After the apparent overdose of his daughter last year, New Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi threw his vocal and influential support behind a law that grants immunity to drug users who suffer an overdose or who report the overdose of an acquaintance.
The measure has already caused the dismissal of potentially life-saving criminal prosecutions and abruptly terminated one of the state’s most effective treatment tools. It’s not so subtle side-effects are to enable those suffering from addiction and exculpate those who intentionally violated the laws that were designed to protect them. Perhaps more tragic is the anticipated effect this measure will have upon the state’s already ailing prevention efforts.
Note: 14 states have enacted overdose immunity laws. All but 3 of those 14 have also decriminalized marijuana use in some form.
The first overdose immunity law was passed in 2010 and according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, research does not exist to claim that these laws increases calls to 911 or save lives. We do know that the majority of fatal overdoses are unattended and would not be benefited by this wide reaching law. We also know that many witnesses to overdoses are not themselves in the most competent state of mind. Sober friends don’t let friends die, even if they might get a minor possession charge for making the call. We know for certain, however, that prevention does save lives. And by decriminalizing the behavior, laws like this undermine substantive research proven preventative measures.
For decades now, the criminal justice system has been the leading referral source for adults entering drug treatment programs. Those who can’t seek treatment on their own are often compelled to enter treatment as a result of their criminal prosecution. As thousands of recovered addicts can attest, they were saved by arrest.
Under the new immunity law, hundreds of overdose victims will simply get a shot of narcan and wander back out into the street, instead of being compelled to get the treatment they need to save their lives; the treatment they are unable to seek voluntarily.
In New Jersey, 1st time overdose victims do not go to jail. Nor do people found in possession of personal use quantities of drugs. In both cases, defendants such as these are given several opportunities to avoid prosecution, and have their charges expunged, if they agree to enter a life-saving treatment program. The criminal laws were helping and immunity was available so long as you agreed to enter treatment.
Criminal laws do not exist to produce arrests, they exist to guide behavior. They are amongst our most effective deterrent and preventative measures. Experts have long found a direct statistical relationship between a person’s perception of risk and their frequency of drug use. The perception of risk is closely related to the illegality of the behavior. The disease of addiction and the occurrence of overdose are both preceded by the choice to use drugs. The removal of legal sanction eliminates an important preventative influence from that life-threatening decision making process.
Drug dealers were also given aide by the immunity law which now removes a productive pool of potential informants from police investigators. Without legal sanction, overdose victims and bystanders now have no incentive to cooperate with authorities in trying to stop the flow of deadly drugs on our streets. It would seem as though this might be a worthy sacrifice if it would result in fewer deaths, but of course there’s no credible scientific evidence to say that it will. And now drug dealers don’t have to worry about their victims snitching on them if it all goes bad.
The best form of harm-reduction is use-reduction. Instead of lobbying for immunity, why not lobby for more prevention? Don’t tear down laws are working, enhance laws which hold people responsible for their irresponsible acts; acts which include letting your friends die. The Good Samaritan Overdose Immunity law has enacted an unreliable and unsubstantiated measure at the expense of well-proven prevention and treatment resources. Instead of saving lives, it is much more likely to endanger them. I’m shot through the heart Jon, and you’re to blame.
(Still love your music though.)
Ever notice how people rightfully view recovered alcoholics as being strong and inspiring but somehow view non-drinkers as being naïve or prudish? Is that irony or hypocrisy?
Kirsten, a fourteen year old high school freshman, recently described to me how she was pushed from her peer group because of her choice not to drink. It started with drinking. The drinking led to teen sex. Then other drugs began to pop up. “It’s just the whole scene. I’m not ready for any of that stuff yet,” she said. “but if you don’t do it, you’re totally left out.”
Kirsten is not alone. Millions of American kids feel as though they suffer socially for their decision to stay alcohol and drug free. Many non-drinking adults claim that the stigma continues into adulthood.
In a nation where neighbors continue to kill neighbors at the rate of 1 every 50 minutes due to drunk driving accidents; where 40 million of our citizens fit the criteria for addiction and where 8.3 million American kids are being raised by a parent with a substance abuse disorder, you would think we could get our heads above this.
There are huge neon signs crying for change but it seems that our country is too drunk to see them. For all the mistakes we’ve made, the lessons we’ve learned and friends we’ve lost, the time has come for drug free kids to be emulated as the powerful future that we so desperately need. -Author’s Note
Do sober kids finish last? Ask Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, Mitt Romney or Joe Biden, all of whom are lifetime non-drinkers. Imagine what we could do with more like them. While the long-term benefits of being alcohol & drug free are clear, our nation’s attitude towards it remains much too blurry; especially for our kids.
Instead of raising a glass, we need to raise kids who don’t need it, who don’t overlook the bigger picture and who don’t rely upon a façade of social acceptance to separate their own behavior from the problems it causes. To Kirsten and the millions of kids like her, I say “shame on U.S..” We can do better. Thank you for showing us how.
