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.: The Planets two most death-dealing drugs: Tobacco and Alcohol for the latest sceptical slant on the 'Drugs War' lunacy." After fifty years as a Prohibitionist, I am more convinced than ever that we need a good party, not just good men and good women. Most public officials are united in the war against terrorism. They, like we, are outraged at the deaths of some 3,000 Americans on September 11. Yet, most are willing to give unqualified support to the traffic in liquor and tobacco in exchange for campaign cash. Those products jointly claim at least 600,000 American lives each year. Two hundred die each year from use of alcohol and tobacco for every one who died in the September 11 attacks. Need another reason for being a Prohibitionist? Earl F. Dodge,


'students learn truth in D.A.R.E'
May 18th 2007

W.T. Supancic found out a lot has changed since he was a student at Harrison Park Elementary School. A 2000 graduate of Penn-Trafford High School, Supancic spent the last 10 weeks at the district's five elementary schools talking to second- and fifth-graders about resisting drugs and violence through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, commonly known as D.A.R.E.
The 25-year-old patrolman with the Penn Township Police Department was surprised by what the fifth-graders told him during the class.
"Kids are smarter than you think," he said. "They know what it is and what it looks like. They know people who have used or people they should not hang around with already."
Still, they had a lot more to learn from Supancic, who recently completed training for the program through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
He said most of the students didn't realize how prevalent alcohol advertising is.
"They are surprised that $363 million in one year is on magazines alone," Supancic said, adding overall the number climbs to $1.4 billion in alcohol advertising.
Supancic covered many topics during the class including decision making, teaching children skills they need to recognize and to resist the subtle and overt pressures that may lead them to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
"We talk about what makes up a good friend and we talk about personal pressures that you put on yourself," Supancic said.
D.A.R.E., which was founded in 1983 in Los Angeles, also covers age-appropriate information about inhalants, drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, More....


Putnam police search nets substantial drugs
May 13th 2007

PUTNAM — Police arrested 10 people who were present at a raid Friday night in what police are calling one of the largest drug seizures in town this year.
Putnam police, assisted by a canine unit and state police from Troop D in Danielson, executed a search and seizure warrant at 11:15 p.m. at 24 Frank St. Police seized a substantial amount of illegal drugs, contraband and packaging material, as well as several thousand dollars in cash.
Police said the drug seizure concludes one branch of an ongoing undercover operation that has been active for several months. A number of additional arrests are possible, police said.

Brian Cole, 23, and Nicole Favreau, 20, both of 24 Frank St. each were charged with sale of marijuana, possession of more than 4 oz. of marijuana, operating a drug factory, possession of drug paraphernalia and failure to halt possession of alcohol by a minor. Favreau additionally was charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol. Cole is being held on $50,000 cash bond and will appear May 14 in Danielson Superior Court. Favreau was released on a $10,000 bond and will appear June 4 in Danielson Superior Court.
Three people, Robert Jones, 22, of 39 Vinna Lane, Brooklyn; Brian Picariello, 21, of 10 Irene Ave., Danielson, and Rebecca Staplins, 23, of 44 S. Chestnut St., Wauregan, each were charged with failure to halt the possession of alcohol by a minor.
They were processed and released.

Four others, Jessica Gilman, 19, of 10 Irene Ave., Danielson; Melissa Parker, 20, of 69 Dugg Hill Road, Woodstock; Michael Gross, 20, of 615 Route 169, Woodstock and Travis Davis, 18, of 133 Laconia Ave., Putnam, each were charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol.They also were processed and released. In addition, two juveniles were arrested on alcohol-related charges.

Putnam police ask anyonw who suspects or knows of illegal drug activity call the Putnam Police crime tips hotline at 000000-0000



Study finds rising drug use in CMS
'Gateway' substances on the increase

Jenny Song

May 11th 2007

Use of "gateway drugs" -- alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana -- increased at alarming rates in youth between 2004 and 2006 despite prevention efforts, according to a study by the nonprofit Substance Abuse Prevention Services released Thursday. The study, conducted in December 2006, surveyed 2,193 Charlotte-Mecklenburg students in grades six to 12. Alcohol use rose by 15 percent since 2004, when the last study was conducted. About 40 percent of all students surveyed and 67 percent of high school seniors said they had consumed alcohol at least once. Marijuana use rose by 33 percent overall, with 23 percent of the students reporting having used marijuana before -- almost to the same level as cigarette use. About 27 percent of students said they had smoked a cigarette.

The rise from 2004 levels has been pushed primarily by increases in gateway drug use by minorities, especially Latinos, the study found. White students used gateway drugs at higher rates in past years; now, minority student rates have reached similar levels. "What we would imagine is that they're being acculturated into the new community," said Karen Simon, executive director of Substance Abuse Prevention Services. "That is often why people start using substances, because they're having a difficult time adapting to where they are. They're also trying, a lot of them ... to adopt what they perceive as an American lifestyle."

