Friday, March 29, 2013

Terry McAuliffe Strongly Backs Medicaid Expansion

Terry McAuliffe, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful and guest speaker at the McShin Foundation's upcoming SPRING AWARDS BANQUET (April 8th, 2013 and it's already sold out!), has come out to strongly support medicaid expansion.

Check out this article from yesterday's Richmond Times-Dispatch:

McAuliffe strongly backs Medicaid expansion

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 12:00 am
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday came out strongly in favor of expanding Medicaid in Virginia under the federal Affordable Care Act.
“We need to have the Medicaid expansion here in Virginia,” McAuliffe said outside the State Board of Elections headquarters in Richmond, after dropping off petitions with more than 35,000 signatures to qualify for the June 11 primary ballot.
“First and foremost … 400,000 to 500,000 Virginians would get access to quality health care next year. It’s important socially. Morally it’s the right thing to do. But also from a business sense it’s an important thing to do.”
McAuliffe said the state would reap billions in economic benefits. He said Virginia should take advantage of the money the federal government is willing to provide to subsidize the expansion and make use of the money Virginians have paid to the government already in the form of taxes.
“I want Virginians’ money coming back to Virginia,” he said. “This is our money, and I want folks to have that care.”
The statement came as state lawmakers prepare to wrestle with language amendments submitted by Gov. Bob McDonnell to the Medicaid provision of the budget bill that could allow expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act if the state gets permission for major reforms in the public health program.
Critics, many of them conservative Republicans, have questioned whether the federal government would make good on its promise to cover the cost of expansion at 100 percent for the first three years and 90 percent in subsequent years.
Republican gubernatorial candidate and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has opposed expansion, issued a legal opinion Friday raising constitutional concerns over language that would empower a legislative commission to authorize expansion once reforms are met.
On Tuesday, the attorney general’s office reiterated its concerns over the constitutionality of the legislature establishing a committee to judge whether reforms to the program requested by the state as a condition for expansion have been met.
McAuliffe also expressed opposition to a McDonnell amendment that would bar coverage for abortion by insurers operating in the federal health exchange in Virginia.
The amendment would not only restrict government-subsidized plans from covering abortions, but would also effectively prohibit participants in the exchange from purchasing health plans with their own money that cover abortion services.
“I support a woman to make her decision,” McAuliffe said. “What I don’t want to see happen is a woman who, with her own money, wants to purchase her own health care, that we should stand in the way of that. I don’t think we should be doing that.”
The abortion amendment and the Medicaid expansion language are expected to dominate debate next week when lawmakers return to Richmond to consider McDonnell’s amendments to legislation passed in the recently concluded General Assembly session.
(804) 649-6061

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Peer Recovery / Mutual Aid Groups

We believe that the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel... 

Re-Blogged from (blog)

Struggling to Hold onto your Sobriety? Try Helping Someone Else ...


Alcoholics Anonymous is founded on the concept of one addict helping another. This emphasis on service is not based on religious dogma or speculation, but rather decades of experience with what works in addiction recovery. Until recently, science has focused on discovering new medications to treat addiction. Few researchers have subjected the 12-Step principles, which have helped millions of people achieve long-term recovery, to rigorous study. As a result, many core principles of 12-Step recovery have been marginalized as “unscientific.”
Fortunately, we are on the precipice of a new era in addiction research – one that is determined to learn from the success of AA/NA and find out why 12-Step recovery has been effective for so many addicts.

Service Key to Long-Term Recovery

A new study by Maria Pagano, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, sheds light on the science behind the directive to “carry the message to others” in Step 12. Using data from Project MATCH, Dr. Pagano found that recovering alcoholics who help others:
• Reduced alcohol use
• Increased consideration for others
• Did more Step work
• Attended more meetings
This latest study adds to a body of research Dr. Pagano has been instrumental in building over the past decade. In a 2004 study, she found that 40 percent of the alcoholics who helped other alcoholics during their recovery successfully avoided drinking in the 12 months following treatment, whereas only 22 percent of those that did not help others stayed sober. In a 2009 study, Dr. Pagano showed that 94 percent of alcoholics who helped other alcoholics during the 15-month study period continued to do so as part of their ongoing recovery. These helpers experienced the added benefit of lower levels of depression. Interestingly, research shows the benefits of service accrue to adolescents as well as adults.

