oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of March 7th 2010

We lead this week with the disturbing news that Dimitri Mobengo Mugianis, a dear friend and colleague, was set up by the DEA and arrested in Seattle for providing ibogaine treatments to chronic addicts. It is my belief that the DEA has been planning this for some time, and intend to "make an example" out of Dimitri in some attempt to quash the rapidly growing ibogaine underground ~ CS & MW
Mark Weiss Charles Shaw
10 March 2011

Dimitri "Mobengo" Mugianis, Ibogaine Therapy Provider, Arrested in Seattle by DEA

Yesterday evening I learned that my dear friend and colleague, Dimitri Mobengo Mugianis, was set up by the DEA and arrested in Seattle for providing ibogaine treatments to chronic addicts, and apparently because he was doing so not just in the United States but in Lebanon and Costa Rica, among other places.

I've been in touch with Dimitri and he says he's ok, but this is only the beginning. It is my belief that the DEA has been planning this for some time, and intend to "make an example" out of Dimitri in some attempt to quash the rapidly growing ibogaine underground. But this remains to be seen, and as such, I will be following his case closely henceforth. 

Dimitri is prominently featured in my upcoming film, The Exile Nation Project, and was the subject of another recent documentary by my friend Michel Negroponte, I'm Dangerous With Love. (review below)

Source: Seattle Times

"I'm Dangerous With Love" - A Shamanic Journey into the Underworld

It was nearly a year ago that I met the dynamic Mugianis as I was writing, The Iboga Insurrection, a feature article that examined the cosmology of the small but vociferous ibogaine underground, a community of mostly former addicts whose lives were saved by the psychoactive Iboga plant of West Africa, which has extraordinary powers to curb addiction.

Dimitri is one of a handful of these “lay-providers” or non-licensed (Ibogaine is illegal in the US) dispensers of iboga or ibogaine, performing what back in the day used to be called “Angel Jobs,” the arduous process of taking care of a physically dependent junkie in the throes of withdrawal. The tools of this profession used to be chicken soup and marijuana, with the occasional valium thrown in. Today, the tool box has expanded to include a bitter-tasting bark, and one hell of an 18 hour ride through your psyche.

Unlike his colleagues in the ibogaine underground, who generally administer the refined ibogaine salt in a home or clinical setting, in his work Dimitri practices the traditional Bwiti religion of Gabon around which ritualized iboga use is built. Of course, this former musician, and junkie didn’t start out painting his face and dancing with feathers. His metamorphosis from junkie to angel to Bwiti shaman, “Mobengo,” is the ostensible focus of Michel Negroponte’s, I’m Dangerous With Love, opening this week for a limited run at the IFC Center in New York City.

It is a haunting, visceral exploration of addiction and one contemporary man's fearless and determined quest for healing and redemption through the ancient wisdom of the Bwiti and their "magical" plant, Iboga.

To learn more, please follow this link

Source: Reality Sandwich

Global Commission on HIV and the Law reviews legal barriers obstructing progress on AIDS in Asia-Pacific

Thirty years after the first cases of HIV were diagnosed, 90 percent of countries in the Asia-Pacific region still have laws and practices that obstruct the rights of people living with HIV and those at higher risk of HIV exposure. As part of a global drive to remove barriers to progress in the AIDS response, policymakers and community advocates have joined experts from the Global Commission on HIV and the Law in Bangkok on 17 February for the first in a series of regional dialogues held across the world. 

The Global Commission on HIV and the Law is an independent body comprising some of the world’s most respected legal, human rights and HIV leaders. At the dialogue, approximately 150 participants from 22 countries discussed and debated region-wide experiences of restrictive and enabling legal and social environments faced by key populations in the Asia-Pacific region, including people living with HIV.

According to UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, “The law and its application can have a profound impact on the lives of people, especially those who are marginalized and disempowered.  The law is a powerful instrument to challenge stigma, promote public health, and protect human rights. We have much to learn from the positive and negative experiences in this region on the interactions between the law, legislative reform, law enforcement practices, and public health responses.” To learn more, please follow this link 

Source: IDPC

First Methadone Maintenance Programme opens in Sub-Saharan Africa

With the help of the American government, the first methadone maintenance programme in sub-Saharan Africa opened this month in a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. While heroin use is not common in Africa, it has been growing recently in Tanzania’s port cities, which are used to ship the drug, usually from Afghanistan to Europe. Drug couriers may be paid in heroin, creating a new group of dependent users.

