Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What do you know about Spice?

Parents, what do you know about spice?  
Students, what do you think you know about spice?
Here is a portion of Connor Eckhardt's tragic story. Share it with you children.  Students, share it with your friends. 
Connor Eckhardt seemed to have a fortunate, all-American life. He was a happy-go-lucky kid with good parents and a nice family in Roseville.
Last month, that family gathered in a hospital to say goodbye to him.
Eckhardt, 19, had apparently taken one hit from a spice cigarette, collapsed and gone into a coma. He later died.
Spice is a type of synthetic marijuana that's illegal but still available for purchase at a smoke shop or a non-chain convenience store, if you know to ask for it. Eckhardt had been in rehab for other drugs like heroin, but he reportedly had been sober for eight months at the time of his death.

"You're never sure what you get with spice," said Connor Eckhardt's father, Devin Eckhardt. "Even somebody experienced with it and (who) used it could be subjected to the same types (of) outcomes the next time they try it."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Colorado, Legalizing Marijuana, and Macomb, Michigan

Seven negative side effects that pot legalization has caused in Colorado and why it matters in Macomb, Michigan

1) the majority of DUI drug arrests involve marijuana;
2) youth consumption of marijuana has increased;
3) drug-related suspensions/expulsions increased 32 percent over a 5-year period and a majority was for marijuana;
4) an increase in college users;
5) almost 50 percent of Denver arrestees tested positive for marijuana;
6) marijuana-related emergency room visits increased 57 percent from 2011-2013; and

7) marijuana-related hospitalizations has increased 82 percent since 2008.

So why does this matter in Macomb, Michigan?  Read the rest of this article and be sure to follow the various   links  to studies that reveal the dangers of marijuana.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Thank you to everyone who came out to SHOCKtober.  We had a great time and continued to encourage each other to remain in God's Word where we find strength in the righteousness that is our in Christ, our Redeemer.

The three blind mice and the farmer's
wife bested all in the
Group Costume category.

Kristen defended her championship
with another victory in the
Most Creative Category

The Scarecrow, Dorothy, Toto and the
tempestuous Torndado blew through all
competition in the Fictional Costume category 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

SHOCKtober Category Contests

Example's SHOCKtober event is Saturday, October 25 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.  Participating in the evening's contest is a great way to enjoy the event.

Costume Contest Categories:

Your favorite LHN teacher
Most Creative Costume
Historical or Fictional Character
Best Group Costume - Grab some of your chums and dress thematically: the Pistons' starting five, The Incredibles or think way out of the box and you can all dress as _____________________.  Hey, we can't give you all the ideas.  Use your own creativity.

Carved Pumpkin Contest:

We won't carve the pumpkins during the event because the gooey mess is well, gooey and messy.  The LHN custodial crew might be scraping pumpkin seeds off walls for a long time if we carved them at school.  So creatively carve your pumpkins at home and bring them to the Example event where our expert judges, who all possess a PhD (Pumpkin Hacking Degree) will evaluate entries in the following categories:
Most Creative
Most Literary
Most Michigan Sports Related: Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, Wolverines, Chippewas, Cardinals, Eagles, Chargers, oh and the Spartans.

The cost is $3.00 and it is open to Lutheran North students only.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Trendy Fall Example Fashions

The new Example shirt is just what you need to spruce up your fall wardrobe. It offers the perfect blend of cotton, encouragement and confidence.  This shirt is made for Spirit-wear Fridays: 100% preshrunk cotton, double needle stitching in Visible-From-Miles-Away yellow.  

Not only will you feel perfectly comfortable for those Friday quizzes, but you will also help deliver Example's vital message that there are plenty of high school students who don't drink and use drugs.  

Great comfort. Great message. Great price.

The shirt costs $12.00.  To order what is sure to be an Example fashion trend, see Mr. Brandt this week as the order will be placed on Friday, September 26.

We know the verse reads a bit differently on this picture.
Fret not, the verse on the t-shirt will include all the words from I Timothy 4:12.
Example will be on the front and the text, in the shape of a cross, will be on the back.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Example's First Event of the Year

We are looking forward to another great year and it all starts
 this Saturday, September 20 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. 

What exactly happens at Example events?
Encouragement. Fun. Pizza. Shenanigans. 

Surround yourself with people who realize 
alcohol and drugs do not have to be a part of anyone's high school experience.

Enter through the cafeteria doors.
The cost is $3.00. Lutheran North students only.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Marijuana use linked to teen psychosis, decrease in IQ, permanent brain damage

The article is worth reading if there is a "teen" after your age.
The article is worth reading if there is a "teen" after the age of your son and/or daughter.

