There is alot of news this week
and I would encourage you all to read the story "My Addicted
Son " at the end of the updates. This story is from a parents
perspective of a childs addiction. I will not be sending out
updates next week but will be back on the 25th.
Sharon L. Smith
Mechanicsburg, Pa. 17055
PENNSYLVANIA PATRIOT NEWS
MAN ACCUSED OF BURNING AND DRUGGING TODDLE
February 5, 2005 BY MATT MILLER
CARLISLE - An 18-year-old Carlisle man is accused of beating
a 2-year-old girl, burning the toddler with cigarettes and
sparklers, and blowing marijuana smoke into her mouth. The
girl had a "significant amount" of marijuana in her
bloodstream when doctors at Carlisle Regional Medical Center
examined her, borough police said.
Xavier Hodge, of the 300 block of B Street, was in the
Cumberland County Prison yesterday accused of simple assault,
child endangerment and corruption of minors. His bail was set
at $50,000. Detective Ronald Egolf said the abuse was
discovered when the girl's grandmother took her to the
hospital Dec. 14 to be treated for multiple injuries,
including an arm fracture. Police and county Children and
Youth Services officials investigated.
"She was hit so hard, there was a hand mark on the side of
her face. You could count the fingers," Egolf said. "She had
burns. She had bruises." Other arrests might be made in the
case, he said. In arrest papers filed with District Judge
Paula Correal, Egolf said a woman told him she visited an
apartment in the 500 block of Cherry Street where the girl
lived with her mother. Four men, including Hodge, were there
and had been smoking marijuana, she said.
The woman told police she saw bruises and other injuries on
the girl, Egolf said. Egolf said the men didn't live at the
apartment. Hodge is not related to the toddler, and she was
not in his care, he said. The grandmother took the girl out of
the mother's home when she learned of the alleged abuse. The
child is being cared for by relatives, with assistance from
Egolf said another witness claimed he saw Hodge physically
abuse the girl and hold her nose shut and blow marijuana smoke
into her mouth. Egolf said the man claimed that Hodge threw a
ball at the child so hard it bruised her and that Hodge would
burn her with cigarettes and sparklers.
Hodge, who has convictions for simple assault and defiant
trespass, was in prison when the new charges were filed. Egolf
said Hodge denied abusing the girl. MATT MILLER: 249-2006 or
BILL TRIES TO STOP METH COLD
House Bill 1110 would make it a misdemeanor for a store clerk
to sell anyone more than three packages at a time of cold
medicine containing pseudoephedrine or two other chemicals. It
clears store owners or managers of responsibility if they are
not aware of the illegal sales.
As the bill heads for the House floor, 18 other states are
considering anti-meth laws, according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures. And more can be expected:
The group's Denver research office received meth-related
information requests from 10 states on Tuesday alone, criminal
justice specialist Blake Harrison said. "There has been a lot
of interest in it," she said.
Existing meth statutes in Colorado already try to address the
problem by criminalizing the knowing sale of precursor
chemicals for the purpose of making the drug. It is also
illegal to possess precursor chemicals with the intent to
QUAD-CITY TIMES (IA)
IOWA PROSECUTORS URGE LAWMAKERS TO TIGHTEN DRUG LAWS
Prosecutors are urging lawmakers to tighten loopholes in
Iowa's drug possession laws after Iowa's highest court threw
out two drug convictions, saying prosecutors did not have
But opponents say the changes prosecutors are seeking could
mean innocent people end up caught in the legal system.
A bill in the Iowa House would clarify Iowa's law on
"constructive possession," when a person doesn't own a drug or
illegal item but knows it is present and can "exercise
control" over it.
The changes are being pushed by the Iowa County Attorneys
Association, which represents the state's 99 local prosecutors
and their assistants.
NEW YORK TIMES
THE ENDING OF THE ROCKEFELLER DRUG PENALTIES IS NOT AN OPEN
If any group of prison inmates has attracted public sympathy,
it was the women whose first brush with the law left them
locked up here for 15 years or more on drug charges.
Few newspaper articles or television reports about New York's
Rockefeller-era drug laws were complete without a visit to the
state's only maximum security prison for women, for an
interview with an inmate longing to go home to her family.
But the much-heralded changes to the drug laws that took
effect last month will free at most 10 of those women, and
probably fewer than that, in the near term. The new law does
not allow them to challenge their convictions, but it does
reduce mandatory sentences that critics said were longer than
those meted out to some murderers.
While the new drug laws have pleased some women in the Bedford
Hills Correctional Facility, where all 10 of those women are
held, there is also disappointment here that so few of the
prison's 850 inmates will be going home.
NEW YORK TIMES
TOO LATE FOR KATIE, TOWN TACKLES A DRUG'S SCOURGE
John Neace forces himself to pass by the run-down apartment
buildings every day. Inside, the police say, Mr. Neace's
10-year-old daughter stumbled on someone with methamphetamine
last month. Her drowned body was found five days later at a
nearby creek, small hands tied tightly behind her back.
Katie's Jan. 25 disappearance, and the Feb. 2 arrest of an
unemployed high school dropout, have shaken this small town
out of silence about the scourge of methamphetamine.
Like many similar communities across the nation's midsection,
Crothersville, 40 miles north of Louisville and with a
population of 1,541, has seen methamphetamine steadily seep
into its streets.
When the roof of a house behind the funeral home exploded in
December, a makeshift meth lab was found in the fire. Another
lab, spitball distance from the school, was raided earlier
last year. The uncle of the young man now facing charges of
killing Katie wrote a letter to the town council two years ago
beseeching the members to do something about drugs before
someone got killed.
But many residents said they had been scared to report
suspicions in a community where everyone seems somehow
related. Others complained that the three-man police force too
often looks the other way - the man who lived at the house
behind the funeral home has yet to face charges, and two
complaints about methamphetamine use at the dilapidated Penn
Villa apartments in the days before Katie's death yielded no
Now, as people here comfort the families of the victim and of
the suspect, stories are spilling out, in a town seemingly
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
LIQUOR LOBBY TRYING TO CURB TEEN 'STINGS'
The people who make their living selling liquor are trying to
trim the powers of police and state liquor inspectors to find
out if they are illegally selling to teens.
Liquor lobbyists want to forbid the law-enforcement practice
of sending in underage buyers unless there first is "credible
evidence" that the bar, restaurant, nightclub, grocery or
liquor store already is violating the law.
And they want state law to read that an anonymous call to the
Department of Liquor Licenses and Control does not meet that
THE MISSOULIAN (MT)
BILL WOULD PROTECT UNDERAGE DRINKERS WHO REPORT CRIMES
Brianna Michlig was lying naked and drunk on the bathroom
floor of a mobile home when her parents found her at 7 a.m.
Oct. 11, 2003.
The Bigfork girl, then only 15, had been the victim of two
rapes by two different teenage boys that night. When she told
her story to authorities, they charged her with underage
drinking and sentenced her to community service. That was two
years ago, said her father, Michael Michlig. One of the men
who raped his daughter has yet to be sentenced, at all. "It's
pretty outrageous," he said.
Rep. Kevin Furey, D-Missoula, wants to make sure Brianna's
situation is never repeated. He's sponsoring House Bill 520,
which came before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.
HB520 would protect minors who are drunk at the time that they
either witness certain serious crimes or are the victims of
such crimes from being prosecuted when they tell their stories
to police or seek medical treatment.
Initially, Furey said, the bill applied to only rape victims
and would protect them from minor in possession charges if
they were drunk or drinking when a rape occurred. But he's
since changed the bill to cover a host of crimes, including
assault, homicide, kidnapping or prostitution of a child.
WIDOW DENIES ROLE IN ALCOHOL ENEMA
A Lake Jackson widow denied Wednesday that she provided the
alcohol that led to her husband's death from a sherry enema.
He gave himself the enema that led to his death May 21, she
A Brazoria County grand jury indicted her on a charge of
negligent homicide. Prosecutors claim she provided alcohol for
Warner even though she knew he'd been warned that alcohol
could kill him.
An autopsy report said his blood-alcohol level was 0.47
percent, almost six times the legal intoxication limit for
operating a motor vehicle.
She said he liked to use wine or sherry in enemas because that
would allow his body to absorb alcohol faster than drinking
it. Sherry and wine were easier on his digestive system than
other forms of alcohol, she said.
HANOVER EVENING SUN
PHILADELPHIA COPS GIVE UPPER ADAMS STUDENTS HARD LESSON ON
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
By MATT FURMAN Evening Sun
The presentation is like a
train wreck, picture linked to picture of young lives snuffed
out by drugs and alcohol. A 17-year-old girl is shown - blond
hair, pink cheeks and earrings. Flash-forward roughly eight
years after she's introduced to crack cocaine. The pale, thin
face is sore-crusted and framed by lank, dirty hair, a junkie
who will "put anything she can into her body."
