor's name and initials on forms.

Shinderman, a psychiatrist with a valid medical license in Illinois, was denied a DEA permit to write prescriptions for controlled substances in Maine because he had only a temporary license to practice here.

In his pleadings, Shinderman's attorneys say he did nothing wrong. While acknowledging the use of Dr. Steven Keefe's drug-prescribing authority, they say Shinderman was engaged in legitimate medical practice with no criminal intent.

Shinderman communicated with federal regulators about his ability to write prescriptions and was "confused" about his status, in part because of instructions he was given that later turned out to be false.

"The government instigated the conduct it now characterizes as a crime and . . . (Shinderman) was completely without predisposition to commit it," wrote attorney Thimi Mina. Later, he referred to entrapment as his "central defense."

Shinderman, 63, has worked in addiction treatment for 30 years, starting methadone clinics in Illinois and Maine.

Methadone is a synthetic drug that can ease the cravings and withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to opiates such as heroin or morphine. Taken in the right dosage, it allows patients to function normally, despite their addiction.

CAP Quality Care opened in October 2001. The following year there were 28 overdose deaths in Greater Portland, and law-enforcement officials questioned whether the area's two methadone clinics, CAP and Discovery House, could have been responsible.

CAP came under special scrutiny for its policies that permitted patients to take home doses for several days, and for Shinderman's published opinion that most clinics' doses were too small to cure an opiate craving and prevent an addict from supplementing his habit.

A state study later found that about half the deaths were related to clinic methadone, and involved clients from both CAP and Discovery House. The rest involved abuses of prescription medication. The clinics tightened their take-home policies in response.

Shinderman remains controversial in the methadone community for his higher-dose recommendations. Parrino said Shinderman's reputation is good, however.

"He's seen as a person who cares about his patients," Parrino said.

On Sept. 9, 2003, agents from the DEA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services executed a search warrant at
CAP Quality Care offices, seizing records and copying computer files. Last August, a federal grand jury returned the indictment against Shinderman, charging him with falsifying prescription records.

In his brief, Clark said the government would have to rely on hostile witnesses, including Keefe, who still works for CAP.

"Some witnesses may not only be reluctant to testify, they may also be reluctant to tell the truth unless continually prodded with multiple questions," Clark said.

He asked U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby for latitude to question some of the government's own witnesses more aggressively than usual.

Staff Writer Gregory D. Kesich can be contacted at 791-6336 or at:

Copyright © 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Curwensville DH Closing


June 26, 2006

Program Closing Curwensville Pennsylvania

The Discovery House Program at Curwensville is closing at the end of the month of June.

Evidentally it is near an historical path and such a facility can not be located near it. A great decision for a great democracy.

The courts may allow the program more time to move but we all know how difficult it is to find a site for a program. This is the only program in the area.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Overdose Deaths In Michigan - Summary of Articles

Overdose Deaths In Michigan - Summary of Articles


Another drug overdose with fentanyl suspected
Detroit News, May 30, 2006

A new death takes toll to 48 in Wayne Co. Residents warned of lethal drug mix.
FREE PRESS, May 30, 2006

Drug mix cited in six more deaths. Medical examiner says fentanyl cocktail suspected; Wayne toll hits 47 since May 18.
Detroit News, May 29, 2006

Wayne County. More deaths bring county tally to 47.
FREE PRESS, May 29, 2006

Lethal heroin makes rounds. Task force chief says many overdose with Fentanyl-laced drug.
Chicago Tribune, May 29, 2006

Heroin Mix Likely Kills 3 More in Mich.
The Associated Press, May 28, 2006

Drug mix suspected in deaths. 3 more are reported in Wayne County.
Free Press, May 28, 2006

8 more overdose in 2 days
FREE PRESS, May 27, 2006

Death from possible overdose may be linked to fentanyl
The Oakland Press, May 27, 2006

Genesee County struck by heroin deaths. More than a dozen deaths are being blamed on a deadly drug combination.

