You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2009.

Mrs. BONO MACK (for herself and Mr. PATRICK KENNEDY) submitted the following concurrent resolution, which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and which reflects the full nature of statistical evidence of what the impact of addiction is on our communities and America as a whole.  Read House Resolution 115, 111th CongressLibrary of Congress link provided by Mary Slivinski

…”Bill Ford started the blog Dad on Fire in July, feeling empowered after taking a leadership class with Landmark Forum in Phoenix. At the time, Ford was embarking on a new relationship with his 22-year-old son, a recovering heroin addict. The Tucson architect wants to create a resource and forum for others to learn more about drug addiction—and to perhaps create more compassion in society for addicts and their families”…   Check out the article in the TUCSON WEEKLY, written by Mari Herreras.

Young people are abusing medications to get high and families don’t know enough.  Young drug abusers do not understand the dangers.  Here is a valuable PDF document by the D.E.A. that provides answers:  Prescription for Disaster, How Teens Abuse Medicine.

Oxycontin & Opiate Addiction: A Mother’s StoryBlinded for Love for JAn Addict in Our Son’s BedroomMom of Opiate Addicted Son Many thanks for sharing these personal journeys into the world of addiction and recovery.

Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, speaking in front of the  International Association of Police Chiefs, could have taken a small step towards decriminalization of drug addiction and expanded drug regulation.  He didn’t do that.  His vision appears to maintain a status quo:  (Read his statement here) • marijuana remains illegal  • the war on drugs goes on •  drug addicts continue to face criminalization of their behavior.  He did, however, talk of ways we can reduce demand for illegal drugs, and offered a proposed budget of 120 million dollars to do this.

Consider that 21 to 25 million Americans are drug addicts and alcoholics in need of treatment ranging from a few counseling sessions to a year in residential care.  10% of them do receive some kind of treatment, privately and publicly.    6 to 8 million of these are addicted to hard drugs and require some level of controlled residential care.  A million and half of inmates today are incarcerated due to drug use and will be released untreated.  Some of them are there for direct drug offence, while over half of these inmates are there for doing something to get drugs.  Stealing to get drugs usually equates to addiction.   This new spending is supposed to stimulate efforts for treatment programs, expansion of drug courts, better problem solving in the court system, and treatment of incarcerated inmates.  Do the math.  With a negative cost impact to America  of 480 billion dollars due in some way to drugs and alcohol,  can 120 million make  a dent in curtailing the problem?  Treating roughly  60,000 thousand  incarcerated opiate addicts alone could cost 1.5 billion dollars for a solid year of compulsory treatment and recovery.

Part of a new treatment paradigm can look like using the same dollars it takes to incarcerate opiate addicts;  to treat them.   That begins to look like no extra dollars are needed  for treatment facilitated within the legal system.  To help this comparison, consider that an incarcerated opiate addict even if released much less than a year,  will return to prison numerous times after that, while failing drug court efforts and  continuing  to inflict financial damage to society which is part of the overall cost of alcohol and drug addiction to America.  See The Impact of Just One Addict.   Roughly, the financial impact to Americans of one addict averages 25K per year.  Coincidently, the  cost to incarcerate that addict for an aggregate of one year is about the same.  You can begin to see that having an addict leave the legal system free of drugs and alcohol and a good chance to stay sober has it advantages.

Back to the status quo, delivering treatment outside the penal system would in fact take at least two more digits added to Kerlikowske’s budget and of course expand the current cost impact to America due in some way to drugs and alcohol.  The reality of the situation is that we don’t have extra money and states don’t fund most drug court mandated treatment.  Case and point.  Most offenders are simply returning to jail for re-offence or  drug court non-compliance.  At that point, they are back in jail where treatment is not available other than optional AA and NA 12- step meetings in some prisons.  Beyond that, prison health management falls short of even treating conventional diseases, much less drug addiction and parallel mental illness.  A fresh look at new solutions and ideas requires a  necessary attitude change in legal policy.  These points were absent from Gil Kerlikowske’s speech.  We are in for more of the  same for now.

By maintaining the status quo of the war on drugs we, unfortunately  insure that the current cost impact of 480 billion dollars to Americans due to drugs and alcohol will continue to grow.  History already informs us that get tough on drug and 3-strike laws doesn’t reduce demand.  Statistics show that the rate of drug abuse and addiction is growing.   The step that wasn’t taken yet is the one towards  policy reform, budget re-allocations and facing the reality of a crisis of drug addiction in America.  Notwithstanding, our biggest concern right now is the economy.  Having just punished our budgets by more than a trillion dollars to seed economic recovery, American’s can’t stomach adding more dollars to new budget needs.

