Opioid, booze, violent deaths by county: America’s hot spots aren’t created equal

A study released Tuesday shows drug use disorder deaths increased six-fold in the United States nationwide from 1980 to 2014. Alcohol use disorder deaths dipped slightly.

But by county, the study tells a disturbing story: In some places, deaths by booze abuse skyrocketed, as did deaths by suicide and interpersonal violence.

Regarding deaths from alcohol use disorder, counties in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and Alaska saw the largest decreases. The largest increases were in the western and northern United States.

And in some counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Eastern Oklahoma, deaths by drug abuse ricocheted across the Appalachians, with increases amounting to a staggering 5,000 percent.

New Mexico, Alabama and Tennessee also had more drug abuse deaths than the rest of the U.S. Still, as a nation, death by drugs has multiplied a walloping 600 percent.

“Western counties generally experienced higher levels of mortality than counties in the East, and counties with especially high mortality rates, compared with the rest of the United States, were found in parts of Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Alaska,” according to the original investigation published in JAMA.

It sounds a shrilling alarm about public health inequities in the United States as well as successes and failures by state and local governments.

Suicide deaths balloon with alcohol deaths in west

While suicide deaths dipped nationwide from 1980 to 2014, in the West – where alcohol abuse deaths ballooned – so did deaths by self-harm.

Gun deaths, too, rose in places unexpected – those were NOT in the West, and not necessarily urban areas either. Those were all over the map.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first to consider alcohol and drug use disorders, apart from other types of unintentional poisonings and distinct from intentional overdoses, at the county level in the United States,” the academics reported. “These findings highlight the need for a multipronged public health response focusing on prevention, harm reduction (drug treatment that encourages less use when abstinence is not likely), treatment and recovery support.”

Interpersonal violence spiked in Midwestern and Atlantic states while dipping in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and New York.

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Angry like me: Clinicians struggle to rehab human trafficking survivors

For the most part, the healthcare establishment has no idea how to help survivors of human trafficking recover.

That’s the conclusion of a research letter and accompanying editorial appearing today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Frustrated mental health therapists are presented with a multitude of behaviors from these victims of living hell: Acute anger; not just PTSD, but chronic PTSD (my diagnosis); flashbacks, night terrors, hostility, aggression, shame, guilt and fear.

Physically, the survivors have additional problems: Sexually transmitted diseases, up to and including HIV and/or Hepatitis C; skin problems, chronic pain syndromes, malnutrition, and, above all…

Substance abuse disorders.

“Substance use … is prevalent in trafficking and may persist afterward as a means of coping with physical and psychological symptoms,” the authors of the research letter explained. “Although substance use may predate trafficking as a factor making a personal vulnerable to exploitation (me), the forced use of drugs and alcohol to foster dependence among victims is common.”

And that’s exactly the story of what happened to me after I moved back to the Quad-Cities from Los Angeles.

Sex you don’t want to have under the influence – to the point of being disabled – is abuse.

‘Come with me to Chicago…I’ll make it worth your while’

Shortly after my dad began to experience severe dementia, but had not ended up in a nursing home yet, I was told by someone he’d make it ‘worth my while’ if I went with him to Chicago. I said no.

I now have figured out what that was all about based on what I’m piecing together about the person I believe he took instead of me. It’s chilling.

I’ve seen human trafficking, and I’ve lived it. I have been “kept” to some degree or another in various ways throughout my life by an older man a time or two, particularly abusively in Los Angeles but also in the Quad-Cities.

But never have I allowed myself to become completely dependent on anyone other than my dad. We were codependent and, as it turns out, we both would have died prematurely had we not been.

Period. End of story. Because nobody else cared about either one of us, that has been proven a thousand times over since my dad’s death!

My abusive childhood may have saved me from being wholly trafficked out of the Quad-Cities – I trust no one. I also have a college education and skills to remain gainfully employed. It’s tough now, though, since powerful, dishonest politicians have blackballed me and cause me to obsess every living hour on whether I’m safe from their evil grasp. I have not worked gainfully in almost a year.

It’s only after blowing the whistle on human trafficking, drugs and political corruption that I find myself largely unemployed for almost a year now.

So, I think it’s safe to say I am a human trafficking victim, right here right now, as I sit here. At least to some degree.

Because that’s why I’m unemployed. Let’s face it.

I was the Rainbow Reporter live on the scene

During my tenure as chief bar stool warmer at the gay bar across the river from Rock Island, Ill. in Davenport, Iowa, I saw almost everything. Having been an executive news editor at the historic LGBT magazine The Advocate in Los Angeles, I am both book-smart and street-smart about human trafficking.

Read more: Research explains how my writing, not lots and lots of meetings, keeps me sober

I saw young men, usually who wandered over to the bar from King’s Harvest Ministries, go from homeless to living high on the hog with older gay men. It would happen in a blink.

In the next blink, these young men were kicked to the curb and back on the street. Once, maybe twice, I knew of older men buying a homeless young adult an airplane or a bus ticket to go home. I observed this both in the Quad-Cities and Los Angeles. Those men likely thought they did the right thing.

But did they really go home? Who knows.

“Persons exiting trafficking often lack physical, psychological, and physiologic safety and stability,” according to the researchers, who hail from Massachusetts General Hospital. “Food, housing, clothing, financial support, safety and protection, transportation and acute substance withdrawal treatment are immediate needs that often are unmet.

“In one program for sex trafficked minors, creative and persistent efforts to meet these needs frequently take precedence over addressing the exploitation itself, because sex trafficking too often represents “the least-bad solution to meeting fundamental needs.”

Check out this report I wrote two years ago: Hooking up to stay alive: The sexual exploitation of young men and boys.

In an accompanying editorial in Annals, authors from Boston University School of Public Health note that human trafficking survivors have been compared to war victims and torture survivors. Because their needs are so profound, “Little information exists on how to adapt (trauma-informed clinical PTSD interventions) to persons who have PTSD related to human trafficking.

“Are specific skills required to effectively care for this population?”

I say yes, and I suspect my therapist of more than two years (until I lost my private insurance) would agree with that conclusion.

The problem with chronic PTSD (my diagnosis)

There are two kinds of PTSD – chronic and not chronic.

With chronic PTSD, symptoms are most always present. It’s extremely difficult to treat people with chronic PTSD, like myself, because we no longer trust anybody. We’re always waiting to be shat on.

“Because CPTSD includes difficulty trusting others, fear of rejection, impaired affect regulation and impulse control, lower relationship satisfaction, and decreased self-protection from polyvictimization, it undermines the psychological capacity for interpersonal functioning,” the researchers explain in their report.

Read more: When you take him to Trinity, tell them he’s a sex worker

“These relational consequences strongly affect how survivors interact with health professionals. In addition, given the nature of human trafficking, any ongoing or perceived threats of violence after exiting may work synergistically with CPTSD relational impairments to undermine health care participation.”

Read more: Terror in the ER

Add being the victim of political corruption after blowing the whistle on human trafficking, and you almost would have to have a screw loose to seek treatment in the Quad-Cities.

Read more: Why I’m one of the lucky few legal to smoke pot in Illinois

Read more: Put him through the tunnel and onto a C17

It’s why I canceled my appointment last week. I am just fine with work, an income, and a fair shot, just like most hardworking Americans.

But given the nature of the criminal case I have provided information about, I do not feel safe using my federal Medicaid insurance or going anywhere that accepts it.

And why should I? Look what happened to me last time.

