Category : Drugs/Drug Addiction

(BBC) Cannabis use in teens linked to depression

Parents should not be complacent about the risks of teenagers using cannabis, experts are warning.

UK and Canada researchers said they had found “robust” evidence showing using the drug in adolescence increased the risk of developing depression in adulthood by 37%.

They said the findings should act as a warning to families who saw cannabis use as part of the growing-up process.

The team added that the developing brain was particularly susceptible.

The researchers – from University of Oxford and Montreal’s McGill University – said cannabis use in the young was an “important public health issue”, particularly given that cannabis available today tends to be much stronger than it was previously.

Around one in nine young adults and teenagers use the drug each year in England and Wales.

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(NPR) ‘Church Of Safe Injection’ Offers Needles, Naloxone To Prevent Opioid Overdoses

A woman in the apartment, who also didn’t want to be identified, chimed in: “I understand, but what are you supposed to do? If someone isn’t able or ready to go to treatment — should they die?”

Even the founder of the Church of Safe Injection, Jesse Harvey, 26, acknowledges that he’s struggled with the same questions. But he says working in addiction recovery has made him frustrated by the deaths and barriers to treatment. He says there are criteria to becoming a legitimate syringe exchange program that he’s not likely to meet, so he started this church.

Harvey says there are now 18 chapters of the Church of Safe Injection in eight states — all of them funded by private, anonymous donations. Each one is independent but must abide by three rules: to welcome all people of all faiths, to serve all marginalized people and to support harm reduction.

But he says the group is not supporting legalizing drugs.

“We’re not saying it’s our religious belief to use heroin. No, not at all,” Harvey said. “We’re saying that it’s our sincerely held religious belief that people who use drugs don’t deserve to die when there are decades of solutions.”

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

(VC Star) California pot taxes lag as illegal market flourishes

Deep in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new budget is a figure that says a lot about California’s shaky legal marijuana market: The state is expecting a lot less cash from cannabis taxes.

The Democrat’s proposed spending plan, released Thursday, projects the state will bank $355 million in marijuana excise taxes by the end of June. That’s roughly half of what was once expected after broad legal sales kicked off last year.

Industry experts say the diminished tax income reflects a somber reality: Most consumers are continuing to purchase pot in the illegal marketplace, where they avoid taxes that can near 50 percent in some communities.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, State Government

A chart is Worth 1000 Words-Fentanyl is now America’s deadliest Drug

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

Must-not-Miss TV Recommendation–A PBS Nova program on Addiction

Hear firsthand from individuals struggling with addiction and follow the cutting-edge work of doctors and scientists as they investigate why addiction is not a moral failing, but a chronic, treatable medical condition. Easy access to drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and even prescription medications like OxyContin has fueled an epidemic of addiction—the deadliest in U.S. history.

Take the time to watch it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Guardian) Americans dying younger as drug overdoses and suicides rise, report finds

Americans are dying younger, as drug overdoses and suicide kill an increasing number of people, according to a grim new set of government statistics.

Life expectancy declined in 2017, falling to 78.6 years, according to the new report from the Centers for Disease Control released on Thursday. It is the third straight year life expectancy in the US has declined or stayed flat, reversing course after decades of improvement.

“These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” Dr Robert Redfield, the CDC’s director, said in a statement.

Life expectancy fell from 78.7 in 2016. Women generally live longer, with a life expectancy of 81.1 last year, a number that stayed flat compared with the year before. For men, the number dropped by a 10th of a year to 76.1.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

A Difficult but Important BBC Piece on the Devastating Impact of America’s Fentanyl Addiction

“Together we are going to end the scourge of drug addiction in America,” President Donald Trump said on Wednesday, as he signed a new bill to tackle the country’s opioid epidemic.

Authorities have seized enough fentanyl to kill every single American. It’s a crisis that lines one major highway. These are the stories of Interstate-95.

Watch it all (about 13 1/2 minutes).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(BBC) How an ex-heroin addict became a priest in Derby

The Reverend Darren Howie is a former thief and was addicted to heroin.