If an armed gunman attacked today, would you survive?
The school shooting in Newtown, CT was just one of several recent assaults by armed gunmen upon unsuspecting citizens. We’ve now seen them in public settings, work settings, movie theaters and malls. A difficult review of who lives and who dies in these incidents has given us some lifesaving insight.
Being innocent, unsuspecting and unarmed, doesn’t mean that you have to be unprepared. Spree shooters want to kill as many easy targets as possible in the shortest amount of time. They don’t want to chase you and they don’t want to encounter resistance. Their terrible act will be over within about six minutes. As unpleasant and unpredictable as these things are, these basic similarities do provide some advantages to would-be victims.
Your survival is based upon three basic objectives: escape, evade or improvise. If you can’t escape, try to evade. If you can’t evade, it’s time to improvise.
Escape: Most spree shooting victims have been those who froze, chose poor hiding places or never saw their assailant coming. So starting today, whenever you enter a building pretend you’re on an airplane. Mark your exits and plan at least two escapes. Raise your eyes every so often to scan the crowd and revise your exits as you move. At the first sign of danger, make towards the closest exit of any kind. If need be, create your own exit by breaking a window etc. The point is, get moving! Don’t just drop to the ground and lie there.
Evade: If the exit is blocked and you can’t escape, it’s time to evade. Most spree shooting deaths occur at close range. Both distance and movement dramatically affect the accuracy of the shooter, so even if all you do is run, you’re greatly increasing your chances of survival. Put angles between you and your attacker and seek out bullet-proof barriers such as cinder-block walls. Become a hard-target. Buy yourself a moment of time or a few feet of distance. That may be all you need.
Improvise: If danger is close and you cannot escape or evade, you must improvise. Exploit your environment. Many buildings have dry-chem fire extinguishers mounted in highly visible places. These create thick clouds of highly unpleasant yellow dust and are as good as tear gas in close quarters. They can be used to create particulate barriers, to mask your escape or to stun your assailant. They can also be used as impact weapons. Know how to use them (youtube it).
Fire hoses can be used to defend stairwells or deter an attacker, particularly if the lights are off. Extension cords can tie doors closed from the inside. Properly positioned chairs and furniture can fortify a room. Mops and other long-handle tools can be used to defend a barricaded doorway etc.. Remember, the shooter only has a few minutes and he knows it. Make the most of your time and delay him for a few critical seconds. He’ll likely move on.
Stun and Run! If you can do nothing else, plan for a fight. Pick your moment and surprise them with a sudden attack. Throw cleaning liquid in their face. Find anything to throw or swing. Target their head, then their hands, then their groin. Deliver a solid blow then run around a corner, towards a barrier or through an exit.
Fight for your life. As you walk through your environment tomorrow ask yourself, “What would I do if it happened now?” It’s not silly to plan and even practice these things. Preparation is part of the winning mindset and that may be all you need to survive.
Timothy Shoemaker has received extensive training regarding active shooters, including incident debriefs and strategy sessions from several high profile national incidents. This brief post is formatted for general advice and should not be taken to conflict with any formalized school or work response plan.
Today, many kids order their drugs right over the internet and have them delivered directly to their home. “It’s as easy as ordering a pizza” says Adam, a fourteen year old designer drug user.
Most parents are completely unaware that their child is receiving these deadly deliveries right under their nose. Worse off, it’s usually the parents credit card that is used to make the purchase.
Adam explained to MpoweredParent just how he finds the drug he wants, borrows his parent’s card and places the order. Less than a week later a fictitious envelope arrives in the mailbox. “You can get anything” he says. “Pot, pills, powder, whatever you’re after. They’ll send it to you.”
There are now hundreds of foreign drug sales websites marketing to both kids and adults. Checking your credit statement wont reveal anything suspicious. Their transactions show up as a non-descript paypal charge or as a misleading corporate moniker. Adam tells his parents that he’s buying video games or parts for his computer. Sometimes he reimburses them from his allowance.
The clean cut package that arrives gives nothing away. Mom or dad plucks it out of the mailbox for him and drops it on his pillow. It’s waiting for him when he gets home from school.
Parents and preventionists are simply overwhelmed by the recent explosion in the drug trade. Designer drugs, internet marketing and increasingly prominent marijuana legalization campaigns have flooded the teen environment with creative, enticing and easier-than-ever drug use options. At the same time, economic depression has forced a reduction in drug-prevention programs and community awareness initiatives.
Vigilance, consistency and up-to-date know how are a parent’s best allies. Be present for all credit card orders made by your child. Inspect all packages arriving in their name. Talk to them about drug use and be the voice of reason against all the pro-drug noise they now hear on a daily basis. To learn more about preventing drug use with your kids, visit our Drug Prevention For Parents page.
