Archive for the ‘drug-related’ Category

Treatment vs Jail: Portugal’s Success

January 5, 2011

drugs problem addicted arresting addiction illegal jail treatment counseling Portugal flag government addicts abuse drug-related court crime problem public health drug-using criminals ignition interlock device Cleared2Drive relapsing

The United States has been fighting the war on drugs for decades now and there seems to be no end in sight which bring to mind the old proverb about the definition of insanity – “Doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result.’  Well I think it is time we start doing things differently and here is a good example of where we should start.

Big Risk, Big Reward

Ten years ago, Portugal had a big drug problem. 100,000 people, or about 1% of the population, were addicted to drugs. Portugal found itself in the never-ending cycle of arresting drug criminals, prosecuting them, and then after their sentence was complete finding them back on the streets again. It’s one of the main problems countries face when trying to end drug addiction and the crimes that so often are associated with it.

In 2000, Portugal passed a law that decriminalized the use of all illegal drugs. Drugs are still illegal in Portugal, but instead of throwing someone in possession of drugs to jail, it sends them to treatment or counseling. Portugal wrote it into law that anyone caught with illegal drugs instead of being charged with a criminal offense will go directly to a “Dissuasion Committee” for counseling and further treatment if necessary.

It’s not a new concept, but it is one that is difficult to carry out. How does a government take the first step and say that citizens aren’t going to get in trouble if they are caught with illegal drugs? Fears in Portugal were that everyone would go out and try drugs, and that the country would become full of addicts who were getting away with their drug abuse. But that hasn’t happened. In the last 10 years, Portugal has seen drug-related court cases drop 66%, the number of drug abusers has remained the same, and the number of people receiving treatment rose 20%. Most importantly, some of the country’s worst neighborhoods, once plagued with drug addicts and crime, have become safe.

Opponents

Some argue that policies like these are too soft on drug addicts, and without pressure and the threat of jail some people will never change, and for some people that is true. But only in countries that become lax when it comes to carrying out the law do they see an increase in drug users, but in countries like Portugal who have followed through with the treatment part of the plan, they have seen success. It works because they have changed the drug problem from a law enforcement issue to a public health issue which can be more openly managed.

Throwing a drug addict in jail does little good. We can expect 48% of substance abusing criminals to get caught using drugs again. However, if we can get these people the help they need to live a life without drugs, we can change their lives for good and we would encourage these countries to implement a mandatory ignition interlock device like Cleared2Drive program, which can prevent drugged or impaired driving as they too have proven very successful in keeping people from relapsing.

New Study Finds Drug Addiction Rates Up for both Prescription Drug Treatment and Illegal Drug Addiction

December 29, 2010

Dr Richard Miech Health and Behavioral Sciences University of Colorado Denver drug abuse accidental poisoning deaths prescription drug treatment medications illegal drug overdose baby Drug Enforcement Administration DEA painkillers Vicodin Dr Wilson Compton director Division of Epidemiology Services Prevention Research National Institute on Drug Abuse death epidemic under the influence driving while impaired DWI prevent impaired drivingAccording to Dr. Richard Miech, lead author of the study and head of Health and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver, the baby boomer generation’s impact on the death rates from drug abuse was overshadowed by a “huge increase” in accidental poisoning deaths overall. Miech attributed the increase to the growing number of prescription drug treatment medications used in the U.S. by all age groups. This new research indicates that an increasing number of people are dying from drug abuse or misuse, including both prescription drug abuse and illegal drug addiction. Moreover, the study found that in some groups, “accidental poisonings” as they are called, mostly the result of drug overdose, are more than ten times higher than they were in the late 1960s.

The famous drug-loving baby boomers make up a significant part of the recent increase in drug abuse, as they age and embrace prescription medications, but also death from accidental poisonings is higher across nearly all age groups than it was a few decades ago, especially among white Americans.

The study found that overall, white men and women were nine times as likely to die from accidental poisoning in 2005 through 2007 than they were in 1968-69, while black men and women were about three times more likely to die from accidental poisoning in recent years than they were 40 years ago. According to the analysis, changes in the body or changes in drug treatment use shifted the greatest proportion of drug overdose cases to people in their 40s and 50s, and that age group, which currently includes the tail-end of the baby boomer generation, is the segment in which some of the biggest changes in poisoning rates were registered. For instance, in 1968 about one in 100,000 white women in their early 50s died from accidental poisoning, while the current rates increased to 15 out of 100,000.

The study authors could not precisely determine what drugs caused the most accidental poisonings, however according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) most prescription drug abuse involves painkillers, with Vicodin as the most commonly abused prescription drug treatment in the U.S. According to a 2004 government report, nearly half of all Americans, across all age groups, take a prescription drug treatment. Moreover, Dr. Wilson Compton, director of the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that death from prescription painkiller overdose has been “an epidemic in the past ten years”.

And, if you think that these individuals are not driving under the influence, I’ve a some ocean front property in Oklahoma I would like to sell you.  When you know your loved one is using or abusing prescription drugs or any type of drug and driving while impaired (DWI) there is a way to stop them.  Before Cleared2Drive all you could do was pray, but now you can take action.  Have a Cleared2Drive system installed on their vehicle and prevent impaired driving forever.

Drug-related crashes up in Florida

December 17, 2010

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration NHTSA illegal drugs pharmaceuticals tested positive illicit drug criminal offense fatalities New Year's Day holiday drive impaired Cleared2Drive Good2GoIs anyone surprised that the number of drug-related traffic crashes is rising in Florida given that they are the nation’s prescription drug capital?  Yes, it is nice that as the holiday season gets under way the state is ratcheting up its efforts against drunk and drugged driving, but let’s be honest here folks, Florida’s impaired driving problem isn’t going to go away just because we ring in a new year.

Over the holidays the Florida Highway Patrol says it is launching a new crackdown on impaired drivers (glad to see they are now starting to focus on impaired driving as opposed to just drunk driving) as the numbers show there’s a real need for it.  The latest statistics show drug-related crashes and injuries are up more than 10% in Florida, according to Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. “Drug-related crashes increased by nearly 11% and drug-related injuries by more than 19%. These are numbers that we cannot ignore.” When you include drunk driving, the problem is even worse. Alcohol and drugs were factors in 44% of the more than 2,500 fatal crashes last year.

According to Bruce Grant, Director of Florida’s Office of Drug Control, driving at night on weekends is even riskier.  He sights a national survey by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing that a lot of drivers are using illegal drugs or pharmaceuticals on weekend nights.  “One in eight nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for an illicit drug. That number rises to one out of every six when you include not only illicit drugs but also pharmaceuticals.”

Grant says 17 other states make it a criminal offense to drive while using an illegal drug and he is urging Florida lawmakers to adopt a similar law.  “I think it’s time for Florida to seriously consider adopting a version of this so that we stop the increase that we see in drugged driving and prevent these crashes from becoming fatalities.” In my humble opinion, Florida should have been leading the charge on this one!

Over the New Year’s Day holiday in 2009, Florida experienced a record high fatality rate.  Police say DUI/DWI crashes killed 34 people over the four-day period.  Now with another New Year’s holiday fast approaching, Kottkamp is urging Floridians not to drive impaired this holiday season. “I would encourage all Floridians to be responsible and make good decisions, decisions that can make all live a better life.”

Yes, it good to “encourage” people to be responsible and not drive impaired, but when they can’t do it on their own, take comfort knowing Cleared2Drive can do it for them.