Human trafficking victims often in legal trouble – for being victims

“Legal entanglement may also impede engagement in care,” the authors wrote. “As part of their exploitation, victims may be compelled or force to engage in illegal activities. Thus, in addition to victimization, some human trafficking survivors also may be adjudicated offenders, sometimes under the very antitrafficking laws designed to protect them.

“Such legal entanglements present obstacles to community reintegration, including registering as a sex offender or felon, diminished employment opportunities, and a reinforced sense of self as stigmatized. Court mandated mental health treatment is common but may be antithetical to basic tenets of trauma-informed care.

Where human trafficking survivor rehab is being done right

The Freedom Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital is wholly dedicated to treating victims of human trafficking. The authors of the accompanying Annals editorial said we must learn as much as we can from The Freedom Clinic and then find ways to replicate what works.

Cost no doubt will be a problem for such intensive services, they warn.

“Understanding the barriers the authors have encountered and how they generate and allocate funding for the services the clinic provides is essential to those who wish to replicate their approach. Their conceptualization of a “continuum of wraparound services” that are iterative rather than linear and span different sectors (housing, legal and medical) through case management raises the tension between what is best for the patient and what can actually be carried out.

“Is this a model that can be adapted to other clinical settings, or is it best suited to a large, urban, teaching hospital?”

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Why can’t we admit that addiction is a byproduct of childhood trauma?

People often ask:

Why is your name David John, and your brother John Dennis?

They want to know what’s with the “John” theme.

The truth is a sad story. My dad wanted a little brother, and one day God gave him one.

But his brother, little John Dennis, still a baby, became sick.

“Dad was too cheap to take him to the doctor, and he died,” dad would tell me, repeating it like a broken record when I first returned home from Los Angeles in 2002.

Dad’s other brothers both are in heaven with him; his three sisters still are living. They denied my brother ever experienced any trauma, saying he was “spoiled.”

And yet that’s what my brother has had the gall to say about me in the past.

To cut to the chase, I grew up in a violent home. Once, mom pinned dad to the ground in the living room and held steak knife to his carotid artery. I screamed downstairs for help; my brother just laughed.

But his friend Rick Hoff (maybe it was Hoffman?) ran up the stairs and rescued my dad.

Rick didn’t think it was funny.

Rick and John didn’t stay friends long.

Were your boozer friends in high school suffering trauma, too?

They say we all deal with childhood trauma and the stress that comes with it, even into adulthood, differently. That’s true to some degree, I suppose.

But evidence increasingly shows that people who experience childhood trauma are far more likely to find themselves in the throes of addiction and alcoholism.

Read more: Who are the opioid addicts in the Quad-Cities, or where you live?

I recently ran across one of the most affirming and logical articles surrounding addiction that I have read in a few years. While I did not agree with everything in it – particularly its emphasis on predatory 12-step programs – I did like its explanation of an assessment tool called ACEs.

ACEs references the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.

From the article that appears on the ACEsTooHigh website:

In the 1980s, PTSD was defined as a result of trauma that was outside the realm of normal experience.

“That was just wrong,” says Sumrok. “Divorce, living with depressed or addicted family members are very common events for kids. My efforts are around helping people to see the connections, and that their experiences are predictable and normal. And the longer the experiences last, the bigger the effect.”

He also says, “Drop the ‘D’, because PTSD is not a disorder.” It’s what he learned from van der Kolk, who wrote The Body Keeps the Score. “Bessel says we’ve named this thing wrong. Post-traumatic stress is a brain adaptation. It’s not an imagined fear. If one of your feet was bitten off by a lion, you’re going to be on guard for lions,” explains Sumrok. “Hypervigilance is not an imagined fear, if you’ve had one foot bitten off by a lion. It’s a real fear, and you’re going to be on the lookout for that lion. I tell my patients that they’ve had real trauma that’s not imagined. They’re not crazy.”

While it’s fair to say that what happened to me in the Rock Island County Jail probably is outside the realm of normal experience, people get assaulted and left for dead in their basements somewhere every day, no doubt. And the childhood trauma I grew up? With the beatings? The hateful words? From both my parents?

I get it.

Want to get your ACEs score? Take the survey embedded in this NPR piece (I scored a 6)

Childhood trauma = addiction = disease = early grave

What’s worse? Those with high ACEs scores and who develop addiction also are at extreme risk for other chronic health conditions: All of them actually.

More from the piece:

Whether you’re talking about obesity, addiction to cigarettes, alcohol or opioids, the cause is the same, he says: “It’s the trauma of childhood that causes neurobiological changes.” And the symptoms he saw 40 years ago in soldiers returning from Vietnam are the same in the people he sees today who are addicted to opioids or other substances or behaviors that help them cope with the anxiety, depression, hopelessness, fear, anger, and/or frustration that continues to be generated from the trauma they experienced as children.

So, what’s my dysfunctional coping tool? I remain sober, after all, despite all I have been through.

Is my dysfunction now medical cannabis, as some bastions of pomposity who strut around town would suggest?

Read more: Treating addiction with cannabis works, and Illinois lawmakers have taken notice

No, my dysfunction is extreme high alert. Trust no one. Develop defense plan at first sign of attack. Have not only a plan B, but a C, D, E, F and a G.

It’s crappy way to live. Does it go back to my childhood?

Yes, it sure does. Absolutely.

Dad was sick, mom was sick, brother was absent

I grew up with a father who was sick all the time, mentally and physically. It was exhausting.

My parents fought constantly, and then my mom became sick, too. And died.

More from the ACEsTooHigh article:

Dr. Altha Stewart, associate professor of psychiatry in the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, learned about ACEs in 2009 when a group in Shelby County began educating people about ACEs science. They brought Dr. Vincent Felitti, co-founder of the ACE Study, and Robin Karr Morse, who wrote Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence, which was published in 2007, to give a presentation. (Karr-Morse later wrote Scared Sick: The Role of Childhood Trauma in Adult Disease with Meredith S. Wiley; it was published in 2012.)

“It’s become a core part of what I do now in my professional work,” says Stewart, who was recently named president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association. She’s working with the Shelby County community and the local criminal justice system to integrate trauma-informed and resilience-building practices to find ways to help youth who enter the justice system — all of whom have likely experienced ACEs — instead of shaming, blaming or punishing them.

The things that have happened to kids — as well as to many people who come into the health care system — are out of their control, says Stewart. “When you’re a child, you don’t control the people who abuse and assault you, who create hostile environments, who don’t provide you with clean clothes….” 

“If a child can’t control their environment, because of these things they grow up thinking they’re bad, different, horrible people. This new approach (integrating trauma-informed and resilient-building practices based on ACEs science) helps them feel like they’re not drowning anymore. When they can pop their head out of the water and get a breath, and see outstretched hands, a life preserver, a life boat, that changes their entire perspective.”

Read more: Here’s even more proof the plant is the way out of addiction

While this incredibly affirming article preaches meeting patients where they’re at, the piece does not mention medical cannabis as a viable part of an addiction treatment plan. This despite pushing addictive Pharma medications in the piece as part of “maintenance therapy.”

It also does not address that the only real treatment for chronic PTSD are benzodiazepines, which affect the brain the same way as alcohol. The piece affirms that people with PTSD are at high risk of alcoholism. The piece preaches opioid maintenance therapy for people with PTSD needing to get off heroin, but it does not address what a person with severe PTSD who is a recovering alcoholic is supposed to do, if not medical cannabis.

It’s a hypocritical disconnect. Medical cannabis is the only thing that helps people like myself. On top of it I pray, exercise, and usually eat right.

I have been gouging on sugar lately.

