oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of September 3rd 2011

We lead this week with a look at a new Open Society report assessing the Portuguese government's rejection of the 'war on drugs' in 2000, and decriminalization of drug possession and use. What lessons can be learnt from this experience? ~ MW
Mark Weiss
3 September 2011

Lead Article 

Drug Policy in Portugal: The Benefits of Decriminalizing Drug Use

In 2000, the Portuguese government responded to widespread public concern over drugs by rejecting a "war on drugs" approach and instead decriminalized drug possession and use. It further rebuffed convention by placing the responsibility for decreasing drug demand as well as managing dependence under the Ministry of Health, rather than the Ministry of Justice. With this, the official response toward drug-dependent persons shifted from viewing them as criminals, to treating them as patients. 

Drug Policy in Portugal: The Benefits of Decriminalizing Drug Use is the second in a series of reports by the Open Society Foundations' Global Drug Policy Program that documents positive examples of drug policy reform around the world (the first being From the Mountaintops: What the World Can Learn from Drug Policy Change in Switzerland). Drug Policy in Portugal describes the process, context, ideas, and values that enabled Portugal to make the transition to a public health response to drug use and possession. Now, with a decade of experience, Portugal provides a valuable case study of how decriminalization coupled with evidence-based strategies can reduce drug consumption, dependence, recidivism, and HIV infection, and create safer communities for all. This report, by award-winning journalist Artur Domoslawski, is available for download at this link.

Source: Open Society

UK News 

Professor David Nutt: Attitudes need to change for drug addict numbers to fall even lower

These figures are good news. At least things are not getting worse. That is reassuring. A decline in the number of addicts is what I would have expected thanks to the expansion of treatment. The treatments work – this is really compelling.

It represents a challenge to the view being propagated by the Conservatives, who are opposed to maintenance therapy – keeping addicts on methadone. They don't want maintenance therapy – they want a cure. The reason this reduces the number of addicts is that as soon as you take away their prescribed drug – methadone – they will have to find an alternative. Most will get it illegally and to raise the money to pay for it will commit crime and sell the drug to other users.

Getting people into treatment reduces the need for addicts to make other people addicts and thus reduces the addict population on methadone. We don't have effective treatments for stimulant drugs such as cocaine and amphetamine. However, it is clear a lot of people switched from cocaine and ecstasy to mephedrone – because they knew what they were getting. The benefit of mephedrone is that it is much less toxic than cocaine.

The best way to get addicts off drugs is to find treatments that stabilise them. But almost no research is being done because of the Government's simplistic view addiction is not an illness. We need to change this view and increase investment.

Source: The Independent

Heroin and crack addiction falls by 25,000

Britain's drug problem is on the wane according to figures which show that the number of heroin and crack users is down and their average age is rising.Research suggests there are 25,000 fewer addicts in 2009-10 than six years ago when the first survey by experts from the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow was carried out.

However, banning the legal high mephedrone in 2009 has had the perverse effect of increasing the danger to drug users, experts say. The latest estimate of 306,150 opiate and crack cocaine users in 2009-10 is the first to show a significant decrease. Of those, 103,185 were injecting drug users who face the greatest danger, a fall of 12 per cent.

Paul Hayes, chief executive of the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, said: "It looks as if fewer young adults are turning to heroin and crack and fewer users in general are taking part in risky injecting behaviour. This is an encouraging development but we can't be complacent as long as drugs are ruining lives and causing misery to communities." To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Independent

Normal life as a mum after heroin 

Marie Franklin will never forget the day her daughter was born. "I was 10 days late, fat, fed up," she recalls. "I went to the hospital three times before they let me stay. I was excited and scared. Then my waters broke, and an hour and a half later I had a baby girl. The moment I held her in my arms was amazing, but weird – I remember thinking, 'Oh my God!' But it was … lovely."

It's an ordinary yet wonderful story of mother-child bonding, but what happened next is neither ordinary nor wonderful. After leaving hospital, Marie and her partner Steve took baby Chloe back to their house in Bristol. But rather than sitting down to a cup of tea, the new mum had what she'd denied herself, yet craved, throughout her pregnancy – not a glass of wine or a cigarette, but a hit of heroin. A year later Chloe was taken into care.