Tanzania now has an estimated 25,000 drug injectors, 40 percent of them infected with H.I.V., according to the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that is advising the Tanzanian government on the programme. The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, created by President George W. Bush, is paying for it.

Needle-sharing spreads both H.I.V. and hepatitis. Last year, an American researcher reported finding Tanzanians practicing “flashblood,” in which one addict injects herself with another’s blood in the hopes of sharing the high.In Africa, fear of the unfamiliar often leads to accusations of witchcraft, and if heroin use is unfamiliar, methadone is even more so.” To learn more, please follow this link

Source: IDPC

White House funds needle exchange programmes as drug treatment 

The Obama administration has designated intravenous needle exchanges as a drug treatment program, allowing federal money set aside to treat addictions to be used to distribute syringes to narcotics users. 

The change marks a dramatic shift in the argument over needle exchange programs. Two years ago President Obama lifted the 21-year ban on federally funded needle exchange programs as a necessary evil to reduce the spread of HIV among illicit drug users. The new position, determined by the surgeon general, is that the states can receive federal funding for programs that hand out the syringes as a treatment. Read more

Source: IDPC

Bolivian proposal to remove international ban on coca leaf chewing - countdown: 17 objections

In 2009, Bolivia’s first indigenous President, Evo Morales Ayma, sent a request to the United Nations to remove the unjustified ban on coca leaf chewing. This would amend the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and bring it in line with the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

Throughout January 2011, several governments led by the United States have mobilised to block a request by the Bolivian government to remove an international ban on the centuries-old practice of chewing coca leaves. The 18-month period to contest Bolivia’s requested amendment ended on January 31, 2011.

The final count after closure of the January 31 deadline to file objections to the Bolivian amendment to remove the ban on coca leaf chewing in the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, comes to 17 objections: the US, UK, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Russian Federation, Japan, Singapore, Slovakia, Estonia, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Latvia, Malaysia and Mexico. For more information, please visit the Transnational Institute's weblog. For more information please click here 

Source: IDPC

International coalition to save Vancouver safe-injection site 

On the 17th February 2011, an international coalition of harm reduction experts — comprised of the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and CACTUS Montréal — were granted intervener status to appear before the Supreme Court of Canada to support Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection site, against the Canadian government’s attempts to shutter it. 

In a landmark 2010 decision, the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled that Insite fell within the jurisdictional authority of the provincial government, since the supervision of injections of illicit drugs within a health-care setting constituted a matter of public health, and as such did not violate federal health or drug laws — a decision the federal government lost little time in appealing. This appeal is now before the Supreme Court of Canada.

“There is extensive evidence that safe-injection sites save lives, often by reducing the injection behaviour that can transmit HIV and hepatitis C,” says Rick Lines, Executive Director of IHRA. “Furthermore, harm reduction measures are supported by all international conventions promoting the rights and health of the individual — and Canada has signed onto these very same conventions.”

Source: IDPC 

Swansea Love Story

In 2009, Swansea drug agencies reported a 180 percent rise in heroin use, and it’s visible on the city’s streets. Early one morning we meet a young, homeless couple named Amy and Cornelius in a city centre alley. As heroin-addicted alcoholics, they’re smack in the middle of two of South Wales’s most ever-present epidemics.

See the rest at VBS.TV: Swansea Love Story 1 of 6 - Rule Britannia | VBS.TV

Source: VBS

EMCDDA Information request for Thematic Paper "Drug User Voices"

Overall prevalence of problem drug use in the European Union is estimated to range from two to ten cases per 1000. However, considerable differences exist across Europe and in a few countries users of amphetamines or cocaine constitute an important proportion of problem drug users.

More Europeans than ever before are currently undergoing drug treatment. People with drug problems are often polydrug users and there are indications of a significant and probably increasing health burden related to cocaine use in Europe, which is not yet fully identified and recognised.

There is much to be learnt from people in the field of legal substances as experiences and perceptions of people trying to reduce or quit drug use have some features in common with the experiences and perceptions of people trying to reduce or quit alcohol and tobacco consumption. The average prevalence of cigarette smokers in the EU is approximately 32% and some 23 million Europeans (5% of men, 1% of women) are estimated to be dependent on alcohol in any one year.

