Friday, December 28, 2007
Public health advocates are up in arms. Read more here. Thanks, Michael W., for the item.
Friday, December 21, 2007
The mag's Lowry story took the author down a notch or two by suggesting that his wife was actually responsible for much of the greatness in Under the Volcano. The mag continues on its debunking tear by demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that the savage blue pencil of Carver's editor Gordon Lish was responsible for creating the terse, minimalist style that made Carver famous.
Score: New Yorker 2, theory that alcohol helps the creative juices flow, 0.
Oh, and don't miss the cartoon on p. 68. A bar patron drinking coffee to a neighbor with a cocktail: "Been there, drunk that." I'd copy it here but I worry about overstretching the boundaries of the "fair use" doctrine.
If the homeless alkies want to buy Cabernet Sauvignon or Grey Goose, that's ok.
Public health authorities in Tacoma laud the idea, citing reduced emergency room admissions and other medical costs. That's not surprising. The same thing happened nationwide during Prohibition.
The logic by which Nevius calls this simple class-based Prohibition scheme "treatment" escapes me. It's just one more aspect of the ubiquitous economic bias that Prof. Merrill Singer describes so vividly in his recent book, "Drugging the Poor," reviewed here.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
"ABC News' investigative team, led by Brian Ross, worked with six graduate journalism students to discover whether troops returning home after serving in Iraq are facing the same battles with drug addiction as soldiers did when they came back from Vietnam. For their series, "Coming Home: Soldiers and Drugs," the students traveled across the country from Fort Carson in Colorado to Fort Bragg in North Carolina to examine the accuracy of the Army's assurances that drug abuse among ex-combatants isn't growing. Their findings:
Many of this country's bravest men and women who volunteered to defend America in a time of war have come home wounded -- physically and mentally -- and are turning to illicit drugs as they adjust to normal life, according to soldiers, health experts and advocates." Source.
The five programs are available online here.
"The view that the government is willing to deepen the poverty of some of its rural population for the sake of a ban on opium poppy cultivation further alienates the rural population. The belief of many farmers that those enforcing the ban and eradicating their crop are themselves actively involved in the opium trade makes matters worse; so does the perception of widespread bribery and the sense that eradication targets the vulnerable and ignores the crops of those in positions of power and influence."Afghan farmers are seeing that the eradication efforts are aimed mainly at growers or dealers who are competitors to the growers and dealers connected with the Afghan government and its sponsors. A secondary aim of eradication may be to reduce the over-all supply in order to maintain prices. The Afghan farmers are seeing firsthand what the "war on drugs" is all about and they're not buying into it. The study's authors caution that Afghan farmers will continue to grow the poppy until they're presented with a reasonable alternative -- and none is in sight.
With the girl inside, the mother had sideswiped two other vehicles before hitting a parked car head-on and coming to a stop. The girl got out of the wreck, unhurt, and approached the first officer on the scene.
"Ever time she drinks she gets like this," said the girl. The mother was booked for drunk driving, child abuse, and related charges. Source.
Vasquez probably deserved the slams. He was a paid government informer trying to build a case of extortion against incumbent Democratic state senator Matt McCoy. A Bushie federal prosecutor brought the transparently political case. The jury threw it out after less than two hours of deliberation, including lunch.
But ... should AA sponsors be testifying as character witnesses against their former sponsee? Isn't that against some rule?
The army today admitted that cocaine was becoming the "drug of choice" for British service personnel.
Colonel John Donnelly, who has responsibility for army discipline, said a significant increase in drug taking by soldiers could be linked to stress induced by the demands of combat operations.
The California Republican Party issued two press releases attacking the California Democratic Party for spending campaign money on a wine tasting fundraiser.
The Democrats shot back, pointing out that the Republicans spent four times as much on wine for their events, plus sending untallied bottles of a rare vintage to major donors. Source.
The researchers urge parents to "talk to their kids about alcohol" when the kids are ten or eleven, or earlier. But talking alone isn't going to cut it, if the parents themselves are setting bad models of alcohol use in the home. The research really suggests that if one or both of the parents have an alcohol problem, the time to deal with it (at the latest) is when the kid is still in primary school.
Dec. 14, 2007 -- New research from Canada shows that some toxins may be more abundant in marijuana cigarettes than tobacco cigarettes.
The researchers burned 30 marijuana cigarettes and 30 tobacco cigarettes on a machine in their lab, measuring levels of chemicals in the smoke.
Ammonia levels were up to 20 times higher in marijuana smoke than in tobacco smoke. Levels of hydrogen cyanide and nitrogen-related chemicals were three to five times higher in marijuana smoke than in tobacco smoke. Read more.
The numbers undercut the argument of "war on drugs" supporters that drug prohibition is a necessary dam against widespread drug use.
Quite the contrary, says David Borden, CEO of StopTheDrugWar.org. For example, rates of marijuana use in the Netherlands, where it's sold legally in "coffee shops," are only about half those in nearby France, where marijuana use is an arrestable offense.
On the other side of the fence, a vigilant puppy spotted this invading one-eyed albino rat, and promptly sank its teeth into it.
Doctors at the hospital said the member "should still be useful" to the man in the future. Source.
Some bar owners are upset because existing law already makes barkeepers liable for serving patients who are drunk.
Cops answer that the question helps them spot bars that ignore the law.