The Helper Therapy Principle and How it Works

The helper therapy principle, embodied by AA/NA, holds that when a person helps another person suffering from a similar condition, they also help themselves. How? In large part, by minimizing selfishness and entitlement and restoring the capacity for empathy that was overtaken by addiction. Beyond making the addict feel good, helping others combats egocentrism and self-absorption, which are common perpetuators of addiction.
“Being interested in others keeps you more connected to your program and pulls you out of the vicious cycle of extreme self-preoccupation that is a posited root of addiction,” says Dr. Pagano.
Service also guards against isolation, providing the addict with a broader sense of purpose and belonging. Fellowship with other addicts, both veterans and those new to recovery, reminds the recovering addict how far they’ve come (and how easy it is to fall back into old patterns). These bonds create a certain sense of responsibility to stay sober as a role model to others.
Altruism is empowering. Some have even referred to a “helper’s high,” the feeling of warmth and gratitude felt by those who do for others. After months or years of feeling useless and ashamed, the addict discovers that they can make a positive difference. Giving back builds the addict’s confidence to set and accomplish goals. Perhaps it is this feeling of self-efficacy, combined with staying occupied in healthy pursuits, that reduces cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Endless Ways to Serve

Many recovering addicts are willing and able to serve, but don’t know where to start. Will any kind of service do? Dr. Pagano is trying to answer this question in ongoing research. While helping other addicts may be the strongest medicine, it appears that helping anyone, whether inside or outside of AA/NA, is beneficial for long-term recovery. Here are a few ways to give back:
• Share stories of your personal experience in recovery with other addicts, whether in AA/NA, at a treatment center or informally
• Commit to doing meeting chores (such as making coffee or setting up for a meeting) or a specific service position within AA/NA
• Call members to remind them about meetings
• Welcome newcomers
• Become a sponsor
• Volunteer in a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or other community service activity
• Help a friend, neighbor or family member in distress
Just as you don’t have to serve others to be part of AA/NA, you don’t have to be part of AA/NA to serve. Anyone can do it, at any stage of recovery, and the benefits start to accrue immediately. Service doesn’t cost anything and the options are endless; there is always someone in need.
Helping others is key to living a long, happy life, not only for addicts trying to hold onto their sobriety but also anyone interested in living a better life. If you’ve had any exposure to 12-Step recovery, you probably don’t need a study to tell you that it’s wise to get out of your head and get busy helping others. But for those who need scientific evidence to get mobilized, here you have it.

David Sack, M.D., is board certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine. He is CEO of Elements Behavioral Health, a network of addiction treatment centers that includes Promises Treatment Centers in California, The Ranch outside Nashville,The Recovery Place in Florida, Malibu VistaSpirit Lodge, and Right Step. You can follow Dr. Sack on Twitter @drdavidsack.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Text to Donate


$10.00 donation to McShin Foundation. Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance.  All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Message and Data Rates May Apply.  Text STOP to 50555 to STOP. Text HELP to 50555 for HELP. Full Terms: Privacy Policy

Monday, March 25, 2013

Krokodil: Russia's Deadliest Drug


Russia has the world's largest population of Heroin addicts, mainly because of and it's close proximity to Afghanistan. Heroin can be expensive, and is a daily habit that requires constant money and attention. Users have discovered a much cheaper alternative, Desomorphine -- or "Krokodil". Desomorphine is an opiate derivative made from over-the-counter Codeine pills, red phosphorus (scraped from match stick heads), gasoline, paint thinner, iodine, and hydrochloric acid. It eats the user alive from the inside out, causes brain damage and turns the skin greyish green and scaly, like a crocodile. Literally your skin and limbs rot and fall off. Sounds terrible. The most disturbing part is that I can imagine being addicted and out of money and put into a situation where this might be an attractive alternative to withdrawal. 


Check out this documentary from [Vice Broadcasting System]

Friday, March 22, 2013

Denver Drug Court Second Chance: From Addict to Magistrate


Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Alby Zweig knows what it’s like to need a heroin fix so badly you’re willing to pawn your parents’ stereo to score it. He gets what it means to be so strung out on cocaine you’re convinced police are hiding under your house.

