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In 2010 A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing is launching a campaign to stop the violence, mass incarceration and overdose deaths resulting from a failed war on drugs. We will be partnering with ParentsACT and Drug Policy Alliance, and linking organizations and individuals from San Diego to Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Sacramento in a massive collaborative effort to change our current policies of arrest and imprisonment to therapeutic strategies and regulation. Mothers are again uniting and leading the charge to end drug prohibition, just as they did with alcohol prohibition in the 1930’s. We must stop the pointless and punitive incarceration of drug users, and end the needless deaths created by the illegal drug trade.   The campaign will start with a rally/vigil in San Diego in April and move up the State of California with events in key cities, and building to a rally in Sacramento in October 2010. To join the campaign, contact us at: anewpath@cox.net mailto:anewpath@cox.net or 619-670-1184 –  Thanks!  Gretchen

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April 2010 marks the anniversary of 11 years of A New PATH’s advocacy work for therapeutic drug policies. This event will launch a campaign to stop the violence, mass incarceration and overdose deaths resulting from our current punitive and discriminatory drug policies. A New PATH! is partnering with other organizations such as Families ACT! and Broken No More!, as well as individuals from various areas of California in a massive collaborative effort to change our current policies of arrest and imprisonment to therapeutic strategies and regulation. Mothers are leading the charge to stop the pointless and punitive incarceration of drug users, and end the needless deaths created by the illegal drug trade.  Bring signs and pictures of your loved ones whose lives have been damaged by the War on Drugs.  Join us in demonstrating for change.  For more information, please contact us at: anewpath@cox.net or 619-670-1184.

Judge Gray speaks out on failing drug laws.

Dadonfire is looking at all sides of the issue in this rather interesting you  tube video.  “Six Groups Who Benefit from Drug Prohibition”

Drug demand is not just a problem with street dealers.  As pain clinics compete for your Rx needs; (3) are under fire for feeding a Florida black market of narcotics, stretching half way across the U.S.   Read Cracking Down on South Florida Pill Mills and Federal, Local Agents Raid 3 Palm Beach County Pain Clinics. Listen to LIVE online radio  Sunday @ 9-11PM, EST  Prescription Addiction Radio .  Larry Golbom and Tom Kertscher of the Journal Sentinel discuss the deadly impact of legal drugs. Credits:  News links by JJB  ♦  Ad links by Keith

America’s efforts to reduce illegal drug traffic is not reaping big benefits.  It is chewing up 20% of U.S. spending.  Here is one idea that for some reform that can turn this around.   Its text  from a letter I sent to the Drug Policy Alliance who is pushing support for Senator Webb’s work.

“A big part of my concern is a costly prison system, where SUD/MH (Substance use disorder/ mental health) gets little or no address, which with screening could be a good place to start treatment for jail bound addicts.  Here’s what I see.

  • Proactive judicial and prison systems that screens offenders and inmates for SUD/MH treatment diversion.
  • Re-classification and/or dismissal of non-violent petty crimes stemming from SUD/MH, based on the success of treatment and victim restitution.
  • Re-classification of narcotic drug “use” related offenses to a civil status and a re-designation of marijuana “use” to civil or a “no offense” status.
  • Public funding and treatment of SUD/MH outside the prison system based on a sliding scale of client financial contribution and/or contributing service.

Broad reform has a realistic possibility of showing how cost is assimilated.  Regarding drug and alcohol abuse, N.I.D.A. estimates 480B is already spent on incarceration, judicial work, demand reduction and general societal damage.  A 1/3 of that goes directly to prisons.  These expenditures are firmly entrenched in federal and local penal budgets.  If a third of inmates are SUD/MH identified by screening, then that part of the job has begun.  We have them.  We keep them. We treat them.  If we don’t, we know they will be back to impact to the system.  The cost doesn’t go away. This is also known as the revolving door.