For many mothers like Marie – vulnerable young women with a history of low self-esteem, sex work and drug addiction – that could have been the end of the story. But she is one of the lucky ones. Last July, after five months apart, she was reunited with her daughter at Naomi House in Bristol: one of only three addiction treatment centres in the country that cater for mothers and babies, and the only one for women who've escaped sex work. Marie, 23, doesn't offer any comfortable excuses for how she ended up in such a dark place. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Updated HIV figures published

Data released today by the Health Protection Agency shows that almost 70,000 persons were accessing HIV-related care at the end of 2010, an increase of 4,100 (6%) compared to 2009. An estimated 90% were being treated as indicated under the current national guidelines.

Men who have sex with men remain the group most at risk of becoming infected with HIV, with 3,000 new diagnoses made in 2010 - the largest ever annual number of new HIV diagnoses in this group since the HIV epidemic began.   

Dr Valerie Delpech, head of HIV at the Health Protection Agency, said: "Despite progress in delivering treatment, preventing transmission is critical to reducing HIV costs to the NHS, which were an estimated £484 million in 2010 - an increase of £49 million from the previous year. "The best way to prevent all sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, is to practise safe sex. This means using a condom with all new sexual partners until you have both been tested and given the all-clear."

Source: Health Protection Agency

New priority for prevention of HIV and AIDS called for by Lords Committee

The current priority given to preventing HIV and AIDS in the UK is "woefully inadequate" and a new priority must be given to prevention policies if the epidemic is to be stemmed, says a Lords Select Committee in a report published today. The report says that the numbers accessing care have trebled since 2000 and that HIV and AIDS remains one of the most serious  public health issues confronting the Government at the start of the 21st century.

The report is published on the 25th anniversary of the "Don't Die of Ignorance" campaign, and the select committee was chaired by Lord Fowler, who ran the original 1986 campaign. The committee spent more than eight months examining how HIV and AIDS is being dealt with inside the UK. To learn more please follow this link


Mexico's Calderon defends war on drug cartels

(Reuters) - Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Friday mounted a forceful defense of his crackdown on drug cartels, saying the conflict that has cost thousands of lives was the only way to beat the "cancer" attacking Mexico.

Calderon is under growing pressure to end the violence that has killed more than 42,000 people in less than five years, and he devoted nearly half of his annual state of the nation address to rebuffing critics of his army-backed offensive.

In an impassioned speech a week after 52 people died in an arson attack on a Monterrey casino by suspected drug gang members, Calderon said only by standing up to criminals could Mexico end what he called the "slavery of criminality."

"The only way to really put an end to this cancer is to persevere with this strategy," he said in his address that lasted 1-1/2 hours. "We will defeat them." To learn more please follow this link

Source: Reuters

The Monterrey massacre: a new nadir in Mexico's drug war 

Until last week, it seemed the cumulative violence in Mexico had already reached its nadir: headless and tortured corpses hung from busy bridges, handwritten placards strewn throughout major cities warning of impending and indiscriminate kidnappings to come, jubilant soccer games interrupted by rampant gunfire. Perhaps, Mexicans thought, we have now suffered the most profound depths of violence, sadism and disregard for human life during the five-year war on drugs. But 25 August proved them wrong.

At 3.48pm, eight men entered the Casino Royale in Monterrey, Mexico. The terrorists – branded so by President Felipe Calderón – doused the carpet, slot machines and tables with petrol. They set the two-story building ablaze and dashed out. Within 150 seconds, the place was a veritable inferno, its escape-proof restrooms filled with patrons seeking refuge from the gunmen and the flames.

It was a spectacle of bloodshed that shook Mexico to its core: in a matter of minutes, 52 civilians were killed. A war-hardened nation was left in a pained stupor and a void of disbelief. The victims, mostly well-to-do women, were innocent people, used by the men who really run the country to broadcast their latest message: we set the rules here and impose our authority with impunity. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Monterrey attack: Game-changer in Mexico's drugs war?