Aug. 13, 2014 7:02 p.m. ET

The great irony, or misfortune, of the national debate over marijuana is that while almost all the science and research is going in one direction—pointing out the dangers of marijuana use—public opinion seems to be going in favor of broad legalization.
For example, last week a new study in the journal Current Addiction Reports found that regular pot use (defined as once a week) among teenagers and young adults led to cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ. On Aug. 9, the American Psychological Association reported that at its annual convention the ramifications of marijuana legalization was much discussed, with Krista Lisdahl, director of the imaging and neuropsychology lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, saying: “It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth.” (Emphasis mine)
Since few marijuana users limit themselves to use once a week, the actual harm is much worse for developing brains. The APA noted that young people who become addicted to marijuana lose an average of six IQ points by adulthood. A long line of studies have found similar results—in 2012, a decades-long study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders who frequently smoked pot in adolescence pegged the IQ loss at eight points.
Yet in recent weeks and months, much media coverage of the marijuana issue has either tacitly or explicitly supported legalization. A CCN/ORC International survey in January found that a record 55% of Americans support marijuana legalization.
The disconnect between science and public opinion is so great that in a March WSJ/NBC News poll, Americans ranked sugar as more harmful than marijuana. The misinformation campaign appears to be succeeding.
Here’s the truth. The marijuana of today is simply not the same drug it was in the 1960s, ’70s, or ’80s, much less the 1930s. It is often at least five times stronger, with the levels of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, averaging about 15% in the marijuana at dispensaries found in the states that have legalized pot for “medicinal” or, in the case of Colorado, recreational use. Often the THC level is 20% or higher.
With increased THC levels come increased health risks. Since Colorado legalized recreational use earlier this year, two deaths in the state have already been linked to marijuana. In both cases it was consumed in edible form, which can result in the user taking in even more THC than when smoking pot. “One man jumped to his death after consuming a large amount of marijuana contained in a cookie,” the Associated Press reported in April, “and in the other case, a man allegedly shot and killed his wife after eating marijuana candy.” Reports are coming out of Colorado in what amounts to a parade of horribles from more intoxicated driving to more emergency hospital admissions due to marijuana exposure and overdose.
Over the past 10 years, study after study has shown the damaging effect of marijuana on the teenage brain. Northwestern School of Medicine researchers reported in the Schizophrenia Bulletin in December that teens who smoked marijuana daily for about three years showed abnormal brain-structure changes. Marijuana use has clearly been linked to teen psychosis as well as decreases in IQ and permanent brain damage. (Emphasis mine)
The response of those who support legalization: Teenagers can be kept away from marijuana. Yet given the dismal record regarding age-restricted use of tobacco and alcohol, success with barring teens from using legalized marijuana would be a first.
The reason such a large number of teens use alcohol and tobacco is precisely because those are legal products. The reason more are now using marijuana is because of its changing legal status—from something that was dangerous and forbidden to a product that is now considered “medicinal,” and in the states of Colorado and Washington recreational. Until recently, the illegality of marijuana, and the stigma of lawbreaking, had kept its use below that of tobacco and alcohol.
Legality is the mother of availability, and availability, as former Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr. put it in his 2008 book on substance abuse, “High Society,” is the mother of use. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, currently 2.7 million Americans age 12 and older meet the clinical criteria for marijuana dependence, or addiction.
Mark A.R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, has estimated that legalization can be expected to increase marijuana consumption by four to six times. Today’s 2.7 million marijuana dependents (addicts) would thus expand to as many as 16.2 million with nationwide legalization. That should alarm any parent, teacher or policy maker.
There are two conversations about marijuana taking place in this country: One, we fear, is based on an obsolete perception of marijuana as a relatively harmless, low-THC product. The other takes seriously the science of the new marijuana and its effect on teens, whose adulthood will be marred by the irreversible damage to their brains when young.
Supporters of marijuana legalization insist that times are changing and policy should too. But they are the ones stuck in the past—and charting a dangerous future for too many Americans.
Mr. Bennett is a former secretary of education (1985-88) and was the first director of the National Drug Control Policy (1989-90). Mr. White is an attorney in Princeton, N.J.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Families Against Narcotics Run/Walk

On Saturday, July 19 Example participated in Families Against Narcotics, Run Drugs Out of Town 5k/10k Run-Walk.  Lutheran North students, parents, coaches, alumni and teachers joined nearly 2,000 people to help support a great organization.
While race results are pending (we will update the blog as soon as we receive official confirmation) rumor on Unger Blvd. and Grotelueschen Ave. is that some Example runners will be receiving victory medals.  
We've always said that drugs and alcohol do not have to be an inevitable part of high school.  It's encouraging to see so many people share similar attitudes about drug abuse and are doing something about it.
Thank you to everyone who supported Example by supporting F.A.N.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Run Drugs Out of Town

I hope summer is going well for everyone! 

On July 19th, Families Against Narcotics will be hosting its Run Drugs Out of Town event. Example wants to get as many students, parents and members of the Lutheran North community out to this event.

