Nonviolent Drug Offenders Get Pardoned

nonviolent drug offendersMass incarceration has been just one of the results of the “war on drugs” in the United States. It is probably fair to say that in 1971, when President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse "public enemy number one," that he had no idea of the long term implications that declaration would have on the country. First, let’s take a look at some numbers so you can get an idea of the cost of making addiction a crime. The International Centre for Prison Studies reports that half of the world's prison population of about nine million, reside in penal institutions in the US, China or Russia. However, while the overall general population in America is but a fraction of China, we have the highest number of prisoners by almost a million people. The US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that there were 2,220,300 adults behind bars in 2013, and according to the Bureau of Prisons, close to half (48.6 percent) are incarcerated for drug crimes—some of whom are serving life sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. It is almost impossible, and for good reason, to wrap your head around those statistics, yet they are a reality. Fortunately, the view of addiction and how it should be handled has gradually been changing in America, in part due to the opioid epidemic. Lawmakers have taken a look around and can see that addiction can affect anyone, as is evident by the over 2.5 million Americans living with an opioid use disorder. There are more opioid addicts than there are prisoners in the United States. There has been a big push to do away with mandatory minimum sentencing laws which affect minorities the most. What’s more, lawmakers having been calling for more addiction treatment, and less imprisonment for nonviolent drug offenders. Unfortunately, repealing and altering the draconian drug sentencing laws in America is no easy task. And even if public sentiment and sentencing laws change, there are still thousands of people serving unjust time for the crime of addiction. Because of those circumstances, the current White House administration has been working tirelessly to give people a second opportunity.

Pardon for Drug Addiction

There is a good chance that you have heard the reports in recent years regarding Presidential commutations, specifically for those who are serving lengthy sentences for nonviolent offenses. In fact, the President has commuted the sentences of nearly 800 prisoners during the course of his tenure, most of them drug offenders. The president has commuted more prison sentences than his 11 predecessors combined. The president has commuted or reduced the sentences of a number of people who were serving life sentences. The effort to commute the sentences of drug offenders has widely been applauded. No one should have to rot away in jail because they became hooked on drugs. It is likely that more sentences will be considered and commuted between now and January 20th when the next president is sworn in. However, there are still some 13,275 petitions for clemency still pending, as of October, Business Insider reports. With little time left, many inmates fear that their window of opportunity is closing fast. There is no way of knowing the stance that the next President will take, so organizations like the Clemency Project 2014, are working hard to forward inmates' petitions to the Pardon Attorney, according to the article. The project has sworn that they will continue filing inmates' petitions until time runs out. The Clemency Project consists of a team of lawyers who vet petitions in order to deem which ones stand a chance, before sending them off to the Pardon Attorney.
We certainly have expressed to [the lawyers] that time is of the essence and we want to work quickly and efficiently,” project manager Cynthia Roseberry told Business Insider.

The Future is Uncertain

One can only hope that those who deserve a second chance, will be granted such a gift - the gift of recovery. As the next few months play out, hopefully the push for treatment over jail will continue. It is the only way to reduce the prison population and prevent staggering mass incarceration rates. As featured and promoted in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) treatment is the answer, and should be the weapon of choice in the war on drugs moving forward.

Synthetic Opioids, A Real Threat

synthetic opioidsSurely, we can all agree that opioid narcotics should be the main focus of substance use prevention efforts in the United States. Americans continue to lose their lives every day from prescription opioid and heroin overdoses; many of those overdose deaths involve young adults caught in the grips of addiction. Opioid use disorder rates are well over 2 million Americans, and some experts believe that that number is actually much higher. Unlike other addictive narcotics, drugs in the opioid family can cause serious respiratory depression. It only takes a little bit too high of dose for one to experience an overdose, and without access to the lifesaving overdose reversal drug naloxone, the outcome can be fatal. While drugs like heroin are already deadly enough, the narcotic is commonly mixed with even more potent synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Experts estimate fentanyl to be about 80 times more potent than morphine, and as much as 50 percent more potent than medical grade heroin. It is a drug that was never meant to be used without the close supervision of medical personnel, yet overdose death cases involving the drug are more and more common these days. Unfortunately, naloxone is not as effective with fentanyl-laced heroin as compared with heroin on its own, or with synthetic opioids all together.

