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In its documentary “A new Direction on Drugs”, 60 minutes concluded that the US has “little show” for the 40-year, multi-trillion dollar war on drugs. That is, unless you count overflowing prisons and massive expenditure. And to crown it all, heroin addiction in the US is at a new high, war or no war.
The president’s director of the National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli says that past efforts have consisted of failed policies and practices. The time for “blunt force” is over, he says, pointing the facts. 21 million Americans suffer from addictions and around 50% of federal prison inmates are doing time for drug-related crimes.
Inhumane and ineffective policies must go – Botticelli
Addiction, says Botticelli is an illness rather than some kind of moral issue that people should be incarcerated for. He compares the policy of incarcerating addicts to telling cancer sufferers to stop having cancer.
Although his ideas are revolutionary, they are not unproven. When he was Director of Substance Abuse Services in Massachusetts, he introduced hitherto unheard-of strategies, such as an entire school for teens recovering from addiction, and allowing addicts to choose rehabilitation over a jail sentence.
Treating addicts as patients rather than criminals will, says Botticelli reduce rather than increase the incidence of non-drug related crime. He knows that many will find his approach disturbing, and that it will raise fears, but says it’s the scientific way to deal with addiction.
Tighter border controls won’t solve the problem
Referring to the political hot potato of tighter border controls, Botticelli says it won’t make a difference. The ‘solution’ is too simplistic and overlooks the fact that the current heroin crisis began on US soil. It even began in doctor’s consulting rooms and pharmacies. Owing to excessive reliance on opioid based pain killers in the medical context, many people became opioid addicts, ultimately turning to heroin.
Born an addict
While filming the documentary, the 60 Minutes team visited a facility in which new-borns are gradually weaned of opioids – substances they became addicted to not only because of their mothers’ heroin use, but also the use of prescription pain killers.
If these children were to be left untreated, they may die as withdrawal sets in. One severe seizure could kill, so it’s vital to ensure that these addicted babies are allowed a gentler withdrawal. All the same, it’s not what most people would see as a pleasant start to life. Discomfort is inevitable for these infants.
How do painkillers lead to heroin?
Painkiller addicts find that they need more and more of the drugs just to remain pain-free. Initially, they may ‘shop around’ for doctors who are willing to prescribe the medications, but ultimately the habit becomes too expensive to support.
Heroin is cheaper and widely available. As the addiction worsens, and doctors become warier of prescribing opioids, getting pain killers becomes more difficult, and even if the patient is able to find access, the cost is very high. Heroin provides a sometimes fatal solution.
Every day, 120 Americans die of drug overdoses – that’s more fatalities than road accidents cause. To help reduce fatalities, Botticelli tried an ‘experiment’ in Quincy. Police officers were equipped with a nasal spray that can be used as an antidote for overdose victims. Local police say they believe they have already saved lives as a result.
What about marijuana?
Botticelli is worried that marijuana is becoming a playground for unscrupulous marketers appealing to a young market who now believes that the drug is harmless. As with big tobacco and it’s 1990’s flavoured products that clearly targeted a young market, Botticelli fears that sweet edibles and cute mascots are being used to win over the youth.
What should people who are suffering from addiction do?
Botticelli has personal experience of addiction. He is a recovered alcoholic who has been free of alcohol addiction for more than two and a half decades. But first he had to acknowledge the problem and seek help.
For him, a 12-step program was the solution. Basement meetings in a local church gave him the opportunity to speak about his alcohol issues, and he says the support was amazing. 12 step programs may not be right for everyone, but there are many therapies that can aid recovery. True professionals understand that being an addict doesn’t mean a person is “weak-willed” or “bad”, but the results of addiction can be very bad indeed – even fatal.
That’s the message he wants to bring across. “Help is at hand”. He encourages addicts to reach out by talking to their doctors. Botticelli says that if he can bring people to understand that life outside addiction really offers the promise of and “incredible life”, he has already achieved what he set out to do.
Treatment, he says, is available. Overcoming addiction is possible, but getting help is the essential first step to take.
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Passages Malibu first opened its doors in 2001 by father and son team Chris & Pax Prentiss. Chris successfully helped Pax overcome ten years of addiction, and started a new paradigm in substance recovery. Pax’s personal journey beating heroin and cocaine addiction solidified the foundation for Passages to blaze a new trail which has since become the standard for treatment of alcohol and drug dependency. Pax’s journey and subsequent recovery is told in the book The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure, currently in print with over 300,000 copies in circulation.
Passages Malibu provides the most one-on-one therapy for their clientele, rather than the group meetings commonly associated with 12 Step recovery programs. These personally crafted sessions focus on determining the underlying causes of dependency on drugs and alcohol. At Passages, an attending physician and skilled team of licensed therapists develop a treatment program for each individual in a naturally serene and beautiful setting. In 2009, a sister facility, Passages Ventura opened, offering more modestly price addiction treatment while maintaining the Passages standard of high quality clinical outcomes.
Being in a serene, beautiful, peaceful environment, where your dignity is maintained and where you feel peaceful and content is very important in the healing process.
The main Passages facility is 15,500 square feet of luxury with four fireplaces we usually keep burning, a library, gourmet kitchen, bedrooms that each have their own bath, a gym, and plenty of extra space to find a quiet spot. The grounds are superbly landscaped on a beautiful bluff overlooking the serene Pacific Ocean. The north/south tennis court is first class. Our clients attest to the healing quality they feel at Passages. Additionally, due to the tremendous success of the Passages Model, we have expanded the facilities across several acres of picturesque Malibu land that overlooks the entire bay.
See: Did you know?
There is a distinct line drawn between positive influences and negative influences as far as substance abuse is concerned. Even further, positive influence has very clear benefits over negative influence. This is because whether in pre-recovery, recovery, or post-recovery, these influences in subtle ways effect the behavior, attitudes, and perceptions of the user/former user.
Preference toward the Positive
We can say there is a good reason to prefer positive influence over negative influence because of both our intuitions and observations. Obviously more often than not people will prefer positive lifestyles, approaches, and outcomes to negative ones. Surrounding oneself with positivity and success is conductive to achieving this preference.
Additionally, we can observe the relative success rates of people who follow a positive path rather than a negative one, and witness proactive change more consistently among those who choose a proactive lifestyle and adopt positive beliefs about their chances to succeed. This is complemented by the fact that the influence of others in addition to lifestyle change is the best way to attain a lasting sobriety, rather than admitting defeat or a defeatist attitude.