In April Example asked two members of FAN to speak to our student body. If you were there, you know what a great presentation it was. FAN has been a great resource for Example and we want to show our appreciation and support for this group and this event.

You can jog, run, walk, gambol, skip, hop. There is a 5k race, a 10k race and a 5k walk.

Like this. Share this. Tweet this. Social-media-of-your-choice this to help spread the word. 
  • If you run cross country chat this event up with your running chums. 
  • If you are an incoming freshman, this would be a great way to meet fellow Mustangs.  
  • If you are a volleyball player, help Example bump, set and spike drugs out of the lives of young men and women.  
  • If you are a _______________________ (fill in the blank) help support Example by supporting Families Against Narcotics

We will take an Example group photo before the event so look for us. Let Mr. Brandt know if you have any questions and if you plan on going.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Graduation Party Season

An alcohol-free graduation party might be a great idea 
and a great Example for friends and family.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Prom Week: Day Three

Students are still signing PROMise contracts, wearing wristbands and hearing other students explain why drinking should not be a part of anyone's prom plans.

Before chapel Kelsey shared with students why she is going to enjoy a drug/alcohol-free prom:
My name is Kelsey and I will not be drinking at prom. To me, drinking and drugs are not worth the consequences. I don’t know about you, but I actually want to remember what happens at prom instead of spending time in the bathroom throwing up. Why do people feel they need to use drugs or drink alcohol to have a good time? If you think it is cool and you are doing it to fit in then I suggest finding new friends. You do not need a substance to make your life more exciting or to have a good time, and if you think you do then I feel bad for you. People should like you for who you are, not how you act under the influence. Our goal here on earth is to live for God and Galatians 1:10 explains that to us. It says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” So if God, the government, parents, and teachers do not want you to drink, why do it? The only thing you could possibly gain from drinking is a massive headache. Make the right decision with me and do not drink at Prom. 
By the end of school on Wednesday, ninety-two prom-going students signed an Example PROMise. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Prom Week: Day Two

Today Julianna encouraged others to enjoy an alcohol and drug-free Prom by explaining why she won't drink or use drugs.

"Hello everyone.  My name is Julianna and I'm not going to drink at, after, or before prom this Friday.
I'm not sure how many of you are aware, but the legal drinking age for the United States is 21.  That means, when you drink, you break the law.  Romans 13 is very clear that when someone rebels against authority, he is rebelling against what God has instituted.

Most of you are probably thinking, 'Pfft...getting caught drinking is about as likely as me being prosecuted for illegally downloading music from YouTube.  So why worry about it?'

Verse 6 says "it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience."  We all have one: a moral code set in place by the moral lawgiver.  It doesn't matter if you get caught or not.  God knows.  I don't want to look back on Prom night regretting a poor decision, so I'm going to abide by the law set in place by our government. 

I hope you choose to do the same."

It is very encouraging to know that there are young men and women who will speak to their high school peers and explain/encourage them not to use drugs or alcohol.  This is not easy.  It takes great courage for student leaders to stand before the entire high school and explain why drugs and alcohol will not be a part of their Prom plans. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths."   Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, April 28, 2014

Prom Week: Day One

Before today's chapel two seniors encouraged students not to drink and use drugs this weekend. Here are Jacquelyn's words of encouragement to the students attending Prom.

"Hi, my name is Jacquelyn and I'm here to encourage you not to drink at prom. God calls us to be examples for him in everything we do. He says in 1 Timothy 4:12 'Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.'

Choosing to drink at prom would be choosing a lifestyle that is contrary to God's plan for us. God sent his Son to die for us so daily, we should live for him. So ask yourself, is it worth the risks? Is it worth the consequences? Is it worth it enough to blatantly disobey God and go against his plan for us? The temptation is there and it's not easy to say no. However, you know the harm it can do to you and everyone around you. Be an example for others and prove that you don't need alcohol to have a good time. This weekend, make the safe choice, make the smart choice, make the right choice and choose to not drink at prom."

Students also began signing PROMise contracts.  These are displayed in the school's hallways so students see there are plenty of students opting to have a great time without the use of alcohol and drugs.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Example's Assembly

Example hosted an assembly today and invited two recovering addicts to share their stories of addiction and healing.  The young men explained how their descent into drug and alcohol abuse began and the devastating effects it had on their families, friends and themselves.  

Willie and Kenny are part of Families Against Narcotics and speak to high school students and other groups encouraging them to make decisions that keep them drug and alcohol free.  

Example's passion is to help young men and women realize that drugs and alcohol do not have to be inevitable parts of the high school experience.  Prom is next Friday and Example used this assembly to help encourage high school students to make intelligent decisions next weekend and every day after that.

Video clips of this great presentation will be available soon.

 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young 
but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” 
 - I Timothy 4:12

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

You're invited...

