War on drugs achieved little – 60 Minutes

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.

Holistic Treatment for Addiction

Drug addiction is an extremely complex problem that does not adhere to a one size fits all approach, and many treatment centers are realizing this fact and altering their programs.  For many years, the 12-step treatment center was considered the only option when it came to drug rehab.  In more recent years, the holistic model of treatment has emerged and has changed what people look for in an effective drug treatment center.

Essentially, holistic treatment centers use a variety of different modalities such as one-on-one therapy, marriage and family therapy, hypnosis, acupuncture, physical training, and a healthy diet plan.There are many benefits of a non 12-step model versus a 12-step drug rehab center, both in terms of what the center provides and what clients should expect.  12-step centers still use the outdated model that addiction is an incurable disease, and that the addiction itself is your primary problem that you will always have and just need to manage. As a result, these centers offer mostly group therapy and no therapy geared towards individual problems.

At holistic treatment centers, caring professionals realize that every person is dealing with different underlying issues and life circumstances, and that private attention and individually tailored therapy is really the key to getting sober.  Passages Malibu is a holistic, non 12-step treatment centers with years of experience in treating addiction.

Caffeine Addiction

Caffeine is a controversial substance in both the medical and professional addiction communities.  Although there are numerous medical studies that show health benefits as a result of caffeine use, caffeine is also considered to be the most commonly used stimulant and psychoactive drug in the world.

According to research, approximately 90% of American adults consume caffeine on a daily basis.   Just like other addictive drugs, caffeine has been shown to affect mood, stamina, the cerebral vascular system, and gastric and colonic activity.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Medical Association classify moderate ingestion of caffeine as safe, however they agree that people can become dependent on the substance to the point of addiction and symptoms of psychological and physical withdrawal.

Caffeine withdrawal can include fatigue, headaches, decreased energy, decreased alertness, drowsiness or sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, depression, irritability, and confusion. There is no disputing the fact that caffeine addiction is not as intense or dangerous as drug or alcohol addictions, however, experts wonder what effects we will see in the future as a result of our nation’s extreme dependence on caffeine.  Studies have also shown that individuals who are addicted to stimulants, particularly cocaine, amphetamines, and cigarettes, consume a much higher amount of caffeine than the average population.

LSD Abuse

LSD is a hallucinogenic drug that has been around for decades.  Although the precise mechanism by which LSD alters perceptions is still unclear, we do know that LSD abuse can have detrimental affects on the brain.

Several lab studies suggests that LSD acts on certain groups of Serotonin receptors and that its effects are most prominent in two regions of the brain.  It first affects the cerebral cortex, which is an area involved in mood, cognition, and perception, and then it affects the locus ceruleus, which receives sensory signals from all areas of the body and can been described as the brain’s detector for important external stimuli. LSD effects or an LSD “trip” typically begins within 30 to 90 minutes of ingestion and may last as long as 12 hours.  When LSD is ingested, it can result in hallucinogenic experiences with both pleasant and unpleasant aspects.

LSD is extremely unpredictable; the results may vary with the amount ingested and the user’s personality, mood, expectations, and surroundings.  A bad LSD experience may include terrifying thoughts and nightmarish feelings of anxiety and despair that include fears of insanity, death, or losing control. A dangerous thing about LSD is that users quickly develop a high tolerance for the drug, and have to keep taking more and more to get the same desired effects.  Long term LSD abuse can cause permanent and irreversible brain damage or psychosis.

Oxycontin Users Turning to Heroin

Oxycontin and heroin are two drugs that have many similar qualities, although it may not seem like it at first.  Drugs and opiates, both are extremely addictive, and both can cause death. Many people still do not attach the same stigma to Oxycontin addiction as they do to heroin addiction heroin; many people see Oxy as less dangerous because although it is a very powerful painkiller a doctor can prescribe.  However, many people do not realize that Oxycontin abuse can lead directly to heroin addiction, and that there has been a startling spike in heroin use across the country.

Often times, individuals who had been using and addicted to Oxycontin switch to heroin several reasons.  Heroin is more accessible and does not require a prescription, and heroin is much less expensive. Although heroin use in on the rise all over the country, most law enforcement statistics state that most heroin is still purchased in big city environments, but that it is definitely spilling into the suburbs. When the addict cannot access heroin or Oxycontin, they will experience numerous withdrawal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, hyperventilation, chills, body aches and extreme restlessness.  If you or someone you know has a problem with either of these drugs, Passages can help.

Characteristics and Dangers of Love Addiction

Love addiction is a condition that many people find hard to grasp or difficult to understand.  It is often perceived to be less serious than other addictions, such as substance abuse addictions, compulsive sexual addictions, eating disorders or other self-harm and mutilation addictions.  However, love addiction is in fact very serious and can have several detrimental effects for the addicted individual and their partners.

Many individuals who are suffering from a love addiction have other disorders present, such as depression or other mood or personality disorders, and very commonly also suffer from substance abuse.   There are numerous traits to look for that may signal a love addiction, and several characteristics that indicate that someone may be suffering from this problem.  As mentioned previously, individuals with love addictions commonly suffer from substance abuse disorders or other personality issues.

Love addiction is often rooted in a lack of nurturing or feeling attention when they were young, which leaves individuals feeling isolated and detached later in life, seeking out relationships to fill that void.  Love-addicted individuals often mistake intensity for intimacy and seek to avoid rejection and abandonment at any cost.  They feel a sense of worthlessness without a relationship or partner, and feel as though a relationship is the only thing that makes them feel complete or whole.  If you or someone you know is suffering from a love addiction with or without other compounding addictions, we are here to help.