The study is being used as fodder for an Australian provincial government campaign to crack down on youth drinking. A worthy cause, no doubt, but did the study control for factors such as family income, education, and environment?
"Can we acknowledge that there is a huge amount of alcoholism in academia? Not the cute Dudley Moore kind, but the kind that makes us less sharp and ends our lives early? I'd imagine every one of us knows a colleague who needs a mid-morning 'refresher' or who always smells slightly of drink. I remember seeing my supervisor trying to be inconspicuous checking all the (empty) wine bottles at a reception, hoping there was a glass left in one of them, and finally making a glass by combining all the remnants red and white wine that were left. I remember drinking with him at a local bar until well past midnight (having started at four). And is there any function in academia that doesn't involve alcohol?"Read the whole thing. Good point. A college administration trying to cope with its students' alcohol excesses needs also to look in the mirror. It'll be hard to get a handle on student conduct if the faculty's drinking is out of control.
The Florida-based craft carried somewhere between three and six tons of powder cocaine, and either no heroin or up to one ton of heroin, depending on which estimates one believes.
The flight originated in Colombia and was destined for Florida with a stopover in Cancun.
Blogger FrostFireZoo.com reports that the serial number of the craft matches those of a plane used by the CIA on at least three occasions in the rendition of terrorism suspects from Guantanamo to other countries to be tortured.
A Mexican journal accused Mexican and U.S. political authorities of hypocrisy for waging a so-called "war on drugs" on the one hand, and being heavily invested in the lucrative drug trade, on the other.
Foxfire.com observes that the amount of drugs said to be on the plane diminished with every official Mexican press release on the incident, and speculates that the subtracted amounts disappeared back into the market.
The photos of the crash scene, above, originated with Mexican press sources. For a video with commentary on EVTV, click.
P.S. Aug. 26 '08: Someone has removed the photos of the crash scene from this blog, and from the original source website as well. However, a video containing the same or similar still photos is still available online here: http://www.evtv1.com/player.aspx?itemnum=10106 -- See them before they're gone.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The chronicle of his marriage and collaboration with Margerie Bonner is a tortuous, gruesome story of love, hate, help, hurt, rescue and revenge. Bonner, who edited and rewrote Lowry's texts daily, almost certainly contributed the discipline and warmth that raised "Under the Volcano" above the rambling, two-dimensional symbolism that was Lowry's best unassisted effort. He was consumed with rage at everything and everyone; his violent tirades drove all their friends away.
She tried for years to get him to cut down or stop his drinking, but ended up matching him bottle for bottle, and when he finally found a doctor who got him to take a break (using aversion therapy), she refused to stop, and dragged him down again.
Much of the article deals with the theory that she murdered him, for which many women acquaintances and critics applauded her. It's a thin case. British local authorities, who conducted the inquest, pinpointed asphyxiation by aspiration of vomit as the cause of death. That's not murder. But it hardly matters. Lowry was bent on death by alcohol sooner or later. During one of his few lucid moments, he described his own life as an "alcoholocaust."
If a movie is ever made of this marriage, it should be on a double bill with "Pollock," and made required viewing for young artists considering careers in alcoholism and addiction: don't go there.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
"... he so enjoyed being exactly as he was that he didn't want even the mild alteration in mood brought on by a glass of Chardonnay."Well said! "So enjoyed being exactly as he was"!
On this topic, see also Katharine Hepburn, and (much more obliquely) Stereo Sue, or the Quale of Sobriety, both below. Thank you, writer Alice Mattison, for this brilliant little gem, one of several in her story.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Researchers who looked at the bestselling songs in several genres from 2005 found that 37 percent of top country songs featured references to drugs or alcohol, compared to just 14 percent of rock songs. Rap was worst with 77 percent. Source.
A short list of songs about drinking/drugging and NOT drinking/drugging is here, and a long collection of the same is here.
Researchers didn't, but should, look at classical music also. Item No. 1 for my mute-button list is Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde -- an operetta that celebrates being drunk and depressed. Oh, and what about that line in Beethoven's Ninth about being "drunk with fire"? LOL.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Tommy Tester, 58, of
Tester, the minister of
Police said Tester, who was wearing a skirt, pulled up in his vehicle to Belmont Carwash, got out and urinated in a wash bay in view of children. Source.
The unexpurgated version here. -- Thanks, Kelly C., for the tip
Saturday, November 03, 2007
- There are many pathways to recovery. Individuals are unique with specific needs, strengths, goals, health attitudes, behaviors and expectations for recovery. Pathways to recovery are highly personal, and generally involve a redefinition of identity in the face of crisis or a process of progressive change. Furthermore, pathways are often social, grounded in cultural beliefs or traditions and involve informal community resources, which provide support for sobriety. The pathway to recovery may include one or more episodes of psychosocial and/or pharmacological treatment. For some, recovery involves neither treatment nor involvement with mutual aid groups. Recovery is a process of change that permits an individual to make healthy choices and improve the quality of his or her life.
- Recovery is self-directed and empowering. While the pathway to recovery may involve one or more periods of time when activities are directed or guided to a substantial degree by others, recovery is fundamentally a self-directed process. The person in recovery is the “agent of recovery” and has the authority to exercise choices and make decisions based on his or her recovery goals that have an impact on the process. The process of recovery leads individuals toward the highest level of autonomy of which they are capable. Through self-empowerment, individuals become optimistic about life goals.
