Narcotic Nation: Part 2


This is the follow-up article written by Ken Serrano of the NJ ASBURY PARK PRESS newspaper. The first article was “Narcotic Nation.” This article is entitled, “Opioid-related trips to N.J. ERs have doubled”.

At the end of the article I will raise some interesting questions that will raise some interesting thoughts.

“Opioid-related trips to emergency departments in New Jersey doubled between 2005 and 2014, according to new data from a federal report.

Impatient stays in New Jersey increased at a much lower rate, bringing the combination of both to a fifty percent rise over the ten year period, according to the data.

That’s small compared with the national picture. Across the country, the rate of both emergency department visits and impatient stays because of opioids jumped ninety one percent between 2005 and 2014.

Nationally, Americans made 1.28 million overall trips to a hospital because of opioid problems in 2014. In New Jersey, the trips stood at 44,800, up from 29,000 in 2005.

The numbers provide a snapshot of the growing strain the opioid epidemic has placed on the nation’s hospitals. A report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, breaks the numbers down by gender and age.

The rising death toll from opioid use has captured the devastation of the epidemic. Opioids killed 33,000 people in the U.S. in 2015. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The report shows another layer of the crisis. The number of hospital visits is more than 40 times the number of deaths from opioids in the U.S. in 2014.

Dr. Christopher Freer, who oversees 11 emergency departments in N.J. for RWJBarnabas Health, said the uptick in cases has dramatically altered the way patients with opioid problems are being handled.

The health care system has has put opioid-related problems on par with deadly infection sepsis as priorities, se said.

Freer began his career as a resident at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where heroin addiction has long strained the health care system there.

The problem in emergency rooms in N.J. really came to a head about three years ago, he said.

There were no resources for the patients ending up on our doorstep at all hours because of an overdose or just looking for help, he said.

Now, opioid prescriptions are closely monitored at the hospitals in the system and narcotics are no longer a first line of defense against pain, he said.

Educating staff on addiction is a big part of ‘turning the tide’, he said. Heroin addicts, when they come to an emergency department, are not in a good spot, he said. They are difficult to deal with, affecting the general impression of those patients.

The addition of recovery specialists – former addicts who try to steer addicts into treatment – have ushered in an enormous change in how addiction patients are viewed in emergency departments, removing some of the stigma of addiction, he said. The specialists provide an example of how addicts can transform themselves, he said, and it’s really changing people’s attitudes.

Unlike the data for other states, the data for N.J. goes beyond 2014. And the visits keep climbing.

From 2014 to 2015 alone, both emergency department visits and inpatient admissions rose 13 percent in N.J., and they show no signs of flagging.

In the first three quarters of 2016, the most up-to-date figures available, inpatient treatments rose to 22,450. That’s an 11 percent increase from the first three quarters of 2015, which saw 20,300 in-patient treatments in N.J.

Researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention, part of the CDC, estimated the cost of the opioid epidemic at $78.5 billion in 2013 dollars. Health care costs accounted for $28 billion, all but $2 billion covered by insurance.

Lost productivity cost $20 billion, according to the study. Criminal justice costs were about $7.7 billion.

Public sources, including Medicaid, Medicare and veterans’ programs, covered nearly a quarter of the costs.

The report and the raw data show how N.J. ranks in certain categories:

*N.J. had the eighth-highest number of male patients with opioid-related inpatient stays in 2014.

*N.J. had the sixth-highest number of male patients who visited emergency departments for opioid problems in 2014, among the 30 states that participated.

*While the rate of females has caught up with that of males nationally when it comes to inpatient stays, in N.J. a gap between the two has remained steady over the 10 years, with males being seen more.

*New Jersey’s rate of visits and stays is about 50 percent higher than the national average, partly explained by the fact that urban settings see higher numbers than rural areas.”

