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. ...
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Austin attorney Howard Wolf (photo), in a scathing position paper, criticized the relationships among lawmakers, wholesale distributors and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Wolf, who also served on the Tax Reform Commission, said that the alcoholic beverage industry has a controlling influence with the Legislature, and has blocked any moves to increase the tax on liquor, which has not been raised since 1984. Source.
Burke, who also is the school’s health instructor and the girls’ varsity track coach, had a blood-alcohol content level of .28 when his van hit the truck in the 300 block of Broad Street about 11:15 p.m. on Jan. 26, Patrolman Jason Scott Bentley said in an affidavit. Source.
Danelo, 21, was found Jan. 6 more than 100 feet down a rocky cliff in San Pedro.
Danelo made 15 of 16 field goals this season and led the Trojans in scoring with 89 points. He made two field goals in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day to help USC beat Michigan 32-18. Source.
A 1973 comic featuring Captain Al Cohol, a superhero of the Arctic north who had one fatal weakness -- guess -- has been republished, complete, on the web. Source. The comic shows alcoholism as something that even the strongest men can fall into, and it makes an effort to localize its message to the Inuit culture.
Six weeks later, the Karzai regime in Kabul announced that spraying the poppy fields would not happen, either from the air or from the ground. See earlier blog item here. Instead of expressing dismay, the White House pledged additional funds and troops, and Pres. Bush sent personal well-wishes to Karzai.
The effect was to hang Walters out to dry. The "giant steps" toward poppy eradication that he said were needed to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a narco-state are not going to happen. The "scourge of corruption" that troubles Afghanistan's institutions, according to his Dec. 9 statement, is unchecked and reinforced, with the blessings of the Bush administration.
If Walters had any backbone, he'd resign.
In some subgroups, notably young teens (12-13 year olds) and girls of any age who had not been using drugs, the campaign appears to have increased the initiation of drug use because it made drug use by peers seem more familiar and acceptable, the GAO concluded.
A major aim of the campaign, motivating parents to monitor their children's drug use, the GAO found, met with no significant results, and even when the campaign affected parental behavior, there was no evidence of corresponding changes in the attitudes or behavior of children.
Although alcohol, tobacco and other drug use among teens has been declining, the GAO report found no causal relationship between the decline and the media campaign.
The campaign is conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a branch of the Bush White House. Despite (or because?) of the campaign's negative results, President Bush has asked Congress for $120 million for the campaign for 2007, an increase of $21 million over last year. ONDCP criticized the GAO report's methods and conclusions.
(Thanks for the lead to this item to the Kujan blog.)
Thursday, February 08, 2007
The Illinois Democrat, who will formally launch his campaign Saturday, said his wife, Michelle (photo), persuaded him to quit.
"My wife wisely indicated that this is a potentially stressful situation, running for president," he said Tuesday. "She wanted to lay down a very clear marker that she wants me healthy."
The stakes are high for Obama not just because of the health hazards but because voters might be wary of a presidential candidate hooked on cigarettes. More.
The actor plays chain-smoking bondsman Jack Dupree in the new action film and admits the amount of cigarettes he had to puff on for the role have put him off nicotine for good.
He told People magazine: "The whole week that I shot, I smoked, like, five packs a day. By the time the movie was over, I was so sick of smoking, I just didn't want to do it anymore, and I quit." Source.
The twin strategy of war and reconstruction in Afghanistan has failed to achieve any remarkable success. The country is sliding fast into chaos and disorder, particularly on its southern and eastern periphery. If other areas are calm, it is not because the state has extended its writ to them, but because it has surrendered its authority to the local warlords. There is general despondency and frustration among the population.The U.S. under the Bush administration has allied itself with the warlords, the worst and least popular elements of Afghan society:
Their grief and anger is widely shared by the international community and by friends of Afghanistan throughout the world. After three bouts of deadly war, the Afghans thought they would have a better, peaceful future and economic opportunities to reconstruct their individual and collective lives.
The Taliban have re-emerged as a formidable force, against the hope that international intervention and political reconstruction would end the war. The warlords continue to stay put and strong, forcing President Hamid Karzai to make compromises. The Pashtun regions remain unstable and out of the government’s control.
