Author: Justin Mckibben
That’s right, you read the headline correctly. Law enforcement could soon be giving heroin to addicts, for free, in an attempt to fight addiction. While harm reduction is an admirable concept to preserve the lives of those suffering from addiction, this is a hard bit to chew.
Various countries are working to drastically reform drug policies. Some states in America have even started to pursue expanding access to naloxone, needle exchange programs and even safe injection sites. Other countries around the world have gone to new lengths in decriminalization, while others go to new extremes in the War on Drugs. Yet, despite all this variations of progress, giving away heroin seems like the most abstract idea yet.
Police in Durham, a city in northeast England, are planning to offer free heroin to drug users. Why? They say the objective is actually to reduce both crime and addiction.
The Free Heroin Plan?
Durham Police and Crime Victims Commissioner Ron Hogg spoke recently on his logic for providing heroin to addicts. In his statement he said,
“The aim would be to enable people who have become addicted to heroin to follow a program that would stabilize their addiction in a controlled environment, and reduce their dependency on heroin until they stop taking it,”
The idea isn’t just to give addicts free heroin and let them loose, but to create a very distinctive atmosphere of support in hopes of inspiring recovery. The proposed free heroin program would work in combination with a traditional substance abuse support program, and the users would be monitored on use and tapered off. According to the Independent newspaper, the free heroin clinics could be established in the Durham area before the end of this year.
What do Police Think of Free Heroin?
It seems the police department is hoping that if drug users have access to free heroin then they won’t have to resort to crime to support their addiction. While they are aware of how this idea might seem strange, the idea is that they may be able to further decrease all other devastating results of addiction on the community. Crime, spread of disease, overdose death and more.
According to the Independent newspaper, Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton also says the initiative would take away from drug dealers’ profits. With drug users having access to free heroin they hope it will cripple the trade on the illicit drug market. Barton states:
“We need to get over our moral panic about giving people heroin as part of a treatment plan,”
“Our primary concern is to prevent crime. If we’ve got people who are addicted to Class A drugs committing crime, it makes good sense to get that person off drugs.”
Commissioner Hogg also goes on to say,
“The aim of the initiative is to save the lives of addicts, shut down drug dealers and reduce acquisitive crime,”
“It would also reduce demand on police time, and the courts, and I believe it should also help lower the prison population.”
The impact of heroin on the U.K. should of course be noted as a cause for desperate measures.
- 2015-2016 statistics show there were 149,807 people receiving treatment for opioid use disorder in England
- Between 2012 and 2015, heroin-related deaths doubled from 579 to 1,201 deaths in England and Wales
So of course, as the opiate epidemic rattles countries all over the world, a few have decided to react in very different ways. Apparently, some parts of the U.K. are moving toward a very, very liberal stance.
Fix Rooms and Safe Injection Sites
England is not alone on this. Let us also note that Switzerland has actually offered a free heroin maintenance program since 1994. Other governments in the U.K. have approval for similar safe injection initiatives, including:
- The Netherlands
Last October, Glasgow, Scotland became the first city in the U.K. to approve plans for “fix rooms”. These are sites where people will be provided medical-grade heroin and clean syringes with the intent to contain the heroin epidemic.
The free heroin program in Switzerland began in Zurich. It is now credited with decreasing crime in the area. Information indicates this program has expanded to 23 clinics. But it isn’t just free heroin in these locations. These “fix rooms” also provide counseling and support.
Harm Reduction… or Reorganizing?
Now, we have to ask, is this as crazy as it sounds? While the police in these areas seem to be openly admitting that giving away free heroin is indeed enabling, they seem very convinced that things have gotten so bad this is the best they can hope for at the moment. Again, they are hoping to contain the fallout of heroin abuse in their communities and provide information and treatment resources. The idea sounds pretty intense, but some would say desperate times call for desperate measures.
So is this harm reduction, or just reorganizing? Is this tactic set to prevent even more suffering and destruction, or is it a feeble attempt to make some semblance of order out of the chaos of the opiate crisis?
From a personal opinion, as an addict in recovery, I can say I honestly don’t know. It sounds incredibly dangerous and almost irresponsible to say that law enforcement will provide free heroin. Yet, I have to try and understand their logic; that it might be able to prevent some crime. It might take a nice piece of money out of drug dealer pockets, and it might preserve lives long enough to convince them to get treatment. Then again, an addict like me might just take advantage of the free heroin program and get more off the street while also getting free, government funded drugs too.
Past data might show some support to this innovation. I guess we will just have to wait and see what becomes of this. Until then, there should always be an emphasis on the possibility of effective and comprehensive treatment. Even with the free heroin program, the idea is to get people the treatment they need.
We want to know what YOU think.
Addiction and drug abuse have become relevant in every aspect of American life. Police, politicians, educators and community leaders are trying to create radical changes in perspective. Not every perspective is easy to understand, but the common goal is inspiring lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.
