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Archive for the ‘Links’ Category

About Addiction: Alcohol, Legalization, Internet-Addiction, the Drug war, and Teen Drug Use

October 31st, 2012

a couple weeks away, A3 Link posts are back with a brand-new set of addiction article straight off the press! With election season gearing up we have some news regarding new laws on the ballot for legalization in some states, as well as internet-addiciton being deemed an official diagnosis in the new DSM, and everything in between. Check out all of the new articles in this week’s posts!

Does trying alcohol in youth develop a distaste for it?-  How does tasting alcohol in childhood affect later alcohol use in adolescence? This question has long been debated by parents, with some feeling they should keep their children as far away from alcohol as possible and some believing they should let their children taste alcohol in order to take away the temptation of alcohol as a “forbidden fruit” and/or so they can develop a distaste for it early on. According to a recent study by RTI International and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill based on data collected from interviews with 1,050 mothers and their third-grade children, 25% of the mothers thought that allowing their kids to try alcohol would discourage them from drinking in their adolescence, and 40% believed that not allowing children to taste alcohol will only make it more appealing to them. Twenty-two percent of the mothers believed that children who taste alcohol at home with their parents would be better at resisting alcohol-related peer pressure, and 26% thought it would make them less likely to experiment with risky drinking in middle school. Amongst the children, 33% of those in the study admitted to having tasted some alcoholic beverage. While these findings may not be surprising to some, they are interesting and, to some extent, worrisome because, according to the researchers, early introduction to alcohol is a primary risk factor for problem drinking during adolescence.

Internet Addiction an Official Diagnosis?- The term addiction has historically been used primarily to indicate addiction to drugs and alcohol. Now, there are many different forms of “addiction”, some included in the worldwide psychiatric manual and others simply used by people in everyday conversation. Reportedly, if confirmed by further research, a new addiction included as ”internet-use disorder” will be included in the new psychiatric manual the DSM-V, and children addicted to using electronic devices 24/7, will be diagnosed with a serious mental illness. While this may seem a bit excessive to those who feel there are no ill effects of internet use, recent research has found that children get aggressive, irritable and hostile when their iPads or laptops are taken away from them. Some researchers even found that screen addictions have characteristics similar to other addictions, including emotional shutdown, lack of concentration and withdrawal symptoms if they are kept away from their gadgets and games. While it may soon become an official mental illness, for now overuse of technologies would be classified under internet-use disorder alongside other mental disorders.

Legalization on the Ballot in Multiple States- With election season quickly approaching, multiple states have initiatives on the ballot regarding the legalization of marijuana. According to pre-election polls, it seems likely that at least one of these bills will pass. While Oregon, Washington, and Colorado all have a proposition on their ballot, it looks like Washington or Colorado might be the first state to officially legalize recreational marijuana use, as both states showing at least 50 percent support in the polls. In Washington in particular, there is little organized opposition, with opponents raising only $6,000 compared to supporters, who have collected more than $4 million. Ironically, medical marijuana dispensaries have been the most publicly opposed to the bill. While some of them worry about marijuana dispensaries being put out of business, others fear new DUI laws that could make it illegal to be driving with even a trace of THC in one’s system, an intimidating fact due to the extended time period THC stays in one’s system. For now, those in other states will just have to wait and see what happens at election time. But pay close attention, because the results could have an enormous impact on the future of marijuana legalization across the country, and around the world.

Teen Drug Use Leads to Successful Lives? It has long been thought, and often commonly accepted, that drug use is “bad”, dangerous, and even deadly. However, in a surprising discovery, a recent study conducted at the University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development by Michelle M. Englund found that teens experimenting with drugs and alcohol are more likely to attain higher levels of education and be in stable romantic relationships early into adulthood than those who abstain. This is not to say that heavy drug use leads to more successful individuals, as those who were deemed to be drug abusers and even at-risk users did not reach the same levels of success as experimental users or even those who abstained. One explanation offered is that many of the successful users developed a strong foundation both academically and socially before they tried the drugs and/or alcohol. This seems logical when compared with studies that have shown drug and/or alcohol use earlier in adolescence to be harmful to brain development. While this particular study was conducted with a small sample size and researchers admits that similar studies of larger populations need to be done to verify their results, they do insist that these results show that experimental drug use in adolescence may not be as harmful as previously thought, and may actually be a normal part of adolescent development. Since approximately 80% of teens admit to using drugs, it makes sense that drug use of some sort would be normative and not problematic.