Local farmers and international drug-traffickers have found the absence of the Afghan state and weak political and security arrangements auspicious for reviving poppy cultivation on a scale never known before in the history of the country. Afghanistan unfortunately has become a narcotics state — a development that has taken place in the presence of NATO, ISAF and US forces.
The warlords humiliated, coerced and murdered tens of thousands of Afghans, and most of them had a narrow support base in their immediate ethnic or tribal communities. The United States, by co-opting them as allies against the Taliban, rehabilitated them, empowered them with money and weapons and gave them a dignified space in the new political structure.Read the full commentary.
Most of them have committed untellable atrocities against their political and ethnic rivals and could be put before an international criminal tribunal for their crimes against humanity. All of them have been spared for the ‘good’ work they have done for the US and ISAF forces.
The charity carried out nearly 6,000 abortions at its nine centres across the UK in January, the highest number in its 32-year history. This was a rise of 13% on January last year.
The charity's UK director, Liz Davies, blamed the surge in abortions on excess drinking over the Christmas season. Source.
(Thanks, Owen P., for this item.)
Julie Coverdale was steered to a sober house by her counselor after a month at a 12-step treatment program. The house was billed as "Phase II" of her recovery, but there was no therapeutic component to it, other than the requirement that she attend two outside AA meetings a week. She was turned out of the house without legal process when she was found smoking cigarettes in her room. She had to fight to get her deposit and her personal belongings back. She said most clients who get evicted just walk away. Source.
Sober house operators in Minnesota get around the state's tenant protection laws by classifying the facility as "disabled housing." Clients are made to sign waivers of tenant rights and are called "guests" or "program participants" paying "program fees" instead of rent. Many find that they can be evicted on 15 minutes' notice. Some operators profit from frequent evictions of their vulnerable clients, too insecure to demand return of their deposits or belongings. Says the paper:
Despite abuses, sober houses are proliferating in Minnesota due to cutbacks in public funding for treatment and tougher insurance regulations. They can be highly profitable for the owners. Says the paper:
HEART, a Minneapolis nonprofit, spent about half of its $275,000 grant budget last year to cover the first month's rent for financially needy clients who moved into sober houses. More than a year ago, however, the agency stopped paying security deposits because so many landlords failed to return the money.
"It's hard to tell who is starting in it for an honest reason and who is starting it as a quick way to make a buck," said Anne Germain Beauclaire, HEART's executive director.
Sober houses exist in a legal netherworld: Landlords say they are exempt from local tenant laws because their clients are disabled. Yet the owners don't have to provide tenants with counseling or other services because the homes are not licensed treatment centers. The program is whatever the landlord says it is, and tenants who violate the rules are often immediately thrown out.Read the full story.
Alcoholism and drugs are big time problems all over the small towns of eastern Kentucky, write the editors. Conner was drinking and doing drugs long before she hit the Big Apple.
What Conner's story really shows, says the paper, is the big gap between celebrities and ordinary folks in access to treatment. Conner got into an upscale residential 30-day program the day she asked for help. In the drug-saturated small towns where the newspaper's readers live, there's one treatment bed for every ten people who need it, and the average wait is four to six weeks -- if you can afford it at all. Source.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
After admitting to a sexual affair two years ago with his former appointments secretary, (photo middle) a woman married to his campaign manager (photo left), Newsom said that although "my problems with alcohol are not an excuse for my personal lapses in judgment," he had stopped drinking and wanted professional help staying sober.
"Upon reflection with friends and family this weekend, I have come to the conclusion that I will be a better person without alcohol in my life," Newsom said in a statement.
Delancey Street provides a residential program for hard-core addicts, including ex-convicts and prostitutes. Although the mayor plans to work with her on an outpatient basis, the program will not be easy, said Silbert, who met with Newsom over the weekend.
"The good thing, to me, is that he came and asked for help from a place he knows would not be light," Silbert said.
Delancey Street, which she founded in 1971, does not rely on the 12-step philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous but works to address the underlying reasons for excessive drinking, she said.
Citing privacy reasons, Silbert would not elaborate on how specifically she planned to help Newsom, whom she described as "very serious" about getting help. More.
Newsom is up for re-election in November. Commentators say that Tourk commands a loyal following of volunteers who won't be working for Newsom this fall. More.