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Author: Justin Mckibben
Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and driving while under the influence of any drug is a pretty irresponsible and inconsiderate act, and it puts not only your life, but the lives of those on the road in danger. Not to mention any loved ones you may have traveling with you. While the decrease in drunk driving has been noted in some studies, but according to 2 new reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drugged driving is the new drunk driving, and more people than ever are hitting the streets high.
The “Cannabix Breathalyzer”
Last June there was a story about Kal Malhi, a retired Canadian Mountie officer who was in the process of attempting to revolutionize a new and innovative breathalyzer designed to detect marijuana on the breath of suspects considered to be under the influence hoping it would prove to be a powerful weapon in the war on drugging and driving.
Kal Malhi had created the “Cannabix Breathalyzer”, and he estimated that his invention could potentially detect if the driver has used marijuana down to within the previous two hours, but at the time still needed to be tested in the field before being approved for official use. There was a patent pending, and many had their fingers crossed that this innovation would seal the deal on saving lives from drugged driving accidents in the near future.
According to the Cannabix Technologies Inc. website, the device is currently in prototype development and the Company is rapidly developing this technology.
The UK Uses “Drugalysers”
Now in the United Kingdom across the pond, the police are being equipped with “drugalysers” in England and Wales, and with this technology these officers will be able to catch motorists who exceed the new legal limits of specifically listed drugs, that list includes both 8 illegal substances and 8 different prescription drugs.
The new rules exist in conjunction with the existing law, under which drivers under the influence of drugs already face several penalties, including:
- A fine of up to £5,000 (about $7,693)
- Up to six months in prison
- A minimum one-year driving ban
The new rules establish low limits for the eight illegal drugs, which include:
Higher limits have been set for the 8 prescription drugs included in the new rules including:
And as an added measure motorists can be tested for these drugs at a police station, even if they pass the roadside check. A professor of psychopharmacology at Kings College, London named David Taylor stated during a recent radio interview that,
“It’s a zero-tolerance approach,”
Taylor is also a member of the Department of Transport’s advisory panel on drug driving. Taylor has suggested that drivers who need to take prescription drugs carry proof of their prescription in case they should need to provide it to police officers when experiencing a traffic stop. This can come in handy, because it protects those using prescription drugs within recommended amounts, as these individuals will not be penalized.
The “drugalyser” devices are claimed to have the ability to immediately measure even small traces of drugs in an individual’s system, and these new tools have become a huge factor and instrument in the government’s crackdown on drugged driving.
As far as the implementation of the new rules, the actual efforts to actively enforce this could be delayed by weeks as police make the transition and take the time to train officers with new technology and procedures. Either way, the time has come to start taking the fight against drugged driving to the front-lines. Hopefully with the advancement of breathalyzer technology those who choose to drive safe can be protected, and less people will put themselves and others in harm’s way for a high.
Drug and alcohol abuse hurt a lot more than people think. Not only do you damage your health, but you can damage the wellbeing, or even risk the lives of others. But there is a way out, but you have to take the right road. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin McKibben
So often we are told that there are some positive effects on the body created by the consumption of alcoholic beverages, like a glass of wine a day being good for your heart or other random ‘facts’ given to us to make us feel better about indulging in a drink or two. The has also been the ongoing debate of whether these statements glorifying or disapproving the health benefits of drinking are accurate, with separate studies seeming to lead to different conclusions.
Numerous studies have touted the benefits of drinking, making claims that include alcohol:
- Lowering the risk ofcardiovascular disease
- Prevents diabetes
- Keepsdementia at bay
Now a new research project conducted in the United Kingdom has researchers claiming that there is actually no health benefits associated with alcohol consumption! Those involved in this study also insist that the previous surveys and findings on the subject has been flawed, and therefore those false ‘health facts’ of alcohol should be exposed.
Debunking the Drinking
So how could anyone question the healthy side of boozing? Well the scientists at the University College London concluded that those same studies that suggested that a glass of wine is good for the heart we were talking about earlier have actually relied on flawed assessments because they were comparing drinkers with people who had to give up alcohol because they were already sick.
This flawed system of collecting data for information also discredits the claims that moderate drinkers are healthier than chronic drinkers. Probably one of the bigger ‘facts’ the sought to educate the public about was to advocate for women to not drink during the first three months of pregnancy or even while planning to conceive. Simon Newell, of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health stated,
“It is impossible to say what constitutes as a ‘safe’ amount of alcohol a mother can drink as every pregnancy is different. Our advice to mothers is don’t take a chance with your baby’s health and drink no alcohol at all.”
Previously there has been a claim that drinking a controlled ‘safer’ amount of alcohol during early stages of a pregnancy is acceptable and would have no adverse effects, but this new conclusion looks to disprove that assumption. The truth is booze presents the highest risk of death, and alcohol consumption has likely been underestimated all along.
