Monthly Archives: January 2008
About 3.1 million people in the United States aged 12 to 25 (5.3 percent of this age group) have used over-the-counter (nonprescription) cough and cold medicines to get high at least once in their lifetime, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Date Added: 01/11/08
A facilitated roundtable meeting brought together 20 mental health consumers, policymakers, providers, and others involved in the disaster response community who shared their experiences, perspectives, and insight. The outcome was this publication from SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), which highlights recommendations and identified opportunities for improved disaster responses to people with mental illnesses.
Date Added: 01/10/08
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Office of Applied Studies (OAS) has released a new DASIS Report titled, Male Admissions with Co-occurring Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders: 2005. The report provides statistical analysis on co-occurring disorders and the effects of such on substance abuse disorders in males.
Date Added: 01/08/08
NPR Investigation Suggests OtherwiseIt’s hard to win a war on drugs. Success stories are few, so it is not surprising that a temporary hike in recent cocaine prices in selected American cities was seized upon by U.S. Drug Czar John Walters as the lynchpin of a promotional campaign touting a victory in the war on drugs. After the U.S Coast Guard’s seized a record 160 metric tons of cocaine in early December, Walters declared: “These seizures are having a profound effect on availability of drugs in the U.S.”But are they? In late December, National Public Radio (NPR) undertook an investigation of this claim by contacting the police departments in the 37 cities—including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee–in which Drug Czar Walters claimed that interdictions had seriously disrupted cocaine supplies. Police officials in ten of the cities, including New York and Atlanta, confirmed that a cocaine scarcity existed. Some cities declined to respond. Five cities reported no signs of shortage, and police officials in 18 other cities gave “qualified responses,” according to NPR.For example, officials in Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., acknowledged some scarcity, but said that the price and availability of rock cocaine on the street had remained essentially unchanged. Police in Detroit and Pittsburgh scoffed at the notion that cocaine was in short supply in their cities. “I spoke to my detectives out there in the streets making buys,” said Police Commander Sheryl Doubt, “and we all kind of agreed that if there’s a shortage here in Pittsburgh, we are not aware of it and don’t find that necessarily to be true.”Police in Dallas and San Diego said they were unaware of any cocaine shortages in their cities. In San Antonio and Jacksonville, prices had gone up, but retail cocaine was readily available. In Philadelphia, Denver, and Houston, prices increased last summer, but have largely returned to normal, city officials told NPR.Overall, said NPR, “The results suggest how difficult it is for law enforcement to create any long-term disruption in retail sales in America, which is the largest cocaine market in the world.”Nonetheless, a stubborn Michael Braun, Chief of Operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said: “I don’t believe that we’ve ever seen this price/purity phenomenon over a 10-month period. This could all change next month. I hope that it doesn’t. I don’t think it will.”But it did. In a statement not for attribution, an official at the National Drug Intelligence Center told NPR: “Cocaine availability appears to have returned to previous levels in some, but not all, drug markets, as traffickers re-establish stable sources of supply and distribution networks.” In Philadelphia, showcased as a major federal success story in choking off cocaine supplies, Police Captain Christopher Werner reported a recent bust involving 16 pounds of cocaine and more than $100,000 in cash “So,” Werner said, “is there a cocaine shortage right now? I don’t believe so.”Even when drug wars seem to be working, and demand goes down, lowered usage of a particular drug often disguises the fact that a new drug has replaced it. There is an essential flaw in the logic behind the drug war. Demand for drugs is like a balloon–squeeze it in one place, and it bulges out somewhere else. Police officials contacted by NPR reported that wherever spot shortages of cocaine existed, “regular users turn to meth, heroin, prescription, drugs, and high-potency marijuana. In other words, enforcement had not appeared to curtail demand—one of the chief aims of the war on drugs.”John Carnevale, a former budget director under four different drug czars, told NPR that there have been “occasional moments where we’ve seen spikes in cocaine prices… but eventually the trend continues to decline.” Such fleeting price changes, Carnevale contends, do not meaningfully affect overall demand and usage.If it all sounds familiar, it should. By the end of the 1990s, after having spent more than $100 billion dollars over the preceding ten years, the Reagan-Bush drug war had almost no lasting successes to report. Interdiction at the border was a joke, cocaine and heroin were cheaper than ever, and people addicted to alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs were still committing the majority of violent crimes. Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in prison was still an afterthought. After the “just say no” years of the Reagan administration, and the “lock ‘em up,” policy thrust of the senior Bush years, many policy reform advocates were buoyed by Bill Clinton’s election and his ardent backing of treatment on demand (which never came to fruition). (Source: Addiction Inbox) Continue reading
A heroin vaccine would be the coolest thing, ever. Also an acting-like-an-asshole vaccine, and maybe a won’t-pay-the-bills vaccine. (Source: Heroin Addiction Codependence) Continue reading
The Co-Occurring Center for Excellence (COCE) was created by SAMHSA in 2003 to provide information and a range of services to mental health and substance abuse administrators and policymakers at state and local levels, their counterparts in tribal and Native populations, clinical providers, other providers, and all other agencies and systems through which clients may enter the treatment system.
Date Added: 01/04/08
Alcohol and Drug Treatment: How It Works, and How It Can Help You is a 4-page brochure that informs people involved in the criminal justice system about substance abuse treatment resources. Based on TIP 44: Substance Abuse Treatment for Adults in the Criminal Justice System, the brochure describes what can be gained through substance abuse treatment before trial or while a person is incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. It encourages people to seek help for substance use disorders regardless of their situations.
Date Added: 01/02/08
Two Baylor College of Medicine scientists have developed a cocaine vaccine, currently in clinical trials, that stimulates the immune system to attack the real thing when it’s taken, The Houston Chronicle reports. As a result, cocaine no longer provides a kick.
“For people who have a desire to stop using, the vaccine should be very useful,” Tom Kosten, a psychiatry professor who was assisted in the research by his wife, Therese, a psychologist and neuroscientist, tells the paper. “At some point, most users will give in to temptation and relapse, but those for whom the vaccine is effective won’t get high and will lose interest.”
Last month, Kosten asked the FDA to okay a multi-institutional trial to begin in the spring, which presumably would be the final clinical hurdle before the vaccine might be approved for treatment. Approval would mark a breakthrough in treating cocaine addiction, which now mostly involves psychiatric counseling and 12-step programs. Over the years, Kosten notes, more than 50 pharmaceutical options have been investigated and found wanting.
A vaccine may raise ethical questions, given that it will probably be used for prevention, not just treatment, and the large number of cocaine addicts in the US; more than 2 million, according to estimates. Questions include whether parents would be allowed to have their children inoculated; whether it would amount to coercion to make it a condition for lighter criminal sentences; whether employers might happen upon such info and use it discriminatorily; and whether to use it on pregnant addicts to protect the fetuses.
Such issues also apply to methamphetamine, heroin and nicotine vaccines, which Kosten is also researching. “Anti-drug vaccines may provide an important weapon against addiction,” Frank Vocci, director of treatment research and development at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, which funded much of the research, tells the paper. “We’re starting to see progress. We just need to see more.”
Here’s the rest of the story….
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