Another concern was the number of students who reported getting alcohol from their parents, officials said. Almost half of all middle school students who reported they currently use alcohol said their parents gave them the alcohol -- despite recent efforts to target parents in prevention programs. Officials said they were encouraged, however, that reports of binge drinking fell by 35 percent. Binge drinking was defined as consuming five or more drinks at one time. Overall use is down from the 2002 survey. Also, a lower percentage of Mecklenburg County students reported drug use than was reported in the rest of North Carolina and nationwide. Because gateway drugs can lead to larger problems, including dropping out of school and a criminal lifestyle, Simon said, early prevention is important. Unfortunately, she said, that often means going against powerful marketing and social trends. "We are fighting against capitalism," she said.



Wouldn’t it be great to be able to prevent drug or alcohol-related tragedies?
April 27th 2007

Drugs. Alcohol. These two words are much discussed, much preached about, harped on and taken for granted as a part of our current society.
Because of the availability of drugs and alcohol and their pervasive use in today’s society we have come to tolerate and accept their destructive effects. The sad truth is that we only give lip service to controlling and regulating these two enemies of peace and happiness in our lives. Only when a particularly shocking or high-profile tragedy occurs do we briefly focus our attention on the dangers of drugs or alcohol abuse, but then, like a flash-fire, the brightness of our concern quickly dims to a mere smolder.

As a long-time District Attorney General I have seen this time and time again. The shock, sadness and devastation brought to family, friends, and schoolmates at the news of two high school students killed in an alcohol-related car crash; the grief and disbelief experienced by an entire community when a beautiful and popular high school graduate is killed in a tragic alcohol-related boating accident; and the point-blank, public shooting of a young woman in a drug-related homicide are all examples of what misery drugs and alcohol bring to us.

Yet, though there is an initial outburst of anguish and angst over these and similar tragedies, the intensity soon fades and drug and alcohol abuse continue to be accepted as a fact of life. This is particularly tragic as it applies to our young children and teenagers, More...


'new weapon in its battle to stop underage drinking'
April 27th 2007

EAST BRUNSWICK - - The township has a new weapon in its battle to stop underage drinking. The Township Council last week adopted an ordinance authorizing police to charge underage drinkers even if they are on private property. Previously, underage drinkers were immune from prosecution unless they were caught on public or semi-public property. But several years ago, the state Legislature began allowing towns the ability to adopt stricter laws, and a recent spate of police encounters with underage drinking led East Brunswick officials to take action. According to the ordinance, the penalty for a first offense is $250 fine, while a second offense is $350. But what may scare teenagers even more are the other possible punishments. Anyone found guilty of underage drinking can have his or her driver's license suspended, and if an underage drinker does not yet have a license, the court can postpone his or her eligibility to get one, Full Battle...


Home brew off limits
April 24th 2007

Should your next-door neighbour be able to serve your under-18 son or daughter alcohol without your permission? As the law stands in Victoria, there is nothing to stop them, except common sense and decency. In a society awash with teenage binge drinking, this is clearly unacceptable. At this time parents should be able to exercise more control over their kids' alcohol consumption, not less. The issue is in sharp focus because of a push by the Australian Drug Foundation to bring Victorian law into line with New South Wales, which demands that anyone serving alcohol to children under-18 must have parental consent. The foundation's push is backed by a Victorian Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee recommendation that a minor's guardian must give written permission before an adult can serve the minor, More..

U of T to divest $10-million in tobacco stock
Student campaign against investments results in landmark ethical decision

April 14th 2007

The decision, bowing to an appeal launched by a group of students, appears to be an unusual step for any Canadian university. Most of the postsecondary institutions contacted yesterday do not have a formal mechanism for considering ethical concerns when making investment decisions.
The March, 2006, petition that prompted the U of T decision was delivered by a group calling itself Education-Bringing Youth Tobacco Truths (E-BUTT). The group requested the institution divest itself of all of its tobacco and tobacco-related stocks and bonds.
Third-year political science and ethics student Tyler Ward, 20, founded E-BUTT in January, 2006, and the group now has 35 members. Mr. Ward said he was spurred to action by his father's death from lung cancer last year -- although his dad didn't contract the disease from smoking.
"I saw firsthand what it was like to experience lung cancer, and I thought if a legal product that was being marketed by an industry had caused my father's illness, I would have been livid," he said.
Mr. Ward said the group came up with the idea after learning about a gift of $150,000 that Imperial Tobacco had given to the University of St. Michael's College at U of T in the late 1990s. "When we discovered this, we wondered if U of T also invested in tobacco stocks and bonds," he said .More.......



Using Illegal Drugs Or Alcohol To Cope With Shyness
April 13th 2007

Are you shy? If you suffer from extreme shyness, you have probably wished there was a pill you could take that would make all your shyness just go away. Researchers have discovered that some anti-depressant medications, particularly the kind called SSRI's (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), can help people who suffer from a condition called social anxiety disorder to become more sociable.
This class of drugs seems to help people who are socially anxious to turn down the excessive volume of their inner judgmental thoughts.
Is it a good idea to take a pill to make you friendlier? There are pros and cons to be considered when deciding whether to take a drug for social anxiety. The SSRI drugs can cause insomnia, weight gain, nervous agitation, and a loss of sexual desire, as well as many other less common side effects. These drugs can also be quite expensive. Because the SSRI drugs are relatively new, it is not yet known what the long-term effects of this class of drugs may be. Some doctors are concerned that society is trying to medicate shyness which is a normal human condition. Yet many shy people who are overwhelmed with negative feelings of anxiety when they are around others turn to these medications to deal with their social anxiety. When using SSRI medications, the improvement in sociability only lasts as long as the drug is taken on a regular basis. When the drug is discontinued, the symptoms of shyness will likely reappear.