She was reported missing on Jan. 2 by her husband after having last been seen New Year’s Eve.
Four children playing at the church before services almost a month later saw her body partially covered by snow. They called a parent, who notified police.
Family members said Wilkins-Wells was believed to have been headed to church the day she went missing. The family belongs to Foothills Unitarian, which is about two miles from their home.
Wilkins-Wells had been a sociology lecturer at UNC since August 1992, specializing in minority relations and community planning.
Katie Wilkins-Wells said that her mother had started having problems with alcoholism two years ago and had joined Alcoholics Anonymous. Source.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Ms. Price is one of the parents in the suburban Boston area whose family has been hit by heroin addiction.
She says of the local politicos: "Their inaction abandons families to be destroyed by the gut-wrenching fear and life-changing grief they suffer, struggling to save their children, then losing them to overdose. " More.
Professor Ian Gilmore (photo), president of the Royal College of Physicians, said higher taxes were particularly needed on strong cider and other high strength drinks aimed at young people such as alcopops.
But he warned the alcohol industry operated a powerful lobby which argued against future tax hikes.
"We should try to return the cost of alcoholic beverages in real terms to what they were 20 years ago over a period of time."
Prof Gilmore said the issue of raising taxes on alcohol was an "uncomfortable" one for the Government.
"The Government is anxious about the nanny state, but I think the harm done by alcohol is such that nannying would be in order," he added. Source.
In 2005, methamphetamine accounted for 8 per cent of admissions to treatment facilities. Forty-five per cent of these treatment admissions were women. Details. Original.
The People's Court of Son La province, which borders Laos, found 31 people guilty of either transporting opium or producing heroin, said Le Minh Loan, head of the province's anti-narcotics' force.
In addition to the death sentences, 13 defendants were given life sentences. Nine others received lengthy prison terms, and one was sentenced to time served.
The ring was accused of producing 44 kilograms of heroin and trafficking 216 kilograms of heroin and 199 kilograms of opium in the period between 2000 and 2004.
Under Vietnamese law, trading more than 600 grams of heroin is punishable by death.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, Vietnam now has 160,226 drug addicts, more than 70% of which are between 18 and 35 years old.
Afghanistan currently produces enough poppies to make 90 per cent of the world's heroin. Source.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Among Ivins' numerous credits is her insightful expose of the tobacco industry. In one of her columns, she wrote:
06.26.01 - AUSTIN, Texas -- Look at it this way: The good news is there's at least one thing about which George W. Bush is consistent. George W. Bush does not believe in doing anything to hurt big business.Good-bye, Molly. You will be missed.
He especially doesn't believe in letting anyone sue business. He is opposed to a patients' bill of rights for that reason; he tried to keep the lawyers who won a $17 billion case for the state of Texas from getting their fees for that reason; and tort reform, which is another way of saying you can't sue corporations that injure or kill you or your family, is a burning passion with him.
So it should come as no surprise that the federal government has decided to settle its case against the tobacco companies. According to anti-smoking groups, in the 2000 elections the tobacco companies gave $8 million in campaign contributions, 80 percent of it to Republicans. Bush certainly knew when he appointed John Ashcroft attorney general that Ashcroft was one of the leading senators in stopping anti-smoking legislation in 1998 that would have toughened regulations and increased prices.
Administration officials have been saying they don't think they can win the case, even though one state after another has won, which means the tobacco companies go into settlement negotiations with little reason to pony up. The government was claiming $20 billion in damages for money it has spent on health care for its employees, veterans and those on Medicare with illnesses caused by smoking.
Knowingly making and marketing a poisonous, addictive product could be considered of dubious legality. I fail to see the difference between that and Murder, Inc. (As one who has quit smoking many, many times, I speak with some feeling on the issue.) The idea that smokers have a "choice" about the habit seems to me a legitimate argument: I can't imagine suing a tobacco company because I was stupid enough to start smoking. But an addiction you already have is not a problem that can be solved by just saying no.
The government was suing to recover the cost to everybody else of treating smoking illnesses and would then have used much of the money to educate young people about why they shouldn't smoke. Given the amount the tobacco companies spend on marketing their poison, it makes some sense to have a counter-force out there, unless we all want to continue paying these staggering health costs, while the tobacco companies make billions. Source.