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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mexico's Drug War Wages On

At this point most Americans are aware of what has been happening just south of the border in the lawless lands of Mexico. Kidnappings and murders on a daily basis keep the citizens of Mexico in constant state of fear. Cartels constantly battle for drug smuggling routes and territory. At the end of the day it is about control and there is no question that the cartels have complete control of Mexico. The government, those who haven't been bribed, does not stand a chance going to war against the cartels. In many ways America could be blamed for the lawlessness in Mexico, but, one thing is for certain - as long as Americans have an insatiable need for drugs, Mexico will be right there to provide them.

At the end of the day, like any big business, it is all about the money and the drug trade is a billion dollar industry. "El Chapo" Guzman Loera is the boss of the powerful Sinaloa cartel. "Authorities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border blame the Sinaloa and other cartels for a surge in violence in the region", according to CNN. Just last year, Loera ranked 701st on Forbes' yearly report, with an estimated fortune of $1 billion. As long as people have the ability to make that kind of money with drugs, there will be people who will kill for control of the market.

In Mexico there is a prison located in Gomez Palacio in Durango state that is completely run by the cartels. Prisoners are being handed weapons and vehicles and are sent out on murder hits. These hit squads are known to be responsible for at least three separate mass murders. Just ten days ago, on July 18th, an attack on a party in the city of Torreon, located near Gomez Palacio, resulted in the murder of 17 people. "Ballistic tests indicate that the casings found at the crime scene were matched to four assault rifles, rifles that are assigned to guards at the prison located in Gomez Palacio", reported the Examiner.

People in America are addicted to drugs that keep Mexico in a constant state of war. While Americans get high, people are dying in Mexico - so that a few cartel leaders can get rich.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Drunk Driving Laws Change

It has been a year since Diane Schuler drove drunk and high the wrong way down the Taconic Parkway in New York. The accident which would take the lives of eight (8) people, including her, sent chills down the spine of every American. There was one child survivor, Schuler's then five year old son, but, four children were robbed of their lives before they had a chance to actually live. Sadly, many people are not learning from tragedies like Schuler's and they seem to be quite commonplace these days, there are parents who will drive drunk with children in the car despite the inherent dangers. That being said, the question that many people are asking is what the government plans to do about alcoholism on the road?

If fines and jail time are not big enough deterrents then what is? The State of New York is attempting to make large strides in keeping the roadways safe in response to the number of horrific drunk driving accidents as well as the worst, that being Schuler's. The Journal reported, "In the last year, New York has enacted laws that make it easier to collect evidence from a drunken driving suspect; make driving drunk with children in the car an automatic felony; and force anyone convicted of drunken driving to install, at their own expense, a breath-testing vehicle-ignition locking device". Ignition locks have proved quite effective in many states in keeping drunk drivers from getting back on the road after they have been caught, assuming they live to be caught.

11-year-old Leandra Rosado was killed in a crash on the Henry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan last October on route to a sleepover with seven other girls. The mother of one of the girls who was driving the vehicle was drunk. Police have charged the driver with manslaughter. New York lawmakers created Leandra's Law just six weeks after the accident, making it a felony to drive drunk with a child younger than 16 in a vehicle. The second phase of the Leandra's law mandates ignition locks for anyone convicted of DWI, this will go into effect after Aug. 15. Leandra's law has been titled the Child Passenger Protection Act.

Debbie Maidman a substance abuse counselor for Daytop Village in Blauvelt, her nephew was killed by a drunk driver in Las Vegas. She supports the ignition interlock provision in the Child Passenger Protection Act. Her contention is that ignition locks should be standard in all vehicles. "Seat belts are standard, why not ignition locks? We have had the automakers install seat belts and airbags to save lives," Maidman said, "why is this any different?" It seems like Maidman makes a very valid point.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Older Pregnant Women Who Drink Alcohol: Higher Risk

There has always been danger associated with older women who get pregnant; the older you get, the greater the chance of possible birth defects arising. This is especially the case if the expecting woman decides to consume alcohol during the pregnancy. A new study found that older pregnant women may actually be more likely to drink more alcohol during pregnancy, and when they do, they may have a greater risk of the drug negatively affecting their children than a younger pregnant woman. There were 462 children examined in the study as well as the drug use among their mothers. Mothers who had been binge drinking during pregnancy had children who scored very low on performance tests and had a higher risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder or fetal alcohol syndrome than those children of younger mothers who had partaken in similar activities during their pregnancy.

