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PTSD among veterans: Camp Hill family hopes others learn from soldier son's suicide

Dane Michael Freedman was a machine gunner for the U.S. Marines who served two combat tours, one in Iraq and other in Afghanistan.When he returned home, however, the 25-year-old Camp Hill man faced internal enemies of fear, guilt and hopelessness. But for these enemies he had no training and all the weapons he tried — counseling, medications and sheer will — failed.Dane Freedman suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, which doctors say can happen to anyone who is exposed to events that involve actual or threatened loss of life or limb. The exposure can be direct or indirect, such as first responders to the aftermath of a trauma.“They take these boys who are gentle souls and they turn them into warriors and killers and they do nothing to help them return to the gentle souls they were. They send them home with no assimilation back into the life they used to live,” said Donnamarie Freedman, Dane’s mother.Dane took his own life in December.“Part of our decision to talk about the suicide is to do something about the stigma associated with mental illness ... to let people know our soldiers are suffering when they come back and we need to do more for them,” Donnamarie Freedman said.

They send them home with no assimilation back into the life they used to live.” - Dane's mother, Donnamarie FreedmanThe U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan, 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans and nearly 31 percent of Vietnam veterans have PTSD. About 7.7 million Americans suffer from it, according to the National Institutes of Health.Called “soldier’s heart” during the Civil War and later “shell shock” and “battle fatigue” in the First and Second World Wars, PTSD was included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980.“We see it all the time and since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have seen an increase,” said Dr. Ronald Johnson, clinical psychologist at the Lebanon VA Medical Center.

At its worst, the disorder leads to suicide. In the most exhaustive study to date on veteran suicide, the VA reported that 22 veterans kill themselves every day.More than 69 percent of veteran suicides in the report were among people age 50 or older, however. VA officials say higher rates of suicide among older adult men in the general population may contribute to the higher prevalence seen in older veterans.Suicides among younger veterans, those between the ages of 18 and 24 and who were receiving healthcare from the VA, increased from 46 per 100,000 in 2009 to almost 80 per 100,000 in 2011 — numbers that officials at the VA Suicide Prevention Program say will prompt a closer look.“These are extremely significant numbers and it’s very important for us to follow up on what the data is showing us,” said Caitlin Thompson, deputy director of suicide prevention at Veteran’s Affairs.(The Department of Defense also has a Defense Suicide Prevention Office for active-duty military. More information at www.suicideoutreach.org)Thompson said the overall suicide rate is down among veterans who are in the care of the VA, which she said suggests that treatment works. It also shows effort must be made to get all veterans connected to VA mental health care, she said. Many of the younger veterans who killed themselves were receiving VA care but not mental health care, Thompson said.Returning soldiers are given a medical and mental health assessment twice within the first 90 days after they leave active duty, Johnson said.“Part of why we do this is to identify what needs they have and get them the services they need right away,” he said, adding “We take the safety of our veterans very seriously.”

Criticism of VA’s treatment of returning troops persistsCarlisle resident Craig Williamson levels a criticism that is common among veterans and their families: “The VA system isn’t working or we wouldn’t have these suicides rates.”The 68-year-old Vietnam veteran said he has battled PTSD since he returned in 1969. Unable to get the help he needed from the VA, Williamson said he has found relief through holistic medicine and adopting positive thinking techniques to battle negative emotions.Williams recently began a veteran’s support group that meets from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays at Bosler Memorial Library in Carlisle.“I tried everything the VA had to offer as well as my own private counseling,’’ Williamson said. “Many veterans like me get discouraged because they get in the VA system and they don’t see themselves getting better.”In response to such concerns, Thompson said the department is ramping up suicide prevention efforts with dramatically increased staff and outreach efforts.She said the department has increased staff by 50 percent at the Veteran Crisis Line national hotline (1-800-273-8255 and press 1) and is using social media to connect with veterans, such as the Veterans chat service, available 24 hours a day at www.veteranscrisisline.net.The VA is also making peer specialists — trained veterans who are in successful recovery from their own mental health issues — available to work with veterans at all VA centers, she said.Johnson said the VA has its own National Center for PTSD and there are PTSD critical care teams in place at the Lebanon and Camp Hill locations. The Lebanon VA Medical Center and six community-based outpatient VA clinics, such as the one in Camp Hill, are prepared to see veterans with behavioral health issues the same day they seek help, he said.