The Drug War- The “Drug War” has been going on for many years now, with the government seemingly spending more to fight the spread of drug use by the year. Using data from government agencies such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Drug Control Surveys, Matt Groff created a graph showing the relationship between government spending on the Drug War and the drug users in America, per 100 citizens, over the last 35 years. You can see the graph for yourself via this link. While it seems there may have been a slight correlation in the ‘80’s as spending began to increase and drug use dipped , the impact has disappeared since then. While Drug War spending has increased to at least 3 times the amount being spent at the end of the 80s, drug use has not decreased and has even been on a slow but steady rise since then. With the effectiveness of the drug war being called into question, it seems prudent to look into more effective ways to be fight drug use nationwide.


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About Addiction: marijuana, LGBT, national surveys, codependency and skittles?

October 1st, 2012

This week we have an interesting mix of addiction news, from the new fad “Skittle parties” to the results from a national drug use survey and everything in between. If you want to stay current and up-to-date on everything about addiction, this week’s articles are must-reads!

Perception of MarijuanaThe perception of marijuana can be vastly different from person to person. With voters in Massachusetts considering a ballot question that would make it the 18th state to allow medical use of marijuana in November, it is important to know the facts about the effects of marijuana use. Recent studies have found that marijuana use may cause or worsen mental health problems in long-term and regular users. Two 2010 reviews of the medical literature related to schizophrenia and psychosis said the research suggests marijuana may bring on the disorders or worsen symptoms, particularly in young people already genetically predisposed to the conditions, however both admitted that further studies were needed to support their findings. A more definitive study was published last month, linking regular marijuana use to a decline in IQ. A team of researchers, led by Madeline Meier of Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy, found that people diagnosed with marijuana dependency as teenagers and who continued using it regularly into adulthood experienced cognitive decline, with the largest drop being about 8 IQ points. They noted that those who started using marijuana as adults did not experience a drop in IQ. That’s because teenage brains are different, making the negative effects of marijuana more harmful both immediately and in the long-term. Essentially, while marijuana use can be safe and medicinally helpful, it is most dangerous to the developing brains of teenagers.

Drug use in the LGBT community A recent study from England has revealed surprising links between homosexuality and drug use, as people who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual were seven times more likely to use illegal drugs than the general population, with one in five of those showing signs of dependency or addiction. Compared to the five percent of the general population who admitted to using within the last month, over a third of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people who took the survey admitted to drug use in the last month. Specifically among the illegal drugs being used, homosexuals were 10 times more likely to have used cocaine in the last month than the wider population, and 13 times more likely to have used ketamine. The causality behind this phenomenon is unclear, although many reasons have been suggested from drug use as a coping mechanism against homophobia to being a part of the homosexual party scene and lifestyle. Many campaigners and researchers are calling these findings a “wake-up call” to the LGBT community.

Skittle Parties!With drug abuse becoming an increasing problem across the nation, teens have been finding more and more new ways to use numerous different drugs. They have been utilizing their creativity to experience these drugs in new, different, and sometimes dangerous ways.  One of the newest and most alarming trends amongst the drug-using youth is called “skittle parties”. At these types of parties, teens bring with them any type of pill they can get a hold of, from parents prescription pills, such as Ritalin or Tylenol with Codeine, to illicit drugs like ecstasy. Once arriving at the party they put their pills in a bag and proceed to pull out and take any number of random pills, without knowing what they are or their effects. While theses parties can be extremely dangerous, they are also very easily preventable. If parents and grandparents follow a few simple guidelines, such as locking up and keeping track of their prescriptions and keeping in contact with their children’s friends and their parents in order to monitor their children’s well-being, they can help prevent these dangerous activities.