Mexican President Felipe Calderon delivers his annual state of the union speech on Friday amid growing anxiety about his country's security situation, just a week after a casino attack that has prompted national soul-searching.

The attack in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, which left 52 people dead, was branded by many as a turning point in Mexico's bloody conflict. Beyond the mourning and initial shock, what the attack has brought about is a renewed debate on the government's security strategy to tackle a conflict that has claimed almost 40,000 lives.

The attack, some believe, could start a new phase in the conflict, a new chapter in which the options discussed could include decriminalisation of drugs or a truce with the cartels. It could also herald a phase in which the semantics also changes: Mexico's "war on drugs" may morph into a "war on terror". To learn more please follow this link

Source: BBC News

Security in Mexico: Raising the stakes

A CASINO in the troubled northern city of Monterrey was set alight yesterday afternoon, in an attack that officials say killed 40 people. Some reports said that armed men had burst in and doused the Casino Royale with flammable liquid. Others said the men had thrown grenades. At the time of writing some people were reportedly still trapped inside.

Some 40,000 people have been killed so far in Mexico’s heightened drug war, which is nearing five years old. In spite of the violence, Mexico’s economy has been doingreasonably well. Though the border with the United States has seen the worst of the fighting, trade between the two countries is at an all-time high. Crucial to keeping the investment and visitors flowing is the fact that the violence has been highly concentrated—most of the murders taking place in a handful of municipalities—and that most of the victims, we are told (without hard evidence, mind you) are people who are themselves involved in organised crime.

That is why yesterday’s casino attack presents three worries. Firstly, it did not take place in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night: the Casino Royale is on one of Monterrey’s main highways, close to the centre, with several well-known hotel chains within a few blocks. Chasing Los Zetas and co. around the desert is one thing; failing to keep order in the middle of one of Mexico’s richest cities, at four in the afternoon, is a more serious problem, and one that will cause people to raise the dreaded F-word again. (For what it’s worth, I still don’t think Mexico as a whole is anywhere near meeting that description. But a handful of its 31 states are perilously close.)

Secondly, if 20-plus people have been killed, it is likely that some of the victims have nothing to do with the drug war. Foreign visitors can tell themselves (and their insurance companies) that there is nothing to worry about if the people dying are all either villains or innocent people whose jobs draw them into the chaos. But if public buildings are being torched or shot up, as a city-centre bar was last month in Monterrey, the jitters will luickly, and rightly, spread. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Economist

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox suggests truce with drug cartels, amnesty for traffickers 

MEXICO CITY - Former President Vicente Fox suggested Friday that Mexican authorities consider calling on drug cartels for a truce and offering them amnesty, speaking out a day after an apparent cartel attack on a casino killed 52 people. Fox, who served from 2000 to 2006, has since advocated legalizing drugs as a way to reduce violence. At least 35,000 and as many as 40,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels in late 2006.

"I want to start a public debate on the following ideas ... call on the violent groups for a truce" and "evaluate the advisability of an amnesty law," Fox said in a speech at an anti-crime event. Last week, the attorney general of the violence-wracked southern state of Guerrero, Alberto Lopez Rosas, drew criticism when he called on cartels to establish a truce among themselves to prevent civilian casualties in their bloody turf battles.

Federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire rejected that idea this week, saying the gangs must be arrested and disbanded. "Regarding calls by authorities for the criminals to change their behavior, I think it couldn't be clearer that peace is not going to be achieved by asking the criminals for something," Poire said. "Peace is going to be achieved by bringing the criminals to justice ...that their thinking will not be influenced by appealing to their interests by calling on them to change their ways, but by giving them no choice but to submit to the law and stop their crimes." To learn more please follow this link

Source: IDPC

In Mexico, the Glamour of Narco-Culture

PERPIGNAN, France — Shaul Schwarz was among the first photographers to focus on documenting the drug wars that have ravaged the Mexican city of Juárez. Mr. Schwarz has been working in Juárez, a few yards from the border with the United States, since 2007. He can’t get the story of a city “so vicious and so close to home” out of his system.