Overdose deaths blamed on painkiller
Washington Times, May. 27, 2006

Lethal drug combo has users uneasy. Heroin-fentanyl mix not new to Flint area.
THE FLINT JOURNAL, Saturday, May 27, 2006

Lethal drug mix claims more victims
FREE PRESS, May 26, 2006

Another drug overdose with fentanyl suspected
Lisa Martino
The Detroit News
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

DETROIT -- Wayne County health officials Monday reported another suspected drug overdose that they believe is related to a mixture of narcotics and the powerful prescription painkiller fentanyl.

Since May 18, at least 48 people have died in the county from overdoses that health officials believe are caused by a mixture of cocaine or heroin and fentanyl, said Teresa Blossom, a spokeswoman for the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency.

The exact cause of those people's deaths will not be confirmed until toxicology tests are completed, Blossom said. In the meantime, she said area health agencies have increased substance abuse prevention services and passed out 15,000 fliers detailing the dangers of fentanyl.

"Our outreach continues," she said. "(It has) been very, very strong."

Test results to determine if the drug was present at the time of death could take two to four weeks.

In Wayne County there have been 130 confirmed overdose cases in which fentanyl was mixed with either heroin or cocaine from January 2005 to April. On May 19, a dozen deaths suspected to have a fentanyl link occurred in 24 hours.

Fentanyl is more than 50 times stronger than morphine and is commonly given to cancer patients.

A new death takes toll to 48 in Wayne Co. Residents warned of lethal drug mix.
May 30, 2006

Another person died from a probable drug overdose, Wayne County health officials reported Monday, bringing the toll to 48 people who have died since May 19.

Even though the number was dropping from the multiple deaths per day, health officials aren't ready to say the deadly overdose spurt is tapering off.

Toxicology results won't be available for several weeks, but health officials say they believe the deaths have been caused by a dangerous combination of heroin or cocaine and the painkiller fentanyl.

"The numbers have always fluctuated," said Teresa Blossom, Wayne County spokeswoman. "Some days, we've had three or four deaths, on others we've had one."

The latest surge in deaths first came to the public's attention when Wayne County issued a warning on May 19 because 12 people had died over a 24-hour span.

Since then, the county has distributed at least 20,000 flyers, warning people of the dangers of the illegal street drug and urging drug addicts to get treatment rather than risk using the substance.

"We want to continue to urge the public to be mindful that the deadly street drugs have increased," Blossom said Monday. "We hope that anyone can avoid engaging in the activity and for those who have addiction, we hope they can seek treatment."

From September through April, more than 100 drug overdose deaths were recorded in metro Detroit and most of those are believed to have been caused by the heroin/fentanyl mixture.

Neither Oakland nor Macomb counties reported any drug overdose deaths over the holiday weekend.

Contact KATHLEEN GRAY at 313-223-4407 or gray@freepress

Drug mix cited in six more deaths. Medical examiner says fentanyl cocktail suspected; Wayne toll hits 47 since May 18.
Chrystal Johnson
The Detroit News
Monday, May 29, 2006

Six more deaths believed to be linked to a cocktail of street drugs and the prescription painkiller fentanyl were reported in Metro Detroit over the weekend, bringing the total of suspected deaths in the county to 47 since May 18.

Three deaths were reported by the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office on Saturday and three more on Sunday.

"At this point, we can say they probably are drug-related deaths," Cheryl Loewe, assistant chief medical examiner, said Sunday.

Loewe said the exact cause of death could not be confirmed until toxicology tests are performed. That can take two to four weeks.

Drug dealers mix heroin and cocaine with fentanyl to increase the kick.

"I would like to emphasize that fentanyl has been detected in cocaine. We found almost the same amount in cocaine as we did in heroin," Loewe said. Wayne County issued a warning May 19 about the spate of overdoses, after a dozen died in a 24-hour period.

County Executive Robert Ficano said officials have passed out more than 15,000 warning fliers. Counselors worked the crowds at Movement 06: Detroit's Electronic Music Festival, spreading word of the dangerous drug interaction.

"Hopefully, we are reaching out with bulletins, hot lines and general media," Loewe said.