The EMCDDA is preparing a thematic paper to highlight key issues from the perspective of people who are attempting to reduce their drug, cigarette and alcohol consumption or overcome their dependence. Quotations from interviews with samples of such people either in or outside of treatment services will be used to highlight some of the key issues they face as well as similarities and differences among them. To read more please download the document below. PDF download: emcdda-document.pdf

Source: IDPC

New research ‘makes the case’ for investment in young people’s drug and alcohol treatment 

DrugScope has welcomed new research demonstrating that drug treatment services for young people are extremely cost effective, with long term savings of between £5 and £8 for every pound invested.

Published by the Department for Education, the report, Specialist drug and alcohol services for young people – a cost benefit analysis, finds that drug and alcohol treatment for young people reduces otherwise significant economic, social and health costs. Immediate savings are achieved in reduced crime and improved health. In the longer term, there are reductions in costs associated with problematic drug use in adulthood, including unemployment, crime and drug and alcohol dependency.

Approximately 24,000 young people received specialist drug and alcohol treatment in the UK in 2008/09. Most were treated primarily for alcohol (37%) or cannabis (53%); one in ten were treated for problems associated with Class A drugs, including heroin and crack. Despite evidence of the cost effectiveness of spending on substance misuse treatment, many young people’s services have contacted DrugScope to report significant cuts in local funding.  Cuts in services have a negative impact on vulnerable young people. Greater costs are likely to be incurred in terms of crime, unemployment and poor health. To learn more please follow this link

Source: DrugScope 

Shaping Recovery: Key Events for the Residential Rehabilitation Sector

The NTA is hosting three free events for the drug and alcohol residential rehab sector, to bring providers and commissioners together to raise the profile of residential rehabilitation in a recovery-centred treatment system. The events will give you an opportunity to build new relationships and hear from key speakers from government and the treatment sector. Places are limited, so please book early.

If you experience any problems with the booking form, please contact us at [email protected].

Source: NTA

Global status report on alcohol and health 

The harmful use of alcohol is a worldwide problem resulting in millions of deaths, including hundreds of thousands of young lives lost. It is not only a causal factor in many diseases, but also a precursor to injury and violence. Furthermore, its negative impacts can spread throughout a community or a country, and beyond, by influencing levels and patterns of alcohol consumption across borders. 

The Global status report on alcohol and health (2011) presents a comprehensive on the global, regional and country consumption of alcohol, patterns of drinking, health consequences and policy responses in Member States. It represents a continuing effort by the World Health Organization (WHO) to support Member States in collecting information in order to assist them in their efforts to reduce the harmful use of  alcohol, and its health and social consequences. Download

Source: INEF

520 a year die from prescription drug abuse in Ireland

Abuse of prescription drugs is reaching epidemic proportions — with more than 520 people a year dying directly from misusing such medication. While most of the deaths are related to anti-depressants, there is a growing abuse of prescribed painkillers and medications used to treat attention deficit disorder in children, along with over-the-counter painkillers, according to Dr Des Corrigan of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs.

Dr Corrigan says that in Ireland many of the deaths are due to people combining illicit drugs such as heroin with alcohol and benzodiazepines such as anti-depressants or sleeping tablets in what he describes as a “lunatic cocktail”. There is a growing trend here, too, in the abuse of painkillers such as oxycontin and vicodin. He also says stimulants prescribed for children with attention deficit disorder are “leaking from the prescription market into the black market”. Dr Corrigan supports a new awards scheme being run by an anti-drugs organisation, which has the dangers of prescriptions drugs as its theme.

The Greater Blanchardstown Response To Drugs is running a competition among primary and secondary school pupils to encourage them to “think and talk about the drugs issue”. The children are being asked to submit newspaper articles, cartoon strips, audio features, film or animated videos for the Let’s Talk About Drugs competition, sponsored by the HSE and the Co Dublin VEC.

Source: INEF

Positive Input into UN Processes 

In June 2011, the world will come together to review progress and chart the future course of the global AIDS response at the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, in New York. Two months beforehand, a more informal yet interactive hearing with civil society will also take place, chaired by the President of the General Assembly and organized with the active participation of people living with HIV and broader civil society.

The aim of April’s Civil Society Hearing is to create a space where civil society, NGOs and the private sector can interact with Member States at the UN, offer input to the comprehensive review process and in particular, provide another mechanism for the voices and concerns of civil society to be considered in the negotiations for the renewed Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS that will culminate from these two important United Nation’s events. 

To learn in greater detail about the decisions and procedures at recent UN civil society hearings, please follow this link. For more information on the regional consultations, click here and for more information on the events in 2011, click here

Source: INPUD

House Bill Threatening to End New Mexico's Medical Marijuana Program will Not Advance

Freshman Representative Jim Smith recently confirmed he will be pulling his legislation to end New Mexico's Medical Marijuana Program.  House Bill 593 was scheduled for debate in the House of Representative's Consumer and Public Affairs Committee this Saturday.  Instead, he has introduced a memorial to study the effectiveness of the program.

