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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Keep Drug Offenders Out of Jail and Into Treatment

It is well known that the United States puts more people in prison every year than any other country. Sadly, the majority of those locked up have been deemed drug offenders; drugs are illegal, having them is against the law, so then it stands to reason that those caught with drugs would go to jail. The problem with putting millions of people in jail for drug offenses has to do with the fact that drug offenders are generally sick. They suffer from a disease that transcends the boundaries of right and wrong, in many cases free will has been thrown out the window. Drug addicts who are sent to prison time and time again are not criminals and addicts do not deserve to be treated like criminals. Science has taught us a lot about the disease of addiction, giving us a better understanding of what is operating inside the addict's mind. Addicts are not morally corrupt and certainly are not short on willpower.

Lawmakers in Colorado are working hard to pass a bill that was presented at the Capitol Tuesday, in an attempt to keep drug offenders out of jail and into treatment. Both Republicans and Democrats are supporting the bill, even the district attorneys are on board. This bill is a wonderful prospect for the citizens of Colorado who are afflicted with addiction, nearly a quarter of 22,600 people in prison in Colorado are doing time for drug offenses. Those inmates who were charged with possession should be released to the custody of certified drug treatment facilities; prisoners sentenced for drug distribution would not be allowed to escape their sentence by going to rehab. Drug addicts and drug dealers need to be separated inside the minds of society, they are a completely different and do not deserve the same punishment.

When addicts are imprisoned it hardens the common misconception that an addict is a criminal, adding to the long lists of stigmas that already accompany an addict. States drain their coffers every year keeping addicts imprisoned; every inmate costs the tax payers $30,000 a year. That money could be channeled to education programs to help people better understand the disease of addiction, especially teenagers and young adults. Pete Hautzinger, the Mesa County District Attorney said, "Treatment can work and it's a far more just and effective use of resources. I have no interest in locking up someone who is an addict. I would much rather get them un-addicted and make them a productive member of society again".

The more states that realize prison is not effective rehabilitation, the better...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Addictive Behaviors Alcohol Mixed Energy Drinks

Red Bull is commonly mixed with Vodka or Jagermeister

The dangers of mixing two different types of drugs are paramount! The power of stimulants, like cocaine, alongside debilitating central nervous center depressants (CNSD's), like Alcohol, is extremely dangerous. When someone introduces stimulants into the blood stream when they are already intoxicated from alcohol the effect is opposite what one might think. Stimulants give the drinker the feeling that they are not that intoxicated, not only can they drink more but they could also negotiate driving home; this common misconception is a deadly one to have, in no way does the addition of stimulants into one's body make you less drunk - only more awake.

What about stimulants like caffeine, could it have a similar perception altering affect? A study appeared in the journal of Addictive Behaviors this month which had some interesting data worth sharing on alcohol mixed with energy drinks. The study was conducted by the University of Florida and consisted of 800 young drinkers at bars between the hours of 10pm and 3am. The study observed that people who drank alcohol mixed with caffeine appeared to be more intoxicated than those who consumed pure alcohol. Furthermore, they found that people who were mixing were also much more likely to say they intended to drive home. According to the study: "Patrons who had consumed alcohol mixed with energy drinks were at a three-fold increased risk of leaving a bar highly intoxicated...As well as a four-fold increased risk of intending to drive on leaving the bar district, compared to other drinking patrons who did not consume alcoholic beverages mixed with energy drinks".

It seems like since the advent of drinks like Red Bull and Rockstar energy drinks people have been concerned: Besides being terribly unhealthy, for some reason they tend to confuse an intoxicated person into thinking they are sharp as a tack - nothing could be further from the truth. It is possible that at some point the mixing of alcohol and caffeine will be outlawed, there are some bars which have made a preemptive strike and no longer allow the mixing of energy drinks with alcohol. Alcohol mixed with energy drinks can be a fatal cocktail and should be avoided.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jim Nugent Memorial

On February 5, 2010, the recovery community lost a good friend. Below you can read Jim Nugent's memorial as seen in the Daily Courier (Prescott, AZ).