Drug addiction is an ugly horse and easy to ignore.  It’s impact is small on the surface and big where you don’t like to look.  Drug addicts and alcoholics comprise 7 to 8% of our population.  If we took 7% of the T.A.R.P. funds to seed recovery programs, we would have over 10 billion dollars, roughly two digits more than what Kerlikowski is proposing.  The drug czar is sweeping the problem under the rug.  Here’s where the 7% becomes a much bigger problem.  Our own government figures show that when you consider the collective expense of incarceration, an out of hand drug war, record deaths, hospitalization, demoralized families, and damaged communities, the impact now touches 60% of American lives and 17% of Americas operating budget.  That’s a big problem.   This is why Mr. Kerlikowske’s speech underscores an already ineffective status quo approach to addressing the scourge of drugs and alcohol.  In fairness, I will reserve final opinions until we see upcoming strategy statement scheduled in 02/10 from the ONDCP.   Look for that to come.    Dadonfire.

Ongoing debate for decriminalizing the “use” of drugs loses a little steam with latest statement from America’s Drug Czar to the International Association of Police in Denver this month.  A piece put together by JOIN TOGETHER has many links, including Gil Kerlikowske’s speech in PDF and a Washington Post editorial by the Group LEAP who advocate decriminalization and legalization.  Legalization would not create a drug free-for-all.  In fact, regulation reins in the mess we already have.  If prohibition decreased drug use and drug arrests acted as a deterrent, America would not lead the world in illegal drug use and incarceration for drug crimes.  The cost of our drug war is widely known.  Senator Jim Webb knows this and discusses the issue in his senate address, which can be viewed here.  Plain and simple:  the direction America has been going with the drug war is not only failing to get the cartels, it is draining our budgets and making criminals out of many thousands of our own young people every year this travesty continues.  America has a drug “use” crisis.   That’s the real subject.

Judge Jim Gray on C-Span Washington Journal Nov. 2008, discussing the War On Drugs, jails, marijuana and drug prohibition.  The U.S. is currently jailing drug addicts and dually diagnosed addicts with a diagnosable mental problem.  The impact is billions of taxpayer dollars going to a failed drug war, improperly allocated prison budgets, unnecessary emergency room treatment for drug complications, homelessness, and untreated addicts.  Check out this website/video.

Long, but current and informative.  View the recently published World Drug Report 2009, on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s website.  Also, read a summary of the report here.

This in from Carlton F. “Perk” Clark, LCSW Psychotherapy & Organizational Development, LLC.  “I’ve heard many stories about how particular insurance ‘coverage’ appears more like fraud when you learn that you have never had the treatment coverage you need.  The Mental Health Parity Act may change that.”

The Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity Act appears to impact group insurance plans with 50 or more employees, possibly excluding smaller business employee and self employed plans from addiction treatment coverage after the effective date of 1/1/10  –  Dadonfire

International Drug Policy Reform Conference, 11/12/09, Albuquerque, NM – link provided by JJ Moates

Want to know what the drug war is costing you and me?  Want to know how easy it is for our youth to end up addicted to drugs and end up in jail?  If so, read this website. It will shed some light.  Post by Mary Slivinski.

October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month and presents an opportunity to promote community involvement to educate parents about the dangers of medicine abuse among teens.  When parents in your community think about protecting teens from drugs, they usually think of illicit street drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.  Today’s teens are abusing prescription drugs more than any illicit drug except marijuana.¹ Read their website here which is rich with links. Links by Mary Slivinski

Better put, Opiate Addiction is often treated with opiate based methadone and suboxone.  Now America is looking at treating heroin addiction with pure heroin.  This works elsewhere and takes the air out of the sails of the heroin cartels.  Opiate addiction often starts in the medicine cabinetWorldwide, the use of heroin is growing.  Braving the most brutal of withdrawals, opiate addicts will most likely give in to an equally powerful and enduring psychological craving if they are lucky enough to survive having their guts turned inside out for a week or more.  Quitting opiates is at the very least, difficult and destructive to families and communities.  Sooner or later, many addicts try and substitute their addiction to street heroin with illegal pills, alcohol or legally prescribed drug replacement therapy.  Here are some recent links:  • Time Magazine •  CNN HealthReuters • The New York Times • ABC News •  Links by Drew

Sad fact!  Suboxone is addictive and has withdrawal symptoms.  Quick detox programs like the Waismann Method and  Rapid Anesthesia Detox are out of reach financially for most addicts.  A more methodical approach of quitting suboxone is unfolding from the experience of many.  You won’t find anything good said about this wonder drug in a quick detox website, either.  The Suboxone Talk Zone is probably the most useful resource for describing suboxone and just how slow and deliberate suboxone tapering has to be when one is ready to quit.  Best to read the link. The alternative of  serious addicts remaining on their opiate of choice is far more devastating.  Suboxone is paradoxically a necessary evil and a wonder drug.  When managed, it can transform an addict into a contributing member of society, releasing the deadly impact that opiate addiction has on the addict, their families and communities.

Intervention Services Inc., is an addiction intervention service available in most states.  Their staff, although somewhat expensive,  will come to the problem.   The good news is that their resource rich website is free for anyone to view.  It displays clear  opinion and perspective on intervention protocol for many drugs including the dynamics of approaching addicts and their families.  Interestingly, the site has a feature about the A&E Intervention Show;  a useful perspective on the reality of intervention.  Here, also,  is a YouTube resource of A&E episodes.