From January 2005 to April, there were 130 confirmed overdose cases in which fentanyl was mixed with heroin or cocaine in Wayne County.

The large number of cases in a short period of time prompted the county to issue a public warning and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week to send investigators to Michigan.

Scores of deaths recently across the East Coast and Midwest have been blamed on the combination. In Chicago, officials said 50 deaths have been linked to the combination.

Fentanyl is given to cancer patients and others whose pain is too great for morphine to dull. The drug is more than 50 times as strong as morphine and can cause users to stop breathing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. You can reach Chrystal Johnson at (313) 222-2300 or

Wayne County. More deaths bring county tally to 47.
May 29, 2006

Three more people have died of suspected drug overdoses, Wayne County officials reported Sunday, bringing the overdose death tally in the county to 47 in less than two weeks.

The latest deaths occurred Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Teresa Blossom, a county spokeswoman, said Sunday that officials won't know for certain whether they were caused by a mix of heroin or cocaine and the painkiller fentanyl until toxicology reports are completed. That process could take several weeks.

Fentanyl is typically prescribed for terminally ill patients with chronic pain.

Investigators say some drug users know fentanyl is mixed with heroin or cocaine and purchase the mix for a stronger high, while other buyers don't know they're getting the fentanyl mixture.

Wayne County officials have reported an average of more than four deaths a day from apparent overdoses since May 17. Last year, there were 1.25 per day, for a total of 457.

On May 18, after 12 people died in a 24-hour period, county health officials first alerted the public to the fentanyl concoction.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said Saturday that a federal investigation points to Chicago or the East Coast as the source of the drugs.

The county has passed out more than 15,000 flyers warning about the lethal mixture, hoping to curb sales.,1,7672380.story?coll=chi-newslocalssouthwest-hed

Lethal heroin makes rounds. Task force chief says many overdose with Fentanyl-laced drug.
David Heinzmann
Chicago Tribune
May 29, 2006

Heroin laced with the prescription painkiller Fentanyl has killed more than 40 people in the Chicago area in the last year, the head of a drug trafficking task force told Congress.

Tom Donahue, executive director of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, or HIDTA, program here told lawmakers that Fentanyl is a growing concern as "the drug problem in the Chicago area has dramatically increased over the past year."

Donahue was in Washington to brief a House subcommittee on budget problems facing drug investigators in Chicago.

The number of people treated for heroin problems in Cook County increased 54 percent in 2005 from the year before, Donahue said last week in his remarks to the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources.

As more people are using heroin, more heroin appears to be laced with Fentanyl, he said.

"The use of this drug has left unsuspecting heroin abusers the victims of overdose and death," Donahue told the subcommittee.

Fentanyl has hit several big cities hard in recent months. Detroit, where officials say more than 200 people have died from overdoses, appears to have the worst problem.

The figures Donahue quoted to Congress about Chicago are accurate and reflect that the use of "heroin, cocaine and marijuana are all increasing substantially," said Tom Green, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Human Services.

The surge in dangerous drugs comes as the federal government is considering curtailing the HIDTA task force with proposed budget cuts and a possible move under the control of the Justice Department after years of relative independence as a program overseen by the executive branch.

Donahue was asking lawmakers to protect HIDTA, which Chicago police have credited with helping reduce violence during the last three years.

"Any change in [HIDTA's] current structure or funding could result in a set back in the progress we have made in successful violence reduction strategies," Chicago police Supt. Philip Cline said.

The task force brings together federal and local drug investigators to trade intelligence and run investigations on drug trafficking throughout the Chicago region.

Donahue, a longtime Chicago narcotics investigator who later became a Cook County prosecutor, said Fentanyl is a front-burner issue for the task force.

"It's a big deal," Donahue said Friday. Investigators believe most of the Fentanyl in Chicago is coming from illicit labs making it in Mexico. One reason the drug may be emerging here now, he said, is that Mexican drug cartels are trying to squeeze their Colombian rivals out of the heroin market.