OK, so we have a drug epidemic situation in America. What about the alcohol addiction? What about the insane sex addictions? Why do constantly ride up and down on the short-lived sense-gratification roller coaster? Why do suicides, coming from severe depression, flourish? And why do we fight, strive and yearn for happiness, only to remain temporarily satisfied and virtually unhappy?

The answer? Stay tuned!

Ken Serrano, Asbury Park Press, June 22, 2017

Hesh Goldstein
When I was a kid, if I were told that I'd be writing a book about diet and nutrition when I was older, let alone having been doing a health related radio show for over 36 years, I would've thought that whoever told me that was out of their mind. Living in Newark, New Jersey, my parents and I consumed anything and everything that had a face or a mother except for dead, rotting, pig bodies, although we did eat bacon (as if all the other decomposing flesh bodies were somehow miraculously clean). Going through high school and college it was no different. In fact, my dietary change did not come until I was in my 30's.

Just to put things in perspective, after I graduated from Weequahic High School and before going to Seton Hall University, I had a part-time job working for a butcher. I was the delivery guy and occasionally had to go to the slaughterhouse to pick up products for the store. Needless to say, I had no consciousness nor awareness, as change never came then despite the horrors I witnessed on an almost daily basis.

After graduating with a degree in accounting from Seton Hall, I eventually got married and moved to a town called Livingston. Livingston was basically a yuppie community where everyone was judged by the neighborhood they lived in and their income. To say it was a "plastic" community would be an understatement.

Livingston and the shallowness finally got to me. I told my wife I was fed up and wanted to move. She made it clear she had to be near her friends and New York City. I finally got my act together and split for Colorado.

I was living with a lady in Aspen at the end of 1974, when one day she said, " let's become vegetarians". I have no idea what possessed me to say it, but I said, "okay"! At that point I went to the freezer and took out about $100 worth of frozen, dead body parts and gave them to a welfare mother who lived behind us. Well, everything was great for about a week or so, and then the chick split with another guy.

So here I was, a vegetarian for a couple weeks, not really knowing what to do, how to cook, or basically how to prepare anything. For about a month, I was getting by on carrot sticks, celery sticks, and yogurt. Fortunately, when I went vegan in 1990, it was a simple and natural progression. Anyway, as I walked around Aspen town, I noticed a little vegetarian restaurant called, "The Little Kitchen".

Let me back up just a little bit. It was April of 1975, the snow was melting and the runoff of Ajax Mountain filled the streets full of knee-deep mud. Now, Aspen was great to ski in, but was a bummer to walk in when the snow was melting.

I was ready to call it quits and I needed a warmer place. I'll elaborate on that in a minute.

But right now, back to "The Little Kitchen". Knowing that I was going to leave Aspen and basically a new vegetarian, I needed help. So, I cruised into the restaurant and told them my plight and asked them if they would teach me how to cook. I told them in return I would wash dishes and empty their trash. They then asked me what I did for a living and I told them I was an accountant.

The owner said to me, "Let's make a deal. You do our tax return and we'll feed you as well". So for the next couple of weeks I was doing their tax return, washing their dishes, emptying the trash, and learning as much as I could.

But, like I said, the mud was getting to me. So I picked up a travel book written by a guy named Foder. The name of the book was, "Hawaii". Looking through the book I noticed that in Lahaina, on Maui, there was a little vegetarian restaurant called," Mr. Natural's". I decided right then and there that I would go to Lahaina and work at "Mr. Natural's." To make a long story short, that's exactly what happened.

So, I'm working at "Mr. Natural's" and learning everything I can about my new dietary lifestyle - it was great. Every afternoon we would close for lunch at about 1 PM and go to the Sheraton Hotel in Ka'anapali and play volleyball, while somebody stayed behind to prepare dinner.

Since I was the new guy, and didn't really know how to cook, I never thought that I would be asked to stay behind to cook dinner. Well, one afternoon, that's exactly what happened; it was my turn. That posed a problem for me because I was at the point where I finally knew how to boil water.