Until next time.

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White House Opioid Summit big on compassion, short on innovation

I had no idea U.S. Surgeon General John Maynard Woodworth had a brother in prison as a result of drug dealing.

And did you know that former Fox News commentator Eric Bolling lost his son to a deadly cocaine/fentanyl mix on Sept. 8?

I didn’t. I always liked Eric Bolling, mostly because he always maintained a sincere smile and showed respect to his guests.

Eric Junior’s chair is among thousands that will be empty when Americans sit down for Easter dinner. An estimated 174 people per day perish due to opioid overdose.

I have been without Fox News quite a while, my DirecTV disconnected months ago. I have been largely unemployed almost a year now, after all, despite relentlessly looking for work every day.

So, when I began to see Bolling on Twitter – and saw “former” Fox News commentator on his handle – I wondered what was going on.

He also seemed rather angry in his Tweets (not like I’m one to talk). So, I Just kind of wondered what was going on with him, as he always struck me on TV as a generally happy person.

In the interest of full disclosure, Bolling is yet another member of the news media fired for allegedly sexually harassing female coworkers. That’s why he’s no longer with Fox News.

But when I reviewed a recording of the White House Opioid Summit on Saturday, I learned what really has been bothering Eric Bolling.

His beautiful son is now dead.

So many dead children, moms, dads

There’s nothing fake about Eric Bolling. It’s why I like him. His tears were real during a statement before the White House Opioid Summit.

His respect for President Trump for hosting the summit also was real.

The commander in chief did something really huge with that summit: He encouraged top Republicans, not exactly a set known for being public about their troubles, to stand up and talk about addiction.

Families in denial about substance abuse can expect only one outcome in the midst of this opioid epidemic. People like Eric Bolling don’t want other families to live his grief.

Medication-assisted therapy is way overrated

If I had to focus on just one comment I most disagreed with, based on my interviews with dozens of opioid addicts, it was one made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions said that only a third of rehab centers in America are using medication-assisted therapy, and that it’s “unacceptable” because it’s scientifically proven effective.

Sessions also is allowing states to sue Pharma for creating the opioid epidemic.

This is a big disconnect. For as much as we all want to say medication-assisted therapy is the way out of addiction, I believe it to be a big lie for many people.

Do we treat alcoholism by tapering down drunks with less booze? I hope not. I never would have gotten sober had I not admitted I had a huge drinking problem and quit cold turkey.

Tapering down drinking is a great harm reduction model for alcoholism that should be tried; everything should be tried. But I’d flip if the government started giving people booze in a pill as part of “alcohol maintenance therapy.”

Read more: Illinois lawmakers say treating addiction with cannabis works

In a sense though, they already do. More on that in a minute.

I was paid handsomely by a Fortune 500 company to write about medication-assisted therapy for two years. I have been unemployed since last June, when the gig ended.

I no longer believe much of what I wrote about opioid maintenance therapy, but I am very proud of the work I did overall for Universal Health Services’ psychiatric hospitals and Foundation Recovery Network’s rehab centers.

Yes, there’s research saying medication-assisted therapy works. Research written by doctors in bed with Pharma.

And the behavioral health industry, in particular, knows this to be fact.

I have interviewed dozens of opioid addicts who say Suboxone is the devil. They’re not hard to find. There are newer, supposedly better opioid maintenance therapies out there, too, but they are not widely available. Perhaps those are what Sessions was referring to.

Help coming to rural areas

I have no doubts that medication-assisted therapy helps some severely addicted people detox. AA also was developed for severe alcoholics; not the masses.

But the fact is this: Suboxone allows the dependent to remain dependent and makes getting off Suboxone – also an opioid – nearly impossible, many say.

Why? Well, maybe your doctor doesn’t know what he or she is doing. This is not a slam on doctors – this epidemic has required primary care providers to suddenly become addiction specialists.

Read more: My report from the American College of Physicians Conference (I was there!) on what’s being done to educate doctors about the opioid epidemic.

The truth is, there are no guidelines for tapering people off Suboxone. And the dosing is at the doctor’s discretion, for better or for worse.

One recent study conducted in Finland declared “Polydrug abuse among opioid maintenance treatment patients is related to inadequate doses of maintenance treatment medicine.”

The study claims, “Both methadone and buprenorphine in fixed doses are effective in suppressing illicit opioid use. Fixed-dose studies do not require individualized dose levels because of retention in treatment, and treatment outcomes.

“However, fixed doses are rarely used in clinical practice as the flexible dosing of the medicine is more relevant to patient care. Contrary to fixed-dose studies, flexible-dose studies suggest that the optimal dose of the (opioid maintenance therapy) medicine should be tailor-made and differ between patients, to account for differences in severity of addiction, chronicity, main substance of dependence, method of administration, potency of main opioid used, tolerance acquired, and idiosyncratic issues.” (1)

So, they’re saying opioid addicts seek out other illicit drugs when their opioid desires aren’t being met, so we should up their opioids (a la Pharma sponsored, medical establishment approved, opioid maintenance therapy).

That is one wacky addiction treatment model if you ask me. That’s not even harm reduction as far as I’m concerned.

Opioid replacement therapy alone a recipe for disaster

In an opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer (Philly.com), an addiction expert who has a realistic grasp on opioid maintenance therapy explains it must be done in concert with other treatments.

But too often, this is not the case. Community mental health centers are more overwhelmed than ever, especially in small towns and rural areas. And quite frankly, that’s where a huge chunk of our nation’s opioid epidemic lies.

Simply prescribing buprenorphine with no additional, meaningful support is par for the course in many of these towns. The Trump administration has announced it has made millions available, however, to bring suitable treatment to rural areas.

“It’s not that abstinence is not a goal, but the aim of (maintenance therapy) is rather to stop the devastating consequences of this terrible illness (such as HIV and Hepatitis C from injection drug use) and keep the patient alive and engaged in treatment,” wrote Scott Teitelbaum, a psych professor at University of Florida. (2)

“Many have serious co-occurring health problems, such as mental illness and a history of trauma. They may not yet have the ability to deal with the physical and emotional discomfort of being opioid-free.”

While buprenorphine and other maintenance therapies may be keeping people off heroin for a while vis a vis a harm reduction model, if not done properly it’s sure to be disastrous long term.

Prepare for the benzodiazepine blizzard

I was given 4 mg Ativan per day after I was jailed and tortured in Rock Island County on no charges at all for blowing the whistle on political corruption and suspected human trafficking. Eventually, the Ativan began to have a reverse effect and make me explosively angry (Ativan/Xanax/all benzos affect the brain the same way as alcohol).

Then, after almost three years, I had an alcohol relapse that lasted six months. And, it happened as I was getting cognitive behavioral therapy twice a week at my community’s premier psychology practice.

So, giving someone with an addiction a drug that affects them exactly the same as the substance they are addicted to is risky business.

I do think this example (opioids and benzos) is apples to apples, and mark my words: The Benzodiazepine blizzard is lining up to attack this country right behind the opioid epidemic.

At the White House Opioid Summit, a parent stepped up and explained how he thought his child had recovered from opioids. Until, that he is, he bought a Xanax off the street that was laced with fentanyl.

Now, the young college student is dead.

The Fentanyl factor

Just because someone overdoses on opioids once doesn’t mean they’re a severe addict. This is where fentanyl comes in.

Fentanyl is so deadly – indeed, it’s being used in homicidal ways – that all of these national overdoses may be a bit taken out of context.

For example, I nearly was murdered in my basement. I was held down and injected with a substance and fell asleep.