- Recovery involves a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation. Individuals must accept that a problem exists and be willing to take steps to address it; these steps usually involve seeking help for a substance use disorder. The process of change can involve physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of the person’s life.
- Recovery is holistic. Recovery is a process through which one gradually achieves greater balance of mind, body and spirit in relation to other aspects of one’s life, including family, work and community.
- Recovery has cultural dimensions. Each person’s recovery process is unique and impacted by cultural beliefs and traditions. A person’s cultural experience often shapes the recovery path that is right for him or her.
- Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness. Recovery is not a linear process. It is based on continual growth and improved functioning. It may involve relapse and other setbacks, which are a natural part of the continuum but not inevitable outcomes. Wellness is the result of improved care and balance of mind, body and spirit. It is a product of the recovery process.
- Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude. Individuals in or seeking recovery often gain hope from those who share their search for or experience of recovery. They see that people can and do overcome the obstacles that confront them and they cultivate gratitude for the opportunities that each day of recovery offers.
- Recovery involves a process of healing and self-redefinition. Recovery is a holistic healing process in which one develops a positive and meaningful sense of identity.
- Recovery involves addressing discrimination and transcending shame and stigma. Recovery is a process by which people confront and strive to overcome stigma.
- Recovery is supported by peers and allies. A common denominator in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who contribute hope and support and suggest strategies and resources for change. Peers, as well as family members and other allies, form vital support networks for people in recovery. Providing service to others and experiencing mutual healing help create a community of support among those in recovery.
- Recovery involves (re)joining and (re)building a life in the community. Recovery involves a process of building or rebuilding what a person has lost or never had due to his or her condition and its consequences. Recovery involves creating a life within the limitation imposed by that condition. Recovery is building or rebuilding healthy family, social and personal relationships. Those in recovery often achieve improvements in the quality of their life, such as obtaining education, employment and housing. They also increasingly become involved in constructive roles in the community through helping others, productive acts and other contributions.
- Recovery is a reality. It can, will, and does happen.
Monday, September 24, 2007
"The reason most Alcoholics find it so hard (to quit smoking) is because they get NO support from AA members, they tell them not to worry, just don't drink. That way of AA (Majority members, mostly Nicotine Addicts, even though there are a lot of others who say the same thing) is the way of Death!"Joe should know, he is a long time member of AA who supports Nicotine Anonymous.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The case is titled Inouye v. Kemna, issued Sept. 7, 2007. The full text of the opinion is here. The court that issued the decision is the Ninth Circuit of the United States Courts of Appeal. The court's ruling is the law in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.Ricky Inouye was imprisoned in Hawaii after conviction on drug charges, and served his time. As a Buddhist, he objected to participating in 12-step treatment programs because of their religious nature. After his release, he sued his parole officer, Nanamori, for giving him the "choice" of AA/NA meetings or prison.
When that case came to trial in the federal court in Hawaii, Nanamori argued that he, a parole officer, could not have known whether AA/NA are "religious" because the law on that issue was foggy at the time he ordered Inouye to participate (2001). If the issue was unclear, Nanamori was immune from suit. Nanamori won on that issue in the lower federal court in Hawaii. Inouye (or rather his son Zenn, Ricky having meanwhile died) appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
The Ninth Circuit's opinion makes short work of the claim that the law was fuzzy on the religious nature of AA/NA. The court points to virtually identical cases decided before 2001 by the federal courts of appeal for the Seventh Circuit (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin) and the Second Circuit (New York, Connecticut, Vermont), in addition to a string of similar cases in lower federal courts and in state courts, all with the same result. The "unanimous conclusion" of these courts was that coercing a person into AA/NA or into AA/NA based treatment programs was unconstitutional because of their religious nature. Because the law on this issue was "uncommonly well settled," Nanamori cannot claim immunity.
Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit sent the case back to the lower federal court in Hawaii to decide how much, if anything, Nanamori has to pay Inouye's estate in monetary damages.
The court's ruling means that criminal justice officers -- or, arguably, any agents of the state, local, or federal government within the bounds of the Ninth Circuit -- can be sued for damages if they ignore a client's religious or anti-religious objections and coerce the person to attend 12-step meetings or 12-step based treatment programs.
What should prisoners, parolees, and criminal justice officers do in response to this ruling?
(1) Prisoners and parolees who have problems with the religious content of 12-step programs should stand up for their beliefs and make their objections heard, loud, clear, early, and on paper. In this case, Ricky Inouye won in part because he wrote letters and filed suit promptly after he was coerced into 12-step programs. He held to his position consistently, and enlisted legal help as soon as possible. Prisoners and parolees need to make it clear both in words and deeds that they earnestly want to remain clean and sober, that they are willing to participate in alcohol and other drug treatment programs and to attend support groups, but that the religious content in the 12-step programs violates their constitutionally protected beliefs and interferes with their recovery. Prisoners and parolees can match these words with actions by demanding referral to non-religious (secular) treatment options, if they exist, and by taking the initiative to organize secular support groups, such as LifeRing, on their own.
(2) Officials in the criminal justice system (and other government officials with coercive powers over addiction offenders) need to offer their clients a choice between religious and secular treatment programs and support groups. The "choice" between AA/NA or prison offends the constitution, and officers who insist on it need to check their professional liability insurance. Government officials can help themselves as well as their clients by sending the message to treatment programs that the programs must embody a secular track along with the 12-step track, or risk losing referrals. Officials need to inform themselves and their clients about the availability of secular support group alternatives, such as LifeRing. Where clients take the initiative to organize such support groups, officials need to be cooperative and provide a level playing field when it comes to rooms, publicity, literature, referrals, and other resources. In an appropriate case, officials may take the lead in initiating secular support groups themselves.