He spent a decade in and out of prison – and was once told by a prison chaplain, when he weighed just six-and-a-half stone, that he would die once he left prison.

However, Mr Howie got clean through a Christian rehabilitation programme….

Read it all and watch the whole video.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Prison/Prison Ministry

(NPR) The Viral Obituary Of An Opioid Addict: ‘She’s Just One Face’ Of The Epidemic

[Kate] O’Neill thinks the pervasiveness of opioid addiction explains why her sister’s obit moved so many people. “It’s their story, or the story of their neighbor, or the story of their daughter, or the story of their coworker’s daughter,” she tells NPR’s Scott Simon.

Tragically, O’Neill says, the stigma of addiction all too often sets significant barriers to saving lives, even though nearly a third of Americans know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

O’Neill felt she couldn’t pay tribute to her sister without highlighting the realities of an addiction that began at age 16 when Linsenmeir first tried the prescription painkiller OxyContin at a high school party.

“That part of her life, it was so central to who she was as an adult,” she says. “Her addiction didn’t define her, but it did define the way she lived. To not include that would not have been an accurate honoring of who she was.”

“I want people to know that Maddie is one face of that,” she says. “So many people with addiction don’t resemble the photo [of Maddie],” she says. “Maddie didn’t resemble that photo when she was in the throes of her use.”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Marriage & Family

(IIHS) Crashes rise in first states to begin legalized retail sales of recreational marijuana

Crashes are up by as much as 6 percent in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with neighboring states that haven’t legalized marijuana for recreational use, new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) shows. The findings come as campaigns to decriminalize marijuana gain traction with voters and legislators in the U.S., and Canada begins allowing recreational use of marijuana this month.

The two new studies will be presented today at the Combating Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving summit, hosted by IIHS and HLDI at the Vehicle Research Center. The summit brings together highway safety and law enforcement experts to discuss the prevalence and associated risk of alcohol- and drug-impaired driving, as well as strategies to combat impaired driving.

Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older with voter approval in November 2012. Retail sales began in January 2014 in Colorado and in July 2014 in Washington. Oregon voters approved legalized recreational marijuana in November 2014, and sales started in October 2015. Nevada voters approved recreational marijuana in November 2016, and retail sales began in July 2017.

HLDI analysts estimate that the frequency of collision claims per insured vehicle year rose a combined 6 percent following the start of retail sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with the control states of Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. The combined-state analysis is based on collision loss data from January 2012 through October 2017.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, State Government, Theology, Travel

From Vermont, one Family’s devastating account of their daughter being lost to Opioid addiction: Madelyn Linsenmeir RIP

‘When she was 16, she moved with her parents from Vermont to Florida to attend a performing arts high school. Soon after she tried OxyContin for the first time at a high school party, and so began a relationship with opiates that would dominate the rest of her life.

It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction. To some, Maddie was just a junkie — when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her….’

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(Wa Po) Marijuana use is now as common among baby boomers as it is among teens, federal data shows

“…it’s becoming increasingly clear that stereotypes of marijuana users as risk-taking disaffected youth are outdated in the era of legal marijuana, with middle-aged and even older Americans becoming more likely to use the drug than their children and grandchildren.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine

(AP) Medical marijuana push spreads to Utah, Oklahoma

Nathan Frodsham, a 45-year-old married Mormon father of three, is hoping the measure passes so he can get off opioids and back to using the vaporized form of marijuana that he used when he lived in Seattle after his doctor recommended trying for his painful osteoarthritis in his neck.

Frodsham wasn’t discouraged by the Mormon church statement, which he notes doesn’t go as far in opposition as when the church explicitly asked members to vote against full marijuana legalization in Arizona and Nevada. He said marijuana is a natural plant and that the religion’s health code doesn’t single out cannabis as being prohibited.

“I think there’s some room for interpretation on this,” said Frodsham.

