Author: Justin Mckibben
We can’t seem to hear enough now-a-days about how the digital world and the expansion of our mobile technology are altering the way drug use and drug policy is being handled. This coupled with the growing call for drug policy reform, and the fact the marijuana is becoming legal for medical use in some states, especially after the midterms, means that there was sure to be some people ready to step up and offer a new mobile service for the consumer.
While this may not be the same as the Dark Web and their black-market style trafficking, or the digital dealers tagging their products on Instagram, will apps designed for delivering medicinal marijuana present a more serious problem, or can they be properly regulated?
Putting a Stop to Nestdrop
Enter Nestdrop, a Los Angeles-based smartphone application that recently pursued the goal of becoming the first mobile medical marijuana logistics service in Los Angeles, to provide deliver services for those who are now permitted to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Nestdrop was actually launched this summer, and the company claims that using their business model they are not violating any laws, because they don’t handle the marijuana themselves. The Nestdrop services claim to simply connect distributors with patients.
Unfortunately for the new digital drug traffickers Judge Robert O’Brien disagreed, and on December 23rd the judge ordered that the Nestdrop Company shut down this business. Judge O’Brien explained that his decision was based off voter-approved law called Proposition D which bans any form of medical marijuana delivery. Michael Pycher is the Co-founder of the controversial Nestdrop app, and Pycher has stated that for the time being the app will continue to provide its alcohol logistics service and drop its medical marijuana delivery option, but in the future Pycher plans to resume that branch of the business.
Uber App Ready to Assist Consumers
Where Nestdrop has been put on pause, the already well know Uber app typically used for ride-sharing may be next in line to capitalize on this evolution of enterprise through a trial the company actually just launched this past August of a program known as the “Uber Corner Store.”
The “Uber Corner Store” feature lets users purchase drug store medicines and other various over-the-counter products. The program was originally only offered in specific neighborhoods throughout Washington, D.C. so not all Uber users would have been able to testify to this delivery experience. However the plan is to expand the “Uber Corner Sotre” option by next year.
“Uber Corner Store”
How does the “Corner Store” option work, and why is it any different? Someone using Uber can click on this feature through the app and request a driver. After selecting this option the user will receive a text message with a list of available items for purchase from the “Uber Corner Store”.
The regular Uber users account is billed once the driver confirms the details of the delivery, and they’re off to the races. Uber has already experimented with delivery options. They also began a courier service out of Manhattan, but the app has never dealt in anything nearly as controlled or controversial as medical marijuana.
The truth is, of course a business would consider that in an area allowing the production, sale, and consumption of marijuana its advantageous to find a way to get their foot in the door, and a delivery service has all the potential in the world. Travis Kalanick, founder of Uber made a statement last December saying,
“We’re in the business of delivering cars in five minutes. And once you can deliver cars in five minutes, there’s a lot of things you can deliver in five minutes.”
That being said, Uber is also known to promote safety and not irresponsible and reckless behavior, they actually partnered with another app called Breeze which is designed to curb drunk driving with a portable breathalyzer which operates via Bluetooth. Once the Breeze app determines that the user is too drunk to drive, it can contact Uber to request a ride home. So while Uber does aim to provide a service for medical marijuana that may come with some legitimate concerns, it does so with a history of doing things with the intentions to provide safe alternatives to risky behaviors.
So one might wonder will the Uber app be able to get by with the way they handle their delivery services. Will the Nestdrop app continue to be barred from carrying out the task of driving medical drugs from door to door? What other options may become available in the future for people to slip under the radar with drug trafficking?
The drug trade may be changing, and the world may even be changing the policies surrounding drug use, but for addicts change comes from learning how to live again. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction: What is Ecstasy?
The club drug called ‘Ecstasy’ has been marketed to teens and young adults all over as a form of the pure drug called MDMA, known as Molly. Those who take the ecstasy may or may not realize that it is often “cut” with many other drugs, such as heroin and methamphetamine. To better understand what would make effective treatment for Ecstasy addiction possible, it is important to know what this drug is and what it can do.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, only 13% of Ecstasy contains any MDMA at all. Ecstacy is a synthetic drug that acts as a hallucinogen and stimulant and alters the mind to bring on feelings of euphoria, and the common misconception of what Ecstasy actually is, is a dangerous one. Experts involved in treatment for Ecstasy addiction are aware that MDMA can cause:
- Increased heart rate
- Heavy sweating
- Teeth clenching
- A very sharp increase in body temperature that can lead to organ failure and death
Ecstasy samples have been investigated to uncover the reality behind its ingredients, and authorities have found Ecstasy can sometimes contain addictive drugs, such as:
The ingredients in Ecstasy have been implicated in the emergency room visits and deaths of people who assumed they were taking pure MDMA.
Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction: Ecstasy Withdrawals
With treatment for Ecstasy addiction, knowing the withdrawals that can come from excessive Ecstasy abuse is important to assisting with that transition. Those who use Ecstasy or MDMA often experience dehydration (which can lead to overheating, convulsing and seizing), as well as:
Along with these effects on an individual using Ecstasy, other withdrawal symptoms that are addressed with treatment for Ecstasy addiction include:
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble focusing
Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction: Detox
As with most any treatment program, there will be a period of detox in treatment for Ecstasy addiction. Detox is the part that most people are afraid to experience, which holds them back from getting the proper treatment, but with a medical detox program in treatment for Ecstasy addiction there is often non-narcotic medication used to safely and comfortably wean individuals off of substances.
Trying do go ‘cold-turkey’ is never the easiest or safest way to try and get off any drug, and Ecstasy is no exception. The medical staff is there to make sure that detox is completed in a healthy and effective process.
Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction: Residential Rehab
After detox, which may last from 4 to 10 days depending on your progress, you will enter the next level of the program offered in treatment for Ecstasy addiction. A detox program is too often misunderstood, and is typically not enough on its own to maintain lasting recovery.
Real recovery begins with the residential inpatient rehabilitation level of treatment for Ecstasy addiction, called “rehab” for short. This can last anywhere from 30 days to a few months depending on your person recovery plan, which really is only a drop in the bucket compared to a lifetime. At the rehab level, individuals reside in a safe and comfortable environment where all basic needs will be met while they attend groups.
There is case management support, medical services, and a variety of therapy options available. Treatment for Ecstasy addiction allows people to attend meetings, group therapy, and individual cognitive therapy where you will learn about substance abuse and be given the tools to use once the program has been completed. Treatment for Ecstasy addiction can also address any dual diagnosis, or co-occurring issues such as depression, anxiety, as well as trauma-related issues.
Treatment for Ecstasy Addiction: Aftercare
After the residential portion of treatment for Ecstasy addiction, there is also the opportunity for aftercare, which an individual would want to develop a strategy for during inpatient residential rehab. Typically this can be included with intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) as a recovery plan that goes beyond the inpatient stage and helps someone maintain their new coping skills and provides some additional therapy and group sessions to continue assisting a recovering addict during this important transition.
Devising an aftercare plan helps an individual to continue to work actively for their sobriety, with support groups and continued therapy. Treatment for Ecstasy addiction can mean a chance at a new life, and for most it can mean the difference between living and dying.
While many do not understand the reality of what risks they run with abusing MDMA and other drugs, there are many who are very aware of the dangers but who are still afraid of giving it up. With the right kind of treatment for Ecstasy addiction anyone has a real fighting chance of changing for life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Is the solution to stopping binge drinking alcohol (a drug) the taking of another drug?
According to a couple of key players in the debate, the answer to this question is ‘yes.’
Recently, a patent has been filed for a drug that seems to curb alcohol intake while producing some of the euphoric effects of the club drug ecstasy, also known as MDMA.
Some Statistics on Alcohol
In 2012, there were 3.3 million deaths worldwide in which alcohol played a part. And campaigns aimed at awareness and prevention have done little to nothing in reducing the amount that people are imbibing overall; alcohol consumption has remained steady and has even increased on the global stage.
These sorts of alarming statistics and the of alcohol and the overall scale of the alcohol problem has led some people, like David Nutt, who is the Edmund J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and Head of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology and Molecular Imaging at Imperial College London. It was Dr. Nutt who created a scale that ranked drugs from most dangerous to least dangerous and came to the conclusion that, of all drugs, alcohol ranks as the most dangerous in the world, with heroin and then crack being a distant second- and third-place, respectively.