Results from National Drug Use SurveyThe U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has recently released their annual survey covering drug use among teens and adults. For the survey, they polled 70,000 people ages 12 and older, asking them about drugs they have used within the past month. The survey, which looked at data from 2011, provides a nationally representative look at current substance abuse around the country. The survey found that about 8.7 percent of Americans 12 and older were identified as current drug users, for a total of 22.5 million American drug users. Among the positive findings was a 14 percent decline in prescription drug use for non-medical purposes among people aged 18 to 25, meaning that 300,000 fewer young adults were found to be abusing such drugs compared to the previous year. The number of heroin users also showed a slight drop, going from 621,000 in 2010 to 620,000 in 2011. Hallucinogen use fell as well, dropping 19 percent for this year’s survey, and cocaine and methamphetamine use has been on the decline since 2006, with 44 percent and 40 percent reductions respectively. Tobacco use among teens 12 to 17 has also declined 15% since 2002. On the other hand, marijuana use has been increasing, with 7 percent of Americans currently identifying as regular marijuana users, up from 6.9 percent in 2010 and 5.8 percent in 2007.

Signs of Codependency Addiction has become a common term in our society, used to describe one’s dependency upon alcohol, drugs, sex, food, and many other substances. However, is it possible for one to become “addicted” to another person? According to many, the answer is yes. Even if this is not addiction in its usual clinical form, codependency is thought to be common among addicts and their spouses or partners, who end up enabling the addicts. Most people develop these kinds of behaviors after witnessing similar relationships between their role models growing up, especially if they were raised in an addicted or dysfunctional home. For example, children of alcoholics are up to four times more likely to become addicts themselves, and about half go on to marry an addict and duplicate the addict/codependent model they saw in their parents. Traumatic experiences early in one’s life can also contribute to this, by building up a low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, and many other psychological issues. Few people in these relationships realize they are codependent, instead referring to themselves as “too nice” or “selfless”. To help, here are 5 signs of a codependent relationship: 1) Taking (unnecessary) responsibility for others, 2) Putting someone else’s feelings above your own, 3) Going to extremes to hold onto a relationship, 4) Difficulty recognizing and communicating emotions, and 5) Inability to set and maintain personal boundaries. To see a more in-depth analysis of each sign, check out the link here.


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About Addiction: babies, bath salts, and prescriptions

August 14th, 2012

Another week has come and so has another group of research and addiction news stories! This week we’re covering a multitude of subjects from prescription drug abuse to bath salts to ecstasy. It is important to stay current on news regarding addiction and recovery and A3 is here to help you do just that!

Increase in addicted babies- Recently, a statewide Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns Task Force in Florida discovered that the number of babies born addicted to prescription drugs such as opiates has increased six-fold since 2004. This increase is representative of the nation as a whole, with addicted newborns quickly becoming a major problem. In 2011 in Florida alone, over 2000 babies were born with drug withdrawal syndrome, narcotic exposure or both. At St. Joseph’s hospital in the Tampa area, almost fourteen percent of the newborns were born with withdrawal symptoms.

Kentucky cracks down on prescription drug abuse- This past week Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear passed emergency regulations to fight drug abuse in the state. While the regulations are a bit controversial, they are only temporary until the state’s medical community can agree on and finalize permanent regulations. Besides increasing the regulations on clinics for administering prescription drugs, the legislation also requires doctors to use the statewide prescription drug-tracking database known as KASPER to prevent “doctor-shopping” by addicts trying to get ahold of more drugs than prescribed to them. This is similar to the New York version known as I-STOP, which was passed in the past couple of weeks in that state’s attempt to crack down on drug abuse.