New docu-drama MTV series produced by the late DJ AM who paradoxically died recently of a drug overdose.  What an irony!  A heartbreaker!  God bless him.  He lived for a purpose.  Did he die for a purpose – to get our attention?  Here’s part one right here as the show goes on.  This link, courtesy of  Mary Slivinski

Dadonfire is a participatory blog!  Your input and stories!  Your cutting edge links and information leads!  This is what we are after.  This is what we want to put out there to fire people up in their own efforts to find solutions and recovery.

This participatory website came from an individual impacted by the world of drug addiction and alcoholism.  Here is some background about the site, Dadonfire:  Brief biographyPress release • Some experience with Insurance

After years of watching the impact of addiction in our communities, there is no convincing needed for good information.  There is a massive resource base available on-line that dadonfire strives to keep a current connection with.   Dadonfire is looking for submissions in all areas of the world of addiction and recovery, from treatment professionals to addicts and their families.

DJ AM’s “Gone Too Far” Addiction Series to Air on MTV.

WOW!  DJ AM knew all too well about the daily struggle of drug addiction. The late celebrity spinner (born Adam Goldstein), who died of an accidental drug overdose in August at age 36, spent his last few months filming an MTV series called “Gone Too Far,” in which he spoke candidly about his own addiction, his 11 years of sobriety, and his desire to help other young addicts overcome their demons.  Also check out MTV’s drug resource link.  Submitted by Mary Slivinski


Drug War Facts provides reliable information with applicable citations on important public health and criminal justice issues. It is updated continuously by its editor, Douglas A. McVay.

Most charts, facts and figures are from government sources, government-sponsored sources, peer reviewed journals and occasionally newspapers. In all cases the source is cited so that journalists, scholars and students can verify, check context and obtain additional information.

For the parents of teenagers and young adults lost in the world of addiction.   For parents lost in their own relentless search for answers.  Archived in the “Blogs and Resources” category drop-down menu:

Top 100 Blogs on Recovery • Oxycontin & Opiate AddictionThe Needle and the Damage Done, Thoughts from the mother of a heroin addictMom vs Heroin

For families and individuals impacted by the world of addiction and recovery.   Here are a few good blogs that touch the soul and open doors.

DryblogThe Junky’s Wife • The Discovering Alcoholic •  Mother to an Addict •  Cocaine Widow • Take 12 Recovery Radio • I’m Fine • Breaking the Silence

This 9/14/09 video production from Democracy Now! – Charles Bowden on Mexico’s Dirty War Against Drugs. Tucson author Charles Bowden’s investigative journalism unearthed some interesting facts about the floundering drug war.  The video underscores why America needs to do something radically different.

Heroin’s ComebackBusts at Levels Not Seen Since the 70’s.  Mexican dealers are flooding the market with a cheap form of heroin that is more potent than its predecessors, snaring younger users.  Read article here.  By Michael B. Farrell | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor  4/08/09   (This post submitted by Dr. R. Osborn, treatment advocate and provider.) Dr. Robert Osborn has successfully integrated addiction treatment into his practice in the most accessible way we’ve seen in the Tucson area.  He is a model that other practices can follow to help promote recovery from addiction.

Local father ignites awareness of substance abuse impact on families and communities with the launching of   SEE PRESS RELEASE

Written by Ted Jackson
April 2008

For those who have waited years and years through the “Just Say No,” the insidious rise of the Prison Industrial Complex and the overall absurdity of our nation’s policies toward addiction, the time of reform has finally come.

Partly driven by an inability to pay the $60 billion a year it costs to warehouse addicts in our vast prison system, and partly driven by a public increasingly well-educated about addiction, in state after state policies are being rewritten to mandate treatment instead of jail for those who are addicted to drugs. And the spectacle of a Mexican government impotent in the face of the enormous wealth and power of that nation’s drug cartels is shining a spotlight on the Big Lie that is the War on Drugs, prompting the beginnings of a examination of our approach to drug policy at it most fundamental level, which is whether drugs should be illegal in the first place and whether such vast sums should be allowed to be funneled into the hands of the world’s least socially desirable elements, like Mexico’s cartels, instead of toward things like treatment.

Many thought that the treatment industry might experience a sharp downturn during this harshest of recessions, but we here at Treatment Magazine have never believed that, looking as we have at the fundamentals, which point toward explosive growth over the next decade as vast sums are shifted from the prison system into the treatment industry. And on the private side, insurers have been hugely remiss in cutting back on funding by amounts that are no longer going to be tolerated by a public more and more wanting access to quality care. We believe that the treatment industry, as it introduces increasingly sophisticated “evidence based” treatment products, is on the cusp of a period of unprecedented explosive growth with annual spending on treatment easily reaching $50 billion a year within the next ten years, double our nation’s current rate of spending.

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October 2009