The study points out that there may be other mitigating factors involved in why children of older mothers are more susceptible. It may have to do with older women processing alcohol in their systems in a different way than younger women, as one gets older alcohol has varying effects on the mind and body, the longer one has been drinking the greater the chance that the alcohol will find its way to the fetus. "This finding may be due to older moms drinking for longer periods, greater alcohol tolerance, and having more alcohol-related health problems — all leading to higher levels of alcohol in their fetuses", says Lisa Chiodo, an author of the study. "It has also been suggested that changes in body size, metabolism or composition, or number of births, which are all related to maternal age, may be factors increasing the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure".

The study dealt primarily with "inner-city women" who were in low economic standing. There is speculation that the results would have been different if it had encompassed a wider socioeconomic group. Some of the mothers in the study had also used illicit drugs, which definitely had some factor on the development of the baby - but that is hard to say. We know that everyone is different and age certainly has an effect on pregnancy, but, why one child is born with FASD and another isn't even though both mothers drank the same amount is not clear at this point.

Monday, July 19, 2010

iDosing Digital Drugs

There is a new drug out there that people do not know much about and people are concerned may be a problem for some. Apparently all one needs to get high is a pair of headphones, a computer, and a dark area to tune out in. They are called "digital drugs" and they are becoming quite popular amongst the youth as more teenagers discover the world of sonic drugs. That's right, sound, the drug that everyone is talking about, not just any sounds but repetitive atonal tracks that reportedly can cause hallucinations. An analysis done on the dangers of "sound dosing" has shown that the act itself is relatively safe, but, this may lead to more addictive behaviors that are not so harmless.

The creators of the digital drugs call their product iDosing and doses can be purchased on their website. Different doses do different things, one dose in particular they claim will help you quit smoking cigarettes, another is supposed to be good for anxiety and there is one for energy as well. iDosing was discovered by the public when kids at Mustang High School in Oklahoma were caught wasted on "monotonous, layered sounds in a dark room". The school decided to send a letter home to parents warning them of the possibility that their child might be iDosing. Owner of I-Doser.com, Nick Ashton, supports Mustang's warning for parents saying, "we have heard of that, and we agree. Any method that involved experiencing a simulated mood or experience should be taken seriously... I-Doser.com is not dangerous, completely safe, but any user should be aware that this is causing a modification of mood..."

iDosing is clearly designed to appeal to a younger audience; however, they are also trying to entice drug addicts to try their product. Their Recreational Simulations pack cost $16.95 is a collection of 4 doses in MP3 format: Marijuana, Cocaine, Opium, and Peyote. Whether or not these digital drugs actually work is still up for debate, but what is certain kids are interested in trying these new drugs and it promotes addictive behavior at a young age which is never good.

What are your thoughts on digital drugs?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Senator Anthony Galluccio Released From Prison

After pleading guilty to a 2009 hit-and-run accident in December 2009, former Massachusetts State Senator Anthony Galluccio was first sentenced to six months of house arrest; but, after only three days following his sentence, Galluccio failed a chemical alcohol test and was immediately violated on his probation. "Anthony Galluccio was just released from prison today after completing almost half of his January 2010 prison sentence. There were terms and conditions set by the Parole Officer for Galluccio to follow which include submitting to scheduled and non-scheduled chemical testing for alcohol and drugs, attending alcohol and drug abuse counseling, attending at least three weekly AA meetings, and he must attend scheduled meetings with his Parole Officer", according to the Examiner.

In January 2010, after violating his probation, Galluccio was sentenced to prison for one year. Galluccio testified that he believed that he failed the test because of his toothpaste and denied that he ever drank alcohol in his home while on house arrest. Naturally the judge wasn't believing Galluccio and passed his judgment. Now he is out of prison and can start working towards making a better life for himself and his family, hopefully one free from drugs and alcohol. His probation is pretty strict, which means there will be little if any room for error.