Combat veterans or families of those who have been killed in action can receive counseling services at two VA centers located in Harrisburg and Lancaster. A new 43-bed Residential Rehabilitation and Recovery Center will open at the Lebanon VA Medical Center by summer.“

If someone is known to be high risk for suicide, we have a system where those veterans are flagged or put on a list so whenever they go to the VA to see a podiatrist or anyone in the facility, their medical record will immediately show they are at high risk or recently had a suicide attempt,” Thompson said. "The provider can then ask follow-up questions to gauge how they are doing and whether they are still feeling suicidal.''Doctors say there is no way of knowing who will suffer from PTSD.“You can have two people in the same traumatic situation and one will develop PTSD and the other not. It’s a combination of nature and nurture and that specific event,” said Dr. Scott Bunce, clinical psychologist atPenn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “You’re more likely to develop PTSD if you have a genetic predisposition toward anxiety or if you’ve had some significant trauma in your childhood.”A family’s painful experienceThe Freedmans knew Dane was suffering with chilling memories that haunted his days and nights.“I noticed a difference in him,” said his 22-year-old sister, Rachelle Freedman. “I remember being in the backyard with him and a plane went overhead and you could tell he was really uneasy. Any little sound would put him on guard. He would never stand with his back to a door.”Often smells or sounds associated with the trauma can create a stress response in those with PTSD, Bunce said. For someone who has been in combat, the sound of a car backfiring can bring on a stress response, he said.At night, Dane slept with his gun in his hand and he often kept it on his belt during the day. He suffered terrible nightmares.For a young man who watched the images of Sept. 11 on television and signed up to serve his country as soon as he graduated from Camp Hill High School in 2007, the disappointment he felt about the country’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan was keen, his family said.

His parents say Dane struggled with a feeling that what he did overseas was pointless; he never felt like his mission was completed.Dane was sent to Iraq in August 2008 and to Afghanistan in November 2009. There, two of his best buddies were killed and his family thinks part of Dane died along with them. After his four- year commitment was up, Dane was honorably discharged in June 2011.Once home, Dane struggled with how to return to civilian life, having seen what he had seen.“They tell you that you’re probably going to die there and then when you do come home, you’re thinking, ‘I wasn’t supposed to come home. Now what do I do?'” said Dane’s father, Ronald Freedman.In the fall of 2011, Dane enrolled at Penn State University’s main campus as an environmental science major, but mounting anxiety prevented him from succeeding. He received a disability medical discharge from Penn State that fall as well.In April 2012, he checked himself into the Lebanon VA Medical Center, where he was given a diagnosis of depression and bipolar disorder, which devastated him, his parents said. His family never believed the diagnosis was correct.It wasn't until early 2013 that Dane was officially diagnosed with PTSD, although he knew he had the symptoms of it.“It was a circus,” said Ronald Freedman, referring to the treatment Dane got at the VA. He was switched from one counselor to another and he was put on and off many antidepressants and mood stabilizers by different doctors, his father said.His mother still has a large basket of nearly full pill bottles, representing all the medications he was prescribed, many of which listed suicidal thoughts as a side effect. “He kept getting these pills in the mail even after they had been discontinued,” Donnamarie Freedman said. “It was like no one was monitoring what he was taking.”Dane had already told his mother that he wanted to kill himself. “He had extreme survivor’s guilt,” she said. From his journal entries, the Freedmans know that Dane thought about how he would do it and how it would affect his family.Johnson said he could not comment on specific cases and it would be speculation to comment on whether patients are routinely shifted from one therapist to another.Thompson, however, said the scenario sounds unusual. Sometimes, if a patient and a counselor aren't a good match or if the counselor is reassigned to another position, a patient will receive a new counselor, she said.“Overall, in my experience, these transitions are fairly seamless and bring the treatment team into play,'' she said.