"Seriously ill and vulnerable New Mexicans can breathe a sigh of relief today," said Emily Kaltenbach, State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico. "We will continue to fight to protect thousands of sick New Mexican's legal right to the most appropriate medication to relieve their symptoms and suffering."

The Drug Policy Alliance mobilized over 500 supporters who contacted House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee members asking them to vote no on House Bill 593. New Mexico's vital Medical Marijuana Program is serving close to 4,000 patients diagnosed with serious illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, Lou Gehrig's disease, and epilepsy. To learn more, please follow this link

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

Department of Health to Hold Hearings Monday, March 7th on Draft Regulations for New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Program

On Monday, March 7th, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services held hearings for the public to present comments on the draft regulations proposed for New Jersey's medical marijuana program.  The department originally released draft regulations to implement the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act in early October and cancelled the public hearing initially scheduled for Dec. 6th. 

Subsequently, the department re-proposed new regulations with minor changes in late February beginning a new comment period.  The draft regulations have been greeted with a chorus of criticism from patients, families and advocates for being too restrictive and possibly making the program unworkable. Advocates, patients and families criticize the unnecessary restrictions placed on the proposed medical marijuana program, the lack of responsiveness on behalf of the department, and the delay that might result from the increasingly contentious process.

"I hope that the department will listen to the concerns of patients and their families on Monday and make some common-sense changes to the proposed regulations," says Roseanne Scotti, Director of Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey which spearheaded the effort to pass the legislation.  "The patients we work with have been heartbroken about the delays in implementing the program and the unnecessary restrictions that have been proposed." To learn more, please follow this link

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

Mexican President Felipe Calderon Arrives in Washington to meet with President Obama

Mexico President Felipe Calderon arrives in Washington D.C. and Mexico's violent war on drugs will be front and center of his meetings with House Speaker Republican John Boehner today and with President Obama on Thursday.

Among the topics to be discussed during President Calderon's visit will be the 1.4 billion dollar anti-drug aid plan that the United States gives to Mexico, the role of U.S. guns flowing to Mexico and best ways to curb United States drug consumption. Advocates for drug policy reform say what is really needed is for the presidents to not be afraid to speak opening and honestly about the true causes and solutions to the violence.

"Presidents Obama and Calderon have each said in recent months that drug legalization is a legitimate topic of debate, albeit with the caveat that they do not support the idea, said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Probably the most important thing they could accomplish in their meeting is to agree to remove the political and intellectual blinders that have allowed failed prohibitionist policies to persist notwithstanding their disastrous consequences - what's most needed doesn't cost a penny-- the courage to discuss alternatives to failed prohibitionist policies." To learn more, please follow this link

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

Polish dignitaries present drug-related programme of upcoming EU presidency

Under-Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Health, Adam Fronczak, heads a high-level delegation visiting the EMCDDA this week in the context of the upcoming Polish presidency of the EU. The purpose of the visit is to present the programme of the six-month mandate (July–December), review recent changes in Polish drug policy and explore future cooperation and information-exchange between the EMCDDA and Polish bodies working in the drugs field.

Key drug-related events of the presidency will include a; conference on cooperation between the EU and Eastern Europe/Russia (26–27 October, Warsaw);  national drug coordinators’ meeting (21–22 October, Poznán); drugs and driving symposium (17–18 July, Montreal); and presentation of the EMCDDA Annual report to the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers (Brussels, November).

‘Providing technical advice and support to EU Member States is an important task of the EMCDDA’, said EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz, at the start of the two-day visit today. ‘It is crucial for us to receive feedback on our work directly from our stakeholders, such as members of this delegation, in order to better meet their needs of expectations’.  To learn more, please follow this link

Source: EMCDDA                                                                     

EHRN and Association of Substitution Treatment Advocates of Ukraine held meeting in Kiev

A meeting of members of Association of Substitution Treatment Advocates of Ukraine (ASTAU) and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) was held with the financial and technical support of the EHRN on February 15-16, 2011 in Kiev.

The meeting was devoted to analysis of the alarming situation with opioid substitution therapy (OST) programs in Ukraine that developed in January – February, 2011, as well as to strategic planning of possible methods to address the case.