Example is hosting a special assembly this Thursday, April 24 from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.  Recovering addicts involved with Families Against Narcotics (FAN) will speak to Lutheran North’s student body on the dangerous and often fatal consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. 

During a three-year span, Macomb County has had the highest fatal heroin overdoses in the state of Michigan.  Parents are invited to attend the assembly to learn more about the dangers of this epidemic.

The assembly begins at 10:00 a.m. in the main gym and concludes at 11:00. 
Contact John Brandt if you have any questions.

Monday, April 21, 2014

“Most parents think it won’t happen to their child.”

Here are three reasons why you need to read the second part of Jameson Cook's article on heroin use in Macomb County.
  • Henry Ford said in a press release last fall that many young people are prescribed “more pills than necessary to treat short-term pain.The youngsters liked how the drugs make them feel and naively thought since they were prescribed by a physician, they were safer and less addictive than alcohol or street drugs,” Henry Ford said. “For some, it would eventually lead to dependence on ... highly addictive heroin.” Click here to read the entire article.
  • Parents can’t turn a blind eye toward their children, FAN president, Judge Linda Davis said. “The hardest part is getting the parents to come to events,” Davis said. “Most parents think it won’t happen to their child.”  Click here to read the entire article.
  • “The Warren Police Department has not seized any heroin in our schools,” stated Louis Galasso, Deputy Commissioner of the Warren Police Department. “But that doesn’t mean school-age kids aren’t using. I’m not putting my head in the sand and saying it doesn’t exist.”  Click here to read the entire article.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Macomb County leads state in fatal heroin overdoses

Here are three reasons why you need to read this Macomb Daily article by Jameson Cook.

  • Heroin and opiate prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in the county in recent years, giving Macomb the dubious distinction of leading the state in fatal heroin overdoses over a three-year period...“It’s something that happening in every community,” said Judge Linda Davis, president of the statewide organization, Fraser-based Families Against Narcotics (FAN), formed in 2007. “We’ve been screaming about it for the past seven years and nobody listened. Now kids are dropping like flies. They’re not just addicted now, they’re dying. We are getting so many calls from people wanting to get involved with us.”  Read the entire article.
  • Randy O’Brien, who treats addicts as director of the Macomb County Office of Substance Abuse (MCOSA), described a common scenario: A youth or young adult gains access to pill swiped from his or her parents or grandparents’ medicine cabinet, or is prescribed pain pills for a sports injury or a procedure such as wisdom-teeth removal.“They’ll use that for a while go get their buzz,” O’Brien said. ”But that source will dry up and that start looking out the streets. … They’ll graduate to heroin. They start snorting it and before too long that start using needles for the better effect. It (injection) gives them an immediate high.”Data supports the rise in opiate abuse. Admissions to county-sponsored treatment programs for heroin and other opiates has more than doubled in 10 years, climbing from 1,126 in 2004, to 2,045 in 2008 to 2,497 in 2013, according to MCOSA. Read the entire article.
  • Andrew Fortunato of Fraser, was an athlete and well-spoken high schooler who became an alcoholic and advanced to opiate prescription addiction following a prescription for an injury suffered in a bicycle accident. But he stopped short of heroin. He has become a speaker for FAN, ran a “recovery house” for a year and is a mental health technician at a hospital.“(Opiate addiction) is usually a very gradual process,” Fortunato said. “Nobody wakes up and says, ‘I think I want to become a heroin addict today.’ It’s a slow and steady slide to the gateway of hell.” Read the entire article.
However, if you read the article and still think this will never happen to your family or in your school, please watch this video.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Team Stuef Triumphs at Tour de 'Stang

Example's March event was the Tour de 'Stang. The night's guest speaker was Betsy Andreu. Betsy's husband is former professional cyclist Frankie Andreu who was captain of the U.S. Postal Service professional cycling team that won the Tour de France was Lance Armstrong's teammate.

Betsy Andreu spoke about the attacks on her character that came after she learned Armstrong took performance enhancing drugs. She encouraged students to not succumb to the temptation of taking recreational or performance-enhancing drugs. She said the money might be nice but the consequences of rotting your soul and endangering your health are certainly not worth it. She also encouraged students to remain fixed to the truth no matter how insurmountable or formidable the pressure may seem. 

With Betsy Andreu as our speaker it only made sense that we had a cycling-themed activity.  Blind-man cycling required endurance, trusted teammates, the ability to know right from left and a desire to win.  In other words it was exactly like the Tour de France... but different.

Navigting the Alpe d'MusicRoom required superior climbing skills and trustworthy teammates.

 Each team selected a cyclist and promptly wrapped paper towels around around his/her head.  The domestiques took turns yelling out directions to the blind cyclist over the meandering course through the school's hallways. 