New Study Says
This new research seemed to take a totally different approach to studying the true health effects of alcohol consumption, and Craig Knott as the projects lead researcher worked with his team to analyze data on 18,000 people. Out of those people there were 4,100 who had died over a 10-year period.
They did acknowledge that middle-aged men who drank 15-20 units of alcohol per week and women who drank less than 10 units had a lower risk of dying early, but they noted that the primary cause of this was other unrelated factors.
There are those however who already seek to discredit this studies claims. Several medical experts have condemned the study and its conclusions as statistically sloppy and too small in scope to make such broad claims. Winton professor of the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge David Spiegelhalter has spoken openly against the way that this UK study boasts to disprove all previous research.
“The authors’ conclusions are not backed up by the data. All groups consuming less than 20 units a week experienced lower mortality rates than the lifelong teetotallers. But since there are not many teetotallers, there is large uncertainty about what the true underlying relative risks are. All the observed data are compatible with the kind of 15 to 20% protection that has been previously suggested.”
Of course, while many people in the health community stand behind the previous claims of health benefits for alcohol consumption, this does at least make one wonder whether or not there is a better way to measure what good alcohol really does to the body versus the damage.
Studies have concluded that taking toxicology and health risks into account, alcohol is by far the deadliest drug there is, and yet we find voices trying to speak on its behalf for the benefits. It makes you wonder that if alcohol has been legal for this long, and is worse than heroin or cocaine, what is to stop people from trying to justify the use of other dangerous narcotics with supposed ‘health benefits’.
Author: Justin Mckibben
English pub culture is a pretty well-known aspect of life in the United Kingdom, often depicted with soccer (they call it foot-ball for some weird reason) hooligans or competitive drinkers in the media, with films like Beerfest or The Worlds End showing off these archetypes of characters. But is there any reality to that caricature of the typical British drinker? Well whether it is or not, the pubs in England are putting citizens in hospitals in record numbers, and the alcohol problem in the UK may be more serious than the references made for comedies sake.
Rise in Drinking Rates
The National Health Services (NHS) recommends:
- Men- should drink no more than three to four units a day, the equivalent of around two pints of beer.
- Women- no more than two to three units, which is one large 250ml glass of wine.
Despite these recommendations rates have emerged recently showing that 1 in 5 people in England now regularly drinking well above the NHS guidelines, alcohol-related admissions to hospital has risen to nearly 10 million a year.
New figures show that 9.6 million people in England are consuming alcohol in troublingly excessive amounts each week, with 2.4 million of those classed as high risk cases of alcohol consumption. Between 2012 and 2013 9.9 million people were admitted to hospital because of alcohol and around 60 per cent of those ended up in casualty.
Alcohol Concern is the leading national charity working in alcohol related issues, and this past week Alcohol Concern released a new chart showing a regional breakdown of the best and worst areas for alcohol abuse. Included in those stats, the top areas in England for hospital admissions in regards to alcohol were:
- Kent- 244,131- £59.65
- Lancashire- 231,702- £67.92
- Essex- 228,506- £57.32
A recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) examined 27 nations and determined that the United Kingdom was among just 7 nations where teenage girls were more likely to get drunk than were boys of the same age, and British girls are more likely to get drunk than those in almost any country in the Western world.
All of these studies and numbers show no sign of slowing down any time soon, and considering that in south east and south west parts of England over 23% of people drink too much alcohol each week, and 20% in London.
Alcohol Concern and NHS
The Alcohol Concern charity is calling for minimum alcohol pricing to discourage consumers from extreme alcohol purchases in hopes that will curb the rise in consumption.
“The NHS is now facing an intolerable strain from alcohol-related illnesses,” said Jackie Ballard, Alcohol Concern Chief Executive. The Alcohol Concern Chief Executive went on to detail the extent of the damage being done to the citizens of England, and expressed the severity of the situation is real, and not to be confused with numbers created by minor isolated incidences.
“This is not just from readily-identifiable causes such as A&E visits and admissions for liver disease, but from a significant number of other conditions in which alcohol plays a major, but often under-appreciated part.”
“We urgently need action to prevent alcohol misuse, the first and most effective of which is for the government to implement a minimum unit price, which has the potential to save the economy millions, and most importantly save lives.”
Adverse Health Effects
Health experts concerned with these statistics say the hidden harm that results from over-indulging only emerges after a number of years, by which time problems have already developed. Some of these adverse effects of alcohol they are concerned about include:
- Liver problems
- Reduced fertility
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of various cancers
- Heart attack
Men who drink more than two pints of beer a day are up to 2.5 times more likely to contract cancer, especially in areas such as the mouth, neck and throat. Women are up to 1.7 times more likely, and have a 20% increased risk of developing breast cancer.
