Author: Shernide Delva
President Obama has granted clemency to hundreds of inmates in prison for nonviolent drug crimes. However, the War on Drugs is still very much alive. In fact, last week a crime report released by the FBI revealed that law enforcement made nearly 1.5 million “drug abuse” arrests last year.
FBI Report: “2015 Crime in the United States.”
The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program report, titled “2015 Crime in the United States,” marked 1,488,707 total arrests for drug abuse for that year. “Drug abuse” is defined in the report as the sale, trafficking, and possession of narcotics. The FBI noted that the report reflects the number arrests, not the number of individuals.
When we break this down this into percentages, the numbers reveal close to 83.9% of drug arrests were for mere possession. Only 16.1% were due to drug sales or manufacturing, and of the arrests for possession, marijuana possession made up 38.6%.
The Washington Post elaborated stating that in 2015, there were over 1,500 arrests per day for marijuana possession. Following marijuana on the list were “other dangerous non-narcotic drugs” (20.2%), and heroin or cocaine and their derivatives (19.9%).
It should come to no one’s surprise that the U.S. prison system is full of people incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes like possession. Substance abuse arrests are more common than property crimes (1,463,213), drunk driving (1,089,171) and “other assaults” (1,081,019) trailing slightly behind. Crimes like murder and non-negligent manslaughter pale in comparison (11,092).
Shifting the War on Drugs Mindset
While efforts are being made to change the War on Drugs mindset, it is a slow process at best. There have been gradual shifts towards placing non-violent drug offenders in treatment rather than in prison. This eliminates the need for excessively long sentences due to drug possession.
Furthermore, President Obama has gained extensive media attention for granting 673 clemencies for non-violent offenders during his two terms so far. Many of these prisoners were serving life sentences.
“While I expect that the President will continue to grant commutations through the end of this administration, the individualized nature of this relief highlights the need for bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, including reforms that address excessive mandatory minimum sentences,” said White House Counsel Neil Eggleston in a statement last month. “Only the passage of legislation can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure our federal sentencing system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.”
While there have been significant efforts to approach the addiction epidemic through treatment, the reality is hundred – if not thousands—of Americans are arrested by law enforcement for something as simple as marijuana possession.Drug trafficking is a common offense. The controversy splits between whether or not the government should have this level of control when it comes to drug criminalization.
The Prescription Drug Epidemic
Furthermore, prescription drug abuse is one of the major problems in the drug world today. So many people received these prescriptions legally through their doctors and are not dependent upon them. The U.S Department of Health estimates that more than 50% of Americans take at least one prescribed pill a day. These people eventually turn to drugs like heroin because of the cheap high that heroin provides. Therefore, sales of illegal narcotics in the black market have soared. The problem is as complex as the solution. What should the next approach be to the addiction epidemic?
Overall, the amount of arrests for drug possession is still at an extremely high number. How should the government be approaching drug arrests? At the end of the day, addiction is a disease. Treatment should be the first approach, not criminalization. Please seek help for your addiction before it is too late. We can get you on the right track. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
The drug world is changing, and regardless of age young people are still susceptible to the pull of drugs and alcohol through various levels of exposure. While parents try their best to keep an eye out at home, some schools are proposing extra measures with drug testing young students. Now there is another alternative that is being offered to help expose young people to drug abuse in a productive way.
Prescription drug abuse is doing some serious damage all across the country, as part of the massive opiate epidemic that has swept across the nation and continues to claim so many lives. A diversity of initiatives have been devised to try and change the game, and one is aimed specifically at young people.
The new “Above the Influence” toolkit developed to assist community leaders and organizations has now been released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The objective of this toolkit is to publicize prevention of prescription drug abuse by providing information to children and youth.
“Above the Influence”
The “Above the Influence” toolkit provides adults with a guide to help them talk with their children about prescription drugs, while giving them descriptions for young children and even enlightening teenagers to the dangers that are most commonly associated with prescription drug abuse.
The features included to this new resource are not limited to communication tools. The “Above the Influence” toolkit also contains other helpful suggestions to promote healthier choices like group and event planning activities, the toolkit even provides the individual access to multimedia resources.
