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Drug & Alcohol Headline Week in Review from MOMSTELL.COM

December 17, 2004 Edition




 I wanted to take this time to thank you so much for all your hard work.  This past year has been very tough for me   personally  and many of you have been so supportive.  You have went out of your way to encourage me through the year.   Thank You!  

 I know  many of you are looking at over 20 years in this field. You have my utmost respect for the work you do. We have also worked extremely hard this year.  I started MOMSTELL  6 years ago and have invested a lot of blood, sweat and many tears into this organization.   I am proud to say that this year we became a "voice"  at the state level for families whose children battle with substance abuse.  We have obtained seats on the States Children's Advisory Council, the Drug and Alcohol Coalition,  the Children's Behavioral Health Task Force and several important sub committees.  MOMSTELL has begun the foundational work to bring the Parent Corps to Pennsylvania.  We are working with the  Center for Substance Abuse and Treatment ( C-SAT)  as part of the Technical Advisory Team for the Child and Adolescent MH/SA Infrastructure SIG Grants.  We are working hard to make a real difference for children and their families. The last article in this updates appeared in our local paper this week.  It is about my daughter. Our paper did a 6 day front page series on Teens and Drugs.

This has been a very rewarding year for MOMSTELL.  I am so honored to work in this field with you all.  I have met some incredible people who have reached out to help me learn and grow as an advocate.  As this new year begins, we have many battles ahead and many lives to save.  Remember we are not here to see through each other, but to see each other through!   As I reflect on this past year and count my blessings, you are all on that  list! 

 Have a wonderful, blessed and peaceful holiday!

Sharon L. Smith
Box 450
Mechanicsburg, Pa. 17055



Regulators in the United Kingdom have decided not to allow cannabis to be used by patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), the Guardian reported Dec. 4.

The decision puts on hold the sale of the cannabis-based drug Sativex, developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, until the company conducts another test of the drug. Regulators said an initial trial presented by GW failed to convince them of the drug's benefits.

The decision has MS patients outraged. "The regulators have failed to listen to those with MS who reported positive and sustained benefits from Sativex, in a properly designed and statistically significant trial," said Christine Jones, the chief executive of the MS Trust. "I hope the regulators will reconsider their position and give some thought to the impact of this decision on the lives of those with painful, chronic disease."

GW Pharmaceuticals, which is currently conducting other clinical trials on the drug, plans to appeal the regulators' decision to the U.K.'s Medicines Commission.


Letter to the editor 

    In the Op-Ed column "Punishing the sick" (Saturday), the Cato Institute's Doug Bandow criticizes our government's opposition to the use of smoked marijuana for medicinal purposes. 

    However, so-called medical marijuana is really nothing more than a form of snake-oil medicine backed by a $500 billion international drug trafficking industry as a ruse to gain acceptance of marijuana, which serves as bait to lure children into addiction and the subsequent compulsive consumption of the drug traffickers' lucrative evil products. 
    Drug legalizers have bragged that they are using the phony issue of medical marijuana as a ploy to promote their larger goal of legalizing all drugs an idea the Cato Institute also has entertained. Drug-abuse-prevention organizations and their loyal government officials know that endorsement of so-called medical marijuana serves only to water down the anti-drug message heard by America's schoolchildren who are tempted to smoke marijuana, endangering their own health and the safety of their schoolmates.
    More than 50,000 Americans die each year from drug-related causes, including 22,000 directly from overdoses, and it's common that the drug habits that led to overdose began with a shared joint of marijuana from a schoolmate.
    We parents who are drug-abuse-prevention activists fully appreciate and support our government's efforts to protect our children and families from the massive addiction and death that drugs inflict on our nation. We resent ivory-tower theorists such as Mr. Bandow and his Cato Institute colleagues who appear not to understand the dire need to eliminate drugs and drug-related violence from our childrens' schools and from their lives.
    If the Cato Institute and Mr. Bandow really want to support medical use of marijuana, they should advocate that it be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for standard approval as medicine. Otherwise, it seems that they are simply supporting junkies and pushers who want full approval of their favorite dope.
    National Institute of Citizen Anti-drug Policy
    Great Falls

By Terry Eastland
Ashcroft vs. Raich, the "medical marijuana" case argued this month in the Supreme Court, is less about marijuana and its medical effects than federal power -- the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce
Raich is not an easy case if you (a conservative) think Congress regulates too much in the name of interstate commerce but also want the federal government to wage war on illegal drugs. It is also not easy if you (a liberal) think there should be exemptions for medical marijuana but also believe there is virtually nothing the federal government can't regulate as interstate commerce. Only libertarians can contemplete Raich with ease since they oppose laws criminalizing drug use and the big federal government developed since the New Deal, much of its foundation laid by the commerce clause.