The transformation is just one
of hundreds of pictures and videos viewed Thursday by middle
and high school students in Upper Adams School District.Called
"Heads-Up," the anti-substance abuse program created in 2001
is a deliberate and often graphic lesson from the Philadelphia
Police Department's Narcotics Bureau. The title stands for
Heroin Education and Dangerous Substance Understanding
Program, and its handlers have taken it free of charge to more
than 1,500 schools in Pennsylvania, surrounding states and New
"You guys are adults," said
co-presenter Virginia Pagano to Biglerville High School
students. "And what you're doing now is going to affect you
the rest of your lives." The program mirrors standard school
drug presentations by showing students what certain threats
look like - marijuana, LSD, heroin, crack cocaine and a lot
But it takes cautionary tales a
step further by showing the cold aftermath, often found on a
morgue slab. Students saw:
* A young boy with the top of
his head shot off from a drug deal gone bad.
* Crack users with the open,
weeping sores that come from a lowered immune system.
* An intravenous drug user who
peeled the skin on his arm back to shoot the drug directly
into the exposed veins.
The images are interspersed
with pictures and interviews with family members of the dead
and addicted, many of whom are from Pennsylvania.
The idea is to drive home the
fact that what you do to yourself can ripple outward to hurt
everyone you know, Pagano said. "There's always the kids who
walk away from this laughing, like they laugh at everything,"
she said. "But many will watch those parents crying, and think
of how their parents would cry if something happened to them.
And those are the ones who will get a huge impact from it."
The program ends with Pagano
and her partner Mary Ellen Ferry demonstrating the mechanics
of a bodybag. "If it's half full that means there's a kid in
it," Pagano said. "And that's something I'm sick to death of
seeing."A similar evening program was offered for parents.
Pagano said she hopes the department will eventually take the
presentation to schools nationwide.Senior Melissa Asper said
she was amazed at how average-looking many of the dead drug
"They just looked like the
normal, everyday teenagers you see," said the 17-year-old
Biglerville resident. "The people you go to school with every
day." Andy May said he was disturbed by the fact that so many
young drug users could hail from Pennsylvania."That's pretty
bad," said the 17-year-old senior from Biglerville. "It makes
you wonder how widespread the problem really is."
Contact Matt Furman at
WTVF NASHVILLE (TN)
LOCAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY TAKES UNIQUE APPROACH TO FIGHTING
More meth labs were uncovered here last year than in any other
state in the Southeast. Now, a local district attorney is
fighting back, trying to stomp out meth. The Dickson County
High School band's rendition of the musical production Stomp
will be heard in many schools west of Nashville.
"The music is important, but the message we can get out to the
young folks out here is very meaningful," said Mark Kinzer,
Dickson Co. High School Band Director. "I'm calling it
stomp out methamphetamine," said Dickson County Attorney
General Dan Alsobrooks.
Alsobrooks has invited the percussion group to join him on a
tour of local middle schools and high schools. He wants to
get your child's attention and talk about the dangers of using
(Mr. Alsobrooks is a former president of NDAA and on the NDAA
Board of Directors)
MARIJUANA MAY AFFECT BLOOD FLOW TO THE BRAIN
Reuters: February 7, 2005
WASHINGTON - Marijuana users have faster blood flow in their
brains, even after a month of not smoking, U.S. researchers
The findings suggest they have narrowed arteries, similar to
patients with high blood pressure and dementia, and could help
that heavy marijuana users have trouble on memory tests, said
the researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in
Ronald Herning and Jean Lud Cadet tested 54 marijuana users,
who smoked anywhere between two and 350 joints a week, and 18
non-smokers. They used Doppler sonograms to measure blood
flow in volunteers' brains at the beginning of the study and a
month later, after everyone agreed to abstain from marijuana
for the four weeks.
The smokers had faster blood flow, both at the start and after
a month of abstinence, Herning and Cadet reported in the
The smokers also had a higher pulsatility index score, or PI,
which measures the amount of resistance to blood flow. The
researchers believe the higher PI is caused by narrower blood
vessels. "The marijuana users had PI values that were somewhat
those of people with chronic high blood pressure and
diabetes," Herning said in a statement.
"However, their values were lower than those of people with
dementia. This suggests that marijuana use leads to
abnormalities in the small blood vessels in the brain." They
found that blood flow improved in people who smoked up to 70
marijuana cigarettes a week -- people they defined as moderate
users --after a month of avoiding cannabis.
Heavy users, who smoked up to 350 joints a week, saw no change
in blood flow even after a month, the researchers said.
Researchers at Montreal's McGill University have reported that
chronic consumers of cannabis lose molecules called CB1
receptors in the brain's arteries. This reduces blood flow to
the brain, causing attention deficits, memory loss, and
impaired learning ability.
CLINIC TO OFFER HEROIN , DESPITE U.S. NEEDLING
Tuesday Feb 8th, 2005
VANCOUVER (AFP) - Despite harsh US protests, a government
clinic will doll out free heroin to hard-core addicts after it
opens on Wednesday, a stone's throw from the US border. The
clinic in Vancouver will test, for the first in North America,
whether prescribing heroin can cut overdoses, HIV (news
and hepatitis infections, and reduce hard-core junkies'
dependence on crime to obtain the drug.
Several European countries have run similar studies, but the
clinic's proximity, 37 kilometres (23 miles) to the United
States, has made Canada's trial especially controversial.
Officials at the US White House anti-drug office have called
it unethical and an "inhumane medical experiment."
Others, however, hope the clinic will help desperate addicts
free themselves from lives of crime. "Getting heroin
prescribed as a trial is a huge victory," said Ann Livingston,
director of an activist organization of drug users in
Vancouver. "My surprise is that we got this through after (US
authorities) clearly didn't want it."
"It's a great idea," said Dianne Tobin, an addict for 30
years who supports a 300 dollar a day heroin habit with
prostitution, shoplifting and trafficking drugs. Tobin, 54,
hopes to be one of the 158 addicts chosen to participate in
the North American Opiate Medications Initiatives, or NAOMI,
The trial is aimed at hard-core addicts aged at least 25,
who have used heroin for at least five years. Participants
must have tried, and failed, to break their habit using
methadone at least twice. A secondary goal of the study is to
find out if it helps addicts wean themselves off heroin. Lead
researcher Dr. Martin Schechter, an HIV/AIDS scientist at the
University of British Columbia, said 88 participants will
receive pharmaceutical-grade heroin three times every day. The
other 70 will take oral methadone. All will receive medical
care and counselling.
Similar trials since the mid-1990s in Europe have worked,
and a program has continued in Switzerland and the
Netherlands. Germany and Spain are now running trials, and
another is planned in Britain, said Schechter. Squalid
Downtown Eastside Vancouver is home to nearly 5,000 heroin
addicts. Its clinc is one of three planned in Canada. Clinics
in Montreal and Toronto are expected to open within the year.
Mostly because of US politics, the scientific team abandoned
its earlier plan to open three US clinics.
The trial has been approved by Canadian ethics committees
and is receiving 8.1 million dollars in government funding.
Schechter, a leading HIV/AIDS researcher, said it would be
unethical not to try to treat heroin addicts for whom other
methods have failed. "They are breaking into cars, being
hospitalized, having overdoses, getting Hepatitis C and HIV,
they're in the sex trade and they're in rough shape," he said.
Even as the trials begin, activists are lobbying for heroin
prescriptions to continue if the one-year study proves
helpful. The researchers, however, said their job is to
provide scientific evidence, and after the trial is over it
will be up to politicians to decide how to use it.
WISCONSIN LOOKS TO TREATMENT TO SALVE PRISON WOES
Faced with a rapidly growing prison population, Wisconsin
policymakers are looking to addiction treatment and
alternatives to incarceration as possible solutions, the
Wisconsin State Journal reported Feb. 7.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's 2005-07 budget plan calls for
adding intensive addiction treatment units at the Racine
Correctional Institution and the Taycheedah Correction
Institution for women, to serve a total of 522 men and 120
women annually. The state's early release program also would
be expanded to five more prisons; the program allows prisoners
to get out of jail early if they complete a six-month
residential addiction-treatment program.
The program, which today can handle 280 men and 30 women
annually, currently has an 1,200-person waiting list. The
$2-million cost would be offset by $2.1 million in savings due
to reduced recidivism, state officials predicted.
"I've always thought that the way you reduce the prison
population is not to open the back door and let people out,"
Doyle said. "It's to try to have fewer people coming through
the front door."
The plan also calls for increased spending on addiction
services for parolees and probationers, expanding
opportunities for judges to send offenders to halfway houses,
and funding more "day reporting centers" for community-based
"We're not talking about letting people off," said University
of Wisconsin criminal justice professor Ed Latessa. "We're
talking about putting people in good, structured programs that
can work. What is it about that that's soft on crime? We're
going to put our dollars somewhere. We might as well get some
Republican legislative leader State Rep. Garey Bies (R-Sister
Bay) said GOP lawmakers would approach the proposals with an
open mind. "I would take a real good, hard look at these and
see if we can make them work, because we just can't keep
building prisons," said Bies.