Those who developed the “Above the Influence” toolkit intended to inspire local county officials, even family members to explore a wider range of methods to utilize while trying to involve young people in the process of their own education and abstinence from drugs, and to help officials to prevent prescription drug abuse in their communities. The hope is that if the effort is made to provide prevention education, then the prescription drug epidemic that has become such an important issue in America, with a bit of luck, can be identified and cut off in the younger generation before it gets too out of hand.
The Overall Mission
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is a nonprofit organization with a mission that seems simple, but will take more than a fair share of effort. That mission is to reduce teen substance abuse while simultaneously supporting the families all over the country that have already been impacted in any way by the disease of addiction.
The “Above the Influence” toolkit has a download page which offers a vast array of tools and resources to accomplish this mission.
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has instituted a number of informative and active programs to offer reinforcements to those fighting and tragically losing lives on the front lines of the ‘War on Drugs’ that reaches the lives of children in addiction. Some of these programs are:
- A Parent Survival Guide to raising drug-free kids
- The Medicine Abuse Project
Now with the newly added “Above the Influence” toolkit, the organization is taking another approach at influencing the general public to take heed and hopefully take action. But this latest move also shows that the organization is willing to admit their own limitations, as they are asking for help with this new move.
Without the help of local communities, officials and educators, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids sees that they are just going to keep fighting what often seems like an unattainable struggle against drug abuse and addiction. They are far too outnumbered and out-gunned in many aspects.
Thankfully they are releasing the “Above the Influence” toolkit with a scheme to to expand their impact by handing over access to these essential resources and empowering the actual people and their local authorities that stand to benefit most from understanding and promoting these tools for education and raising awareness.
This new idea and tactic suggests that any success that can be had against the prescription drug epidemic can only be achieved by working together in a positive direction, so by employing the various resources and empowering individuals locally who have the direct contact with the young people, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has taken a leap toward teaching young people the dangerous of prescription medication, in an effort to address the growing issue at the source.
Keeping people informed of the real and deadly risks they take when abusing drugs and alcohol is a huge part of altering the mindset surrounding drug abuse as a teen and young adult. Raising that awareness is important, and for those who are currently struggling, there is still plenty to learn and so much life to live as long as you are willing to take that first step. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
About 21.8 million Americans, or 8.7 percent of the population age 12 and older, reported using illegal drugs in 2009. That’s the highest level since the survey began in 2002. The previous high was just over 20 million in 2006.
Designer Drugs from the 1990s to the 2000s
Designer drugs are simply variations on drugs that already exist in most cases. The dangers of designer drugs come from the illegal combination and administration of the drugs that have not be properly researched or studied for toxicology or pharmacological research. These drugs are specifically designed to avoid and fall outside of the laws of the DEA in the United States. These drugs have similar effects to the originals, although they do have a different chemical makeup. The variation of the chemical structure allows the drug to be temporarily used and created without the fear or expectation of criminal charges since it does not fall under any current regulations.
The Internet: Major Influence on Drug Abuse in the 2000s
Due to the rapid growth of the Internet, designer drug sales grew rapidly in the 90s and 2000s. These drugs were sometimes referred to as “research drugs” or “research chemicals” to avoid the U.S. drug laws, but this did not prevent the DEA from making arrests.
Anabolic steroids also became popular during this time. These drugs were used by many athletes, but they were unable to be monitored due to the lack of information about the drugs and the inability of drug tests to identify the new anabolic agents. A designer drug called tetrahydrogesterinone (THG) was created to avoid new anabolic steroid tests, and it was, at the time, undetectable.
2005 to Present
Due to the Internet and other methods of communication, the 2000s have seen the growth of designer drugs outside of opioids, hallucinogens, and steroids. Some “legal” alternatives to cannabis have been created from sister plants and those of similar construction. It is important to note that none of these research chemicals have been properly tested for their safety.
The Usual Suspects
Treatment data for 2011 from criminal justice reports like the Department of Justice’s Drug Market Analyses, illustrates the face of current drug use and popularity. Below is a list of America’s top five drugs of choice. The big news is that while they may be the usual suspects, they are not at all in the order you might expect.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the fact that marijuana is the number one street drug right now. Treatment admissions for marijuana abuse, especially to outpatient programs, are through the roof.
2. Crystal Meth
Crystal methamphetamine addicts constituted 45,457 cases of addiction treatment in the state of California in 2010—more than the state’s combined number of alcoholics and heroin admissions.
