October 7, 2009 – Alcohol is nice within bounds, and in moderation it can be one of life’s pleasant things. Unfortunately, many folks nowadays are addicted to drinking copious volumes of alcohol, this ispage_1 very damaging to both their physical and mental welfare. Those people around them, the relatives and friends, also feel these damaging results. So the issue is when should you be aware of the time that you need alcohol drug detox? One of the first answers to this is if the consumption of alcohol is causing you a problem. Most people can drink alcohol at a level which is hospitably acceptable, in order to take it easy in company, or to wind down after a difficult day at work for example. Restraint is the key here, these persons have no aspiration to drink huge volumes of alcohol, they have no yearning to get absolutely drunk.

Many times, an alcoholic will only search for help after he has damaged himself, or worse somebody else, after he has been consuming alcohol. A solution must be found at this point in time, this should entail alcohol detoxification. Not only should you be thinking about the effects that taking a drug will have on you, you also have to grasp how it is distressing other people around you. Are you having troubles at work? Is your drinking harming your attentiveness? Is your alcohol drinking affecting your aptitude to do your job? Are you showing up to your occupation inebriated? Are you boozing while at work?

You ought to think about alcohol detoxification at these occasions, it must be obvious that your boozing is affecting other people around you or yourself. It particularly must be considered if your alcohol consumption is affecting the lives of your relations and friends. Before you decide, you need to pay a visit to a physician. They will be able to assist you through your uncertainties and you can clarify your full condition to them. By giving you the correct guidance for your exact condition they will be able to direct you in the right route.

Alcohol detox can offer hope and relief to alcohol and substance abusers through medical intervention and rehabilitation care, but you must make the first step, the first thing that you should do is to consult with your physician, from there you will find the best course of alcohol detoxification. Source.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jack_A._Burton

September 27, 2009 – Big pharma can’t allow cancer or any other disease to be cured because they will lose their business of drugs, pills and all the illness causing products they make and distribute to the dis-eased. Curing cancer has no benefit to them whatsoever even though the cure has been made and known for decades. Medicinal herbs, Hemp Oil and other forms of plants are known to be beneficial in eliminating cancer. Watch the video:

Tobacco Industry has Shifted Marketing to Target Low Income Countries, Report Says

August 27, 2009 – (CBS) Tobacco use causes 6 million deaths a year, a third of those deaths from cancer, according to a report released by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation.

The tobacco industry is targeting countries with fewer tobacco controls and less effective public health campaigns, according to the American Cancer Society, which predicts that 72 percent of tobacco-related deaths will be in low- and middle-income countries by 2010. The report predicts that 2 million people will die each year from tobacco-related cancer by 2015.

Click here to read the full report

“The Tobacco Atlas presents compelling evidence that the health burden is shifting from richer countries to their lower-resource counterparts,” said Peter Baldini, chief executive officer of the World Lung Foundation. “This evidence clearly articulates the breathtaking scope and dimensions of the problem. It calls out to be used actively in strengthening the case for policy change.”

The American Cancer Society estimates that the tobacco industry has caused a $500 billion loss in the global economy, citing premature deaths of smokers in their most productive years and tobacco fields taking the place of agricultural fields on nearly 4 million hectares of land. Since 1960, tobacco production has increased by three times in low- and middle-income countries. But in richer countries, production has been cut in half.

The Tobacco Atlas is published by the two organizations to help develop public health strategies to reduce tobacco use worldwide. Source.

July 24, 2009 – On a whim, a young couple went to the legendary rock festival only to be captured in a memorable image by photographer Burk Uzzle.Picture 20

On August 15, 1969, Nick Ercoline was tending Dino’s bar in Middletown, New York, while his girlfriend of ten weeks, Bobbi Kelly, sat on a stool, sipping nickel draft beer and listening to the news on the radio. In the past 30 days, Senator Ted Kennedy had driven off a bridge at Chappaquiddick Island, the Apollo 11 astronauts had planted a flag on the moon and the Charles Manson family had murdered eight Californians, including actress Sharon Tate, in Los Angeles. In the soft green hills of Catskills dairy country, such events seemed worlds away.