"It's a way for the Mexican cartels to bypass the Colombian cartels," he said. The drug "can be produced fairly easily."

But because Fentanyl is so much more potent than heroin, it can be deadly when not blended properly. Many users have died, he said, because dealers "haven't figured out the mix yet ... But once it's mixed, heroin users prefer it."

David Heinzmann

Heroin Mix Likely Kills 3 More in Mich.
The Associated Press
May 28, 2006

DETROIT -- Three more people in Wayne County have died from what authorities suspect is a combination of heroin or cocaine and fentanyl, a prescription painkiller.

The deaths, which occurred Friday night or Saturday morning, bring the county's total of overdose deaths believed to have been caused by the mixture to 44 since May 18.

Michele Reid, medical director of the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency and chairwoman of the newly created Wayne County fentanyl work group, is seen at her Detroit office Thursday, May 25, 2006. A deadly mixture of heroin and a powerful painkiller is circulating, killing unsuspecting users who believe they are taking pure heroin. In the Detroit area, the apparent hub of the problem, organizations like Reid's are scrambling to get the word out to users. (AP Photo/Gary Malerba) (Gary Malerba - AP)

Drug mix suspected in deaths. 3 more are reported in Wayne County.
Free Press
May 28, 2006

Wayne County reported three deaths Saturday that likely were drug-related, bringing the overdose death total in the county to 44 in the last 10 days.

The deaths, which occurred Friday night or Saturday morning, are believed to be caused by a deadly mix of heroin or cocaine, and the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said a federal investigation seems to put the source of the drugs at either Chicago or the East Coast. He said the county has passed out more than 15,000 warning flyers.

"It's sad," Ficano said Saturday. "Any family member that's had someone that's had a substance abuse problem realizes how tragic it is and how frustrating and difficult it is."

8 more overdose in 2 days
May 27, 2006

With eight more deaths reported Thursday and Friday, metro Detroit continued to see an unprecedented increase in overdoses believed to be related to a powerful painkiller mixed with street drugs.

The new reports Friday from the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office brought to 41 the number of overdoses in the county in nine days.

While it could be weeks before toxicology results definitively determine whether the painkiller fentanyl is the cause of the deaths, the sheer number of overdoses has medical officials worried that the drug is being mixed with heroin and cocaine with deadly results.

Fentanyl is used to treat chronic pain, particularly in cancer patients, and is 80 times more powerful than morphine.
As drug counselors hit the streets to inform people about the dangers, former drug users said Friday it's nearly impossible to get addicts to notice the risks -- if they come with the chance for a greater high.

"People are steady dropping out there and there's no doubt in my mind, I would have been just like that," said Joyce Jones, who has been in recovery for less than two months after being a heroin addict for 20 years.

If she weren't in treatment, Jones said, she'd be running straight for the fentanyl-laced concoctions being marketed on the street as "drop dead" and "suicide packets."

"It's our thinking. It's the addict's mind. It's so messed up, even if I was seeing a flyer say it would kill me," said Jones, 46. "They could have been putting rat poison in it and it would not matter. I would have snorted it," she said.

Investigators and public health officials are trying to determine why the sharp increase in deaths is occurring in metro Detroit. Carolyn Gibson, spokeswoman for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's Detroit field office, reiterated Friday that DEA investigators are pursuing solid leads and hope to announce some developments within the next two weeks.

While fentanyl has cropped up with deadly results in other cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia and Camden, N.J., officials say no metropolitan area has seen such a sudden increase in the number of deaths believed related to the drug as Detroit has.

Since April 2005 there have been 42 fentanyl-related fatal overdoses in Cook County, which includes Chicago. In the Philadelphia area, authorities said at least nine heroin users had died in the last month.

Metro Detroit has had more than 100 people die in drug overdoses since September, with fentanyl suspected in most of those cases.

Contact KIM NORRIS at 248-351-5186 or

Death from possible overdose may be linked to fentanyl
The Oakland Press
May 27, 2006

Whether a powerful cocktail of heroin and painkillers is responsible for the death of a 17-year-old Bloomfi eld Hills girl is unknown, but officials say it could be involved in a number of recent drug deaths in Michigan.