“Zombie” Bath Salts as addictive as cocaine? Bath salts have become a hot topic in the media following so-called “zombie attacks” by users of the relatively new and unknown drugs. However, a recent study by Dr. C.J. Malanga has discovered the addictive side of the drugs. The study used mice to focus on the strength of pleasure seeking under the influence of certain drugs. They first learned to receive brief stimulation as a reward for spinning a wheel and had their desire to spin the wheel for this reward compared to when the reward was each drug. The study revealed that bath salts, which are different variations of the compound called cathinone, an alkaloid that comes from the khat plant, have addictive properties similar to that of cocaine.

Simple label change the key to stopping opioid addiction? With opiod addiction on the rise across the nation, many different ways of counteracting it are being discussed. One way involves changing the labels on prescription opioids, such as OxyContin, morphine or Vicodin, as part of an effort to curb prescription drug abuse. Wednesday, thirty-seven health care workers signed and submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration to do just this. However, this is becoming a discussion point for addiction specialists. While many agree with the motivation behind the petition, it is questionable whether it goes too far. Some specialists are worried that by removing “moderate” pain from the label and limiting the maximum dosage and  time period on the medication can be harmful to those who are in pain and truly need the medication.

Ecstasy and your brain- A recent study led by Daniel Wagner, a psychologist at the University of Cologne in Germany, has shown that use of the popular club drug Ecstasy may lead to memory problems. It is the first study to use people who hadn’t used the drug regularly before the beginning of the study. The debate over the effects of Ecstasy, or MDMA, has been heated over the years, fueled by the difficulty in pinpointing its effects on the brain. The study led by Wagner only shows impairments in memory, but it is significant in just a one-year period. The leaders of the study also plan a two-year follow up to determine more long-term effects.

Nicotine addiction in the brain: Teens vs. heavy smokers- A new study by UCSF’s Mark Rubinstein, MD includes findings pointing towards a lower threshold for nicotine addiction in teenagers than is currently commonly believed. Most programs that are meant to help smokers quit require that the patient smokes at least ten cigarettes per day, and anything below five brings into question if the person is even truly an addict. However, this study uses fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging, to map out how the brain reacts to different images either related or neutral to smoking. It is known that when a person is addicted to a drug, their brain “lights up” in a way that resembles the drug use itself. When comparing how the brain of teenagers who smoke less than five cigarettes a day reacts to these images with that of adults who are heavy smokers, the data revealed that there is an immense amount of similarity. It seems that some early smoking can lead to addiction the same way heavy smoking does later in life. As a result, Rubinstein is already suggesting that we should try to get teenagers to postpone their initiation and experimentation with smoking.

 

 

 


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About Addiction: ADHD, diet, prescriptions, treatment

July 24th, 2012

It’s a new week and you know what that means, another set of relevant addiction research and addiction news! If you care about addiction and addiction recovery, it is important to stay current on the relevant news and A3 is here to help you do just that! Read on and check out the links to see what has been happening over the last week.

The Long-term Impact of ADHD-treating drugsADHD is a behavioral disorder, characterized by inattentiveness and hyper-activity, which affects five to seven percent of children nationwide. Much is known about how to treat it and how the psychostimulant drugs used work, but until now relatively little was known about their long-term effects on the brain. A new animal research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, suggests that there may be no serious negative long-term effects on brain development of those individuals taking Ritalin (methylphenidate), one of the psychostimulant drugs used to treat ADHD. These results, which show that it is unlikely these drugs have any impact on drug use or addiction later on in life, are promising since a “sister” study conducted simultaneously at John Hopkins revealed similar results with slightly older primates.

Fighting addiction with a simple diet changeTo start the battle against one’s addiction, look no further than the food on your plate! From his research, Drew Ramsey, M.D. reveals that patients are much more likely to relapse and not get clean when they have a poor nutritional diet. He explains how the processed “junk” food people so often consume has been striped of their nutritional values and instead target the same reward systems in the brain activated by addictive drugs. In the end, the simplest changes may be the necessary ones to breaking one’s addiction.