Zweig knows because he’s a recovered junkie.
He’s also Denver’s newest drug court magistrate.
“I have a suspicion that in the history of American jurisprudence, nobody else has ever gone from criminal defendant to judicial officer,” says Denver District Court Chief Judge Robert Hyatt, who appointed Zweig and swore him in earlier this month. “This story is emblematic of what drug court is all about. It’s a therapeutic court that gives people a second chance. I doubt that anybody has taken advantage of a second chance as much as Alby Zweig.”
Zweig, 44, started with the kind of occasional drug use common to members of his generation. He took mushrooms and LSD in high school and drank a lot in college. It was the late 1980s when, despite the “the whole Nancy Reagan don’t-do-drugs” messaging of the era, he says his recreational substance use didn’t affect his schoolwork or relationships like the public service announcements warned they would.
But then he tried heroin, and tried it again, until he went from smoking it to injecting it and would do almost anything for a fix. He likens heroin addiction to “having a chain around your neck that’s tied to a semi-truck pulling you forward while you’re trying to pull the other way.”
“It was super, super powerful. I really, really wanted to quit. I wanted to so bad but I could not. I just could not,” he says.
Zweig spent much of his 20s moving from city to city, time zone to time zone, convinced each time it would be tougher to find dealers in a new place.
“There was San Francisco, Denver, Portland, Chicago, New York, Boston… I’d score in one city just to make it to the next city. It became clear that regardless of where I went, the addiction would follow.”
Figuring he could get clean in a city where heroin was more difficult to find, he moved to Ottawa, the Canadian capital, to seek counseling from a Buddhist psychologist known for his success helping clients kick heroin habits. While in treatment, Zweig got hooked on cocaine, learning how to break down crack with vinegar so he could inject it. His coke addiction brought on paranoia that led him to see police everywhere – if only in his head.
“I remember digging down into the crawl space in my parents’ house because I was convinced there was a police-monitoring operation down there and I was trying to out them,” he says.
Zweig went from detox to rehab, then back again – in and out, unable to get clean. Nothing worked. His parents kicked him out of their house and Zweig learned to survive homeless. He lived for a spell in a closet for rollaway beds in a Super 8 motel in northwest Denver. When he was kicked out of the Super 8, he took up residence in a grove of trees alongside I-25.
In 1995, he was arrested for heroin possession and spent a night in jail going through withdrawal.
His mom, Marlene Zweig, remembers noticing her son teetering between two identities during the height of his addiction. Sometimes he was himself, Alby – “loving, tender and honest.” And sometimes he was “Albz” – someone who was angry, dying inside and unknowable.
Zweig became convinced he couldn’t quit or endure the probation program he was offered in Denver Drug Court. He figured it was a matter of time before he’d be hauled off to prison where, at 5’7” and 135 lbs, he was pretty sure he’d be “eaten alive.” At age 29, he set his mind on killing himself.
“I went to the library and got a book called ‘Final Exit’ for people who are terminally ill and want to commit suicide without screwing it up. I thought it was better not to live than to live an entire life in the heroin and coke scene. So I was going to try to overdose on opiates with a plastic bag over my head. It was all supposed to be kind of painless and foolproof,” he says.
Zweig being Zweig – pathologically honest and thoughtful, even while high – went to his parents to say that, should anything ever happen to him, his addiction wasn’t their fault.
“What kind of kid tells his parents he’s going to kill himself? That’s so Alby,” says his mom, half laughing, half crying as she remembers the conversation 18 years ago.
She also remembers what she told him: That he couldn’t die. No way. She couldn’t bear it.
“At that point, that moment, it was like there was a crack in the dam that had been keeping me from seeing how much I’d been hurting my family and friends,” Zweig recalls. “That dam broke and I decided I was going to give this probation a real shot.”