James (Jim) Nugent, beloved husband, father, grandfather, counselor, and mentor, died at age 76 when his heart failed while en route to his regular A.A. meeting on Feb. 5, 2010, in Prescott Valley, Ariz.

For over 30 years, Jim's passion was helping alcoholics/addicts recover to productive and responsible living. In this role he helped thousands. In the late 1970s, he was the first to offer 4th-Step guidance as a workshop. The format he used is duplicated all over the world. In the mid 1980s, his work in developing structured residential treatment homes led a recovery home movement that today fills the gap between primary in-patient treatment centers and halfway houses. Because these more fully supportive residential programs make recovery more likely for millions, and for his pioneering role in this industry, a noted psychiatrist labeled him "a national treasure." He started and directed homes in Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, California and in Prescott, Ariz., where he moved in 1997. This winter he celebrated 33 years sober as an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous. He often ended conversations with "Don't drink and go to lots of meetings."

For many years, throughout the country, he conducted personal development seminars in which participants learned to identify and use those talents that particularly motivate them toward success. Last year he facilitated courses on "Your Bucket List" in the OLLI lifelong learning program at Yavapai College.

Born on May 10, 1933, in New York City, he grew up loving track, basketball and tennis. He served two years in the U.S Army where he played on an Army basketball team. He graduated in education from Cortland State, earned a master's at Hofstra, and a Ph.D. in Iowa. He served as a teacher, an elementary school principal and a district administrator in New York schools before moving to California in 1975. An innovative and empowering educator, he believed in allowing students to function within their strengths and interests, and he promoted peer tutoring and teaching.

Jim is survived by his wife of 40 years, Marilyn; by sons John, Joseph, James and Paul; by daughters Jean Nugent, Veronica Skelton, Catherine Collins and Mary Day; by brother Neil Nugent; sister Grace Nugent; and by 16 grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, at the Ruth Street Theater. The family asks no flowers please.

Information provided by survivors.

Many are unaware of how many lives were touched by Jim Nugent. His 33 year presence in the recovery community helped jump start people's lives. He played an important role assisting others start treatment facilities and specialized programs in the Southern California area. Jim Nugent's contributions to the recovery circle will be dearly missed; his memory will live on through the program of recovery.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Battle Over 'Addiction' and 'Dependence'

Battle Over Addiction Dependence

The American Psychiatric Association's (APA) has finished the first draft of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). The DSM-IV is used all over the world to diagnose behavioral and mental disorders, and to help provide patients reimbursement for medical bills from insurance companies. There will be several changes, many of which involve the areas of the DSM that deal with addiction and dependence. There has been a battle over 'addiction' and 'dependence' and how those words should be properly used. The first draft of the DSM-V no longer has disease categories for substance abuse and dependence, "addictions and related disorders" is the desired new wording.

In a press release on Feb, 2010, the APA explained that: "eliminating the category of dependence will better differentiate between the compulsive drug-seeking behavior of addiction and normal responses of tolerance and withdrawal that some patients experience when using prescribed medications that affect the central nervous system". "Substance-use disorders" will be classified by the particular substance type, i.e. "heroin-use disorder" or "cocaine-use disorder" will be the appropriate terminology when diagnosing. One difference in the new draft from the DSM-IV is the symptom of "drug craving"; the symptom would be added to the criteria; according to the APA "problems with law enforcement" would be eliminated from the criteria "because of cultural considerations that make the criteria difficult to apply internationally".

Gambling addiction looks like it will make the cut for the new DSM - finally. A new category of "behavioral addictions" would be created, but it will probably only contain one disorder (gambling) because other behavioral disorders have not had enough research. According to the APA, "Internet addiction was considered for this category, but work group members decided there was insufficient research data to do so, so they recommended it be included in the manual's appendix instead, with a goal of encouraging additional study". This is a big deal, for the first time, the term "addiction" would be tied to disorders other than drugs and alcohol. Charles O'Brien, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the APA's DSM Substance-Related Disorders Work Group, said, "There is substantive research that supports the position that pathological gambling and substance-use disorders are very similar in the way they affect the brain and neurological reward system". Although, in the DSM-V draft, sex and food disorders will still fall outside and not be included in the "behavioral addictions" category; instead, sex disorders will be included In the "hyper-sexuality" category and food problems will be classified as "binge eating" disorders.