Many people who are shy or who have a fear of being rejected by others, try to deal with their fears by getting drunk or taking illegal drugs whenever they are at a party or in a social situation. This can be a dangerous way to try to deal with shyness or a fear of social rejection.
Have you developed the habit of drinking lots of alcohol or using illegal drugs so that you can relax around others and just let loose? Getting very drunk or stoned at parties so that you overcome your sensations of feeling anxious is very common with people who feel inadequate or shy. There are many dangers with this approach, and it does not lead to any positive solutions. You won't be at your best when you are intoxicated, and the people that you meet when you are drunk or stoned will only get to know your intoxicated self, not your real self. By abusing alcohol or drugs you also increase the risk of other negative outcomes such as getting into arguments and fights, and having serious accidents. One danger of course is that you can become physically and psychologically addicted to drugs or alcohol. Eventually the addiction can cause even more serious problems in your life than the problems you started out with. If you rely on drugs and alcohol to get the courage to deal with other people, you will never develop the social and emotional skills needed to make real emotional connections to others.


“functional drunks”
April 10th 2007

Kate Spencer, 66, has been sober for over seven years. Although she worked full-time and raised two children, her 34 years of drinking, she says “were not without a heavy cost.” She finally sought treatment when she caught herself contemplating drink-filled hours of retirement, and her therapist told her that she was a “functional drunk.” These days, she is speaking out, trying to help older people realize that it is never too late to change.
Alcoholism and drug abuse are silent epidemics in the senior population: 17 percent of Americans age 60 and older have serious problems with alcohol and drugs, reports the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Nearly one-quarter of Medicare hospital payments are for substance abuse cases, reports the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
“We definitely see the problem among seniors in Vermont,” says Beth Rizzon, Eldercare clinician at the Howard Center for Human Services and the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging. In spite of these figures, alcohol and substance abuse among the elderly is frequently unreported, undiagnosed or ignored.
The reason for the silence is that usually no one notices. Older people are less likely to get into trouble with the law. They drive less and are not often stopped for drunken driving. Since they are usually retired, their drinking does not cause them to lose their jobs, Full Function....


Alcohol is killing our youth
Deakin University
April 2nd 2007

Alcohol alone causes more than a quarter of all deaths of 15 to 29 year-olds in developed countries, a new Deakin University study has revealed in the March 29th issue of the Lancet.
Deakin University psychology professor John Toumbourou said that it was time for Australian governments and the community to get serious about the growing problem of teenage alcohol abuse.
“The problem of alcohol abuse among young people in Australia is one of the most extreme relative to comparable developed countries.” Professor Toumbourou said. He believes that current Australian policies are promoting the problem.
“The Lancet study is a systematic literature review and clearly shows that where alcohol is cheap and readily accessible young people will experience more problems,” Professor Toumbourou said.

“In Australia, there is a lot of resistance to increasing the taxes on alcohol or to restricting alcohol’s availability. However, increasing the cost of alcohol or restricting the number of liquor licenses are proven to be amongst the best ways of limiting its appeal to young people.”
Professor Toumbourou led an international group of experts to review approaches and strategies to prevent substance abuse in young people.

They found that death, injury and illness caused by substance use are among the top 10 contributors to the global disease burden.
“What was once seen by many in developing countries as the disease of industrialised nations is now a worldwide trend,” Professor Toumbourou said. “Alcohol alone contributed to 27 per cent of all deaths involving 15 to 29 year-olds in economically developed countries in 2002 and illicit drugs a further 4 per cent.”
Professor Toumbourou said that rates of tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, and illicit drug use can be significantly reduced through the concerted application of a combination of regulatory, early-intervention, and harm-reduction approaches.


The real killer drugs
March 26 2007

What if the system used for classifying dangerous drugs evaluated the actual risk a given drug poses to society? Would it change the ranking of dangerous drugs used by governments and law enforcement agencies?. A British research team says that it would, principally because two legal drugs - alcohol and tobacco - would join familiar illegal substances on the list of the most dangerous drugs. Professor David Nutt, a psychopharmacologist at Britain's Bristol University, and colleagues proposed a new framework for the classification of harmful substances that makes a lot of sense.

Nutt's team asked experts to evaluate drugs using three criteria: the physical harm to the user, the drug's potential for addiction and the impact on society of drug use. Using those criteria, alcohol and tobacco rank in the top 10 most dangerous substances.

The ratings process involved 29 psychiatrists specializing in addiction and 16 other experts with backgrounds in chemistry, pharmacology, psychiatry, forensics, police and legal services. They assigned scores to 20 different drugs, including heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, Ecstacy and LSD.