In the 2000’s,the meth epidemic hit hardest in the midwest United States. Meth gained popularity in the Midwest because it is cheap, easy to manufacture at home, and requires no special equipment or expertise. In 2004 alone, nearly 16,000 methamphetamine labs were seized by law enforcement officials across America. Most of these labs were located in the Midwest.
Alcohol will not be denied, ranking a strong second in large urban centers both in terms of treatment admissions and, more important, in percentage of drug-related deaths.
4. Pills – painkillers (such as Oxys and Hydrocodone) and benzos (such as Xanax)
Pill abuse has swept the entire nation, as the incidence of treatment for prescription drug addiction has skyrocketed, doubling, tripling and more over the past 20 years. The ongoing rise in social costs associated with pharmaceutical narcotics puts pills ahead of the remaining street drugs of abuse.
One of the most infamous prescription opiates on the market in the last decade is the powerful narcotic OxyContin. In 1995, the Federal Drug Administration approved the manufacture of OxyContin, a time-release version of oxycodone. When the drug was released, concerns and reports of illicit use and abuse began to increase exponentially. Before the release of OxyContin, all formulations of oxycodone contained an NSAID, which limited its potential for abuse. The NSAID component of the drugs also restricted the routes of administration to oral ingestion. When OxyContin was released, abusers realized that they could crush the pill to release pure oxycodone (up to 80mg in one pill), which allowed larger doses and by additional routes of administrations such as intravenous and intranasal. Due to the widespread abuse, especially in rural areas, OxyContin came to be known as “Hillbilly Heroin,” and reports of its abuse flooded the media in the 2000’s.
Newsof rising overdose rates, “pill mills” prescribing opioid painkillers in return for cash, and a flourishing market for prescription painkillers both online and on the streets prompted lawmakers to crack down. Unfortunately, this means that many addicts simply turned to heroin to fuel their habit.
5. Heroin and Cocaine
These two drugs remain a presence in the nation’s inner cities, especially on the East Coast—for example, ranking third and fourth respectively in total treatment admissions in Philadelphia only behind marijuana and alcohol. And both are still very risky ways to get high, ranking first and third in drug-related deaths.
Not only that, but the last decade has seen a surge of heroin use in suburban areas. Most experts attribute this to the prescription pill epidemic. As officials have cracked down, many addicts have turned to heroin as it is not only cheaper, but much easier to get.
The number of teens dying of heroin overdose skyrocketed in the 2000’s. In 1999, 198 people between the ages of 15 and 24 died of a heroin overdose, compared to 510 deaths in 2009. The number of teens seeking treatment for heroin addiction rose 80 percent in the same 10 year time frame.
If your loved one is in need of heroin addiction treatment please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
The Synergistic Effect
The term synergistic effect, or additive effect, refers to an increased intensity caused by the combination of two substances when introduced into the person’s system. For example, two medications taken together might have a more potent effect on the body than either would alone this, in essence, is the synergistic effect.
Drug synergy occurs when drugs can interact in ways that enhance or magnify one or more effects, or side-effects, of those drugs.
A combination of depressant drugs that affect the central nervous system (CNS), such as Xanax and alcohol, can cause a greater reaction than simply the sum of the individual effects of each drug if they were used separately. In this particular case, the most serious consequence of drug synergy is higher risk of respiratory depression, which can be fatal. Mixing drugs can produce potentially fatal reactions within the brain, such as serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening drug reaction.
In recent years, as the use of prescription medication has flourished in the United States, so too have the abuse of and overdose from many of these substances.
Prescription-drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the U.S., says a report issued last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The same report states that in 2007, there were roughly 27,000 unintentional deaths from drug overdoses—or one death every 19 minutes.
But of all the things that people ingest, there are few combinations more life-threatening than alcohol and Xanax, a benzodiazepine in the class of sedatives such as Valium and Klonopin.
What Makes Xanax and Alcohol a Deadly Combination?
When taken together, Xanax and alcohol produce a synergistic effect, which means that in the presence of Xanax, alcohol is made more potent than it would be alone. And vice versa.
Both Xanax and alcohol work by depressing the central nervous system of the body, reducing the activity of several mental functions, such as thought, memory, coordination, and respiration.
Alcohol alone doesn’t have that limit, because often times people will pass out before they drink enough alcohol for it to be lethal. When you take the two together and you have a totally different picture – Xanax and Alcohol: a deadly combination.