That Friday night, however, waves of American youths were surging toward Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York, 40 miles up the road, for three days of something called the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. A hush fell over Dino’s as newscasters told of epic traffic jams and crowd estimates rising to 500,000. When they heard a rumor (false, it turned out) that a glut of cars had shut down the New York State Thruway, the 20-year-old sweethearts could no longer resist. “We just got to thinking, we were never going to see anything like this the rest of our lives, ever,” Nick says.

Earlier that same day, photographer Burk Uzzle, a Life magazine alumnus and a member of the elite Magnum photo agency, had driven upstate from Manhattan with his wife and two young sons to camp on the trout-filled Neversink River. Uzzle had declined an invitation from Newsweek to cover Woodstock, thinking he would just duck in and shoot it his way instead, then retreat to his campsite. “I really don’t like to work on assignment, to tell you the truth,” he says. “Because then I’m obligated to do what editors want me to do, and that’s usually the wrong thing.”

As Uzzle walked amid Woodstock’s many potential disasters—rain, drugs, food and water shortages—he felt something of an Aquarian spirit in the air. “I’d say to my colleagues down by the stage, ‘Hey, you guys, it’s incredible out there. The girls are taking their clothes off. The guys, too. It’s really beautiful,’ ” he recalls. “And they’d tell me, ‘No, no, no, the editor wants me to stay here and get Ravi Shankar.’ ”

On Saturday morning Nick and Bobbi, with friends Mike Duco, Cathy Wells and Jim “Corky” Corcoran, a Vietnam veteran fresh from the Marines, set off in Corcoran’s mother’s 1965 Impala station wagon down country lanes and across cow pastures. In standstill traffic a few miles from Bethel, they parked the Impala, flagged down a van full of naked hippies, then walked the final stretch to Yasgur’s farm. A spaced-out Californian named Herbie tagged along, carrying a wooden staff with a plastic butterfly dancing from the tip. The group claimed a patch of mud on the rim of a slope. “It was a sea of humanity,” Bobbi says. “Someone with a guitar here, someone making love there, someone smoking a joint, someone puking his brains out, the din of the music you could hear over all of this—a bombardment of the senses.”

Early Sunday morning, Uzzle, happily stuck at Woodstock, left his makeshift tent with two Leicas strapped round his neck. “Gracie Slick of Jefferson Airplane was singing, bringing up the dawn,” he remembers. “And just magically this couple stood up and hugged.” They kissed, smiled at each other, and the woman leaned her head on the man’s shoulder. “I just had time to get off a few frames of black and white and a few of color, then the light was over and the mood was over,” Uzzle says of what would become his best-known photograph. His subjects never noticed.

One night in 1970, Corcoran brought the just-released Woodstock soundtrack album to Bobbi’s apartment. The cover showed a vast hillside strewn with sleepy bodies and a couple locked in a tired, happy embrace. “That’s Herbie’s butterfly,” Nick said, his eye going to the bright spot of color. Corcoran told him to look again. “Oh, hey! That’s Bobbi and me!” (Over the years, several people have seen themselves as the couple on the album cover. Corcoran, cropped out of that image, appears in the full frame, lying in an Army blanket. “There is no doubt in my mind that it’s me and Bobbi and Nick Ercoline,” he says.)

After that first shock of recognition, the couple gave little thought to the photograph for nearly two decades, until Life tracked down Bobbi for a 20th-anniversary article in 1989. “After hearing our story,” she says today, “I think some people are disappointed that we were not…”

“…Full-fledged hippies,” Nick says.

“That we were not out-and-out flower power and revolution. I was just a country girl. He was just a two-job college student.” Married for 38 years with two grown sons, they now live in Pine Bush, 45 minutes southeast of Bethel. Bobbi is an elementary school nurse; Nick, a retired carpenter, is a building inspector for Orange County.

Uzzle, 71 and living in his native North Carolina, is still making photographs. His work hangs in galleries and museums around the world. And his Woodstock photograph hangs, poster-size, above Nick and Bobbi’s breakfast table.

“I look at it every day,” Bobbi says. “I met Nick, we fell in love and it was the beginning of my best life.” The embrace may have been theirs alone, but the image captures a romantic moment in America’s collective memory. If that moment would soon seem overtaken by Altamont or Kent State or Cambodia, then Nick and Bobbi’s marriage offers reassurance: the Woodstock moment was real, and it endures. By Timothy Dumas. Source.