Superior navigational skills allowed Team Stuef to stand atop the podium.
Tour de 'Stang Champs!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Some party

I just read this mother's story about how her daughter nearly died because of some terribly bad decisions.  Example encourages you to read the story and realize consequences like these can be avoided.

Attention Parents:

This is what 2 beers, 2 shots of Captain Morgan, 2 shots of apple pie moonshine, 2 shots of whiskey, and a handful of liquor soaked blueberries looks like on a 16 year old.

My daughter and her cousin decided to throw themselves a party last night while they were home alone for 2 hours at their dads' house. They raided the liquor cabinet and when my ex husband got home he found the girls drunk and our daughter unresponsive. He rushed her to the hospital in Wyoming, and Court and I met him there.

When I arrived I was rushed into the ER and there was my child, lying on a gurney. She was covered in heated blankets to combat hyperthermia - her body temperature was 95 degrees. She was being pumped full of iv fluids. One of the tubes in her throat was running into her stomach continously draining the fluid therein.

It took the ER team 3 attempts to intubate Taylor, they tore her throat up in the process. It was necessary - so she could be attached to the ventilator which spent the next 13 hours breathing for her, because she wasn't able to breathe on her own.

She was rushed by ambulance to U of M Amplatz Children's Hospital around midnight.
My daughter's symptoms were caused by her blood alcohol level reaching it's plateau at .43.
More than 5 times the legal limit.
High enough to kill a grown man.

The Doctors at Amplatz made it very clear to us that had her father had not found our child when he did, she would have undoubtedly died in that house last night.
We, by the Grace Of God alone, will not be burying our child this week. But only because we are extremely blessed. And extremely lucky.

Some party.

I hope my daughter and my niece understand how fortunate they both are. I hope they learned a valuable lesson in this. And I hope this experience shared can help prevent another child losing her life to alcohol.

Parents: 2 hours. They were only alone for 2 hours.
Kids: 2 beers and 6 shots is all it took to almost kill this girl.
Please share this. Help raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol poisoning and teenage binge drinking.  

I never thought I could find us in a situation like this.
Neither did Taylor.
Maybe we should have.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Example Olympics: A Gold Medal Night

Saturday's Example Olympics began with a presentation from Dave Winowiecki of Families Against Narcotics. Dave explained his son's descent into drug use, his near death from an overdose of heroin and the danger and confusion of legalizing marijuana.  Example is thankful Dave and F.A.N. possess such a passion to inform and explain the dangerous consequences of drug use.

The fierce competition took the chill out of the arctic air once the events began.

The first Example Olympic event took place under the stadium lights.  Olympic athletes battled the deep snow and each other as they raced from one end of the field to the other.

Next up was the Human Luge.

The Biathlon required Example Olympians to combine brute force... 

...with impeccable accuracy.
The last event of the 2014 Example Olympics was hockey.
Each goalie donned impaired-vision safety goggles while opponents fired shots like it was their job. Which it was.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Harming Our Communities and Children

Recently, on his radio show, Morning in America, Dr. Bill Bennett interviewed  Dr. Bob DuPont. They discussed the dangers of marijuana and why legalizing it will result in more harm to our children and our communities.

If you disagree with Dr. DuPont you need to listen to the interview.
If you agree with Dr. DuPont you need to listen to the interview.
If you have children you need to listen to the interview.
If you are in high school you need to listen to the interview.

Truly, you need to listen to the interview.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What do you think you know about heroin?