The Ninth Circuit decision ruffles some feathers because it contradicts the belief of many AA/NA members that the 12-step approach is "spiritual not religious." Of course, these words can have many meanings. But as far as the First Amendment of the US Constitution is concerned, the 12-step approach is clearly religious, and the Ninth Circuit only joins a "march of unanimity" of other courts who have come to the same conclusion.
The basic thrust of this line of cases is that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of and from religion extends over the whole of the United States, including the ever-expanding areas enclosed by prison walls. Since such a large proportion of prisoners are there because of drug and/or alcohol abuse, this recent ruling serves as an important refresher. Jails and prisons, notoriously in California, are overcrowded and in deplorable condition. The Ninth Circuit's decision says that the freedom of religious belief or disbelief must not go down the drain along with so many other elements of civilized penal treatment.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Who would have guessed a drama about the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous would be the laugh riot of the year? But that's the unfortunate result of "Bill W. and Dr. Bob," the well-intentioned but haplessly executed effort written by novelist Stephen Bergman and clinical psychologist Janet Surrey that opened last night.Read full review
What should have been a powerful and inspirational story plays instead like a drunken road-show version of "The Producers."
Broadway World.Com's reviewer writes:
A program note for Stephen Bergman and Janet Surrey's Bill W. and Dr. Bob advises us that performance of the work does not imply affiliation with nor approval or endorsement from Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.Source.
Smart move, A.A.
Doing for alcoholism what Reefer Madness did for drug abuse (or at least what its New World Stages neighbor Sealed For Freshness does for Tupperware), Bill W. and Dr. Bob is a frightfully melodramatic bio-drama which uses the same kind of character-probing sensitivity one might find in a driver ed movie to tell the story of two men who, in dealing with their own demons, developed the treatment techniques that would birth Alcoholics Anonymous.
... The authors turn their heroes and everyone around them into cardboard cutouts ... while I can't imagine anyone feeling inspired or enriched by this misdirected corn, I know a few more evenings like this could have me swearing off theatre for a while.
The pictures are not for the faint-hearted. One shows a man with a swollen-red tumour protruding from his neck. "Smoking can lead to a slow and painful death," reads the advice underneath. Another shows a smoker in a prison cell clutching bars made of cigarettes. The moral of the story? "Smoking is addictive. Don't start." Other pictures the Belgian government plans to rotate over the next three years show toothless gums, blackened lungs and open-heart surgery.
Canada already uses pictorial warnings along with text. Other European countries are expected to follow suit.
EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, introducing the new policy, said: "Pictorial warnings are a cost effective public health measure, which not only serve as a prominent source of health information, but are also likely to reduce tobacco use in the population." More.
The production of illicit opium poppy in Afghanistan reached a record 6,100 tons in 2006, up almost 50 percent from the previous year, the report said.
Due to a rising level of Afghan opiate trafficking, the Vienna-based UN drug control watchdog added, the neighbouring countries are now faced with a wide range of problems, "such as organized crime, corruption and relatively high illicit demand for opiates."
Moreover, the drug abuse by injection is increasingly becoming one of the main factors behind the widely spread of HIV/AIDS in some areas of the region. Source.
Billy Grubb, 32, and Bradley Johnson, 25, attacked the guard Monday night, said Howard Carlton, warden of the Northeast Correctional Complex. Both are in prison for murder.
Prisons across the state are instituting no-smoking policies after the Legislature passed a law banning smoking in state buildings. -- Source
Monday, March 12, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Saturday, March 10, 2007
The facts remain -- and the report admits -- that Colombia produces 90 per cent of the world supply of cocaine, and Afghanistan supplies more than 90 per cent of the heroin, and both are close allies of the Bush administration. Neither Colombia nor Afghanistan could achieve anything remotely near this kind of market domination without at least the active benevolence of their respective governments.
The report, which runs to 9 megabytes in PDF online (Vol. 1 here and Vol. 2 here), shows its political bias most transparently in the summary on Afghanistan. While admitting that Afghan opium production increased 25 per cent last year, the report claims that heroin stemming from Afghan opium is distributed almost exclusively in Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Asia. It claims that most of the heroin sold in the U.S. comes from poppies grown in Colombia and Mexico, which together account for only four per cent of the world supply.
The State Department strains credulity when it asks us to believe that the huge U.S. heroin demand is fed by this relative trickle of supply. The report says in one passing sentence that "Heroin produced from Afghan opium also finds its way to the United States" (Vol. 1, p. 19) but makes no effort to quantify this grudging admission.
The presence of Afghan heroin in the United States is a political landmine for the Bush administration. The bumper crops of opium recorded in Afghanistan since the invasion are unmistakably the administration's baby. To protect the administration, the State Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy all repeat the fairy tale that Afghan heroin in the U.S. is insignificant. But local police and treatment staff in many parts of the U.S. know better. Search this blog under "Afghanistan" for a selection of local news stories, many of them from the heartland, about heroin addiction and overdose deaths due to the high-potency white powder heroin made in Afghanistan under the protection of American troops by a regime propped up with American taxpayer dollars.