I-STOP: Stopping prescription drug abuseNew legislation passed in the state of New York has created a new system designed to stop the over-prescribing of medications that are being abused at a rate high enough to kill one American every nineteen minutes. I-STOP, the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing, is a real-time database that shows pharmacists patients prescription history in order to prevent “doctor shopping” for extra narcotics. Lawmakers are optimistic that this system will help save lives and can become a national model.

The Largest Health Problem often overlooked Addiction is the largest disease that often goes untreated. Approximately 16% of Americans over the age of twelve fight addiction; that’s 40 million Americans! More than twice as many Americans struggle with addiction than those who have cancer, and almost twice as many than those who have a heart disease or diabetes. And those figures leave out the 80 million Americans who smoke, drink and use drugs in “risky ways that threaten health and safety”! It is a large-scale problem affecting almost everyone either directly or indirectly. This article summarizes a 586-page report by the University of Columbia’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) addressing addiction, one of America’s most ignored health problems, with possible solutions.

The Effects of Decriminalization a Decade LaterEleven years ago Portugal, despite much resistance, decriminalized all personal drug use. This does not mean that they made it legal, but rather those found in possession of drugs would not simply be thrown in jail. Instead they would face a board of experts comprised of a doctor, a lawyer, and a social worker who would determine if the defendant is a casual user or an addict in need of treatment. This approach has seemed to have a positive effect on the drug abuse problem in Portugal. According to a European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction report, the statistics show that the drug use rates in Portugal are well below the European average and half that of neighboring Spain. Over the eleven years since decriminalization, Portugal has gone from having 100,000 criminal drug users to just 40,000 now receiving treatment for their formerly criminal drug addiction. Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction recently announced,  “There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” based on his review of the statistics.

NAC: A new, natural treatment for addiction When it comes to treating addiction, there are many different methods, all of which work better for some than others. Recently, scientists in the United States and Australia have been working to utilize natural ingredients to treat addiction. They came up with the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine, abbreviated NAC. NAC affects the production of glutamate, which plays a critical role in the brain’s reward system that feeds addiction. Clinical, placebo-controlled trials of many different types of addicts, both substance abusers and behavioral addicts, have showed significant reduction or complete stoppage of drug use while taking NAC. Addictions including tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, gambling, and hair-pulling were all included in the study and had positive results.

See us again next week for more of the latest information about addiction, addiction research, and addiction treatment!


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About Addiction: food, treatment, babies and teens

July 5th, 2012

Our weekly About Addiction summaries are back! Make sure to tune in for the latest in research and news coverage of the drug abuse and drug addiction landscape. This time we’re talking about the food and drug addiction connection, drug using baby boomers, accidents, addicted babies, and drug using teens during summer breaks. If you

Food or drugs? A new study suggests a path for choice – A recent study Yale School of Medicine professors has found that neurons associated with overeating are also linked to non-food associated behaviors such as drug addiction. However, their discovery points to a relationship different than the contemporary view; they found an inverse relationship between eating and drug addiction that shows people who lack a desire for food have a higher predisposition towards drug addiction. According to their findings, it seems that the drive for food and the drive for drugs compete with one another!

Obamacare’s effect on addiction treatment – The recent ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act was a huge moment in our country for many reasons. In the world of addiction, it has a great impact as well! By making sure all citizens have health insurance, it gives those seeking treatment a huge advantage: choice. In the past, those seeking addiction treatment could be limited by their insurance situation. Now, those seeking help will be able to get the treatment that is right for them, not just what is available to them. Also, substance abuse treatment will be able to have a more wide-reaching effect as treatment can be provided earlier as well as a preventative measure.

The dangers of driving high – According to a recent study done at Dalhousie University, marijuana use has a severe adverse effect on safe driving. This may not be new information, however this paper was the first to separate driving under the influence of marijuana from the influence of other drugs and alcohol. They looked at nine smaller studies including 49,411 people in order to calculate their results: finding that cannabis use nearly doubles the likelihood of a motor collision as compared to an uninhibited driver. With marijuana being the most widely used illicit substance in the world, with its usage rate still rising, it is important to separate the truths and myths about its effects.