Mother and son went that day to put him on a waiting list for a methadone clinic at Denver Health. Over about four years, the methadone helped him stay off heroin. He got jobs as a tree trimmer and working the front desk of a Residence Inn whose manager let him use a hotel room before each shift to shower. Zweig worked at regaining the trust of his family and friends. And he learned to get comfortable accepting the support of the public defender, social worker, methadone clinic worker, probation officer and judge who – working together as part of the drug court’s program – were invested in his recovery.
“Once I stopped using, I felt carried along by people, by the system. It’s hard to explain, but the way I picture it is like a river. If you flow with the river, everything is easy, effortless. And if you go against it, everything seems impossibly difficult. I don’t really take credit for what happened to me. I just finally let myself be supported.”
With characteristic candor, Zweig disclosed his drug history when he decided to apply for law school. In hindsight, he thinks his drug past may have helped far more than his college grades or LSAT scores. His classmates at the University of Denver chose him in 2002 to give their commencement speech in which he reminded his classmates that every one of them had benefited from the help of others, and therefore were obligated to give back to the community.
Zweig at first decided not to practice, convinced that law “drains everything it touches of its magic.” About four years after law school, after stints in a graduate program in public policy and a job as a private investigator, he took the bar exam and passed. Then he had to convince the state bar to admit him despite his criminal record. Zweig snagged a job in the same public defenders office that had advocated for him. Soon after, he was sitting in his boss’s office when a call came that Denver was revamping its drug court and would need a public defender. Something clicked.
“I wanted to be that guy representing those clients. I pestered my boss, Charlie Garcia, for about a week to put me in drug court,” he says of an assignment that many of his more ambitious colleagues tried their hardest to avoid.
The work was close to home and the clients familiar. He says he rarely meets a client whose addiction doesn’t make sense. “There’s a certain type who becomes an addict. They’re really sweet, sensitive people who feel really deeply. It’s because of that that the drugs work with them. It’s rare that I meet an addict that I’m not empathetic with.”
Despite many of his similarities with his clients, though, he knows he has had many advantages that they don’t have – a college education, a supportive family, no mental health issues and the fact that he is white.
Defending addicts put Zweig in some tough spots. It was his job to get them help for their addictions if they wanted it. But for the many who didn’t, his role was to advocate his hardest to keep them out of jail and, in effect, leave them out on the streets, where he knew they’d just continue using.
“It was hard because part of my job was to enable them,” he says. “Now, as a magistrate, I can say ‘Try this even if you don’t want to try this.’ If they say no, I’m going to say, ‘I’m requiring you to try this, even if you don’t want to because we’re going to do it my way.”
Hyatt says he appointed Zweig not for his personal history — “as interesting and inspiring as it is” — but because he was the “most experienced, knowledgeable and outstanding candidate out of dozens upon dozens of applications.”
“It would have been very hard not to hire him,” he says.
Zweig has no intention of going easy on the addicts who appear in his courtroom, because he knows that going easy won’t help them. He’s convinced that the difference between success and failure kicking addiction “is really taking that step to surrender and really trying to allow the world to help you.
“It’s that river thing – letting yourself flow with the river,” he says. “If somebody told the Alby back then that some day I’d be a magistrate, I’d never had believed it. I would have said ‘No, no way. You don’t understand. You don’t know where I am.’”
Zweig doesn’t plan on sharing the details of his own biography each time an addict comes before him. But, in the likely event that one of them says that he, with his black robe and high bench, doesn’t know what it’s like, he’s not exactly sure how he’ll respond.
“I might say ‘I do know where you’ve been, because I’ve been there, and I know that, if you allow yourself to be helped, the potential for profound change in drug court is enormous.”
Image of Alby Zweig by Zweig. ]