WHAT war on drugs?" As Gandhi reportedly said about Western civilization, "I think it would be a good idea."
Friday, March 09, 2007
While the study sheds light on stimulant use, this model will not transfer so easily to other drug use profiles, particularly opiates and depressants such as alcohol.
The 22-year-old, who lives in Huntersville, N.C., was arrested on December 10 after running a stop light. He was released after posting a $1,000 bond, and will have to appear in court on April 9 to answer to the DUI charges. Source.
New Recovery blog reader Taylor M., who contributed this item, writes:
It will be interesting to see how the IRL handles this- especially given how backwards they are about tobacco and how much alcohol sponsorship is worth to the racing industry in general. It is interesting to note that drinking alcohol at all is generally considered a no-no in pro racing, most drivers only drink on the podium. There are some notable exceptions (Kimi Raikkonen ) but mostly it's frowned upon even if alcohol sponsorship isn't.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Students were randomly assigned to a brief skills training program (BSTP) with interactive lectures and discussions, a twelve-step–influenced (TSI) program with didactic lectures by therapists trained in the 12-step approach, and a control group. More than three quarters of the students were rated "high risk" on an alcohol consumption score.
At follow-up two years later, the high-risk students who had received the BSTP program showed significantly better outcomes than high-risk students who had undergone TSI. The TSI students did no better than the control group.
The study results are in the March issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Abstract.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Marked "restricted" because of its controversial recommendations, the document was leaked to The Independent.
There is mounting evidence that trying to restrict the supply of drugs is impossible, says the document. Even if partially successful, supply restriction merely drives up the price of drugs and drives addicts to commit more crimes.
The report comes in a setting where cheap and potent Afghan heroin in unprecedented volume has been flooding into the UK from all ports of entry.
"There is a strong argument that prohibition has caused or created many of the problems associated with the use or misuse of drugs. One option for the future would be to regulate drugs differently, through either over-the-counter sales, licensed sales or doctor's prescription." Source.
For a historical review of similar policy recommendations, see the Transform Drug Policy web site.
A federal government study found that nationwide methadone-related deaths climbed to more than 3,800 in 2004 from about 780 in 1999. Among all narcotic-related deaths in 2004, only cocaine killed more people in the United States than methadone. More from the Baltimore Sun.
Monday, February 26, 2007
The organization DrinkWise Australia, which was established to promote responsible drinking, claims to be independent, despite receiving millions of dollars from the alcohol industry whose representatives make up half its 12-member board.
The organisation received $5 million in Federal Government funding last year to raise awareness of alcohol misuse and "change the drinking culture in Australia". However, DrinkWise's credibility is now being questioned following the resignation of the chairman of its research advisory committee and accusations it is a front for the alcohol industry. More.
"Yet blacks are less likely to be binge drinkers than whites," he said.
"It would be naive to disregard the possibility of racial bias or stereotype toward blacks and Hispanics in medical settings and assume that the difference in who gets counseling about alcohol use is coincidental," said one commentator.
Doctors should be asking about alcohol use, but should be asking about it across the board, Mukamal said. Details.
The comments by the head of the Royal College of Physicians come as latest data show alcohol-related deaths in the UK have doubled in the past 15 years.
Professor Ian Gilmore said the measure was necessary to protect children who were influenced by sporting heroes wearing branded clothing. -- More
The scandal (which surprised nobody) comes at a time when the U.S. Congress is considering extension of the so-called "free trade" agreement with the Colombian government. Blogger Jonathan Tasini (Huffington Post) writes that "free trade" has meant flooding Colombia with cheap imported grains from highly subsidized U.S. agribusiness corporations. This drives local farmers out of business and forces them to switch to growing coca for the well-connected drug gangs. Source.
The researchers presented alcoholics in a treatment program and a matched control group with a series of photographs showing emotional facial expressions (EFE) and asked them to identify the emotion displayed and its degree of intensity. Alcoholics consistently lagged on this test. Moreover, individuals who were at the bottom of the scale in this skill were very liable to drop out of treatment and relapse.
Skill at recognizing emotional expressions did not improve after only three months of abstinence, the researchers found.
Marie-Line Foisy, a researcher at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles and corresponding author for the study, said, "It may be that alcoholics with more severe difficulties in recognizing EFE also have more difficulties in dealing with the conventional detoxification process," said Foisy. "They may also benefit from specific training programs aimed at improving EFE recognition, or more general interpersonal skills." Source.
Comment: This research suggests that alcoholics may benefit from a support environment that provides peer feedback, a key element in improving recognition of other people's feelings and in raising one's interpersonal skills. Meetings that incorporate feedback ("crosstalk") appear to have a distinct clinical advantage along this dimension.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
“We conducted research among guests and franchisees,” Shells says. “The vast majority of them supported it. It really is for our guests. We found that the vast majority of guests prefer a smoke-free environment.”
Ten percent of U.S. Comfort Suites hotels already are 100 percent nonsmoking. The other properties will transition to that status by the end of April.
“We are extremely excited about this opportunity to increase guest satisfaction,” Shells says. “It is an opportunity to differentiate ourselves and attract new guests to the brand.” Source.
The move follows similar decisions by Westin and Marriott. Source.
Ken Gorman, an outspoken advocate for legalizing marijuana, grew pot in his home on the 1,000 block of South Decatur Street, and allowed reporters to film the plants.