The results, published in the British medical journal Lancet, offer an opportunity to view alcohol and tobacco in a more realistic social context - as drugs, alongside other harmful drugs. The comparison raises interesting questions for policy makers. Heroin and cocaine topped the most-dangerous list, followed by barbiturates and street methadone. At the No. 5 position was alcohol, and tobacco was ranked as the ninth most harmful, just behind amphetamines. Marijuana placed 11th, LSD 14th and Ecstasy finished 18th, Full Tale...


Alcohol is ranked much more harmful than the Class A drug ecstasy...
March 23rd 2007

Alcohol is ranked much more harmful than the Class A drug ecstasy in a controversial new classification system proposed by a team of leading scientists. The table, published today in The Lancet medical journal, was drawn up by a team of highly respected experts led by Professor David Nutt, from the University of Bristol, and Professor Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council.
The authors proposes that drugs should be classified by the amount of harm that they do, rather than the sharp A, B, and C divisions in the UK Misuse of Drugs Act. They say the basis of the Act is ill-defined, opaque, and seemingly arbitrary and overestimates the risks of ecstasy, which kills around ten people annually of the half a million people who use it every weekend, while neglecting those of alcohol, a legal substance which kills more than 300 annually by acute poisoning, and many tens of thousands by road traffic accidents, cirrhosis, gut and heart disease.
In the paper, the team argues that it would make much more sense for drugs to be reclassified on a rational basis that can be updated as new evidence emerges, and more easily than the current rigid category system now in use.
Prof Blakemore added that policies of the past four decades “clearly have not worked”, given the ubiquity and low price of illegal drugs, and that fresh thinking is now required.
Today’s call to overhaul the UK drug classification system, which will be examined by the forthcoming UK Drug Policy Commission, is likely to receive popular public support, according to research into attitudes to drugs by the Academy of Medical Sciences’ DrugsFutures project, Full Rankings....


Spirituality Aids Alcohol Recovery
March 20th 2007

Incorporating spirituality and a sense of purpose into the alcohol recovery process has been an integral rehabilitation component for years. A new research study explores this aspect of the process documenting how spirituality changes during recovery may influence a person's chance of succeeding in the quest for sobriety.

The study by University of Michigan Addiction Research Center researchers is found in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs .

Study authors show that many measures of spirituality tend to increase during alcohol recovery and they also demonstrate that those who experience increases in day-to-day spiritual experiences and their sense of purpose in life are most likely to be free of heavy drinking episodes six months later.

“While people's actual beliefs don't seem to change during recovery, the extent they have spiritual experiences, and are open to spirituality in their lives, does change,” says lead researcher Elizabeth A.R. Robinson, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in the U-M Medical School's Department of Psychiatry and member of UMARC..

“This effect was also independent of their participation in Alcoholics Anonymous which has a strong spiritual aspect.”

The researchers report data from 154 adults with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse who entered an outpatient treatment program.

At the beginning of the study, and again six months later, the researchers assessed 10 different measures of the participants' spirituality and religiousness using standard research questionnaires. These included their views of God, religious practices such as prayer or church attendance, forgiveness, spiritual experiences, using religion or spirituality to cope, and existential meaning.

The researchers also assessed participants' alcohol use, and problems related to their alcohol use, before the study began and after six months. All of these responses were combined with information about gender and AA participation, and analyzed using statistical techniques.

In all, the study shows, half of the measures of spirituality changed significantly in the six month period, including daily spiritual experiences, the use of religious practices, forgiveness, positive use of religion for coping, and feelings of purpose in life. But the measures that assessed individuals' core beliefs and values about God or religion didn't change. At the same time, use of alcohol decreased significantly, and 72 percent of participants did not relapse to heavy drinking.

The researchers then looked at how changes in spirituality related to the likelihood that a person had relapsed to heavy drinking. Those who had experienced an increase in their daily spiritual experiences were less likely to participate in any heavy drinking, as were those who had experienced an increase in their feeling that there was a purpose to their lives. Changes in the other measures of spirituality were not statistically associated with the likelihood of sobriety.

Robinson and her colleagues write that their results suggest that “proactive and experiential” dimensions of spirituality, rather than cognitive ones, were contributing to the recovery and decrease in drinking in the first six months.

They note that this pattern is consistent with two AA slogans: “Bring your body, your mind will follow,” and “Fake it ‘til you make it.”

In other words, changes in core beliefs and values don't have to occur in order for someone to be more open to spiritual experiences or to take part in more spiritual activities.

These findings suggest that including spirituality of all kinds into the delivery of recovery services for alcoholism may indeed help. Many individual faiths or religious institutions have offered recovery services, and some advocates have suggested that faith-based recovery is most effective for all. But Robinson notes that the spirituality seen in the study was not necessarily a matter of believing in one interpretation of God, or even belief in a God of any kind.

Each individual's own spirituality, and the ability to experience growth in that spirituality, appears to be paramount, the authors suggest. So, each individual alcoholic might do best by searching for a recovery program that best matches his or her existing belief system.

One program that has been shown conclusively to aid alcoholics in achieving and maintaining sobriety is AA, which has spiritual components including invocation of a higher power. The new study, however, shows that the relationship between spirituality and likelihood of recovery was unrelated to whether a person took part in AA or not.