NHS Paying the Tab
Not that the huge toll this increasing alcohol issue is taking on the population is not a big enough problem, but the tab for the hospitalization and treatment of those who are suffering injuries due to excessive drinking is pretty big as well across the board.
The huge cost that alcohol has created is being placed on the shoulders of the NHS. Inpatient admissions for conditions partially credible to drinking are now £1.3 billion a year. This estimate is almost 3 times greater than the cost of those which were solely due to alcohol, which is £513 million a year! According to the report alcohol is also responsible for nearly half of all head and neck cancer inpatient admissions, costing the NHS an additional £65.3 million!
With all this, one can only wonder how much help raising the price of booze will help, the tab seems to be increasing in all aspects, and someone will eventually have to foot the bill.
Steps Toward Solutions
Dr. Carsten Grimm, Clinical Lead for the Alcohol Service in Kirklees, said:
“It is vital that people understand the full consequences of drinking at unsafe levels can have on their health. With almost ten million alcohol-related hospital admissions, we can see just how serious an impact unsafe levels of alcohol consumption is having on our health system. Drinking alcohol above recommended levels can have a damaging impact upon almost every part of our body, and it is crucial that national and local organizations work together to address this harm.”
Shops are being banned from selling alcohol below cost. Sheffield University conducted a study that was published last month suggested that minimum pricing of 45 pence per unit would be 50 times more effective in targeting harmful drinking than the current policy. Hopefully this will help inspire some changes since plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol were rejected by the Government in 2013.
The 2020Health think tank has went a step further and proposed that any individual who repeatedly ends up in casualty wards after binge-drinking episodes should have to be billed by the NHS to counter-balance the rising costs of health care for these individuals. So next time you want to idolize the hooligan culture, or choose the ‘Pub Life’… don’t.
Excessive drinking and all the strain that is being put on health care professionals and the NHS has started to catch more attention in the UK. The multiplying of billions of people in England being hospitalized for accidents related to alcohol abuse, not to mention those suffering from long-term alcohol related health issues, are among billions of others around the world who are facing problems that can lead to alcoholism and other substance abuse issues, but it is not too late to make a change, politically or personally. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
image credit: http://alternativehighs.blogspot.com/
December 29, West Sussex, England – A 19 year old college student who was home during semester break attacked his mother and then himself, cutting off his own penis, the UK publication The Daily Mail reports.
Police say the teen was high on a party drug commonly known as “meow meow” at the time of the attack. When the police arrived, the teen, who has not been named, was hanging from a window at the home with a noticeably “bloody groin.”
A family friend told the Mirror, another UK publication, that the student is generally “lovely lad” who had started experimenting with drugs while in college. It is believed that the attack occurred because of his being intoxicated with the synthetic drug known as meow meow.
Both mother and son were admitted to the hospital in critical condition and are, according to reports, now in stable condition. It is reported that the young man’s penis has been re-attached.
Meow meow is one of several street names, just like “bath salts,” “drone,” “plant food,” and “MCAT,” for the synthetic drug called mephedrone – a man-made stimulant with effects supposedly similar to cocaine, ecstasy, and other amphetamines. Users say mephedrone has the same euphoric effects as ecstasy, but with the short-lived ‘high’ off a line of coke.
However, just like with amphetamines, mephedrone can also cause anxiety and paranoia.
Other side-effects are even more disturbing and include headaches, heart palpitations, nausea, high blood pressure, burning sensation of the throat, nose bleeds and purple joints, (especially the hands and knees).
Mephedrone is chemically similar to compounds of the khat plant, found in eastern Africa, and became popular among club scene kids as a more easily available and (at the time) legal replacement for MDMA, or “molly,” the pure form of the designer drug known as Ecstasy.
Astonishingly, it is thought that at least one person a week dies after taking mephedrone. In the UK, mephedrone was legal until 2010. It is now a class B drug which makes it illegal to sell and possess meow meow throughout the UK.
Synthesis of Meow Meow
Mephedrone is reported to be manufactured in China and comes in the form of tablets or a powder, which users can swallow, snort or inject.
Although mephedrone is referred to as a “new party drug,” it was first synthesized back in 1929. However, it did not become widely known until it was rediscovered in 2003. By 2007, mephedrone could be purchased online, by 2008 law enforcement agencies had become increasingly aware of the drug and, by 2010, was found in most of Europe, and especially in the United Kingdom.
Mephedrone was first made illegal in 2008 in Israel, followed by Sweden later that year. In 2010, it was made illegal in many European countries and in December 2010, the European Union ruled it illegal. In Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., mephedrone is considered similar to other illegal drugs and can therefore be controlled by laws like the Federal Analog Act. In September 2011, the United States temporarily classified mephedrone as illegal, effective of October of 2011. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.