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I woke up the next morning on my couch.

While in the Rock Island County Jail, I heard a former bartender/carnival worker turned jailer say, “(Politician) tried to kill Dave last year, but he woke up on his couch.”

I can’t help but suspect perhaps I was injected with heroin/fentanyl? I pray to God it remains an open investigation with the Rock Island Police Department, and I firmly believe it is.

Why would anyone want to kill me? Because of what I know. They failed in multiple homicide attempts from what I can tell, and now I have relayed all that information.

I have chronic PTSD from all I have been through. This has left me dependent on either benzodiazepines or cannabis.

Yes, I exercise. Yes, I eat right. Yes, I have had dozens of years of therapy. Yes, I have allowed them to dope me up on every Pharma medication under the sun the past 20 years. They all have led to suicidal thoughts, weight gain, and underemployment/unemployment.

When I got sober, a full year after I got off all the poisonous Pharma mental health medications, I began to thrive.

Until I was jailed and tortured a year into that sobriety. Now, I am damaged goods. I cannot find a job.

I have received zero justice and zero compensation from the county of Rock Island. I have not even heard a peep from my former AA sponsor, who sits on the county board and by now most certainly knows the truth about what happened to me. An apology would go a very, very long way.

Let’s set aside personalities and focus on the truth, please.

But this is no surprise, given the nature of the case. It’s chilling, and it’s barefaced corruption.

Read more: I was jailed on no charges at all after telling two classmates turned cops about drugs, suspected human trafficking

What pain advocates say

People who live with chronic pain say they are the real victims of the opioid crisis. They say now they have difficulty getting medication and are suffering.

I can relate to this inasmuch as I freak out when I can’t get my medical cannabis.

But I admit I’m addicted to it. My therapist suggested when I got the card that I oscillate between benzos and the cannabis so as to not get addicted to one or the other.

So, my heart breaks for these people. And here’s why.

There ARE alternatives to opioid pain medications, which is how so many people got hooked. Problem is, they are NOT widely available.

And that the government wants to make opioid maintenance therapy available to everyone instead seems downright insane to me.

Read more: Check out my interview with NBA Atlanta Hawks owner Grant Hill

Forced rehab not the answer; choices are

I think 12-step groups are snake oil and exploitative. I never have made that a secret.

But I never had a problem with step one: I am powerless over my addiction.

And anyone who does have a problem with that first step, whether they are a 12-stepper or not, never will get sober.

So, forced rehab is a joke. It’s nothing more than a way for providers of rehab to make money providing treatment they know will fail.

And yet that’s what the Trump Administration apparently wants to do. Some talk at the summit centered around changing language to make forced hospitalization of the addicted a reality. Currently, laws do not allow this. This is intended to protect the mentally ill from being falsely institutionalized.

This is a frightening, unconstitutional step to take. And science has proven again and again that forced rehab doesn’t work.

The rehab industry is, quite frankly, extremely dirty.

The relationship between the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department and UnityPoint Trinity already is highly questionable and reeks of nepotism and corruption as far as I’m concerned. I never will set foot in UnityPoint Trinity or Robert Young Center ever again after what happened to me.

I was totally sober when I was taken there from the jail. And let’s not forget: I was jailed on no charges after narc’ing out suspected human trafficking and drug activity.

Nationally, the rehab centers have horrid reputations, especially in Florida.

It all centers around “volunteers’ who get kickbacks for luring the addicted into laughable treatment.

In an extremely well-done investigation, NBC News shined a light on this practice.

“Crooked treatment centers partner with ‘body brokers’ and operators of so-called ‘sober homes’ to find patients with good health insurance. Brokers and sober home owners offer those trying to get clean free rent and grocery store gift cards, cigarettes and manicures in exchange for going to a specific treatment center, which pays kickbacks for every client. (3)

“Once they’ve reeled patients in, these treatment centers bill their insurance tens of thousands of dollars for often questionable counseling, costly and potentially unnecessary drug screens, and exotic laboratory tests.

“Some treatment centers not only overlook drug use – they encourage it. To Florida’s worst operators, relapse doesn’t mean failure. It means profit.

Nuff said.

A glimmer of innovation in New Jersey

The truth is, there is great need for legitimate sober homes. A stable living environment is essential to recovery.

But in the end, the greatest need is this: We need to find a way to get people in that moment of “I surrender, I want help” before they change their mind. There is a very, very limited window of opportunity and it generally comes when people are jailed or hospitalized due to opioids.

To that end, a man named Kevin Meara founded “City of Angels” in New Jersey. City of Angels dispatches volunteers at just that critical moment when a person in the throes of opioid addiction may say, “Yes, I’m ready to give sobriety a shot.”

It is exactly what addiction experts not beholden to Pharma, the 12 steps, or any one way to get sober advocate for.

“I’m not a professional, I’m just a guy who buried his son,” Meara explained at the summit.

“And it has taken me from the bedroom, where he died, to the East Room of the White House.”

That is tremendous progress, and not surprising.

Meara’s got the right idea.

Until next time.


1. Heikman, P, et al. (2017, July 6). Polydrug abuse among opioid maintenance treatment patients is related to inadequate dose of maintenance treatment medicine. BMC Psychiatry. Retrieved March 4, 2018, from https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-017-1415-y
2. Teitelbaum, S. (2018, Feb. 27). Using drugs to treat opioid addiction: Handle with care. Philly.com. Retrieved March 4, 2018, from http://www.philly.com/philly/health/addiction/using-drugs-to-treat-opioid-addiction-handle-with-care-20180227.html
3. Riordan Seville, L. et al. (2017, June 25). Florida’s Billion-Dollar Drug Treatment Industry is Plagued by Overdoses, Fraud. NBC News. Retrieved June 25, 2017, from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/megyn-kelly/florida-s-billion-dollar-drug-treatment-industry-plagued-overdoses-fraud-n773376

Journalist creates ‘tip jar’ to save himself from Pharma poison, pay for cannabis

Up and coming musicians live off their meager tips while belting out tunes in tired bars.

Street performers rake them in near Los Angeles’ famed “Muscle Beach.”

And now, the internet makes it easy for even online journalists to place a tip jar on their website.

Here’s mine:


Tip Jar

Thank you for helping me by donating a small amount toward what I do.


I don’t get paid for any of the stories you see on my website, other than those that appear under the paid portfolio pages.

Which stories do you think get the most views, and the most feedback?

The Rock Island County corruption pieces, of course. I’m proud to say many other victims have reached out to me, shared their stories, and then reported their own abuse through the proper channels.

Not only am I not getting paid for these pieces, they’re costing me work.

My attorney friend, Michael Warner, former partner of Rock Island County Chief Justice Walter Braud, told me I’d be severely blackballed if I ever reported what happened in the jail.

He was right.

Waving my tin cup for medical cannabis

Before this blog turns “negative,” because the County of Rock Island indeed is a pathetic disgrace and we’re going to get into that in a minute, I want to share some of what I consider my best unpaid work.

Your mom or grandma is extremely curious about medical cannabis

‘When you take him to Trinity, tell them he’s a sex worker’ (second most viewed story of the year so far)

Treating addiction with cannabis works, and Illinois lawmakers have taken notice

Yes, baking pies and cakes really does relieve PTSD symptoms 

Blood pressure down, anxiety receding: Me. Pharma free.

I hope you will continue to support my work, and even consider a small offering via my secure electronic tip jar on the home page. Click here to go back to the home page, then scroll down to the tip jar and PayPal/MC/Visa portal.