Lauren Christine Jolly, a junior at Birmingham Groves High School, was found by a passerby slumped over the wheel of her car on Eight Mile Road near Riopelle in Detroit early Thursday morning. While toxicology reports are pending and could take several weeks, police in Detroit suspect Lauren, who lived in Bloomfield Hills, died of a drug overdose.
Lauren's parents could not be reached for comment.

According to Lauren's obituary on the A.J. Desmond and Sons Funeral Home Web site, the teenager was creative, imaginative and fun to be around. Her close friend Betsy Van Loo, 16, said Lauren was always telling jokes and laughing.

"She was a really good person," said Betsy, a junior at Groves. "I don't really want to talk about her too much. I knew her really, really well and this is hard."

Lauren is survived by her parents, Wayne and Beth Jolly; brother Brian; grandparents James and Sally Jolly and Christine (the late Gerald) Hatcher and several aunts, uncles and cousins. A memorial Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Regis Church, 3695 Lincoln in Bloomfi eld Hills. Visitation will be at 10 a.m.

Marcia Wilkinson, spokeswoman for Birmingham Public Schools, said Lauren's parents shared with the school community their desire to educate students about their daughter's death. There have been assemblies with ninth-, 10th- and 11th-grade students - seniors are not in school this week - about what happened to Lauren.

"We reassured the students that there is support out there," Wilkinson said. "We want to encourage them to be safe about the dangerous things going on. We also want to get the message out that students should talk to someone if there are issues or if they have a friend with issues. We'd like to prevent something like this from happening again."

A deadly mixture

Lauren's parents reportedly told school officials she died of a drug overdose.

What drugs she might have used remain a mystery, but some in the community have wondered whether the teenager was using heroin spiked with fentanyl, a narcotic painkiller commonly used to ease the pain of cancer patients. In recent weeks, Wayne County has had an increase in drugrelated deaths possibly involving fentanyl, said Vanessa Denha-Garmo, spokeswoman for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

"Starting last Thursday we noticed the spike," she said. "Exactly why that is, we still don't know. That's what police are investigating."

According to Joyce Brown-Williams, public information manager for the Wayne County Health Department, there have been 106 deaths linked to fentanyl between September 2005 and March 2006. In the last week, there have been more than 20 such deaths.

Deaths in several cities

Deaths linked to fentanyl also have been reported in several other cities, including Philadelphia and Chicago.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said that in the past year, there have been nine deaths linked to fentanyl in the county.

"This is not confi ned to Wayne County," said Bouchard. "It's a very new trend and we're working aggressively to stop it. People need to be aware of the ramifications of this drug."

Officials in Wayne County say they are working to get the word out about the drug, including sending out thousands of fliers to reach users this weekend.

"This is a serious public health issue," said Brown-Williams. "We're doing everything we can to warn the public of the danger."

According to Janet Hoffman, a drug information pharmacist with William Beaumont Hospital, fentanyl is a very potent drug - especially when mixed with other drugs like heroin or cocaine. She said that, used properly, the drug is very effective in controlling chronic pain. But if used in higher doses or illegally, it can cause a person to stop breathing or to have an irregular heartbeat and could be fatal.

"It's much more potent even than morphine," she said. "We use it all the time as a prescription medicine and it works very well if used properly. But it can have very serious side effects."

'A very potent drug'

Hoffman said that, in recent years, fentanyl has become popular as an additive to heroin or cocaine, likely because it can cause a euphoric high. The drug has been around since the 1950s and Hoffman said there's evidence it was illegally mixed with heroin and cocaine for street use as early as the 1970s.

"It's a very potent drug," she said. "And mixing it with another drug would increase the euphoric feeling."

Experts say Wayne County has the highest nationwide death rate because of the mixture of fentanyl and heroin.
Bouchard said people continually experiment to get new and different highs and fentanyl represents a new - and dangerous - trend. Most fentanyl is stolen or obtained through illegal prescriptions, he said.