I was desperate, clueless and basically up the creek without a paddle. Fortunately, there was a friend of mine sitting in the gazebo at the restaurant and I asked him if he knew how to cook. He said the only thing he knew how to cook was enchiladas. He said that his enchiladas were bean-less and dairy-less. I told him that I had no idea what an enchilada was or what he was talking about, but I needed him to show me because it was my turn to do the evening meal.

Well, the guys came back from playing volleyball and I'm asked what was for dinner. I told them enchiladas; the owner wasn't thrilled. I told him that mine were bean-less and dairy-less. When he tried the enchilada he said it was incredible. Being the humble guy that I was, I smiled and said, "You expected anything less"? It apparently was so good that it was the only item on the menu that we served twice a week. In fact, after about a week, we were selling five dozen every night we had them on the menu and people would walk around Lahaina broadcasting, 'enchilada's at "Natural's" tonight'. I never had to cook anything else.

A year later the restaurant closed, and somehow I gravitated to a little health food store in Wailuku. I never told anyone I was an accountant and basically relegated myself to being the truck driver. The guys who were running the health food store had friends in similar businesses and farms on many of the islands. I told them that if they could organize and form one company they could probably lock in the State. That's when they found out I was an accountant and "Down to Earth" was born. "Down to Earth" became the largest natural food store chain in the islands, and I was their Chief Financial Officer and co-manager of their biggest store for 13 years.

In 1981, I started to do a weekly radio show to try and expose people to a vegetarian diet and get them away from killing innocent creatures. I still do that show today. I pay for my own airtime and have no sponsors to not compromise my honesty. One bit of a hassle was the fact that I was forced to get a Masters Degree in Nutrition to shut up all the MD's that would call in asking for my credentials.

My doing this radio show enabled me, through endless research, to see the corruption that existed within the big food industries, the big pharmaceutical companies, the biotech industries and the government agencies. This information, unconscionable as it is, enabled me to realize how broken our health system is. This will be covered more in depth in the Introduction and throughout the book and when you finish the book you will see this clearly and it will hopefully inspire you to make changes.

I left Down to Earth in 1989, got nationally certified as a sports injury massage therapist and started traveling the world with a bunch of guys that were making a martial arts movie. After doing that for about four years I finally made it back to Honolulu and got a job as a massage therapist at the Honolulu Club, one of Hawaii's premier fitness clubs. It was there I met the love of my life who I have been with since 1998. She made me an offer I couldn't refuse. She said," If you want to be with me you've got to stop working on naked women". So, I went back into accounting and was the Chief Financial Officer of a large construction company for many years.

Going back to my Newark days when I was an infant, I had no idea what a "chicken" or "egg" or "fish" or "pig" or "cow" was. My dietary blueprint was thrust upon me by my parents as theirs was thrust upon them by their parents. It was by the grace of God that I was able to put things in their proper perspective and improve my health and elevate my consciousness.

The road that I started walking down in 1975 has finally led me to the point of writing my book, “A Sane Diet For An Insane World”. Hopefully, the information contained herein will be enlightening, motivating, and inspiring to encourage you to make different choices. Doing what we do out of conditioning is not always the best course to follow. I am hoping that by the grace of the many friends and personalities I have encountered along my path, you will have a better perspective of what road is the best road for you to travel on, not only for your health but your consciousness as well.

Last but not least: after being vaccinated as a kid I developed asthma, which plagued me all of my life. In 2007 I got exposed to the organic sulfur crystals, which got rid of my asthma in 3 days and has not come back in over 10 years. That, being the tip of the iceberg, has helped people reverse stage 4 cancers, autism, joint pain, blood pressure problems, migraine headaches, erectile dysfunction, gingivitis, and more. Also, because of the detoxification effects by the release of oxygen that permeates and heals all the cells in the body, it removes parasites, radiation, fluoride, free radicals, and all the other crap that is thrust upon us in the environment by Big Business.

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