A clinic in London reports that most patients being treated for the long-term health effects of club drugs and "legal highs" aren't teens and 20-somethings as you might expect, but adults in their thirties. According to the Club Drug Clinic—a free NHS service specialized in treating substance abuse among "adult clubbers and LGBT people"—the average age of people admitted for treatment is 30 to 35. “Many users aren’t stereotypical teenage revellers, but older people with jobs and responsibilities," says Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones, who founded the clinic in response to rising use and abuse of "legal highs" and so-called club drugs like the "big four"—ketamine, mephedrone, GHB/GBL, and methamphetamine. The clinic's doctors are concerned that their older clients are more "experienced partiers" who started out in the heyday of house music and are now feeling the long-term impact of their drug use. “These are people who have used club drugs recreationally, often without a problem, for years," says Bowden-Jones. "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." One of the most severe side effects is "ketamine bladder"—which causes pain and frequent urination and has sent three patients to surgery. Since the club drug clinic first opened in 2011, about 800 people have been referred, with 500 receiving treatment—currently about 50 per month. Demand is so high that the service opened a second location, also in London.
People visiting their loved ones in prison is a major source for drugs getting inside. But now video chatting services, like Skype, have become an increasingly popular way for prisoners to communicate with the outside world. Some correctional officers believe prisons could ultimately eliminate the need for person-to-person visitor interactions—and curb the flow of drugs inside—by implementing "virtual visitation" on a wider scale. "Virtual visitation is a new concept that is spreading across the country," a correctional officer tells The Fix. "Inmates and their families would register for the web-based video visitation program and pay per minute like they do on the telephone and email services. It could eventually replace in person visitation." Prisoners aren't so keen on the idea, as they feel it is taking away one more of the "little freedoms" that they enjoy in the rigid prison environment. "It sounds lame to me," one prisoner tells The Fix. "I want to hold my wife's hand and have my daughter sit on my lap when I see them. Being in prison I need the human interaction and touch of my loved ones to strengthen my family ties." He says communicating through a computer is comparable to "talking on the phone or being behind the glass" and should not be used in lower or middle-security prisons. Still, the prisoner does agree that virtual visitation could prevent drugs from getting smuggled in. "Less drugs would definitely be coming in," he says, "But staff just needs to do their job and stop being lazy."
Is Miley Cyrus' latest hit song a testimony to drugs? The pop singer stirred controversy with the lyrics of “We Can't Stop” (video below)—another song about partying in the USA—which seem to reference cocaine and ecstasy. Many interpreted the lines: “La-da-di-da-di / We like to party / Dancin’ with molly / Doin’ whatever we want,” as a reference to molly—a popular nickname for MDMA. And the second verse—“Everyone in line in the bathroom / Trying to get a line in the bathroom / We all so turnt up here / Gettin’ turnt up yeah yeah”—has been widely interpreted as a cocaine reference. Also, according to Urban Dictionary, “turnt up” means “thee act of getting drunk and high to thee highest degree,” or “a state of altered consciousness induced by alcohol or narcotics, also being happy and excited and energetic.” But a representative for Mike WiLL Made It, the song's producer, claims that the song is about “dancin' with Miley,” not molly. He gave no comment about the “line in the bathroom." But 20-year-old Cyrus, who is no stranger to media controversy, seems unperturbed by the most recent claims of her using and/or promoting drugs. "Everyone always judges and says what they want, but my fans … have really stood by me no matter what I've been through," she said Monday, "and this is a song that says where I'm at in my life right now."
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed an important overdose prevention bill into law this morning, at a conference in South Burlington hosted by addiction specialist and sometime Fix interviewee Dr. Gabor Maté. House bill 65 protects the victim and witnesses to a drug overdose from arrest and prosecution for certain crimes, including possession of drugs or paraphernalia and violation of restraining orders or probation. Last year, drug overdose claimed 73 lives in Vermont and remains the leading cause of injury death to state residents aged 25-64. The law aims to reduce deaths by removing the fear of criminal repercussions that prevents overdose witnesses from seeking help. The Governor also signed House bill 533, a comprehensive drug treatment and prevention bill designed to strengthen Vermont’s response to opioid and methamphetamine use. Both laws become effective immediately. “These bills are important because Vermonters care about those among us who are living with addiction," says Tom Dalton, an advocate for the bill from Howard Center Safe Recovery in Burlington, "and their safety and wellbeing matter to us all.”
Vermont is the 13th US state to pass a 911 Good Samaritan law to combat an epidemic that claims more lives each year than car accidents and murder combined. New Mexico blazed the trail in 2007, before a swift succession of similar laws passed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia. This year, nearly a dozen more states introduced bills; legislation in North Carolina and New Jersey emerged victorious, while other bills were strangled by partisan bickering (Missouri, Mississippi and North Dakota), killed in committee (New Hampshire and West Virginia), or simply ran out of time (Hawaii and Texas). Maine still has a live bill, but it looks unlikely to pass this year.
Drinking on the job will get you in trouble—and doubly so if your job happens to be breaking and entering. Moses Wilson, 29, learned this the hard way when his decision to stop for a cold one during a break-in led to his arrest. Looking to score some copper piping, Wilson broke into a vacant upstate New York rental home back in February when officials say he spotted an unopened case of beer and decided to knock a few back. As a result, police were able to match the DNA from the spent beer cans to Wilson, landing him with charges of burglary and petit larceny. He's now being held on $10,000 bail.
In a scenario reminiscent of the hit show Weeds, New York native and divorced mother-of-two Andrea Sanderlin was arrested two weeks ago for running a“sophisticated operation to grow and process marijuana” out of a Queens warehouse. The Smoking Gun reports that federal investigators raided the warehouse last month, finding nearly 3000 pot plants, "large quantities of dried marijuana" and state-of-the-art cultivation equipment. Sanderlin, 45, had been allegedly running a multimillion-dollar marijuana business under the front name "Fantastic Enterprises, Inc." A US District court filing also claims that federal agents recovered $6,000 in cash and books on money laundering and growing marijuana when they raided her home in the ritzy Westchester town of Scarsdale, in addition to $7,900 in cash from Sanderlin's nanny, who was trying to funnel the cash to Sanderlin's boyfriend. The federal investigation against Sanderlin began last April, when five men were arrested for also operating marijuana businesses in NYC warehouses and one confessed that Sanderlin was conducting a similar business. Investigators later discovered that her electricity tab alone at the Queens warehouse averaged $9,000 a month, all of which was typically paid for in cash. It's unclear how long Sanderlin has been in the marijuana trade, but she was an active poster to the cannabis.com message board as far back as March 2008. The arrest came as a shock to those in her affluent community, who primarily knew her as a horse rider who had won several ribbons. Sanderlin's nanny said she was shocked by the arrest, although she confessed that she never knew exactly what her boss did for a living: “I just know that she told me she was going to work in the morning,” she said.