FL Serenity Ranch Recovery CEO Convicted

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Following a six-week trial, the Serenity Ranch Recovery network CEO, Sebastian Ahmed, was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison. After a trial that lasted over a month, a federal court in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, convicted him of several crimes, including health care fraud and money laundering.

Fraud in the Serenity Ranch Network

While the people who came to him needed help for drug or alcohol addiction, the services provided by Serenity Ranch Recovery weren’t meant to keep them sober. The sober home network, like many others in recent years, was a moneymaking venture. Patients tended to be young, addicted adults who were still on their parent’s health plans. They were typically addicted to “hard” drugs such as Oxycontin or heroin.

Rather than receiving treatment, most young people were left to languish with a few 12-step meetings and little else. While this took place, Mr. Ahmed billed the …

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Experts Predict Addiction Will Be Pandemic, Too

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In the past three months, the whole world has been on high alert. Social isolation, job loss, and less access to mental health assistance have set the world up for a lot of pain. Experts agree that mental health problems and addiction disorders are going to kill many people this year. Some estimates are up to 150,000 deaths “of despair” in 2020 alone.

Addiction Is Invisible Right Now

For many people in isolation, few people see how they are actually doing. People who are prone to abuse drugs and have access to them may end up relapsing due to loneliness, fear, and other emotions.

Others may develop an addiction to help them cope with the realities of our “new normal.” It can be especially challenging to deal with life for people who have mental health disorders. Many people have lost access to their family, friends, and therapists. With funding cuts …

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Grant Awarded to Create, Upgrade Much-Needed Sober Housing in Mass.

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In Massachusetts, in some ways, they are catching up to the opioid epidemic and facing it head-on. This sometimes means sending addicted patients home with medication-assisted treatment, offering sober coaching programs, and even providing drop-in clinics in some cities where drug addiction therapy is scarce. Now, The Center for Community Recovery Innovations (CCRI) has awarded a total of $696,995 in grant funding to help house recovery populations that include men, women, families, veterans, the homeless and ex-offenders.

The money will go to creating and modernizing 118 affordable sober housing units in communities across Massachusetts.

The grants come from the Center for Community Recovery Innovations, Inc. (CCRI), a nonprofit subsidiary of MassHousing. The goal of the award is to help nonprofits create or preserve affordable sober housing in Massachusetts.

This is not the first grant that has been awarded to support substance-free housing. Total, CCRI has awarded more than $10 …

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How Will the Opioids Crisis Response Act Fight Addiction?

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Much to the excitement of addiction recovery advocates and after a time stalled in Congress, lawmakers are finally close to passing a hefty bill to combat opioid abuse. The measure would combine law enforcement and public health measures, and includes initiatives and funding to help make addiction recovery services more accessible to people with opioid use disorder. If passed, the law will be the most comprehensive action to date to deal with the opioid epidemic.

The bill is a rare bipartisan effort in a time where many initiatives have stalled entirely due to the deep political divides in both the House and the Senate. The bill itself stalled in the House of Representatives earlier because Democrats objected to a part of the law that would benefit a group tied to the pharmaceutical industry that helped create the epidemic of addiction that our country faces today.

Finally, a compromise was reached …

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Kratom Recall Due to Salmonella Expands Nationwide

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Recently, the Centers for Disease Control notified the public that a salmonella outbreak caused by Kratom had prompted a recall of the product. Kratom products sold under brand names including Botany Bay, Enhance Your Life and Divinity by Divinity Products Distribution are all part of the voluntary recall. Kratom is often touted as an opioid substitute that can help people with a variety of issues, from addiction and chronic pain to anxiety and inflammation. The supplement, which is currently legal, is a plant native to southeast Asia that has become more popular in recent years due to its easy availability on the internet.

The Oregon Health Authority asked people to stop using kratom last week when testing found salmonella bacteria in several product samples. Four people in Oregon have already gotten sick from the bad batches they consumed.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a “voluntary destruction and recall” for …

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Office of National Drug Control Policy Needs New Drug Czar

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The Trump Administration recently employed 24-year-old Taylor Weyeneth to be the deputy chief of staff (also known as the drug czar) of the Office of National Drug Control Policy or ONDCP. While many addiction advocates were hoping the Administration would be filled by an experienced professional, the appointment of Mr. Weyeneth proved to be profoundly flawed.

Before Mr. Weyeneth’s work for the Trump administration, there were only two jobs from which he gleaned experience the only position he’d held since graduating from college in 2016. One of these tasks was working on President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Washington Post reported earlier this month. Aside from his young age, and lack of experience in the field of mental health or addiction, this young man’s lack of knowledge also spilled into the jobs he listed on his resume. Included in the resume was a post he held at a law firm, …

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Across the US, Diversion Programs Spread Hope

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As Americans become more aware that addiction is a disease and not a crisis of character, law enforcement and the judicial system have started to stand up and take notice. Rather than lock up the masses of people with a substance abuse disorder, many law enforcement agencies now offer diversion programs. Diversion programs are run in different ways, but they all focus on helping an addicted person improve their lives and hopefully break free from their disease.

One such example is a program that has been in place for 10 years, in Essex Massachusetts. Started by a DA personally affected by the opioid epidemic, a total of 117 people from 22 communities took part in the drug diversion program in 2016, with a success rate averages 40 to 50 percent. (In the world of substance abuse disorders, this is an excellent rate. Treating these issues can be incredibly challenging.)…

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