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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DJ AM's Death Was Ruled An Accidental Drug Overdose

DJ AM Death Accidental Drug Overdose

The medical examiner came back with the report on Adam Goldstein's, DJ AM, death yesterday. The findings were in a way hard to believe, the lethal cocktail of drugs that were found in Goldstein's system were staggering. Despite initially appearing to be a suicide, DJ AM's death was ruled an accidental drug overdose. According to the Associated Press, "the toxicology report showed the 36-year-old had in his system cocaine, OxyContin, Hydrocodone or Vicodin, anti-anxiety drugs Xanax and Ativan, Klonopin which also controls anger, Benadryl, and Levamisole, a drug apparently used to cut cocaine". The actual dosage of each drug was not released, we can assume it was a lot of everything; his death was caused by what the medical examiner called, acute intoxication, due to the combined effects of the drugs. DJ AM had been struggling with his addiction for quite some time; he had, for a time, managed to stay sober until he recently relapsed just before his death. He had made the commitment to his recovery sponsor and his manager to go back into treatment when his life was cut short.

On Aug. 28 he was found in his apartment in New York City after a friend called 911. "Paramedics had to break down the door before they found him, shirtless and wearing sweat pants, in his bed around 5:20 p.m. Six pills were found in his stomach and a pill in his throat when he was found dead in his apartment. The pill in his throat appeared to be OxyContin. A crack pipe and prescription pill bottles were discovered there", stated the AP. DJ Am had been burned severely in an airplane crash last September in South Carolina that killed four people. Goldstein had to get skin graft surgery, which is very painful, but, he went back to performing about a month later. Perhaps, DJ AM suffered from chronic pain and that is why he had so many prescriptions for narcotics? It has been clear for a very long time that benzodiazepines and opiates can be a very lethal combination. On top of that, mixing those drugs can put someone in a dream like state where your memory is not accurate; in turn, one can take more pills without even knowing and that is when an overdose ensues.

I find myself saddened by the fact that Goldstein had made the choice to seek help, but, unfortunately it was not soon enough. He was very talented individual with a lot of promise in life. Who knows the things he could have accomplished? DJ AM is just one case of thousands of people whose lives are cut short every year by the disease of addiction. Drug abuse is not a joke and it will strip you of your life if you do not seek help.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Will Be Front And Center In The Supreme Court

Fetal Alchol Syndrome Supreme Court
Tomorrow, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) will be front and center in the Supreme Court. The case of Holmes v. Louisiana has raised a lot of controversy regarding FAS, and whether or not someone with the disorder should be eligible for the death penalty. "Brandy Holmes, is a 29-year-old woman with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome currently on death row in Louisiana. She and a codefendant were convicted of a 2003 murder in Louisiana. Brandy's lead attorney is noted Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree", according to the PR Newswire. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the number one preventable form of retardation in the world; there are 40,000 newborns each year just in the United States. There are more cases annually than: autism, Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, and sudden infant death syndrome - combined.

There are many states that do not execute people who suffer from mental disabilities; society believes that to be inhumane. "Thirty-three states and the Federal Government don't execute persons with mental retardation - 16 more than only ten years ago. Evolving standards of decency place Brandy's case squarely within the precedent established by the court and society with regard to intellectual disabilities and the ultimate punishment". It is clear that Brandy, a person named after her mother's favorite drink, is a convicted murderer that deserves the consideration of mitigating circumstances. "Brandy has a hallmark case of FAS. Her mother testified that she drank throughout her pregnancy, and in fact named her daughter after her favorite drink", states NOFAS President Tom Donaldson. NOFAS is the The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; they fight for the rights of those who suffer from the disorder. NOFAS is there for children, as well as adults, who seek help for the wide range of problems associated with the disorder.

The statistics are available and the evidence is clear, we cannot continue to ignore this problem. The effects that alcohol have upon a pregnancy are devastating and we can no longer ignore the truth. Brandy may have committed the act of murder, but, because of her disability she should be granted a stay of execution. There needs to be more awareness via education regarding what alcohol does to babies. Donaldson believes that there needs to be more campaigns for the cause, "It's time to stop playing Russian roulette when it comes to alcohol and pregnancy". It is the 21st century, in an era of technology and information there is no excuse for why so many children are still born with such a disadvantage.