Some alcoholics may derive help from the spiritual aspects of AA, but others may not, says Robinson. “There's more than one way to feed your spiritual self,” she notes.

The U-M research team has begun a new phase of research involving people who are taking part in three different alcohol treatment programs, and alcoholics not currently in treatment. This study will follow more than 360 people over three years.

They are also analyzing the data from this 154-person group more in-depth, including looking at how the individuals defined and described their own religious and spiritual preferences and practices.

Source: University of Michigan Health System



Dutch lawmakers, cafe owners oppose ban on smoking in coffee shops
March 17th 2007

Dutch Health Dutch Health Minister Ab Klink's plan to ban smoking in coffee shops across the country Minister Ab Klink's plan to ban smoking in coffee shops across the country from next year faced fierce opposition on Wednesday from legislators and the hospitality industry.
A majority in the Dutch parliament thinks that smoking ban for the hospitality industry should not apply to coffee shops, where cannabis is sold, Radio Netherlands reported. Edith Schippers, lawmaker for the opposition conservative Liberals (VVD), said the proposal was "rather absurd." She added that it "would be the same as banning alcohol in pubs."
The governing Labor Party as well as the opposition Socialists and Green Left Party also oppose the plan. They said banning smoking in coffee shops would lead to a fundamental change to the country's soft drugs policy, which is unique in the world. All drugs are forbidden under Dutch law. But coffee shops may sell cannabis under strict conditions and the use and possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use is allowed.
Green Left lawmaker Kees Vendrik on Wednesday called for an emergency debate in parliament on the issue. He said the Christian Democrats are trying to find a way to get rid of the coffee shops and end the Dutch policy on soft drugs.

"The idea is that you can buy the stuff at the coffee shop, and smoke it there. If that is no longer possible, it will be pushed back into the illegal circuit. That is precisely what we do not want," Vendrik said.
Klink earlier said he wants to move forward a ban on smoking in cafes, restaurants, bars and night-clubs from 2011 to 2008. A spokesperson for Klink said the minister will consult with the hospitality sector before making a decision by this summer.

Klink's plan was also opposed by Dutch business owners. Three cafe owners from Amsterdam and The Hague have jointly set up the Platform Hospitality Industry & Ventilation as part of their anti-smoking ban efforts. Cafe owner and chairman of the Amsterdam hospitality industry association Paul Hermanides said Wednesday that together with two other colleagues, he wants to show the health minister that improved ventilation systems can guarantee that the air quality in cafes is clean enough. The business owners fear a smoking ban will cause sharp fall in turnover. "Turnover fell by 20 percent in the first year in countries where a smoking ban has been introduced," Hermanides said.


Drug Study Suggests Sane, Rational Changes

Of course, the U.S. Government wants nothing to do with sane and rational....

Will a New Study Force Changes in Drug Law?
By Bruce Mirken, AlterNetPosted on March 15, 2007, Printed on March 15, 2007

On March 8, a high-powered British commission recommended tossing that country's law on illegal drugs onto the scrap heap and starting over again. Given that the U.S. Controlled Substances Act parallels the British Misuse of Drugs Act in important ways, the suggestion deserves attention in America as well.
Indeed, it would be a fine start if Americans could simply begin the sort of rational, thoughtful debate on drug policy that the British seem to be having. If we could manage such a thing, we might start changing illogical and unscientific laws that now lead to more U.S. arrests for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined.
The RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy , was convened by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, a respected think tank with a 250-year history. After two years of research, this panel of experts and laypeople came to a number of conclusions so sensible and so obvious that it's astonishing how consistently our elected leaders have avoided confronting them. In particular:
The notion of a drug-free society is "almost certainly a chimera. ... People have always used substances to change the way they see the world and how they feel, and there is every reason to think they always will." Therefore, "[t]he main aim of public policy should be to reduce the amount of harms that drugs cause." A policy based on total prohibition "is bound to fail."
The concept of "drugs" should include tobacco and alcohol. "Indeed, in their different ways, alcohol and tobacco cause far more harm than illegal drugs." These substances should be brought into a unified regulatory framework "capable of treating substances according to the harm they cause."
The heart of this new regulatory framework must be an index of substance-related harms. "The index should be based on the best available evidence and should be able to be modified in light of new evidence." Full Study......


'funding slashed to help youngsters with a range of drink and drug problems'
March 16th 2007

A vital service which helps 500 youngsters a year tackle drug and alcohol problems has had its funding slashed - despite the need for such help growing at an alarming rate.
Norfolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team organises the majority of drug and alcohol treatments for hundreds of youngsters and has seen its government funding cut by £100,000 - a drop of 12.5pc of its budget.
As well as directly helping addicts, the team also funds several other organisations which help youngsters with a range of drink and drug problems.
DAAT's Young People's Substance Misuse Grant has been cut from £865,000 last year to £765,000 for 2007/08 and the crisis comes at a time when more youngsters with addictions and addicted parents than ever before are crying out for help. It is also feared the drop in revenue could lead to redundancies within DAAT itself.
Dr Ian Gibson, Norwich North MP, described the cut a “savage” and said it needed to be reversed, Full Cut....