Most of the heroin seized in Oakland County recently has been laced with fentanyl, he noted.

Heroin usage still rare

Lisa Machesky, executive director of the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition, said that while Lauren's death has stunned the community, heroin usage among teenagers remains rare. In a survey of high school students in the Birmingham and Bloomfield Township area in February 2005, Machesky said 3 percent admitted to trying heroin. She said 20 percent of students admitted it would be pretty easy to obtain heroin.

"This is such a tragedy," she said. "She was so young. We will continue to try and educate students and parents because that's the only way to stop this."

In Wayne County, Medical Examiner Carl J. Schmidt said he began noticing a rise in fentanyl-related deaths in September, but county officials did not begin treating fentanyl as a crisis until last week, when the number of overdoses began to soar.

"Sometimes divining what the role of fentanyl is in an individual's death is more an art than a science," Schmidt said, noting drug users often have multiple substances in their blood.

Before the recent surge, Wayne County had 20 to 30 fentanyl deaths a year, Schmidt said. Those cases tended to be severely ill people with legitimate prescriptions for fentanyl patches who committed suicide by putting on many patches at once or the occasional person who had stolen the drug, he said.

Point of origin

Detroit police spokesman James Tate said the department is following up on several leads about where the fentanyl is originating. So far, however, there is no indication that it is being manufactured locally, he said.

Officials emphasize there is help for people who have overdosed if they get to an emergency room immediately.

"Treatment is available, and treatment works," said Michele Reid, medical director of the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency and chairwoman of the newly created Wayne County fentanyl work group.
Lauren's death marks the second tragedy at Groves High School this month. On May 15, Jamarl Fordham, 16, collapsed during a pick-up basketball game with friends at the school. The exact cause of Jamarl's death is still pending the results of toxicology reports.

Jamarl, a sophomore who liked to play basketball and was a popular student, had no known health problems.
Officials say the deaths of Jamarl and Lauren are unrelated.

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Genesee County struck by heroin deaths. More than a dozen deaths are being blamed on a deadly drug combination.
By Cathy Shafran
May 27, 2006

GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) - (05/27/06)--A deadly heroin combination that has killed nearly 100 people in the Detroit area has now been confirmed to have killed more than a dozen in Genesee County as well.

While fears grow in Metro Detroit about the mounting deaths from the heroin/fentanyl combination, a medical examiner is saying it is a growing problem in the Flint area as well.

The information we're getting tonight comes from the Oakland County Medical Examiners office.

The chief forensic toxicologist in Oakland County says that he's seen drug overdose deaths with an unusual mixture of heroin and the painkiller fentanyl since September 28th of last year.

In all, he's confirmed 20 deaths from the same mixture that has caused nearly 100 deaths in Metro Detroit.

What he has found interesting is that of the 20 deaths, only three have been victims who died in Oakland County; 17 have been victims transported from Genesee County.

And there are more cases he's still investigating.

Information can not be released about the geographical location of those Genesee County deaths, and, at this point he has no way of determining whether the deadly drug supply is coming from Detroit, or perhaps another direction.

Overdose deaths blamed on painkiller
Washington Times
May. 27, 2006

At least 41 people have died in Detroit in little more than a week in what appear to be drug overdoses caused by a painkiller used to cut heroin and cocaine.

Eight deaths were reported Thursday and Friday, the Detroit Free Press said.

Investigators blame the deaths on a mixture of street drugs and fentanyl, a powerful painkiller normally prescribed to cancer patients.

A number of other cities, including Chicago and Philadelphia, have had spikes in overdose deaths because of fentanyl. But the number has been far greater in Detroit, with fentanyl blamed for more than 100 deaths since September in the metropolitan area, compared to 42 in the Chicago area in more than a year.

Counselors hit the streets of Detroit Friday, trying to warn addicts to avoid fentanyl-laced drugs, which sometimes come in packets labeled "drop dead." But one former addict told the Free Press that when she was still using drugs she would not have cared if they had been cut with rat poison.

