Let’s Keep Talking about Heroin

heroin spoonWhen an individual becomes an addict, they aren’t who they once were. A formerly honest person will lie, cheat, or steal to get their next fix. As a society we must be aware of how desperate this chain of deception can be, and how we can become ensnared in its web, despite our good intentions. For example, recently I was in a local drugstore when a seemingly frantic male approached me holding his cell phone in his hand. He told me that he had just spoken with his grandmother and was terribly embarrassed to ask, but he needed an additional $10.00 to buy a prescription for a loved one. His request tugged at my heartstrings. The young man dressed in a plaid cowboy shirt could sense my ardent desire to help, but what he couldn’t sense is that my compassion was checked by a painful past experience.

Years ago, this same story had caused me to give another stranger $20 to buy medicine for a non-existent sick child. I was a single mom back then, and that $20 was a large portion of our meager grocery budget. I found out later through a reputable source that my hard-earned money was used to buy drugs. My intentions were right, because the Bible says, “…if anyone has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” Still, I vowed to use greater wisdom. prescription pillsThat’s why I went to the pharmacy counter inquiring if there was a young man unable to pay for a prescription. I wanted to help anonymously, if the need was authentic. The drugstore clerk informed me that no one matching his description or situation had been there.

We have to use great caution continually, since headlines report fatal overdoses in area motel rooms, murders in nearby sleepy villages, and rampant crime everywhere. Most of it is heroin-related. Yet it’s easy to believe that heroin addiction will never affect someone you care about, until it does.

The trouble is that very few of us remain unscathed by this deadly epidemic. According to the most recent statistics reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 5,927 deaths in 2012 compared to 8,260 in 2013. That’s an alarming 39% increase. Over a decade ago, I experienced the loss of a close acquaintance to heroin. Back then, little was known about this cunning culprit. I was confused that its victim, a middle-aged mom who had spent much of her life as a professional woman, had been trapped in heroin’s clutches. Her funeral left many folks searching for answers. It seemed shocking that she had pulled off a double life, but it was not a shock to those close to her. They had lived with the chaos, fear, and unpredictability that loving an addict creates. No one could have forecast this treacherous path strewn with tears and hopelessness. After all, no little girl or boy says, “When I grow up, I want to be a heroin addict.” It must be a parent’s worst nightmare, and it’s definitely an extended family member and friend’s frustrating role. Often, we don’t speak of heroin addiction in our inner circle, lest we shame those already heaped with guilt. We are further silenced by our inability to provide answers.

angel grave marker'That’s why I started reading everything I could about the subject. I even found myself studying the local obituaries of those whose deaths seem to be heroin-related. Of course, it can be difficult to tell. A few months ago, I didn’t have to wonder if the young man with an engaging smile died of an overdose. His obituary read, “… [He] was taken away from us far too soon after fighting a battle for his life against heroin addiction.” My heart broke for his family, but it also swelled with pride that they had the courage to confront heroin head on. Not to bury the tragic truth with their loved one, instead to say that he fought valiantly, but lost the battle.

What that family did was of groundbreaking importance. They called the enemy out, and we need to have that same courage. To keep talking about the existence of heroin in our communities, and to be honest that as a relative, neighbor, churchgoer, or friend, our lives have probably already been personally impacted in some way. The first step in finding a solution is to accept that the problem is closer to home than we care to admit.

Christina at The CarolineChristina Ryan Claypool is an Ohio AP and national Amy award-winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her though her Website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com. She has been featured on CBN’s 700 Club and on Joyce Meyer’s Enjoying Everyday Life TV programs.

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Hearing Aids: A Legal Scam that Targets Seniors

 FreeIt works like this:

1) A company places an aid in the newspaper, on television, or via a mailing flyer advertising a “Free” hearing aid test. It’s a well known marketing fact, that the word, “Free,” will usually draw a significant response.

2) Seniors can be especially susceptible to this tactic, because they are often concerned about hearing loss due to aging. They are also quite frequently on a fixed budget, and the word, “Free,” can carry greater impact and enticement.

3) When they go for the free test, they naively offer their personal data filling out forms that appear to be for standard registration. From these forms, it may be rather simple to detect their financial status.

4) Then someone who appears to be a certified audiologist, that is a medical professional trained in ear disorders, administers what seems to be a legitimate hearing test. But this person is not an audiologist, although they might have some training, still they may be more of a high-pressure salesman disguised in a white lab coat.

5) Then this seemingly sympathetic specialist might relay the distressing news the individual being tested has already experienced some type of hearing loss. However, this astute salesman excitedly stresses the hopefulness of the situation by suggesting it can by rectified by purchasing hearing aids from their company which will restore an individual’s hearing insuring the senior’s continued quality of life. In reality, these devices which often cost thousands of dollars are of little value if not properly prescribed and wind up in a junk door.

photo (10)This very scenario happened to someone I love recently. I went with this relative for a free hearing test and heard the tragic verdict of hearing loss. I witnessed firsthand the distress and worry the patient immediately felt. But being an “old” investigative reporter by profession, I didn’t buy it. I began researching that specific company on the Internet and found several complaints lodged against them. I also investigated the background of the “gentleman” masquerading as a hearing doctor (although he never said that he was) and found that he was more of a trained salesman.