If the same energy spent criminalizing addiction is transformed into treatment, funding is already there!  The more we de-criminalize and treat, the less need for incarceration. This reduces demand for an illegal drug market.  The message needs to go to the ears of lawmakers from voices from American’s impacted by the scourge of addiction”  dadonfire

This is the time for change.  An opportunity to expand treatment and recovery options.  The ONDCP will complete their strategies this year and Webb’s National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 is coming to a head at the end of 2010.  Here are Webb’s main points:  The USA has 5% of the world’s population and houses 25% of all prisoners  •  Incarcerated drug offenders grew 1200% since 1980  •   Four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons than in mental health hospitals  •  A million gang members and drug cartels operate in 230+ communities across the country  •  Post-incarceration re-entry programs are haphazard and often nonexistent, undermining public safety and making it extremely difficult for ex-offenders to become full, contributing members of society.   READ A FACT SHEET ON THE BILL HERE

Community input on the bullet points in this fact sheet are critical.  We can look at addiction and mental impairment screening of new offenders and inmates with immediate diversion of addicts to venues of compulsory treatment.  Costs can be covered by the same funds we already waste.  We can look at re-categorizing criminal charges based on successful diversion of  non violent offenders.  Right now, diversion options for drug addicted offenders to treatment misses most addicts because of their crime category.  When jailed, untreated addicts are released and continue to use.  This is the revolving door of jails and drugs.  We can also expand and fund drug courts.   Addicts not yet criminalized could have the threat of jail removed by de-criminalization of drug use, accessible treatment, alternative replacement drugs, safe detoxification with follow-up post acute withdrawal treatment and so on.  We can’t ask to legalize street narcotics, but we can  own the reality of the horrific impact drugs and trafficking has on us and reduce demand and jail populations at the same time.

In order to make an impact that helps young addicts and families, reduces drug demand, and better spends tax dollars, we need to impact law makers at all levels.  Maybe our elected officials don’t listen to activists but an America full of families affected by the scourge of addiction can convince their lawmakers.  Thanks to Senator Jim Webb for getting the ball rolling.   Lets help him.

China Executes UK Drug Smuggler.  Source: Al Jazeera and agencies:  China has executed a British man.   The execution of Akmal Shaikh by lethal injection on Tuesday morning followed last minute appeals for clemency from his family and  UK officials. (U.S. penalties)  Links by Mary S.

The cost to communities for not addressing addiction has never been fully quantified.  A single addict or alcoholic  has the potential to destroy families, communities and lives.   Read,  “Just One Addict!, Breaking the Back of a Los Angeles Budget”, to understand the magnitude of impact.  Also check out the article, “The Prison System Falls Short in Treating Drug Addiction” for a look at why it may be better to treat addicts while we have them in our hands.

Setting direction for the rest of the country, The Drug Policy Alliance supports a move to reform New York’s drug laws.  You can read a summary of the New York’s reform in the document  New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws:  Explaining the Reforms of 2009.  These actions parallel even larger efforts that can positively impactAmerica such as Senator Jim Webb’s push to examine and reform prison policy.  Drug law reform, more readily available treatment in and out of jail, education,  and health care reform all serve all can serve to end a losing drug war and guide thousands, even millions of lost addicts to 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.

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  http://www.psychod.com/MentalHealthParityQandA.pdf 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

June 11, 2009 – Highlights of Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Sen. Webb’s Criminal Justice Bill.  Sweeping movement at federal level, to review the entire prison- sentencing policies across America.  Hopes are to engage addict offenders in early treatment of drug addiction and identify offenders with dual diagnosis.  See also special reports.  Parade Magazine and  Fact Sheet.

*  *  *

Substance abuse treatment services for offenders are not widely available in all phases of the correctional system, according to the first set of findings from a national survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) –  Read the story here. …a big fire needs burning here and check out the recent HealthReformCore Consensus Principles by SAMHSA.

The Narconon program offers a jail alternative to imprisonment and state-supported addiction. More than thirty years ago, an inmate in Arizona State Prison decided to do something to help himself and his fellow prisoners break free from drug dependence. This was the beginning of the Narconon program. A fundamental element of its success is “The New Life Detoxification Program” developed to cleanse the body of accumulated drug residues. This regimen of exercise, nutritional supplements and sauna sweat-out has redefined the concept of drug “detoxification,” and has enabled thousands of addicts to live without continued drug cravings.