“It is dangerous, chaotic and unpredictable,” said Mr. Schwarz, 37. “I see how cheap life can be there at times.” After covering drug-related murders almost daily, Mr. Schwarz began to focus on the corrosive effect the violence was having on Mexican society. He started photographing the narco-culture spread by young people — on both sides of the border.

Narco-culture, he said, is narcocorridos — rap songs about drugs that glorify the life experiences of violent drug dealers. It is giant mausoleums celebrating assassinated kingpins. It is films about the drug world. Blogs about the drug world. “It’s fashionable now to know what’s going on in the drug world,” Mr. Schwarz said. “Everybody is obsessed with it.” To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times

Calderon gives state of union address

MEXICO CITY — In his annual State of the Union address Friday, Mexican President Felipe Calderon pledged to press the fight against organized crime and police corruption during his final year in office. But he backed off from branding last week’s casino firebombing in Monterrey an act of drug cartel “terrorism,” after the brother of the city’s mayor and a state policeman were taken into custody in a widening investigation.

Calderon also announced the creation of an Office for Victim’s Assistance, an acknowledgment that many of the 40,000 people killed the U.S.-backed drug war were not criminals but innocents caught in a cross fire. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Washington Post


 Video: Florida Welfare Drug Testing Debate 

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

Far from saving the state money, Florida's new welfare drug testing law, promoted aggressively by Gov. Rick Scott, seems to be a budget buster. The law also seems likely to be found unconstitutional -- FoxNews's Megyn Kelly, host of the show "Kelly's Court," thinks so (as do we) -- and taking it through the courts to find that out will cost Florida taxpayers additional funds. 

Unfortunately there have been a lot of these bills lately, this year and in other recent years. One more seems to be coming up in Ohio, and legislation may be coming up very soon in Congress -- we'll update here as soon as we know more.

Source: Drug War Chronicle

America’s prisons: A catching sickness

A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America. By Ernest Drucker. The New Press; 211 pages; $26.95. IN MAY 1973 New York passed a set of laws that required judges to impose sentences of 15 years to life imprisonment for anyone convicted of selling two ounces (57 grams) or possessing four ounces of “narcotic drugs”—usually cocaine, heroin or marijuana. They came to be known as the Rockefeller laws, after New York’s then-governor, Nelson Rockefeller.

They sent New York’s prison population soaring, from an average of fewer than 75 inmates per 100,000 New Yorkers between 1880 and 1970 to five times that rate by the end of the century. Between 1987 and 1997 drug cases accounted for 45% of new prisoners.

Other states followed New York’s lead. They imposed long sentences for non-violent drug crimes and they denied judges the power to consider extenuating circumstances, or indeed anything other than the convict’s criminal history and the amount of drugs, when sentencing.

These laws were a public-policy disaster. Ernest Drucker, an epidemiologist, uses the tools of his trade to examine the laws and their consequences. He writes that America is suffering “a plague of prisons”, and the Rockefeller laws were the outbreak of that plague. Heroin use rose in New York during the 1960s. New York politicians wanting to convince their constituents that they were tough on crime, sent users and sellers to prison for a long time. The pattern was repeated around the country. As a result, America’s prison population, like New York’s, rose fivefold from 1980 to 2009. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Economist

Jamaican drug baron Christoper 'Dudus' Coke pleads guilty

A notorious Jamaican drug baron, who was captured last summer after street battles that left scores of people dead, faces 23 years in prison after admitting racketeering charges in the US. Christoper "Dudus" Coke pleaded guilty to trafficking three tonnes of marijuana and 30lbs of cocaine into America, as well as ordering the stabbing of a New York drug dealer.

Coke, 42, told a judge in New York: "I'm pleading guilty because I am." He said: "I also ordered the purchase of firearms and the importation of those firearms into Jamaica". He was arrested in Jamaica in June 2010, at the end of a five-week manhunt. A prominent supporter of the ruling Labour party, he was initially shielded by authorities, who blocked his extradition.

However, ministers eventually caved to pressure from the US, sending soldiers and police in to the slums of west Kingston in order to seize him. Four days of running battles between gangsters and government forces ensued, leaving 76 dead.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Telegraph

Reduction in overdose mortality after the opening of North America's first medically supervised safer injecting facility: a retrospective population-based study. 