Lethal drug combo has users uneasy. Heroin-fentanyl mix not new to Flint area.
By Kim Crawford
Saturday, May 27, 2006

They looked like they were dead, the second-shift officers say - two men from the Goodrich area, turned blue and barely breathing, slumped in the front seat of their car parked on a Flint side street, needles still stuck in their arms.
But then paramedics arrived and administered a medicine that counteracts the effects of opiate-type drugs. Slowly, the men stirred and regained consciousness, say the officers recounting the incident.

The outcome of that overdose situation, several weeks ago, puts those two men among the luckier Flint-area heroin addicts. While no one in law enforcement says for sure that the illegal drug those men had taken was cut with the cancer pain-fighting medicine fentanyl, the odds are in favor of that possibility, police say.

"We understand that we've had it here for some time," said Lt. Phil Smith of the Special Operations Bureau of the Flint police. "We've probably had a dozen cases of overdoses in the past several weeks.

"The heroin users around the area have been definitely concerned about it. But in terms of law enforcement, when we seize drugs and have them tested, we never hear about what those drugs are cut with."

Medical authorities says that scores of drug users in southeastern Michigan and hundreds across the country from New Jersey and Philadelphia to Ohio and Chicago have died as a result of using heroin mixed with fentanyl, a powerful prescription painkiller.

According to an Associated Press report, the alarm about the lethal mixture of opiates first was issued by officials back in April. In Detroit alone, nearly 20 people died late this week from the heroin-fentanyl combination.

Now, health officials and hospitals - as well as public health and substance abuse treatment officials - are warning heroin users of the potential danger.

As a matter of public health, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to know about the overdose cases and whether drugs seized by authorities contain fentanyl. But Flint-area law enforcement personnel say in cases against drug dealers, they almost learn what illegal drugs are mixed with, since that typically hasn't mattered previously.

These days, Smith says, he receives messages on a near-daily basis about the heroin-fentanyl mix. Since heroin comes into Flint from both the Chicago and Detroit areas, he and other officers say, it's little wonder that users in Genesee County also have suffered death and overdose because of the mix

Smith and Capt. Mike Becker of the Genesee County Sheriff's Department, a veteran paramedic, point out that fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Smith said heroin addicts usually use tiny plastic spoons that were given out as coffee stir-sticks, formerly available from a fast-food restaurant chain, to measure the amount of dope they put into their fix. As a result, that measure is known to heroin users as a "mac," he said.

That may help to get across just how powerful fentanyl is, when one considers that a drug mixture measured in "macs" is enough to cause the deaths of scores of users across the country. Typically, such drug mixtures contain about 10 or 15 percent heroin, Smith said.

Becker notes that law enforcement officers typically don't know or may never find out what drug an overdosed person has used when they respond to a call. But if paramedics arrive on the scene of an overdose where they have reason to believe the person has used heroin, or morphine or fentanyl, which suppress breathing, they'll administer a drug call Narcan to counteract the effects of opiates.

"We've responded to quite a few of them recently," Becker said about the county paramedics.

But police note that it's difficult, if not impossible, for police to follow up on cases where a suspect has overdosed to find out where they're drugs come from.

"In the vast majority of cases, a person administers the drugs to themselves," he said. "If they did it to themselves, who are you going to prosecute?"
By Kim Crawford o 810.766.6242

Lethal drug mix claims more victims
May 26, 2006

With the arrival of the long holiday weekend and the seventh annual Electronic Music festival expected to draw hundreds of thousands to downtown Detroit, law enforcement and health professionals are bracing for a possible rash of drug-overdoses resulting from heroin laced with a powerful pain medication.

Wayne County officials Friday reported five more deaths Thursday and three Friday likely related to fentanyl-laced heroin, bringing the total to 41 in nine days and cementing Detroit s position as the nation s leader in such deaths.

Drug abuse counselors and public health officials have been out in force distributing fact sheets warning drug users of the potentially lethal mixture on the streets. And they plan to be at the techno fest this weekend.

