Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 10.50.04 AMWhat I find exceptional about David Sheff’s message, is that it is expressed in what he learned about his son’s addiction to methamphetamine and what that means to the bigger message of dealing with the scale of addiction in America.   I am impressed that important people are listening.  Addiction impacts almost every family in some way.  David Sheff supports legalization but picks no bones about the risks of drug use.  His message, in no way is intended to allude that any drug is safe.  Listen to this interview: David Sheff, Author Of ‘Clean’ speaks to NPR.  It’s not complicated.  Addiction needs to be classified as a medical condition.  To do that best, requires the decriminalization of those afflicted with this disease including their habitual use.   In regards to legality, we can treat drug abuse much the same way we would with alcohol abuse.  We all know drinking can be deadly. 

David has the attention of important ears.  Read Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s poignant CNN transcripts in a conversation with David entitled,  Addiction:  Life on the Edge .  Listen to David discuss addiction on this short video clip in the TIME 100 most influential thinkers of 2009.  “We treat the medical consequences of the problem (overdoses, car accidents, cancer, HIV, mental illnesses) but not the disease itself.  Our investments in research and services for addiction treatment are a fraction of the costs associated with drug-related incarceration and lost productivity.  Yet punishment and stigmatization do nothing to ameliorate the problem.”  link by Marcia.

Screen shot 2013-06-25 at 9.51.06 AMThis is a documentary film intended to be an irony in portraying the drug war as an American campaign that fuels the  illegal drug trade.  Adrian Grenier with Tribeca Films produced this work that looks at a 400 billion dollar global industry feeds off the drug war.  You can view the trailer here:  How To Make Money Selling Drugs  Tribeca Films. link by Denise C.

Born Broken  is a blog worth visiting by a writer with a story to tell about addiction in his family.  Steve R. has just published a book that is an exquisitely candid account of his life experience.  You can view excerpts on Amazon’s preview feature, “look here”.  Enjoy.   link by Steve R

The scourge of addiction crosses all political and social lines.  Still, many do not talk about it.  Recently the founder of a grief site called GRASP  appeared on the conservative Bill O’Reilly Show.  The topic relates to drug use and addiction.  It touched a difficult and  profound debate that impacts thousands of young people.  I talk about it in a piece just posted on dadonfire.net.  So why does this remind me of Bill Williams.  Well,  many members of the site GRASP know what drug addiction means to their family and how that led to the loss of a child and what may stop the carnage.  So, Bill Williams is appearing on Larry G’s  Prescription Radio Show, Tuesday night June 18th 5-7PM (EST) to talk profoundly about his experience with loss in honor of his son.   Check out Bill William’s  blog for more detailed information.   You can read his story in  Ending the Secrecy of a Child’s Addiction – NYTimes.com.

kidsRecently, California Activist Mom, Denise Cullen was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly on FOX TV.   O’Rielly said in certain terms that we aren’t really locking up  many young people for drug use and petty sales.  The ones in jail are evil.  Cullen made an opposite point.  Since the start of get tough on crime in the 70’s  jails are overflowing with drug offenders that are not evil and comprise members of our families.   Ask yourself if many FOX News listeners support the path to expanding privatization of jails in America.  That’s a dangerous path, so here is more information for the fair and balanced.  Consider, California’s 3 Strikes law in a piece by Elizabeth Stewart on her 25 year son.  He got 25 to life for petty drug offense.   America’s jails still fill a valuable purpose, but have become such meat grinders for the young and drug afflicted that now we find prisons maybe be fed by what some call a  school to  jail conveyor belt.

Pennsylvania Judge Sentenced For 28 Years For Selling Kids to the Prison System.   Kids for Cash is another reason for reform People want to open doors for the treatment of drug addiction.  Can it be done without decriminalization of drug use itself?  I think too many Americans are caught up in a dilemma.  The kids for cash scandal is especially bad because it shows a pattern of locking up kids before they are old enough for adult detention for reasons other than necessity.  It shows that incarceration has become pork barrel for state job preservation.   America must find ways to spend  money needed for judicial and penal jobs more wisely.  The need for synergistic legislation that preserves jobs and deals with drug addiction is an American problem not a political problem.

Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’ began 40 years ago,and the battle is still raging

Four decades ago, on 17 July 1971, President Richard Nixon declared what has come to be called the “war on drugs“. Nixon told Congress that drug addiction had “assumed the dimensions of a national emergency”, and asked Capitol Hill for an initial $84m (£52m) for “emergency measures”.    “Our president has said very clearly that this is the time for a deep analysis of what has happened over the past 40 years, and to learn the lessons of the mistakes that have been made,” Rodríguez said in an interview with the Observer last week. “And we have to evaluate every alternative, without excluding any possibility – from complete legalisation to a second, different, war on drugs.”

Here is someone who  looks deep into the neuroscience of addiction,  shedding some light in areas you might not have thought about.  David J. Linden is an American professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and the author of The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God. [1] The book The Accidental Mind is an attempt to explain the human brain to intelligent lay reader.   CLICK HERE FOR THE NPR INTERVIEW WITH LINDEN   If your interested in David’s latest book,  The Compass of Pleasure, you can go to his blog and learn more.

Gabor Maté, is an influential physician who knows what it means to think outside the box.  His efforts have provided leadership in harm reduction and uncovering the mystery of addiction.  Harm reduction is controversial.  It is a theory of practice in dealing with addiction that is hard to swallow for mainstream America, but in some circles, it is viewed as necessary.  Gabor makes sense out of it.  he has committed his practice to working in the trenches with the worst the world of addiction has to offer, primarily in Vancouver.  He does it in a way that only the context of raw addictive behavior gives it unmistakeable clarity.   In 2009, Maté published In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, a book that describes his realty of working in a Vancouver skid row addiction clinic.  The Fifth Estate is a Canadian CBC news show that did a focused film series on Maté, his colleagues and several drug addicted patients.  It included an episode about Maté’s clinic called Staying Alive.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: The truth about prescription medication addiction  CNN.com Blogs.   Every 19 minutes someone dies because of misuse of prescription medications. Sometimes it is because they take too much. Many times it is because they forget or ignore the warning their doctor gave about combining the medications with alcohol. And tens of thousands of people die every year as a result.  Click on the link above to view the article

With professionals like Nora Volkow bringing addiction science into mainstream visibility, how can we go wrong?  She is a revolutionary!  With blood ties to the infamous Leon Trotsky, this boldness is a trait we  need to overcome obstacles that keep us from pushing through the big roadblocks to solving an insidious problem.   She is a medical doctor with residency in psychiatry and passion for addiction science.  Nora is committed to unlocking the mystery of addiction.  In 2003, She was appointed the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, NIDA.    Nora Volkow is a rock star.  She attracts a lot of attention and many hope that she will make a huge difference in one of the biggest public health concerns the U.S. has known.  25 million Americans deal with addiction.  She  recently  received an  Award in Psychiatry by Baylor College of Medicine.   The New York Times calls her a General in the Drug War.   That’s about as mainstream as it gets,  as the scourge of addiction moves closer to achieving the coveted title of a genuine medical problem; enabling the help so many addicts have been with out.  Go Nora!

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 9.41.24 AMThe debate over decriminalization or legalization continues to heat up as states decide on what they want to do and families continue to object to their loved ones being criminalized over the use of marijuana and other illegal drugs.  It is a question that needs the right answer but still is a long way off.   View this CNN piece by David Nathan, Board certified psychiatrist and director of Continuing Medical Education for Princeton Health Care  Why Marijuana Should be Legal for Adults – CNN.com.

It is often said that addiction or alcoholism will end in jails, mental institutions or death.     State of mental health funding in 2011. 

30,000 drug overdose deaths a year,

Tom @ Recovery Help Desk talks about suboxone (subs) dos and don’ts and its controversy and a Mom agonized about finally supporting it for her son, presumably an opiate addict. Her blog is called “A Mom’s Serious Blunder”Check out the links and discussion.  Suboxone like any treatment is a tool.  It takes a commitment.  There are many stubborn young knucklehead addicts that use it as a crutch, take sub vacations and use other opiates intermittently.  They are the toughest to deal with and fuel the controversy.

From Bangor to West Palm Beach and now to Orange County,  drug addiction continues to sweep through America killing one person every 19 minutes.   Now Orange County is yet another major force on fire to call for end to the madness.  The Orange County Register chronicles the epidemic in the  4 part series on RX addiction epidemic  One impacted California Dad eloquently speaks out in his blog, RxAddict.com  ♠  Check out the real story in Orange County.