The 4,500-member Utah Medical Association isn’t against the idea of legalized medical marijuana but has numerous concerns with an initiative it thinks is too broad and doesn’t include necessary regulatory measures, said Michelle McOmber, the group’s CEO.

“We want to be very careful about what we bring into our state,” McOmber said. “This is an addictive drug.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Mormons, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology

(CT) Theologian Jack Deere Went Through Hell to Come to Faith

Mere paragraphs from the conclusion of his story, Deere is not saying, “This was something I dealt with,” but “This is something I deal with.”

This rawness is rare in the church today. We are often told by leaders that they sin, but Deere’s memoir is refreshingly full of his sin. It is not gratuitous in any form. We never get the sense that he wants to gain our pity or empathy to manipulate us into thinking he’s better or worse than he is. He is simply factual (to our knowledge) and unapologetic to his reader, while increasingly more repentant toward those against whom he has sinned—God foremost among them.

In a world where, all too often, leaders present themselves as one-dimensional characters (primarily speakers, teachers, pastors, musicians, or writers), Deere shows us we are irreducibly complex beings. Our bodies matter. Our souls matter. Our minds matter. Our emotions matter. Our histories matter. These together form the whole of who we are, and any true ministry we do out of the whole is going to be wholly complex. Otherwise, it will be anemic, one-dimensional, and devoid of power. Deere recognizes this now. But it took hell to get him there. I haven’t even mentioned the half of it in this review.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Children, Christology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Marriage & Family, Soteriology, Suicide, Theology, Violence

(Independent) Marjuana linked to ‘unbearable’ sickness across US as use grows following legalisation

By the time Thomas Hodorowski made the connection between his marijuana habit and the bouts of pain and vomiting that left him incapacitated every few weeks, he had been to the emergency room dozens of times, tried anti-nausea drugs, anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, endured an upper endoscopy procedure and two colonoscopies, seen a psychiatrist and had his appendix and gallbladder removed.

The only way to get relief for the nausea and pain was to take a hot shower.

He often stayed in the shower for hours at a time. When the hot water ran out, “the pain was unbearable, like somebody was wringing my stomach out like a washcloth”, said Hodorowski, 28, a production and shipping assistant who lives outside Chicago.

It was nearly 10 years before a doctor finally convinced him that the diagnosis was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition that causes cyclic vomiting in heavy marijuana users and can be cured by quitting marijuana.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(NYT) Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit

“It has taken a long, long time to get anyone to pay attention to this issue and take it seriously,” said Luke Montagu, a media entrepreneur and co-founder of the London-based Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry, which pushed for Britain’s review of prescription drug addiction and dependence.

“You’ve got this huge parallel community that’s emerged, largely online, in which people are supporting each other though withdrawal and developing best practices largely without the help of doctors,” he said.

Dr. Stockmann, the psychiatrist in East London, wasn’t entirely convinced withdrawal was a serious issue before he went through it himself. His microtapering strategy finally worked.

“There was a really significant moment,” he recalled. “I was walking down near my house, past a forest, and I suddenly realized I could feel the full range of emotions again. The birds were louder, the colors more vivid — I was happy.”

“I have seen lots of people — patients — not being believed, not taken seriously when they complained about this,” he added. “That has to stop.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(Mercury News) Legal Marijuana on pace to match U.S. soda sales by 2030

Pot may be on its way to beating pop. (Editor’s note: Yes, we know it’s called “soda” out here on the West Coast, but we didn’t want to mess with this writer’s lead.)

The U.S. legal cannabis industry is expected to reach $75 billion in sales by 2030, according to research firm Cowen & Co. That’s almost as large as the North American carbonated soft drink market in 2017.

With the industries’ diverging trajectories, weed may be poised to take the mantle as the larger industry. Cannabis is growing rapidly as more states legalize the plant. Nine states and Washington, D.C. now allow for recreational pot use. That means more than one in five American adults can smoke, vape, eat or drink it however they please. Cowen previously predicted that the market, assuming federal legalization, would reach $50 billion by 2026. That seems small now, according to analyst Vivien Azer.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government, Theology

(NYT) A Dying Southern Town, Cotton Plant, Arkansas, Needed a Miracle. Then Marijuana Came Calling

 Mayor Willard C. Ryland looked everywhere for salvation for his dying town. He tried luring a vegetable packing company. An Asian carp processor. A Dollar General store. But he struck out again and again.

