Drug abuse has tripled among UK pensioners, or residents over the age of 65, according to a recent survey from the National Health Service (NHS).
Nearly 900 men and women within that age group required hospital treatment after overdosing on illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines, with more than half of those admissions for people over the age of 75. The survey, based on information culled from 4,000 households, corroborates information taken from another recent study by King’s College London, which reported drug use among residents over the age of 50 had risen dramatically since 1993 and will most likely continue to rise over the next two decades.
Robert Stewart, who co-authored the research for the King’s College study, noted that the cause of this sudden rise in usage could be linked to the permissive attitude towards drug use in the 1960s – the decade in which most of the individuals in question would have been in their 20s and at the height of their experimental phase. “The assumption is that these people would have grown up during ages when [recreational drug use] was considered more acceptable,” he said. Both Stewart and the UK charity DrugScope have stated that more resources are needed to provide treatment services to the pensioner demographic. “The hospitalization of pensioners through drug use is going to get more common,” Stewart said.
The survey and report come on the heels of a much-publicized case from earlier this month in which a 63-year-old woman and her husband were found to be part of a £1 million heroin network operating across Devon and Cornwall.
- Ohio Lawmakers Try to Tackle Painkiller Addiction With 11 New Bills [WFMJ]
- Woman Caught Wearing Cocaine Diaper Gets Sentenced [HipHopWired]
- Hospital Visits by 21 Year Olds on Ecstasy Jumps 128% [Medical News Today]
- Akron Area Firefighter Caught With Heroin, Charged for Possession [FOX 8]
- Drunk Chicago Ambulance Driver Causes Accident [WLS-TV]
- Singapore Bans Alcohol in Little India After Riot [Live Mint]
- Woman Charged for Homicide After Providing Heroin That Killed Her Boyfriend [Philly.com]
- New York Politicians Make the Push to Legalize Marijuana [Politicker]
In an effort to curb what it sees as a growing problem with gaming addiction, the South Korean parliament is considering passing a law that would significantly restrict internet gaming activity by changing the hours gamers are allowed to play while also imposing a tax on all online gaming revenue.
Currently, gamers are prohibited from playing from midnight to 6 am, but the new law would add three hours to the “mandatory shutdown,” changing it to 10 pm to 7 am. In addition, the bill would impose a one percent tax on the gaming industry’s revenue. This money would be put into a fund to help addicts. The new legislation, which is favored by 14 members of the ruling party, would take the added step of classifying internet gaming as one of the four major addictions alongside gambling, alcohol, and drugs.
According to Hwang Woo-yea, a Saenuri Party representative, “470,000 internet game addicts need to get medical treatment.” In a recent survey, 72.1% of South Koreans agree that online games are as addictive as drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Furthermore, a 2011 government study showed that 125,000 young people needed treatment for internet gaming or were “at risk” of developing addiction
The proposed law has met with resistance from the gaming industry, however, whose export income in 2012 exceeded the combined earnings of “Gangnam Style,” K-pop music, and other South Korean cultural exports. The Korea Internet and Digital Entertainment Association is concerned that such a bill would decimate the industry, and has said in a statement that "the 100,000 people employed in the game industry are not drugmakers.” Gaming enthusiasts are also speaking up; in an op-ed to the International New York Times, novelist Young-Ha Kim challenged the efficacy of the bill: “Would a law providing for treatment of Internet gaming addiction actually help players to recover?”
Efforts to prevent the bill from passing include a constitutional court case and a signature campaign.
Demi Lovato, once a child actress who appeared on Barney & Friends, has offered the first detailed look at her past with substance abuse in an exclusive interview with Access Hollywood. “I had all the help in the world, but I didn't want it," she said.
Lovato admitted for the first time her problems with alcohol and cocaine abuse in the interview, stating that drugs were “no longer fun” and became so problematic that she even hid her use from her sober living companion. "Something I've never talked about before, but with my drug use I could hide it to where I would sneak drugs,” she said. “I couldn't go without 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine and I would bring it on airplanes.”
The star also admitted to drinking Sprite bottles filled with vodka at 9 a.m. and throwing up on her way back to her sober living house in Los Angeles, one of several moments she hit on her slide to rock bottom. "I think at 19 years old, I had a moment where I was like, ‘Oh my God…that is alcoholic behavior,'” Lovato said. “[I]t was, wow, I'm one of those people…I gotta get my shit together.”
Lovato has stated in the past that she suffered from bipolar disorder, which she learned about in treatment, and admitted to cutting as a means of coping with her problems. But since completing treatment in January 2011, she has been opening up more in interviews about her past issues with mental health, eating disorders, and substance abuse, and in November she published her memoir, Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year, that alludes to her struggles.
The club drug ketamine, otherwise known as “Special K,” could land British users of the drug some serious jail time. A new law proposed by government advisers recommends that ketamine, otherwise known as a hallucinogenic horse tranquilizer, be upgraded from a Class B substance to a Class C. If this is approved, ketamine users could receive up to five years in prison and dealers could face up to 14 years in jail.
The government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) hasn’t reviewed ketamine since 2004, but it was banned as a recreational drug in 2006. ACMD chairman Professor Les Iversen said that some college-aged ketamine users needed to have their bladders removed because of their addiction to the drug, which can cause pain and frequent urination.
The issue isn’t limited to 20-somethings, though. A clinic in London reported that it was mainly adults in their thirties being treated for the long-term health effects of club drugs. “These are people who have used club drugs recreationally, often without a problem, for years," said Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones, who founded the Club Drug Clinic in London. "Slowly their problems have escalated to the point they have run into significant difficulty. The harms we are now seeing, you wouldn’t normally associate with club drugs."
Approximately 50 people are being treated each month and demand for the service is so high that a second location in London was opened. However, not all of the effects of ketamine are negative; research released in January 2012 showed it could provide immediate relief from symptoms of depression.
A former supervisor for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is making a rather drastic career change by supporting the legal marijuana industry. Patrick Moen spent years fighting methamphetamine and heroin traffickers in Portland, OR, but has now become the in-house lawyer at Privateer Holdings, Inc., “a private-equity firm that invests solely in businesses tied to the budding legal marijuana industry.” Portland is less than a 30 minute drive away from the Washington border, where marijuana is now legal for recreational use by anyone over the age of 21.
Privateer has already raised $7 million and is looking to raise another $25 million in 2014. Their investments include Leafly.com, a Yelp-style website that lets users rate and review dispensaries and strains of marijuana, as well as a Washington state company that builds and owns business parks leased to growers and processors. “The potential social and financial returns are enormous,” said Moen. “The attitudes towards cannabis are shifting rapidly."
After 10 years of working with the DEA, Moen’s responsibilities with Privateer will also ironically include helping the company steer clear of legal trouble. "There are so many problems with the industry," said Chief Executive Brendan Kennedy, a former technology executive who also worked in venture capital. “The sector is fragmented, it is difficult doing business with banks and the industry is littered with former outlaws. People from outside this industry don’t quite understand how complicated it is.”
Naturally, Moen said he was concerned about “blowback from colleagues and from friends and family,” but said he has received overwhelming support for his career change. The DEA declined to comment on Moen.