Experience gained combating drugs has come in handy in the global war on terrorism, said DoD's top counternarcotics official.
Mary Beth Long, deputy assistant defense secretary for counternarcotics, said "it would be a mistake" to compare the two and say they are the same. Still, there are lessons from the war on drugs that are directly and indirectly applicable to the war on terror, she said.
An important aspect of the war on terror is interdicting terrorists and their capabilities. This includes stopping their support mechanisms and their weapons, which could include chemical and biological weapons, as far away from the United States as possible.
The same idea has been a cornerstone of counternarcotics activities for decades, Long said. "Lots of interdiction activities have been carried out for decades by law enforcement and law enforcement with DoD help," she said.

Gov. George Pataki on Tuesday signed into law a measure he and legislative leaders say will significantly soften the harsh Rockefeller Drug Laws but many advocates believe does not go far enough.
Under the new law, life sentences required under the 1973 laws for the highest level, or Class A1, drug crimes were cut to 8 to 20 years. Some 400 Class A felons now in prison will be able to appeal their sentences under the new law and possibly go free.
In addition, the weight of drugs that trigger long sentences has doubled from four ounces to eight ounces for possession and from two ounces to four ounces for sale. Nonviolent lower-level, or Class-B, drug felons can earn extra "merit time" by completing classes or attending drug rehabilitation to slightly reduce their sentences.


News Feature
By Bob Curley

An unprecedented recovery-advocacy campaign led to resounding approval of an Illinois ballot initiative calling for addiction treatment on demand.

A whopping 76 percent of voters in Cook County, Ill. (home to Chicago and surrounding Chicagoland communities) voted "yes" on the ballot question, "Shall the state government provide adequate funding for comprehensive and appropriate substance-abuse treatment for any Illinois state resident requesting services from a licensed provider, community-based organization, or medical-care facility in the state?" The 1.2 million votes cast in favor of treatment on demand were more than Cook County voters cast to successfully return Rod Blagojevich to the governor's mansion and Sen. Dick Durban (R-Ill.) to Congress.

Although non-binding and limited to just one county (albeit the state's largest by far), the ballot question is widely expected to prompt state lawmakers to quickly take steps toward increasing treatment availability in Illinois. "I'm 100-percent confident that this will be translated into some sort of policy," said Brad Olson, Ph.D., an addiction researcher at DePaul University and chair of
Citizens Activated to Change Healthcare (CATCH), which spearheaded the campaign to get the question on the ballot. "The extent that we can get true treatment on demand will be a challenge, but that will come over time."

Dogged supporters of treatment and recovery actually snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. The original idea was to get the question on the statewide ballot, but despite the work of more than 700 volunteer petition gatherers -- who got 118,000 Illinois residents to sign -- the drive fell short of the 282,000 signatures needed to get the measure on the state ballot. Next, organizers tried to convince state lawmakers to pass a law enabling the question to be added to the ballot; the House approved the plan, but it stalled in committee in the state Senate.

Organizers didn't give up: instead, they went to the Cook County Board of Commissioners, which had unanimously endorsed the goals of the petition drive. The board met and agreed to place the question on the county ballot for November 2004.

Tremendous Momentum

Tumia Romero, director of public policy and programs for
Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), told Join Together that the overwhelming support for addiction services demonstrated by voters in Illinois' most populous and influential county -- which includes many affluent suburbs as well as the urban core of Chicago -- will be almost as influential on policymakers as a statewide question would have been. Romero, who oversees a broad range of community advocacy groups established by Davis' office, including one on addiction, said the election results have generated "tremendous momentum" for improving treatment services.