Picture 66July 13, 2009 – Subpoenas have gone out, the DEA has been brought in, and every doctor who has ever come within a prescription pad of Michael Jackson can probably expect a phone call soon.

But even absent the results of the inquiries and toxicological reports, it seems obvious that prescription drugs played a role in the pop star’s sudden death.

In fact, what we already know about Jackson’s reliance on sedatives and painkillers is enough to prompt the kind of public discussion we have sidestepped too many times before — when Anna Nicole Smith died from “combined drug intoxication” two years ago after mixing sleeping pills and sedatives; or when Heath Ledger was found dead last year with six different legal medications for pain, anxiety and insomnia in his blood.

Instead of simply dismissing them as celebrity drug addicts or pitiable tragedies, it’s time we take a look at our own lives — and the contents of our medicine cabinets.


It’s no secret that the use of pharmaceutical drugs is on the rise. Prescriptions for painkillers climbed from 40 million to 180 million in the last 15 years. More than 56 million prescriptions were written for sleeping medications in 2008, up 54% since 2004. And 7 million Americans admit to “non-medical” use of drugs prescribed for pain or mental disorders.

Even the nation’s new drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has called Jackson’s death “a wake-up call.” More Americans die from overdoses of legal drugs each year than from gunshot wounds, he told CNN on Thursday.

It’s a complicated problem. There is no bright line separating use from misuse. And a constellation of circumstances is nudging us toward chemical solutions to the struggles of everyday living.

An ever-expanding list of mental illnesses means almost anyone can be diagnosed with a treatable malady. Pharmaceutical ads — with butterflies flitting through bedroom windows and happy, prosperous families — promise pills that can make you happier or more social; help you stop hurting and get to sleep. And doctors have been pressed by patients, plied by drug reps and squeezed by insurance companies until a 10-minute visit gets you a refillable prescription.

Yet pharmaceutical advances have allowed schizophrenics to hold down jobs, insomniacs to get a good night’s sleep, and people with depression to go about their lives.

Substance abuse recovery programs have long relied on a simple nostrum: You’re an addict if “your life has become unmanageable due to drugs or alcohol.”

But what if your life is only manageable because you’re taking drugs? How do you recognize addiction then?

I took my questions to Vickie Mays, a nurse and professor of psychology at UCLA.

“We think about addiction as ‘Your life is out of control,’ ” Mays said. “But it’s the medication that gives you a sense of control when you’ve got so many balls in the air . . . with so many demands from the job, the kids.”

Sounds a lot like the lives that us non-rock stars live.

“It’s the demands on us that are out of control,” Mays said. “You yearn for just a little bit of peacefulness, a way to try to shut things off. . . . It’s the normal, average, very busy, high-achieving person” who is most vulnerable to reliance on prescription drugs.

We’re not trying to get high, just trying to get some sleep, blunt the pain from that old sports injury, keep from screaming at the kids.

But pill-popping can move almost imperceptibly, she said, from habit to ritual to need.

“When there’s no other way in your mind to relieve the pain, and you start taking it more frequently and in higher doses. . . . When it’s become too automatic. You can’t sleep and you don’t wait; you just reach over for the bottle on your bedside table.

“It’s a slippery slope,” she said. But that’s when you ought to ask, “Am I becoming an addict?”


Her answer gave me pause this week, when I tossed and turned through a sleepless night.

I rolled over and reached for the bottle of pills my doctor prescribed last year, when chest pains that sent me to UCLA’s emergency room turned out to be anxiety, not a heart attack.

Is this, I wondered, how Michael Jackson’s problems with drugs began?

A pain pill when your hair catches fire and you end up mainlining Demerol? A tranquilizer when you’re stressed out by the paparazzi and soon you’re throwing back 10 Xanax pills at a time?

OK . . . so those were middle-of-the-night thoughts. But I can’t blame Jackson for wanting a break from the cacophony in his head; relief for a 50-year-old body, called on to perform for hours every day onstage.

His manner of death was a tragedy with implications for all of us.

Have I started down the slippery slope if I have refilled that year-old prescription twice? If I can tell you exactly how many of those pills I have left?

Or was I wise not to take the sedative that night, even though I stumbled through work the next day? Instead I watched the sun come up, with “Man in the Mirror” playing in my head.

By Sandy Banks. Source.