Galluccio is not the first politician to get in trouble with the law for substance abuse problems; there are a number of state officials who currently attend 12-step meeting in order to keep on the path of recovery. Both the late Ted Kennedy and his son Patrick struggled with drugs and alcohol over the years, and Patrick is fighting for the right of addicts and alcoholics who cannot get insurance today. Perhaps, Galluccio will find happiness in sobriety and will be able to get back to helping people rather than hurting them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Call for Rave and Ecstasy Task Force In The Wake Of An Overdose

The Electric Daisy Carnival is a huge rave held in the Los Angeles area every year. Like most raves, the concentration of drugs like ecstasy is mind boggling and the need to educate people as to the dangers of hallucinogens and stimulants is greater now than ever. More and more of today's youth have adopted the idea that drugs like ecstasy are not that dangerous, despite the fact that people are overdosing and losing their lives to the drug on a regular basis. This year, on June 26, one such case occurred at the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), as well as another 120 people who left the rave in ambulance rather than their cars; clearly numbers like that for one event should be a concern.

Some of Los Angeles' local officials, like county Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe, are seeing the dangers that accompany raves and would like to create a task force to research the health and safety hazards involved. This has a lot to do with the death of Sasha Rodriguez who overdosed at the EDC; her death has prompted local officials to become more proactive. People are dying and overdosing and it does not seem to be scaring or deterring anyone. Ever since raves came online in the 90's people have been overdosing or crashing their cars on the way home quite frequently; after nearly 20 years of drug dance parties, like the EDC, people still find them safe despite the inherent consequences.

"Police made 118 arrests, mostly for drug possession, during the two-day Electric Daisy Festival at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which featured carnival rides, light shows and appearances by techno music star Moby and Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas", according to the AP.

“This issue of Ecstasy use is becoming an increasing public health problem,” Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the county Department of Public Health said. “We’re very concerned because … the most recent survey shows that more youth think that this drug has not really serious effects. They’re kind of feeling, ‘Well, this is not really a big deal,’”. Unfortunately, ecstasy is a big deal and it does have the ability to strip one of their life, just as it did with Sasha Rodriguez.

What are your thoughts on Raves?

Friday, July 9, 2010

AA turns 75 and Millions of Alcoholics say 'Thanks'

As Alcoholics Anonymous celebrates its 75th anniversary, The Los Angeles Times asked one of its members to write about the group and how he came to join. We want to share their article with you. Following the tradition of AA, he is using his first name only.

My name is Chas. I'm an alcoholic.

I stumbled into my first AA meeting in 1997. I had been a hard drinker for 20 years and a serious drunk for the last 10. I had lost my job, was about to lose my family and was having serious health problems. My doctors said I had to stop drinking.

That was impossible. Life without alcohol was unimaginable. I had been an anxious, jumpy kid and a shy, morose teenager, and for decades I'd suffered from depression and panic attacks. Drinking wasn't a problem but a solution: Booze made me feel normal.

Over time, I required a lot of it — beer before breakfast, to steady my nerves, then one- to two-fifths of vodka through the day and deep into the night.

I no longer enjoyed it. I needed it. But I knew it was killing me. For years I had tried to stop drinking, or at least slow down. I tried exercise and acupuncture, self-help books and special diets. I was prescribed psycho-pharmaceuticals and spent hours with psychiatrists.

I tried everything but AA, and I wasn't about to try that. My father got sober with AA's help. So had all three of my younger brothers and my one living uncle. I was happy for them, but I knew it wouldn't work for me. I wasn't a joiner. I detested the idea of group therapy. I was allergic to organized religion and any concept of God. I thought AA was a sort of spiritual Ponzi scheme — half Scientology, half Tupperware party.

But alcohol brought me to my knees — nearly literally. By the time I turned 42, I was in constant pain and couldn't walk without a cane. The doctors said I needed two hip replacements, but they wouldn't operate unless I quit drinking for two months.

I hadn't gone that long without liquor since junior high school, and I'd proved I couldn't stay sober on my own. So I did the unthinkable: I called a friend who was sober and said, "I need to go to one of those meetings."

We went to a church. I sat and listened for an hour. I heard nothing that moved me or gave me hope. The bumper-sticker wisdom of the program was idiotic. The ardent cheerfulness of the group was repellent. The emphasis on God, or a Higher Power, was offensive. I hung my head and told my friend I was wasting his time. I wasn't going to read the book Alcoholics Anonymous, get a sponsor, work any steps or pray to a God I didn't believe in.