Synthetic Drug Epidemic

The prescription opioid/heroin epidemic has proven to be next to impossible to curb, with so many variables to contend with between prescribing practices and the growing demand for heroin in the wake of prescription opioid government crackdowns. The matter is complicated even more by the fact synthetic opioids are becoming ever so common, some of which are not even illegal and can be purchased online by teenagers. Talk of synthetic drugs in the U.S. is usually with regard to “bath salts” or Spice (synthetic cannabinoids), along with a number of other chemically similar variations. There are zero standards in the synthetic drug world, which means that users have no way of predicting how they will react to those types of drugs. It is likely that you have heard the horror stories about violent attacks involving synthetic drugs. Government officials continue to attempt to make it harder for people to acquire such drugs, but is has proved to be a difficult task; every time a chemical formula is banned, chemists simply alter the composition. Teenagers and young adults can easily, and inexpensively purchase synthetic drugs, and they do so despite the dangerous side effects they might experience. While overdose deaths involving synthetic cannabis are relatively rare, when it comes to synthetic opioids that is simply not the case. What’s more, synthetic opioid death rates are likely to go in only one direction, due to the rise in the use of a family synthetic opioids—relatives of fentanyl. Such drugs include:
  • ifentanyl
  • carfentanil
  • furanyl fentanyl
  • U-47700
“Pink,” sold online under the name U-47700, is an unregulated synthetic opioid which could be up to eight times stronger than heroin, NBC News reports. The drug is being purchased online for $5 plus shipping, an appealing price tag for a potent drug.
This stuff is so powerful that if you touch it, you could go into cardiac arrest," said Police Chief Wade Carpenter, Park City, UT. "The problem is if you have a credit card and a cell phone, you have access to it."
Please take a moment to watch the short video below: If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Merging Epidemics

At this point, the line between the opioid use epidemic and the synthetic drug scourge in America is blurring. If it weren’t easy enough already to acquire, try and become addicted to opioids, the surge in online synthetic opioid sales is concerning. The ability to buy drugs online appeals to, already Internet savvy, young adults. Many such users have no idea about the deadly nature of these drugs. If you are a young adult male abusing heroin or prescription opioids, please contact PACE Recovery Center. With each day that passes, there is a greater likelihood that a bag you buy will contain a deadly additive like fentanyl or carfentanil. Recovery is possible, and we can help you achieve it.

Alcoholics Anonymous: Atheists/Agnostics In Recovery

alcoholics anonymousIn the field of addiction medicine, it is widely agreed upon that there is not just one way to recover from the insidious and pernicious disease of addiction. That being said, when most people think of addiction recovery, they will typically envision a group of people sitting in a circle, working together to refrain from using drugs and alcohol by practicing the principles of the 12-Steps which were first laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). While there are scores of 12-Step recovery programs to address anything from alcohol use disorder to sex addiction, which may do things in different ways, they all share the common thread of the 12-Steps. It is often said that everyone is welcome at a 12-Step meeting, as long as they have a desire to get better. Yet, many people have recoiled from such programs due to a word that they struggle with, i.e. GOD. Programs of recovery that incorporate the 12-Step model, are spiritual programs, which members are cautioned to not confuse with religious. Organizations like AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), pride themselves with not being associated with any religious sect. While many of their members may choose Jesus or GOD in the biblical sense of the words with regard to assigning a higher power, every member is free to choose their own unique higher power. Even people who are on the fence about the existence of God, or do not believe in God at all, are welcome to join the 12-Step community.

