Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another Celebrity Victim of Substance Abuse: Dad's Death Puts Kerrigan in Spotlight Again

Daniel Kerrigan was found on the floor of his home, unconscious, by officers responding to an emergency call at 1:30 a.m. Sunday. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, and results of an autopsy were pending.

Police said Mark Kerrigan appeared intoxicated when he was found on a couch in the basement of the home and was "belligerent and combative" but coherent when questioned.

"He stated that he wanted to use the phone and his father would not let him," the arresting officer wrote in a report. "He said he struggled with his father and put his hands around his father's neck and his father fell to the floor."

ARLS Smoking Section: Fla. woman fights ruling that kept her in hospital

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Samantha Burton wanted to leave the hospital. Her doctor strongly disagreed, enough to go to court to keep her there.

She smoked cigarettes during the first six months of her pregnancy and was admitted on a false alarm of premature labor. Her doctor argued she was risking a miscarriage if she didn't quit smoking immediately and stay on bed rest in the hospital, and a judge agreed.

ARLS Smoking Section: Cancer Patients Who Quit Smoking Far More Likely to Survive

Five-year survival rates roughly doubled among patients diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer who quit smoking, HealthDay News reported Jan. 21.

British researchers who examined 10 previously published studies found that survival rates among early-stage lung-cancer patients who stopped smoking ranged from 63 to 70 percent, while only 29 to 33 percent of those who kept smoking were still alive after five years.

Changes to Prop 215 Struck Down by Calif. Supreme Court

California lawmakers had no right to impose a cap on the amount of marijuana that medical users could possess under the state's Proposition 215 medical-marijuana law, the California Supreme Court has ruled.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Three charged in Royal Palm Beach pot growing operation

Three Boca Raton-area residents set up a marijuana growing operation in a Royal Palm Beach home, authorities said.

This morning, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Ted S. Booras ordered Kenneth Schuler, 30, of suburban Boca Raton, held in lieu of $20,000 bail; Robert Riccardi, 21, of suburban Boca Raton, in lieu of $20,000; and Stephanie Friedland, 21, of Boca Raton, in lieu of $10,000.

FDA Orders Tobacco Companies to Disclose Cigarette Ingredients

"Tobacco products today are really the only human-consumed product that we don't know what's in them," said Lawrence R. Deyton, the director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.

Oddity of the Day: Short Term Memory Loss?

What is it they say about marijuana and short term memory? (And don't jump to any conclusions just because I can't remember.) Florida Police say Clinton Gordon came to the St. Pierce courthouse, lined up at the security checkpoint like everybody else, and emptied his pockets into the security tray, forgetting that his pot pipe was there.

ARLS Parent's Day: Good Parenting Creates Drug-Free Kids, Conference Experts Say

Of all the answers offered at a recent conference on "How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope," perhaps the one from Joseph A. Califano, chairman and founder of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), best summed up the advice to parents.

ARLS Parent's Day: Research Shows Parenting Can Prevent Drug Use, Aid Brain Development, NIDA Chief Says

From the founding of National Families in Action during the height of the War on Drugs to Joseph A. Califano's book, How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid, parents and communities have been touted as the keys to preventing alcohol and other drug problems among youth, and research now shows that environmental and genetic risk factors can be trumped by parental engagement during the critical adolescent years, according to Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tragic Drug Casualty: Sheriff's Office: Teen stabbed woman 60 times in Lauderdale Lakes slaying

A 16-year-old boy is accused of stabbing a neighbor more than 60 times because she refused to give him $5 so he could buy marijuana, according to an arrest report released Tuesday.

Justin McDonald, of Lauderdale Lakes, is charged with first-degree murder in the Saturday night killing of 62-year-old Vibbins Williams, who lived near his second-story Caravel Arms apartment, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.

France alarmed over anthrax-tainted heroin in Europe

The French health ministry issued a warning on Tuesday after eight people died and seven fell sick in two European countries from using heroin contaminated by anthrax.

"Since December 6, there have been 15 confirmed cases of anthrax among heroin users, 14 in Scotland and one in Germany," the ministry's General Directorate for Health (DGS) said in a statement.

NIAAA Identifies Five Subtypes of Alcohol Dependence

For the first time, federal researchers have broken down the disease of alcoholism into five distinct subtypes, which experts say should help provide more targeted treatment for problem drinkers.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reported June 28 that the five new subtypes include "Young Adult," "Young Antisocial," "Functional," "Intermediate Familial," and "Chronic Severe."