Collaborative effort neededThe National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest mental health grassroots organization, has stated that the lack of access to treatment and community-based support for veterans with severe mental illness is one of the greatest unmet needs in the VA. In a recent report on mental health needs of military and veterans, NAMI called military suicide “a national crisis.”However, the VA’s efforts are improving, according to Jean Moore, manager of military and veterans’ policy and support at NAMI, based in Arlington, Va.“I deal with a lot of mental health professionals in the VA and I do feel they are doing better. We know the VA has its hands full,” she said.In fact, Moore said, it is unreasonable to expect that the VA alone could possibly care for all the veterans who need care.Moore, who fields calls from veterans and their families who are dealing with mental health issues like PTSD, said there is a great need for coordinated service and for outreach to those who may be struggling but hesitate to admit it or try to hide it.“It’s a huge amount of work and will only increase as soldiers return so there is a need for community organizations, providers and neighbors, everyone to collaborate. The question is ‘How?’” she said. “The system can be so hard for the families to navigate and so often they feel like no one is listening. More emphasis and energy has to be put toward how we embrace veterans together.”

Masking the painOftentimes, Dane Freedman would paste a smile on his face and say everything was fine.“I’d always offer to talk to him,” said his brother Daniel Freedman, 44, a police detective in Carlisle.”He’d always say ‘I’m cool.’”Although Dane told them little of what he had seen in combat, his parents said they have since heard from soldiers who served with him and their parents. Three other soldiers who served with Dane have also taken their lives, Dane’s parents said.“The father of one of them is in counseling himself after hearing what his son dealt with,” Donnamarie Freedman said. “The machine gunners are the first ones to see all the action, the first ones up out of the turret. They really protect the troops.”For Dane's family, nights turned into silent vigils, with either his mother or sister keeping watch over Dane as he struggled to fall asleep.“I thought to myself, ‘If I wait here, he’ll be alive in the morning,” said Donnamarie tearfully. “When he was asleep, I’d take the gun from his hands.”The Freedmans watched their son go from 160 pounds to 130 pounds. At one point, he was taking 21 different pills a day.For almost a year, Dane never left the house and barely left his bedroom.

The final strawThen, Donnamarie Freedman had the idea to get her son a puppy – something to take care of and love. Although Dane initially balked at the work of housebreaking Lager, the German shepherd pup, the two grew to be the best of friends.Finally, Dane was sleeping with Lager in his arms instead of a gun.“He was singing in the shower, swimming in the pool again with the dog. I told Donnamarie, ‘I think we got our son back,’” Ronald said. “Lager did what no psychologist, therapist, clergy, mother, father or anyone could do. Lager changed his life.”Dane trained Lager as a service dog and took him everywhere he went.Then, unexpectedly, at just 14 months of age, Lager died of a heart attack.“I saw the life drain out of Dane’s face,” his sister Rachelle said.His mother added, “I never saw Dane cry as much as he did when his dog died. He told me, “Mom, he brought me from the depths of hell and taught me to love again. I have such a hole in my heart.”She paused and added, “He decided to fill that hole with a bullet.”On Dec. 13, Dane texted his mother, “I’m saved Mom!”Minutes latehe shot himself in the heart. He was in the parking lot of a restaurant in Hanover. His family is convinced he chose a location they don’t frequent to spare them further pain.“People ask me if I’m angry at him; I could never be angry with my son,” Donnamarie said. “We feel like he really tried to stay alive for us.”Although the grief is sometimes unbearable, his family says they wouldn’t wish him back.“He was suffering so much. How can I be so selfish to want him to keep suffering? I know he’s in heaven and he’s at peace,” his mother said.The family treasures photos of Dane on their many vacations, in their backyard pool, at his base in Hawaii, with his girlfriend just weeks before he died.“He chose death over everything he had here; that must’ve been some pain,” his father said.The Freedmans bear no grudges against the military but they do question the support — or lack of support — they say their son received from Veterans Affairs.“I went with him to one of his appointments at the VA and the counselor told him he needed to stop being a child. To call him a child when he already felt so degraded was a terrible thing to do,” Donnamarie said. After Dane left the room, his mother said the counselor told her that her son was doing this “for attention.”Thompson said the VA is constantly addressing concerns that families raise and she would be interested to know the particulars of the Freedman case.  “That sounds like it is not in the best interests of the veteran at all,'' she said when told what Dane's parents said their son experienced. "That is not the quality of care that we would be happy about at the VA.''Added Johnson: “The death of any veteran is a tragic loss to the nation and to the family. We experience it too, not to the level of the family; but we feel it too.”

