October 27, 2005

Hidden Addictions

Marilyn Freimuth's book has been published. I'm ordering it today.

Hidden Addictions: Assessment Practices for Psychotherapists, Counselors, and Health Care Providers

Hidden Addictions: Assessment Practices for Psychotherapists, Counselors, and Health Care Providers

Impressive. She got a jacket quote from Marlatt:

This book provides a wealth of information to help therapists and other health professionals recognize and assess for possible 'hidden addictions' among their patients and clients. Even when patients seek treatment for other problems, many have co-occurring problems with alcohol, other substances, or 'process addictions' such as excessive shopping, gambling, or cybersex. Therapists will benefit from the author's description of multiple assessment strategies designed to uncover addictive behavior patterns that will facilitate treatment planning. I highly recommend this valuable resource for all therapists and clinical students in training.
Posted by campbell at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2004

No Half Measures in Newfoundland Parliament

Newfoundland Politics:

[Newfoundland Premier Danny] Williams was asked: "There was a time when, late in a session, some legislators would be half drunk. Has that improved?"

The premier answered: "No, now they're completely drunk."

The retort by the opposition is less funny, but truly fanciful:

"I've never, ever evidenced any liquor being consumed inside or outside of the house of assembly," he said.

Wouldn't you know, just when things were looking up for Newfoundland...

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January 23, 2004

Equal Time?

Following up on that previous posting, the beer company that denies that its use of cute animals encourages kids to respond favorably to booze, is at it again this year:

Anheuser-Busch Cos., a perennial Super Bowl advertiser who brought us the talking frogs and the ``Whassssup?'' guys, is expected to introduce a donkey who wants to be a Clydesdale horse.

Doesn't that seem like a fitting metaphor for all the Democratic candidates this year?

Posted by campbell at 06:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 09, 2003

Drunk or Stupid?

Ken Schram is a broadcaster in Seattle who apparently thinks he's hip, funny, caustic and populist. He likes to fancy himself the champion of the underdog. His latest targets, though, seem to be the underdogs themselves.

The issue: a 75-unit housing facility being created for chronic alcoholics in Seattle. Schram's objection: the residents will be allowed alcohol in their rooms.

If someone can explain to me how it helps to give alcoholics a cozy place to booze it up, I'd like to hear it. [...] This idea is a joke and a waste of $9 million.

Makes me wish we could take city officials to court simply for being stupid.

Unfortunately, stupidity is not illegal.

Actually, Schram is pretty fortunate that stupidity is still legal. He'd be doing life.

Seattle and Tacoma have been wrestling with the problem of chronic drunks in their downtowns. Solutions have included the (probably quixotic) declaring of "alcohol impact zones" where certain types of liquor can't be sold. They have pressured stores not to sell such products, and threatened those that failed to comply.

In steps a local social services agency, hoping to address the problem with the modern notion of "harm reduction." Chronic alcoholics living in the park are not exactly prime candidates for the Betty Ford clinic. The plan is to provide them with shelter, health care and treatment for their alcoholism. Benefits: reduce the load on hospital emergency rooms, reduce crime committed by and to the afflicted, help clean up the downtown image. Looks like a win-win to me.

But not to Schram. Despite his sometimes progressive views on other topics, on this one he is just another Neanderthal.

This case serves to point out the weird mush of beliefs that people still hold about addictions. On the one hand, the public may have some understanding of the disease theory of alcoholism: "Well, you can't blame someone with a disease." At the same time, they believe at heart that it's a moral failing: "He would be working at his sobriety if he weren't a degenerate loser."

You see, in the view of most people there are "good" alcoholics ones on the wagon, going to meetings and "bad" alcoholics ones who have lost control of themselves again. We who are not afflicted are supposed to feel sympathy for the good ones, and disgust and disdain for the bad ones.

This is a destructive belief system for nonalcoholic and alcoholic alike, particularly when the alcoholic is struggling in an abstinence/relapse cycle (the vast majority).

It's part of an equally destructive game of funding health care services for the addict. "We don't need to spend much because the addict should be able to control their disease on their own. After all, it's not like cancer, where you can't help it. And there's no drug available to cure it, so let's give up. After all, the addict has."

That's why stories like the Seattle facility get play. Providing care for the undeserving bad alcoholics? How dare you?

Mr. Schram, stupidity is a form of disease and far more morally repugnant than any kind of chemical dependence.

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October 02, 2003

Substances of Choice

The Daily News provided a list of the pharmaceuticals Rush prefers. OxyContin is sometimes called "Hillbilly Heroin". Cute.

Anxiety, drowsiness, poor mental performance, mood changes, itchiness. Wait a minute, that sounds like me!

Hydrocodone
Anti-cough agent and painkiller similar to morphine. Side effects include anxiety, poor mental performance, emotional dependence, drowsiness, mood changes, difficulty breathing and itchiness.
Lorcet
Brand name for the combination of Tylenol and hydrocodone, prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Side effects include dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, dizziness, tiredness, muscle twitches, sweating and itching.
OxyContin
Potent time-release medication for relief of moderate to severe pain, known as hillbilly heroin because of black-market popularity in some rural areas. Side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, sweating, muscle twitches and decreased sex drive. A large dose can be fatal.

Posted by campbell at 02:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rush to Treatment

I never thought I would mention Rush Limbaugh in this blog. Politically, I have little regard for him and his ilk. But he seems to have popped up as a professional interest. Specifically, Rush is being accused by his former housekeeper cum supplier of being addicted to painkillers.

Wilma Cline, 42, says Limbaugh was hooked on the potent prescription drugs OxyContin, Lorcet and hydrocodone — and went through detox twice.

According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health from SAMHSA (Dept of Health and Human Services) (just in this week), more people are now seeking treatment for painkiller use (360,000) than for heroin (277,000), a number exceeded only by alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.

Naturally, El Rushbo has waxed wroth on the glories of minimum sentencing, especially for crack cocaine users (primarily minority youth, etc. etc.). In doing so, he repeatedly conflates substance use with morality, as in this June 2003 quote from his show:

First of all, we tell people what they can do to their bodies all the time - no cocaine, no prostitution, no throwing yourself off a building. Second, laws are nothing but defining morality!

We can't expect guys like Rush to examine their hypocrisies (some might say idiocies), but it is time to realize that substance use, misuse, abuse and dependence is not a moral failing, but a public health concern. And it's not a problem of the inner city, the unemployed and the poor, as Rush can now so ably demonstrate.

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August 10, 2003

Great Moments in Branding - 1

Looking for a name for a new vodka product? Kyndal of Scotland (I know...Scottish Vodka?) chose: Lush, adding an extraneous apostrophe for a foreign flair. Pretty hilarious.

It turns out that in Britain, according to Websters Unabridged, lush can be defined thus:

\Lush\, n. [Etymol uncertain; said to be fr. Lushington, name of a London brewer.] Liquor, esp. intoxicating liquor; drink. [Slang]

Perhaps the branders also had in mind: luxuriant, opulent, voluptuous, sensual.

Naturally, in American English, a lush is a drunkard. So I guess it does work on multiple levels. How about D'ipso or W'ino?

By the way, the thought of a vodka tasting of cream with vanilla or strawberry is pretty terrifying to me. Yuck.

Seems intended to appeal to (very) young drinkers, even younger than the twenty-somethings targetted by L'ush marketing. Looks like a new concept in liquor marketing: Vanilla Coke as a gateway drug. I guess that's what they mean when they suggest we "Live Life Lush".

August 08, 2003

Adieu, Montréal Grand Prix

Paul Jané is pissed off about the cancellation of the 2004 Montréal Grand Prix due to government regulations forbidding tobacco sponsorship.

Wow! Who could have seen that coming? You mean, the filthy capitalists who run Formula One actually didn't kiss off the guys who pay the bills, but instead kissed off the country that gloms all those tourist dollars.

Politicians always want to look like they're doing something about public health problems and addictions, rather than actually doing anything about them.

Get ready, Canada, pretty soon you won't even be able to watch Formula One on television (unless you get an illegal satellite dish). All curling! All the time!

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May 02, 2003

Canada Threatened with Weapons of Intense Bureaucracy

US threatens Canada if it legalizes marijuana:

Murray didn't spell out what the American response would be, but he invoked images of tie-ups at border crossings and intense bureaucracy.