Then came marijuana — and hope.

Arkansas voters decided in 2016 to legalize the plant for medical use, giving the state an opportunity both to develop a new industry and to address nagging social problems. The state’s licensing program encourages legal marijuana growers to set up shop where the new jobs are needed most, in perennially poor communities.

Mr. Ryland, 63, is a teetotaler and regular churchgoer who was raised on a farm and never got caught up in the wilder side of the 1960s. But when a start-up company called Bold Team approached him about investing in his town, it hardly bothered him that they wanted to grow what President Ronald Reagan once declared to be “probably the most dangerous drug in the United States.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Rural/Town Life

(NPR) Jump In Overdoses Shows Opioid Epidemic Has Worsened

There’s more bad news about the nation’s devastating opioid epidemic.

In just one year, overdoses from opioids jumped by about 30 percent, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The overall increase in opioid overdoses seen in hospital emergency rooms between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017 occurred across the nation. Some parts of the country experienced far greater increases, while a few have reported declines, the analysis shows.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(NYT) Meth, the Forgotten Killer, Is Back. And It’s Everywhere.

They huddled against the biting wind, pacing from one corner to another hoping to score heroin or pills. But a different drug was far more likely to be on offer outside the train station downtown, where homeless drug users live in tents pitched on the sidewalk.

“Everybody has meth around here — everybody,” said Sean, a 27-year-old heroin user who hangs out downtown and gave only his first name. “It’s the easiest to find.”

The scourge of crystal meth, with its exploding labs and ruinous effect on teeth and skin, has been all but forgotten amid national concern over the opioid crisis. But 12 years after Congress took aggressive action to curtail it, meth has returned with a vengeance. Here in Oregon, meth-related deaths vastly outnumber those from heroin. At the United States border, agents are seizing 10 to 20 times the amounts they did a decade ago. Methamphetamine, experts say, has never been purer, cheaper or more lethal.

Oregon took a hard line against meth in 2006, when it began requiring a doctor’s prescription to buy the nasal decongestant used to make it. “It was like someone turned off a switch,” said J.R. Ujifusa, a senior prosecutor in Multnomah County, which includes Portland.

“But where there is a void,” he added, “someone fills it.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(CNBC) The Economic cost of the opioid crisis: $1 trillion and growing faster.

The economic cost of the growing opioid epidemic topped an estimated $1 trillion from 2001 through 2017, according to an analysis released Tuesday.

And the opioid crisis is projected to cost the United States an extra $500 billion through 2020 unless sustained action is taken to stem the tide, the report from health research and consulting institute Altarum said.

That’s because in recent years the growth rate in the economic fallout from the epidemic has sharply accelerated, along with the number of overdose deaths related to prescription painkillers and heroin.

Altarum said “the greatest cost” identified in its analysis “comes from lost earnings and productivity from overdose deaths — estimated at $800,000 per person based on an average age of 41 among overdose victims.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine

(Times Picayune) Ted Jackson offers a stunning portrait of a former NFL star who played in 2 Super Bowls–The search for Jackie Wallace

One foot in front of the other, the hulking old man trudged up the ramp to the Pontchartrain Expressway. A cold wind stiffened his face, so he bundled tighter and kept walking. His decision was made. A life full of accolades and praise meant nothing to him now. A man who was once the pride of his New Orleans hometown, his St. Augustine alma mater and his 7th Ward family and friends was undone. He was on his way to die.

The man was tired. In his 63 years, he had run with the gods and slept with the devil. Living low and getting high had become as routine as taking a breath. A hideous disease was eating his insides. He was an alcoholic, and he also craved crack cocaine. He was tired of fighting. He was tired of playing the game.

