A British woman suffering from body dysmorphic disorder nearly lost her life because she became hooked to lip filler. Lauren Smalley, now 30, "began to hate the way I looked” from the age of 12, she tells The Sun. She was first prescribed medication for body dysmorphic disorder when she was 15. But driven by her condition to change her appearance, she began making regular visits to Harley Street—the traditional home of expensive private doctors in London—and became "addicted" to monthly lip-filler injections of Perlane and Restylane, costing up to $480 a time. In order to save money and reduce the frequency of her trips to the doctor, Smalley began looking for a permanent filler and discovered Bio-Alcamid. But she developed small tumors called granulomas in her face after using it, and a subsequent infection on top of that meant the filler had to be surgically removed. The painful and costly reconstruction she now needs will take years. “Bio-Alcamid has left me dreadfully scarred and I feel deformed now," she says. "I’d like to tell anyone who is considering using lip fillers to be careful.”
With a population of just over 1.5 million, the African nation of Guinea Bissau is known as one of the smallest and poorest countries in the world. It's also becoming a crucial hub for South American drug traffickers, with an estimated few hundred million dollars-worth being transported from South America to Europe through the country each year. A close proximity to Brazil—just a quick four-hour flight—makes it an ideal location; plus, there are dozens of unpopulated islands for drug-bearing planes to land, and an absence of Western police agencies. And even if a shipment is detected, police intervention is nonexistent because the country’s military is apparently deeply involved in the drug trade. “All the problems in Guinea Bissau are because of drug trafficking,” says Lucinda Gomes Barbosa, the former head of the country’s anti-narcotic police, who resigned last year. “There are people in high positions in government who are benefiting from this. They only think about money. They fight each other so that the drug trafficking can continue and they don’t think about the problems that it creates in the country.” Barbosa adds that she unsuccessfully tried to arrest drug traffickers on three occasions in 2008 and that the few high-ranking officials who have fought corruption are often threatened. The drug trade in Guinea Bissau is relatively new; less than one ton of cocaine was seized per year on average prior to 2005. But the UN estimates that 25% of Europe’s cocaine came via West Africa in 2007.
Mike Jones served nine tours of duty in Iraq as an Army Ranger before losing his leg to an IED. These days, he participates in the Orange County Combat Veterans Court, a program that connects veterans who have been arrested and suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders with the benefits and services they've earned. On May 1 he kicked off "All Rise America! National Motorcycle Relay for Recovery"—a first-of-its-kind 3,000 mile relay across the US, visiting 25 Drug Court, DWI Court and Veterans Treatment Court events in 24 days and celebrating the transformations made by Drug Courts—by leading 25 veterans, law enforcement and court staff on a ride to Los Angeles.
“I have firsthand experience of what these programs have done for me,” said Jones in LA. “When I came home I got hooked on drugs. Instead of being locked up I was given the opportunity to get treatment. It’s given me purpose and direction. I wouldn’t be here today without it.” With that, he handed the All Rise Gavel—the symbolic "baton" of this relay—to Mark, a rider with the Messengers of Recovery Motorcycle Club who led the next group of riders to Arizona. Drug Courts annually refer more people to treatment than any other system in America. Addicts rarely get clean in jail; Drug Courts keep addicted individuals out of jail or prison and in treatment, supervising them closely and using the leverage of the court to keep them engaged for as long as it takes to find long-term recovery.
A few days after the ceremonies in California, All Rise America! was in the Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico, attending a graduation ceremony at a Drug Court designed for Native American communities. The former Governor of the Pueblo, Chandler Sanchez, was on hand to receive the gavel from the Mayor of Gallup, NM—who had ridden into town with 30 riders. A welcoming crowd showed the incredible support of a community that recognizes the social and economic benefits of giving its neighbors a chance at recovery. All Rise America! is currently more than halfway across the country, having traveled nearly 2,000 miles through seven states and attended 17 inspiring events so far. You can follow the progress online at the All Rise America! Blog.
West Huddleston is CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
In the Mexican state of Nuevo León on Sunday, authorities discovered 49 decapitated bodies alongside a highway to the US border that is a major drug-trafficking route; the bodies were found less than a week after army presence was expanded in efforts to curb drug-related crime in the region. Although it's possible the victims were US-bound migrant workers, authorities believe the deaths were probably related to drug gangs, who are known to leave the bodies of their victims—often mutilated—in public places as a warning to their rivals. A message left near the scene suggested that the notorious, extremely violent Las Zetas drug cartel was implicated in the murders. The 43 male, and six female bodies were found with the heads, hands, and feet cut off (making it difficult to identify them) and some were tattooed with “Santa Muerte,” the Mexican skeletal saint of death. In September, a drug gang allied with the Sinaloa cartel (who rival Las Zetas) left 35 bodies at a freeway overpass in the city of Veracruz; a few days later, police found 32 other bodies, killed by the same gang with the goal of taking over territory dominated by Las Zetas. This month, 23 bodies have been found dumped or hanging in the city of Nuevo Laredo and another 18 were found along a highway south of Guadalajara, Mexico. Violence related to organized crime in Mexico has reportedly claimed more than 50,000 lives, most of them in Mexican states near the US border. Nuevo León state security spokesman Jorge Domene said on Sunday that the violence is taking place between drug gangs and is "not an attack against the civil population.”
Mother’s Day yesterday saw a group of mothers gather on the steps of the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse to deliver a clear message: “No more drug war!” Moms United to End the War on Drugs is an organization of mothers whose families have been negatively affected by US drug policy and the drug war. They advocate for therapeutic drug policies in a movement to stop the violence, drug incarceration and overdose deaths that they believe are the result of current punitive and discriminatory drug policies. “Mothers throughout history have come forward for the sake of their children,” says Gretchen Burns Bergman, executive director of Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing (PATH). “We’re coming forth saying that the drug war has been more damaging to our families than the drugs themselves." Many of the mothers in attendance had lost children either due to drug overdoses or drug-related violence, including Lorraine Rebennack. “I think the war on drugs has to end,” she says. “It hasn’t saved anybody. It hasn’t changed anything. It’s created chaos in neighborhoods and shootings. And our jails are full of people who have something else to give to this world other than sitting in jail for non-violent offenses.”
- Mexican Officials Report 49 Bodies Dumped on Highway to US Border [Washington Post]
- Tobacco Company Ads Take Aim at Proposition 28 $1-a-Pack Tax [La Times]
- Fewer Reprieves, Exemptions for Drunk Drivers in China [China Daily]
- Addiction Diagnoses May Rise Under DSM Guideline Changes [New York Times]
- Following the Heroin Trail From Holland to Somalia [Radio Netherlands]
- Car and Foot Chase Leads to Rolling Meth Lab [WSBT]
- Jeremy Lin's Fast Break Into Clubbing [New York Post]