Angela Haupt, editor with the Health and Wellness section at U.S. News wrote the following article and we wanted to share it with our Example community.
On the day Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an apparent heroin overdose, so did roughly 100 other Americans – 100 lives claimed by heroin or some other drug.
“Everyone’s talking about him, and we want to know whose phone numbers were in his cellphone,” says Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at “All of that’s important, but in Washington, in San Diego, in Chicago and in Vermont, people died. And that’s the nature of this. People say he was a smart guy, that he should have known it was bad. Of course he knew it was bad – the problem is, his brain was constantly telling him that some heroin would be a very good idea."
Hoffman’s death highlights a steep increase in drug overdoses. Consider that in 2010, there were 38,329 such deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s more than double the 16,849 fatal overdoses recorded in 1999. Overdosing is now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., ahead of traffic fatalities and gun homicides. And health officials warn that we’re in the midst of a new heroin epidemic that will only get worse before it gets better.
“It’s not that Hoffman overdosed on heroin – it’s that he was using heroin in the first place,” Pasierb says. “Like there’s some safe level. Like if only he would have taken less, then somehow this would have been OK.”
Aside from the obvious truth that no amount is safe, here's what you need to know about the drug:
It’s a depressant. Heroin – a white to dark brown powder or tar-like substance – is a highly-addictive opioid drug extracted from poppy plants and synthesized from morphine. It’s a downer, which means it's a depressant that slows messages traveling between the brain and body. When it enters the body, it’s converted back into morphine, and users feel a rush of euphoria. “You have an extraordinary sense of well-being,” says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “It’s bliss. It removes any sense of discomfort.” Once the brain discovers that effect – that powerful high – it begins to crave it again and again. “And if you don’t have that drug onboard, you feel awful,” Volkow says. “Things that in the past would produce pleasure no longer do.”
It’s linked with prescription drug abuse. The No. 1 sign that someone will use heroin, Pasierb says, is that he or she abused prescription painkillers like Vicodin and oxycodone. “Where I am in NYC, I’m looking out at Madison Square Park,” he says. “I can probably go out there and find an oxycodone for about $40. I could go down to Washington Square Park and get five envelopes of heroin for $40.”Those are the “economics of what’s driving the increase in heroin use,” Pasierb says.
There are signs that someone is using. When someone is abusing heroin, he or she may suffer from shortness of breath, dry mouth, a droopy appearance and cycles of hyper alertness followed by sudden drowsiness. Their pupils will likely appear small. Users may also show sudden changes in behavior or actions. “At one moment, they may be extremely friendly and sociable and very happy, and then they may be the opposite – very aggressive,” Volkow says. She adds that as heroin starts to leave the body, a person’s heart rate will spike, he or she will begin to sweat and the user might even experience seizures. “It’s a very severe withdrawal,” she says.
There are multiple ways to use it. Twenty or 30 years ago, heroin was 6 to 10 percent pure, Pasierb says – so if people wanted to get high, the only choice they had was to inject it. These days, heroin is 50 to 60 percent pure, so most users start by snorting it, then gradually progress to smoking and injecting it. “Maybe you’ve taken a couple oxycodones, and you’re now dependent on them, and you say you’re never going to put a needle in your arm,” Pasierb says. “So you grind up some heroin and snort it, and that actually works for a little while.” But then you build up a tolerance, so in pursuit of a better high, you decide to smoke it. That works for a while, too, until you again become tolerant. “And lo and behold, the only way to capture that high is to inject it into your arm,” Pasierb says.
There’s such thing as “bad heroin.” A batch of so-called “bad heroin” has been making headlines across the East Coast, reportedly killing 22 people in western Pennsylvania over the course of a week. It’s mixed with the prescription narcotic Fentanyl, which is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. Dealers use fentanyl to spike heroin as a “product marketing” tactic, Pasierb says – it provides a more powerful high than standard batches. “The problem is, these guys mixing it into some of the heroin they’re selling aren’t mixing the right amount, and they’re killing their customers.” Fentanyl-laced or not, he cautions: “The key thing about heroin is you don’t know what you’re getting. Buying a bag on the street is Russian roulette – open the chamber and see what you get."
Withdrawal is brutal. Imagine that you haven’t eaten for three or four days, and then food is withheld for another three days. You’ll become psychologically and physically distraught. “You’re in agony,” Pasierb says. “Your body is craving the thing you're refusing to give it. It’s a very tough, hard thing, and your body goes into a full-out revolt.” That’s why, even when people are determined to kick their habit, they often fail to do so without strong professional help.
It makes your body forget to breathe. Every time someone injects heroin, they’re risking an overdose. Most often, “it kills you because you stop breathing,” Volkow says. We typically don't need to think about breathing, because it's an automatic behavior driven by centers in the deep parts of our brain, and regulated by multiple neurotransmitters. But heroin inhibits the brain centers that control breathing, and after making someone feel calm and sleepy, the respiratory drive will simply shut down. Short of death, heroin can cause an array of serious health conditions, including hepatitis and HIV. Chronic users may suffer from collapsed veins, infections of the heart lining and valves, liver or kidney disease, and pulmonary complications like pneumonia.
[Read: Cory Monteith's Death Highlights Addiction 'Crisis'.]
No one is immune. Heroin affects all demographics and professions; men and women of all ages in all parts of the world. “It reaches everybody,” Volkow says. “That’s the case for addiction in general – you can have it in very rich people, in very poor people, in people who are 20 and people who are 64. It doesn’t discriminate.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Don't Be That Friend

Two Lutheran North students and members of Example created and submitted this video for the Courageous Persuaders public service announcement contest.  Kristin and Sonnet, thank you for your willingness to make a difference in the people God has placed in your lives.