He crossed the last exit ramp and continued walking the pavement toward the top of the bridge. He dodged cars as they took the ramp. No one seemed to notice the ragged man walking to his suicide. If they did notice, they didn’t stop to help.

Only a half-mile more and it would all be over. One hundred and 50 feet below, the powerful currents of the Mississippi River would swallow his soul and his wretched life. He dodged another car. But why did it matter? Getting hit by a car would serve his purposes just as well as jumping.

How did it come to this? This was long after Jackie had turned his life around, or so we both thought….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Sports, Theology

Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to West Virginia town with 2,900 people

Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee cited the massive shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone — two powerful painkillers — to the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, amid the panel’s inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid epidemic.

“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,” said committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., in a joint statement.

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

A NYT profile of Prescott, Arizone, a City of Addict Entrepreneurs

It first dawned on Erin Burk that her town had become a haven for drug treatment soon after she noticed the fleet of white vans zooming through her neighborhood. The vans, she learned after tailing one, were ferrying addicts all over town to what amounted to halfway houses for those in recovery: sober living homes.

Nobody she asked seemed to know how many sober living homes were located in Prescott, so she decided to conduct an improvised census.

“I followed those vans around for three months,” said Ms. Burk, a young mother of five whose sleuthing identified dozens of sober living homes in her city — including 15 within a block of her house. “Then I cried for a long time.”

That was in 2010, the beginning of a boom here in the addiction treatment business that turned this city of just 42,500 people into one of the rehab capitals of the country. Today there are some 33 sober living homes in operation, down from a peak last year of 170. At the time, by some estimates, one in 30 people living in Prescott was in recovery.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(NPR) The Foster Care System Is Flooded With Children Of The Opioid Epidemic

The U.S. foster care system is overwhelmed in part because America’s opioid crisis is overwhelming. Thousands of children have had to be taken out of the care of parents or a parent who is an addict. One of the states with the biggest one-year increase in the number of children who need foster care is Indiana. Judge Marilyn Moores heads up the Indianapolis juvenile court and joins us now from member station WFYI. Your Honor, thanks very much for being with us.

MARILYN MOORES: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: You’ve called this a tsunami. What’s happening, from where you see it?

MOORES: Well, we’ve gone from having 2,500 children in care three years ago having 5,500 kids in care. It has just exploded our systems.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction

(WSJ) Chasing a new type of Buzz–Big Brewer Makes a Play for Marijuana Beverages

The U.S. distributor of Corona beer is chasing a new type of buzz.

Constellation Brands Inc. has agreed to take a 9.9% stake in Canopy Growth Corp. , a Canadian marijuana company, and plans to work with the grower to develop and market cannabis-infused beverages.

Canopy Growth is the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis company, with a market valuation of 2.2 billion Canadian dollars on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The C$245 million (US$191 million) deal gives Constellation a toehold in an industry that the brewer expects to be legalized nationwide in the U.S. in the coming years.

Read it all.

Posted in Alcohol/Drinking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Canada, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

(NYT) As Overdose Deaths Pile Up, a New Hampshire Medical Examiner Quits the Morgue

In the state morgue here, in the industrial maze of a hospital basement, Dr. Thomas A. Andrew was slicing through the lung of a 36-year-old woman when white foam seeped out onto the autopsy table.

Foam in the lungs is a sign of acute intoxication caused by an opioid. So is a swollen brain, which she also had. But Dr. Andrew, the chief medical examiner of New Hampshire, would not be certain of the cause of death until he could rule out other causes, like a brain aneurysm or foul play, and until after the woman’s blood tests had come back.

With the nation snared in what the government says is the worst drug epidemic in its history, routine autopsies like this one, which take more than two hours, are overtaxing medical examiners everywhere.