Ooooh. Somehow I don't think the Canadians are going to be scared. Having worked for the Canadian Ministry of Transport, I can tell you that intense bureaucracy may be the one threat that Canada is equipped to deal with.

The US may finally be outgunned.

Thanks to Mad Mitch for the heads-up and some appropriately cogent advice to the US drug agency.

Mitch is probably mad because he's in Ottawa, or else he's in Ottawa because he's mad. Either works.

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April 06, 2003

Cannabis Link to Schizophrenia

The Guardian (UK) is reporting concern that increased use of stronger cannabis can lead to increased rates of schizophrenia, a concern heightened by planned decreases in criminal penalties for use in the UK.

Professor Robin Murray, who is leading the study, said his view of the drug had changed in recent years. He used to be sceptical when cannabis was blamed. 'Relatives would say "It seems to be the cannabis that makes my son or daughter or brother psychotic" and I would say, "Oh, they're being hysterical, they're just trying to look for something to blame". We've come to realise that it does have a significant effect, but it has taken us a long time to wake up to this.' [...] 'We know that for those who take the drug there is a fourfold increase in schizophrenia and a fourfold increase in the chances of suffering major depressive illness.'

I guess my question would be how we can quantify effects in illnesses that are as ill-defined as schizophrenia. It is just as likely that schizophrenic-prone individuals seek cannabis to self-medicate. As always, these studies seem to be lobbed in to affect the legal process than to aid the treatment process.

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April 02, 2003

White House Ends Drug Terror Ads

Ad Age:

The White House anti-drug office will end its controversial drugs-and-terror advertising campaign and, in a reversal, shift more of its $150 million budget toward children's media as it fights for Congress to extend the program another five years.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy will also cease a polarizing $8 million annual study that found the ads aimed at youth were not working and that pitted the drug office against the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Good riddance.

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March 19, 2003

Moderate Alcohol Use Fights Dementia

An article in the JAMA reveals health benefits to the elderly from moderate drinking:

The study of 373 dementia patients older than 65 and a like number of control subjects revealed that the lowest rates of dementia were among subjects who drank between one and six alcoholic drinks a week, who had half the risk of teetotalers.

People who abstained from alcohol and those who consumed between seven and 13 drinks a week were at about equal risk of developing dementia, while those who drank more than 13 drinks a week had a significant 22 percent higher risk.

The reason: better blood flow through reduced hardening of the arteries.

One other interesting fact: "People who had a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer's disease and who drank heavily were at triple the risk" of developing dementia.

For those keeping score: that is from 1 to less than 2 drinks per day.

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March 17, 2003

Ecstasy and Depression

Club drug ecstasy has been linked to depression, according to researchers at a London University.

According to the researcher, even a half tablet led to a depressed condition. But you can get to some very serious depression with larger amounts.

...She suggested the results tied into previous studies which have indicated that ecstasy can affect key brain chemicals.

"There is a lot of data in animals showing that ecstasy damages the neurotransmitter for serotonin, which is known to be involved in depression."

Serotonin also plays an important role in regulating memory and behaviour. The researchers are now looking to see if these are also impaired on people who take ecstasy.

Next up I guess: Ecstasy and Prozac cocktails.

Updated: Removed the reference to the number of ecstasy pills. Pointed out by Bill Stewart in comments. Checked original and BBC had removed the reference to the number in the article.

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March 12, 2003

New Definitions

From The Concordian, newspaper of Concordia University Montreal, scene of several recent anti-semitic, pro-Palestinian incidents:

The motion calls for a joint inquiry by the CSU and Concordia administration into what Cormier called "institutionalised racism at Concordia." According to Cormier, there have been several unanswered incidents of racism on university bodies, particularly at the Board of Governors. According to Cormier, Sobia Virk, a Muslim student governor, had asked that alcohol not be served during a meeting since it would go against her religious beliefs. Board members brushed off the request, said Cormier, telling Virk she should act "more Canadian."

I'm not sure which I find more puzzling:

A) that racism is redefined as failing to suppress any cultural practice (even as benign as drinking beer or wine) that could conceivably conflict with someone else's personal beliefs.

B) That they actually serve alcohol at Board of Governors meetings. They sure didn't when I was on the McGill University Senate in 1970.

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