The APA will be accepting comments on the proposed DSM-V revisions until April 20. The world has a much better understanding of the science of addiction, many breakthroughs in understanding have happened since the DSM-IV was released in 1994.

All of the proposed changes and information about submitting comments can be found on the DSM-V Website

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Teaching Responsible Drinking, It Appears To Have The Opposite Effect

Teaching Responsible Drinking Opposite Effect

A new study has shown that parents providing alcohol for the teenagers at home may be the wrong thing to do. The study which was published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs claims that although parents may have good intentions by teaching responsible drinking, it appears to have the opposite effect on teenagers. There are some experts who claim that parents that drink with their teenage children are teaching them how to drink responsibly and that it will also limit the amount of alcohol outside of the home. The recent study conducted flies in the face of that line of reasoning.

Researchers worked with 428 Dutch families in order to conduct the study. The 428 families had two children between the ages of 13 and 15; they answered questionnaires on their drinking habits at the outset of the study and again one and two years later. The results showed that the more teenagers were allowed to consume alcohol at home, the more alcohol they would drink outside the home; in turn the children had a greater propensity for problems. The study also showed that children who drank under their parents' supervision had a heightened risk of encountering alcohol involved problems.

The idea that children will model their parent behavior when it comes to drinking is absolutely unfounded and untrue. The leader of the study Dr. Haske van der Vorst of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands claims that the old belief was based off common sense and not scientific evidence. "For example, the thinking is that if parents show good behavior -- here, modest drinking -- then the child will copy it. Another assumption is that parents can control their child's drinking by drinking with the child, I would advise parents to prohibit their child from drinking, in any setting or on any occasion", said van der Vorst. The best way to promote responsible drinking is to limit the teenager's exposure, who children drink with or where children drink alcohol does not have the effect that doctors had once hoped.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ketamine May Be Replacing Cocaine As The Street Drug of Choice

Ketamine Replacing Cocaine Street Drug
A new drug trend appears to be sweeping across part of Canada. Reports of Ketamine use, a fast-acting and powerful anesthetic and painkiller used in veterinary and human surgery have become far more frequent. In Hamilton, which is just across the border from Buffalo, New York, Ketamine may be replacing Cocaine as the street drug of choice according to authorities. Not only does Ketamine provide different effects than cocaine, it also has a smaller price tag at $10 to $20 a vile compared to Cocaine at $50 a gram. Younger people with limited financial resources may be swayed to buy Ketamine based on price alone. Another concern is that kids taking the drug may be under the opinion that they are doing Cocaine, failure to dose the drug properly could end tragically.

The price of Cocaine has skyrocketed in the past ten years, in the last three years the price of a kilogram of coke went up $30,000. At $59,000 a "key" it is not surprising that drug dealers have decided to sell a drug that they can acquire for cheaper and sell just as much. Ecstasy, like Ketamine or "K" as it has been dubbed, is another popular designer drug that has become very popular in the wake of inflated Cocaine prices. A pill of Ecstasy cost $5 now, high school students looking to do drugs are more inclined to buy cheaper drugs that at the end of the day are far more dangerous than Cocaine. Cocaine is and will always be more popular than designer drugs, it was the original club drug and will stay that way; however, there should be some concern when kids are messing with new drugs that they have really no way of knowing the actual contents.

According to statistics, Ketamine still ranks low in popularity amongst high school students, only about 2.2 percent report having used it. More than likely the percentage is higher than that, probably not much though; exposure to Ketamine has always been limited to raves and clubs, it generally has not been a "corner drug". Hopefully, this trend does not start to spread outside of Hamilton; Ketamine is a completely different drug than Cocaine. A person on Ketamine can be summed up in one word, "helpless"! You are not in charge of your body anymore, which if you are not at home taking the drug it can be quite dangerous because you cannot walk, talk, or take care yourself. "The effects begin about 30 seconds after an intravenous injection, 2 to 4 minutes after an intra-muscular injection, 5 to 10 minutes after snorting or intra nasal use and about 20 minutes after an oral dose on an empty stomach", stated Drug Text. Overdose can easily happen when people take the drug and think that it is not working and take more; what's worse, they get behind the wheel and think that they will drive somewhere only for the drug to take effect on the road. The drug acts very fast, it acts faster than most drugs that you can swallow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dr. Conrad Murray Prepares to Surrender Himself to Authorities