PTSD and employment are like oil and water

It has been hard for me to find work after what I have been through. I have a temper and do not tolerate lies or abuse of any kind any more.

I have intrusive thoughts (the reel of the jail terror plays constantly in my head), I sometimes spontaneously fall asleep (not unusual in people with PTSD) and working with the public anywhere in the Quad-Cities is pretty much out of the question.

I don’t need to explain that, but it’s the truth. And verifiably so.

That leaves me working at home (and thank God that has worked in the past) or landing a job somewhere like a plant…a marijuana cultivation center, for example.

As a medical cannabis patient, I can’t pass a drug test. No, you don’t get a free pass on drug tests just because you have the card.

And anyone who says, “Suck it up and dry out for 30 days” can go straight to hell. A diabetic doesn’t stop taking insulin for 30 days.

The truth is that I belong on disability Social Security, and I intend to start the process next month. I don’t need anyone to validate my trauma any further. It’s a miracle I’m alive, and I’m grateful for that. I’m not going to live a life of poverty because I live in a mafia town and have been disgraced for turning in drug dealers and perverts.

Life was so much easier for me here when I was a coked up drunk.

Ashamed community pretending nothing happened to me

They trespassed me for advocating for my dad.

They threw me in jail on no charges and tortured me for turning in criminals and/or politicians for drugs, suspected human trafficking, and additional allegations.

I was laughed at, and continue to be laughed at by many, even though one politician admitted he lied to a grand jury. Almost nobody knows Davenport Alderman Bill Boom resigned from the City Council and had to relinquish ownership of the town gay bar.

Believe me. Most people in this town do not read a newspaper. The brazen radical left bias of the local sheets has left all but a few chuckling over the soaring cost of these failing products.

You don’t have to feel sorry for me. But if you appreciate, even silently, what I have accomplished so far with my reporting, I really would appreciate your support.

My parents are dead. There are maybe two people in this town who care whether I get out of bed each day. I am being punished for blowing the whistle on drugs, human trafficking, dirty cops, and dirty politicians.

I applied for some help today with a bill. I’m happy to report that I do have a small income coming in from what has evolved into a regular gig with a local business. And I’m loving it.

But I’ve been on a tight budget which basically leaves no money for medical cannabis. As a result, I’m seeing a doctor about being doped back up on Pharma poison. At least it’s a backup.

Illinois Medicaid expansion will happily dope you up and pay for, in full, all the addictive opioids or benzoidazepines you want. But…NO MEDICAL CANNABIS FOR YOU!


I cannot lose my temper when I have PTSD triggers. It’s not an option. I appreciate myself too much.

But I hate the idea of bloating up, feeling itchy, depressed, etc. Pharma anxiety pills are just what I said: Poison.

But they work for a short while, if you only use them once in a great while.

 I took abuse for years and years and years from the hateful, corrupt, narcissistic LGBT community of the Quad-Cities.

Particularly the depraved, woefully corrupt County of Rock Island, which has been lying to taxpayers over just about everything for decades and decades and decades.

This town has not acknowledged my worth since the day I moved back here. Journalists who report the truth about the corruption that has plagued this town for a century long have faced what only can be called as “Blackball Syndrome.”

Read my Parachute by MapQuest opinion piece: Fall into line and resign Quad-City filthies; run along now (and they have!)

One of my former Mary’s on 2nd Street bar friends, indisputably the most powerful lawyer in Rock Island County, warned me I’d be blackballed for reporting what happened inside the jail. Indeed, he flat out said I probably never would work again.

As for the lying, corrupt filthies, the business community isn’t going to like looking like foolish accomplices when the truth comes out about political indiscretions.

It’s already out.

Thankfully, a few local companies are more concerned with their bottom lines and/or their moral compasses than pleasing corrupt politicians. Some of these dishonest, filthy politicians repeatedly have intimidated their constituents and/or members of the business community alike.

They’ve done it too many times to too many people. And we’re connecting now.

You’re caught, filthies, whether anything happens to you via the justice system this time around or not.

Some rather powerful and wealthy members of this community are tired of the drama that a couple of these previously untouchable politicians have caused. You can’t cross certain industries in this town and expect to stay in office long-term.

Money and lies can’t change the truth during political campaigns. The truth doesn’t change.

So, let them blackball me all they want. My number one goal in my life is staying sober and having purpose. Blowing the lid off just how slimy the politicians in this depraved town really are has brought me great contentment during a period of otherwise terrifying duress.

All while I’m supposed to be healing. The filthiest, most dishonest politicians of this corrupt bunch of Rock Island County rodents knows exactly who they are, and exactly why I’m angry.

I’ve known you all for years. I was caring for my dad and was sober. Your political cronies and some of my other friends were boozing and drugging and, well, I’ll stop there.

You know I’m right AND YOU’RE FILTHY.

Eventually you’re all going to be caught in your lies, because none of you know how to act right. Plain and simple.

This county is so filthy and corrupt it sidesteps elections every chance it gets, for God’s sake. What a slap in the face to the United States Constitution.

CLICK HERE. This story by a rare fine journalist at the Rock Island Argus should be required reading for every fourth-grade child in Rock Island County. In the context of what happened to me, it’s just chilling as hell on every level as far as I’m concerned

For those of you with your heads still up you’re a$$e$ about Democrats who smile and blow stand-for-nothing propaganda soundbites out both ends, it’s time to wake up now.

Until next time.

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How did Washington, D.C. rank fifth on WalletHub’s Healthy Cities list?

If the latest ‘Healthiest Cities’ study to roll into my inbox hadn’t come from WalletHub, I would not even have clicked on it.

Let alone write about it.

And while this list, at first glance, suffers from the same predictability of so many other “healthy cities” lists, it does offer a few interesting nuggets.

First things first: The top 10 “Healthy Cities” include the usual West Coast suspects. San Francisco? Yet. San Diego? Of course. Seattle? Yaaaaaassss.

But Washington, D.C.? I’m not even trying to be funny when I say that’s one of the last places I think of as “healthy.”

When I was writing about HIV/AIDS, I knew D.C. had one of the most serious problems with the disease of any urban area. Many people in Washington are marginalized and do not have proper access to care.

But a quick Google search showed me that things have changed in Washington D.C. as it pertains to HIV/AIDS since I last regularly wrote about the topic. The Washington Post reported in June that “efforts undertaken by the city — including distributing more than 6 million male and female condoms in 2016 and removing more than 800,000 needles from the street — are helping to make progress, Health Department Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said.”

How much progress? Just seven HIV infections were tallied in 2016, down from 149 in 2007.

So, I’m intrigued: Just how did WalletHub arrive at this list of “healthy” cities?

A case study: DC and HIV

“Location matters when it comes to health,” the financial literacy website explained. “Some places promote wellness by expanding access to nutritious food and recreational facilities. Others strive to keep healthcare costs affordable for everyone or keep parks clean and well-maintained.

“When a city doesn’t take care of these issues, it can be hard to keep up good health. After all, the cost of care in the U.S. is rising and life expectancy is declining.”

In the case of Washington D.C. and HIV, the public health menace was injection drug use. Public health officials there found themselves in a pickle caused by Capitol Hill, of all places.

“From 1998 to 2007, Congress blocked the District from allocating local tax dollars for ­needle-exchange efforts, the Post reported.

This exacerbated D.C.’s HIV/AIDS problem. More on how D.C. turned things around in a second.

How WalletHub arrived at its conclusions

“In order to identify the overall healthiest cities in the U.S., WalletHub compared 174 cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across four key dimensions: healthcare, food, fitness and green space,” the financial literacy website explained.