Prescription drugs and alcohol can be a dangerous combination. Alcohol interacts with anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax, intensifying the drugs’ sedative effects, causing drowsiness and dizziness, and making falls and accidents more likely. A 2010 study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health reported that automobile drivers were much more likely to weave and speed if they were under the influence of drugs like Xanax in addition to alcohol than if they had consumed alcohol alone.
How it Works
Xanax and alcohol is the most deadly combination because it can cause amnesia. So not only is it does this combination affect respiratory function, the amnesic effect it causes is just as deadly. People die accidentally in the truest sense of the word: they don’t remember how many drinks they had, or how many pills they took.
Why Xanax, in particular
Any benzodiazepine is highly dangerous in combination with alcohol, but Xanax is perhaps the most dangerous, because it is more fast-acting than the others. Because Xanax and alcohol both work on the brain at a rapid-fire pace, their mutually enhancing effect is bolstered compared to slower-acting benzodiazepines, which peaks in the brain more slowly, after the effect of the alcohol may have already begun to decline.
In fact, it is this same rapid action that makes Xanax the most addictive of the benzodiazepines, many neuroscientists believe, providing the sensation of a high more so than other drugs of its class.
Other people start taking prescription drugs just to get high, perhaps in part because they have the false notion that prescription drugs are safer to experiment with than are illicit drugs.
If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol or benzodiazepine addiction, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Prescription Drug Abuse in Florida
By Jenny Hunt, Palm Partners Recovery Center
March 5, 2012
Every day, seven people die as a result of prescription drug abuse in Florida. Prescription drug related deaths now outpace deaths from automobile accidents. Government agencies are now trying to crack down on prescription drug abuse in Florida in order to contain this epidemic.
The rise in prescription drug abuse in Florida can be attributed to many different factors. The use and abuse of prescription drugs is viewed differently by most people than abuse of the so-called “street drugs.” It is more socially acceptable to take prescription opioid medications than, say, heroin. It is thought that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs because their manufacture is regulated. Also, there is a false sense of safety because a doctor prescribes these medications. Many also mistakenly think that prescription drug abuse is not illegal, or carries a less severe penalty than abuse of street drugs.
Prescription drug abuse in Florida has also increased due to the way that many doctors now view and treat chronic pain. Twenty-five years ago, doctors did not prescribe opioid pain medication for non-malignant chronic pain out of fear of addiction. These medications were reserved for those suffering from cancer or other terminal diseases. In the 90’s, a shift occurred in the medical community and the focus turned to improving patient quality of life. Prescription drug manufacturers spent millions on marketing and developing new drugs to treat pain. With these prescription drugs flooding the market, prescription drug abuse in Florida began to increase exponentially.
With the advent of the pill mill, prescription drug abuse in Florida was upgraded from problem to epidemic. These offices employed physicians who would treat patients on a cash-only basis and prescribe copious amounts of pain medication without clear medical need. Drug seeking individuals from other southern states began to travel en masse to Florida to get these prescriptions. Many of them would then sell the pills on the streets of their home states for up to forty times what they paid.
Officials in Florida have been cracking down on physicians prescribing inappropriately in an attempt to get a handle on prescription drug abuse in Florida. Legislation has been enacted that prevents physician’s offices from dispense prescription drugs themselves. Additionally, the Florida Statewide Drug Enforcement Strike Force began targeting pill mills in the state, seizing more than 252,000 prescription pills since March. However, because these investigations can be difficult and time-consuming, prescription drug abuse in Florida is still a major problem.
The other problem with the crackdown on prescription drug abuse in Florida is that now that so many pill mills have been closed, Florida law enforcement has seen a significant increase in import and sales of street drugs. Also, there has been a huge spike in armed robberies of pharmacies and drug cargo heists.
There isn’t enough being done for those who have become addicted as a result of prescription drug abuse in Florida. Because these are highly addictive medications, an addicted individual doesn’t just quit when he no longer has access to the pills through a doctor’s office. When their primary source of drugs is unavailable, prescription drug abusers are forced to go elsewhere to fuel their habit.
If you or someone you know needs treatment for prescription drug abuse in Florida, call us at (877) 711-HOPE (4673) or visit us online at www.palmpartners.com.