Alcohol remains the favored substance of abuse on college campuses:
March 15th 2006

Nearly half of America's 5.4 million full-time college students abuse drugs or drink alcohol on binges at least once a month, according to a new study that portrays substance and alcohol abuse as an increasingly urgent problem on campuses across the nation.

Alcohol remains the favored substance of abuse on college campuses by far, but the abuse of prescription drugs and marijuana has increased dramatically since the mid-1990s, according to the study released today by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.

CASA, which called on educators to move more aggressively to counter intensifying drug and alcohol use among students, first studied students' drug and alcohol habits in 1993. Today's report the center's second on the subject involved a survey of 2,000 student and 400 administrators as well as analyses of six national studies.
The center found that "the situation on America's campuses has deteriorated" since 1993, CASA President Joseph Califano says.
The study found that college students have higher rates of alcohol or drug addiction than the general public: 22.9% of students meet the medical definition for alcohol or drug abuse or dependence a compulsive use of a substance despite negative consequences compared with 8.5% of all people 12 and older.

Alcohol, neuroscience, genetics & public policy
Harry Clarke: Aus

March 12 2007

Alcohol, neuroscience, genetics & public policy
I earlier presented a liberal-rational choice model of alcohol use and policy. In that model problem drinkers were a ‘nuisance’ minority. Although this soothed the wounds I had experienced from being described on this blog as ‘illiberal’ on drugs policy it really is a limited way of looking at what is a serious social problem. I drafted the notes below that concentrate on 'problem drinkers' for a larger study I am working on – comments are very welcome.


According to a recent ABS survey (discussed here):

Levels of risky drinking have increased 50% over the past 10 years. 15% of male adults and 12% of female adults in Australia drink at 'risky' levels. Women are catching up.
Alcohol is the second largest cause of drug-related deaths and hospitalisations in Australia - tobacco beats it - and alcohol is the main cause of deaths on Australian roads.
In 2004, the age-standardised rate for male deaths due to alcoholic liver disease was 5.5 per 100,000 and 1.5 per 100,000 for females.
In 2004, the age-standardised rate for male deaths with mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol was 1.9 per 100,000 and 0.4 per 100,000 for females.
From 1998-99 to 2004-05, the overall number of hospital separations with principal diagnosis of mental and behavioural disorders per 1,000 population increased by 39% for all ages (by 41% for those under 20 years).
Most of the alcohol-related hospital separations among both men and women in 1998 was due to alcoholism and alcoholic liver cirrhosis. The second-largest number was due to road injuries for men and cancer for women.
31,132 died from alcohol-caused disease and injury from 1992-2001; of these 75% were male and 25% female. From 1993-94 to 2000-01, there were over half a million hospitalisations due to risky and high-risk drinking.
Alcohol is not an ordinary consumer good and its consumption cannot be analysed purely using a rational choice model of behaviour. As these statistics indicate people do get addicted to alcohol in an unconscious process that can eventually take over and ruin their lives.

Neuroscience and genetics.

Most Harry Clarke Professor of Economics Melbourne : Victoria : Australia alcoholics start drinking as adolescents. Here standard motivations associated with specific adolescent behaviour (risk-taking, novelty seeking and peer pressures) increase the probability of experimenting with alcohol. At this age it is thought the desire to drink could be linked to incomplete development of certain brain regions involved in the processes of executive control and motivation. Studies suggest that the neuroadaptions that occur in adolescents exposed to certain drugs are different from those that occur in adulthood. Certainly there is a greater vulnerability to alcoholism in individuals who start using alcohol early in life.
Those who abuse alcohol have a higher incidence of mental disorders (depression, anxiety, ADHD and schizophrenia) than do the general population and those with these disorders have a much higher incidence of alcohol abuse. Those with mental disorders may use alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate.
There are also definite genetic influences on the propensity to consume alcohol. These genetic influences may partially underlie certain personality traits such as impulsivity, risk-taking and stress responsivity. Family and twin epidemiological studies suggest estimates of heritability of vulnerability to addictive diseases of between 30-60% .Full Commentary.......


'these substances synergistically interact'
March 12th 2007

Although tobacco use has been proven to increase the risk of oral cancer, people who use both alcohol and tobacco are at an especially high risk of contracting the disease. Scientists now believe that these substances synergistically interact, increasing each other's harmful effects.
Alcohol abuse (when defined as more than 21 standard drinks in one week) is already the second largest risk factor for the development of oral cancer. More than 30 years ago, a study focusing on heavy alcohol consumption as a significant factor in the development of cancer also found that in Utah, a state whose population is approximately two-thirds Mormon, incidences of oral cancer were less than that of other western states. In fact, the rate was less than the nation as a whole. This is likely due to the Mormons' religious beliefs requiring them to abstain completely from alcohol and tobacco.Full Interaction.....