Denver police said they are investigating the shooting, but were releasing few details Sunday afternoon. Family members told CBS4 Gorman was the victim in the crime. More.
But, reporting from detention centers was spotty enough to prompt a new round of data collection, with researchers hoping for a more solid picture of alcohol’s role.
The new findings presented to the Governor’s Substance Abuse and Violent Crime Advisory Board, showed that alcohol is a factor in 62 percent of all arrests. And, when alcohol is involved, people arrested for crimes ranging from domestic violence and underage drinking to assaults and warrants were far worse than legally intoxicated, with an average blood alcohol content of 0.159, nearly twice the legal limit of .08.
The new data was collected in every county during a six-month period in 2006 through survey forms completed by law enforcement officers in detention centers, said Ernie Johnson, a management consultant to the sheriffs and chiefs association and the study organizer.
“It really opened our eyes,” Johnson said, adding that the data clearly indicates alcohol is Wyoming’s top substance abuse issue. More.
The Youth In Action group is creating a 30-second television ad that urges parents to stop allowing children to hold drinking parties in their homes. The "Where do you draw the line?" ad will run on the local cable-access channel this spring.
"House parties are a big thing around here," senior Shalyn Carey said. "Where are the kids getting the alcohol? From their parents. Parents play just as big a role in their kids' partying as the kids do. We're saying, `Be a friend to your kid, but be a parent, as well.'" More.
London: Children as young as 12 are being diagnosed as alcoholics amid growing concerns about binge-drinking in Britain, an investigation by The Independent on Sunday reveals today.
Record numbers of pre-teens and teenagers now require hospital treatment for drink-related disorders, the exclusive nationwide survey shows.
The findings prove there is a hidden epidemic of child alcoholism, resulting in thousands of youngsters being treated in hospital each year for alcohol poisoning, liver disease and drink-related psychiatric illnesses.
Doctors warn that conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver are now starting to appear in people who are still in their teens, prompting calls for special detoxification clinics to be set up around the country for teenage drinkers.
Dr Claire Casey, head of a new youth detox unit at the private Priory Group, said: "We have children presenting with all the adult symptoms of alcoholism. Some are so addicted that it is actually dangerous to get them to stop drinking straight away.''
New figures reveal that Britain's teenagers are drinking twice as much as they did a decade ago, with half of all 13-year-olds consuming more than 10 units a week. The amount being consumed by 11- to 13-year-olds has gone up almost threefold in the same period, with doctors citing the cultural shift towards 24-hour drinking.
They are also worried that the drinks industry is deliberately targeting the young, promoting alcopops - heavily sweetened, attractively packaged alcoholic drinks - and offering alcohol at historically low prices. Source.
Florence County, SC: A local man has been arrested on charges he allowed his 11-year-old son to drive the family car while the father was drunk in the passenger seat, sheriff’s Capt. Todd Tucker said.
The boy’s 9- and 4-year-old siblings were also in the car Friday morning, Tucker said. A deputy dropping his child off at Coward Elementary School said he saw the 11-year-old boy driving the car. The boy’s father, Joddy Deam Morris, was drunk in the vehicle, Tucker said. Source.
The state recently paid US$21 each for about 500 talking urinal-deodorizer cakes and put them in men's rooms in bars and restaurants. When a man steps up, the motion-sensitive plastic device says, in a woman's voice that is flirty, then stern: "Hey, big guy. Having a few drinks? Think you had one too many? Then it's time to call a cab or call a sobre friend for a ride home."
The recorded message ends: "Remember, your future is in your hand."
The talking urinal is the latest effort to fight drunken driving in New Mexico, which has long had one of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the United States. (Men account for 78 per cent of all drunk-driving-related convictions in the state.)
Ann S. Banaszewski (mug shot photo) 45, of Wheaton, was arrested Monday evening while driving away from a fast-food restaurant in the suburb 20 miles west of Chicago, police said.
Three children were inside Banaszewski's van when someone called police to report a suspected intoxicated driver, said Deputy Chief Tom Meloni. More.
Scalia, who has nine children, is a leader of the neoconservative wing on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Several years ago, the state cut funding to drug treatment. Now directors say the state needs that back.
"If you want your folks working and paying taxes and raising their families, then by all means, they need to come to treatment," said Kay Baker, Director, Central Texas Treatment Center. "If you want them in prison watching TV, wasting taxpayer dollars, then don't send them to treatment." More.
Filed on behalf of the owner of two large "sober house" apartment buildings, the brief says the facilities are housing for the disabled and therefore clearly exempt from the city's zoning jurisdiction.
Opponents argue that the facilities provide treatment and are commercial in nature, and therefore should be confined to commercial districts.
Read details here. Another angle on sober houses, here.
The Louisiana Attorney General's Office says Mrs. Baer has been placed on administrative leave while they investigate the matter.
It seems almost scary, but is it possible that the wealthy in this country have in effect sold their children to the Afghanistan drug lords through their greed, blind patriotism and hatred?See more reflections along this line in Crawford's Take.
Congratulations Drug Czar John P. Walters on this great achievement in national drug policy.
The finding, reported in the January issue of Biological Psychiatry, demonstrates that repeated exposure to different types of drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, nicotine, amphetamine and alcohol, lead to a persistent or long-term reduction in the electrical activity of dopamine neurons in the brain.