Under the healthcare heading, metrics include a community’s overall mental health, which were based on the number of adults reporting 14 or more unhealthy days in a month.

Other metrics included access to care, quality of the local hospital systems, healthcare costs, and even specific metrics such as the percentage of adults receiving cholesterol screenings and the number of women ages 50-74 receiving mammogram screenings.

For my local followers, the Quad-Cities is not ranked. Chicago ranked 17th, but by no means can we compare our healthcare system to their’s. Cedar Rapids, Iowa ranked 77th, but again, Cedar Rapids has much closer access to the world-class University Hospitals in Iowa City than we do in the Quad-Cities, about 60 miles away.

Find out where your city landed on the list by clicking here.

Walk, take the bus, eat your fruits and veggies

So how can you choose a healthy community?

One panelist in this WalletHub report says to do what I do: Walk, and use public transportation, to stay healthy.

Of course, that means you need to live someplace where you can safely do those things.

“Studies show that people who use public transportation tend to walk more and have a lower body mass index (measure of weight) than those who do not,” says Lorrene Ritchie, director and cooperative extension specialist in the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “So, look for places to live where you can take public transit to work and other places.

“Taking public transit is an example of a built-in way to make you be more active — without you having to buy a gym membership, find time to work out, or go out of your way. Can you walk from home to the market, or do you need to drive everywhere? How walkable is the neighborhood? Are there parks and other green spaces nearby? Would you bike to work if you could? If so, are there bike paths? Sidewalks? Connected streets?

“If you have children, can you live close enough to a school to have them walk or bike? Is it safe? Does the school have a joint use agreement with the city so that the school grounds are open to the public during non-school hours? For children, are there places in the neighborhood to be safely outside and play?”

The other thing to remember is that canned or frozen fruits and vegetables ARE better than no fruits or vegetables at all, if you are on a budget and cannot afford fresh.

“There is nothing wrong with frozen vegetables and canned fruits and vegetables (as long as low in sodium and without added sugar), Ritchie advises. “They are typically cheaper and less prone to spoiling — so less waste. Frozen may not have the texture that fresh produce does, but often, the flavor is pretty close. And if you put them in mixed dishes, you can hardly tell the difference.”

Choose a community with a good health IQ

So, why are all those healthy cities on the left coast?

Well, because that’s where smart people go these days to get rich (tech boom). So, there are a lot of smart people there, and consequently, a lot of people who care about staying healthy (and rich).

“Research has consistently shown a positive correlation between health status and years of education,” said John Sardelis, associate chair of health administration and professor at St. Joseph’s College, New York.  

Sardelis’ statement underscores the importance of effective public health messaging, which can be a challenge in places where educational attainment and access to care are not high.

And that historically has been the case with HIV/AIDS in Washington. In recent years, however, public health officials have overcome these obstacles.

In addition to getting all those needles off the street and distributing millions and millions of condoms, the city also became the first in the country to roll out a public health campaign promoting PrEP, the HIV prevention pill. In addition, the city has created an innovative “UequalsU” campaign about HIV.

The point? Take your HIV medication every day and you cannot pass along the virus. That makes you “undetectable” and destigmatizes the disease by placing people with HIV on the same level as everyone else in the bedroom.

That’s still a huge deal, and stigma is never good for public health.

Says Sardelis:

Local authorities should encourage health systems to address the social determinants of health (education, nutrition, housing, etc.), since so much of health is determined by these factors. Our medical system is wonderful, but we need to address the root causes that emanate from social factors.

And that’s what Washington, D.C. has done. No wonder it landed fifth on the “Most Healthy Cities” list.

Until next time.

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Yes, baking pies and cakes really does help relieve PTSD symptoms

Josh Tredinnick, a retired Army sergeant and fellow at the Dog Tag Bakery, is training to become a baker through a work-study program conducted by Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, Oct. 19, 2015, in Washington. DoD photo by Marvin Lynchard.

I woke at midnight yesterday and decided I want to know the truth, once and for all: Does baking have healing qualities for people with PTSD?

I’m talking pastries and pies, not medical cannabis. I already know medical cannabis is the most effective treatment available for my chronic PTSD, and I’m so grateful I live in a state with a medical cannabis program.

But I’ve been trying to implement other life changes to control my PTSD that don’t involve cannabis. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the better.

In recent months, I’ve been getting cake mixes, pie mixes, and the like from the St. Pius food pantry. It has been piling up, and a few weeks ago I thought: Try baking. It can’t be that hard.

And then I asked myself: Do I know any angry bakers?

And I don’t. Again, I’m talking cookies and cakes.

The truth is, I never had baked anything in my life before my midnight yesterday rendezvous with Duncan Hines.

My first project: White, Super Moist, Rainbow Chip Cake.

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Physical exercise, good memory trigger, accomplishment

So, I don’t have those mixer-beater things, so I had to toss the mix “vigorously by hand” for two minutes. It was good exercise.

I also had fun tossing the three eggs in, as it reminded me of a childhood adventure of about 40 years ago that took place in that very kitchen….

A friend had thrown an egg at another friend when we were playing outside, and it hit him in the head. My mom had to wash the egg out of the kid’s hair. Pretending to be angry, my mom turned to the egg hurler and said, “Eggs belong in cakes.”

….I was pleased that even though I did not have a mixer, the mix turned out smooth. All I had to do was hope I didn’t burn it.

Can I tell you? That cake turned out perfect. And I ate it right up.

But before I tell you about the NEXT baking project I took on (key lime pie!) … let’s explore the very serious question: Is baking good for your health and, specifically, for people with PTSD?

Now, I have come to decide that the British have a much better handle on mental health research and messaging than we do here in the United States. In the U.S., we stigmatize mental illness and seldom discuss ways of preventing it. A mentally healthy nation isn’t good for Pharma now, is it? And Pharma fuels our economy.

I’d rather give my money to Duncan Hines than Pharma any day. Let me quote from this British website to explain what I already suspected about baking:

In recent years both mental health and culinary experts have come round to the idea that baking could very well be helpful in relieving the symptoms of anxiety and depression by combining the physical and projection aspects of the traditional occupational therapies. Kneading a batch of bread dough for 10/15 minutes will sure take away a lot of frustration and negative feeling, the weighing of the ingredients, the repetitive motions and the feeling of being in control could help keep calm and level up unruly anxiety feelings, decorating a cake, making beautiful artistic creations can mirror the feelings of projection people might experience when painting or writing.

And obviously let’s not forget that at the end we get to indulge in some great home bakes which would definitely put a smile on anyone’s face and share our creations with family and friends reclaiming those great positive feelings of nurturing and making someone else happy.

Thanks to the website Mental Healthy for that great info. You can learn more about baking your way to better mental health by clicking here.

Research conducted just a few months back showed that cooking has “psychosocial” benefits.

I can tell you already I had so much fun baking that cake (and I haven’t even told you about the key lime pie yet) that I may just start baking cakes for neighbors.

“Finding benefits to cooking that extend beyond nutritional may be helpful in increasing motivation and frequency of cooking. This review suggests that cooking interventions may positively influence psychosocial outcomes, although this evidence is preliminary and limited,” concluded Farmer et al in the journal Health Education and Behavior. “Further qualitative and rigorous quantitative research are needed to identify mechanisms by which cooking interventions may improve psychosocial outcomes.”

Combat vets baking away stress

Finally, the picture with this piece says it all: Even manly military men are finding PTSD relief from baking.