July 12, 2009 – The sad tale of Michael Jackson will be retold a few thousand times more as autopsy reports and estate details emerge.michael-jackson-neverland

Meanwhile, the presumed verdict is that Jackson died of prescription drugs. On CNN’s “The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer” on Thursday, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, said Jackson’s death was a wake-up call to the country about prescription drugs.

Maybe. Maybe not. We all know that abusing prescription drugs – taking them for purposes other than prescribed – is bad for our health. Potentially deadly, in fact.

Regardless, people choose to abuse drugs (or smoke cigarettes or drink booze) for a variety of reasons. But drugs aren’t really what killed Jackson, are they? They may have led to the stopping of his heart, but Jackson’s death spiral began decades ago.

You could see it in his face.

Michael Jackson’s identity crisis wasn’t subtle. There could hardly be a more vivid physical manifestation of a human being’s chaotic psyche than Jackson’s ever-changing visage. Imagine trying so hard to become whole – however one imagines one’s complete self – that you subject your face to multiple transfigurations until you are hardly recognizable as the person you once were.

Fame and the spiritual poverty of lost childhood are what killed Michael Jackson. It seemed inappropriate to air these thoughts before the memorial service. It’s still too soon – and probably irrelevant – to focus on Jackson’s attraction to other people’s children. New York Rep. Peter King’s declaration following Jackson’s death that the pop star was a “lowlife” and a “pervert” not only offended many Americans, it served no useful purpose. An online poll conducted by HCD Research, using the MediaCurves.com Web site, found that 60 percent of participants felt that King went too far, and 57 percent didn’t agree with his statements.

Otherwise, King’s blunt-instrument analysis fell far short of insight into the truly tragic dimension of Jackson’s life. Like the face Jackson tried to fashion around some ideal image, his search for that lost part of himself found expression in his Neverland Ranch.

For a man whose musical genius was unconstrained by gravity, Jackson’s personal search bordered on the banal. Peter Pan? The lost boy in Jackson seemed to grow younger with age. And though interviews through the years suggested that he understood what ailed him, he wasn’t able to approach a grown-up remedy. Perhaps having all the money you could ever dream of – and the worship of millions – meant not ever having to grow up. But a man who isn’t an adult is doomed to pain – and Jackson’s was excruciating to witness.

Rather than receive the therapy he so desperately needed, he projected his needs onto real children and apparently sought to repair himself through them. His sometimes-odd relationships with children – including his defense of sleeping with little boys – will always be a postscript on any appraisals of his immense talent.

Whether Jackson’s good works – not just his artistry but his charity – outweighed his peculiarities will be measured elsewhere.

Meanwhile, his life – more than his death – is a wake-up call, but not about prescription drug abuse. Whatever killed Michael Jackson was merely an instrument of selfdestruction. The real disease was his own wracked soul that pivoted between a drive to push himself to preternatural levels and an almost fetal recoil from the demands of adoration.

The message I suspect even Jackson would hope we get is that children need a childhood, not fame. They need two loving parents, not material things.

Jackson’s life is a testament to genius, yes, but also to a culture best characterized by misplaced priorities. The loss of innocence and our obsession with fame and celebrity are the real plagues, for which drug abuse and other pathologies are but symptoms.

By all accounts, Jackson was painfully empathic toward children’s suffering and, apparently, sought his own relief in their company.

Unfortunately, there was no shortage of peers. Millions of lost boys and girls are wandering in the neverland of instant gratification unbuffered by responsible adults. Most won’t meet such dramatic ends.

Few can afford to indulge their inner child for long or to subsidize the extreme expressions that Jackson underwrote.

But the afflictions of loneliness and delayed maturity born of inadequate nurturing are the same for many. Until we cure those, prescription drug abuse is the least of our problems. By Kathleen Parker. Source.

June 29, 2009 – We must learn how to reduce the harms associated with our drug use, including reducing easily preventable deaths from overdose.prescription

As the world continues to mourn the death of Michael Jackson and the details of his final hours emerge, it appears that it may be another in a long line of celebrity drug overdoses. Jackson is reported to have taken a number of painkillers known as opioids on a regular if not daily basis.

