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The Fighter is a film with a rough and tumble backdrop inspired by the Lowell  documentary “High on Crack Street” by Richie Farrell, about crack use and crime in a run down New England Industrial town.  (you can view the entire film here).   Mark Wahlberg plays “Irish” Micky Ward, trained by his half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), a former fighter who battled addiction.  Micky Ward overcomes the obstacles of drug ridden Lowell and rises  to boxing fame to  win the WBU Light Welterweight titles.  The movie was filmed in the City of Lowell, Massachusetts.  Check out the Boston Globe story .  Link by Barbara Lear of Salem, NH.

The unsettling trend in prescription drug abuse

seems to be  an issue in the armed forces as well.   Military prescriptions for  pain killers  is up  to 3.8 million.  We know soldiers are taking a toll, but consider since the invasion of Afghanistan the use of pain pills has went up four times, putting some of our troops at risk.  One in four admit to abuse.  While doctor are under fire for prescribing too many pain pills, military doctors are under the glass as well,  in Abuse of Pain Pills by Troopslink by Mary S.

Healing a Broken System: Veterans Battling Addiction and Incarceration How many vets battle  substance abuse as they cope with the aftermath of living in war zones.  This is much like how drugs and alcohol impacted veterans coming back from Vietnam.  Great Report.   Also See Vietnam Vet Eddie Grijalva’s story.

I have always had my doubts about the broader effectiveness of drug courts.  I know some programs work, but I can’t disagree with some of what Margret Dooley-Sammuli and the Drug Policy Alliance says about the larger picture.

Washington, D.C. – At two briefings on Capitol Hill today, the Drug Policy Alliance released a groundbreaking new report, Drug Courts are Not the Answer: Toward a Health-Centered Approach to Drug Use ( <> ), which finds that drug courts have not demonstrated cost savings, reduced incarceration, or improved public safety; leave many people worse off for trying; and have actually made the criminal justice system more punitive toward addiction – not less.

“The drug court phenomenon is, in large part, a case of good intentions being mistaken for a good idea,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director in Southern California for the Drug Policy Alliance, who contributed to the report. “Drug courts have helped many people, but they have also failed many others, focused resources on people who could be better treated outside the criminal justice system and in some cases even led to increased incarceration. As long as they focus on people whose only crime is their health condition, drug courts will be part of the problem – not the solution – created by drug war policies.”

“Even if drug courts were able to take in all 1.4 million people arrested for just drug possession each year, over 500,000 to 1 million people would be kicked out and sentenced conventionally,” Dooley-Sammuli added.

“Far from being a cure for the systemic problems of mass drug arrests and incarceration, drug courts are not even a stopgap,” said Daniel Abrahamson, Drug Policy Alliance’s Director of Legal Affairs, who also contributed to the report. “Drug courts have actually helped to increase, not decrease, the criminal justice entanglement of people who struggle with drugs and have failed to provide quality treatment. Only sentencing reform and expanded investment in health approaches to drug use will stem the flow of drug arrests and incarceration. The feel-good nature of drug courts hasn’t translated into results. U.S. drug policy must be based not on good intentions, but on robust, reliable research.”

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March 2012