Better known as a hearing aid dispenser, past Ohio Revised Code only demanded that these individuals be: “18 years old, [of] good moral character [which I question in this case], free of contagious disease, [possess] a high school diploma, or equivalent education (GED) and pass [a] qualifying examination…’shall be a thorough testing of knowledge required for the proper selecting, fitting and sale of hearing aids, but shall not be such that a medical or surgical education is required…’”

Until recent years, an audiologist was an educated clinician dealing with a myriad of ear disorders who possessed a Master’s or Doctoral degree in Audiology and passed an examination for licensure. Two decades ago, realizing even this was not enough, the American Academy of Audiology “developed a four-year, post-bachelors curriculum for the professional doctorate in audiology.” In 2012, a doctoral degree became a requirement to become a nationally certified audiologist.ear

So, I called a real audiologist, one highly respected in her field, who is known for only prescribing hearing aids, when they are absolutely necessary. When she tested my relative, the credible audiologist found that his hearing was exceptional for an individual in his 60s. There was no hearing loss, and no need for hearing aids of any kind.

Of course, there are many individuals who do experience hearing loss as they age, and there are reputable professionals who try to help them. That’s why it’s critical, if you feel that you or someone you love might need help, please do some research. Check with your local hospital, Better Business Bureau, or individuals who have had success with their hearing aids. Also, use the Internet to Google and find out about the background of individuals who are treating you. Find a certified audiologist or a professional with extensive training in the field, who is accredited and recommended by others. After all, most of the complaints logged online represent people who have spent thousands of dollars on hearing aids that don’t work for them.

Don’t fall for the word, “Free,” when it comes to hearing, or anything else that pertains to your health.There are wolves in sheep’s clothing or white lab coats who will take advantage of you or the seniors you love, if you let them.

Christina Ryan Claypool is an AP and Amy award-winning journalist and Christian speaker. Her website is www.christinaryanclaypool.com

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How not to Help a Thief

Would you like to help someone rip you view detailsoff? If not, you might want to keep reading. To explain, about a decade ago, I was employed as a TV producer/reporter for a daily magazine show in west central Ohio. One of my jobs was to create, “How To,” segments for the program. I have to admit these vignettes weren’t worthy of much professional acclaim, but I hope they helped folks with their daily dilemmas.

You know, “tough” questions like, “How do you get spaghetti sauce out of a favorite blouse?” Or, “How to avoid burning up your kitchen pans when you cook dinner.” Admittedly, most of the features I produced concerned areas where I had my own practical problems. Therefore, I went in search of experts who could answer my questions.

If I were still producing these TV packages, I think a few local individuals could provide material for a, “How to help a thief,” feature. For example, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen some potentially dangerous scenarios that could invite the attention of an unscrupulous crook. But then have you ever met a robber with any scruples?

First, while driving in my neighborhood the other day, I saw a huge cardboard box that had contained a new TV at the curb, fully assembled and waiting for trash collection. Then while parking in a public lot, I spied an empty automobile with a tempting purse and cell phone in visible sight.

That’s when I decided to ask Sheriff John Lenhart for some advice on how to keep ourselves and our possessions safe. The Ohio Shelby County sheriff says that robberies statistically increase with warmer weather simply because it’s “easier [for criminals] to move around.”

According to the law enforcement official who is currently serving his sixth term, there are, “Three parts to a crime including: 1) the intent of the individual, 2) the opportunity which you give those persons, and 3) the skill level” [of the perpetrator.]

When it comes to opportunity, “We allow ourselves to be vulnerable,” he said. Referring to my above examples, Sheriff Lenhart cautioned that it is not wise to leave “valuable items in eyesight,” in a car. In addition, when discarding an electronics box, you should “turn it inside out.” If not, he says, “That’s almost like a billboard, advertising that you’ve got something new.”

He also encouraged residents to alert neighbors or law enforcement agencies if they are going on vacation and leaving their homes vacant. “If the newspapers pile up, the trash sits out and nobody picks it up, [it becomes] pretty obvious nobody’s home,” said the seasoned sheriff.

Warning folks that today’s crime also involves stealing personal information is important to Sheriff Lenhart. “We live in a pretty technical world…check your credit accounts, keep track of receipts, and watch your debit card transfers,” he urged. “Keep a mindful eye that there are a lot of people out there…trying to take advantage of us.”

When it comes to a scam, the sheriff reminds people of the famous saying, “If it is too good to be true, it’s probably not true” Like the phone caller who reports, “Gee, you’ve won the Mexican lottery.” Some unsuspecting victims have fallen for the scam, even though they’ve never played the lottery.

Sheriff Lenhart has a special concern for the vulnerability of senior citizens who can be taken advantage of by unprincipled business people. “Do not do business with people you don’t know,” he said emphatically.

“We just had two persons pay substantial money…who had pavement put down on their driveways…. [the pavers] had put shoddy work down and [used] lousy material,” said the county officer. Sadly, the residents wrote checks for the work, making financial recovery difficult. The sheriff advises seniors to call the Better Business Bureau, a neighbor, or an adult child to ask advice about utilizing specific businesses for services. Scam artists rely on individuals agreeing to their terms without getting input from outside sources.

It would be wonderful if the world were filled with only trustworthy individuals. But Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, and there are real life criminals. As responsible consumers, we have to take our rose-tinted glasses off, and protect ourselves from loss. In closing, the Sheriff advises, “A lot of time, [with] these scams everything has to be done in a real hurry…slow the whole process down, so you can check them out…”

Parting advice from the road less traveled, just like the sheriff said, “slow the whole process down,” by turning the stove’s heat down to make your pans last longer to avoid burning them, also. As for the spaghetti sauce, treating the stain with a little Dawn or Palmolive dishwashing detergent prior to washing should do the trick. Sorry, I couldn’t resist sharing my hard-earned knowledge. Until next time….stay safe.

Christina Ryan Claypool is an award winning journalist and Christian speaker. Contact her through her Website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com. This column was originally published in the Sidney Daily News on June 6, 2012. 

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