Making a difference for othersThe Freedman family is on a crusade to write a different ending for other returning soldiers.The family has established the Corporal Dane Freedman Suicide Awareness Scholarship Fund at Integrity Bank in Camp Hill. In addition to scholarships, they want to use some of the money to purchase service dogs for veterans. They also set up a memorial website, www.danefreedman.com, to gather information on PTSD, links to resources and related news.Since Dane’s death, his parents say the only correspondence they have had from the VA was a letter requesting that Dane’s $129 military disability check for the month of December be returned. To learn moreThe Freedman family has set up a memorial website,www.danefreedman.com, to gather information on PTSD, links to resources and related news. They have also established the Corporal Dane Freedman Suicide Awareness Scholarship Fund at Integrity Bank in Camp Hill.

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Young Veterans Return to U.S. With Post Traumatic Stress. Estimates Are That 18 Veterans Die By Suicide Every Day.

Veterans and Suicide

By Rick Maze
Staff writer, Army Times

Troubling new data show there are an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department.Seven percent of the attempts are successful, and 11 percent of those who don't succeed on the first attempt try again within nine months.The numbers, which come at a time when VA is strengthening its suicide prevention programs, show about 18 veteran suicides a day, about five by veterans who are receiving VA care.

Access to care appears to be a key factor, officials said, noting that once a veteran is inside the VA care program, screening programs are in place to identify those with problems, and special efforts are made to track those considered at high risk, such as monitoring whether they are keeping appointments.

A key part of the new data shows the suicide rate is lower for veterans aged 18 to 29 who are using VA health care services than those who are not. That leads VA officials to believe that about 250 lives have been saved each year as a result of VA treatment.VA's suicide hotline has been receiving about 10,000 calls a month from current and former service members. 

The number is 1-800-273-8255.  

Dr. Janet Kemp, VA's national suicide prevention coordinator, credits the hotline with rescuing 7,000 veterans who were in the act of suicide — in addition to referrals, counseling and other help.Suicide attempts by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans remains a key area of concern. In fiscal 2009, which ended Sept. 30, there were 1,621 suicide attempts by men and 247 by women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, with 94 men and four women dying.

In general, VA officials said, women attempt suicide more often, but men are more likely to succeed in the attempt, mainly because women use less lethal and less violent means while men are more likely to use firearms.

[The rate is lower, however, among veterans aged 19-29 who are receiving services when compared to those who are not currently receiving care through the VA.
The suicide rate is also impacted by high levels of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in young veterans who served in one of these regions. One study at the San Francisco VA hospital found that veterans were less likely to complete PTSD treatment if they were male, under the age of 25, living in a rural area or received a PTSD diagnosis from a primary care clinic rather than a mental health program.]

Suicide attempts among veterans appear to follow those trends, officials said.

While the VA is implementing programs to address these challenges, there are also many supports available for veterans. Perhaps the most important number for veterans in distress is the suicide hotline with counseling specifically for military service members and veterans. Counselors experienced in the specific stressors that military members face are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 273-8255.