Take Action: Require effective treatment and
continuing, supervised aftercare programs instead of
incarceration for non-violent drug and alcohol offenders.
What You Can Do: Policymakers in the states of
have mandated treatment instead of incarceration for
non-violent offenders. Ask your legislators to do the same.
TOWN MOURNS GIRL BELIEVED KILLED OVER METH
Monday Feb 7, 2005
CROTHERSVILLE, Indiana (AP) -- Hundreds of mourners paid
their final respects Sunday to a 10-year-old girl who police
believe was abducted and slain so she would not reveal
methamphetamine activity in her neighborhood. More than 600
people attended funeral services for Katlyn "Katie" Collman at
Crothersville Community School, where she was a fourth-grader.
The Rev. Jon Pearce told the crowd Collman's death should
serve as "a wake-up call," urging residents to form
neighborhood watches and confront suspicious activity. "If
Katie hadn't been walking by a meth lab, she would be alive
today," he said. "We can't forget her. We need to remember
that she was a sweet little girl."
Collman's body was found January 30 in a creek after she had
been abducted, authorities said, to intimidate her from
revealing that methamphetamine was being made in an apartment
near her home. Her family planned to raise money to build a
playground in her memory on the site of the methamphetamine
operation linked to her death.
"It's going to be up to us now to see to it that Katie's
death was not in vain, and we have enough people here that are
wanting to see this happen," said Terry Gray, a spokesman for
the girl's family and chief of the community's volunteer fire
department. Charles James Hickman, 20, was arrested Wednesday
and charged with murder in Collman's slaying.
Prosecutors allege Hickman tied the girl's hands behind her
back. Hickman first told investigators the girl tried to run
away and fell into the creek, but also said he might have
"bumped" her into the water. Timothy C. O'Sullivan II, 22, and
a 17-year-old boy were charged Friday with false informing,
but their connections to the crimes were unclear. The girl's
death was the first homicide in 25 years in the town of about
1,600 people some 40 miles north of Louisville,
BUSH BUDGET KILLS DRUG-FREE
SCHOOLS PROGRAM, MAINTAINS BLOCK GRANT
News Feature 2/9/2005
By Bob Curley
The Bush administration's fiscal 2006 budget calls for
eliminating the $441 million state grants portion of the
Drug-Free Schools and Communities (SDFSC)
program, the biggest cut in a plan that otherwise has
advocates for addiction treatment and prevention breathing a
quiet sigh of relief that other major programs were generally
spared the budget ax.
SDFSC's State Grants program, which has been targeted for
elimination before amid complaints about lack of
accountability and effectiveness, would be zeroed out under
the Bush budget plan released this week. However, the National
Programs portion of SDFSC would be increased by $82.7 million
under the Bush plan, rising from $234.6 million in 2005 to
$317.3 million in 2006. "The main reason is that the money in
the National Program is used much more efficiently," said
Education Department spokesperson Ed Walsh.
"While the State Grants program spreads funds thinly across
states and school districts and has not been able to
demonstrate its effectiveness, National Programs provides
greater flexibility to make large enough local awards to
support quality interventions," according to a
summary posted on the website of the U.S.
Department of Education, which administers SDFSC. "In
addition, the National Programs authority is structured to
permit grantees and independent evaluators to measure
progress, hold projects accountable, and determine which
interventions are most effective."
Alexa Eggleston, deputy director of national policy for the
Action Center (LAC), called the proposed
elimination of SDFSC "pretty disappointing," and said that LAC
and its allies would be working to get the funding restored.
On the other hand, Eggleston said, the cuts proposed by Bush
"could have been much worse" from the perspective of addiction
prevention and treatment advocates.
"We're not in as difficult a position as some people had
feared," said Eggleston.
"We have to look at this budget with the perspective that this
is one of the tightest proposals since the 1980s. The
President is seeking to maintain fiscal discipline -- there is
no doubt about it," said Lewis Gallant, Ph.D., executive
director of the
Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors.
"But we are definitely worried about the impact the proposed
budget would have on our system."
Level Funding for Block Grant
Many advocates were concerned that the keystone
Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant might be
targeted for cuts. But while the administration's 2006 budget
called for 150 federal programs to either be eliminated or
substantially cut, the $1.78 billion block grant would be
level funded in 2006 if Congress goes along with Bush's
recommendations. "After a year that saw a $3 million cut to
the Block Grant, level-funding for this vital program ...
presents our system with a real problem in terms of trying to
chip away at the 20-million-person treatment gap," said
Bush administration officials point out, however, that the
Recovery program -- which provides addicted
individuals with vouchers to pay for the treatment of their
choice, including faith-based programs -- would be increased
$50 million, to a total funding authorization of $150 million
next year. Jennifer DeVallance, a spokesperson for the
National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), called the
2006 budget "a significant demonstration of the President's
commitment to continuing to reduce drug use."
Overall, the drug budget would increase 2.2 percent in 2006,
according to ONDCP. However, while the administration touted a
$15.4 million increase in funding for student drug testing and
a $5.8-million bump for the Screening, Brief Intervention,
Referral and Treatment (SBIRT) program, increases in funding
for demand-reduction programs were more than offset by the
proposed elimination of SDFSC state grants. Rather, most of
the big funding increases would be in the international and
interdiction portions of the drug-control strategy, notably
$166 million more for poppy eradication in Afghanistan.
"The request increases funding for overseas and interdiction
programs to curb the flow of drugs from abroad and enhances
border control," noted a policy brief on the drug budget
Associates, a public-policy consultancy led by
former ONDCP staffer John Carnevale. "It also proposes a net
decline in funding for demand-reduction programs, reduces or
eliminates certain state and local law-enforcement programs,
and shifts more responsibility for domestic drug control to
state and local governments and other partners."
$270 Million Less for Demand Reduction
Carnevale calculated that the demand-reduction portion of the
$12.4-billion 2006 drug budget would be $270 million lower
than it was in 2005 under the Bush plan. Overall, demand
reduction would represent 39 percent of the drug budget, down
from 45 percent last year.
DeVallance termed the budget "balanced," with generally equal
portions of funding allocated to treatment and prevention,
domestic law enforcement, and international programs, she
Reductions in demand-reduction programs would include a
$14.4-million decrease in funding for the federal Center for
Substance Abuse Prevention and a $26-million reduction in
funding for the Best Practices segment of the Center for
Substance Abuse Treatment's Programs of National and Regional
Significance grants (although this cut would be more than
offset by the increase in the Access to Recovery program, also
managed by CSAT).
Preserved at current funding levels would be the $120-million
Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.
After years of sustained, stratospheric budget increases,
funding for addiction research would come back to earth under
Bush's 2006 plan. The National Institute on Drug Abuse would
get a modest $4-million increase to its $1-billion budget,
while the $438-million National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and
Alcoholism budget would rise by just $2 million.
One major law-enforcement initiative, the
Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program,
also faces deep funding cuts: Bush is proposing a $100-million
budget for HIDTA in 2006, down from $228.4 million in 2005.
DeVallance said the core of the program would be preserved as
oversight of HIDTA is shifted from ONDCP to the Department of
The Justice Department also has primary oversight of the
Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners
Program, which would receive a $19.2-million
increase in 2006, rising to total funding of $44.1 million.
courts also would get a funding boost under the
administration's budget plan, with funding rising $29.9
million to a FY2006 budget of $70.1 million. A Justice program
that helps prisoners
into society is slated to receive $75 million next
year, as well.
However, a $25-million program to help states and local
underage-drinking laws was zeroed out.
Carnevale said the 2006 budget represents a fundamental shift
in the relationship between the federal and state and local
governments in fighting the war on drugs. "The federal
government [is] assuming greater responsibility for those
programs exclusively under its purview -- international and
border-control programs -- and reduces funding to state and
local governments for support and coordination of prevention
and law enforcement," according to Carnevale's policy brief.
"The elimination of State Grants for school-based prevention,
HIDTA, and other reductions in discretionary programs will
redefine the federal government's role and require state and
local governments to find solutions to drug use and
trafficking problems that are often regional or national in
CHEMICAL MAKES METH
February 8, 2005 By MEREDITH MacKENZIE
A new product that stains methamphetamine users’ skin is being
touted as the latest tool in Missouri’s efforts against the
drug. But questions remain about the environmental safety of
the compound and whether evidence of its effects will be
viable in court.
Shoemyer, D-Clarence, filed a bill in the state
House of Representatives Jan. 31 that would compensate farmers
a liquid additive for anhydrous ammonia fertilizer tanks that
ionizes the gas so that it appears bright pink. “This GloTell
product is pretty cool,” Shoemyer said. “It causes anhydrous
to glow fluorescent under a black light. It reduces the yield
of drugs that can be made, and it actually turns the users’
skin pink when they inject it.”