Michael Jackson inhabited his own rarified world, and we are used to hearing about drug overdoses in the context of fast-lane inhabiting music and film stars, like Jackson and Heath Ledger, who died of an opioid overdose last year. But even among average Americans, deaths from drug overdoses have been rising and have reached crisis levels in our country. A recently-released report by the Drug Policy Alliance documents the extent of the problem: drug overdose is now the second-leading cause of accidental death in America, surpassing firearms-related deaths. Many of those affected are young people. Among teenagers there has been a steep rise in misuse of prescription drugs. A December 2008 survey of high school seniors reported that more than 15 percent of high school seniors reported using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. But it’s not just young people who are dying of overdoses: overdose is the number-one injury-related killer among adults in Michael Jackson’s age group: 35-54.

This spike in overdose deaths is almost entirely attributable to increasing numbers of people overdosing on legal, prescription drugs; overdose deaths from heroin and other illegal drugs have leveled off in many places as a result of harm reduction efforts. Most of these drugs are opioids, which can include both opium-derived drugs like morphine and codeine, and synthetics like Oxycontin and Vicodin, both of which were allegedly used by Michael Jackson, and Demerol, with which he reportedly was injected just before he died. Other commonly prescribed opioids include Percodan and Percocet. Some of the drugs involved in overdoses have been diverted to the black market and sold illegally, while others are obtained through legal prescriptions. Pain patients can misunderstand their doctors’ instructions and accidentally exceed their prescribed doses of painkillers.

But in Michael Jackson’s case, if it was caused by an opioid overdose, his death might have been averted had people close to him had access to a simple and reliable antidote: naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan.

Naloxone, if administered to someone who has stopped breathing as a result of an opioid overdose, can reverse the effects of the overdose and restore normal breathing in two to three minutes. Naloxone has been used effectively in emergency rooms to reverse overdoses for over 30 years. Tens of thousands of lives could be saved if naloxone were more widely available and more people (including doctors, pharmacists and other health care professionals, as well as law enforcement professionals, many of whom are currently unfamiliar with naloxone), were trained in its use.

Cities with programs that increase the availability of naloxone, among them Chicago, Baltimore and San Francisco, have seen their overdose rates decline dramatically. New Mexico, which for years had a high number of deaths from drug overdoses, saw a 20 percent decline in such deaths after the state’s Department of Health began a naloxone distribution program in 2001. Naloxone itself has no abuse potential, making it a good candidate for over-the-counter availability. If people who are prescribed an opioid were also be given a prescription for naloxone, with instructions for them and their caregivers on how to administer it, this spike in overdose deaths could be reversed.

But our country’s drug war mentality prevents this safe and effective remedy from being made more widely available. Fear that doing so will encourage drug use causes the government to restrict naloxone’s availability. This “abstinence only” mindset is the same one that for years has prevented the federal government from funding syringe exchange programs — proven to reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases — for injection drug users. Just as the “abstinence only” model has proven a failure at preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, it has been a failure at reducing drug use or the harms associated with drug use. Rather than continuing these failed policies, we need evidence-based solutions to the problems of drug misuse and drug overdose.

Fortunately some attention is now being paid to the overdose crisis. A bill known as the Drug Overdose Reduction Act was recently introduced in Congress by Rep Donna F. Edwards (D-MD). The bill would create a federal grant program to provide cities, states, tribal governments and community-based groups with funding to prevent and reduce overdose deaths; task the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with responsibility for reducing overdose deaths; commission studies on the efficacy of various strategies to reduce overdose deaths; and create a nationwide surveillance system for monitoring overdose trends. A Facebook group called Purple Ribbons for Overdose Prevention now has nearly six thousand members across the country and is growing daily.

Another part of the solution to the overdose crisis are “Good Samaritan/911” laws, which provide immunity from arrest and prosecution for drug use or possession to anyone who calls 911 to report an overdose. Many lives could be saved if friends of overdose victims weren’t afraid of being prosecuted if the police are called to the scene. New Mexico last year became the first state to pass such a law, and similar legislation is now pending in several states.

We need to accept the reality that people will always use drugs, whether legal or illegal, prescribed or sold on the street, mood or performance enhancers, pain killers or stress reducers or sleep-enablers. We are a nation of drug users. We must learn how to reduce the harms associated with our drug use, including reducing the unconscionable and unnecessary number of deaths from overdose. By Jill Harris. Source.