Overdose from illicit drugs is a leading cause of premature mortality in North America. Internationally, more than 65 supervised injecting facilities (SIFs), where drug users can inject pre-obtained illicit drugs, have been opened as part of various strategies to reduce the harms associated with drug use. We sought to determine whether the opening of an SIF in Vancouver, BC, Canada, was associated with a reduction in overdose mortality.

We examined population-based overdose mortality rates for the period before (Jan 1, 2001, to Sept 20, 2003) and after (Sept 21, 2003, to Dec 31, 2005) the opening of the Vancouver SIF. The location of death was determined from provincial coroner records. We compared overdose fatality rates within an a priori specified 500 m radius of the SIF and for the rest of the city.

 Of 290 decedents, 229 (79·0%) were male, and the median age at death was 40 years (IQR 32–48 years). A third (89, 30·7%) of deaths occurred in city blocks within 500 m of the SIF. The fatal overdose rate in this area decreased by 35·0% after the opening of the SIF, from 253·8 to 165·1 deaths per 100 000 person-years (p=0·048). By contrast, during the same period, the fatal overdose rate in the rest of the city decreased by only 9·3%, from 7·6 to 6·9 deaths per 100 000 person-years (p=0·490). There was a significant interaction of rate differences across strata (p=0·049). To learn more please follow this link

Source: Drug and Alcohol Findings 

Prescription Drug Abuse among Youth Raises Concerns

With school starting this week or if its just around the corner, parents and teachers have an important role in protecting young people from abusing prescription drugs. More than 2.1 million teens abused prescription drugs in the United States in 2006. The nonmedical use of prescription psychotherapeutic drugs by youth between the ages of 12 to 17 years was second to marijuana and first among 12 to 13 year olds Every day, an average of more than 2,500 adolescents, aged 12 to 17, misused a pain reliever for the first time. Almost 900 tried a stimulant for the first time on an average day. To learn more please follow this link

Source: SAMHSA

US uproots massive marijuana complex

United States law enforcement officials have claimed a major victory against illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands in the heart of northern California's cannabis-growing country. The two-week operation to purge the Mendocino National Forest of illicit marijuana gardens uprooted 460,000 cannabis plants and led to more than 100 arrests, US lawyer Melinda Haag said.

About 680kg of processed marijuana, 27 guns and 11 vehicles were also seized. The 364,225-hectare forest spans six counties in a region of mountains and forests known as the Emerald Triangle for its high concentration of marijuana farms. Agents raided more than 50 gardens teeming with rubbish, irrigation pipes and chemicals that damage forestland and waterways, authorities said.

"The Mendocino National Forest is under attack by drug traffickers,'' Haag said. The operation was part of an annual summer effort to eradicate marijuana from public lands across the state. Six sheriff's departments, the state anti-drugs bureau and at least half-a-dozen federal agencies took part in the effort in the forest. Spearheading the raids was Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, who in his years on the job has had to balance county medical marijuana ordinances with state law and the complete federal ban on the drug.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: Al Jazeera

New Zealand and Australia

Opioid substitution treatment in prison and post-release: effects on criminal recidivism and mortality 

More than eight in ten prisoners who use heroin in New South Wales, Australia, will be back in prison within two years of being released. But this rate can be cut by 20 per cent if they leave prison on methadone treatment and stay on it in the community. This was the major finding of a report released today by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

The researchers studied a group of 375 prisoners for ten years. The study found that heroin dependent ex-prisoners died at six times the rate of males in New South Wales of the same age who had never used heroin. Continuation in methadone treatment reduced the risk of death by around 40 per cent, according to the study.

The study also found that within two years 84 per cent of heroin dependent ex-prisoners were back in prison compared to the state average for all prisoners of 45 per cent. Over the ten year period 99.5 per cent of the group being followed went back to prison on average of 5 times and for an average of three months at a time or three and half years in total. Just being on methadone when released did not reduce the chance of going back to prison but if this treatment was continued into the community then the rate of re-incarceration was reduced by 20 per cent. To learn more please follow this link

Source: IDPC

Drug policy experts warn things must change 

Experts from around New Zealand, and from overseas, will gather in Wellington on Tuesday 30 August for a Drug Policy Symposium organised by NZ Drug Foundation and NZ Society on Alcohol and Drug Dependence.