All of that makes it easier for law enforcement to spot meth
cooks who steal the tanks and users who ingest the substance
after the fertilizer has been cooked into the drug. It stains
people and equipment that come into contact with treated
anhydrous and reduces the drug’s euphoria. “I’ve seen this
stuff,” Shoemyer said. “No meth user wants to be that color.”
Shoemyer has a 2,500-acre family farm that straddles Monroe
and Shelby counties and considers farming his first
profession. His proposed legislation would offset the cost for
farmers who help law enforcement combat meth. “It’s a giant
problem,” said Sgt. Jason Clark of the Missouri State Highway
Patrol. In 2004, there were 433 reports of stolen anhydrous
which were investigated by the highway patrol, Clark said.
The Northern Missouri Drug Task Force oversees narcotics law
enforcement in meth-prone counties like Shelby, Monroe,
Randolph, Scotland and Clark, some of which are in Shoemyer’s
district. The task force had 242 reports of stolen anhydrous,
Clark said. Combined with the highway patrol’s numbers, there
were at least 675 reports of stolen fertilizer.
“There’s probably hundreds more reported to other state
police agencies,” Clark said. Russ Cramer of the Missouri
Farmers Union said almost all grain farmers use the gaseous
fertilizer anhydrous ammonia as a source of nitrogen for their
crops. Almost all meth cooks use it as well, said Maj. Tom
Reddin of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.
“Anhydrous ammonia theft is a problem in any rural
community,” he said. “It is often used in the ‘cold cook’
method, one of the most predominant ways methamphetamine is
created.” Clark said, “Thieves get into these tanks, and they
come back and fill up coolers and other unapproved containers
several times until they are exposed. Sometimes they just
break locks on tanks and take them.
“That is such a dangerous part of that operation, when they
are tapping into those anhydrous tanks, it is something that
can overwhelm a person and cause major medical problems
immediately,” he said. Royster-Clark, which makes GloTell,
asserts on its Web site (www.glotell.com) that the material is
environmentally safe. It doesn’t decrease the effectiveness of
anhydrous ammonia as a fertilizer, and it breaks down in soil
after 24 to 48 hours, according to the Web site.
But George Hess, senior specialist with the seventh region
of the Environmental Protection Agency, isn’t so sure.
GloTell’s ingredient information is proprietary, making it
hard to research its effects, Hess said. GloTell was invented
by an Illinois farmer in early 2002, said Scott Spellman, a
sales representative for the product. Spellman, who deals
mostly with distributors of anhydrous ammonia, said that his
division ships a “quite a bit” of the product to Missouri.
While GloTell is the only anhydrous additive currently on
the market, competitors are coming, Spellman said. “Other
products are being developed as we speak,” he said. “Everyone
is trying to find a solution.” Dale Woolery of the Governor’s
Office of Drug Control Policy in Iowa said that research on
another chemical additive for anhydrous ammonia has been going
on for almost four years at Iowa State University. “This
additive seems to reduce the yield and purity (of meth) to a
level that law enforcement says will act as a deterrent,”
Woolery said. The additive, which is a type of calcium
nitrate, has proven effective in lab research and is
undergoing field tests.
“More tests are being conducted to satisfy lingering
questions and hurdles that need to be overcome,” Woolery said.
Existing concerns include questions of the additive’s effect
on transportation and application systems for the fertilizer,
Woolery said.He also suggested that questions remain with
GloTell as well. “Does it really reduce the yield and purity
of meth, or is it just pink coloration?” Woolery said. He
added that farmers and co-op workers are afraid of being
stained. “They don’t want to be accused of stealing by
accident,” he said. “Many Iowans are anxious to see if it
works. If this significantly deters anhydrous ammonia theft
and meth manufacturing, it could be a great tool.”
Evidence of residue from a compound like GloTell could not
stand alone in court, said Boone County Prosecutor Kevin
Crane, who added that he wasn’t familiar with the specific
product. “It would have to be accompanied by other evidence,”
Crane said. “We would have to show (defendants) possessed
precursors for methamphetamine with the intent to produce it.”
John Whipple of the Iowa Department of Agriculture agreed,
saying that it is hard to prove guilt with dye like GloTell.
“Nobody has ever prosecuted a case where dye helped determine
who did it,” he said. Shoemyer estimated that it costs a
farmer about $1 an acre to use GloTell in fertilizer. “The
biggest issue is who pays for it,” Hess said. “Even if the
government is going to pay for it, it has to get its money
Shoemyer said, “We want to create a repository fund to
reimburse dealers who sell anhydrous treated with GloTell so
that cost isn’t passed on to the farmers. We need to shift
this war (on meth) to where it makes the most sense.” But
Shoemyer emphasized that his measure doesn’t mandate the use
of GloTell. He hoped that the bipartisan support he received
for the bill would move it through the General Assembly and
help reserve $3.5 million per year for retailers of anhydrous.
“No other drug breaks the nurturing parental tie like meth, no
other drug causes so much violence,” Shoemyer said. “That is
why this issue is so important. This is a societal war, and
we’re all strapped in together.”
MISSOURI SENATOR TAKES METH FIGHT NATIONAL TO COMBAT METH ACT
By Bob Miller Southeast Missourian
Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., visited the Cape Girardeau County
Sheriff's Department on Thursday to promote his bipartisan
Combat Meth Act, a bill that would force
pseudoephedrine-containing drugs behind the pharmacist's
counter. The legislation, sponsored by Talent and Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, D-Calif., is similar to a law already in place in
The legislation would classify pseudoephedrine as a class
five drug, meaning it could only be sold by a pharmacist or
pharmacy technician. A prescription would not be needed.
Buyers would be able to purchase up to 6 grams of the product
at one time and 9 grams over a 30-day period. They would be
required to present proof of identification and sign for the
medicine upon purchase.
Oklahoma's methamphetamine legislation became law on April 7.
Lonnie Wright, director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics
and Dangerous Drugs, said the law has had a dramatic effect on
lab seizures in the state. There are three sets of numbers by
which Oklahoma law enforcement agencies calculate meth lab
seizures. According to one of those sets, meth lab busts
dropped to 57 in April, when the bill became law, from 105 in
March. There was a 60-day transition period for pharmacies to
move the drugs behind counters. By November, the number of
meth lab busts dropped to 19.
"Then we looked at how those labs were sourced," Wright
said. "And they were clearly coming from out-of-state
sources." Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan said once
the law hit Oklahoma, some Dollar General stores in Southwest
Missouri stopped selling pseudoephedrine medications because
they were being burglarized almost nightly. That's why federal
legislation is important, Talent said on Thursday. Talent said
he supports the Missouri bill, but that will only push the
problem over to Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Jordan said he's confident the legislation will pass in
Talent said even national legislation would not stop
production of methamphetamine. "But it will stop the mom and
pop cooks who can't get pseudoephedrine out of Mexico, who
can't hijack a truck," Talent said. "It takes about 600
tablets to make anything substantial and this will get the
labs out of the neighborhoods." The legislation will do more
than force pseudoephedrine drugs behind the counters. It would
pour $30 million in federal money into the methamphetamine
Talent said the federal plan faces some opposition from a
retail association. He said legitimate concerns will be
addressed, but legislation won't be stopped because retail
stores are concerned about losing profits from illegitimate
purchases. Pharmacists in Oklahoma haven't voiced a large
number of complaints, according to Phil Woodward, the director
of the state's pharmacist association. He said there were a
few complaints from retail stores about the switch because of
space and logistic reasons. Other than that, Woodward said,
"it's been a pretty smooth transition."
If passed, the Combat Meth Act would:
Provide an additional $15 million for training
investigation, equipment, prosecution and environmental
Provide $5 million to hire and train additional federal
prosecutors and cross-designate the local prosecutors as
special assistant U.S. attorneys who could bring legal action
in federal courts.
Amend the Controlled Substances Act to limit and record the
sale of medicines containing pseudoephedrine by placing them
behind the pharmacy counter.
Provide $5 million for businesses that legally sell
ingredients used to cook meth with resources to monitor
purchases of pseudoephedrine. The money would also be used to
train and provide technical assistance to law enforcement and
to businesses that legally sell items containing
Provide $5 million in grant funding for rapid response
teams which assist and educate children that have been
affected by the production of meth.
Create a Methamphetamine Research, Training and Technical
Assistance Center which will research effective treatments for
meth abuse and provide information and assistance to states
and private entities on how to improve current treatment
NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG
STUDY SAYS MARIJUANA ALTERS BLOOD FLOW IN BRAIN
Marijuana users' problems with memory and concentration
could be related to altered blood flow to the brain, according
to new research from the
Institute on Drug Abuse.
reported Feb. 8 that long-term marijuana smokers could be
risking memory damage and stroke because the drug appears to
speed up blood flow in the brain, possibly because it causes
abnormalities in small blood vessels. Marijuana use may narrow
blood vessels, researchers said, and the effects linger even
when users abstain for a month.