June 28th, 2009 – Amid questions about the possible role of drugs in Michael Jackson’s demise, the US Drug Enforcement Administration Friday renewed concerns about rising deaths from misuse of prescription pills. Some people close to the 50-year-old pop icon revealed Friday they had been concerned for some time about his Picture 3use of drugs, a day after he collapsed and died apparently from cardiac arrest at his rented Los Angeles home.

In response to numerous calls triggered by the singer’s sudden death, the DEA put back up on its website a May report into prescription drugs that showed more than 8,500 people died from misusing them in 2005.

It warned that more people died from drug abuse than in shootings, and in the category of accidental deaths it came only second to car accidents. The LA coroner was carrying out an autopsy on Jackson Friday, and toxicology results are not expected for several weeks.

But celebrity website TMZ.com — which broke the news of Jackson’s death — reported Friday he had been administered an injection of the powerful painkiller Demerol about an hour before he lost consciousness.
Los Angeles Police Department Officer Karen Rayner said investigators spoke with the doctor who gave Jackson the dose but they wanted to speak with him again. Late Thursday night, officers impounded the doctor’s car, which was parked at the mansion.

The overuse of prescription pain-killers, stimulants or tranquilizers — either opium-based or synthetically manufactured — is on the rise in the United States. In 2005, the last year for which figures are available, there were more than 8,500 deaths nationwide, an increase of 114 percent on 2001. Hospital admissions due to an overdose of such drugs leapt 74 percent from 2002 to 2006, and emergency room visits were up 39 percent, the DEA said.

Most of those needing treatment were aged between 18 to 25, the agency added, and said that between 2003 to 2007 some six percent of Americans in that age group had admitted using prescription drugs for non-medical uses. Most obtain the drugs by stealing them, hooking up to false Internet pharmacies or from friends and relatives. “Diversion and abuse of prescription drugs are a threat to our public health and safety similar to the threat posed by illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine,” said Gil Kerlikowske, director of national drug control policy. “In 2006, the last year for which data are available, drug-induced deaths in the United States exceeded firearm-injury deaths and ranked second only to motor vehicle accidents as a cause of accidental death.”

June 27, 2009 – To quote Leonard Cohen, “Everybody knows” – and according to media reports, everybody knows Michael Jackson abused michael-jackson-neverland-foreclosureprescription medications – legal medications that most likely brought about his death. Was Michael a troubled soul? It appears so. Were laws bent or broken in providing his access to these drugs? Possibly. Recent news reports suggest Hollywood has a plethora of licensed medical doctors who provide and some say “push” prescription drugs onto celebrities.

Should we judge Michael harshly for choosing to use drugs to deal with his personal challenges? Of course not – we should mourn his loss, celebrate his creativity and feel gratitude for the gifts he gave us. However there arises a nagging question – as a caring community, did we fail Michael? Could we have done better? What can we learn from his tragic story?

As we shine our collective lights on Michael Jackson’s life not only do we see an extremely talented individual but we also see a man struggling to make good choices in his life. And like many millions of others of us who choose to medicate with drugs to deal with our life’s challenges – be they legal or illegal – Michael Jackson’s choice of powerful prescription pain killers reminds us that none are immune to getting lost on the path of life and making a fatal choice.

So what is society’s responsibility? How can we help others from meeting a similar end? One important tool we have at our disposal is our drug policies. An recent experience has taught us that implementing strict approaches like prohibitions and imprisonment don’t work. America already arrests one of its citizens every 43 seconds for illegal drug possession and incarcerates more of its people than any other country in the world. Recent reports inform us that now many more deaths occur in America from the abuse of legal prescription drugs than illegal drugs and in fact, prescription drugs are the second leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. These are drugs approved for sale and prescribed by medical doctors. In light of Michael Jackson’s death, how can we continue to differentiate between the abuse of legal and illegal drugs? Which issue is more important – the legality of the drug he used or the outcome of the abuse?

To this point, a recent U.N. Global Drug Report urges global leaders to stop viewing illegal drug abuse as a criminal matter – an approach that judges and vilifies those using drugs. Rather the report’s authors encourage us to view drug abuse for what it is – a health matter – one that can severely impact emotional, physical and psychological health. Impacts that became painfully obvious in the final years of Michael Jackson’s life.