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Prescription Drug Abuse in the Military

The Deadly Rise of Prescription Drug Abuse in the Military

Reported by: Sonyo Estavillo

Watertown— Over the past decade, the military has spent $1.6 billion on painkillers (opioids) such as Oxycontin and Hydrocodone. $2.7 billion has been spent on anti-depressants and more than $507 million on sleep medications such as Ambien.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, prescription medication has been abused along with alcohol in the last few years. Prescription drug abuse, mostly the use of painkillers tripled since 2002. The military substance abuse program has seen an overall increase in the amount of individuals enrolled in their program.

Since 2006, the number of soldiers who enrolled in the Army’s substance abuse program jumped 40% with 23,000 enrolled in 2010. Research has shown that prescription drug misuse is the second most illicit drug problem next to marijuana in the nation. According to the Army Office of the Surgeon General/Medical Command, the rise of psychotropic medications, as well as opioids is not solely related to Veterans with PTSD.

Soldiers also receive psychotropic medications for sleep disturbances, anxiety issues and depression. The increase in medication use parallels the increase in the amount of soldiers receiving behavioral health care and are therefore in treatment for behavioral health issues.

Per the Army Office of the Surgeon General/Medical Command:

“FDA approved medications, particularly antidepressants such as SSRIs (sertraline, paroxetine, etc.) are effective medications for the treatment of depression, PTSD, and other anxiety disorders. There are a number of other medications that are critical in the treatment of bipolar, schizophrenia, and various other conditions. Medication for these issues may be in tandem with cognitive behavioral therapy or other treatment. Treatment for our soldiers has to be individualized.” 

According to the Nation Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), military physicians writing pain reliever prescriptions to military members quadrupled from 2001 to 2009, nearly 3.8 million. In an ongoing effort to prevent drug abuse and assist military members with anxiety, trauma, depression, and sleep disturbances- the NIDA has made it their mission to continue their research. The main focus of the NIDA’s research is prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery for military men and women who have served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. 

“In 2012, Jefferson County had 6 opioids overdoses, CDC (Center of Disease and Control) has this formula, that for every death due to prescription drug overdose, there are 10 admission treatments for abuse, 32 emergency room visits, 130 people abusing or dependent, 825 who are non-medical users” said Anita Seefried-Brown, Director of Community Prevention at the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County.

According to CDC Formula, 6 overdoses equal the following figures:

·      60 admissions for treatment due to prescription drug abuse

·      192 emergency room visits

·      780 individuals dependent on prescription drugs

·      4,950 non-medical users

From 2006-2009, the Army reported 139 soldiers accidentally took their own lives, while a third of Army suicides were due to prescription medication.  

The Army Office of the Surgeon General/Medical Command continued to explain that the Army has worked very hard to decrease the stigma associated with seeking behavioral health care. As a result, more soldiers are being treated for issues that previously might have been dealt with through self-medication and alcohol abuse. An increase in soldiers being treated for PTSD and other psychological issues has also resulted in an increase in medication use.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013



The Nasal Narcan bill which called for the legalization of Nasal Narcan to be available to anyone with a prescription and short training is now a LAW that goes into effect July 1st of this year. This bill also contains a "Good Samaritan" clause which prohibits the arrest of someone who calls 911 in an overdose situation. For example, if you are with someone who overdoses and you feel nervous about calling 911 because you have drugs or paraphernalia on you or with you, you cannot be arrested because you are trying to save someone's life.  The only exception to this clause is if you have weight (LOTS of drugs) or a warrant. 

Grab your Nasal Narcan this summer! Contact the McShin Foundation at 804-249-1845 for more information. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

HBO's Methadonia

Last night I watched an HBO documentary called Methadonia. It was about a methadone clinic in New York City and patients at that methadone clinic. Methadone is a drug -- a synthetic opiate given to heroin addicts so that they can stop using heroin but not get sick. It's a terrible drug because the user still can get very high from it, especially when combined with other medications like benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, for example). Also, when the Methadone patient tries to stop taking the medication altogether, it is a 30 day detox as opposed to a 5 day heroin detox.

For these reasons, we do not allow clients to take Methadone. Watch full video below.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

John S. Speaker Tape

Amazing share! John S. from Richmond, VA (Pres. of McShin Foundation) speaking at a convention in Portland, OR!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

More Info on Energy Drinks


Energy Drinks' Health Hazards For Adolescents

06 Feb 2013   

Many energy drinks have ingredients which can have a harmful effect on adolescent health, especially when mixed with alcohol, says a news report published in Pediatrics in Review.

The article - "Energy Drinks: What Teenagers (and Their Doctors) Should Know," - summarizes recent evidence regarding the content, benefits and risks of energy drinks which are consumed by teenagers.

Energy drinks are beverages with caffeine added to them. They are advertised as a means to enhance performance, boost the immune system, or create a "buzz".

The most popular energy drinks contain elevated, unregulated quantities of caffeine and other stimulants which give the caffeine an extra kick.

