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The Painful Reality Behind Opioid Addiction



Source: Kaisha Young

“It started getting to the point where I would stick a needle in my arm and pray I wouldn’t wake up, just so I didn’t have to do it anymore.”

Jonathan Truncellito grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and deployed overseas. During his fourth year of service, he shattered his jaw and was prescribed Percocet.

“That’s really where my problems started,” he says.

He began upping his dosages, abusing his prescription, and quickly spiraled out of control.

“I became a very distant person. The only reason I would let somebody in was because I had a reason to use them.”

To fund his addiction, he stole from his parents and friends.

“I actually stole from my nephew’s birthday card because I knew it had money in it that I needed.”

Truncellito’s story is all too familiar.

Opioid addiction in the U.S. has been on the rise since the 90’s, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

The rise can be largely contributed to the misinformation put out by pharmaceutical companies. Although pharmaceutical companies say otherwise, these drugs are highly addictive. Doctors started prescribing opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet. Subsequently, the misuse of prescription opioids skyrocketed.

The ASAM estimates that of the 20.5 million Americans aged 12 or older who had a substance abuse disorder in 2015, two million of them were addicted to prescription opioids.

Research also shows that rural areas in the U.S. are particularly at risk for opioid addiction.

Michael Arflin, a detective at the Clemson City Police Department in South Carolina, is well aware of its effect on communities like his.

“Around here, all kinds of people are abusing all kinds of opioids. Whether it’s prescription pills like Vicodin, OxyContin, or the more illicit items like heroin,” he reveals.

A recent trend he’s seen in upstate SC is the rise of fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid. This substance, along with another called carfentanil, has started being used to cut heroin.

According to the DEA, carfentanil, which was designed as an elephant tranquilizer, is lethal for human consumption. Arflin believes some rural areas simply aren’t equipped to properly deal with opioid addiction.

“The rate of addiction is outpacing our knowledge of how to handle it, so we’re trying our best to catch up,” he says.

At the height of his addiction, Truncellito’s mother locked him in his old room until he found somewhere safe to go.

That led him to Solutions Recovery Center in Greenville, SC. There, he underwent detox and graduated from the program in 2015. He credits the program for saving his life.

“Solutions gave me a second chance. When I was addicted, I couldn’t see my life being any other way. But here I am.”

He now serves as a sober living director at Solutions. “It’s a very rewarding feeling to see the change in people’s lives as they get sober.”

Truncellito worries about the effect the proposed health care bill might have on the opioid epidemic. Despite the claims Trump had made on the campaign trail to end the opioid crisis, his actual work in office has given recovering addicts cause for concern.

The proposed American Health Care Act is projected to cost millions of Americans their health insurance, which includes cuts to drug treatment coverage.

According to an analysis from The Hill, this could leave almost a quarter of a million Americans struggling with opioid addiction without adequate access to care. Additionally, a $100 million cut to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration could also affect
addiction services.

Experts believe the best way to approach the opioid epidemic is to invest more resources in drug addiction and treatment.

According to a 2016 Surgeon General analysis, addiction care is severely underfunded in the U.S. A mere 10% of Americans battling addiction are able to receive treatment. This is due to the shortage of treatment options offered by the government available to them.

“It’s a horrible thing,” he says. “To save the upper-class money, they’re cutting the programs that they think can be cut with minimal backlash. It’s gonna cost a lot of people their lives.”

By : Kaisha Young

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K-pop star Goo Hara has died at age 28 just months after suicide attempt




Source: Pexels

Korean pop star, Goo Hara, was found dead in her apartment on Sunday at her home in Seoul, South Korea. 

The young artist was just 28 years old. 

This tragic event was not foreseen in the slightest and has left many fans devastated at the loss of such a talented musician who was part of the five-part girl group, KARA. 

An investigation on the cause of Hara’s death is still underway. Taking into consideration Hara’s recent attempted suicide in March of this year, the possibility of her having killed herself seems to be a likely cause. 

March was a difficult time for Hara as her ex-boyfriend was attempting to blackmail her with threats of assault and the release of a sex video. Because of the terrible effect that this was having on Hara, her contract was soon terminated by her agency. 

Hara signed a new contract in June with a leading talent management agency in Japan. The agency, Production Ogi, helped Hara gain popularity and she appeared on TV shows and well-known fashion events in Japan. Hara soon released her solo Japanese single “Midnight Queen,” which was a hit. 

In October of this year, Hara lost her best friend, Choi Jin-ri, otherwise known as Sulli. The young singer and actress was also found dead in her home and the authorities have stated that it was most likely caused by suicide.

Sulli had been a member of the K-pop girl band, f(x). In recent years, there have been multiple deaths among young Korean pop artists and actors. Many were living with depression, dealing with abuse, and hiding all their pain under the elegant exterior of the entertainment industry. 

Major entertainment companies have resulted in celebrities being put on pedestals above the legions of fans. Celebrities are caught between their personal lives and the lives that fans prefer to see them living.

Fans obsess over every little thing that celebrities do. They are judged for what they wear, what they eat, what they say, and beyond.

Unfortunately, the lives that fans see, are covering the ugly truths that celebrities are constantly dealing with behind the scenes.

In Goo Hara’s case, she tried to live out a false persona for too long and therefore led to her to give up on not only the false life fans saw, but also her personal life.