Addicts prescribed opiate replacement drugs can ask about generics rather than relying on proprietary Subutex/Suboxone marketed by Reckitt Benckiser.  Suboxone is buprenorphine with added naloxone to block opioid receptors and helping to avoid abuse.  Subutex is just  buprenorphine.  It is sold generically, since Reckitt Benckiser’s patent expired.   BupPractice.com focuses on proper use.  Recovery Helpdesk is also good website.  Generics are available for $3.00 per 8mg pill or less.  View therapeutic drug replacement for heroin addiction.  Buprenorphine, used in replacement drug therapy and is still addictive but the best option for some.  Treatment professionals call  this replacement drug therapy,  harm reduction.  It stabilizes addicts and gets them off illegal street opiates.  Buprenorphine is safe  for those who can  follow medical directions.   The downside is that tapering  off the drug  is not easy, but the next step.  The blog: suboxone talk zone is a “in the trenches” source of information.

Gupta: Let’s end the prescription drug death epidemic – CNN.com.

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 10.41.03 PMWhen I think of out spoken anti drug war activist,  Charmie Gholson, I think of a group of Mom’s from Southern California, a fountainhead of activists who have reintroduced a vintage term very few of us remember, prohibition.  Moms United is bringing to light the impact of today’s prohibition on drug use and why the war on drugs has to end.  To make it clear, today’s prohibition is the drug war.  What President Nixon signed into law in 1971 turned out to be a war on our own people.   Charmie is a Michigan activist.  She founded Michigan Moms United to End the War of Drugs.  Mother’s Day is a big day for Moms United and last mother’s day Charmie wrote this:   What I want for Mother’s Day: Stop Stealing our Sex Toys and go get Rapists.

Some mental health professionals are realizing that profound changes have to occur health care before we can effectively deal with the mushrooming problem of drug addiction in America.  Barry Lessin is one therapist, stepping out on this issue.  He makes a point in his recent article that  America spends  fifty billion dollars per year to wage a war on drugs that has done nothing to slow the problem.  He goes on to say that failed policies focus primarily on the reduction of the supply of drugs by carrying out paramilitary operations in other countries as well as on drug users here in the United States, combined with amplified law enforcement approaches involving tens of millions arrested, and many millions incarcerated for nonviolent acts since the drug war began in the 70’s.   Barry Lessin brings up a few key points that legislators need to acknowledge if Americans want their tax dollars to count for something positive, that can deal with drug addiction and lessen demand without killing or ruining lives.  Please view his article by clicking on this link:   An Addiction Counselor’s War on Drugs | Barry Lessin.

Members of our military returning from combat operations have high rates of substance abuse.  They  often exhibit a co-occurring triad of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and pain, which complicates the problems with substance abuse and leading ultimately, to addiction.   Read more in Returning-Veterans-With-Addictions (PDF)   For related links, see also  Prescription Drugs and Our Military  and  Veterans Bear Brunt of Weak Treatment Options.

Drug Abuse eventually turns  to drug addiction if not checked early enough.  Drug use in teens is growing faster than the we can stop it.  Why kids even start is a tough question.  We do know that opiate based prescription drugs are a big issue and are often abused by kids.  OxyContin, Oxycodone, Hyrdocodone, Lorcet, Lortab, Percodan, Typlox, Precocet, Vicodin, Darvocet, and on and on….all have the potential to be the perfect storm for heroin addiction.   Almost every middle class heroin addict under 21 started out of someone’smedicine cabinet. Read about a mothers crusade after losing her son in “Mom Pushes For Reform” A piece by Dale Wetzel talks about  kids and prescription drugs in “Youth prescription drug abuse on the rise”. The website PARENTS, The Anti Drug understanding the  signs explains what to do about it; and basic good information. See drug test links in the sidebar.  Links courtesy of Mary.

The Partnership at Drugfree.org hosts Facebook Chat with New York Times Best-Selling Author of Clean and Beautiful Boy, David Sheff.

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 12.03.11 AMDenise Cullen has lived through one of the worst tragedies a mother can experience She lost her  child. But if there is anything worse than losing a child, it is losing a child to a drug overdose, because grief is accompanied by stigma and blame.  Read her account by the NC Harm Reduction Coalition in  Daily Kos: The Stigma of Drug Overdose: A Mother’s Story.