A New Trend: Smoking Alcohol

There is a New Concern 
Among Addiction Professionals:
Smoking Alcohol.

Energy Drinks 

Questionable Motives of Marketing Beverages to Adolescents and Young Adults Containing Caffeine Equivalent to 24 Cups of Coffee. 

Alcohol Mixed With Energy Drinks Makes You Want To Drink More, Study Says

A small study shows people drinking vodka Red Bulls makes them want to drink more, writes Time.  A recent Australian study found that when people drink alcohol with energy drinks they have a stronger desire to keep drinking compared to people who drank vodka mixed with soda.
The study was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. 
Researchers assigned 75 participants between the ages 18 and 30 to either drink only alcohol, or drink alcohol mixed with an energy drink, writes Time.

The people who were assigned to the energy drink group received a 60 ml of vodka and a Red Bull energy drink.  The other group drank a vodka soda mix.  The researchers also added some fruity beverage added to all of the drinks so they did not taste terrible.  The participants were then asked to fill out questionnaires about their drinking experience before and after.

The alcohol-energy drink imbibers had a stronger desire to continue drinking compared to the group just drinking vodka and soda, writes Time.

The researchers noted that although the participants in the study drank the same amount, there could be some pretty significant implications if there happens to be something about drinking alcohol with energy drinks that makes people want to keep boozing, writes Time.

As people get more tipsy, it can become harder for them to cut themselves off.
The study is small and preliminary, but there is a growing interest in how energy drinks and alcohol interact in the body.

The energy drink industry is continuing to grow starting as a $3.8 billion business globally in 1999 to $27.5 billion in 2013, according to market research firm Euromonitor, writes Time.

Knowing the spectrum of their effects is important for safe socializing. Binge drinking is a problem in many areas - leading to hospitalizations and expensive accidents. 

Co-occurring Disorders, Parts 2 and 3 - The Link Between PTSD and Substance Use Disorders

"Advancements in Neuropsychiatry"

Transhumanism: DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Develops Implant to for PTSD, Substance Abuse, Impaired Memory & Mental Health.

Would you put a chip in your head if it could prevent
addictions, PTSD, depression and memory loss?

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has been developing an implant for Soldiers' Co-Occurring Disorders Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Substance Abuse and Overall Mental Health.

There's a high incidence of mental illness reported among soldiers compared with the general population -- in fact, one in nine medical discharges is due to mental illness, according to US Army statistics. This is not surprising. If you ask people to see and do horrific things, it will likely impact them in pretty significant ways.

DARPA is developing implant to monitor the brain in real time.  In a bid to improve the mental health of soldiers and veterans, DARPA has launched a $70 million project to create an implant that tracks neuron activity and provides quantifiable brain data.

If successful, it will advance neuropsychiatry beyond the realm of dialogue-driven observations and resultant trial and error and into the realm of therapy driven by quantifiable characteristics of neural state," DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez said. "Subnets is a push toward innovative, informed, and precise neurotechnological therapy to produce major improvements in quality of life for service members and veterans who have very few options with existing therapies. 

These are patients for whom current medical understanding of diseases like chronic pain or fatigue, unmanageable depression or severe post-traumatic stress disorder can't provide meaningful relief."

DARPA will collate data from volunteers seeking treatment for unrelated neurological disorders as well as clinical research participants to construct models of how the brain behaves in normal and impaired conditions, with a focus on post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, borderline personality disorder, general anxiety disorder, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse/addiction, and fibromyalgia/chronic pain. It hopes to have its device ready in five years.


January 25, 2016

An advisory committee recommended Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve an implant designed to reduce addicts' cravings for heroin or prescription painkillers.

The implant, probuphine, provides a steady dose of buprenorphine, which has been shown to ease withdrawal symptoms, decrease cravings and cut the risk of relapse. Buprenorphine is currently available only as a pill or dissolvable film that's placed under the tongue. Although it can be life-saving, it carries major risks: some addicts sell their supplies to get money for other drugs.