From a Department of Defense news release that you can read for yourself here by clicking here:

For Josh Tredinnick, a medically retired Army sergeant, the Dog Tag Bakery fellowship gave him a new future.

Tredinnick was injured in 2009 in Afghanistan when he was struck by an improvised explosive device. He had hip and back surgery and has a TBI and PTSD. He said his work in a veteran support office was fulfilling, but baking has always been beneficial for him. 

“Baking has been very therapeutic as far as just getting me involved in a healthy activity,” he said. “What I’ve enjoyed most about it that you can take this set of ingredients, you can follow these steps, and you’re more than likely to come out with this final product every single time.

“You take these small steps and do it correctly, you put everything you’ve got into it, and you’ll come out with a better product on the other end,” Tredinnick added. He said his favorite part of baking is the variety of breads that can be made from the same basic set of ingredients.

He said his wife, Erica, has enjoyed his work at the bakery, especially when he brings home some of the French baguettes he bakes.

So, regarding that key lime pie…

I did not have “heavy cream,” nor did I even know what it is. And I have bene putting my computer in a “lockbox” for hours at a time to stay off social media and become mentally healthier, so I could not Google “heavy cream.”

So instead, I used milk and sour cream.

My key lime pie turned out PERFECT, just like my Rainbow Chip Super Most White Cake. I made the cake and the pie back to back, and I ate them back to back as well.

I cannot tell you how PROUD I was of my very first cake and my very first pie.
it was a lift, and I’ll for sure bake again.

Until next time.

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Superman of U.S. opioid crisis will save us from the benzodiazepine blizzard, too

You may remember from a couple of video and blog posts I’ve made in the past couple of weeks that I was invited to sit on a panel regarding the opioid epidemic in America.

The panel was sponsored in part by the Butterfly Protocol, a Chicago-based organization developing a taper-down system for people addicted to opioids.

I am very humbled and honored to have been invited to sit on this rather large panel that included doctors and also esteemed addiction journalist Maia Szalavitz.

You can read more about all of that here.

Problem is, PTSD triggers were just too intense yesterday for me to participate.

I pulled out at the very last minute, almost like someone walking out of a wedding at the very moment the pastor says, “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

As the only victim of an opioid-related violent crime, and also the only person in recovery with a medical cannabis card, I could have brought an interesting point of view to the discussion.

There’s just too much going on right now related to my opioid-related attack and all the reasons why I was granted the medical cannabis card in the first place.

Thank God I have it. Medical cannabis is my Superman. Superman saved me from the benzodiazepine blizzard. This little green plant without a cape will save America from it, too.

And the reason I was granted the card isn’t just about the attack in my basement, or the terror in the jail, the terror in the hospital, or any of the things that happened to me in recent years. I have been in horrific car accidents, I have been raped, and I was beaten by my parents as a child.

You can read all about why I was given the card by clicking right here.

I want to thank the Butterfly Protocol for inviting me to participate. I know they understand PTSD, so I expect they forgive me.

Below are answers I provided as opening statements for the panel discussion:

  1. As a person in recovery and a medical cannabis advocate, the biggest challenge I face is the federal government’s prohibition of a plant proven to save lives. Across the nation, opioid addicts and the opioid dependent are finding recovery through cannabis. States, meanwhile, are finding much needed tax revenue through legalization. That tax revenue can go on to be used as law enforcement sees fit to fight the opioid epidemic in other ways.
  2. My biggest concerns for the U.S. and Canada moving forward is that we’ll find the Pharma-made opioid epidemic is only the tip of the iceberg – prepare for the benzodiazepine blizzard next. With so many veterans returning from war with PTSD, not to mention the trauma natural disasters and an increasingly violent world reek on our populations, millions have been prescribed anxiety pills in recent years. For people with substance abuse issues, these drugs are disastrous. The natural alternative? Cannabis. I am a legal medical cannabis patient in Illinois with the qualifying condition of chronic PTSD.
  3. Simple: Understand there is no one road to addiction, or dependence, and therefore no one road out. All legitimate forms of treatment, especially with medical cannabis, must be considered.
  4. Removing roadblocks to stigma starts with speaking up and owning our addiction. In the 1990s, when I was working as executive news editor of The Advocate magazine, President Clinton became the first sitting president to speak to a Human Rights Campaign gala. He told the mostly gay crowd that to achieve equal rights and to shatter stigma, everyone must stand up and come out. For decades, the idea of being in the closet not only was accepted but encouraged. We now realize this is a dangerous, flawed way of living for marginalized populations. In this regard, I vehemently despite 12-step groups. We must stand up, raise our hands, and share our stories of recovery as addicts, however unusual our own journey to recovery may sound. It may help another.
  5. The answer to No. 5 is much the same as the answer to No. 4, but it requires us to stop stigmatizing others in our own recovery community. Healthcare providers, social workers, addicts…because we’re not in agreement, we stigmatize one another, and we often forget we all have the same goal: Freedom from opioids when possible, the ability to live comfortably when not. It’s time we stop passing judgement, and it’s beyond time we stop letting profits drive our decisions for those who work in healthcare and its assorted tentacles. Rehab isn’t always an honest business; neither is Pharma.

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Ch. 3: After hospital, a ride to McD’s in a squad car

Amidst trauma that probably should have left me for dead, there are heroes.

Even with PTSD, you know who the heroes are.

Well, when it comes to police it can be hard. But I can tell you a story about a cop who I believe to be good.

The story speaks for itself.

I had been released from UnityPoint Trinity after two terrifying nights held in the Rock Island County Jail on no charges at all.

Upon walking out the doors of UnityPoint Trinity, who would I call?

Probably not who you would think after being terrorized by Moline police at dad’s memory care institution, roughed up, and taken to jail for raising my voice thinking my dad and I were in danger.

It’s all coming into focus now. “You’ll never get anywhere with Moline PD.”

Another story. But I have figured out so much. And it’s scary. But I’m safe.

Back to walking out the doors of the hospital. Who did I call?

In fact, I called 911. Because I was in Rock Island now. Where police are honest.

Well, most of them. At least nine out of 10, I’d wager.

I hope.

Not only did the dispatcher not laugh at me, I was treated with complete and total respect.

RIPD good as (crimson and) gold

Let me say here: I am humbled by the respect I have received from the Rock Island Police Department.

Humbled beyond belief.

There are bad eggs coming out of good chickens every day.

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When I dialed 911, I asked for an officer to meet me at my home because I feared it could have been booby-trapped while I was held in the jail on no charges.

I knew it had been illegally searched. I heard them talking when I was inside the jail.

Of course, it took me a long time to get that officially confirmed, even though my neighbors saw them do it.

The cop met me at my house. Intense, good cop who will give himself a heart attack trying to do the right thing in a corrupt town.

At least that’s how it looks to me. I could be wrong

Meet a key character in my book: Officer Billy Ray.

Billy Ray arrives on scene at Redneck Ritz HQ

The officer met me at my house. Although he was edgy, I knew he was good.

He immediately asked me for mail in case “your brother tries to say it’s his house.”

I heard at the hospital someone say, “The brother says he rents it and he pays his rent on time but always has candles burning when the brother shows up to inspect.”

And just because I heard things doesn’t make them truth. Much of what I heard inside the jail was master fu*&ery, for example. But much of it I thought to be that has turned out to be true, some of which I never could have believed to be true.

People say I have ESP. Indeed, the high-ranking politician inside the jail said, “How can Dave hear us?” and “It’s almost like Dave’s clairvoyant.”