Professor Nutt was once the government chief drugs adviser in the UK and was fired from his official post because these findings didn’t support the general attitude that alcohol is socially acceptable. Nutt refused to leave the debate on drugs alone and even staked his reputation on his findings, even putting his job on the line, which he eventually lost because he refused to back down.
Party Drug to Curb Binge Drinking?
So, why are we talking about a professor in the UK? Because he has come to play an important role in this latest harm reduction attempt.
Last month, an application for a patent was filed for a drug that is supposed to give people a pleasant intoxication while limiting the amount they drink.
Why would an Ecstasy-like drug be better than alcohol? Is it the lesser of two, more-or-less equal evils?
Well, actually, according to Professor Nutt’s scale, ecstasy ranks quite low on his harms scale, in both effect on the individual (i.e. health) and the community (i.e. on others).
The drug designer behind mephedrone, a now widely-banned chemical that has caused at least one death and has been implicated in 13 others in the UK, referred to by his pseudonym, Dr. Z, initially intended his new creation to be sold as a legal high, in and of itself. But after having meeting and talking with Nutt and trying it on himself, Dr. Z plans to gift the patent to Nutt’s charitable research group DrugScience, with the hope it will be used as a “binge mitigation agent.”
The efficacy of the drug, called “chaperone,” will depend on the results of extensive testing – including how quickly it is absorbed and how it mixes with alcohol.
Party-goers might look to chaperone as something to do as a sort of tail-gating activity, to kick off the night or they might add it to each drink as a way of increasing their buzz.
There are also the unpredictable effects. From the little testing that has been done, the effects of chaperone varied, with some of the experimenters reporting that they lost the desire to drink. Another unpredictable aspect of the drug is the time it takes to kick in. The effects don’t kick in immediately and can take up to 2 hours to hit. Then, it might take as long as 5 hours before the user has the desired effect of not wanting to drink. By then, the chaperone user could have already imbibed quite a bit of alcohol.
Dr. Z says that this isn’t necessarily a problem, as long as people taking the drug know these things in advance.
Nutt admits that “you need scientific tests. Anecdotal evidence isn’t enough.” These would involve finding out what receptors it binds to and figuring out a safe dosage, for example, before raising funds to conduct clinical trials to see whether chaperone really does reduce alcohol intake.
Most cultures around the world use drugs for pleasure, so a drug like chaperon could be a “win-win” situation, he says, acting both as a binge mitigator and providing some of its desirable effects.
If you or someone you love has a drinking problem or seems to be a problem drinker, they may have the disease of alcoholism. These issues often “look like” one another and it can be difficult to know what’s really going on. But, you can call an Addiction Specialist toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to answer your questions and help you figure out what course of action to take.
By Cheryl Steinberg
To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to give hope to people who struggle with addiction, depression, self-injury, and thoughts of suicide. The organization also invests directly into treatment and recovery. Furthermore, TWLOHA works to connect people with treatment centers, as well as other resources such as websites, books, and support groups.
TWLOHA was founded by Jamie Tworkowski in March of 2006 and is based out of Melbourne, Florida. Tworkowski was inspired by a story he wrote about 19-year-old Renee Yohe, who struggled with addiction, depression, self-injury, and attempted suicide. The story, which was written in February of 2006, follows Yohe’s life in the five days before she entered treatment. During which time she was unable to get into a treatment program. During this time, friends offered their moral support.
“We become her hospital and the possibility of healing fills our living room with life.”
To Write Love on Her Arms: Vision
TWLOHA works to remove the stigma and therefore the guilt and shame that tends to accompany mental illness and addiction by encouraging people to have honest conversations about these issues and come together as a community.
A major part of the work that TWLOHA does is to bridge the gap between traditional treatment, such as rehab, counseling, and helplines, and the people who need help. The nonprofit organization doesn’t want to replace already-existing programs; it seeks to support professional help organizations that are already helping people. TWLOHA also directly donates a portion of its monies to such causes as Hopeline, InTheRooms.com, S.A.F.E. Alternatives, Minding Your Mind, and (in Australia) Kids Help Line.
To Write Love on Her Arms: Support
To Write Love on Her Arms raises funds by hosting music festivals and tours, administering social networking sites, and having a presence on school and university campuses.