"In the long-term one might see cognitive difficulties, such
as problems with memory and thinking," said lead researcher
Dr. Ronald Herning.
The study looked at 54 marijuana users who smoked between two
and 350 joints per week, as well as 18 nonsmokers. "Moderate"
users -- those consuming 70 joints per week -- showed signs of
normalizing blood flow after a month of abstinence. But
"heavy" users -- those smoking up to 350 joints a week --
showed no improvement after a month of not smoking.
The research was published in the Feb. 8, 2005 issue of the
SCHOOL BOARD PONDERS DECRIMINALIZATION OF MARIJUANA
Geoff Mueller News Reporter
School District No. 20 votes next week on whether or not to
write parliament in support of Bill C-17 and the
decriminalization of marijuana for students.
"I'm against drugs but I support things like Bill C-17 because
we should not make it miserable for young kids if they make a
silly mistake," said trustee Mickey Kinakin.
In addition, he said criminal records associated with pot have
profound implications on students later in life when it comes
to education and travel.
Abbotsford school board wrote the prime minister earlier in
the month expressing concern that C-17 is not being considered
in the best interest of youth.
But Kinakin encouraged his board to write a letter in
opposition to Abbotsford's stance.
"C-17 does not permit the board from passing policy to stop
kids from doing drugs," Kinakin said, "but what it does do is
take away punitive action against young people making poor
decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives."
The board will revisit the issue during next Monday's open
meeting. Kinakin said he would vote to support the government
in taking this initiative for students.
PSYCHOLOGY IN THE
DOCTORS LINK MARIJUANA TO MENTAL ILLNESS
United Press International - January 16, 2005 LONDON, Jan 16,
British doctors have connected marijuana use with rising rates
of depression, psychosis and schizophrenia.
The Royal College of General Practitioners said that
acceptance of the drug and greater availability of stronger
forms of it were leading to rising rates of depression,
psychosis and schizophrenia, The Telegraph of London reported
Sunday. "Health warnings are falling on deaf ears, drowned
out by the cries of powerful liberal pro-legalization groups,"
said Dr. Clare Gerada of the college's drugs misuse unit.
"There is clear evidence that high levels of use, especially
among teenagers who are physically and mentally still
developing, carries with it the increased risk of psychosis
and respiratory conditions such as asthma," she said. More
worrying, Gerada said, was the increase in super-strong
versions of the drug, known as skunk. "The truth is,
genetically modified forms of the drug are the norm," she
The British Medical Journal in its January 2005 issue revealed
that smoking cannabis once or twice a week almost doubled the
risk of developing psychotic symptoms later in life. Robin
Murray, a professor of psychiatry at King's College London,
has said that since the 1980s doctors have begun to see a link
between psychotic symptoms and cannabis.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International.
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF AMERICAN PUBLIC
EFFECTS OF AN INTENSIVE STREET LEVEL POLICE INTERVENTION ON
SYRINGE EXCHANGE PROGRAM USE IN PHILADELPHIA, PA
American Journal of Public Health Vol. 95; No. 2: P. 233-236
(02..05)::Corey S.Davis, BS; Scott Burris, JD; Julie Kraut-Becher,
PhD; Kevin G. Lynch, PhD; David
Approximately 39 percent of the 1,127 AIDS
cases reported to the Philadelphia Department of Health in
2001 were attributed to injection drug use- a higher
percentage than any other risk factor and 19 percent higher
than theUS average. A legal syringe exchange program has
operated in the city since1992, providing many of its clients
with the only accessible source for sterile
On May 1, 2002, Philadelphia began an intensive long-term
street-level police intervention that deployed uniformed
officers to occupy targeted city corners to disrupt open-air
drug markets. Many of these targeted corners were in proximity
to syringe exchange sites. Since this "deterrence and
dispersal" operation began, exchange staff have reported many
instances of police harassment of program users, and on at
least one occasion, a client was arrested for possessing
syringes obtained at the exchange.
To analyze the effect of the police intervention on syringe
exchange users, collective changes in program use were
examined for periods of three weeks, three months, six months,
and nine months before and after the start of the peration, as
measured by the number of participants, number of syringes
dispensed, and number of black and male participants. For
comparison, these procedures were also conducted on prior year
data for all periods studied. The authors then used a
mixed-effects model for each response. Utilization data for
nine months before and after the initiation of the operation
As measured by aggregate totals, program use declined
across all categories and time periods studied. During all
periods measured, program use by blacks declined at more than
twice the rate of whites, and use by males declined at or
around twice the female rate. In contrast, utilization trends
in the prior year were almost stable.
While the policing intervention successfully
reduced the prevalence of opendrug sales, the study's
"findings suggested that this benefit came at a cost:the
operation was significantly associated with a reduction in the
use ofPhiladelphia's syringe exchange programs,
especially among Black and male participants," wrote the
researchers. "Such a reduction in syringe exchange program use
can be expected to lead to increased sharing and reusing of
syringes, with an attendant increase in blood-borne infectious
among IDUs who formerly used syringe exchange programs."
"Efforts to reduce the health consequences of drug use need
not conflict with the goals of reducing street crime and
enhancing public order," the authors suggested. "For example,
the launching of the Philadelphia operation could have been
linked to an intensive outreach effort to enroll IDUs in drug
treatment, and the police could have been instructed to avoid
interference with syringe exchange program users or to refer
IDUs to the syringe exchange program."
HEATED DEBATE OVER HEROIN REPORT
Research which said it is
possible to live normally while regularly taking heroin has
prompted a fierce debate. The Glasgow Caledonian University
study of 126 users of the class A drug found many were holding
down normal jobs and relationships and passing exams. The
report said heroin could be taken in a controlled way for a
But drugs worker Peter Anderson and Alistair Ramsay of
Scotland Against Drugs said the research was sending out the
wrong messages. Mr Ramsay said: "Anyone reading this who
thinks they can take heroin safely would be wrong. While there
was evidence of intensive risky patterns of drug use amont the
sample there was equal evidence for plannerd controlled
patterns of use. "In Scotland we have 55,800 heroin users who
are clearly unable to function as normal so it cannot be
assumed that the findings have universal application. "The
chances are the vast majority of those who start taking heroin
are not going to be able to function and rather, they will
develop major problems which require to be funded by the
However, Lord Victor Adebowale, the chief executive of
specialist alcohol and drug organisation Turning Point, said
the report was not saying that heroin was safe. He explained:
"It says that if you have a job, if you have a house, an
income, are well educated and have a health system to support
you, it's possible to survive an addiction to a pretty serious
substance. "Most people don't have this and have mental health
challenges as well as a heroin problem."
At first minister's questions on Thursday, Jack McConnell
said the Scottish Executive would do everything to tackle
heroin addiction. However, ministers have consistently ruled
out the medical prescription of the drug. Ministers also
stressed that heroin was an illegal drug which "ruins lives
and damages communities".
The report's author, Dr David Shewan, agreed that heroin was
not a safe drug. He said the concept of controlled drug use
was a "largely unexplored" area of research and warned that
the results should be treated with caution. The doctor added:
"However, this study shows that the chemical properties of
specific substances, including heroin, should not be assumed
to inevitably lead to addictive and destructive patterns of
"Drug research should incorporate this previously hidden
population to more fully inform theory and practice.
"Psychological and social factors have to be taken into
account when looking at how to deal with any form of
addiction, including heroin addiction." Edinburgh-based
outreach work Mr Anderson is a former drug addict who said
heroin use and heroin injecting in Scotland is an immense
problem which is getting worse. He added: "Every day,
unfortunately, men and women are dying in the UK from heroin
overdoses and that is the context that we cannot forget."
The research has also sparked criticism in the way it was
carried out. The drug users were not interviewed personally,
only through an intermediary. However, the researchers said it
was important to maintain trust and safeguard identities. The
work by Dr Shewan and his colleague Phil Dargarno was funded
by the Chief Scientist Office.
The 126 people studied in Glasgow had been taking heroin for
an average of seven years and were not receiving treatment for
their drug use. Most of those involved in the study were in a
relationship and a third had children. In contrast to those
receiving treatment for heroin use, three quarters of the
sample group were employed and a third were placed at the top
end of the job sector.
Some 64% of those surveyed had continued in education after
secondary school, and 11% were in full-time higher education
at the time of the research. Unemployed people accounted for
15% of the group, and only 5% had no educational
qualifications. The study found that some heroin users could
maintain occupations and achieve educational qualifications
which were comparable with the general UK population - and
were considerably higher than normally found in heroin
research. In the first phase of the study 30% of those
involved reported drug-related health problems, although most
did not require medical treatment.