NoraNora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains why addicts should be treated the same as anyone with a debilitating disease. View her interview in  Why Addicts Shouldn’t be Criminalized by Nora Volkow   Fareed Zakria, a CNN journalist talks about the over-incarceration of addicts in Incarceration Nation   Ten years ago, Portugal moved a national policy forward to decriminalize drugs.  Studies now shows a large decrease in drug addiction in Portugal.  Read 10 years afterFor a very studied case on why we move to the decriminalization and classifying addiction as an addiction read the compelling  Global Commission Report

Dr. Kevin McCauley is a treatment professional who is dedicating his life to helping addicts and their families, and he makes a compelling argument for Addiction as Disease.  He is a researcher with The Institute For Addiction Studies. Mr. McCauley recently contributed a comment that is worth sharing.  He discusses his ongoing inquiry into the question of addiction as a Disease Model.   Many who ponder the causes of drug addiction are split in their thinking with the other opinion being a morality model of choice. Take a look at his comments in the Disease Model.

One thing for certain, drug addiction is tearing up this country.  From a demand of drugs adversly affecting near 30 million users when you include alcohol to as many as two-thirds of American families negatively impacted in some way or another by someones abuse of drugs and alcohol; this problem is costing us more than enough to look closely at a  model of disease.   As long as the argument favors a Darwinian – all for themselves – choice model of drug addiction, expect more of the destruction that Americans already witness.

The House I Live in  updates a 40-year-old unsolved problem.

The drug war is a problem that tears apart Americans.  The victims are millions of family members who care about someone trapped in addiction.  What it does to an addict is a torment words can’t adequately describe.  This is really a war, not on drugs, but on all of us.  It is a parasitical phenomena that relies on public silence while demanding massive cash flow; the taxpayer its host.   Dealing with addiction and ending drug demand  is antithetical to its existence.   See the film, The House I live in link by Monica

Rewiring the brain against addiction is an idea that holds the key to the answer.  Having known suffering drug addicts, its safe to say that “just quitting” is not an answer.  The Depression that goes along with addiction, often predicating the need for drugs to begin with is a key area of study.   Dual Demons! as it called,  continually feeds into the reality of repeated relapse.    Addiction is a disease that requires the equivalent focus in dollars and effort of the drug war itself.  Once we get big Insurance and big Pharma to play the game of real recovery we can start poking holes in the sails of drug trade.  De-criminalizing addiction would cripple illegal drug trade.  Imagine a world of compassion, recovery and freedom from addiction.   Links by M. Slivinski.

8 minute video – Ram Dass on Attachment & Addiction

“Addiction experts say Suboxone is so effective in treating opiate addicts it can dramatically transform people in a matter of weeks”. In Doc’s Fight to Lift Restrictions, a good point is made on State’s ability to curb opiate addiction.  Most state backed low-cost or free prescription programs for suboxone in replacement drug therapy is severely limited, effectively missing an opportunity to drastically reduce the financial and social impact of opiate addiction.  Tucson Arizona’s COPE Community Services has stated that its use of suboxone is limited to 100 addicts, deferring many other addicts to the lower cost methadone which is not as effective.  Methadone, albeit, very effective at harm reduction when used properly,  is quite addictive and its users can be more prone to relapse back to street drugs.  Talk continues about Generic Suboxone drastically cutting the sale price of its active ingredient, buprenorphine, but people are still waiting.  The point is that readily accessible replacement drug therapy will put a large dent in the ugly business of opiate addiction. That’s something States can’t afford to ignore.

“Kicking” opiates is exceptionally hard for most addicts during the first week.  If an addict succeeds the initial physical part of withdrawal, an addict will have to bear out a condition similar in some respects to methamphetamine withdrawal called P.A.W.S., post acute withdrawal syndrome.  That’s really the tough part.   It takes months and is predominately psychological.  PAWS hits a average peak in 3 months making the risk of relapse very high for the first 3-6 months.  That is why short term treatment claims can be mis-leading.    Here are some links that are very helpful in explaining the complexity and details of what treatment and recovery look like:

Opiate Addiction, A New Breed of Drug Dependency Warrants Unique ApproachUnderstanding Drug Dependence, Novus Medical Detox ♦  Treatment Options of Long Term Opiate Addiction ♦   Suboxone Assisted Treatment ♦    Aegis Medical Systems, Video Library ♦  National Advocacy ♦    Medical Assisted Treatment ♦  NIDA, Treatment Options ♦   links by Mary Slivinski

The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” — Albert Einstein

“The likelihood for addicts to get effective treatment improved greatly last month, when the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) released it’s public policy statement on the definition of addiction. Boldly stating that addiction is a “primary, chronic disease”, ASAM has established the role of neurobiology in the development and maintenance of all addictive behaviors”  Barry Lessin.  Read the rest of Barry’s article by click on title:   Addiction Really is a Disease    

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