By: Sydney Murphy

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Why Miley Cyrus’ Comments on How Queer Women “Don’t Have to Be Gay” is Problematic




Source: IG: mileycyrus

Words matter to the queer community. While a certain f word is more commonly used in problematic rhetoric aimed at us, it goes beyond that. Especially in the case of us “choosing our lifestyle”. Queer celebrity, Miley Cyrus, is now guilty of using this rhetoric.

In a recent Instagram story, Cyrus, and non-binary pansexual, made the following comment:

“Don’t give up. You don’t have to be gay, there are good people with di*** out there, you just gotta find them. You just gotta find a di** that’s not a di**, you know what I mean?”

Naturally, it gets worse.

“I always thought I had to be gay because I just thought all guys are evil, but that’s not true. There are good people out there that just happen to have dicks. I’ve only ever met one, and he’s on this live.”

Cyrus is an extremely vocal queer celebrity, having been open about their pansexuality and gender queerness, an intersection that is often ignored and discriminated against in the LGBTQ+ community. This is why her comments come as a shock to her fans and queer folk alike.

From the view of a queer person, it appears that Cyrus, a once very open and proud queer person, who arguably marketed the latest chapter of their career on their queerness, is now making it seem like being queer is something those losing in love choose. This is disgusting.

I am a queer person. I’ve known since I was twelve. I came out to close friends at the age of fourteen. I was outed at the age of fifteen to most of the kids in my grade. I tried killing myself shortly after.

I knew if my family found out, I would without a doubt be pushed away. I knew that some of my peers would ostracize me. I knew I would struggle no matter where I went. So why would I choose that type of life? I wouldn’t.

I did not choose to feel unsafe holding my first girlfriend’s hand in high school. I did not choose to have to be worried about potential business prospects finding out about my identity.

I did not choose to have an identity that’s even ignored by other people in the LGBTQ+ community. I sure did not choose to even entertain Cyrus’ ignorant comments.

Myself and millions of others who have their safety, livelihood, and lives threatened want Cyrus’ ignorant statement to be a teaching moment for those both inside and outside the LGBTQ+ community.

First and foremost, it’s not a choice. It never has been and never will be. While there are plenty of cisgender heterosexual people that are awesome and make great partners for queer people, they’re also the largest perpetrators of hate crimes toward the LGBTQ+ community, as well as just not really some queer folks type.

The second lesson, and a very overlooked fact amongst queer people, is that just because you belong to a marginalized community, doesn’t mean you can’t be problematic, or use your marginalized identity to defend your ignorant behavior.

By: Madison Starr

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Why People Are Really Mad at Ellen DeGeneres




Source: Flickr

In the latest news of people being mad about something a celebrity chose to in their personal life, the internet is pretty ticked off at Ellen DeGeneres.

It all began with a photo of DeGeneres and George W. Bush sitting together at a football game.

The unlikely duo appeared at the Packers v. Cowboys game, with their respective wives, cheering on their respective teams. But due to the polarity of their respective political ideologies, Bush and DeGeneres made an enormous splash in the media.

Ellen DeGeneres is an LGBTQ+ woman who works in the entertainment industry as a comedian.

George W. Bush is a conservative right-wing figurehead found guilty on several counts of war crimes due to his involvement in Iraq.

On the Ellen show, people get upset at LGBTQ comedian, Ellen DeGeneres for befriending George.W.Bush, and it goes controversial.
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Those two descriptions do not mesh very well together.

But do they go so far as to barr the possibility of friendship? Not according to the woman herself, Ellen DeGeneres.

A brief segment on her talk show explained the comedian’s point of view, defending the relationship behind the incriminating photograph and referring to Bush as her friend.

“When I say, ‘be kind to one another,’ I don’t only mean the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”

From a woman who lives with every opportunity to face historical discrimination for her gender, sexuality, or profession, an olive branch was extended to a highly controversial former president.

At the root of all this drama, it seems clear that the internet is up in arms over the fact that the same kindness would not likely be dealt from the other side.

Condemning Bush for his injustices and shortcomings has been the trend for several years now, but only after this altercation did it jump back into the spotlight.

Other big names, such as Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo, stood up to voice their distaste for DeGeneres’s act of peace, flooding Twitter with their disappointment.

But these naysayers did not run unopposed, facing the likes of Orlando Bloom, Lenny Kravitz, and Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and dozens more on the supporting side.

Reaching across the aisle has never been a trending topic for this long before.

Encouraging conservatives to open their minds to the liberal values has been widely accepted as a good, progressive step in ensuring peace for our generation.

Unfortunately for our egalitarian utopia, Ellen DeGeneres sitting next to George W. Bush at a football game has effectively proven that open-mindedness is not the two-way street that the world thought it was.

And the buck doesn’t stop there, because as always, someone had to bring Donald Trump into things.

CNN editor, Chris Cillizza, named DeGeneres’s standing on the topic “anti-Trumpism,” adding yet another layer of controversial Republican presidential gravitas into the mix in the worst possible way. 

The debate over whether or not DeGeneres and Bush could be friends ballooned out to include the most problematic election and presidency the country has ever seen.

Those against the DeGeneres-Bush alliance used the introduction of Trump to fuel their arguments, steering this scandal in a whole new direction.

And so a simple seating arrangement at a sports game sparked an internet wildfire.

Whether or not the once-beloved Ellen will be ‘cancelled’ remains to be seen. This is a viral culture that loves to permanently shun celebrities for acting in ways the masses don’t agree with.

The question isn’t whether or not an across-the-aisle act of friendship is enough to condemn a beloved liberal icon—it should be enough—or should we take a page out of Ellen’s book and practice a little kindness?

By: Jordan Curiel

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