“It’s almost as if the Visigoths are at the gates, and the gates are starting to crumble,” Dr. Andrew said. “I’m not an alarmist by nature, but this is not overhyped. It has completely overwhelmed us.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Methodist

([London] Times) Melanie Phillips–Our Thinking is warped on Cannabis Legalisation

At the Labour Party conference yesterday the comedian Russell Brand called for drugs to be decriminalised. At next week’s Conservative conference, the free-market Adam Smith Institute will be pushing for the legalisation of cannabis. Legalisation means more users. That means more harm, not just to individuals but to society. The institute, however, describes cannabis as “a low-harm consumer product that most users enjoy without major problems”. What? A huge amount of evidence shows that far from cannabis being less harmful than other illicit drugs, as befits its Class B classification, its effects are far more devastating. Long-term potheads display on average an eight-point decline in IQ over time, an elevated risk of psychosis and permanent brain damage.

Cannabis is associated with a host of biological ill-effects including cirrhosis of the liver, strokes and heart attacks. People who use it are more likely than non-users to access other illegal drugs. And so on.

Ah, say the autonomy-loving free-marketeers, but it doesn’t harm anyone other than the user. Well, that’s not true either. It can destroy relationships with family, friends and employers. Users often display more antisocial behaviour, such as stealing money or lying to get a job, as well as a greater association with aggression, paranoia and violent death. According to Stuart Reece, an Australian professor of medicine, cannabis use in pregnancy has also been linked to an epidemic of gastroschisis, in which babies are born with intestines outside their abdomen, in at least 15 nations including the UK.

The legalisers’ argument is that keeping cannabis illegal does not control the harm it does. Yet wherever its supply has been liberalised, its use and therefore the harm it does have both gone up.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

(Time) The Affordable Care Act is being exploited to allow people to prey on Opiod addicts

As so often happens, a frantic mother called us about her 19-year-old daughter, who I’ll call Jen. A heroin addict, Jen had been shuttled between multiple treatment centers and sober homes by greedy marketers looking to cash in on the teenager’s insurance benefits by keeping her perpetually in recovery, but never sober. As our investigator searched Palm Beach County for Jen, her mother finally reached her by phone. She pleaded with her daughter to leave Florida, to which Jen replied, “Why would I come home? I have all I need here.” In the ensuing months, Jen has become a victim of a vicious cycle known as “the Florida shuffle.” She has continued in and out of treatment, repeatedly relapsed and overdosed, been on the brink of death, was revived and all the while trafficked by marketers offering free rent and other gifts — as she ignores her mother’s desperate pleas to come home.

Americans know of the carnage wrought by the opioid epidemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, opioids caused 91 deaths every day in 2015. Expect a significant increase when the 2016 medical examiner and coroner reports are released nationwide. In my jurisdiction alone, 596 people died from opioid-related deaths in 2016, an increase of 286% since 2012.

Less known, however, is that this growing epidemic has been fueled in part by the manipulation of well-intended federal laws — such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Mental Health Parity Act — by unscrupulous individuals looking to profit on the misery and vulnerability of others. Fueled by new financial benefits in federal law, private drug treatment providers have flourished, as marketers often push individuals with substance use disorder to the warm weather states of Florida, Arizona and California as recovery destinations. The unethical players within the recovery industry see the addict as a valuable commodity and have exploited federal law to foster a cycle of relapse, rather than recovery.

Today, big money in the drug treatment industry comes through failure. …

Read it all.

Posted in --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine

60 Minutes latest story on the opiod crisis–Heroin in the Heartland

Federal and local authorities nationwide now consider heroin to be the biggest drug epidemic in the country. Not methamphetamines or cocaine, heroin.

Dealers, connected to Mexican drug cartels, are making huge profits pushing their poison into suburbs and small towns across the country. It’s basic economics: the dealers are going where the money is. And they’re cultivating a broad set of consumers: high school students, college athletes, teachers and professionals.

Heroin is showing up everywhere — in places like Columbus Ohio. The area has long been viewed as so typically Middle American that, for years, many companies have gone there to test their new products. A few years ago when we started reporting this story we went to the Columbus suburbs to see how heroin is taking hold in the heartland….

Read or watch it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine