It appears it’s time to change the way we fight this war. Many experts on policy, politicians and the United States (US) public are not only pushing towards a change in the US drug policy, but are worried what will happen if we don’t. The current structure of our policy is turning those with the disease of addiction into criminals and we are spending a huge amount of money doing this. It is estimated the US is spending at least $40 billion a year on the war on drugs (including police costs, jail costs, etc.). Drug lords are reaping records profits and addicted Americans are not being helped with their disease. Increasingly, more Americans agree that it is time for a change and time that our fellow Americans get the help they really need to live a sober life – free of their addictions.

National Drug Facts Week: January 26 - February 1, 2015Addiction Treatment Drug Facts

National Drug Facts Week℠ (NDFW) is an annual health observance week for teens to shatter the myths about drugs and drug abuse. NDFW centers on community events for teens, NIDA’s Drug Facts Chat Day, and partnerships.

There are great resources available at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  For example here are interesting Quizzes about Specific Drugs:

Methamphetamines

Opiates

Hallucinogens

Marijuana

Stimulants

Did you know that drug overdose kills more Americans than car accidents?

Can you help spread the FACTS?

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

 

President Obama commuted the sentences of 8 Americans as part of an effort to commensurate the great differences in the criminal justice system. As New Hope Recovery Center discussed previously in America's Failed Drug Policy, crack cocaine and powder cocaine held dramatically different sentences, while both substances were harmful and illegal and were essentially the same drug but were different in form. If these offenders were charged with having powder cocaine they would have a much lessor sentence. The law was changed in 2010 to remove these drastic differences, but for those who are already locked up, the change had no meaning as they were sentenced when the law did not stand. Although 8 offenders is a very small amount of people compared to the thousands are that still unjustly incarcerated, we are happy to see any type of movement in the right direction.

The House I Live In is a documentary that points out the many flaws in the United States' "War on Drugs." Most importantly it points out that criminalizing drug users and incarcerating them is not going to help us win the "War on Drugs." The United States has put money towards more prisons (which has become an extremely lucrative business for the private prison systems), bonuses and paid overtime for police enforcement that make arrests related to drugs, and spends little money on education, treatment, and early intervention practices. The House I Live in also shines a light on the unique laws that were put in place for each substance, from marijuana to heroin. It also provides information about what drugs specific races were more likely to use and how the races were treated differently by the criminal justice system.

This year another movie came out called The Anonymous People. This film also provided evidence that the United States needs to change its current methods in trying to fight the "War on Drugs."  It also proved to be a great way to inform people that alcoholics and addicts are not criminals who need to be put in jail to get "fixed." Alcoholics and Drug Addicts need treatment, therapy, support, and fellowship to gain sobriety. These resources cost significantly less than it does to incarcerate someone for years. Incarceration is useful at times, but when non violent offenders are getting numerous years without the chance of getting treatment and help, its useless. We are not treating alcoholism and drug addiction like the disease it is, we are only criminalizing it.

Some interesting facts about the War on Drugs provided by The House I Live In:

1. The U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world – both per capita and in terms of total people behind bars. The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it has almost 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population.

2. 1 in every 8 state employees work for a corrections agency.

3. It costs an average of $78.95 per day to keep an inmate locked up, more than 20 times the cost of a day on probation.

4. Even though White and Black people use drugs at approximately equal rates, Black people are 10.1 times more likely to be sent to prison for drug offenses. Today, Black Americans represent 56% of those incarcerated for drug crimes, even though they comprise only 13% of the U.S. Population.

New Hope Recovery Center is located in Chicago, IL. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please call New Hope Recovery Center to find out how you can get help or help a loved one. You may also email at info@new-hope-recovery.com. Call us at 773.883.3916.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

The above Documentary: The House I Live In really pushes Americans to think about how we need to change our strategy when fighting the "War on Drugs."

Recently, Roosevelt University hosted the Third Annual Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy.  This year, the three main panels concentrated on (1) the opiate (heroin) epidemic in the Chicago area, (2) the potential Naloxone (an opiate antagonist that can reverse the effects of opiates) has to prevent overdose deaths and save lives, and (3) the future of drug policy in the United States.  While all three are immensely important topics, the latter particularly caught our attention.

Drug policy in the United States (US) is something that can either be easily overlooked, or easily misinterpreted.  The panel of policy experts explained the history of US drug policy, the current status of the “war on drugs” and the possible future of US drug policy.  Throughout the panel, it became easier to understand what has, and has not been, achieved by current US drug laws.

About 2/3 of the United States (US) budget for drug policy is spent on source reduction (interceptions at the border, source elimination in countries of origin, and apprehending suppliers in the United States).  The leftover 1/3 is spent on “demand reduction” (treatment, education and intervention programs). What these ratios tell us is simple:  the US looks at drug addiction as a criminal issue, as opposed to a public health concern.  The American Medical Association (AMA) considers addiction a disease, so why doesn't our Federal Government?