"I think policymakers can agree that substance abuse is a major issue in the state of Illinois, and we have to find ways to fix it," said Romero. "We're on the verge in Illinois of not just having policymakers looking at treatment on demand, but having people in the system working on it. They feel empowered."

Indeed, Romero and Olson credit grassroots recovery advocates, local religious leaders, and supporters of addiction-related issues (such as advocates for the homeless and people with AIDS) for laying the groundwork for the campaign's success. "It was most impactful to see people who were so proud because they had asked their whole family to sign the petition, and their family was so proud of them for doing something so positive in their lives," said Romero.

In addition to Rep. Davis and the Cook County Commission, a number of prominent local political leaders lent their support to the treatment on demand campaign, including the Chicago City Council, Mayor Richard Daley, and Senator-elect Barack Obama. However, noted CATCH's Olson, "We're trying to get the average person to think differently about recovery. When you talk to people on the streets of Chicago, they almost immediately recognize this is something that needs to be done. In the suburbs, there's a lot of support but also a lot of questions about cost."

In a report issued in support of the ballot question, CATCH argued that Illinois would save $18 for every $1 invested in treatment on demand. Romero acknowledges that the costs of full treatment on demand would be significant -- perhaps $2,500 for each of the one million in state residents believed to need treatment services. But, she adds, the per-person cost is far less than the $35-40,000 needed annually to keep someone in jail.

Treatment-on-demand advocates plan to meet with Gov. Blagojevich soon, and a Jan. 11 Chicago town hall meeting convened by Davis will give the public a chance to weigh in on the issue.

"We don't want a quick shot of money for treatment providers," stressed Olson. "Some of them are suffering, but the key is to focus on more systemic changes. We want more people served."


Leading groups in the addiction field are encouraging their supporters to contact federal legislators and urge them to join the first-ever congressional caucus aimed at promoting awareness of addiction issues and greater access to treatment, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly reported Nov. 22.

Join Together, NAADAC -- the Association for Addiction Professionals, and Faces and Voices for Recovery (FAVOR) have contacted people in the addiction community to urge them to get in touch with their local officials and encourage them to join the caucus.

Nearly 60 U.S. House of Representatives members have joined the bipartisan caucus, which is being co-chaired by U.S. Reps. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) and Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.).

Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus was formed in March to educate and raise awareness among lawmakers about addiction and to increase legislative support for expanding access to treatment.

Since its formation, the caucus has gathered briefings on President Bush's Access to Recovery program to develop voucher-based addiction treatment programs, encourage addiction research and to promote national survey results on drug use.

Advocates have set of goal of enlisting 88 more representatives to join the caucus. "We're very encouraged," said Pat Taylor, executive director of FAVOR. "We're very excited about the growing attention to addiction treatment and recovery. It's an opportunity for recovery advocates around the country to build strong relationships with their elected officials to educate them about addiction treatment and recovery."

For 2005, the caucus plans to host a variety of briefings, including one on recovery high schools and colleges where schools set up environments that enable students to continue in recovery, and another on Pathways to Recovery in Wisconsin, an example of a best practice in treatment.

Take Action: Call the member of the U.S. House of Representatives in your district and urge him or her to join the caucus.

What You Can Do: For more information on the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus, contact Karin Hope in
Rep. Ramstad's office: 202-225-2871.


108TH CONGRESS  2003-2004


Jim Ramstad (R-MN) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI),


The bipartisan Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus serves as a groundbreaking forum for Members of Congress and their staff to discuss problems associated with addiction and promote solutions to these problems.  The primary purpose of the Caucus is to inform, educate and raise awareness about chemical addiction and promote access to treatment and recovery.

If you have any questions about the Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, please feel free to call Karin Hope of Rep. Ramstad's office (202-225-2871).