But their warnings may be falling on deaf ears. Authorities in substance abuse and users themselves report that the prospect of death is not enough to deter them.

Joyce Jones, a heroin addict for 20 years, has been in recovery for less than two months, but says she s glad she s off the junk now because would be running straight for the fentanyl-laced drugs if they promised a better high.

People are steady dropping out there and there s no doubt in my mind, I would have been just like that, said Jones, 46. It s our thinking, it s the addict s mind, it s so messed up, even if I was seeing a flyer say it would kill me. I still would have gone ahead and done it.

She said she never asked a dealer what was in the mix she scored.

They could have been putting rat poison in it and it would not matter. I would have snorted it, she said.

She said all public health officials can do to get hardcore users to consider the risks is to keep repeating it and hopefully eventually it might get through, Jones said. It might save them for one day.

This weekend s techno fest could be fertile soil for dealers peddling tainted stuff.

Dr. Michele Reid, who chairs the Detroit-Wayne County fentanyl working group and is the medical director for the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency, said hospitals report an increase in drug overdoses among young people during such events.

Fentanyl, which is used to treat chronic pain, particularly in cancer patients, is 80 times more powerful than morphine. Taken in excess or in combination with heroin or cocaine, the drug can cause respiratory failure.

Health care workers throughout the metropolitan area have been alerted to the public health threat via the Health Alert Network, which disseminates information electronically to first responders, including doctors, nurses, emergency technicians and ambulance personnel.

Dr. Tammy Lundstrom, chief quality and safety officer for the Detroit Medical Center, which operates the city s busiest emergency room at Detroit Receiving Hospital, said while everyone has been made aware of the possible increase in fentanyl-related overdose cases, treatment protocols are the same. Patients are administered reversal agents and monitored until the drug wears off. Those who exhibit breathing problems will be put on ventilators.

A spokesman for Henry Ford Health System, which operates Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, said the hospital is not increasing staff this weekend and will continue to follow standard protocols for treating drug overdoses.

A week after Wayne County officials issued an alert to the presence of a killer drug on the streets, a host of state, local and federal investigators are still searching for answers to explain the scourge that is killing Detroit-area drug users in numbers not seen in other cities that have identified fentanyl-laced drugs.

The synthetic painkiller has tainted heroin supplies in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to news reports. It also has shown up in combination with cocaine in some places.

In Chicago two weeks ago, 15 people were hospitalized after using heroin bought on the city s West Side. All of the overdoses happened within a one-mile radius, authorities said. In all, dozens of people have overdosed in Chicago this year including 10 who have died. Since April 2005 there have been 42 Fentanyl-related fatal overdoses in Chicago s Cook County.

In the Philadelphia area and nearby southern New Jersey, authorities said at least nine heroin users had died last month.

Carolyn Gibson, spokeswoman for the Detroit field office of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency said investigators still do not know why people are dying in greater numbers here than elsewhere or whether all the cities are connected by a common supply source.

She reiterated Friday that DEA investigators are pursing some solid leads and hope to announce some developments within the next two weeks.

In addition to the DEA, which first issued an alert about fentanyl-related drugs in November, local law enforcement authorities are investigating. And on Monday, two investigators from the federal Centers for Disease Control arrived in Detroit, at the request of state health officials, to look into the more than 100 suspected fentanyl-related deaths here since September. It s the first time the CDC has undertaken such an investigation.

Among the things investigators want to know:

Are the cases of fentanyl-laced drugs seen in other cities linked?

Where is the fentanyl coming from - legal sources, such as pharmacies and hospitals or clandestine labs, possibly as far away as Mexico?

What is the source of the fentanyl-laced heroin supply?

Why are more people dying in Detroit than elsewhere?

How can further deaths be prevented.

John Roach, a spokesman for the Wayne County Sheriff s Office, said as part of the investigation, the department is going through the records of the dead and interviewing their friends and family to try to find the drug houses where they bought their stash.

So far, though, he said, they ve haven t come up with anything solid.

Contact KIM NORRIS at 248-351-5186 or