BAT cigarettes and roll-ups sold 46bn for 2006
Simon Bowers
March 12th 2007

The number of Pall Mall cigarettes and roll-ups sold by British American Tobacco jumped by 40% last year to 46bn, making the mid-priced pack the group's best selling brand.
Even western European markets bought more Pall Malls - smoking is in decline but rising duty levels have prompted many smokers to cut down or turn to cheaper, roll-your-own products.
Pall Mall is market leader for roll-up tobacco in Germany. Growth is strongest in third world markets such as Bangladesh and Vietnam, where aspirational western brands are fast winning share from low-grade local tobacco products.
BAT profits as heavily taxed smokers buy 46bn cheaper cigarettes
The number of Pall Mall cigarettes and roll-ups sold by British American Tobacco jumped by 40% last year to 46bn, making the mid-priced pack the group's best selling brand.
Even western European markets bought more Pall Malls - smoking is in decline but rising duty levels have prompted many smokers to cut down or turn to cheaper, roll-your-own products.
Pall Mall is market leader for roll-up tobacco in Germany. Growth is strongest in third world markets such as Bangladesh and Vietnam, where aspirational western brands are fast winning share from low-grade local tobacco products, Full Poisoning..

To distort our thinking
March 11th 2007

Both alcohol and nicotine are considered “drugs”, so if a person engages one or both of these practices, they’re therefore a drug abuser, right? By definition it would surely seem as if this is the case. And that means that I was a drug abuser for the better part of fifteen years. Not only was I a drug abuser, but most of the people I know are also drug abusers. This is an interesting point, because for the fifteen years that alcohol and cigarettes were a major part of my life,Alcohol is more accepted than cigarettes (nicotine) these days, but they’re both viewed as “not that bad” I didn’t think of myself as a drug abuser. That’s how these two drugs work though. They are both accepted in our society. Alcohol is more accepted than cigarettes (nicotine) these days, but they’re both viewed as “not that bad”. This is interesting, because these two drugs probably account for more deaths than any other drug on this planet. But as long as huge companies make tons of money distributing these drugs, we’ll all just ignore that ugly little fact. As I said before, during the fifteen years I partook in these I drugs, I didn’t think like this. Once I stopped, I realized that one of the side effects of using these drugs is the fact that they completely distort your thinking. It’s ironic that I never quite grasped this fact, when it seems so blatantly obvious. Of course they distort your thinking, that’s why we all engage in such activities right? To distort our thinking or at least our “reality” for a short time?

I think Lao Tzu said it best when he said,” He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” That’s a very poignant observation, because when I drank it seemed that enough was never enough. The same went for cigarettes. I always wanted another one. Enough was never enough. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what all of these companies want from us? To never really want there to be enough, so that we keep buying their products? Now that I’m no longer caught up in the vicious cycle, it sure seems like it.

The bottom line is that alcohol and nicotine are, without question, the drugs that are the most abused in our country. And until you break the cycle of using these drugs, you won’t fully understand this fact. You can keep on thinking that heroine, cocaine, crack, and meth are the “real” drugs when in fact, nicotine and alcohol are just as bad and more than likely take the lives of more people and destroy more lives. This ugly little fact is worth considering, at the very least, because at the end of the day, it the truth.

Prescription drugs abused more than illegal drugs
March 11th 2007

A new report from the United Nations finds that prescription drug abuse is now more prevalent than illicit drug abuse. With the only exception of cannabis, there is now more trafficking and consumption of pharmaceuticals (particularly stimulants, painkillers and tranquillisers) than street drugs. This is causing a huge increase in the level of fake prescription drugs too (which contributes to 10% of the overall amount). And far worse, a huge increase in the number of overdose deaths as a result. The International Narcotics Control Board estimates that the illicit market will double to $79bn (£40bn) over the next four years.
This poses the question - if the politicians are trying to reduce the harm caused by drugs use, perhaps some of their funds should be diverted towards encouraging the pharmaceutical industry to take some responsibility for the problem - if 90% of these illicitly used drugs are coming from licensed factories, why aren’t the big pharmaceutical corporations being asked to take more control of their supply lines? They are one of the most profitable industries in the world after all.

Concerns raised over sleeping pills' side effects
March 11th 2007

Doctors have received 25 reports of bizarre behaviour associated with two sleeping tablets, Stilnox and Immovane. Many patients have contacted the adverse medicines event line in Queensland with their stories. Doctor Geraldine Moses runs the consumer line where patients report side effects from medicines.
She says she has received 25 reports of strange behaviour in patients taking the sleeping pills, particularly when combined with alcohol.
"The most concerning side effects that we have heard about are the people waking up a few hours after taking the medication in the middle of the night, doing things such as cooking, ironing, driving their car or motorbike," Dr Moses said, Full Effects...

'the UK’s two most death-dealing drugs: alcohol and tobacco'
March 10th 2007

It is incongruous, incoherent and out of date; unwieldy and peppered with anomalies, an agglomeration of miscellaneous provisions adopted to address situations that in many cases no longer apply. The law governing illegal drugs should be scrapped almost in its entirety.
Don’t take it from me: this is what the Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner John Yates, one of the Met’s most senior officers (and the one with the interminable inquiry into cash-for-honours), has to say about the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and its offshoots. “The law as it stands is incoherent and out of date. It is based far more on prejudice and folk myth than on reason. It makes no mention of the UK’s two most death-dealing drugs: alcohol and tobacco . . . It criminalises people who are not otherwise criminals.”