A Spiritual Program

It is fair to say that countless addicts and alcoholics have stayed clear of 12-Step recovery because of the pervasive nature of the word God in the Big Book. And sadly, it is not only an unfortunate choice, it can be a deadly one. 12-Step programs of recovery are in fact spiritual rather than religious, and one should not let the wording (albeit somewhat antiquated) keep them from finding recovery. In fact, there are countless people who are atheist or agnostic who are or will be attending a meeting of AA or NA. They have learned how to work a spiritual program without compromising their beliefs. There are people at meetings from all walks of life, who have varying systems of belief. It is possible to be spiritual without being religious, one need only acknowledge that there is something that is greater than himself. Through which, one can learn how to be accountable to others, and most importantly—their own self. A requirement of getting, and staying, sober is not understanding others’ higher power; it is about understanding and having a relationship with their own higher power. If you are struggling with drugs and/or alcohol, and are considering joining AA or NA—do not be discouraged. Before you write off the program because of certain words, please keep in mind that many atheist and agnostics have managed to work a program of recovery for well over 20+ years through practicing the principles of 12-Steps in all their affairs.

"God," is a God of Your Understanding

Alcoholics Anonymous officially recognized atheist and agnostic membership in the October edition of Grapevine, the International Journal of Alcoholics Anonymous. The publication began in 1944, just five years after the founding of AA. In 72 years of publishing, Grapevine has never devoted an issue to atheist and agnostic members—until now. Grapevine’s Editor's Letter writes:
This month, our special section features stories by atheist and agnostic AA members, some who have many years of sobriety. One member quotes our co-founder Bill W., in a 1946 Grapevine, ‘… an alcoholic is a member if he says so … we can’t force our beliefs or practices upon him.’ In editing these stories, we honored the request of some authors to not capitalize the word God, which is our usual style. Bill W. intended Grapevine to be a mirror of the Fellowship. We hope these stories will shed some light on the joys and challenges of our atheist and agnostic members.”


If you are a young adult male who is struggling with drugs or alcohol, please contact PACE Recovery Center, our team specializes in working with young adult males struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. We can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and adopt healthy behaviors to ensure long-term recovery.

Mental Health Awareness Week

mental healthThe Fall season is an important time with regard to mental health and addiction. If you have been following our blog posts, then you are likely aware that September was both National Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Millions of Americans are affected by addiction and various other mental health problems every year. Sadly, those whose illnesses are left untreated will often make a choice that cannot be taken back, i.e. suicide. Efforts were made by various agencies and organizations, in both the public and private sector, to raise awareness about addiction and suicide. The aim was to open up a dialogue about the treatment options available for people suffering from mental health disorders, such as addiction. We feel that it is worth reiterating that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, and suicide is often linked to untreated mental illness—more times than not. Awareness months are particularly important because they help break the stigma of mental illness, in turn encouraging people to seek help. There is no shame in having a mental health disorder, just as there is no shame in having any health problem that requires continued maintenance. We can all have a part in helping others, help themselves by seeking treatment—please remember to take the pledge to be #StigmaFree.

Mental Health Awareness Week

In May, now five months ago, we at PACE Recovery Center, recognized Mental Health Awareness Month (MHM), and took the pledge to be #StigmaFree. However, the effort to chip away at the stigma that has long accompanied mental illness is not something that will be accomplished over the course of a single month. It is a continued effort, and we all must stay the course until the goal of equal care (parity) is accomplished. As a proud member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), we would like to ask all of our readers to join us in observing Mental Health Awareness Week (#MIAW) between Oct. 2 - 8. This week, in October and around the year we all must work together to:
  • Fight Stigma
  • Provide Support
  • Educate the Public
  • Advocate for Equal Care

Young Adults With Mental Illness

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders that impacts the lives of young adults. We mentioned earlier that suicide among young people is often the result of untreated mental illness. It is vital that those who are or may be living with depression (or any mental illness) are screened, so that they can begin the process of recovery. Depression can be debilitating, but help is out there and recovery is possible. Today is National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 6), if you believe that you are suffering from depression, we have some good news. You can get a free mental health screening at
The only way out is through.” —Robert Frost


If you are a young adult male who has been diagnosed with any form of mental illness, it possible that you have been self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to cope. If that behavior has been going on for some time, there is a chance that it has resulted in addiction. Please contact PACE Recovery Center, our team specializes in working with young adult males struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. We can help your son break the cycle of addiction and adopt healthy behaviors to ensure long-term recovery.

Contact Us