“Narconon has a unique position in the rehabilitation field,” said Alfonso-Paredes, M.D., a Professor at UCLA’s School of Medicine and a member of the Narconon International Science Board. He advocates drug rehab as a jail alternative. “It offers addicts a relatively painless, drug-free withdrawal something that most addicts and professionals consider impossible. It has developed effective programs at no cost to taxpayers, at a time when the government has invested billions of dollars in experimental approaches that have not offered satisfactory solutions.”

In a discussion of the Narconon program as a jail alternative, it was stated that the program;” understood that drugs store up inside the body, and that there was something biochemically wrong with people who were drug dependent,” said Dr. Forest Tennant, M.D., an expert in the field of drug abuse who has examined thousands of addicts. “As a result of breakthroughs, Narconon has to my way of thinking – been the most successful residential program for hardcore drug users that the world has ever seen.”

A certainty is growing among parents, law enforcement professionals and those in the rehabilitation field that new approaches to treating addiction must be found. A jail alternative such as the Narconon program is the new key to ending addiction, one that we cannot afford to ignore.

The Atlanta Recovery Narconon program offers a jail alternative to incarceration for most that have created criminal/legal charges as a result of their drug addiction. In the past, a number of states in America have used us as a jail alternative to incarceration and have awarded the client with ‘time served’ at the completion of the program. If you or your family member has encountered legal difficulties as a result of their drug addiction, please give us a call or go to the contact us page and fill out the help form and our legal liaison will determine to what extent we can help find a jail alternative.   Narconon – 877-574-2251 http://www.atlantarecoverycenter.com

The fundamental battle in the fight against substance abuse is the struggle to help the individual addict become drug-free. Drug Rehabilitation, supported by drug education, is the only weapon that can undercut the ebb and flow of supply and demand, and the spread of crime throughout the world, and gives a jail alternative that is statistically superior.  “We’re not protecting the public safety because we aren’t treating the problem,” said Joseph Califano, Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and the president of CASA. “We’re supporting the illegal drug market because we are just sending customers back.”

In America, dissatisfaction is growing with the national emphasis on arresting and incarcerating drug abusers, as few jail alternatives exist to incarceration. A 1999 study by the American Bar Association (ABA) noted that a 73 percent increase in drug arrests between 1992 and 1997 had resulted in no decrease in drug use.  State Senator Stewart Greenleaf wrote a sentencing law that has flooded Pennsylvania’s prisons with low-level offenders who cannot be paroled. “These laws haven’t worked as we planned,” he told the Atlantic Monthly. “We haven’t been honest to the public or ourselves.”

Dr. Max Ben, who has conducted research programs for the National Institute of Health, lays part of the blame for rehabilitation failures on a dependence on “medicinal” drugs to treat “illicit drugs”. For more than a century, physicians have advocated substituting supposedly benign (or at least ‘less harmful’) drugs to prevent or halt the destructive course of addiction,” he observes. “Time and time again, these remedies have failed to meet expectations, and often have lead to new addiction…” With no jail alternative, addicts often do their time, then relapse.

Atlanta Recovery Center

The International Narcotics Control Board has characterized the United States as “the biggest illicit drug market in the world.” The toll on American society has been considerable. America’s prison population has tripled in the last 17 years, and drug and alcohol abuse and addiction are implicated in the incarceration of 80 percent of the men and women incarcerated in state, federal and local prisons, according to a 1998 report from the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). A workable jail alternative is clearly needed.

All told, one out of every 144 Americans is behind bars for a crime in which drugs or alcohol are involved, and the majority have no jail alternative. Thirty billion taxpayer dollars are spent a year to incarcerate them. CASA estimated in 1996 that if current trends continue, by the year 2000, America would be spending $100 million a day to jail individuals with serious drug and alcohol problems.   Atlanta Recovery Center

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.    Treatment Magazine

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