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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Advocating for Addiction Treatment

addiction
Over the years we have discussed the “war on drugs,” and the fact that handcuffs are not the solution to addiction. We've considered the impact mandatory minimum sentencing laws have had on society in creating a prison industrial complex in America. More people in the United States are incarcerated than any other country in the world, despite the fact that Americans only making up 5 percent of the global population. In the “land of the free,” 737 of every 100,000 (2,193,798) Americans are behind bars, according to International Centre for Prison Studies. Around half of all prisoners are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, whose only crime was an addiction.

Efforts have been made to approach substance use disorder more humanely in recent years. People found in possession of a small amount of drugs are, in many cases, given the option of treatment rather than jail. Some prisoners arrested in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s have received pardons and sentence commutations. In individual states, judges can decide if a mandatory minimum is warranted or not, on a case by case basis. All of the above are steps in the right direction, but more needs to be done to undo the effects of waging war on drugs for decades.

It’s easy to understand the mindset of people who are (or were) in favor of a zero-tolerance approach to addiction. Drugs are addictive and hazardous, people who sell drugs turn a profit on others' misery. Handcuffs and prison time seem like the only way to make individuals change their behavior, at least that is the general line of reasoning regarding the war on drugs. However, evidence suggests that the vast majority of people do not learn the lesson that lawmakers would have one learn. Look no further than recidivism rates in America, and they are staggering.

 

When Addiction Hits Home


Historically, the law enforcement officers charged with arresting and imprisoning drug offenders believed that what they were doing what was just. That is what Kevin Simmers, a former drug cop from Hagerstown, Maryland, thought about the work of getting drugs addicts off the streets, WAMU reports. Until that is, addiction found its way into his own home.

“At the end of the night, we’d go home and say ‘man — we got seven arrests tonight, we’re putting a dent in this stuff,” said Simmers. “I felt like I was doing God’s work. Then when it hit my own family, I was in for an awakening.” 

Mr. Simmers went from fighting addiction on the streets to becoming an advocate for addiction treatment, a change of heart that came at a significant cost. In 2013, his daughter Brooke confided that she was dependent on Percocet, according to the article. Brooke was seventeen, at the time. Prescription opioids led to heroin, and her opioid use disorder required addiction treatment. Brooke went through several programs, halfway houses, and experienced many relapses. She finally wound up in jail, and it seemed like she was ready to pour all of herself into recovery.

While in jail, Brooke had a dream that she shared with her father. Brooke dreamt of building a home for women in the throes of addiction, according to the report. Unlike the crumby houses, where she tried to recover; her house would be “clean and beautiful.” Not long after Brooke’s release from jail, she died of a fatal overdose on April 14, 2015.

“I believed wholeheartedly that enforcement — incarceration — was the answer to this,” Simmers said. “But then when addiction hit my house, I saw that that wasn’t true. What we need is drug treatment. We need to help the person.”


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Simmers has every intention of building Brooke’s House and has raised more than $500,000. The home will be just as Brooke envisioned it in her jailhouse dream, a long-term residential treatment center for young women.

 

Opioid Addiction Treatment


More than a hundred overdose deaths occur in the United States, every day. Synthetic opioids are more prevalent than ever, exponentially increasing the risk of death. If you are struggling with opioid use disorder, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. Recovery is the only way to break the cycle of addiction and avoid a fatal overdose.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Alcohol Industry Targets Underage Drinkers

There is a voluntary code in the alcohol industry: Only promote to adults. There is a good reason for such a code. Underage drinking leads to a host of problems, including alcohol poisoning, driving under the influence and the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Influencing young people to drink can have a serious impact on both individuals and society.

It’s worth pointing out that alcohol is used and abused among young people more than any other mind-altering substance, including tobacco and marijuana. While legal, the short-term risks associated with alcohol consumption are typically much greater than smoking cannabis and/or cigarettes. But, if you have ever watched beer commercials on television it’s probably occurred to you that such advertisements are often geared toward a young audience. Despite the voluntary code of social responsibility.

Look no further than a college sports game to see what we are talking about. A group of researchers decided to investigate how often corporate social contracts are breached, and young people are the targets of alcohol adverts. A study published in Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research showed that the alcohol brands most popular among underage drinkers run television ads that violate the industry's voluntary code, Science Daily reports. The beers teens drink the most are made by companies who regularly violate.

 

Preventing Underage Drinking


Drinking alcohol, especially in the manner that young people often do, can be particularly hazardous to one’s health. We have written often about the dangers of “binge drinking” and heavy episodic drinking. Nothing good comes from teens and young adults who engage in such practices. In our own field, the evidence is clear; young adults regularly seek treatment for alcohol use disorder. People whose own drinking was likely influenced at a young age by the alcohol industry.

Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers found that youth-preferred beer brands are made by the industry's biggest violators of the corporate social responsibility code, according to the article. The findings come from an analysis of 288 brand-specific beer advertisements, representing 23 brands. All of the ads aired during the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's and women's basketball tournaments between 1999 to 2008.
"This is the first systematic investigation of the relationship between beer brands popular among youth and these brands' youth-targeted contents among their television advertisements aired during a decade of a major national sports event," lead author Ziming Xuan, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH. "It is no news that advertisements influence consumer behaviors, but to discover such a close link between brand-specific youth-appealing advertisement content and beer brand preference among underage drinkers is new, and certainly a concerning public health issue."
The research team found that 21.5 percent of the advertisements breached the voluntary code. The brands that violated the code aired ads far more often than the companies not popular among young people.

"These results suggest that some beer producers are successfully targeting underage youth and therefore deriving profits from illegal alcohol consumption," the researchers wrote. "Our evidence underscores the need for strong and independent enforcement of the code to prevent continued inclusion of youth-appealing content in alcohol marketing materials.”

 

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment


If you are a young adult whose life has become unmanageable due to heavy alcohol use, there is a good chance that treatment is required. Young adults can recover from alcohol use disorder, with help. Please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea if you are ready to break the cycle for addiction, and seek recovery.
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