We have discussed Fetal Alcohol Syndrome earlier this month and we will continue to follow this story. We will watch to see if the Supreme Court makes a decision to hear Brandy Holmes' case.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Afghan Heroin Is A Global Security Risk

Afghan Heroin Global Security Risk

The world has been suffering from the black cloud of heroin for a very long time. It seems like every day a new story comes to light regarding the problem of heroin throughout the world. It turns out that Russia has now found themselves in the grips of a heroin epidemic which is fueled by the vast poppy fields in Afghanistan. Viktor P. Ivanov, the top drug enforcement official in Russia, has been pleading for American support with this problem, especially since the Obama administration has decided to pull back on Poppy eradication in Afghanistan. Bush had begun the manual eradication process with very little success, shortly after the war started. Obama would like to interdict opium supplies and show them how to cultivate alternative crops, but, unfortunately there has been very little progress made. Russia believes that the Afghan heroin is a global security risk that needs to be addressed jointly by the two super powers.

Ivanov is the head of the federal drug control service and a trusted adviser to Prime Minister Putin. His belief, according to the New York Times, is that, "eradication programs had failed in Afghanistan because they were too weak, and that the United States should apply the more muscular methods it used recently in Colombia, where vast coca fields were sprayed aerially with the herbicide glyphosate". Aerial herbicides are certainly the most effective way to eradicate a crop, but, there are many critics who say that this tactic will put many farmers out of work and force them towards terrorist organizations. Ironically, it is those same poppy fields that fund most of those organizations that the U.S. is at war with; which is the lesser of two evils, strength in numbers or strength in funding? "Afghanistan is seen as a crucial area of cooperation for the United States and Russia, in large part because of Russia’s crippling heroin problem. The authorities here estimate that 30,000 young Russians die every year from drug use. Mr. Ivanov said that 90 percent of Russian addicts used Afghan heroin, which flows into the country freely over the "virtual borders” it shares with central Asian neighbors", reports the NYT. Ivanov's proposal is that the United States eradicate the poppy fields, then channel some of their anti-drug campaign money to plant wheat in the Afghan fields.

I find myself sympathetic towards Ivanov's cause and I believe that this is a global problem which needs a global answer. Afghanistan has very little control of their country as is evident by the Taliban stronghold; furthermore, they have no control over the production of Opium and many countries are suffering as a result. Afghanistan needed the worlds help to remove the insurgencies, it stands to reason they will need help eradicating this very serious heroin problem. It's a real "Catch 22"! We cannot ignore this anymore than Russia can and I believe cooperation is necessary if a solution is going to be found. Neither, Afghanistan, nor the United States agree with aerial eradication at this point in time; they believe the effects will cripple the country more than it will help. While Afghanistan worries about where it would be without Poppys, the world is trying to figure out how to keep heroin out of their own countries.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Younger You Start Drinking, The More Problems You Will Have!

Younger Drinking More Problems

The younger you start drinking the more problems you will have! Studies have now shown that if you start drinking below the age of 15, when your brain is not fully developed, it could inadvertently start a snowball effect by bringing to light one's predisposition towards alcoholism. Taking that first drink at a young age, "may induce changes in the highly sensitive adolescent brain, which may also modify an individual's subsequent genetic vulnerability to [alcohol dependence]", states Arpana Agrawal, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine and an author of the study, said in a university news release". Alcohol has the ability to change the biology of one's brain by altering particular cells. This study of 6,257 adult twins was published on September 18 and will be in print in the December issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"Those who had their first drink later in life showed far fewer signs of alcohol dependency, despite the genetic predisposition", Agrawal noted according to the Health Daily News. This idea makes sense, considering all the new understandings we have of the brain and its development; the more time the brain is given to develop, the less chance of dependency developing. The brain is a fragile organ that is "impressionable"; protecting the brain at the adolescent age is of the utmost importance. It is so crucial that we educate the youth to the dangers of alcohol, if kids think that the effects of alcohol are minor, then they will be more inclined to drink. The average kid may not have anything to worry about; however, there are a percentage of people who carry the gene of alcoholism which can be brought to life at a time when the brain is immature; inevitably, the disease will be brought into action and quitting will be impossible without help.