He and his fellow members on the Royal Society of Arts commission on illegal drugs are not exactly dangerous hip-swinging liberals. There is Mr Yates, and the Professor of Government Anthony King, an MP, an MSP, the home affairs editor of The Daily Telegraph and the president of London First, the business leaders’ group, as well as a string of drug, health and social workers. Two years they have spent examining whether drugs policy in Britain works or not. And yesterday they announced the same conclusion secretly reached by the Prime Minister’s strategy unit four years ago: it has failed.

I’m not sure why it took them two years to work that out, but there we are. When the Misuse of Drugs Act was framed, amid national concern about the overprescription of heroin by GPs and a moral panic over cannabis, drug use was much lower than it is now. The number of problem users was in the low thousands, compared to the quarter-million there are today. If the aim of the Act was to deter the use and supply of proscribed or controlled drugs, it has clearly failed, as the commission unequivocally concludes, More Death....

The Maoists, however, have not yet commented on the U.S. allegation
March 8th 2007

Kathmandu, Nepal (AHN) - The United States has indicated that Nepal's Maoists are involved in smuggling narcotic drugs.
The U.S. says in its 2007 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released on Monday, "The Maoists are most likely involved in drug smuggling to finance their insurgency."
It further says Nepal's Narcotic Drug Control Law Enforcement Unit (NDCLEU) reports that Maoists have called upon farmers in certain areas to increase cannabis production and have levied Rs 200 per kilogram (approximately $2.75) tax on cannabis production.
The Maoists, however, have not yet commented on the U.S. allegation, Full Comment...

Drug misuse under investigation
07 March 2007

Arthur Rogers/Strasbourg, France

European drug crime experts have been commissioned by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly to investigate ways of combating the increased use of 'date rape' drugs such as Rohypnol. The drugs are used to commit a range of crimes, including robbery. Such drugs are added to drinks without victims noticing, with spiked drinks potentially leaving victims unconscious.

Ideas to tackle the problme which are under investigation include making test kits available in bars, and issuing kits to police officers. Rapid access to testing is vital because Rohypnol and other benzodiazepines may only be detectable within hours of ingestion. Moreover, victims may not recall events because of the 'blackout' effect - absence of recall - induced by the drugs.

Call for experts

The idea of encouraging on-the-spot testing came from a January session of the Council of Europe (CoE) Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg. Ministers representing the 46 CoE member states have reacted by calling for comments from CoE committees in which national experts look at crime problems and drug abuse. The experts must report back by April 30. Meanwhile, the CoE Committee of Ministers has relayed the Assembly's concerns to state governments. On the legislative front, the Assembly called for benzodiazepines to be subject to tougher controls Europe-wide.

In Britain, Rohypnol (a trade name for flunitrazepam) ranks alongside cannabis as a Class 'C' drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The legislation dates from 1971, when the United Nations Convention on Pyschotropics established that possession of Rohypnol without a prescription should be criminalised.

Licensed medication

Rohypnol, a member of the Valium family, remains a licensed medication in Britain. In the US, where Rohypnol is banned, law enforcement agencies have similar concerns about the so-called 'club drug' GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate). Similar substances identified in a CoE Assembly report include GBL (gamma-butyrolactone, a prodrug of GHB), ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride), butane-1, 4-diol, and burundanga (scopolamine).

The CoE Assembly's resolution urged pharmaceutical companies to develop methods of making the drugs more identifiable, since they tend to be colourless, odourless and tasteless - and easily soluble in coffee, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Portuguese parliamentarian José Mendes Bota hailed a decision by Roche, the producers of Rohypnol, to reduce its solubility so that it leaves a tell-tale residue. In addition, the modified version should cause a spiked drink to turn blue.

Alas, conceded Bota, 'producers of counterfeit versions are unlikely have such scruples'. Bota cited research in Australia suggesting that around 4500 people a year are the victims of spiked drinks, and that 40 per cent of cases result in sexual assault, sometimes upon men.

No global rules

Except when substances are covered by multilateral agreements such as the UN convention, there are no global rules for determining whether a medicine should be classified as prescription-only or over-the-counter (OTC). 'Even within Europe, there are national differences in approach due often to divergent systems of social security and related issues of reimbursement,' Sabine Walser, a CoE official responsible for pharmaceutical policy, told Chemistry World.

Smoking: archived articles

Tobacco companies
Tobacco Manufacturers' Association

Gallaher (Silk Cut, Benson & Hedges)
Philip Morris (Marlboro)
Brown & Williamson (subsidiary of British American Tobacco)

Pressure groups

ASH (Action on Smoking and Health)
National Asthma Campaign
Smokepeace Europe - for the rights of smokers and 'tolerant' non-smokers
FOREST - promoting 'equal rights' for smokers

Government campaigns and studies

Mind Body & Soul - smoking and 14-16 year-olds

40 fatal years - Royal College of Physicians and Ash (pdf)

.: New Scientist