Dopamine neurons are the origin of the reward pathway responsible for the "feel good" experience that is such a strong component of drug use and abuse.
"A persistent reduction in dopamine neuron electrical activity after repeated exposure to different types of drugs appears to be the result of excessive excitation of dopamine neurons," according to Roh-Yu Shen (photo), a neuroscientist and the lead investigator on the study. "This represents a new and potentially critical neural mechanism for addiction and provides a working model that suggests how the reward pathway function is altered and how these changes can be responsible for triggering intense craving and compulsive drug-seeking." Source.
Following a series of sexual crimes linked with alcohol last fall, the Academy adopted new rules that prohibit all underage drinking. Students over 21 are limited to one drink per hour and three drinks on any given evening, not to exceed 0.08 blood-alcohol content, the legal standard for drunken driving in Maryland and many other states.
Those who fail random breath tests are counseled the first time, but those caught twice, or with higher than a 0.15 blood-alcohol content, can be disciplined with restriction to the dorm, 5 a.m. marches and even expulsion. Academy authorities said that enforcement has been strict and effective.
In a recent memo, the student drug and alcohol coordinator warned of infractions and urged students to take the policy to heart. Source.
"Our findings highlight not only a need for continued prevention and treatment programs that are directed toward illegal drug use but also a call for increased effort toward prevention of tobacco and alcohol use, which is a more prevalent problem and has as great an impact on childhood behavior problems as prenatal cocaine exposure," the study's authors write.Source.
The MPI program is located in the Alta Bates-Summit-Providence Hospital complex in midtown Oakland, CA. The smoking ban ends a long-standing anomaly where the only location in the block-long complex that permitted patients to smoke was the addiction treatment center.
Meanwhile the Kaiser hospital complex in Vallejo CA declared a smoke-free policy covering the entire campus, including parking lots and sidewalks. The "smokers' huts" that previously enabled smokers were dismantled. Source.
"There are villages in the north of Afghanistan where the entire population is addicted to opium. Mothers in carpet weaving districts take opium to ease muscle aches earned from spending long days at the loom, and give it to their children to keep them quiet."
Says Bayer: "There is no education, no awareness of the harm that opium causes. People here have been traumatized. If they can find something to relieve the pain, they will take it." From Time magazine 2/14/07.
Durham, S.C.: Convicted drunken drivers would have to participate in alcohol treatment programs — even if they didn’t want their driver’s licenses reinstated — under a bill introduced Tuesday that would rewrite the state’s DUI laws.
The mandated treatment is needed because many convicted offenders choose to drive on suspended licenses rather than pay to go through treatment programs to get their licenses back, supporters say.Such drivers conservatively total in the thousands annually, said Lee Dutton, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services. Source.
No mention so far in the coverage of this controversial bill whether the mandated treatment will be secular, or include a secular option, as required by federal appellate decisions.
Friday, February 23, 2007
He said that Scotland must seek to abandon the methadone programme and look instead for new, drug-free methods of kicking heroin.
His comments came after he visited a trial of neuro-electric therapy (Net, promo photo from website), a drug-free addiction treatment, invented by a Scottish neurosurgeon, Dr Meg Patterson.
At the trial, Mr McConnell met six female heroin users who are undergoing a seven-day course of Net. The treatment involves a weak electric current being applied to the brain.
Laura, 28, a mother of two, has been a heroin user for seven years, but has failed to quit using methadone. She told the First Minister she had been "amazed" by how quickly her cravings for heroin had disappeared while undergoing Net.
Afterwards the First Minister spoke of his desire to see Net given a full clinical trial, with a view to making it available on the NHS.
He said, "I'm very keen that we find a way of progressing to a proper research proposal so that Net can be tested in the conditions that will meet the standards of the National Health Service.
"If this is successful, then this treatment could operate on a scale that can make a huge difference to people's lives." Source.
The 36-page booklet can be downloaded as a web file here or as a PDF file here. Free paper copies can be ordered online. It should be quite useful to persons trying to get a grip on their own experience with addictive substances, to persons in relationships where addiction is an issue, and to educators, people in the media, and treatment professionals.
A superior court judge has ruled that the lawsuit can go ahead and has set a March 2008 trial date. Source.
A coroner revealed that after Bailey had passed out, his fraternity brothers marked up his arms, legs and trunk with racial and sexual slurs, said the young man's father, Lynn Gordon Bailey.
"This reinforces the nearly unbearable pain of the whole thing," Bailey said. "Was he dying while they were writing that?"
When it became apparent that the 18-year-old was not breathing, and police were going to be called in to investigate, someone tried to wipe off the slurs that were written on his face with a felt-tip marker, police said. Source.
Bailey's death has similarities to the fate of Phanta "Jack" Phoumarrath at the University of Texas, Austin. Link.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
People play around with addictive drugs because they don't believe that they will become hooked, says Professor George Loewenstein, lead author of the study. Similarly, people without personal experience of addiction have no clue to the compelling force of the addict's craving, once addiction is established. Source.
The study is the first to directly measure secondhand smoke exposure through levels of a nicotine byproduct in the blood. Previous studies have relied on participants' recall of exposure.
Compared with people in the study with no detectable exposures to nicotine, those with low- and high exposure levels also had significantly higher levels of two important markers of heart disease risk.
"These findings suggest that secondhand smoke exposure has a clinically important effect on susceptibility to heart disease, even at relatively low levels of exposure, and they highlight the importance of minimizing the public's exposure to secondhand smoke," researcher Andrea Venn, PhD, stated. Source.