Babies born addicted – This Thursday’s episode of Rock Center With Brian Williams featured a story on babies born with withdrawal symptoms from prescription painkillers. This is an epidemic in America, and the symptoms are heartbreaking to watch: the babies have tremors, digestive problems and cry inconsolably. There’s little doctors and nurses can do to comfort them as they slowly wean them off of the drugs. On this Thursday’s new Rock Center, Kate Snow reports on the shocking increase in the number of babies born addicted.

A Teenagers’ Summer: No school, less supervision, more drugs? – A new study released by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) reports that 671,000 teens aged twelve to seventeen will try alcohol for the first time this June and July alone; 305,000 teens will try cigarettes for the first time during these months, while 274,500 will have their first experience with marijuana. These numbers are an increase from the rest of the year, likely due to an increase in free time and decrease in adult supervision. While a large proportion of these individuals will never end up developing an addiction or substance abuse problems, this study makes it clear that the summertime may be a good time to talk to your kids about the risks and effects of these substances.

Spankings leading to drug abuse? New research reveals it may not be as far-fetched as you may think – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released research that reveals strong links between corporal punishment in childhood and mood disorders, personality disorders, and addiction and drug abuse later in life. Specifically, according to the study, spankings raise the risk of alcohol and drug abuse by 59 percent. With a reported 94 percent of three- and four-year-olds receiving a spanking at least once in the last year, this has a widespread effect on the entire population. While one spanking does not lead to abuse, the research points to physical punishment as a regular means of discipline having adverse effects on mental health later in life.

Is grandpa getting high? More and more often the answer is becoming yes! – Drug use and drug abuse are often thought of in connection with young people, however the Baby Boomers are proving it can affect older people just the same. Last year alone an estimated 4.8 million adults aged 50 and above used an illicit drug. The risk is not just with illegal drugs, but also the misuse of prescription drugs. With the average 50-year-old-man using four different prescription drugs per day, the risk of becoming addicted to any one of them is substantial.

Seeing addiction as a disease, not a moral failing – In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse Nora Volkow explains how addiction and drug use affect the brain and why it should be considered a disease, not a moral failing. Check out this link to see the whole interview.


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Criminal drug possession – Felony versus misdemeanor

April 8th, 2012

In all but 13 States in the U.S., drug possession for personal use is still considered a felony punishable by years in prison and hefty fines. This despite the fact that a significant portion of those arrested meet criteria for dependence (addiction) on the drugs they are caught with, and the fact that our own federal drug abuse agencies (The National Institute on Drug Abuse – NIDA) considers addiction to be a medical condition that involves reduced control over the drug use itself. I guess that’s why the federal government also considers possession for personal use as a misdemeanor.

Drug users don't belong in prisonIn essence these state laws are putting drug users, and especially drug addicts, at risk of being locked up for years, placed on parole, and subject to the endless other barriers to employment and housing, which make it more difficult for these convicted felons to reintegrate into the community. As if fighting drug addiction wasn’t hard enough.

The question is, would reducing the penalty for drug possession for personal use to a misdemeanor in more states result in increased drug use and crime or would it actually help free up resources being used for incarceration towards more effective strategies for combating the problem?

California State senator Mark Leno is bringing up a bill for consideration in the state senate (SB1506) that is seeking to do just that – reducing the penalty for possession for personal use of any drug to a misdemeanor. Mind you, this law is not to affect any other drug-related offenses such as drug possession for sale, drug manufacturing, or transportation. What it would do is cap the maximum incarceration length of possession at one year in jail (not more years in prison) as well as cap the maximum community supervision length at 5 years (3 years are commonly assigned for such offenses).

I know what some of you are saying – drug users know they’re breaking the law and they should be punished for it. Indeed, punishing them for it will make them less likely to use, which will leave them facing no jail time instead of continuously facing single years in jail for reduced drug possession offenses. Besides, if we cut the penalties for drug possession aren’t we being soft on crime? Aren’t we saying that using drugs is okay?