The implications of the U.N.’s recommendations are dramatic. Rather than using our limited resources to wage war on our citizens, throwing them in jail for using illegal drugs to self treat their ailments, we need to shift those resources and our approach to addressing and treating the root causes and effects of drug abuse. This will not be easy.

America does not have a public health care system, so for many Americans access to professional advice can be very costly. This is partly why some people choose to access illegal drugs instead legal drugs in the first place. Furthermore, we need to appreciate that by making certain classes of drugs illegal we socially vilify and marginalize the populations of individuals who self-medicate with those illegal drugs – and consequently, even if they are able to afford it, they often do not seek the necessary medical services that could help them assess and manage their drug use.

It’s time for major change. Our communities are littered with too many sad stories and bad outcomes from untreated drug abuse. It’s time to stop differentiating between illegal and legal drug use and begin to see all drug users as people in need of health services and compassionate support. Michael Jackson’s death is a stark reminder that we in society can judge and marginalize even our most precious contributors. Let’s celebrate Michael’s life by approaching others facing life’s challenges with acceptance, compassion and support. Let’s face it – the absence of this compassion is likely at the root of why drugs are abused in the first place.

By Richard Sharp.

June 25, 2009 – Anything goes in the “war on drugs,” or so it seems. Governments around the world have used it as an excuse for unchecked human rights abuse and irrational policies based on knee-jerk reactions rather than scientific evidence. war-on-drugs-1This has caused tremendous human suffering. It also undermines drug control efforts.

That human rights abuses are widespread is no secret. Nor is frivolous rejection by many governments of proven, effective strategies to protect the health of drug users and communities. Both have been well documented.

In 2003, law enforcement officials in Thailand killed more than 2,700 people in the government’s “war on drugs.” More than 30 U.N. member states, including China, Indonesia and Malaysia, retain the death penalty for drug offenses — some as a mandatory sentence — in violation of international law. In Russia, untold thousands of heroin users cannot obtain opioid substitution treatment because the government has banned methadone, despite its proven effectiveness.

In the United States — and many other countries — prisons are overflowing because drug users are routinely incarcerated for nonviolent, low-level drug offenses. These prisoners often have no access to effective drug treatment or basic medical care. In Colombia, Afghanistan and other countries, crop eradication has pushed thousands of poppy and coca farmers and their families deeper into poverty without offering them any alternative livelihood and has damaged their health.

In China, hundreds of thousands of drug users are forced into drug detoxification centers, where they can be detained for up to three years without trial, treatment, or due process. In India people are dying in uncontrolled detoxification programs.

The “war on drugs” has distracted countries from their obligation to ensure that narcotic drugs are available for medical purposes. As a result, 80 percent of the world population — including 5.5 million cancer patients and 1 million terminally ill AIDS patients — has no access to treatment for severe pain. Strong pain medications are almost unavailable in most African countries. In India alone some 1 million cancer patients endure severe pain; most have no access to appropriate medications because of restrictions on prescribing them.

Such failure by the governments to ensure access to controlled medicines for pain relief or to treat drug dependence may violate international conventions proscribing cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Moreover scarce resources are being diverted from effective treatment to programs with no proven efficacy.

This is not only a human rights problem: It is bad public policy. Research shows that abusive drug control practices, including mass incarceration, are ineffective in controlling illicit drug consumption and drug-related crime, and in protecting public health. Scientific evidence has shown that more supportive “harm-reduction” programs prevent HIV among injection drug users, protect people’s health and lower future health costs. And for those with untreated pain, ignoring their needs removes them and their caregivers from productive life.

In March 2009, the United Nations met in Vienna to set new drug policies for the next 10 years. Sadly, the strategy adopted by member states contains scant human rights commitments. It congratulates the international community for what it says are successes of the past 10 years of drug policy, without mentioning its collateral damage. It proposes to continue those policies, with little change, for the next 10 years.

On Friday, the United Nations observes both the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. As the U.N. special rapporteurs on health and torture, we take this occasion to urge member states to end abusive policies and to create drug policies based on human rights that include harm reduction, access to evidence-based drug treatment and essential medicines, and protections against torture in law enforcement.

Too many lives are at stake for the current head-in-the-sand politics, and if the United Nations and member states continue to bury their heads, they will be complicit in the abuses. Source.

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