The meeting was attended by ASTAU members from 6 regions of Ukraine (including Olga Belyaeva, chair of the Association and member of the Steering Committee of the EHRN), participants of OST programs in Belarus, as well as an advocate for introduction of substitution therapy in Russia and a member of the EHRN Steering Committee – Irina Teplinskaya.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: EHRN

Kentucky Cuts Drug Sentences

Kentucky has become the latest state to enact sentencing reforms in a bid to rein in skyrocketing corrections costs. Gov. Steve Beshear (D) last Thursday signed into law HB 463, a comprehensive corrections bill that will save the state millions of dollars a year, in part by sentencing drug possession offenders to probation instead of prison.

The bill was based on a multi-year collaboration between the Pew Center on the States Public Safety Performance Project and state officials. State officials and legislators working with the project convened a Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act and issued a January report that was the basis for the legislation.

"This overhaul of Kentucky's penal code is the result of a multi-year effort involving members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches," said Gov. Beshear. "Over the last three years, we've made headway with aggressive efforts to bring common sense to Kentucky's penal code, and our prison population has dropped each of the past three years. House Bill 463 helps us be tough on crime, while being smart on crime." To learn more, please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

Support for Marijuana Legalization Creeping Up

Public support for marijuana legalization continues its upward trend and has "never been higher," according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The poll had support for marijuana legalization at 45%, up four points from the same poll a year earlier.

Half of respondents (50%) still opposed legalizing pot, but that number is down two points from last year and continues a two-decade long trend of declining opposition. In 1990, 81% opposed legalization; by 2000, that number had declined to 63%, and has continued to drop since then.

The upward trend line for legalization and the downward one opposing legalization are nearing the convergence point, and support for legalization will soon surpass opposition, if current trends continue. Pro-legalization sentiment was strongest among 18-to-29-year-olds (54%), Democrats (53%), and people with some college education (50%). Among liberal Democrats, support rose to 66%. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

Scottish Liberal Democrats Back Prescription Heroin 

Scottish Liberal Democrats at their party conference in Perth voted Saturday to make campaigning for heroin maintenance treatment part of their party platform. Heroin users should not be fined or imprisoned, but should be given the drug through the National Health Service, party members agreed.

The Liberal Democrats are an opposition party in Scotland, holding 16 of 129 Scottish Parliament seats, 11 of 59 Scottish seats in the British Parliament, and one of six Scottish seats in the European Parliament. They are fourth of five major political parties, behind the National Party, Labor, and the Conservatives, but ahead of the Scottish Greens. They are led by Tavish Scott.

The Lib Dems argued that both society and heroin users would benefit from prescribing the drug. Overdose and tainted drug deaths would decline, and addicts would not have to turn to crime or prostitution to feed their habits, they said. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Stop the Drug War

Most of World Lacks Access to Pain Drugs, UN Agency Says 

More than eight out of 10 of the world's inhabitants have little or no access to opioid pain medications, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said Wednesday. The finding came as the INCB released both its Annual Report 2010 and a special report on the global availability of pain medications.

People in many countries in Africa, Asia, and parts of the Americas had little or no access to opioid pain medications and psychotropic substances for medical purposes, the INCB found. Opioids include both narcotics, such as morphine and oxycodone, and synthetic opiates, such as fentanyl. Psychotropic medicines include depressants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.

"Ninety percent of the licit drugs are consumed by 10% of the world's population in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and some European countries," Hamid Ghodse, the INCB's president, said in a briefing on the release of the reports. "It has to be recognized that the availability of narcotics and psychotropic medicines is indispensable to medical practice," Ghodse told reporters.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

Save the Date for the 2011 International Drug Policy Reform Conference

This biennial event is the outstanding international conference that focuses on addressing drug policy issues from a reform perspective. Over a thousand people are expected to attend this year's gathering in Los Angeles. Presenters and other attendees include scholars, activists, government officials as well as specialists in treatment, prevention, harm reduction and drug law enforcement - primarily from around the United States but also from dozens of other countries.

If you believe that the war on drugs is doing more harm than good, you can't miss this extraordinary gathering. Call for Proposals now open! Proposals accepted until March 18.

Click on the archive and web site links below to see the broad range of subjects addressed at the conference. Registration and Scholarship Application opening soon.