Neil Abercrombie (D - HI)

Anibal Acevedo-Vila (D-PR)

Thomas H. Allen (D-ME)

Joe Baca (D-CA)

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Brian Baird (D-WA)

Bob Beauprez (R-CO)

Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV)

Eric Cantor (R-VA)

Lois Capps (D-CA)

Ed Case (D-HI

Donna M. Christensen (D-VI)

Tom Cole (R-OK)

Jerry F. Costello (D-IL)

Robert E. "Bud" Cramer (D-AL)

Elijah Cummings (D-MD)

Lincoln Davis (D-TN)

Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR)

William Delahunt (D-MA)

Eliot Engel (D-NY)

Jim Gerlach (R-PA)

Bart Gordon (D-TN)

Gene Green (D-TX)

Joseph M. Hoeffel (D-PA)

Rush D. Holt (D-NJ)

Dale E. Kildee (D-MI)

Ron Kind (D-WI)

Jerry Kleczka (D-WI)


Ray H. LaHood (R-IL)

James R. Langevin (D-RI)

Tom Latham (R-IA)

Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)

Jim McDermott (D-WA)

James P. McGovern (D-MA)

Mike McIntyre (D-NC)

Michael R. McNulty (D-NY)

Jim Matheson (D-UT)

Robert T. Matsui (D-CA)

Michael H. Michaud (D-ME)

Gary G. Miller (R-CA)

Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)

Bob Ney (R-OH)

James L. Oberstar (D-MN)

John W. Olver (D-MA)

Rob Portman (R-OH)

David E. Price (D-NC)

Robert R. Simmons (R-CT)

Mike Simpson (R-ID)

Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ)

Vic Snyder (D-AR)

John Sullivan (R-OK)

Mark E. Souder (R-IN)

Lee Terry (R-NE)

Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Henry A. Waxman (D-CA)

Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)

Bipartisan Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus Membership list


- MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
Monday, December 13, 2004

(12-13) 08:11 PST WASHINGTON (AP) --

President Bush chose Environmental Protection Agency chief Michael Leavitt on Monday to be secretary of Health and Human Services, filling one of the last two openings in his second-term Cabinet.

Bush praised Leavitt as a "fine executive" and "a man of great compassion." "He's an ideal choice to lead one of the largest departments of the United States government."

Leavitt, Utah's governor before joining the Bush administration in late 2003, would succeed Tommy Thompson, who recently resigned.

Bush also has to name a new head of the Homeland Security Department to take the place of Bernard Kerik, who abruptly withdrew his nomination Friday night, citing immigration problems with a family housekeeper.

Leavitt, 53, thanked Bush for showing confidence in him. "I feel a real sense of understandable regret" about leaving the EPA, he said.

He said the department of Health and Human Services plays a vital part in the lives of every American.

"I look forward ... to the implementation of the Medicare prescription drug program in 2006, medical liability reform and finding ways to reduce the cost of health care," Leavitt said. "I am persuaded that we can use technology and innovation to meet our most noble aspirations and not compromise our other values that we hold so dear."

The HHS secretary oversees Medicare and Medicaid, the mammoth government health programs for the elderly, poor and disabled, as well as the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the Indian Health Service.

The agency has a budget of more than $500 billion and 67,000 employees.

Leavitt served as Utah's governor for 11 years before Bush appointed him to lead the Environmental Protection Agency last year. As a three-term governor, he chaired the National Governors Association.

As recently as last week, Dr. Mark McClellan, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, had the inside track for the HHS job, White House officials and many health care analysts said.

But McClellan is overseeing the new Medicare prescription drug law, which takes full effect in 2006, and Bush was said to have been reluctant to take McClellan from his post during this critical period.

Thompson, a former governor of Wisconsin, announced his resignation Dec. 3, using the occasion to issue a warning about the vulnerability of the nation's food supply to terrorist attack.

Leavitt, in the EPA job only a year, quickly won a reputation as a Bush loyalist. He also shares Bush's enthusiasm for technological and market-based approaches to fixing problems.

At EPA, most of Leavitt's focus has been on crafting strategies to reduce air pollution. While in Utah, he had cut several environmental deals with the Bush administration, including settling a long-standing dispute over ownership of roads across federal land. He also negotiated exchanges of state and federal land, some of them questioned by Interior Department auditors.

He also had advocated a major highway extension through wetlands and wildlife habitat near the Great Salt Lake, a project halted by the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals because of concerns about wildlife needs.

Leavitt, a father of five and devout Mormon, moved to Washington in the past year with his wife, Jacalyn, and a son in high school. Before becoming governor, he was chief operating officer of the Leavitt Group, an insurance firm.


