Infant Survived Potential Kidnapping, Car Crash While Dad Bought Xanax

The father of a nine-month old baby girl who went missing overnight this past July is facing multiple felony charges because police say he was inside his dealer’s house buying drugs when his car, left running with his baby inside, went missing out of the driveway.

According to the Parrish Police Department, 9-month-old Harlow Freeman was first reported missing on Monday, July 10 by her father, 30-year-old Madison Jo Rilee Freeman of Jasper, Alabama. 

“On July 10th, 2023, the Parrish Police Department was notified of a 9-month-old child that was left inside of a vehicle located at 311 Crest Avenue in Parrish. The father, Jo Rilee Freeman, reported to officers that he left the child inside the running vehicle while he went inside to visit his friends,” said the Parrish Police Department in a Facebook post. 

Police said the results of their months-long investigation revealed Freeman had lied about what he had been doing inside the house and he had actually been inside purchasing a prescription anxiety medication called Xanax, which is often abused for its extremely sedative and tranquilizing effects.

“The investigation has revealed the father, Jo Rilee Freeman, drove to 311 Crest Avenue and was conducting a drug transaction with Rodney Thomas while inside the residence,” Parrish Police said. “The father was made aware while he was inside the residence that his car was no longer in the driveway. He drove around for several minutes looking for his car then notified the police. A handgun and other narcotics were recovered from the residence.”   

An AMBER alert was issued and according to Police Chief Danny Woodard, over 100 law enforcement units arrived to help find Harlow within 30 minutes of the alert.

“The child was located inside the vehicle 12 hours later. The vehicle was approximately 80 yards down a steep embankment across the street from the house completely covered in kudzu,” Parrish Police said.

What happened to little Harlow between the time her father went into his suspected dealer’s house and the time she was found the next morning is still relatively unclear. The vehicle was found just across the street down a steep ravine the next morning, shrouded from view by thick patches of vines.  Parrish Police have said they do not have a suspect in custody for the suspected kidnapping or car theft. 

“It was impossible to see,” Chief Woodard said about the location of the vehicle. “The area was searched multiple times through the night.”

Harlow was dehydrated but ok when they found her, according to police. In a stroke of blind luck for the infant, a rear window of the vehicle had been broken in a previous and completely unrelated incident so the baby had plenty of fresh air overnight. She was taken to the hospital to be evaluated but was in “good” condition when Chief Woodard gave a press conference update to the situation in July.

“Considering the situation this was the best case scenario for us to find the child alive and well, dehydrated, but going to [have] a 100 percent recovery.” Chief Woodard said. 

I found a lot of speculation saying the Dad forgot to apply the parking brake and the vehicle rolled into the ravine backwards but I also found plenty of speculation saying that didn’t happen and Chief Woodard has given few details other than to say that “Anything is possible, and everything is being evaluated.” Police also said they received many reports of the vehicle in question leaving the area at a high rate of speed.

Warrants were issued and subsequent arrests made for Madison Jo Rilee Freeman and his alleged dealer, Rodney Thomas as well as a third person, 19-year-old Mason Chappel whose involvement in the case was not immediately clear. 

Freeman was charged with conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime and endangering the welfare of a child. Thomas was charged with conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. He also had six grams of meth and assorted prescription pills on him when he was arrested. Chappel was charged with interfering with governmental operations. A call to the Parrish Police Department to inquire who Chappel is and what he had to do with this case was not returned in time for publication.

“I would like to thank all the agencies and the Walker County District Attorney’s for the many hours of hard work that went into this investigation. While we are still seeking answers to this case the investigation will continue,” Chief Woodard said.

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Ketamine Shows Promise in Treating Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Sub-anesthetic ketamine infusions, which are already used for treatment-resistant depression (TRD), may also help people through benzodiazepine withdrawal, new research published in Neuropsychopharmacology reports. 

Benzodiazepines (often abbreviated as “BZDs” or better known as “benzos”) are a class of psychoactive drugs that treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and muscle spasms. They include Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan. And, as anyone who has taken any of those knows, benzos also feel really, really, good. 

Benzos work on the neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which has inhibitory effects on the central nervous system. As a result, pills like Xanax lull you into calm and sedation and melt away worries like magic. For people with anxiety and panic disorders, there’s no shame in taking them, ideally on an as-needed basis and under a doctor’s supervision.

Benzos are delicious and dangerously so. They’re also super physically addictive, and benzo withdrawal is hell. Like, in addition to making your body hurt, giving you panic, anxiety, and insomnia (basically everything you started to take them for), you can also have heart palpitations and even seizures if not done correctly. The experience makes you feel like you’re not put together right and is so brutal that plenty of people end up right back on them. There’s also some evidence that long-term use could lead to cognitive decline. But, as it turns out, ketamine could not only offer patients with PTSD, anxiety, and depression an alternative to benzos but also help them safely and comfortably wean off them. 

In the recent study, 22 patients who have been taking benzos long-term (> six months in this case, which some reading this may say is nothing; plenty of people use benzos for years), with severe unipolar or bipolar treatment-resistant depression received a course of six subanesthetic ketamine infusions over four weeks. The researchers investigated the rates of successful BZDRs (benzos) deprescription, trajectories of acute psychological withdrawal symptoms, and subsequent BZDRs abstinence during a mean follow-up of one year. 

They also looked at significant deteriorations in depression, anxiety, sleep, and/or suicidality during the acute BZDR discontinuation phase. 

Of the 22 participants, 91% (20 out of 22) successfully discontinued all benzos by the end of the four weeks, which the researchers medically confirmed with a urine analysis. Less than 25% of the patients experienced any significant worsening of anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, or suicidality during treatment, which is quite miraculous.

Furthermore, during the follow-up, with a mean duration of 12 [three – 24] months), 64% (14 out of 22) of patients remained abstinent from any benzos. Such findings suggest that ketamine infusions for TRD may also help people get off benzos, even if patients are still experiencing depression and anxiety, insomnia, and all the other comorbidities that come with it. 

It’s worth noting that one of the first things a ketamine provider will tell you, if you’re already on benzos, is to try to take as little as possible around the time you get an infusion, as benzos could make the depression-busting effects less effective. 

While ketamine therapy has shown to be revolutionary, whether treating depression or weaning one off benzos, it’s not without its own side effects. If you abuse ketamine, you can risk hurting your bladder or kidneys with ketamine bladder syndrome. Another, perhaps more immediate, concern regarding ketamine infusions is its accessibility. Ketamine infusions can cost a few hundred to thousands of dollars per session. The regimen for treatment-resistant depression is typically six sessions over two weeks; this study had its participants do the six sessions over four weeks) so there’s also a major time commitment; many people can’t get away from work that often. Because if you’re wondering if a nice ketamine infusion in the middle of the day can make it tricky to want to go back to the office, the answer is yes, yes, it can. 

Ketamine nasal spray is also available, famous for being the first psychedelic (it’s technically a dissociative anesthetic with hallucinogenic properties). The FDA-approved version is actually “esketamine,” the S enantiomer of ketamine, rather than regular ole’ ketamine, simply because that’s how Johnson & Johnson could patent and sell it under the brand name Spravato. Some doctors prescribe an off-label ketamine nasal spray that one can pick up at a compound pharmacy and use in the comfort of their home rather than trekking to a clinic. Although, of course, do this with someone around in case you take too much and need support or supervision. 

Ketamine is already valuable because it treats depression rapidly (SSRIs can take up to six weeks, while ketamine gets to work in a matter of hours). The news that it can also help people comfortably kick a Klonopin dependency is a much-needed and welcome breakthrough in treating mental health conditions. 

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