Caffeine is known to produce detrimental health effects in adolescents, including dehydration, digestive problems, obesity, anxiety, insomnia, and tachycardia.

Some energy drinks contain alcohol. Sometimes, people mix them with alcoholic drinks.

When energy drinks are mixed with alcohol, the potential dangers for adolescent health are much greater; there is also a risk of abuse.

The authors advise health care professionals to ask their adolescent patients whether they consume energy drinks. They should explain what the dangers of consuming both energy drinks alone or with alcohol are. Doctors should become aware of the signs and symptoms of energy drink consumption.

The authors say that teenagers are no strangers to energy drinks. Over the last 24 months, the media has heightened the awareness of doctors, lawmakers and parents.

Red bull 1
About 66% of energy drink consumers are aged between 13 and 35.

Lead author Dr. Kwabena Blankson, a U.S. Air Force major and an adolescent medicine specialist at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, said regarding energy drinks:

"They contain too much caffeine and other additives that we don't know enough about. Healthy eating, exercise and adequate sleep are better ways to get energy."

In 2010, nine students at Washington State University were admitted to the hospital. Doctors attributed their illness to fruit-flavored caffeinated alcoholic drinks. One of the students nearly died. Twenty-three students were hospitalized one month later in New Jersey after drinking the same combination as the Washington students.

Energy drinks mask the effects of consuming alcohol

When we mix energy drinks with alcohol, the "cocktail" can make us feel less drunk than we actually are. Many adolescents are not aware of this, the researchers explained. Consuming just one energy drink with alcohol may be equivalent to drinking a whole bottle of wine and several cups of coffee.

The average cup of coffee has approximately 100 milligrams of caffeine, compared to 160 milligrams in a 16-ounce energy drink.

According to Dr. Blankson, teenagers should consume a maximum of 100 milligrams of coffee per day. Other ingredients found in energy drinks increase caffeine's potency, such as guarana and ginseng.

According to a US government report issued in January 2013, twice as many people visited hospital emergency rooms because of energy drink consumption in 2011 compared to 2007. The majority of hospital visits were by teenagers and young adults, said the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) report.

Approximately 42% of emergency room cases in 2011 involved energy drinks mixed with either alcohol or medications, such as Ritalin or Adderall.

Believe it or not, the human body knows when and how much alcohol it is drinking and emits cues when the person should stop for the evening and get some rest. Some people try to overcome these cues by mixing energy drinks with alcohol.

A study carried out by Cecile Marczinski, a psychologist at Northern Kentucky University, found that combining energy drinks with alcohol removes our built-in checks that stop us from overindulging.

Marczinski said:

"Even with just alcohol alone, young, underage drinkers are bad at deciding how safe a driver they are, but I think this (mixing alcohol with energy drinks) would make that situation far worse."

Nine years ago, the French government banned the sale of Red Bull, a popular energy drink. The French Scientific Committee on Human Nutrition found that Red Bull had too much caffeine, it also raised concerns about the beverage's other ingredients, taurine, an amino acid which Red Bull promoters say can "kick-start" the metabolism, and glucuronolactone, a carbohydrate.

After an appeal, Europe's highest court upheld the French Red Bull ban.

In this latest report, the authors say that the readers should be able to:
  • Understand how large the energy drink market is, as well as recognize the most common brands

  • Realize that teenagers are great consumers of energy drinks, which they use as performance enhancers

  • Know what the ingredients of energy drinks are, and how they may impact negatively on health

  • Understand that energy drinks can cause obesity, high blood pressure, tachycardia and other medical problems in teenagers

  • Understand how dangerous it is to mix energy drinks with alcohol

  • Understand the relationship between alcohol tolerance/dependence and caffeine tolerance/dependence

  • Understand how important it is to screen adolescents for energy drink consumption, and offer suitable counseling
Written by Christian Nordqvist 
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today 

"Energy Drinks - What Teenagers (and Their Doctors) Should Know"
Kwabena L. Blankson, MD et al
Pediatrics in Review Vol. 34 No. 2 February 1, 2013. pp. 55 -62. (doi: 10.1542/pir.34-2-55)

Monday, March 11, 2013

[Guardian UK] Russell Brand: My Life Without Drugs

This recent article by Russell Brand on addiction. "Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution."