Probuphine's manufacturer, New Jersey-based Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, says the implant eliminates that risk. The FDA typically follows committees' advice.

Probuphine's development comes at a time when addiction to opiates — which include illegal drugs such as heroin, as well as prescription painkillers such as morphine and OxyContin — has been called an epidemic.

The death rate from drug overdoses more than doubled from 1999 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug overdoses now kill 44,000 Americans a year – more than car accidents.

At the advisory panel's meeting Tuesday, several witnesses described how opiate addiction has harmed them or their families. Two fathers described how their sons died from drug overdoses, and both asked the committee to recommend approving probuphine.

Medications to treat addiction are strictly regulated.

Methadone is available only at specialized clinics, where patients typically must go every day to receive a dose. Buprenorphine is considered safer than methadone because it's less likely to cause an overdose. Patients can receive buprenorphine at a doctor's office, but physicians prescribing the drug must be certified to dispense it and are only allowed to treat 100 patients at a time.

Like all pills, buprenorphine can be accidentally swallowed by children. About 1 million people took buprenorphine in 2012, according to the FDA.

The White House has recommended expanding the use of medications that treat opiate addiction. Addicts who are given such "medication-assisted treatment" cut their risk of death in half, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The medications also halve a person's risk of becoming infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.


Advocates push to expand use of medications to treat addiction
Probuphine works like a contraceptive implant, such as Norplant. Four implanted rods, each smaller than a match stick, provide a steady amount of medication for up to 6 months. The FDA is considering approving it for a specific population: "stable" patients who are already taking the dissolvable buprenorphine film at a low dose. The committee voted 12-5 in favor of probuphine.

"I think this will save some folks' lives," said advisory committee member David Pickar, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore.

Doctors who want to prescribe probuphine would have to refer patients to providers trained to implant medical devices, or undergo training to learn how to safely implant and remove it, said Behshad Sheldon, president and CEO of Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, who spoke at Tuesday's advisory committee hearing.

Implanting probuphine takes 10 to 15 minutes and removing it takes about 20 minutes, said Steven Chavoustie, a physician involved in a clinical trial of the device.

Pharmacist Tracy Rupp urged the committee to reject probuphine, noting that its manufacturer presented only one clinical study showing the drug was effective.
In the study, doctors compared the use of probuphine implants and buprenorphine film, Sheldon said. Patients in the study were considered "stable" because they had been safely using the films. After 6 months, 85% of those given probuphine tested negative for illegal drugs, compared to 72% of those given the film.

The study had multiple flaws, said Rupp, director of public health policy initiatives at the National Center for Health Research, a nonpartisan group that analyzes health data.

Some missing urine tests were counted as negative, as if the patient had no drugs in their system. But Rupp noted that people addicted to opiates "often skip tests to avoid a positive test." That could skew the results, Rupp said.

"It is disappointing that the advisory committee set such a low bar for safety and effectiveness," Rupp said after the vote. "Is probuphine effective? We still don't know because the study was poorly designed and missing data."

Judith Kramer, the committee's acting chairwoman, said she voted against recommending probuphine's approval because doctors don't yet know if it's effective for more than 6 months. Many people who are addicted to opiates need to take medication for years, she added.

"We all desperately want something to be available" to treat opiate addiction, said Kramer, a professor emerita at Duke University in Durham, N.C. Yet she added: "I’m very concerned about the precedent this sets."


Addiction treatment hard to find, even as overdose deaths soar
Some addiction specialists say they're concerned about probuphine's safety.

Doctors don't yet know how to safely transition patients from buprenorphine films to the implant, said pharmacist Tracy Rupp, director of public health policy initiatives at the National Center for Health Research, a nonpartisan group that analyzes health data.