The purpose of the Symposium is to focus the attention of policy makers and funders on ways to develop a high quality addiction treatment system that gets more people into treatment and retains those who are already in it. Dignitaries who will speak include Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne, and one-time Deputy Drug Czar to the Obama Administration Professor Tom McLellan.

Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell says New Zealand’s governments have consistently underinvested in addiction treatment services despite alcohol and other drug abuse being the sixth highest contributor to our burden of disease. “It’s time for a massive re-think on the way we deal with addiction and drug abuse, especially in terms of treatment. We’re struggling along with legislation and social attitudes that were already outmoded last century and, until that changes, the cost to us as communities and individuals will remain unacceptably high.” To learn more please follow this link

Source: IDPC


In Russia, Harsh Remedy for Addiction Gains Favor 

YEKATERINBURG, Russia — The treatment center does not handcuff addicts to their beds anymore. But caged together on double-decker bunks with no way out, they have no choice but to endure the agonies of withdrawal, the first step in a harsh, coercive approach to drug treatment that has gained wide support in Russia. 

“We know we are skirting the edge of the law,” said Sergei Shipachev, a staff member at the center, which is run by a private group called City Without Drugs. “We lock people up, but mostly we have a written request from their family. The police couldn’t do this, because it’s against the law.”

A thick silence fills the little room crammed with tall metal beds, obscuring the fact that there are 37 men lying shoulder to shoulder, each lost in a personal world of misery. Outside the chamber, known as the quarantine room, 60 men who have emerged — after as long as a month with only bread and water or gruel — work at menial jobs, lift weights or cook in a regimen of continued isolation from the world that staff members said usually takes a year. To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times


New research points to the need for policy reforms and harm reduction programs for people who inject drugs in Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand (September 1, 2011) –Today, the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG), the Urban Health Research Initiative (UHRI) of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (Vancouver, Canada), and Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand) released a report, “Reducing Drug-Related Harm in Thailand: Evidence and Recommendations from the Mitsampan Community Research Project (MSCRP).” A collaborative effort between the three entities, the report summarizes two years of research findings on HIV risk behaviors and barriers to accessing HIV and harm reduction services among people who inject drugs (PWID), and provides evidence based recommendations calling for the expansion of harm reduction programs in Thailand.

“Thailand sorely lacks current, quality data on barriers to accessing HIV care and harm reduction services for injectors, and we wanted to urgently address that need, especially from a policy development perspective. Our research shows clearly the pressing need to  expand harm reduction programs in Thailand” said Paisan Suwannawong, the founder of the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG), which provides direct services to PWID. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UHRI


10% shooters: the transition of drug use in Holland from injecting to smoking

This short film charts the chronology and reasons behind what remains a unique phenomenon: the large-scale shift amongst Dutch drug users from injecting their drugs of choice, to smoking them.

Source: Youtube


Iran releases jailed HIV doctor: family source 

Agence France Presse: Iranian HIV doctor Arash Alaei has been released from jail in Tehran after spending more than three years behind bars for allegedly conspiring against the regime, his US-based brother said Monday.

"He got released today," Kamiar Alaei told AFP in an email. "He was among 100 Iranian political prisoners who got a pardon today due to the coming end of the Ramadan religious holiday, Eid al-Fitr." Alaei also posted on a statement on his Facebook page, thanking his friends, colleagues and family for their "tireless help and support."

The two brothers were arrested in June 2008 and accused of communicating with the United States in a bid to unseat the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Kamiar, 37, was released from Tehran's Evin prison earlier this year and returned to Albany, New York where he is completing a doctoral degree in public health. Click here to read the entire story.