So somehow, I knew a day may come when I had to PROVE I was a resident of my dad’s house, where I was his caregiver and had received mail for one year.

I had it all ready to go under my mattress. Officer Billy Ray did not seem particularly fazed that I was so prepared.

But before your mind goes there, Billy Ray did something exceptional.

“I am on deadline for a story for Healthline, and I need to get to McDonald’s so I can file my story and get paid and pay my electric bill.”

My brother forbade me to get internet. The emails all are there. Mediacom said I had to get my brother’s POA approval to add internet even though I paid the bill.

Long story short, Officer Billy Ray drove me to McDonald’s.

“I’m sorry, you have to ride in the back seat,” he said.

Arrival at McDonald’s in police escort, still wearing hospital band

When Officer Ray let me out of the back of the squad, and I walked into the McDonald’s with a hospital bracelet and a blood draw Band-Aid, it drew stares.

One group of men stared a long time. They are retirees. One is a bailiff at the Rock Island County Courthouse and I have known him more than 40 years.

At any rate, this elderly woman who attends Edgewood Baptist Church, who I believe to be the kind of true Christian like my Grandma Nellie (mom’s side) of many years gone by, gazed into my eyes.

I felt safe.

Suddenly, a man who sort of looks like me walked by with a blood draw Band-Aid also.

And the elderly woman exclaimed, “Except HE! (and pointed at me) has the hospital bracelet, too!

I’d love to tell you all I am creative enough to make this all up, but I am not. It is all true.

Finally, the nosy retiree club sent over an ambassador.

“Can I ask you why that cop just dropped you off at McDonald’s?”

My response? “That’s none of your business.”

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I was intimidated by the FBI in a political corruption case, and it’s scary as hell

Image courtesy Pixabay

I was standing outside St. Pius Church in Rock island waiting for the bus when the call came on an October morning, just four months ago.

“Springfield, Ill.” the caller ID said.

I knew I better answer it, because half an hour earlier I had emailed my former victim’s advocate at the FBI. I knew she was in the Springfield office.

The agent on the other line, who if I recall correctly was named Jonathan, did not like the email I had just composed.

“This really straddles the line of what’s appropriate,” the agent said, or something to that effect, and then reading back to me what I had written to the victim’s advocate.

Specifically, he did not like an idiom that one of my neighbors, a longtime federal employee, used to describe victims advocates that I repeated in the email.

He also did not like that I referenced in the email that I was about to blog about how poorly I had been treated by the FBI.

What caused me to repeat the comment?

My neighbors know I’m NOT crazy. They live in my neighborhood. They see what happens outside my house and around the neighborhood while I’m sleeping, or during one of the three scary times in the past six weeks when someone tried to enter my home in the middle of the night while I slept.

Nuff said.

Read more: Why did President Obama start following me on Twitter?

The FBI agent did not like the fact that I wanted to write about my year-long “snafu” with the FBI. I’m not sure how else to describe it other than an aggravating “snafu.”

In the email, I wrote:

“I am ready for the stand at any time and unafraid.

As I speak, and write you this, my email inbox is filling with emails from someone named “Itchy Butt.”

This is what I have dealt with for two and a half years.

My next blog post will be about the FBI.


The agent wanted to know “what’s your main complaint to us…what did you originally reach out to us for…”or something to that effect.

This seemed like a bizarre question given the fact I had been assigned the advocate in January. She called me while I was vacationing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Imagine walking on the beach after finally settling your dad’s estate after a nasty, protracted legal battle the day before (I jetted to Miami the next morning) … and a call comes from the FBI.

At first, I was excited. It went south a short time later, and turned out to be a total cluster. More on that in a second.

When I told the agent what happened inside the jail, and specifically who was in there who I believe should not have been, and what I heard her say, he exploded.

And I mean EXPLODED in the most intimidating, unprofessional way possible.

“I know (said politician)….it didn’t happen.”

Read more: Jailed on no charges for being an informant in a political corruption case, and how the GPS on my phone busted some dirty cops

He then corrected himself. “I talked to her, it didn’t happen.” Or something to that effect.

My reply: “Really? Wow.”

Then, the screaming:

“One more stunt like this and we will pursue federal….we will pursue charges through the Rock Island County States Attorney’s Office.


And he said it again: “DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR!”

I never give up

I curled into a ball and cried for several days. Since that moment, I have landed almost zero paid work, although thankfully that appears to be on the verge of changing soon. I hope.

Finally, after a month, I went to the Rock Island city police and told them what happened. They came to my home and I’m quite certain they videotaped my report with their body cameras.

I also told someone else I trusted in law enforcement, in a different state and different jurisdiction, just how this unprofessional FBI agent intimidated me.

In my gut, I now expect the FBI knows I told the truth. I expect they know what this agent did to me, too. And I think, but do not know for sure, that they are keeping me safe.

I hope and pray they are.

But I definitely could be wrong.

Read more: How my terrifying experience continued seamlessly from the jail to UnityPoint Trinity Hospital

How did I get hooked up with the FBI to begin with?

I had been assigned a victim’s advocate after going to Braking Traffick, an organization dedicated to ending human trafficking in the Quad-Cities.

Months passed after I met with Braking Traffick at Lee’s on 14th Restaurant, which I have not been to since, for whatever reason. And I love Lee’s.

Read more: How I got into writing about human trafficking

I suppose now it may forever be a PTSD trigger.

When the victim’s advocate called me while I was in Florida, she told me she would be calling in a week again to discuss “next steps.” She said she could be present when I testified, but that I should not share details of what happened to me with her, as she might be called to testify against me.

How scary for a guy who has been through all I have been through. And my hateful, dishonest former newspaper friends and colleagues just delight in gaslighting me despite everything I have been through and what they know to be true.

We all worked together many years with Congresswoman Cheri Bustos at the Quad-City Times newspaper in Davenport, Iowa. You can read this excerpt from my book, to be published next year, by clicking here.

Cheri’s husband, Gerry, is our sheriff. He was appointed to an elected position.

Read more: Corrupt Rock Island County Democrats routinely ignore U.S. Constitution, skip elections

Read more: Gaslighting, subpar care in local hospital unacceptable; hospital should be fined, taken over

When I had not heard from the victim’s advocate a couple of weeks after she called me, I called her myself. She said “I never told you I was your victim’s advocate…”



I continued to email her all year long, because when bad things would happen to me – I originally was denied SNAP and Medicaid benefits, for example – they seemed to get fixed after I would reach out to her.

Regarding my financial situation, which is no one’s business: I own a beautiful home that my dad left me, and that I sank an additional $40,000 into. Beyond that, I do not have one cent in my pocket, and have had very little income in many, many months.

Read more about my childhood home, which I inherited twice, in this blog post

Read more: Former owner of my home’s son held in Rock Island County Jail on $100,000; Local MSM refuses to report story

Almost everything from my dad went into this house, which I believe was a smart long-term decision. The house was built in 1941 and had many, many problems.

Although the MSM is not reporting it, the FBI is under intense scrutiny for corruption as it pertains to showing favoritism to the Democratic party. You can read all about that here.

From the story:

“They weaponized the most fearsome government agencies to target, monitor and presumably illegally unmask political opponents, including members of Congress, journalists reporting unfavorable stories, Trump allies and average Americans.” 

I have nothing more to say. The truth is the truth is the truth is the truth.

No, I do have more one thing to say: To the filthy journalists of the Quad-Cities who used to be my friends and colleagues — most all the longtime ones, not the awesome new ones at places like WHBF and KWQC — turn in your press badges right now.

You’re dishonest.

Until next time.

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