Only a handful of those surveyed said they regularly
injected heroin. The group seemed reasonably satisfied with
their level of physical health, with almost 48% describing
their health as good and just 7% describing it as bad or
fairly bad. Just 15% of the participants reported that their
heroin use had been associated with family problems, only one
blamed the drug for the break-up of a long-term relationship
and nobody's child had been taken into care.
While 60% reported a negative effect on their employment or
education, only two people said drug misuse had cost them
their jobs. By the end of the study six participants had begun
specialist drug treatment.
MY ADDICTED SON
February 6, 2005
By DAVID SHEFF
windy day in May 2002, my young children, Jasper and Daisy,
who were 8 and 5, spent the morning cutting, pasting and
coloring notes and welcome banners for their brother's
homecoming. They had not seen Nick, who was arriving from
college for the summer, in six months. In the afternoon, we
all drove to the airport to pick him up.
At home in Inverness, north of San Francisco, Nick, who was
then 19, lugged his duffel bag and backpack into his old
bedroom. He unpacked and emerged with his arms loaded with
gifts. After dinner, he put the kids to bed, reading to them
from ''The Witches,'' by Roald Dahl. We heard his voice --
voices -- from the next room: the boy narrator, all wonder and
earnestness; wry and creaky Grandma; and the shrieking, haggy
Grand High Witch. The performance was irresistible, and the
children were riveted. Nick was a playful and affectionate big
brother to Jasper and Daisy -- when he wasn't robbing them.
Late that night, I heard the creaking of bending tree
branches. I also heard Nick padding along the hallway, making
tea in the kitchen, quietly strumming his guitar and playing
Tom Waits, Bjork and Bollywood soundtracks. I worried about
his insomnia, but pushed away my suspicions, instead reminding
myself how far he had come since the previous school year,
when he dropped out of Berkeley. This time, he had gone east
to college and had made it through his freshman year. Given
what we had been through, this felt miraculous. As far as we
knew, he was coming up on his 150th day without
In the morning, Nick, in flannel pajama bottoms and a
fraying woolen sweater, shuffled into the kitchen. His skin
was rice-papery and gaunt, and his hair was like a field, with
smashed-down sienna patches and sticking-up yellowed clumps, a
disaster left over from when he tried to bleach it. Lacking
the funds for Lady Clairol, his brilliant idea was to soak his
head in a bowl of Clorox.
Nick hovered over the kitchen counter, fussing with the
stove-top espresso maker, filling it with water and coffee and
setting it on a flame, and then sat down to a bowl of cereal
with Jasper and Daisy. I stared hard at him. The giveaway was
his body, vibrating like an idling car. His jaw gyrated and
his eyes were darting opals. He made plans with the kids for
after school and gave them hugs. When they were gone, I said,
''I know you're using again.''
He glared at me: ''What are you talking about? I'm not.''
His eyes fixed onto the floor. ''Then you won't mind being
When Nick next emerged from his bedroom, head down, his
backpack was slung over his back, and he held his electric
guitar by the neck. He left the house, slamming the door
behind him. Late that afternoon, Jasper and Daisy burst in,
dashing from room to room, before finally stopping and,
looking up at me, asking, ''Where's Nick?''
ick now claims that he was
searching for methamphetamine for his entire life, and when he
tried it for the first time, as he says, ''That was that.'' It
would have been no easier to see him strung out on heroin or
cocaine, but as every parent of a methamphetamine addict comes
to learn, this drug has a unique, horrific quality. In an
interview, Stephan Jenkins, the singer in the band Third Eye
Blind, said that methamphetamine makes you feel ''bright and
shiny.'' It also makes you paranoid, incoherent and both
destructive and pathetically and relentlessly self-destructive.
Then you will do unconscionable things in order to feel bright
and shiny again. Nick had always been a sensitive, sagacious,
joyful and exceptionally bright child, but on meth he became
Nick's mother and I were attentive, probably overly
attentive -- part of the first wave of parents obsessed with
our children in a self-conscious way. (Before us, people had
kids. We parented.) Nick spent his first years on walks in his
stroller and Snugli, playing in Berkeley parks and baby gyms
and visiting zoos and aquariums.
His mother and I divorced when he was 4. No child benefits
from the bitterness and savagery of a divorce like ours. Like
fallout from a dirty bomb, the collateral damage is widespread
and enduring. Nick was hit hard. The effects lingered well
after his mother and I settled on a joint-custody arrangement
and, later, after we both remarried.
As a kindergartner, when he wore tights, the other school
children teased him: ''Only girls wear tights.'' Nick
responded: ''Uh, uh, Superman wears tights.'' I was proud of
his self-assuredness and individuality. Nick readily rebelled
against conventional habit, mores and taste. Still, he could
be susceptible to peer pressure. During the brief celebrity of
Kris Kross, he wore backward clothes. At 11, he was hidden
inside grungy flannel, shuffling around in Doc Martens.
Hennaed bangs hung Cobain-like over his eyes.
Throughout his youth, I talked to Nick ''early and often''
about drugs in ways now prescribed by the Partnership for a
Drug-Free America. I watched for one organization's early
warning signs of teenage alcoholism and drug abuse. (No. 15:
''Does your child volunteer to clean up after adult cocktail
parties, but neglect other chores?'') Indeed, when he was 12,
I discovered a vial of marijuana in his backpack. I met with
his teacher, who said: ''It's normal. Most kids try it.'' Nick
said that it was a mistake -- he had been influenced by a
couple of thuggish boys at his new school -- and he promised
that he would not use it again.
In his early teens, Nick was into the hippest music and then
grew bored with it. By the time his favorite artists, from
Guns N' Roses to Beck to Eminem, had a hit record, Nick had
discarded them in favor of the retro, the obscure, the ultra
contemporary or plain bizarre, an eclectic list that included
Coltrane, polka, the soundtrack from ''The Umbrellas of
Cherbourg'' and, for a memorable period, samba, to which he
would cha-cha through the living room. His heroes, including
Holden Caulfield and Atticus Finch, were replaced by an
assortment of misanthropes, addicts, drunks, depressives and
suicides, role models like Burroughs, Bukowski, Cobain,
Hemingway and Basquiat. Other children watched Disney and
''Star Wars,'' but Nick preferred Scorsese, David Lynch and
At 14, when he was suspended from high school for a day for
buying pot on campus, Nick and my wife and I met with the
freshman dean. ''We view this as a mistake and an
opportunity,'' he explained. Nick was forced to undergo a day
at a drug-and-alcohol program but was given a second chance. A
teacher took Nick under his wing, encouraging his interest in
marine biology. He surfed with him and persuaded him to join
the swimming and water-polo teams. Nick had two productive
and, as far as I know, drug-free years. He showed promise as a
student actor, artist and writer. For a series of columns in
the school newspaper, he won the Ernest Hemingway Writing
Award for high-school journalists, and he published a column
After his junior year, Nick attended a summer program in
French at the American University of Paris. I now know that he
spent most of his time emulating some of his drunken heroes,
though he forgot the writing and painting part. His souvenir
of his Parisian summer was an ulcer. What child has an ulcer
at 16? Back at high school for his senior year, he was still
an honor student, with a nearly perfect grade-point average.
Even as he applied to and was accepted at a long list of
colleges, one senior-class dean told me, half in jest, that
Nick set a school record for tardiness and cutting classes. My
wife and I consulted a therapist, and a school counselor
reassured us: ''You're describing an adolescent. Nick's
candor, unusual especially in boys, is a good sign. Keep
talking it out with him, and he'll get through this.''
His high-school graduation ceremony was held outdoors on the
athletic field. With his hair freshly buzzed, Nick marched
forward and accepted his diploma from the school head, kissing
her cheek. He seemed elated. Maybe everything would be all
right after all. Afterward, we invited his friends over for a
barbecue. Later we learned that a boy in jeans and a sport
coat had scored some celebratory sensimilla. Nick and his
friends left our house for a grad-night bash that was held at
a local recreation center, where he tried ecstasy for the
A few weeks later, my wife planned to take the kids to the
beach. The fog had lifted, and I was with them in the
driveway, helping to pack the car. Two county sheriff's patrol
cars pulled up. When a pair of uniformed officers approached,
I thought they needed directions, but they walked past me and
headed for Nick. They handcuffed his wrists behind his back,
pushed him into the back seat of one of the squad cars and
drove away. Jasper, then 7, was the only one of us who
responded appropriately. He wailed, inconsolable for an hour.
The arrest was a result of Nick's failure to appear in court
after being cited for marijuana possession, an infraction he
''forgot'' to tell me about. Still, I bailed him out,
confident that the arrest would teach him a lesson. Any fear
or remorse he felt was short-lived, however, blotted out by a
new drug -- crystal methamphetamine.