Russell Brand: My life without drugs

Russell Brand has not used drugs for 10 years. He has a job, a house, a cat, good friends. But temptation is never far away. He wants to help other addicts, but first he wants us to feel compassion for those affected
The last time I thought about taking heroin was yesterday. I had received "an inconvenient truth" from a beautiful woman. It wasn't about climate change – I'm not that ecologically switched on – she told me she was pregnant and it wasn't mine.
I had to take immediate action. I put Morrissey on in my car as an external conduit for the surging melancholy, and as I wound my way through the neurotic Hollywood hills, the narrow lanes and tight bends were a material echo of the synaptic tangle where my thoughts stalled and jammed.
Morrissey, as ever, conducted a symphony, within and without and the tidal misery burgeoned. I am becoming possessed. The part of me that experienced the negative data, the self, is becoming overwhelmed, I can no longer see where I end and the pain begins. So now I have a choice.
I cannot accurately convey to you the efficiency of heroin in neutralising pain. It transforms a tight, white fist into a gentle, brown wave. From my first inhalation 15 years ago, it fumigated my private hell and lay me down in its hazy pastures and a bathroom floor in Hackney embraced me like a womb.
This shadow is darkly cast on the retina of my soul and whenever I am dislodged from comfort my focus falls there.
It is 10 years since I used drugs or drank alcohol and my life has improved immeasurably. I have a job, a house, a cat, good friendships and generally a bright outlook.
The price of this is constant vigilance because the disease of addiction is not rational. Recently for the purposes of a documentary on this subject I reviewed some footage of myself smoking heroin that my friend had shot as part of a typically exhibitionist attempt of mine to get clean.
I sit wasted and slumped with an unacceptable haircut against a wall in another Hackney flat (Hackney is starting to seem like part of the problem) inhaling fizzy, black snakes of smack off a scrap of crumpled foil. When I saw the tape a month or so ago, what is surprising is that my reaction is not one of gratitude for the positive changes I've experienced but envy at witnessing an earlier version of myself unencumbered by the burden of abstinence. I sat in a suite at the Savoy hotel, in privilege, resenting the woeful ratbag I once was, who, for all his problems, had drugs. That is obviously irrational.
The mentality and behaviour of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help they have no hope.
This is the reason I have started a fund within Comic Relief, Give It Up. I want to raise awareness of, and money for, abstinence-based recovery. It was Kevin Cahill's idea, he is the bloke who runs Comic Relief. He called me when he read an article I wrote after Amy Winehouse died. Her death had a powerful impact on me I suppose because it was such an obvious shock, like watching someone for hours through a telescope, seeing them advance towards you, fist extended with the intention of punching you in the face. Even though I saw it coming, it still hurt when it eventually hit me.
What was so painful about Amy's death is that I know that there is something I could have done. I could have passed on to her the solution that was freely given to me. Don't pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time. It sounds so simple. It actually is simple but it isn't easy: it requires incredible support and fastidious structuring. Not to mention that the whole infrastructure of abstinence based recovery is shrouded in necessary secrecy. There are support fellowships that are easy to find and open to anyone who needs them but they eschew promotion of any kind in order to preserve the purity of their purpose, which is for people with alcoholism and addiction to help one another stay clean and sober.
Without these fellowships I would take drugs. Because, even now, the condition persists. Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution.
If this seems odd to you it is because you are not an alcoholic or a drug addict. You are likely one of the 90% of people who can drink and use drugs safely. I have friends who can smoke weed, swill gin, even do crack and then merrily get on with their lives. For me, this is not an option. I will relinquish all else to ride that buzz to oblivion. Even if it began as a timid glass of chardonnay on a ponce's yacht, it would end with me necking the bottle, swimming to shore and sprinting to Bethnal Green in search of a crack house. I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me; unchecked, the call of the wild is too strong. I still survey streets for signs of the subterranean escapes that used to provide my sanctuary. I still eye the shuffling subclass of junkies and dealers, invisibly gliding between doorways through the gutters. I see that dereliction can survive in opulence; the abundantly wealthy with destitution in their stare.