Musicians and bands who wear the TWLOHA’s distinctive T-shirts in photographs and performances lend the group its main exposure; however, it has recently gained more public exposure through merchandise and public community websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Tumblr. Professional athletes such as soccer players Abby Wambach, Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe can often be seen wearing TWLOHA shirts. Furthermore, TWLOHA had a booth at every stop at Vans Warped Tour for the past five years
To Write Love on Her Arms Becomes a Movie
Recently, the organization’s founding story has been translated to screen; a film dramatization of Yohe’s story that Tworkowski had documented leading to the formation of the organization has been been written for the screen. The movie, slated to be released in March 2015 by Sony Pictures, stars Kat Dennings as Yohe and Chad Michael Murray as Tworkowski. (Originally entitled Day One and Renee, To Write Love on Her Arms is much anticipated – so much so that it’s already been leaked as a pirated version.
As a person in recovery from drug addiction and who has long-term chronic depression, I find it encouraging and inspiring to see that these topics are becoming mainstream in pop culture. It’s really important to have open, honest conversations about substance abuse disorders and psychological disorders because too many people still suffer in silence and sometimes – all too often – resort to desperate measures that could be avoided.
Mental illness, self-harm, and substance abuse, such as addiction, are very serious medical conditions but there is hope! Treatment and peer and community support can lead to recovery. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today!
Author: Justin Mckibben
2014 is just about done, and as we prepare ourselves for whatever series of adventures awaits us in 2015, we look back at a lot of historical moments we experienced in many areas of our culture, and a big one is the ‘War on Drugs’ and its progress internationally thus far. It was a year that was thick with violence, corruption, incarceration, addiction and stigma just to name a few. Many insist that the ‘War on Drugs’ is a failed enterprise that we will regret not having a better hold of later on, in fact 82% of Americans recently surveyed believe it has failed.
Some stories echo our larger issues and concerns such as military and economic resources. But when we take a closer look at these 6 headlines and see the bigger picture, these are just a few of the articles out there that seem to sift through the grimes to highlight why the policy of prohibition actually sustains the very drug war between governments, citizens, and cartels that claim lives on all sides.
- “El Chapo” Is Captured in Mexico
Not a single shot was fired when Mexican soldiers and cops closed in on “El Chapo” Guzmán, Sinaloa Cartel boss and former Forbes list billionaire back on February 22, 2014 in Mazatlán. While some say that’s the best possible outcome, others insist there is an underlining meaning that is a lot less optimistic.
The event made great copy. Attorney General Eric Holder called the arrest
“landmark achievement, and a victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States.”
However, according to an expert on Mexican drug traffickers George Grayson,
“The takedown of El Chapo is a thorn in the side, but not a dagger in the heart of the Sinaloa Cartel.”
Drug-related violence has continued in recent months. Second, was it all a set-up? Retired DEA officials seem to believe thiese circumstances sound a little more than far-fetched.
2. China’s Tobacco Epidemic
In China the tobacco habit is severe, killing around 1 million annually.
- Nearly 30% of adults smoke
- 53% of men smoke
In April The WHO encouraged China to use graphic warnings on cigarette packages to fight the tobacco epidemic.
Why did the epidemic emerge? According to law professor Charles Whitebread, a long-term change in US smoking patterns created partly by federal and state regulations helped prompt this drastic change in Asia. Cigarette companies were soon confronted with a restricted market in America, so many opted to shifting their operations out of the United States and into China, Whitebread concluded.
At a 2012 conference, officials proposed the idea of price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, among the idea for graphic warnings and other initiatives.
China may adopt these proposals. Its government is considering a hike in cigarette taxes, while Beijing is considering a ban on smoking in all the city’s indoor public spaces, on public transport and in the workplace.
3. Pot Legalization Politics
Tuesday November 4th, 2014 the voting midterms drew to a close by early evening and as all the results were tallied and laws were forged and forfeited, it became clear that voters were largely in favor of legalizing marijuana in several states.
Oregon, Washington D.C. and Alaska were among the states in America that had weed winning in the midterms for various forms of legalization of marijuana.
A year ago Uruguay became the world’s first country to legalize the production and sale of marijuana. And in May, it publicized the regulations that will govern its marijuana market. President José Mujica argued that comparing Uruguay’s pot policies with Colorado’s that the United States marijuana model is one where “you prescribe it yourself” as opposed to the Uruguayan system, which regulates consumers.