Word Choices Affect Attitudes Toward Addiction Recovery

A survey of health professionals found that referring to people with addictions as "substance abusers" was more likely to evoke punitive responses to drug use than those who referred to individuals with "substance-use disorders," according to researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Press Release: Governor's Office

Lt. Governor Kottkamp Convenes First Meeting of Statewide Prescription Drug Task Force ~ Will explore strategies for protecting citizens from the illegal diversion of prescription drugs ~

TALLAHASSEE – Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, in his role overseeing the Governor’s Office of Drug Control, today convened the first meeting of the Statewide Prescription Drug Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to explore strategies for protecting citizens from the illegal diversion of prescription drugs.

“Too many Floridians have lost their lives because of prescription drug abuse,” said Lt. Governor Kottkamp. “We must take action at all levels to eliminate criminal pill mill enterprises throughout Florida, and protect the quality of life that we hold so dear in the Sunshine State. Florida’s future depends on it.”

The interagency Statewide Prescription Drug Task Force is made up of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, state agencies, and health care agencies. They have partnered to combine their resources and develop a coordinated plan of action to crack down on pain clinics operating as “pill mills” throughout Florida.

According to the Governor’s Office of Drug Control, six Floridians die each day from a prescription drug overdose – five times as many deaths as from all illegal drugs combined. The number of drug overdose deaths in Florida increased by 77 percent from 2003 to 2008, and each one involved at least one prescription drug. Often the illegal prescription drug of choice is oxycodone, a very strong narcotic commonly prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain. Nearly all of the top 50 prescribers of oxycodone in the United States are located in Florida.

Florida’s pain clinics, or “pill mills,” are the primary source of the unchecked flood of painkillers and anti-anxiety medications that fuel a large percentage of drug-related crime, addiction, hospitalizations and overdoses. These locations can also be doctors’ offices, clinics, or health care facilities that routinely conspire in prescribing and dispensing controlled substances outside the scope of standard medical practice, or otherwise violate prescription-drug laws.

According to a recent Broward County grand jury report, every three days, a new “pill mill” opens in Broward and Palm Beach counties. In the last six months of 2008 alone, such clinics dispensed nearly 9 million doses of oxycodone in South Florida – the equivalent of more than two doses for every man, woman and child in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
To stem this problem and safeguard Florida’s future health and safety, Governor Crist signed legislation last year creating the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. This legislation lays the groundwork for regulatory oversight of pain clinics.

Big Business: Terrorists, Traffickers Partner for Transatlantic Drug Flights

Jet aircraft as large as Boeing 727s are being used to ship drugs across the Atlantic on clandestine flights organized by drug traffickers and terrorist groups, according to a report prepared for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oddity of the Day: Out of this World

A BAG of cocaine has been found in a Space Shuttle hangar - sparking a Nasa investigation.

US space chiefs fear an employee was seeking a different kind of out-of-this-world experience in the restricted area at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Show Me the Money! - New Fla. prescription tracking law has glitches, leaves 'drug czar' scrambling for cash

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida's new prescription tracking law doesn't say what should happen if a pain clinic fails an inspection and gives the state's "drug czar" an added job raising funds to help pay for the program, state officials told lawmakers Tuesday.

Medical marijuana would multiply misery of abuse - Guest Opinion

The push is on to add medical marijuana to the ballot. This proposal would make the use of cannabis for medical purposes legal in Florida.

It seems that every few years vocal marijuana-interest groups seek a way to normalize their drug of choice for the rest of us. Maybe they've forgotten the terrible human toll exacted by drug abuse.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Day in the Life: DRUG BUST - January 13, 2010

Drug-dealing Latin Kings tried to outfox police by stashing heroin and crack cocaine in the airbag compartments of their vehicles during transport across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, authorities say.

But undercover officers uncovered the drug ring and arrested four Staten Islanders and three Brooklyn residents on various drug charges as part of an 18-month investigation dubbed "Operation Across the Bridge."

A Day in the Life: DRUG BUST - January 13, 2010

MEXICO CITY – A Mexican drug cartel kingpin accused of dissolving victims in barrels of lye and waging a terror campaign that turned Tijuana into one of Mexico’s most dangerous cities was captured early Tuesday in the port city of La Paz, federal authorities said.

A Day in the Life: DRUG BUST - January 13, 2010

POLICE have stumbled upon the remains of a clandestine drug laboratory in Melbourne after pulling over a motorcyclist riding an unregistered trail bike.

A Day in the Life: DRUG BUST - January 13, 2010

Everybody likes a man who does what he says he’s going to do.

And right now, new Sheriff Chuck Mayfield and new Metro Narcotics Director David Lindsey look pretty good.

The duo and their deputies and officers seized approximately 7.2 pounds of cocaine, $10,480 in cash, eight gallons of moonshine, marijuana buds and paraphernalia Wednesday night.