Rupp, who recommended the committee reject probuphine, said it takes up to four weeks for the implant to provide the same level of medication provided by the film strips. That suggests patients will need to continue taking buprenorphine by mouth for the first few weeks after receiving the implant, Rupp said.

Rupp said she's worried patients could relapse during that transition. "This is an unacceptable risk for stable patients," Rupp said.

Rupp also said the study didn't match the demographics of addicts in real life, noting 84% of the patients in the study were white. Jennifer Higgins, the committee's acting consumer representative, said she would like the FDA to require studies in more diverse populations.

"This is not the real world of opioid addiction," Rupp said. "Many of these patients will require treatment for years. We need long-term safety data from diverse populations. Patients will require a new incision every 6 months, creating an ongoing risk of harm due to bleeding and infectious complications."


February 18, 2016

As reported by CBS News Correspondent Dr. Max Gomez, medical devices are wireless and are all connected to a centralized computer network, making these devices quite vulnerable to hackers.In a previous discussion, I reported that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has created a chip implanted in the brain to prevent addictions, PTSD, depression, and memory loss intended at this time for soldiers in the military. I wonder if and how DARPA's microchip is protected from hacking.


Ibogaine: Suppressed Addiction Cure or Just Hype?

Ibogaine, Known and Researched Since the 1960's, is Touted By Some To Be a Cure for Drug Addiction.

Ibogaine, illegal in United States, has been used for years in other countries.  It is a compound derived from the Iboga plant and is a very powerful hallucinogen.  It is described as a journey inside one's mind where thoughts are clear to the addicted client.  It is used on average of 1-3 times in the course of Ibogaine treatment according to patient and provider sources.

Farhad Garda, owner of Ibogaine Therapy House in Za, South Africa commented "I have been administering Ibogaine for 6 years. It's ability to "interrupt" the addiction cycle is beyond question."

On its LinkedIn site, pharmaceutical distributor, Ibogaine Pharma Ltd notes "Ibogaine is a new therapy for chemical dependence that eliminates physical withdrawal signs and interrupts drug craving behavior. It is both a therapeutic and psychoactive addiction-breaker. It helps in breaking both drug and alcohol addictions."

The Cross Section of Addiction and Politics

Unfortunately, the United States began to research the drug about 50 years ago, but made a decision not to pursue studies on its effectiveness. 
It is also a very expensive procedure.  

We need more research done to determine whether a cure for addiction has been suppressed or if it is just hype.  

Many Americans fly to other locations where the drug is legal, such as Canada, Mexico and South Africa.  

In Gabon, iboga is seen as a sacred medicine (the original word boghaga literally means “to care for”). Sometimes referred to as the “Holy Wood”, each community has a nganga (chief healer) who is responsible for leading ceremonies of initiation and other healing ceremonies. Iboga has been used as a sacrament by the Bwiti for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

In 1864 a French doctor is the first Westerner to discover the root and bring it to France, where a botanist names it Tabernanathe iboga H. bn (as is often done, he gave the plant his initials, because clearly he discovered it even though African people have been using it intentionally for eons).

But it’s not until 1901 that two French scientists extract the easiest alkaloid to produce from the plant and name it ibogaine. Ibogaine then goes through several manifestations as a prescription drug to combat fatigue in low doses under the name Lambarene, which remains on the market until ibogaine is eventually banned in the United States in the 1960’s.

(A Personal Favorite and Brutally Honest Depiction of Topical Issues)
Helping to raise public awareness about Ibogaine while keeping up with the changing political and psychiatric times, Viacom and Showtime's "Homeland" educated its viewers last season of Alternative Drug Treatments Occurring Outside the United States.

While Claire Daines delivered a brilliant portrayal of a CIA agent with ipolar Disorder, Mandy Patinkin provided an excellent performance of a drug addicted CIA Director in withdrawal who turns to Ibogaine for a rapid detoxification.  

By introducing the mainstream public to alternative drug treatment suppressed in the US due to politics and money, perhaps rumors that the United States will resume research on Ibogaine are more likely to come true.