Carol A. Prescott, a professor of psychology at the University of Southern California, said the findings had two possible conclusions. "Early drinking changes the course an individual is on, and is thus a direct cause of increased [alcohol dependency] risk, and early drinking is correlated with [alcohol dependency] risk and is thus an indirect indicator of ... risk," she said in the news release. Agrawal believes that we can use the findings of the study to help educate parents so that they can educate their children. "The researchers plan to do a similar study that looks at older and younger groups in Australia and the United States to try to duplicate their findings", reports the Health Daily News. Education is one of the only defenses against the disease of addiction, a preemptive strike is necessary in this battle to protect our youth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cannabis Planet Dedicated to the World of Marijuana

The Marijuana culture has been quietly finding its way into the national mainstream via the media. "Cannabis Planet" is a show dedicated to the world of Marijuana and has become a clear sign of how the drug is finding its way into the culture of Californians. "We're trying to show the legitimacy of this plant," said Brad Lane, the executive producer of the half-hour program. According to the New York Times you can find, "tips for cultivating Marijuana. Testimonials by patients about its medical benefits. Cannabis cooking lessons. Even citations for award-winning strains of pot. Viewers here can now watch, every week, what amounts to a pro-weed news program." Brad Lane pays for the twice-weekly air time on the independent station KJLA. The station claims that nobody that has witnessed the show has made a complaint, which, I believe is very hard to believe. Legalizing the drug is one thing, but advertising it on public television is a completely other thing; are we sending out a message that can be misinterpreted by the masses?

"Medical marijuana is now legal in 14 states and the lobbying organization NORML says efforts to legalize it are under way in 15 other states. Marijuana use remains illegal under federal law, but in a break from prior policies, the Obama administration said in February that federal officials would stop raiding dispensaries of medical marijuana authorized under state law," the New York Times reports. Cannabis Planet is not the only show about Pot on television and there are others on the way. Pretty soon there will be a huge market for an already billion dollar business and the media intends on capitalizing on it.

Legalizing weed is not without its controversy and people have been abusing the drug for some time now. Marijuana is the number one drug in the United States and with the curbing of certain laws there will be a "Green Rush" that will sweep across the country, which will no doubt increase the abuse. There are good arguments on both sides and if the drug becomes totally legal I do not believe that advertising the drug in the media is acceptable. Cigarettes companies are not allowed to advertise their product; I don't understand how proponents of Marijuana can advertise theirs.

Monday, September 14, 2009

10,000 People Walked Across The Brooklyn Bridge

10,000 people walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to raise awareness about drug and alcohol recovery on Saturday. The idea was to send the message that that there is help if you want it and that the disease of addiction is treatable. Only ten percent of the 22 million people suffering from the disease ever get the treatment they need despite there being several options available. New York State has repealed the harsh Rockefeller drug laws and is trying to replace incarceration with treatment; Governor Paterson was at 'The A & E Recovery Project ' to show his support for such a wonderful cause. "We are giving individual judges the opportunity to choose what will be a treatment protocol for defendants when they are sentenced," said Paterson. "We are giving people a second chance."

Smokey Robinson performed at the free concert for all the recovering addicts because he himself is one. According to WPIX TV, "My message to them is to get help immediately," said Robinson. "I don't care what source you use or where you go. Get help immediately."

Remember, September is National Recovery Month. And this September is the 20th Anniversary of the National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Recovery events like this are happening across the United States. We invite you to watch this video from WPIX and celebrate your or your loved one's recovery.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Dip In The Abuse Of Prescription Drugs

Dip Abuse Prescription Drugs

In the last decade prescription drug abuse has been on the rise, more people have become addicted to pills than any other substance. The flood of new drugs on the market in the way of sedatives, opiates, and stimulants is staggering. Fortunately, a federal drug survey found that less people abused prescription drugs last year than the year before that. This dip in the abuse of prescription drugs is being attributed to the education and information out there with respect to the dangers of pharmaceuticals. According to Eric Broderick, the acting administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, "People who once saw little risk in abusing prescription drugs are responding to health reports underscoring dangers of misuse".

It has also been reported that methamphetamine use also dropped in 2008 which is probably due to serious Meth education campaigns across the country, like the Montana Meth Project. The government has also made it very hard for Meth labs to operate in the states due to a crack down on the ease in which people can get ephedrine, the main ingredient in the cooking process. The Montana Meth Project reports that, "two years after launching the Meth Project in Montana, adult Meth use has declined by 72% and Meth-related crime has decreased 62%. Unfortunately, illicit drug use in the United States overall has not faltered and people still continue to take the risk. People used just as many drugs overall in 2007 as they did in 2008, "the drops in methamphetamine and prescription drug abuse were offset by increases among some age groups of marijuana and hallucinogen use, according to the survey of 67,500 people age 12 and older. Illegal drug use among people 50 to 59 increased from 2.7% in 2002 to 4.6% in 2008, a trend the report attributes to drug-using baby boomers who are getting older".