The Michael Jackson story moves forward as Dr. Conrad Murray prepares to surrender himself to authorities. Murray flew to Los Angeles from Houston, Texas last weekend, preparing to be charged with the death of the pop icon because of an anesthetic he administered to Jackson last June. Michael Jackson's death caused by an overdose of propofol, a strong pain medication generally only used in a hospital environment; the drug is a white liquid and has amnesic effects, it has been dubbed by medical professionals "milk of amnesia". Propofol was mixed with two benzodiazepines (sedatives) on the night that Jackson died; the combination was nothing new for Jackson who had been abusing medications for years. The death was ruled a homicide by the coroner's office, Dr. Murray is likely to be charged with involuntary manslaughter which can carry a sentence of four years maximum.

Dr Murray, a cardiologist, has always insisted that he gave the singer nothing that should have killed him. However, Propofol is a drug given before surgery, only to be administered in hospital settings by a professional anesthetist. There is no question whether or not Murray is culpable, rather, to what degree. Michael had been battling his addictions for years as well as severe anorexia, refusing treatment time and time again. Murray is just one doctor in a long list who have prescribed and administered unnecessary drugs to Jackson; the history here is extensive and it seems that more than just Murray are culpable. Addiction is ultimately what caused Jackson's death; he hired the physicians that provided his fix. Hopefully, if Murray is charged with manslaughter it will have an effect on other doctors and curb needless prescriptions merely to make a dollar. Thousands of people overdose from prescription medications, medicines that were not warranted by the patient.

"Prosecutors will have to show the doctor deviated from accepted medical norms when he administered propofol in a non-medical setting while Jackson already had other sedatives in his system. Ed Chernoff, Murray's lead lawyer, said: "I haven't received any phone call from anybody asking for the doctor to surrender. If we get the call, we'll be happy to"," reports the Telegraph.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Rolling Stones Guitarist and Wild Man of Rock-and-Roll, Given Up Alcohol

Keith Richards Given Up Alcohol
Rock n Roll and alcohol have a long history! Bands are notorious for excessive drinking and drugging, almost like consumption is part of their job description. Sadly, over the years since the birth of rock n roll alcohol has directly and indirectly taken the life of some of the most talented musicians. Rock legends such as: John Bonham of the band Led Zeppelin died as a result of asphyxiation, Jimi Hendrix died of respiratory arrest caused by alcohol and Barbiturates, and Keith Moon of the Who had an accidental overdose on anti-seizure medication prescribed for alcoholism. The list of drug related overdoses associated with rock n roll is pretty long; many addicts never experience the adverse effects of alcohol because drug overdoses claim their life first.

Unfortunately, when the music stops the addiction will linger around. Rock n Roll Stars in their 60's are still battling alcoholism and drug addiction. It has been reported by the Telegraph that, "Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist and wild man of rock-and-roll, has given up alcohol, it has been reported". Alcohol is finally catching up to Keith, who received orders from his physician to stop drinking and Richards has not touched alcohol in four months. Richards has witnessed the effect that alcohol has had on friend and former band mate Ronnie Wood's life. Richards claims that he has out lived many of the doctors who have advised him to stop drinking over the years. However, Keith Richards' behavior had an adverse effect on his life four years ago after falling out of a tree in Fiji while drunk, suffering a brain hemorrhage.

There are not any reports that Richards entered treatment or is working any kind of 12 step program. Hopefully, he will find that life is worth so much more while sober and that recovery is one gift after another. Without any doubt, Richards, has lost many close friends to the disease of alcoholism and doesn't want the same for himself. "He has watched Ronnie fall well and truly off the wagon last year and he doesn't like what he sees. Plus he has started to feel for the first time like it might do him some good to give up the booze for a while".

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