When I was a child, my parents
implored me to stay away from drugs. I dismissed them, because
they didn't know what they were talking about. They were --
still are -- teetotalers. I, on the other hand, knew about
drugs, including methamphetamine. On a Berkeley evening in the
early 1970's, my college roommate arrived home, yanked the
thrift-shop mirror off the wall and set it upon a coffee
table. He unfolded an origami packet and poured out its
contents onto the mirror: a mound of crystalline powder. From
his wallet he produced a single-edge razor, with which he
chipped at the crystals, the steel tapping rhythmically on the
glass. While arranging the powder in four parallel rails, he
explained that Michael the Mechanic, our drug dealer, had been
out of cocaine. In its place, he purchased crystal
I snorted the lines through a rolled-up dollar bill. The
chemical burned my nasal passages, and my eyes watered.
Whether the drug is sniffed, smoked, swallowed or injected,
the body quickly absorbs methamphetamine. Once it reaches the
circulatory system, it's a near-instant flume ride to the
central nervous system. When it reached mine, I heard
cacophonous music like a calliope and felt as if Roman candles
had been lighted inside my skull. Methamphetamine triggers the
brain's neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, which spray
like bullets from a gangster's tommy gun. The drug destroys
the receptors and as a result may, over time, permanently
reduce dopamine levels, sometimes leading to symptoms normally
associated with Parkinson's disease like tremors and muscle
twitches. Meth increases the heart rate and blood pressure and
can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain,
which can lead to strokes. It can also cause arrhythmia and
cardiovascular collapse, possibly leading to death. But I felt
fantastic -- supremely confident, euphoric.
After methamphetamine triggers the release of
neurotransmitters, it blocks their reuptake back into their
storage pouches, much as cocaine and other stimulants do.
Unlike cocaine, however, meth also blocks the enzymes that
help to break down invasive drugs, so the released chemicals
float freely until they wear off. Methamphetamine remains
active for 10 to 12 hours, compared with 45 minutes for
cocaine. When the dawn began to seep through the cracked
window blinds, I felt bleak, depleted and agitated. I went to
bed and eventually slept for a full day, blowing off school.
I never touched methamphetamine again, but my roommate
returned again and again to Michael the Mechanic's, and his
meth run lasted for two weeks. Not long afterward, he moved
away, and I lost touch with him. I later learned that after
college, his life was defined by his drug abuse. There were
voluntary and court-ordered rehabs, car crashes, a house that
went up in flames when he fell asleep with a burning cigarette
in his mouth, ambulance rides to emergency rooms after
overdoses and accidents and incarcerations, both in hospitals
and jails. He died on the eve of his 40th birthday.
When I told Nick cautionary stories like this and warned him
about crystal, I thought that I might have some credibility. I
have heard drug counselors tell parents of my generation to
lie to our children about our past drug use. Famous athletes
show up at school assemblies or on television and tell kids,
''Man, don't do this stuff, I almost died,'' and yet there
they stand, diamonds, gold, multimillion-dollar salaries and
fame. The words: I barely survived. The message: I survived,
thrived and you can, too. Kids see that their parents turned
out all right in spite of the drugs. So maybe I should have
lied, and maybe I'll try lying to Daisy and Jasper. Nick,
however, knew the truth. I don't know how much it mattered.
Part of me feels solely responsible -- if only his mother and
I had stayed together; if only she and I had lived in the same
city after the divorce and had a joint-custody arrangement
that was easier on him; if only I had set stricter limits; if
only I had been more consistent. And yet I also sense that
Nick's course was determined by his first puff of pot and sip
of wine and sealed with the first hit of speed the summer
before he began college.
When Nick's therapist said that college would straighten him
out, I wanted to believe him. When change takes place
gradually, it's difficult to comprehend its meaning. At what
point is a child no longer experimenting, no longer a typical
teenager, no longer going through a phase or a rite of
passage? I am astounded -- no, appalled -- by my ability to
deceive myself into believing that everything would turn out
all right in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary.
At the University of California at Berkeley, Nick almost
immediately began dealing to pay for his escalating meth
habit. After three months, he dropped out, claiming that he
had to pull himself together. I encouraged him to check into a
drug-rehabilitation facility, but he refused. (He was over 18,
and I could not commit him.) He disappeared. When he finally
called after a week, his voice trembled. It nonetheless
brought a wave of relief -- he was alive. I drove to meet him
in a weedy and garbage-strewn alleyway in San Rafael. My son,
the svelte and muscular swimmer, water-polo player and surfer
with an ebullient smile, was bruised, sallow, skin and bone,
and his eyes were vacant black holes. Ill and rambling, he
spent the next three days curled up in bed.
I was bombarded with advice, much of it contradictory. I was
advised to kick him out. I was advised not to let him out of
my sight. One counselor warned, ''Don't come down too hard on
him or his drug use will just go underground.'' One mother
recommended a lockup school in Mexico, where she sent her
daughter to live for two years. A police officer told me that
I should send Nick to a boot camp where children, roused and
shackled in the middle of the night, are taken by force.
His mother and I decided that we had to do everything
possible to get Nick into a drug-rehabilitation program, so we
researched them, calling recommended facilities, inquiring
about their success rates for treating meth addicts. These
conversations provided my initial glimpse of what must be the
most chaotic, flailing field of health care in America. I was
quoted success rates in a range from 20 to 85 percent. An
admitting nurse at a Northern California hospital insisted:
''The true number for meth addicts is in the single digits.
Anyone who promises more is lying.'' But what else could we
try? I used what was left of my waning influence -- the threat
of kicking him out of the house and withdrawing all of my
financial support -- to get him to commit himself into the
Ohlhoff Recovery Program in San Francisco. It is a
well-respected program, recommended by many of the experts in
the Bay Area. A friend of a friend told me that the program
turned around the life of her heroin-addicted son.
Nick trembled when I dropped him off. Driving home
afterward, I felt as if I would collapse from more emotion
than I could handle. Incongruously, I felt as if I had
betrayed him, though I did take some small consolation in the
fact that I knew where he was; for the first time in a while,
I slept through the night.
For their initial week, patients were forbidden to use the
telephone, but Nick managed to call, begging to come home.
When I refused, he slammed down the receiver. His counselor
reported that he was surly, depressed and belligerent,
threatening to run away. But he made it through the first
week, which consisted of morning walks, lectures, individual
and group sessions with counselors, 12-step-program meetings
and meditation and acupuncture. Family groups were added in
the second week. My wife and I, other visiting parents and
spouses or partners, along with our addicts, sat in worn
couches and folding chairs, and a grandmotherly,
whiskey-voiced (though sober for 20 years) counselor led us in
''Tell your parents what it means that they're here with
you, Nick,'' she said.
''Whatever. It's fine.''
By the fourth and final week, he seemed open and apologetic,
claiming to be determined to take responsibility for the mess
he'd made of his life. He said that he knew that he needed
more time in treatment, and so we agreed to his request to
move into the transitional residential program. He did, and
then three days later he bolted. At some point, parents may
become inured to a child's self-destruction, but I never did.
I called the police and hospital emergency rooms. I didn't
hear anything for a week. When he finally called, I told him
that he had two choices as far as I was concerned: another try
at rehab or the streets. He maintained that it was unnecessary
-- he would stop on his own -- but I told him that it wasn't
negotiable. He listlessly agreed to try again.
I called another recommended program, this one at the St.
Helena Hospital Center for Behavioral Health, improbably
located in the Napa Valley wine country. Many families drain
every penny, mortgaging their homes and bankrupting their
college funds and retirement accounts, trying successive
drug-rehab programs. My insurance and his mother's paid most
of the costs of these programs. Without this coverage, I'm not
sure what we would have done. By then I was no longer sanguine
about rehabilitation, but in spite of our experience and the
questionable success rates, there seemed to be nothing more
effective for meth addiction.
Patients in the St. Helena program keep journals. In Nick's,
he wrote one day: ''How the hell did I get here? It doesn't
seem that long ago that I was on the water-polo team. I was an
editor of the school newspaper, acting in the spring play,
obsessing about which girls I liked, talking Marx and
Dostoevsky with my classmates. The kids in my class will be
starting their junior years of college. This isn't so much sad
as baffling. It all seemed so positive and harmless, until it
By the time he completed the fourth week, Nick once again
seemed determined to stay away from drugs. He applied to a
number of small liberal-arts schools on the East Coast. His
transcripts were still good enough for him to be accepted at
the colleges to which he applied, and he selected Hampshire,
located in a former apple orchard in Western Massachusetts.
In August, my wife and I flew east with him for freshman
orientation. At the welcoming picnic, Karen and I surveyed the
incoming freshmen for potential drug dealers. We probably
would have seen this on most campuses, but we were not
reassured when we noticed a number of students wearing
T-shirts decorated with marijuana leaves, portraits of Bob
Marley smoking a spliff and logos for the Church of LSD.
