Monthly Archives: May 2014

Addiction is a disease – increase treatment availability and decrease prison time

OK, so another article points out that our prisons are full of drug addicts.  We knew that already, but we are now lead to believe that many people are only sent there after multiple relapses.  I don’t have hard data to support this and neither does the Ohio Department of Correction.  Still, the article points out that judges: 1. don’t feel comfortable using their local treatment providers; or, 2. there are not enough beds available.

As a criminal defense attorney, I have personally witnessed both scenarios.  Some judges would like to try treatment indefinitely, if they only felt that there were safe treatment centers where drug use was not rampant.  Then there are other judges who would keep using treatment if they could find a bed for the defendant.

Of course, there are the recalcitrant and burned out judges who have just given up on treatment and maybe the disease concept itself, and immediately send the defendant to jail or prison.  Many times they have the erroneous assumption that defendants will get treatment while locked up, but it is rarely available.

We need to educate the judicial system of the benefits of treatment, get the legislature on board with more funding for treatment, and last but not least, educate the public that addicts are suffering from a disease.  Addicts are not morally bed people, they can’t stop once they get started.  We need to get started on helping them get well.


Marijuana edibles have safety issues, and not for beginners

Two people have died as a result of overdosing on marijuana edibles, and emergency room visits are on the upswing.  Colorado may have been the first to legalize marijuana, but they are also experiencing the growing pains associated with a psychoactive drug in the hands of lay people.  Let’s be clear about one thing first: marijuana is a drug.  Yes, you can call it “God’s herb” but it is still a substance that can alter your thinking and other bodily functions, in ways that cannot be predicted.

I am guilty of uneducated use of this drug as I used to smoke a lot of weed before I got into recovery.  I was also guilty of making edible forms of pot.  I definitely misused it and could easily have had negative consequences as a result of my use and abuse of it.  Again, as with all my drug use I don’t know why I surveyed and many of my friends did not.  It is truly “Russian roulette” when you ingest any drug (alcohol, marijuana, LSD, cocaine,  heroin etc).

This news about marijuana edibles causing death, is coming at a time within the first year of legalization in Colorado.  That only means we are just seeing the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Weed is a fat soluble drug, and therefore, when it is ingested orally, it can take a while for the body to break it down via the digestive system.  This delay is apparently the problem.  People who don’t understand this delay want immediate results after eating and when they don’t get it, they eat more.  This results in a potentially toxic, lethal dose.

Newbies who where previously afraid of smoking marijuana, due to the potential negative effects on their lungs, are easy targets for the edibles.  Just eating a few cookies, lollipops, brownies, etc of pot may be an attractive introduction to the drug for this segment of the population.  Marijuana intoxication is not to be taken lightly.  Yes, you long term smokers out there may object, but try to be a good steward of conscious, safe marijuana use if and when you decide to turn someone on to your habit.  It isn’t your mothers weed out there anymore.  It is a more potent and potentially psychologically and medically dangerous drug these days.

Some people will write anything to sell a book…

There is a recent best selling book “The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry” that pans Alcoholics Anonymous. The basic premise of the book is that AA requires you to behave exactly the way the 12 steps tell you to, or else. This is hogwash. My experience in AA has been exactly the opposite. We members of AA and other 12 step programs are rather disorganized, truth be told. You don’t have to tow any party line, and there is more flexibility than an outsider might think.

True, the underlying tenet of the 12 step program is to change, and not engage in the behavior that got you there in the first place. The “Debunking” authors will have you believe that 12 step programs require strict rules of behavior. In fact, all 12 steps are SUGGESTED! There are no requirements. Telling an alcoholic and addict that it is one way or the highway, sends them down the road immediately.

No, the authors simply want to make some money by saying that an organization that started in 1935, that has no formal leadership, that does not seek funding, that has saved millions of people, that does not force attendance, that works if you work it, is somehow a flawed model. Why do 12 step programs succeed with all the flaws debunkers point out? Because it works. Enough said.

It is almost like the saying “that almost the only scoffers at prayer are those who never tried it enough.” Sure, there will be those who AA does not work for. The God and praying issue being cited by most as a reason for failure. Too bad AA started in a day and age when God was a big deal. Not so much now, but spirituality is the goal anyway, not God.

Still, we go on. AA works for me and countless others. I look forward to the debunkers new program. Do they have one? No, just a book detracting from something that works. Good for them. If they start a program and it works as good as the 12 steps, I will check it out. I don’t want to fall into the contempt prior to investigation group. In the meantime, I will head to an AA meeting and you, dear reader, can peruse the attached article on the resilience of AA.