The report says that drug users are typically sent to treatment only after they have been caught for committing a crime, a time when they are frequently not ready for treatment and do not benefit from it. Meanwhile drug users who have not committed crimes but wish to have treatment for their addiction are unable to get it because the programs are full. Details.
The video was taken by a soldier in the Royal Regiment of Scotland with a cell phone, and given to The Daily Record newspaper, which contacted military authorities. Source.
As the Taliban makes headway in the south and east, the largest-ever opinion survey shows one-fifth fewer Afghans believe the country is moving in the right direction compared to the eve of 2004 elections. Contempt mounts each day against President Hamid Karzai for failing to hold members of his government accountable. According to Crisis Group, his Anti-Corruption and Bribery Office has a staff of some 140 and has been operating for over two years but has yet to obtain a conviction. U.S. Defense Department and European officials say at least half of all Western aid does not reach those who need it. Drug-related corruption is most problematic at the local-regional level, though a number of state employees told me the trail leads all the way back to Kabul, where suspiciously lavish homes interrupt otherwise drab neighborhoods. Perhaps no one has defined the situation better than the embattled president himself: "If we fail to eradicate poppy, the poppy will eradicate us."Read the full article.
Still, the struggle to quit remains a formidable challenge. Recent studies demonstrated nicotine levels in cigarettes actually increased over the past ten years. Even more troubling, recently published surveys indicate the decline in smoking prevalence in the United States leveled out in 2004 at 21%. While the vast majority of smokers want to quit, over 45 million adults still use tobacco in the United States despite significant adverse consequences to themselves and their family members, friends, and employers. Source.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
So says a survey of upscale inpatient facilities in the Feb. 19 Newsweek. Ford, which at last report charges $38,000 for a 28-day stay, is now on the low margin of the upmarket segment. There are programs that charge up to $100,000 for the same stretch. They include Malibu sunsets, equine encounters, Native American talk circles, gourmet cuisine, and -- more important -- elements of cognitive behavioral therapy, Motivational Interviewing, pharmacological treatments and other modern therapeutic approaches.
Newsweek's article quotes Chris Prentiss of Passages Malibu, an upscale facility that has dumped AA altogether. Prentiss says that AA's "emphasis on helplessness in the face of addiction makes people feel stupid and ashamed." Other providers talk in more guarded terms, but the trend away from exclusive reliance on the 12-step model is remarkable. What the high-priced celebrity showcases offer today, the K-mart treatment shops will be trying to copy tomorrow. Without the hot tubs, the sunsets, or the horses.
For a listing of non-step or steps-plus treatment facilities, click here.
The average age of those dying from alcohol-attributable causes - mostly suicide for men, or alcoholic liver cirrhosis for women - is about 35 years.
National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) Indigenous Australian Research team leader Dennis Gray said these were conservative estimates from a first-of-its-kind study of the problem which showed alcohol killed 1145 indigenous Australians between 2000 and 2004.
"If we are serious about addressing this disparity and reducing death rates among indigenous Australians, we need to focus on the underlying social causes of that ill health," Professor Gray said. "For instance, suicide is the most frequent alcohol-caused death among indigenous men, which reflects the despair that many indigenous people feel."
Senior Research Fellow Tanya Chikritzhs said she was shocked to discover indigenous women as young as 25 years were dying of haemorrhagic stroke due to heavy drinking. Source.
'You've got to be thinking about it as multiple disorders that look the same but are not,' Banys said. 'They're not genetically the same. We already know that there are at least six different chromosomal locations heavily implicated, and many more are turning up.' -- From a San Francisco Chronicle addiction story by its science writer Carl T. Hall, Feb. 11. Source.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Among the numerous voices questioning the wisdom of this judgment was the New York Times, which editorialized on Feb. 6:
The limited gains Colombia has achieved in recent years have been offset by an overly generous amnesty program for right-wing paramilitary leaders and drug traffickers, which has seriously compromised the rule of law. And American aid has been disproportionately directed into military and police programs, leaving far too little to promote alternative livelihoods for Colombia’s farmers. Despite all the money spent, the amount of land planted with coca crops has risen and the net harvest has been reduced only slightly. Afghanistan’s problems will not be solved by copying these mistakes.Source. It sounds like, apart from the language barrier, Wood will feel right at home in Colombistan.
A long, insightful piece on the Colombia/Afghanistan parallel by Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times (London) makes a similar point. In Afghanistan, he says:
Here, too, the West is intervening in a narco-economy that is destabilising a pro-western government. Here, too, quantities of aid have been dedicated to security yet have fed corruption. Here, too, intervention has boosted drug production and stacked the cards against law and order. This year’s Afghan poppy crop is predicted to be the largest on record. European demand has boosted the price paid for Afghan poppies to nine times that of wheat. At this differential a policy of crop substitution is absurd. ...Jenkins' piece, titled "America is doped up in Colombia for a bad trip in Afghanistan," observes that in Helmand province, a major poppy area, "drug lords are the only counterweight to the Taliban." Source.
Some 40,000 Nato troops from more than 30 different countries are gathered in Kabul. Since many of them refuse to fight, the city has become a holiday camp for the world’s military elite. Outside the capital, military occupation acts as a recruiting sergeant for insurgency, leaving Nato bases constantly on the defensive. ...