Source: HRI

Dominican Republic

Why it's no longer raining cocaine in the Dominican Republic 

Drug cartels often drop their product from small planes for it to be picked up by traffickers on land. But sometimes those air deliveries miss their mark - and until recently, errant bundles of cocaine used to fall from the sky into the Dominican Republic's countryside so frequently that one rural cab driver tells TIME they were like "gifts from God," because residents who found them could sell them back to the narcos for a handsome price.  

"It paid better than any other job," says the cabbie, who lost his job and is separated from his wife because of the drug addiction he developed as a result of all that exposure to cocaine. To learn more please follow this link

Source: IDPC


Crack cocaine epidemic sweeps Brazil from the Amazon to Rio

Past a roadblock, improvised from charred tree trunks and concrete sewer pipes, sits a muscle-bound man in flip-flops, with an AR-15 assault rifle cradled in his lap. "Crack is the devil in rock form," he says baldly. "If one of my employees started smoking crack I'd confiscate his gun and kick him out of the gang."

The man is a drug boss from one of Rio de Janeiro's three main drug factions. He sells crack from his shanty town on the city's western edge, in the latest scourge to afflict Rio. Until recently the city's gangsters largely refused to sell crack, fearful of the effect it would have on their clientele. But over the past few years economics have trumped good sense. The floodgates have opened.

"The use of crack is growing at a terrifying rate. In the last four years it has grown a great deal," says Julio Cesar Pereira de Oliveira, the director of a dilapidated civil police jail in northern Rio, where 10 damp and overcrowded cells are now packed with more than 360 prisoners, many of them addicts. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Other News

Harm reduction partners call on the United Nations to mobilize an international response to overdose mortality

Several harm reduction partners including theEurasian Harm Reduction Network, the Harm Reduction Coalition (USA), the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) and Harm Reduction International are using today; 31st August 2011 - or International Overdose Awareness Day to call upon WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS to mobilize their efforts and play a leading role in a coordinated response to drug overdose mortality on the global level.

To view the letter in full please click here. For further overdose reading. Harm Reduction International has recently revamped its '50 Best Collections' and the collection on overdose is now available under the publications section of Harm Reduction International site. This collection brings together documents that provide the best information on overdose and overdose prevention.

Source: HRI

International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies - A global call for doctors interested in drug policy 

The purpose of International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies (IDHDP) is to increase the participation of medical doctors in drug policy reform. There is a gap between evidence based practice and drug policy in many countries and IDHDP aims to influence changes in drug policy to promote harm reduction and create healthy drug policies internationally.

IDHDP believes that doctors are in a strong position to help to achieve this. IDHDP also offers support to doctors in their home countries or regions by having core objectives/position statements, which promote harm reduction and healthy drug policies. If you are a doctor, and agree with IDHDP's mission and objectives, please become a member by completing the membership form on the IDHDP website and add the issues that you would like to be addressed by IDHDP.

Source: IDPC

We're the evidence: Naloxone works!

Source: Youtube

CALL FOR ACTION: Response to drug overdoses in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

On August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day, Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN)Harm Reduction Coalition (USA)Harm Reduction International (HRI) and the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) called for the WHOUNODCUNAIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to mobilize their efforts and play a leading role in a coordinated global response to drug overdose mortality.

In their letter, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) asked the WHOUNODCUNAIDS and the Global Fund to organize a meeting that will provide experts of international organizations and leading NGOs with an opportunity to discuss the scale of the global overdose burden and consolidate their efforts to improve the public health response to overdose mortality.

Overdose is a major cause of preventable death in many regions of the world. In Information Note: Harm Reduction for People Who Use Drugs, the Global Fund encourages countries to consider including training on overdose prevention and low-threshold provision of naloxone in their proposals. However, there is a lack of internationally accepted guidelines on community-based overdose prevention, overdose surveillance, and/or the strengthening of health systems’ capacity to address fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

In response to this situation, from March to July 2011, EHRN carried out an overdose mapping study in the following 12 Eastern European and Central Asian countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Estonia. Based upon the findings of this study, yesterday, on International Overdose Awareness Day, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network launched a CALL FOR ACTION and proposed measures that need to be taken in response to the overdose burden in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Download our CALL FOR ACTION by clicking this link.

Source: EHRN

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