That survey concluded that 8% of the population, which equates to about 20.1 million Americans, used an illicit drug in the past month which was no different than 2007. Marijuana is still the number one abused drug in the United States due to it accessibility, being that it is heavily grown all over the U.S. It is also the drug that is considered to due the least amount of damage - which studies have proven that idea is not warranted. Many states are attempting to make Marijuana 100% legal and California is at the forefront of the campaign. It is great that the negative side-effects are being disclosed regarding prescription drugs, but we clearly still have an epidemic on our hands. The prescription drugs that adults consume trickles down to our children, people rarely lock their medicine cabinet which keeps the drugs within reach.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is an Invisible Disability

The warning signs are out there, yet mothers continue to drink while pregnant. Why? Parents who drink alcohol exponentially increase the chance of their baby being born with birth defects. If we added up all the cases of children being born each year with Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome, and Muscular Dystrophy it would still be less than FASD cases, according to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder occurs when pregnant women consume alcohol and there are 40,000 cases of this every year in the United States. Despite awareness groups and doctors plastering the TV with their concerns, the problem lingers on. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is an invisible disability.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there is not a safe amount of alcohol of any kind to consume while one is pregnant. The Chicago Tribune interviewed Edward Riley, of San Diego State University, one of the nation's leading researchers on FASD: "There's a lot of stigma associated with alcohol abuse and this spills over into FASD, for biological parents, it is difficult ... it means they have to be willing to admit that they were a contributor. And for adoptive parents, it means that the perfect family they were looking for might not become a reality". The common belief with a certain number of people is that if the child does not have facial abnormalities then it does not have FASD; sadly, this is a common misconception because the range of problems can be behavioral only. Kathy Mitchell, of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) states that there are very few medical schools teaching their students how to spot the whole spectrum of issues that can be associated with FASD. "Unless a child has profound features or adopted from Russia, the possibility of FASD is never even thought of," claims Mitchell.

Today, 09/09/09, is the International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day, where all across the world at 9:09 am bells will be rung to help raise awareness of the disorder. When FASD occurs more than: autism, Down Syndrome, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, and HIV, it is hard to believe that there is not more awareness out there. Where are the celebrities? Where are the ribbon bumper stickers that we see for just about every other cause? The time has come to stop sweeping this disorder under the rug; it's not fair to the future born that parents can jeopardize their futures by drinking alcohol. Perhaps there should be severe penalties for women who drink during their pregnancies. Driving while intoxicated is illegal, why shouldn't gestating while intoxicated be too?

"If you're pregnant don't drink. If you drink don't get pregnant."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

DJ AM Life was Cut Short by a Presumed Drug Overdose

DJ AM Drug Overdose

Last Friday the disease of addiction took another influential life from us. The renowned DJ AM's life was cut short as a result of a presumed drug overdose when he was found dead in his New York apartment. It has been reported that AM recently told his Sponsor that he had in fact relapsed and that was why he had been acting so erratically as of late, he agreed that he would go into treatment after he took care of a few things, including an event that was to take place in Las Vegas last Friday. Sadly, only a day after Adam Goldstein (his real name) promised his manager and sponsor that after his gig in Las Vegas last Friday, he would check himself into a rehab in California, Goldstein would never make it to that show and he was found with prescription pills and drug paraphernalia around his body in New York.

AM was taking strong painkillers after surviving a plane crash with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker in 2008. However, it is reported that he had struggled with addiction since his early twenties, but was sober for at least 10 years before the plane crash. It seems that the plane crash may have sped up the progression towards the 36 year old's untimely death. Goldstein had just finished filming the MTV show Gone Too Far last Tuesday, where he and concerned families staged interventions for drug abusers. According to Wikipedia,"Radio personality and addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky, who was a friend of Goldstein, said on his August 30, 2009 Loveline show that he was extremely shocked and saddened to learn of his relapse and death. Dr. Drew described Goldstein's sobriety as "solid", and was a "great inspiration" for those seeking addiction treatment. He then went on to endorse the argument that Goldstein did not receive proper treatment for his recent PTSD diagnosis".

Sadly, this is the disease of addiction and relapse is always terrible for the fact that when one starts actively abusing substances again it generally is much heavier than when they put them down. There is no way of knowing whether your next drink or drug is going to be your last. There are usually only three options for an addict: jails, institutions, and death; friends and families can only hope and pray that their loved one finds the two former and that it does not have to come to the point of no return.

Our heart goes out to Adam's friends and families and we can only hope that they can find strength in a time of such sadness and loss.

We encourage you all to watch this short video and please feel free to send us your thoughts...

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