My friend said, "That's OK. Can you go home and try not to drink tonight?" I said I could try. "Can I take you to a meeting tomorrow?" I said he could. "That's all you have to do," he said. "Welcome to Alcoholics Anonymous."
Seventy-five years ago, two drunks — Bill, a failed New York stockbroker, and Bob, a disgraced Ohio proctologist — had a similar conversation. Bill had discovered that talking to other alcoholics about his alcohol problem diminished his need to drink. He helped Bob stop drinking, and together they began working with others. A few weeks later their first successful convert, a Kentucky man known as Bill D., took his last drink. Their friendship turned into the fellowship that turned into AA, probably the most significant social movement of the 20th century.

I didn't take a drink that first night. My friend took me to a meeting the next day, and the next. Slowly, reluctantly, I admitted I was powerless over alcohol and that my life was unmanageable. I came to believe that some power greater than myself — the meetings, the program, God, whatever — might be able to help me with my problem, if I was willing. I became willing.

The doctors replaced my hips. My wife and children didn't leave. My health returned. I published my first book, then another. I got back on the tennis court, started motorcycling again and took up snowboarding. I got an AA sponsor and worked the 12 steps. I determined to live my life on a spiritual basis, made a written inventory of my errors and misdeeds, made restitution where possible, then tried to show other suffering alcoholics how they might recover too. In time I began to feel a sense of peace, ease and happiness that I had never known. I haven't had a drink in almost 13 years.

I don't know why that happened. Most alcoholics never make it to AA, and many who make it don't stay sober. But I know how it happened. That's what I share with the newcomers I meet at the meetings I still attend: what I was like, what I did about it, and what I'm like now. That's what I hear from others too, men and women, gay and straight, older than I and younger, with more sober time and less, talking frankly about their struggles and their solutions. Some were gutter drunks who'd lost it all; others were Hollywood honchos who'd lost nothing except their souls. Almost all of them came through the door as I did, broken and brought to their knees. Almost all of those who stayed, and succeeded, surrendered to the program and worked the steps.

Last weekend more than 40,000 of them, from 90 countries, gathered in San Antonio to celebrate their independence from alcohol and to mark AA's anniversary. They were part of a worldwide fellowship of, according to AA's figures, more than two million sober alcoholics — about 1.2 million in the U.S. — who meet regularly.

At the birthday celebration, members talked about their drinking, and the miracle of their not drinking. In the end, that's their weapon against alcoholism, and the simple, elegant secret of AA that Bill and Bob discovered in 1935: One alcoholic talking to another can keep two drunks sober.

More information about Alcoholics Anonymous can be found at www.aa.org.

We want to thank The Los Angeles Times for this story. Do you have a birthday wish for AA?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Slipknot Bassist Fentanyl Overdose


Prescription drugs have flooded American streets as more and more people are prescribed drugs that they do not need. There are many people who will subsidize their income by selling their medicine to people without prescriptions. Pharmaceutical overdoses are becoming more and more common even with celebrities, as was seen with the multiple overdoses that occurred in the last year including Michael Jackson.

Paul Gray, 38, the bassist of the hardcore metal band Slipknot, was found dead in a hotel in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa. A hypodermic needle and prescription pills were found by a hotel worker who called 911. The autopsy showed that Gray overdosed on morphine and fentanyl, a synthetic morphine substitute and there were signs of heart disease.

There is no evidence that a doctor prescribed the medications, according to Sgt. Dave Disney, which means that the drugs were acquired outside of any pharmacy. Police are trying to determine where the drugs came from which is never an easy thing.

“Gray was a co-founder of the Des Moines-based band known for its grotesque masks, thrashing sounds and aggressive, dark lyrics. Slipknot emerged in the mid-1990s and its 1999 debut album sold about 2 million copies. The band won a Grammy in 2006 for best metal performance for the song "Before I Forget”.

Fentanyl is fast becoming a major killer, there are more people being prescribed the drug even though something less strong would be sufficient. Fentanyl, 100 times stronger than morphine, belongs in a hospital setting and nowhere else. Fentanyl is essentially clean heroin and is extremely addictive.

A more proactive approach needs to be taken with pharmaceuticals as more kids are being introduced to them. Most people do not view prescription meds the same way as street drugs, teenagers do not see the harm in taking a drug that was prescribed by a doctor. Sadly, drugs have the power to kill no matter where they come from.

Source: AP

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