Parents of teens and young adults have something new to worry about today as news of several recent deaths are linked to a synthetic drug called Smiles. Smiles is the newest in a wave of designer drugs to hit smoke shops, convenience stores and internet marketplaces. Just a few months ago, we saw the deaths of two North Dakota teens in the same town. This week, Sons of Anarchy star Johnny Lewis is believed to have been under the influence of the drug when he murdered his landlady and then committed suicide.
The Smiles drug has been one of many designer drugs to follow in the footsteps of the infamous bath salts synthetic stimulants and K2 synthetic marijuana products. A refined white powder, the drug can be taken in capsule form, eaten or snorted. Internet reports state that users commonly mix the Smiles powder with chocolate or candy prior to ingesting it. It causes hallucinations and a euphoric state that resembles stimulants like methamphetamine. In some cases, the effects can last for days. It’s most popular amongst high school, college kids and young clubbers.
Paranoia, anxiety, panic and nausea have been reported amongst users, along with a potential loss of consciousness. The DEA has banned the drug, known to G-men as “2C-1″, but right now, use is continuing to rise. Fueled by misinformation spread by kids in chatrooms and social media sites, many naive partiers are scrambling to get their hands on it. Initially available on shelves in the stereotypical “not for human consumption” labels, distribution is now most commonly seen through black market dealers and white-envelope internet deliveries.
Bob Parsons, a Forensic Toxicologist from the Indian River Crime Laboratory, tells MpoweredParent that 2C-I may not be all that new after all. Known to chemists as 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenethylamine, it is a synthetic phenethylamine that was first synthesized by entheogenic drug promoter Dr. Alexander Shulgin over 20 years ago. Shulgin produced well over 200 other psychoactive designer drugs and listed them in his 1991 book PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story. “It’s been abused since the 1980’s,” say’s Parsons, “but has only now become popular.” It was only recently added to the Federal Controlled Substance Act, so it was formerly legal but is now illegal in the USA. “Like the other phenethylamines, it is a powerful stimulant with hallucinogenic properties and can be quite dangerous outside of research settings.” Many thanks to Bob for the consult!
A new drug called Krokodil, named after the large, green, toothy reptile, may be the next big killer for American drug users. This controlled substance has particularly heinous ingredients and effects, yet it’s use continues to spread.
Parents or communities that are currently watching a heroin problem in their neighborhoods will want to learn about Krokodil. It can be made in a home lab, using free how-to methods available on popular internet outlets. The typical Krokodil user is one who has been a heroin or opiate-based prescription drug abuser, but can no longer support the habit. Krokodil is a morphine derivative, and offers a similar high at a fraction of the price.
The alluring ingredients of codeine, iodine, lighter fluid, industrial cleaning fluid, paint thinner, gasoline and red phosphorus are combined to produce an addictive concoction called Desomorphine. The toxicity of these substances causes devastating and potentially fatal side-effects.
Beyond the obvious risks of drug use, Krokodil abusers typically experience an acute reaction at the site of injection. The skin and tissue cells die, scale over and fall off the body. Gangrene sets in. In many cases, entire limbs must be amputated due to exposed bone and decomposed blood vessels. The liver and kidneys are also affected and can suffer irreparable damage.
There may be as many as one million Krokodil users in Russia alone. For those reached by drug prevention efforts or addiction rehabilitation treatment, detox can last up to one month -that’s nearly twice the time it takes to detox from heroine.
In 2011, Krokodil emerged in the European drug market. Officials are cautious that it could be on a crash course for the world’s largest consumer of illicit substances….America. Fortunately, there do not appear to be any reported seizures of the drug on U.S. territory as of yet. Regrettably, we already have cheap and widely available substitutes that may serve as illegal drugs of choice in place of this illicit import.
Knowledge is power and prevention is key. For ideas on how you can prevent this and other drug use in your home or community, please visit our Drug Prevention Pages.
Your teen’s drinking patterns are heavily influenced by his or her friendships, but not in the way you may think. An interesting series of studies recently examined the relationship between teen social selection and rates of drinking.
The first interaction was found in the manner by which younger teens select their friends. Below the age of 13 or so, friend selection is not based upon drinking or drug use. In fact, social activity within these younger age groups is more or less driven by circumstances outside the control of the kids themselves. Though preferences do arise, things like sports, proximity of homes and parental friendships become the driving factor behind most friendships.
Drinking and drug use begins to appear on the social scene around age 12. As kids enter the 6th and 7th grades, it becomes known that some of their friends are involved with substance abuse. At this stage, a kid’s existing friendships have a significant influence upon whether or not they themselves initiate drinking behavior. Having friends who begin drinking or using drugs is a strong predictor.