By Tiffany Pakkala, December 13, 2004

Sharon Smith was standing in the ladies room at work when she was told her 18-year-old daughter had died of a heroin overdose.



"My husband said the coroner was in our house... I just threw the phone against the wall and sat down on the floor screaming," Smith recalls. "I couldn't believe it."

Angela Smith, a bubbly teenager who loved to laugh and dreamed of becoming a journalist, had started using the drug three months earlier, planning to only snort it, which she considered less dangerous.

But addiction took hold. Within weeks, Angela was injecting heroin directly into her veins whenever she could get her hands on it.

"She was living in her own hell from what that drug was doing," the mother says. "She would go places and do things she never thought she would do. She needed the drug like she needed air. If someone cut off your air, you would do anything to get it."

Smith was no stranger to her daughter's drug problems, which began with inhalants at age 14. The teen sprayed washcloths with air freshener and pressed them against her face to get a high from the fumes.

Smith found empty cans and reeking cloths under her daughter's bed.




For four years, Angela pushed her body with ever-stronger drugs mushrooms, acid, cocaine as her parents pushed her into treatment facilities nearly a dozen times.

Released too soon

"If I knew then what I know now, I would have moved heaven and earth. I wouldn't have believed them when they said she was OK," Smith says, explaining her daughter repeatedly was sent home too soon.

"You can look on the outside, and the person looks fine. But you have no idea what's happening on the inside."

Was in deep hole

Just before her death, Angela who tended to "disappear" for days without warning called her mother.

"She said (her addiction) was like being in a deep hole that you can't get out of," Smith recalls. "I said, 'You can!' ... I didn't see the desperation, I didn't understand the drug. I thought if I loved her enough, I could make her well."

Angela's body was found thrown against a tree near the Yellow Breeches Creek in Fairview Township Feb. 11, 1998.

The Wormleysburg drug dealer who supplied her a fatal dose of heroin in a packet entitled "Suicide" dumped her there.

He was convicted of man- slaughter, abuse of a corpse and unlawful delivery of heroin, and was free on parole less than a year later.

Sharon Smith was not allowed to see Angela's remains before the teen's body was shipped out of town for an extensive autopsy. Angela was then cremated.

The mom was later given clothing and jewelry Angela wore that day and photos investigators took of her lifeless body.

Anti-drug message

The heart-wrenching pictures weren't just tucked away in a box: Smith put them to use as illustrations when she waged a war on drugs, placing them in anti-drug literature and displaying them during presentations to parents about teen drug addiction.

She even used them to halt a major advertising campaign.

Smith joined Faces and Voices of Recovery's "Addiction is not Fashionable" movement in 2002 to speak out against Parfums Christian Dior's advertisements for a perfume and cosmetic line called "Addict."

She says it appeared to glorify drug addiction with models who looked like drug addicts.

Smith was eventually invited to New York City to meet with Dior executives, and she brought the photos with her.

During the meeting, she held an Addict advertisement beside her dead daughter's photo, asking the executives to compare a model's eyes to Angela's.

"Don't they both look dead?" she asked.

The advertisements were stopped immediately. Addict still exists, but the advertisements now emphasize femininity and sensuality.

When her daughter died, Smith says, "I wanted to go after all the drug dealers myself. But for every one you get rid of, there's 10 more to follow."

Question kids

Instead, she says, parents need to educate themselves and their children.

In Smith's ideal world, teens would become too smart to mess with drugs, and dealers would go out of business for lack of customers.

Before that can happen, she says, the world has to change the way it views drug addiction.

Parents should not be ashamed to question their children or to seek help.

Insurance companies should offer enough support to supply addicts with long-term care.

And those who are not directly affected must stop seeing drug addiction as someone else's problem.

"We need to help kids with addictions instead of throwing them out of the schools and into the legal system," she says. "Why is it that these children are so easily tossed aside, as well as their families?"

'Momstell' for parents of addicts

After her daughter's death, Sharon Smith started "Momstell" for parents of addicts.

Involved moms and dads work together to educate other parents and push for stronger laws against drugs.

To learn more about Momstell, log on to www.momstell.com or send word of your interest to Smith at P.O. Box 450, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055.