A Day in the Life: DRUG BUST - January 13, 2010

Accused fugitive Antoine Hamilton was shocked to find police waiting for him when he walked out of his Clinton Township apartment last week.

Police were equally surprised to find two guns on the table inside the apartment along with evidence of a large-scale marijuana operation.

A Day in the Life: DRUG BUST - January 13, 2010

ESCANABA - After begging for help with her drug addiction, the last of seven suspects arrested in connection with drug busts in Delta County last fall was sentenced in circuit court Tuesday. The arrests were among several regional drug busts made by the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET).

A Day in the Life: DRUG BUST - January 13, 2010

Berlin - Thirty-seven people have been arrested in Berlin following a lengthy undercover drug investigation. Police say they're searching for 12 others.

ARLS WANTS YOUR OPINION: FOR or AGAINST? Medical-Marijuana Bill Passes in N.J.

A bill that would allow patients with certain types of illnesses to legally use marijuana to ease their symptoms has passed both houses of the New Jersey legislature and is headed to Gov. Jon Corzine for his expected approval.

The New York Times reported Jan. 12 that the bill would permit individuals with cancer, AIDS, ALS, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and certain other serious, chronic illnesses to obtain the drug from six planned dispensaries that will be regulated by the state.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

LOCAL BUST: Miramar man charged after 740 pounds of cocaine found on sailboat

Federal authorities have charged a Miramar man with possession of 740 pounds of cocaine that investigators say they found inside a secret compartment onboard a 32-foot sailboat.

Cooking Cocaine - 6 tons!

Drug Use Rising Among Seniors; Baby Boomers Continue Using, SAMHSA Says

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) finds that 4.7 percent of Americans age 50 and older used illicit drugs during the past year, a figure that's on the rise and reflective of lifelong drug use by aging Baby Boomers.

Planting the Seed for Legal Pot

The first step to legalize marijuana in California could happen Tuesday.

Lawmakers will vote on Assembly Bill 390 -- legislation to tax and regulate marijuana. The assembly's Public Safety Committee is expected to vote after a hearing that begins at 9 a.m. hearing.

The bill, authored by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, would essentially treat pot the same way alcohol is treated under the law and would allow adults over 21 to possess, smoke and grow marijuana.

Smoking in 'Avatar' Earns Film 'Black Lung' Award

Antismoking activists criticized the blockbuster film 'Avatar' for depicting one of its central characters as a heavy smoker, but director James Cameron said the critics are missing the point he was trying to make about maintaining healthy habits.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Addiction experts say 'controlled drinking' can work for some

Seventy years ago, Bill Wilson -- the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous -- declared his powerlessness over alcohol. The failed businessman contended that, as an alcoholic, he had to "hit bottom" before changing his life and that sobriety could only be achieved through complete abstention.

For generations, Americans took these tenets to be true for everyone. Top addiction experts are no longer sure.

Police plant ransom note to lure pot grower

A marijuana grower thought his small crop was being held for ransom after a suspicious note was left in place of his plants, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said.

"Thanks for the grow! You want them back? Call for the price … we'll talk," read the note left in place of the stash that was growing on a lot near his apartment.

Survey Associates Marijuana Use and Fondness for Songs with Pot References

Ninth-grade students who listen to music with marijuana references were about twice as likely to use the drugs as peers who didn't listen to such songs, according to research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

LiveScience reported Dec. 22 that researcher Brian Primack and colleagues surveyed 959 ninth-grade students, including 12 percent who reported current marijuana use and 32 percent who reported lifetime marijuana use.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

FSU study: Older smokers have edge in quitting

Earlier this week, I wrote a story about how colleges and universities are cracking down on smokers, hoping to get them to kick the habit.

Well, that might be a tough task, unless they’re nontraditional students, according to a new study from Florida State University. Older smokers appear to have a leg up on their younger counterparts, the study found.

Psychology professors Natalie Sachs-Ericsson and Brad Schmidt surveyed 88 smokers participating in a smoking cessation program. Of the participants who completed a follow up at least one month after the treatment, 68.4 percent aged 55 and over were smoke-free compared to 44.4 percent of younger smokers.

Treat the legal drug crisis

Few people outside the health field probably had heard of oxycodone before 1995. That year, though, Purdue Pharma found a way to release the narcotic into the bloodstream over a 12-hour period, making one pill last all day, unlike other painkillers that require multiple doses.

The result was OxyContin, which brought relief to cancer sufferers and other victims of chronic pain. In its first years, the drug brought Purdue nearly $1 billion in sales and high praise from doctors. Unfortunately, the highly addictive OxyContin also became the drug of choice for substance abusers who chew, snort, dissolve and inject it for a powerful high similar to heroin's. And it didn't take long for unethical doctors and drug dealers to cash in on the drug's popularity.