Spurred by Amy's death, I've tried to salvage unwilling victims from the mayhem of the internal storm and I am always, always, just pulled inside myself. I have a friend so beautiful, so haunted by talent that you can barely look away from her, whose smile is such a treasure that I have often squandered my sanity for a moment in its glow. Her story is so galling that no one would condemn her for her dependency on illegal anesthesia, but now, even though her life is trying to turn around despite her, even though she has genuine opportunities for a new start, the gutter will not release its prey. The gutter is within. It is frustrating to watch. It is frustrating to love someone with this disease.
A friend of mine's brother cannot stop drinking. He gets a few months of sobriety and his inner beauty, with the obstacles of his horrible drunken behaviour pushed aside by the presence of a programme, begins to radiate. His family bask relieved, in the joy of their returned loved one, his life gathers momentum but then he somehow forgets the price of this freedom, returns to his old way of thinking, picks up a drink and Mr Hyde is back in the saddle. Once more his brother's face is gaunt and hopeless. His family blame themselves and wonder what they could have done differently, racking their minds for a perfect sentiment; wrapped up in the perfect sentence, a magic bullet to sear right through the toxic fortress that has incarcerated the person they love and restore them to sanity. The fact is, though, that they can't, the sufferer must, of course, be a willing participant in their own recovery. They must not pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time. Just don't pick up, that's all.
It is difficult to feel sympathy for these people. It is difficult to regard some bawdy drunk and see them as sick and powerless. It is difficult to suffer the selfishness of a drug addict who will lie to you and steal from you and forgive them and offer them help. Can there be any other disease that renders its victims so unappealing? Would Great Ormond Street be so attractive a cause if its beds were riddled with obnoxious little criminals that had "brought it on themselves"?
Peter Hitchens is a vocal adversary of mine on this matter. He sees this condition as a matter of choice and the culprits as criminals who should go to prison. I know how he feels. I bet I have to deal with a lot more drug addicts than he does, let's face it. I share my brain with one, and I can tell you firsthand, they are total fucking wankers. Where I differ from Peter is in my belief that if you regard alcoholics and drug addicts not as bad people but as sick people then we can help them to get better. By we, I mean other people who have the same problem but have found a way to live drug-and-alcohol-free lives. Guided by principles and traditions a programme has been founded that has worked miracles in millions of lives. Not just the alcoholics and addicts themselves but their families, their friends and of course society as a whole.
What we want to do with Give It Up is popularise a compassionate perception of drunks and addicts, and provide funding for places at treatment centres where they can get clean using these principles. Then, once they are drug-and-alcohol-free, to make sure they retain contact with the support that is available to keep them clean. I know that as you read this you either identify with it yourself or are reminded of someone who you love who cannot exercise control over substances. I want you to know that the help that was available to me, the help upon which my recovery still depends is available.
I wound down the hill in an alien land, Morrissey chanted lonely mantras, the pain quickly accumulated incalculably, and I began to weave the familiar tapestry that tells an old, old story. I think of places I could score. Off Santa Monica there's a homeless man who I know uses gear. I could find him, buy him a bag if he takes me to score.
I leave him on the corner, a couple of rocks, a couple of $20 bags pressed into my sweaty palm. I get home, I pull out the foil, neatly torn. I break the bottom off a Martell miniature. I have cigarettes, using makes me need fags. I make a pipe for the rocks with the bottle. I lay a strip of foil on the counter to chase the brown. I pause to reflect and regret that I don't know how to fix, only smoke, feeling inferior even in the manner of my using. I see the foil scorch. I hear the crackle from which crack gets it's name. I feel the plastic fog hit the back of my yawning throat. Eyes up. Back relaxing, the bottle drops and the greedy bliss eats my pain. There is no girl, there is no tomorrow, there is nothing but the bilious kiss of the greedy bliss.
Even as I spin this beautifully dreaded web, I am reaching for my phone. I call someone: not a doctor or a sage, not a mystic or a physician, just a bloke like me, another alcoholic, who I know knows how I feel. The phone rings and I half hope he'll just let it ring out. It's 4am in London. He's asleep, he can't hear the phone, he won't pick up. I indicate left, heading to Santa Monica. The ringing stops, then the dry mouthed nocturnal mumble: "Hello. You all right mate?"
He picks up.
And for another day, thank God, I don't have to.