The International Drug Policy Reform Conference
NEXT: November 2-5, 2011, Los Angeles, CA: http://www.reformconference.org
PAST: November 12-14, 2009, Albuquerque, NM: http://www.drugpolicy.org/events/archive/conferences/reform2009 

Source: Stop the Drug War

Copenhagen Safe Injection Site Set to Open 

A private safe injection site for heroin users is set to open in Copenhagen this week despite warnings from police and over the objections of neighbors. The harm reduction operation will be located in the city's Vesterbro district near Central Station. It will be the first in Denmark.

Police said they did not oppose the site's opening, but would shut it down if they find people using drugs there. "The room is not illegal per se, but possession of narcotics is illegal," Copenhagen Police spokesman Arne Wissing told the Copenhagen Post.  "We have no intention to sit passively and witness criminal acts, so if we see people in possession of illegal drugs, we will certainly act."

But safe injection site organizer Michael Lodberg Olsen said there was nothing illegal about it. "If that's the case, then they could just as well have shut down all of Vesterbro 30 years ago," he said, referring to needle exchange programs that have operated there for decades. "A report from the UN states that handing out clean needles to drug abusers is the same as establishing an injection room," he said.

Source: Stop the Drug War

Addiction: a life long illness not lifestyle choice

Addiction is a major health problem that costs as much as all other mental illnesses combined (about £40 billion per year) and about as much as cancer and cardiovascular disorders also.

At its core addiction is a state of altered brain function that leads to fundamental changes in behavior that are manifest by repeated use of alcohol or other drugs or engaging in activities such as gambling.  These are usually resisted, albeit unsuccessfully, by the addict.  The key features of addiction is therefore a state of habitual behaviour such as drug taking or gambling that is initially enjoyable but which eventually becomes self-sustaining or habitual. The urge to engage in the behaviour becomes so powerful that it interferes with normal life often to the point of overtaking work, personal relationships and family activities. At this point the person can be said to be addicted: the addict’s every thought and action is directed to their addiction and everything else suffers. 

If the addictive behaviour is not possible e.g. because they don’t have enough money then feelings of intense distress emerge. These can lead to dangerously impulsive and sometimes aggressive actions.  In the case of drug/alcohol addiction the situation is compounded by the occurrence of withdrawal reactions which cause further distress and motivate desperate attempts to find more of the addictive agent. This urge to get the drug may be so overpowering that addicts will commit seemingly random crimes to get the resources to buy more drug. It has been estimated that about 70% of all acquisitive crime is associated with drug and alcohol use.

Addiction is driven by a complex set of internal and external factors.  The external factors are well understood:  the more access to the desired drug or behaviour e.g. gambling the more addiction there is. To learn more please follow this link

Source: David Nutt’s Blog

Pew Applauds Kentucky Leaders for Comprehensive Public Safety Reforms 

Washington, DC - 03/04/2011 - The broad series of reforms Governor Steve Beshear signed into law today puts Kentucky at the forefront of states advancing research-driven, criminal justice policies designed to protect public safety, hold offenders accountable and control corrections costs. The Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act was a strong bipartisan effort, passing the Senate unanimously and the House by a vote of 96 to 1.

"Senator Jensen, Representative Tilley, Senate President Williams and House Speaker Stumbo worked across party lines to look at the data and forge a comprehensive package of reforms that will get Kentucky taxpayers a better public safety return on their corrections dollars," said Richard Jerome, project manager, Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States. "The legislation employs research-based strategies to reduce recidivism, hold offenders accountable and maximize the state's limited financial resources."
Overall, the new law ensures there is more prison space for violent and career criminals while helping to stop the revolving door for lower-risk, non-violent offenders. The Legislative Research Commission's fiscal note estimates the reforms will bring gross savings of $422 million over 10 years. A portion of these savings will be reinvested in efforts to reduce recidivism, including strengthening probation and parole and programs for substance abusing offenders.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

Synthetic marijuana controversy hits Naval Academy 

A large number of individuals enrolled in U.S. Naval Academy are smoking synthetic marijuana, according to a Washington Post report. The substance -- a combination of herbal products sprayed with chemicals to induce a mood-altering affect -- does not turn up in routine drug tests, which accounts for its popularity among service members. The Naval Academy recently launched an investigation into the use of the drug and has already expelled eight midshipmen implicated in the drug use.

According to a statement from Vice Admiral Michael H. Miller, who serves as superintendent of the Naval Academy: The Naval Academy continues to actively investigate suspected illicit drug use. [The Academy] has been and will continue to be transparent in disclosing the results of this ongoing investigation. If and when there is sufficient evidence and testimony of alleged drug use by additional midshipmen, they will be processed for separation [expulsion].

To read more please follow this link

Source: Salon

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