Around the ages of 14 though 16, we begin to see a different pattern. Kids in this age group exert much more control over their friendships. They begin selecting social circles based upon drinking and drug use patterns. A child who is interested in drinking and using drugs is far more likely to select friends with those same interests or activities. Conversely, those who do not wish to drink or use drugs commonly select friendships in line with those interests.
The implications of these studies suggest that kids in the lower teen years, say 13, would benefit greatly from the reinforcement of social refusal strategies. They should be encouraged to resist the influence of existing friends who begin to engage in risky behaviors. Those in the older age groups, say 15 years of age, should receive encouragement regarding their selection of friends who support a drug free lifestyle and who reinforce their own healthy values.
The studies, “Dynamics of Friendship Networks and Alcohol Use in Early and Mid-Adolescence” and ” Friendship Dynamics: Selection and Socialization in Early-, Middle- and Late Adolescent Peer Networks” were published in this month’s edition of the Journal of Alcohol and Drug Studies.
Freshmen girls who engage in at least one incident of binge drinking have a 1 in 4 chance of being sexually assaulted during their first semester at college. This says a new study released today in the Rutgers University Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
In yet another example of what many would claim to be science corroborating common sense, the study found that freshmen girls who consume between 4 and 6 drinks in any one sitting have a frightening likelihood of sexual victimization. For heavier drinkers, such as those who reported having consumed 10 or more drinks in any one given night, it actually became probable that they would become the victim of a sexual attack. Nearly 60% of these heavy drinkers reported being victimized by acts that ranged from unwanted sexual contact to rape.
The study further warned about the practices of drinking while in high school, the years that oftentimes foreshadow college drinking behavior. While abstinence in high school continues to remain substantially influential in higher abstinence rates at college, it does not guarantee it. Even occasional drinking in high school may predict heavy drinking during the first semester at college. This study found that nearly half of the girls who reported drinking “lightly” in high school ended up binge drinking at least once during their first college semester – a time when they are still below the legal drinking age.
For parents, it stands as a reminder of the important in keeping kids alcohol free during the formative high school years. Hard fought diligence in the years just prior to college life can reward kids with the practice and perseverance needed to maintain responsible behavior away from home. Kids who learn to socialize and enjoy activities while sober become much better equipped to deal with the dangerous peer influences and social pressures present on their new college campus. As this study again demonstrates. There is a lot to be gained by being sober. Respecting the law, standing your ground and setting the example when it comes to drinking may just stave off a sexual assault.
Click here to read the full text of this study.
When I was much younger, I truly believed that collaboration was only made possible by an absence of group conflict. I was sold on the notion that organizational harmony was not only possible, but was the natural and inevitable result of an empathetic leadership style. Like many others in business, parenting or volunteer organizations, I committed myself to a democratic and responsive approach. I assumed that others would see the value of that approach and offer the same in return. After nearly twenty years of organizational leadership, I can say that these well-meaning suppositions were as futile as they were naive. In fact, my efforts to avoid conflict not only proved frustrating, but undoubtedly robbed my organizations of their true potential.
People are problematic. It’s just who we are. Even like-minded people bring differences to the table. Even civil discourse has a habit of exposing discord and even the world’s greatest diplomat will be exposed to her fair share of conflict, perhaps more so. But let not your heart be troubled, this is a wonderful thing.
Disagreement is not a sign of fragility or failure within your group. Don’t let the fear of conflict temper your enthusiasm or subdue your efforts. Truth be told, conflict is not only a natural, but extremely beneficial attribute of healthy collaboration.
Disagreement exposes thoughts, strategies, initiatives and traditions to the cleansing light of proof. I can think of many examples where a wonderful-sounding idea failed to produce the intended results. Had the idea only been washed through the suds of critical examination, many well-meaning resources could have been reallocated towards more successful endeavors. Or perhaps the original idea could have been tweaked to provide better results.
Disagreement can also have a palliative effect upon group dynamics. Issue-based conflict tends to expose incompatibilities amongst teammates. Whereas healthy organizations are fully capable of using conflict to facilitate productive exchanges, unhealthy organizations find themselves degrading into unpleasant territory. Usually, this is due to one or more people who are overwhelmed by their own weaknesses. Intolerance, pessimism, selfishness, arrogance or dismissive personalities just don’t work well in collaborative environments. These are the traits of independent contractors, and they can have a devastating effect upon the atmosphere of your group. It’s best to identify them early on, and respectfully part ways.
The organization’s role is not to avoid conflict, but to become adept at welcoming it and practiced at resolving it. The leader’s role is to embrace the usefulness of conflict and to set a productive tone of civility. This can be intimidating at first and will forever present a challenge. But it is a goal that every organization should have on their short-list. There are few better feelings than that experienced after your team has breached a difficult subject, exposed it to an honest and forceful debate, and amicably arrived at a well-vetted solution. That’s power, potential and productivity all wrapped up in one. True collaboration. Go get it.