Since the early 70's when Richard Nixon launched his “War on Drugs,” many politicians and citizens alike have been under the assumption that arresting drug dealers, destroying fields of coca in Columbia and influencing other governments will help “win the war on drugs.”  What we have seen over the last 40 years is that drug addicts still exist in the US despite spending more than $2.5 TRILLION on the war on drugs.  We now see that if the disease of drug addiction is not treated, the problem itself will not go away.  Instead, we have seen an alarming increase in the availability of illicit substances.  Arrests related to drug abuse are extremely high: over 1.5 million arrests in 2010 were related to drug abuse according to the FBI.

It appears it’s time to change the way we fight this war.  Many experts on policy, politicians and the United States (US) public are not only pushing towards a change in the US drug policy, but are worried what will happen if we don’t. The current structure of our policy is turning those with the disease of addiction into criminals and we are spending a huge amount of money doing this.  It is estimated the US is spending at least $40 billion a year on the war on drugs (including police costs, jail costs, etc.). Drug lords are reaping records profits and addicted Americans are not being helped with their disease.  Increasingly, more Americans agree that it is time for a change and time that our fellow Americans get the help they really need to live a sober life - free of their addictions.

If you or someone you love suffers from drug or other addiction, please contact us for help.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

We previously discussed Chicago’s heroin epidemic and saw that the rapid increase in young adults becoming addicted to heroin is truly startling. There are steps that parents can take to prevent their loved ones from becoming a sad statistic of the heroin epidemic.

DO NOT keep prescription medications in an  easily accessible spot such as in your medicine cabinet. Protect your prescriptions by monitoring them and check periodically to see if any are missing. Particularly dangerous for your youth are the opiate-based painkillers, such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. As we mentioned, these opiate-based drugs have increasingly become a major gateway to heroin use.

DO NOT assume it can’t happen to your child – no young adult is immune.

DO pay attention to your youth’s friends. Most heroin use results when current friends begin using, as opposed to getting new friends who use. If you notice signs of drug and heroin use in friends, or your youth begins to spend a great deal of time with new friends, pay attention.

DO look for warning signs of heroin use which include:

  • Loss of interest in family
  • Sudden decrease in appetite - unexplained weightloss
  • Drop in grades
  • Increased secretiveness
  • Sullen, withdrawn, depressed
  • Unusually tired
  • Silent, uncommunicative
  • Hostile, angry, uncooperative
  • Frequent requests for money
  • Missing valuables
  • Lethargic, no motivation
  • Nodding off
  • Unable to speak intelligibly, slurred or rapid-fire speech
  • Decrease in personal hygiene or personal care
  • Needle marks
  • Paraphernalia: smalls baggies, needles or needle tip covers, small cotton balls, burns on spoons, any tube-like objects such as inkless pens, straws, rolled up money
  • Large increase in mileage on car odometer

DO understand the workings of heroin. Withdrawal symptoms are horrible and often are what keep the addict using. These symptoms are quite painful and unpleasant:

  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Severe muscle aches
  • Severe bone aches
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Cold sweats and chills
  • Dilated pupils
  • Involuntary spasms
  • Nausea/Vomiting

ACTIONS TO TAKE:

1. Educate your youth about drugs, and heroin in particular. Don’t rely on schools for heroin education. The typical drug education provided in schools does not adequately cover heroin dangers. Check out Heroin Prevention Education - it is a great source of information.

2. Discuss the extremely addictive nature of heroin and the horrible withdrawal symptoms.

3. Discuss the dangers and effects of prescription drugs. Listen to what your young adult thinks about prescription drugs.

4. Contact Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization (HERO) They offer guidance and education regarding heroin use.

5. Realize that heroin and opiate-based prescription drugs are VERY addictive. Your youth will almost certainly not be able to just stop on their own. They will need professional treatment and possibly medical help.

6. Understand that snorting and smoking is just as dangerous as injecting. Most people begin using heroin by using snorting and quickly move on to injecting. We have seen parents mistakenly believe that snorting pills or drugs is not a big concern - IT IS!

7. Take action IMMEDIATELY if your young adult is using heroin or any opiate-based drug. Remember how addictive heroin is AND how lethal. With a median age at death of 30, understand you are dealing with a VERY dangerous substance. Fast action is critical. Don’t let shame or guilt keep you from quickly getting help.

New Hope Recovery Center has had years of experience treating heroin addiction in young adults 18 and over. Contact us anytime at 773-883-3916 or via email at info@new-hope-recovery.com if you have questions or need help.

By Jeff Zacharias LCSW CAADC RDDP