"My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent... My son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their path." -Proverbs 1:10,15

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Heroin, Macomb County & Today's Youth

The following article is from the February 5, 2014 issue of The Detroit News

 Heroin addiction hits hard across Michigan

Sunday’s death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent heroin overdose underscores a disturbing trend in Michigan and across the U.S.
Use of the illegal drug has skyrocketed in five years, as an alternative to higher-priced prescription drugs. And heroin has gotten more lethal, as it’s mixed with dangerous additives.
“It is horrible that someone like Hoffman died, but this is commonplace,” said Lou Katranis of Oakland County, who lost his 21-year-old son, Christopher, to a heroin overdose four years ago.
“I go to a lot of meetings, I speak at treatment centers and we barely flinch, because it happens so often.” Katranis also has battled drug and alcohol addiction.
Heroin use nationally increased 79 percent from 2007-12; 669,000 people reported they used the drug, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health released in 2013.Heroin overdose deaths went up 45 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There were 158 heroin-related deaths in Michigan from 2007-11, the most recent figures available, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.
The rising costs of frequently abused prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, has pushed some drug addicts to turn to heroin, which is cheaper, to get the high they crave.
Heroin, which is in abundant supply, also can be snorted, making it more appealing to users who don’t want to use syringes that could leave behind tell-tale scars.
“There’s not a community in southeast Michigan that hasn’t been hit hard with opiate use, overdoses of heroin and prescription painkillers,” said Special Agent Rich Isaacson, with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Detroit Division.
Randy O’Brien, director of Macomb County Community Mental Health’s office of substance abuse, said one pill can cost up to $80 on the street, while heroin can go for $5.
Kathy Forzley, Oakland County Heath Division’s manager and health officer, said there was a 9 percent increase from 2012-13 in admissions for treatment due to heroin use. Over the past five years, she said, heroin has been the reason for 25 percent of admissions for treatment.
Macomb has also seen a rise in heroin use, O’Brien said, and there’s always been a steady population, he said, partly because of the proximity to Detroit at the Eight Mile divide.
“The last three years, there has been a much greater demand based on the admission we get for treatment,” he said.
“The pattern right now, 42 percent of admissions are heroin, based on 1,886 people in 2013. Ten years ago it was 25 percent.”

A dangerous additive

O’Brien said opiate use, including heroin, has gone up each year.
“In 2004, 25 percent were opiates admission like oxycontin; now it is up to 54 percent for all opiates. This is like most of the nation,” he said. “Hoffman quit drinking and using drugs when he was 22. He just started up again in 2009 or 2010 and ended up in rehab and it still didn’t take. It speaks to the power of the addiction.”
And as if heroin isn’t dangerous enough, fentanyl, a synthetic morphine substitute roughly 100 times more powerful than morphine, is being mixed with or substituted for heroin.
Recent deaths in Pennsylvania and New York have been attributed to heroin and fentanyl blends.
Mary Mazur, Wayne County medical examiner’s spokeswoman, said heroin is an issue in the county as well, and fentanyl was involved in a number of cases in 2007.
But, she added, it’s hard to get statistics without talking to every person who ends up in the hospital for drug use.
“There is no such thing as safe heroin,” said the DEA’s Isaacson.
“Any heroin user is playing Russian roulette.”

Highly addictive drug

Tests by federal health officials on current heroin have shown the drug now being peddled on the street is 60 percent to 70 percent pure, an increase from 5 percent seen in the 1970s.
When potency was much lower, people chose to inject the drug to get high.
“Once the heroin purity went up, that allowed people to snort the drug and get high, therefore making it seem more acceptable to many segments of our society,” Isaacson said.
Heroin use, he said, has increased in part due to the rise in prices for prescription drugs.
“People will start abusing opiate painkillers, whether they are hydrocodone or the oxycodone products,” he said. “They get hooked on those pills, which are very expensive when you buy them on the street and people who can no longer afford that addiction will typically switch over and start using heroin because they can buy hits of heroin for much cheaper.”
Raj Mehta, a recovering heroin addict and an interventionist at Serenity Therapy Center in Rochester Hills, said heroin is one of the most difficult drugs to kick.
Twenty-five percent of people who try it once become addicted, he said.
“A majority of people are afraid to confront somebody that is using drugs or alcohol,” Mehta said.
“They don’t want to get involved in someone’s personal business or make them angry. They all become enablers, covering up instead of helping him.”
Isaacson said heroin use is found in every age group, but in recent years ages 15-39 have had more overdose deaths than other groups.
“I have done talks to parent groups in some of our nicer suburbs and it is surprising to hear that people who have attended their high schools have died of heroin overdoses,” he said.

From The Detroit News:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Children of pot-smoking parents

There is a lot of confusion about medical marijuana.  That's why Example was glad Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Steve Fox was willing to clarify the murky misunderstandings of medical marijuana at our January event.

In an article in The Atlantic, Leah Allen doesn't discuss the legal ramblings of medical marijuana, she does reveal the toll pot has had on her family.  No victims? Leah Allen would disagree. 
The following four paragraphs are four reasons you need to read Allen's entire article.