President Mujica said the Uruguay policy is not designed to promote and expand marijuana use, just to regulate the present population of smokers. Residents 18 and older will be able to choose between three forms of access to non-medical weed
Each buyer will register with the government and be restricted to 10 grams each week.
4. Amphetamine Accelerates in Asia
In the year 2014 national experts have indicated that in East and Southeast Asia the use of ATS [amphetamine-type stimulants] has both increased and diversified, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s annual World Drug Report.
A paper published in Brookings Institution in March of 2014 further elaborated on this idea, stating that China has increasingly evolved into a producing country of new synthetic substances, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) in particular. The report also stated that China is a final consumption market for those same substances, stating:
“38 percent of registered drug users, almost 800,000 people, were identified as users of ATS.”
5. Afghan Opium Cultivation Reaches Record Levels
2014 also was a year for record level of Opium production in Afghanistan. The US military noted in October that regions opium poppy cultivation has almost tripled since 1994. Mother Jones reported,
“That’s despite more than a decade of American efforts to knock out the Afghan drug trade—at a cost of roughly $7.6 billion.”
Other reports claim the last time opium trafficking and production was markedly reduced in Afghanistan was in 2000—the last year the Taliban was in power.
Then later in 2001, only one of the country’s regions continued extensive cultivation. That region just happened to be the 5% of the territory the Washington-allied Northern Alliance controlled, and the United States had teamed with these warlords to assault the Taliban after 9/11.
Some claim that the US military presence has been enriching warlords at the expense of others, and that the booming “illicit trade” is also a vital source of funding for the Taliban insurgency, and a major contributor to the country’s rampant corruption.
According to a recent disclosure, Washington is actually planning to increase the number of troops in 2015 present in Afghanistan, but with so many claiming that American military activity only seems to promote the drug trade, will this really help the ‘War on Drugs’ in the area?
6. Prescription Painkillers #1 Overdose Offender in America
According to a recent national study of hospital emergency department visits for opioid overdoses published online by JAMA Internal Medicine, 67.8% of the overdoses had prescription opioids (including methadone) involved. This number was followed closely by heroin overdoses, and other unspecified opioids and multiple opioids.
The study analyzed 2010 data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample and was adjusted to generate national estimates. Opioid drugs including:
These were the medications prescribed by doctors that are credited as the cause of the estimated 92,200 hospital visits, which is more than 5 times the number of deaths involving opioid painkillers in 2010.
Researchers found that out of all recorded emergency room visits that were a result of a drug overdose:
- Heroin accounted for 16.1%
- Unspecified opioids accounted for 13.4%
- Multiple opioid types accounted for 2.7%
- While even fewer than 2% of overdoses treated in emergency rooms were fatal.
7. Political Leaders Call for End of ‘Drug War’
The ‘War on Drugs’ has never been limited to US soil, and in many of these international cases we seem how even change in other countries can effect Americans. Earlier this year there was a report published by the London School of Economics titled “Ending the Drug Wars”. The report was signed by several officials including:
- 5 Nobel prize-winning economists
- Britain’s deputy prime minister
- A former US Secretary of State
“The pursuit of a militarized and enforcement-led global ‘war on drugs’ strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage,”
The report went on to state:
“new global drug strategy should be based on principles of public health, harm reduction…and human rights.”
Four months later, the Global Commission on Drug Policy picked up where this report left off, when several high ranking officials called for:
“governments to decriminalize a variety of illegal drugs and set up regulated drug markets within their own countries.”
These 7 are all just a few examples of how politics and policies have played out in 2014, and notes how we can start to see a slight shift in an attempt to try and provoke change in the way the world collectively views and addresses the ‘War on Drugs’ on all fronts.
At the same time, it goes to question whether or not the ‘War on Drugs’ is a wholesale failure, or if the primary method needs to be shifted from prohibition to education and regulation. Some think maybe the focus should stop being put on punishing those arrested for drug charges and more on providing chances for treatment.
While the ‘War on Drugs’ may have a lot of changes coming in 2015, the opinion varies as to whether that means the fighting will dwindle, or if the struggles will rage on as people try to adapt, both citizens, authorities and cartels. One thing is for sure, drug and alcohol treatment will continue to strive toward innovation in whatever way to do its part. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135