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St. Francis Mission Recovery Programs…Can you imagine driving more than 90 miles to get to your weekly meeting?  What if you wanted to go to more than one a week but couldn’t because it was either too far away or you didn’t have adequate transportation? What would you do, and more importantly, who would you turn to?  These issues, sadly, are run of the mill problems for those recovering from alcoholism and addiction on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  The reservation is home to the Lakota (Sioux Indian) people, many of whom suffer from the problems mentioned above.  Two recovery centers – the Icimani Ya Waste Recovery Center and White River Recovery Center – are working to help those who suffer from addiction on the Rosebud Reservation.  The centers are run by members of the Lakota tribe / the St. Francis Mission (link: http://www.sfmission.org/programs/recovery/).  They help coordinate 12 step meetings for those in need, provide space for those meetings to take place, give referrals to treatment centers and support for the families of those suffering from addiction.  In talking to the coordinators to the two recovery centers, it is clear that the need for recover is strong on the reservation.  Jim Stands, director of the White River Recovery Center, states, the people on the Reservation are affected by the disease of addiction.  Whole families – from great grandchildren to great grandparents – are affected, and in turn, addiction affected the community and the whole Lakota nation (called the oyate).  When an individual wants to overcome their addiction, they face challenges that are above and beyond what someone who lives off a Reservation might face.  One of the open AA groups that meets on Wednesdays at the White River Recovery Center is called the “Out of Towners” meeting for a reason.  Many of the individuals who attend this group live far away from where the meeting is held, but make the long drive every week to support each other in sobriety.  The St. Francis Mission and the Recovery Centers have partnered with the Betty Ford Institute to provide educational programing to address the effects addiction has on the family.  Participants of the Betty Ford Family Program learn to set boundaries, control codependency issues, and communication skills so they can express emotions and feelings in a healthy constructive way.  The recovery programs combine Lakota traditions with more traditional recovery content.   by Corrie Oberdin  corrie@corrieoberdin.net   http://www.sfmission.org

Portugal’s Drug Policies pay off, US eyes lessons.   12/26/2010

Drugs in Portugal are still illegal. But here’s what Portugal did: It changed the law so that users are sent to counseling and sometimes treatment instead of criminal courts and prison. The switch from drugs as a criminal issue to a public health one was aimed at preventing users from going underground.  Portugal with an estimated 100,000 people — an astonishing 1 percent of its population — were addicted to illegal drugs. So, like anyone with little to lose, the Portuguese took a risky leap: They decriminalized the use of all drugs in a groundbreaking law in 2000.  Now, the United States, which has waged a 40-year, $1 trillion war on drugs, is looking for answers in tiny Portugal, which is reaping the benefits of what once looked like a dangerous gamble. White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske visited Portugal in September to learn about its drug reforms, and other countries — including Norway, Denmark, Australia and Peru — have taken interest, too.  Post by Mary.

I believe: an inspirational video by Timothy Shoemaker.  Click Here

As Mexico counts 35,000 deaths resulting directly from the drug war that President Felipe Calderon initiated in 2006, Former Mexican President Vicente Fox among others,  argues for legalization to stop the carnage.  Meanwhile, here in the U.S., it seems pointless to incarcerate users of pot and other drugs, while at the same time fueling the drug trade coming in from Mexico.  Everyone seems to lose except the DEA and the Prison Lobby.  What would happen if much of that enforcement effort went into rehab and recovery.  That would be a good counterpoint to what Mexico is thinking about.  Even if  sanctions remained in the U.S. for drug trafficking, we could help millions of Americans, simply with the  decriminalization of use, diverting that savings to rehab.   Portugal embarked on just such an experiment more than a decade ago.  Nothing bad happened.  In fact, no one regrets it because their experiment showed positive results, lowering drug use and removing the cost of incarceration of drug use.  The whole point is to help those bit by their drug use; not hurt them.   Although, one can not say how this would work in the U.S., the Drug Czar has taken a cue from his look at Portugal.

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