There's a lot of discussion about pot right now, as different states push towards legalizing it for medical or personal use. As I listen to the various arguments—about health, morality, criminal justice, personal freedom—they all come back to the same thing for me: Dad, Dad, Daddy. The family element is almost always missing from the debates: What does smoking pot do, not only to users but to their children? 
Growing up, I hated that my dad smoked. Studies have indicated that parents with substance abuse problems can cause economic hardship, legal troubles, emotional distress, and impaired attachment within their families. Children tend to respond with anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, loneliness, confusion, anger, and fear. 
Yet I can be sad. So very little is understood about how marijuana impacts families. I can’t help but thinking that the cool, carefree users of today will be the parents of tomorrow. 
My dad will never stop smoking pot. Sometimes I wonder about the man he might have been, and the lives we all might have had, if he’d never started.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Legal or not the dangers remain

 Dr. William Bennett discusses the dangers of marijuana in his recent CNN column.

(CNN) -- President George H.W. Bush appointed me as the nation's first director of national drug control policy -- or "drug czar" -- in 1989. We took on many big fights, the largest of which was the cocaine epidemic spreading from the jungles of Colombia to the streets of the United States. We conducted an all-out assault on drugs through tough enforcement measures and public education. Contrary to "war on drugs" critics, drug use and addiction dropped across the country.
The issue of marijuana legalization was far less prominent than it is today, although even then, some argued that we should experiment with legalization. I told them not on my watch; the cost to society would be too great.
If you don't want to take my word that it can be harmful, perhaps you'll take Lady Gaga's.
In a recent interview, the world-famous pop star admitted she was heavily addicted to marijuana. "I have been addicted to it and it's ultimately related to anxiety coping and it's a form of self-medication and I was smoking up to 15 or 20 marijuana cigarettes a day with no tobacco," she said. "I was living on a totally other psychedelic plane, numbing myself completely."
Lady Gaga said she was speaking out to bust the myth that marijuana is just a harmless plant. "I just want young kids to know that you actually can become addicted to it, and there's this sentiment that you can't and that's actually not true."
Today a fully functioning experiment in legal marijuana for adults is going on in Colorado and another one is set to begin later this year in Washington. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once remarked that in our democratic Republic, the states are the laboratories of democracy. We are running a few labs now and shall see what happens.
But, as with any public debate, we need to hear all sides. So far, the advocates of marijuana legalization have dominated the public arena. It's certainly had an effect. According to a new CNN poll, a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana. But where are the voices of the wounded? Where is the outrage from the families who have been hurt?

 We know they are out there. More Americans are admitted to treatment facilities for marijuana use than any other illegal drug.
I've talked to parents all over the country who lost children to drug abuse -- not to marijuana alone; though in many cases it was a gateway drug or part of their deadly drug concoction. People have been deeply hurt by drug related accidents or spent thousands of dollars on drug rehabilitation. We need to hear their voices.
During my tenure as drug czar, I traveled to more than 120 communities to see firsthand the impact of illegal drugs. Among those visits was a trip to Boston to take part in drug busts in some of the city's most broken and dangerous neighborhoods. Not once during that visit did a parent or community leader advocate for legalization or loosening drug restrictions. Rather, they wanted the drugs confiscated and drug dealers locked up. They knew the damage drugs had inflicted on their children and communities.
That same evening Harvard University held a discussion on drugs and law enforcement. There I listened to scores of academics argue for legalizing or decriminalizing drugs.
It's hardly an exercise in intellectual rigor for those in the middle- and upper-class who live in areas with little crime and violence to be willing to experiment with drug legalization. They live far removed from the realities of the drug trade. But travel to its core, to the slums and projects run by ruthless drug dealers, and these intellectuals may rethink their position.
It's a myth that marijuana, because it is not as harmful as cocaine, heroin or some other illegal hard drugs, is safe or safe enough to warrant legalization. Opponents contest that marijuana hasn't ravaged communities or that the drug itself isn't to blame.
But that's not true. It's ravaged the community of the young.
Marijuana is the most widely used drug in the country, especially among young people. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, "of the 7.3 million persons aged 12 or older classified with illicit drug dependence or abuse in 2012, 4.3 million persons had marijuana dependence or abuse," making marijuana the drug with the largest number of people with dependence or abuse.
The medical community has warned about the danger.
A recent Northwestern University study found that marijuana users have abnormal brain structure and poor memory and that chronic marijuana abuse may lead to brain changes resembling schizophrenia. The study also reported that the younger the person starts using marijuana, the worse the effects become.
In its own report arguing against marijuana legalization, the American Medical Association said: "Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood and psychotic thought disorders."
The country can ill-afford a costly experiment with drugs. While we are undergoing a national debate over improving health care costs and education performance, legalizing marijuana will undercut those vital missions.
We will wait and see what Colorado's and Washington's experiments hold, but I expect that after several years, we will see marijuana use rise dramatically, even among adolescents. The states will come to regret their decisions.
As the late, great political scientist James Q. Wilson remarked, "The central problem with legalizing drugs is that it will increase drug consumption" -- and all its inherent harm.
Editor's note: William J. Bennett is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.