The problem with that argument is that it assumes that states that have higher penalties for drug possession for personal use have lower rates of crime, drug use, or drug possession arrests. The don’t. Indeed, the 13 states (and D.C.) that already consider drug possession for personal use a misdemeanor have incarceration rates that are no higher, illicit drug use rates that are slightly lower, and addiction treatment admission rates that are on par and even a bit higher than the rates of felony states. Again, that means the states that reduced the penalty for drug possession see less arrests, more people in addiction treatment, and a smaller percentage of their population using such drugs. Interestingly, those results are somewhat similar to the effect complete decriminalization had on drug use, crime, and addiction treatment in Portugal.

In previous articles we’ve spoken about the stigma of addiction and the barriers people report to entering addiction treatment in the U.S. Aside from cost and lack of information, people usually report that they either don’t want help, think they can handle the problem on their own or are too ashamed to ask for help. We’ve also reported on the ridiculous prison overcrowding problem in California due to the high incarceration rates of drug users. The question of decriminalization has come up many times (see here, here, and here) and the evidence I’ve seen keeps pointing towards the conclusion that reduced penalties get more people into addiction treatment while reducing incarceration rates with no real collateral increased in illicit drug use or crime. When you think about it, since the Harrison Narcotics act of 1914 essentially created the black drug market in the U.S. when it restricted, for the first time, the sale of narcotics, it makes sense that loosening up those restriction would reduce the size of that same black market and with it drug-associated crime.

I have spent the last 10 years researching the best ways to fight addiction problems and almost everything I’ve seen suggests that treatment and prevention efforts, not long jail or prison sentences, are the best ways to combat the problem. I have seen evidence that very shirt-term incarceration can help certain resistant offenders, but those efforts can easily be applied for misdemeanor and require nothing close to multiple-year sentences. For that reason, I support not only Senator Leno’s SB1506 bill in California, but other efforts around the country to reduce the criminal penalties associated with simple drug possession to get more of the people who need help into addiction treatment and away from jails. It saves us money, it is more humane, and it just makes sense.

If you want to help Senator Leno pass this bill, contact his office through this link: http://sd03.senate.ca.gov/

 

Citations/Reading:

U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 Statistical Abstract, Table 308. Crime Rates by State, 2008 and 2009, and by Type, 2009 (2012).

Collins et al., (2010). The Cost of Substance Abuse: The Use of Administrative Data to Investigate Treatment Benefits in a Rural Mountain State. Western Criminology Review 11(3), 13-28.

Gardiner, Urada, and Anglin (2011). Band-Aids and Bullhorns: Why California’s Drug Policy Is Failing and What We Can Do to Fix It. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 23, 108-135.


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Evolution of Addiction Treatment – California learning

December 1st, 2011

Addiction conferences are getting more and more common, and quite a few nowadays showcase the talents of some very knowledgeable, and renowned, addiction experts. Coming from the academic side of things, I’ve been to conferences held by the American Psychological Association, the American Public Health Association, the Society for Neuroscience, and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence.

When it comes to more clinical, or addiction treatment oriented, conferences, I think our readers would be hard pressed to find a better conference than the Evolution of Addiction Treatment conference about to take place at the Westin Hotel by the Los Angeles airport in just over a week (December 8th-11th). Some of the biggest names in addiction research and addiction treatment will be there including Drs Allen Berger and David Mee-Lee who have both contributed greatly to the field of addiction during their decades of work. The conference would be worth it even if they were the only ones speaking.

But they’re not. There are literally dozes of speakers and 3.5 full days of amazing talks. If you decide to go, we even arranged for a discount for you by entering the code “AAA10” before you pay. We’ll have a little booth set up in the hall if you want to come by and say “hi” but more than anything, we’d love for you to have the opportunity to learn as much as you can about addiction and addiction treatment options so that you can continue to carry the message that there is more than hope, there’s treatment that works!

See you there!


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