In spite of his protestations and maybe (though I'm not
sure) his good intentions and in spite of his room in
substance-free housing, Nick didn't stand a chance. He tried
for a few weeks. When he stopped returning my phone calls, I
assumed that he had relapsed. I asked a friend, who was
visiting Amherst, to stop by to check on him. He found Nick
holed up in his room. He was obviously high. I later learned
that not only had Nick relapsed, but he had supplemented
methamphetamine with heroin and morphine, because, he
explained, at the time meth was scarce in Western
Massachusetts. ''Everyone told me not to try it, you know?''
Nick later said about heroin. ''They were like, 'Whatever you
do, stay away from dope.' I wish I'd got the same warning
about meth. By the time I got around to doing heroin, I really
didn't see what the big deal was.''
I prepared to follow through on my threat and stop paying
his tuition unless he returned to rehab, but I called a health
counselor, who advised patience, saying that often ''relapse
is part of recovery.'' A few days later, Nick called and told
me that he would stop using. He went to 12-step program
meetings and, he claimed, suffered the detox and early meth
withdrawal that is characterized by insuperable depression and
acute anxiety -- a drawn-out agony. He kept in close touch and
got through the year, doing well in some writing and history
classes, newly in love with a girl who drove him to Narcotics
Anonymous meetings and eager to see Jasper and Daisy. His
homecoming was marked by trepidation, but also promise, which
is why it was so devastating when we discovered the truth.
When Nick left, I sunk into a
wretched and sickeningly familiar malaise, alternating with a
debilitating panic. One morning, Jasper came into the kitchen,
holding a satin box, a gift from a friend upon his return from
China, in which he kept his savings of $8. Jasper looked
perplexed. ''I think Nick took my money,'' he said. How do you
explain to an 8-year-old why his beloved big brother steals
After a week, I succumbed to my desperation and went to try
to find him. I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin
County to San Francisco, to the Haight, where I knew he often
hung out. The neighborhood, in spite of some gentrification,
retains its 1960's-era funkiness. Kids -- tattooed, pierced,
track-marked, stoned -- loiter in doorways. Of course I didn't
After another few weeks, he called, collect: ''Hey, Pop,
it's me.'' I asked if he would meet me. No matter how
unrealistic, I retained a sliver of hope that I could get
through to him. That's not quite accurate. I knew I couldn't,
but at least I could put my fingertips on his cheek.
For our meeting, Nick chose Steps of Rome, a cafe on
Columbus Avenue in North Beach, our neighborhood after his
mother and I divorced. In those days, Nick played in
Washington Square Park opposite the Cathedral of Saints Peter
and Paul, down the hill from our Russian Hill flat. We would
eat early dinner at Vanessi's, an Italian restaurant now gone.
The waiters, when they saw Nick, then towheaded, with a gap
between his front teeth, would lift him up and set him on
telephone books stacked on a stool at the counter. Nick was
little enough so that after dinner, when he got sleepy, I
could carry him home, his tiny arms wrapped around my neck.
Since reason and love, the forces I had come to rely on, had
betrayed me, I was in uncharted territory as I sat at a corner
table nervously waiting for him. Steps of Rome was deserted,
other than a couple of waiters folding napkins at the bar. I
ordered coffee, racking my brain for the one thing I could say
that I hadn't thought of that could get through to him.
Drug-and-alcohol counselors, most of them former addicts, tell
fathers like me it's not our fault. They preach ''the Three
C's'': ''You didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you
can't cure it.'' But who among us doesn't believe that we
could have done something differently that would have helped?
''It hurts so bad to think I cannot save him, protect him,
keep him out of harm's way, shield him from pain,'' wrote
Thomas Lynch, the undertaker, poet and essayist, about his
son, a drug addict and an alcoholic. ''What good are fathers
if not for these things?'' I waited until it was more than
half an hour past our meeting time, recognizing the mounting,
suffocating worry and also the bitterness and anger. I had
been waiting for Nick for years. At night, past his curfew, I
waited for the car's grinding engine when it pulled into the
driveway and went silent, the slamming door, footsteps and the
front door opening with a click, despite his attempt at
stealth. Our dog would yelp a halfhearted bark. When Nick was
late, I always assumed catastrophe.
After 45 minutes waiting at Steps of Rome, I decided that he
wasn't coming -- what had I expected? -- and left the cafe.
Still, I walked around the block, returned again, peered into
the cafe and then trudged around the block again. Another
half-hour later, I was ready to go home, really, maybe, when I
saw him. Walking down the street, looking down, his gangly
arms limp at his sides, he looked more than ever like a
ghostly, hollow Egon Schiele self-portrait, debauched and
emaciated. I returned his hug, my arms wrapping around his
vaporous spine, and kissed his cheek. We embraced like that
and sat down at a table by the window. He couldn't look me in
the eye. No apologies for being late. He asked how I was, how
were the little kids? He folded and unfolded a soda straw and
rocked anxiously in his chair; his fingers trembled, and he
clenched his jaw and ground his teeth. He pre-empted any
questions, saying: ''I'm doing. Great. I'm doing what I need
to be doing, being responsible for myself for the first time
in my life.'' I asked if he was ready to kick, to return to
the living, to which he said, ''Don't start.'' When I said
that Jasper and Daisy missed him, he cut me off. ''I can't
deal with that. Don't guilt-trip me.'' Nick drank down his
coffee, held onto his stomach. I watched him rise and leave.
Through Nick's drug addiction, I learned that parents can
bear almost anything. Every time we reach a point where we
feel as if we can't bear any more, we do. Things had descended
in a way that I never could have imagined, and I shocked
myself with my ability to rationalize and tolerate things that
were once unthinkable. He's just experimenting. Going through
a stage. It's only marijuana. He gets high only on weekends.
At least he's not using heroin. He would never resort to
needles. At least he's alive.
A fortnight later, Nick wrote an e-mail message to his
mother and asked for help. After they talked, he agreed to
meet with a friend of our family who took him to her home in
upstate New York, where he could detox. He slept for 20 or
more hours a day for a week and began to work with a therapist
who specialized in drug addiction. After six or so weeks, he
seemed stronger and somewhat less desolate. His mother helped
him move into an apartment in Brooklyn, and he got a job. When
he finally called, he told me that he would never again use
methamphetamine, though he made no such vows about marijuana
and alcohol. With this news, I braced myself for the next
disaster. A new U.C.L.A. study confirms that I had reason to
expect one: recovering meth addicts who stay off alcohol and
marijuana are significantly less likely to relapse.
Two or so months later, the phone rang at 5 on a Sunday
morning. Every parent of a drug-addicted child recoils at a
ringing telephone at that hour. I was informed that Nick was
in a hospital emergency room in Brooklyn after an overdose. He
was in critical condition and on life support.
After two hours, the doctor called to tell me that his vital
signs had leveled off. Still later, he called to say that Nick
was no longer on the critical list. From his hospital bed,
when he was coherent enough to talk, Nick sounded desperate.
He asked to go into another program, said it was his only
So without reluctance this time, Nick returned to rehab.
After six or so months, he moved to Santa Monica near his
mother. He lived in a sober-living home, attended meetings
regularly and began working with a sponsor. He had several
jobs, including one at a drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation
program in Malibu. Last April, after celebrating his second
year sober, he relapsed again, disappearing for two weeks. His
sponsor, who had become a close friend of Nick's, assured me:
''Nick won't stay out long. He's not having any fun.'' Of
course I hoped that he was right, but I was no less worried
than I was other times he had disappeared -- worried that he
could overdose or otherwise cause irreparable damage.
But he didn't. He returned and withdrew on his own, helped
by his sponsor and other friends. He was ashamed -- mortified
-- that he slipped. He redoubled his efforts. Ten months
later, of course, I am relieved (once again) and hopeful (once
again). Nick is working and writing a children's book and
articles and movie reviews for an online magazine. He is
biking and swimming. He seems emphatically committed to his
sobriety, but I have learned to check my optimism.
We recently visited Nick. His eyes were clear, his body
strong and his laugh easy and honest. At night, he read to
Jasper and Daisy, picking up ''The Witches'' where he left off
nearly three years before. Soon thereafter, a letter arrived
for Jasper, who is now 11. Nick wrote: ''I'm looking for a way
to say I'm sorry more than with just the meaninglessness of
those two words. I also know that this money can never replace
all that I stole from you in terms of the fear and worry and
craziness that I brought to your young life. The truth is, I
don't know how to say I'm sorry. I love you, but that has
never changed. I care about you, but I always have. I'm proud
of you, but none of that makes it any better. I guess what I
can offer you is this: As you're growing up, whenever you need
me -- to talk or just whatever -- I'll be able to be there for
you now. That is something that I could never promise you
before. I will be here for you. I will live, and build a life,
and be someone that you can depend on. I hope that means more
than this stupid note and these eight dollar bills.''
David Sheff is a writer living in California. His last
article for the magazine was about the warden of San Quentin