The director of Russia’s Federal Service for the Control of Narcotics, Viktor Ivanov, has described America’s change of drug war strategy in Afghanistan as "unsatisfactory"—agreeing with the assessment of US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Charles Grassley, among others. In 2009, the US began to phase out its poppy eradication efforts, targeting resources instead toward the drug labs that convert poppy into heroin, the transporters who move the product, and the drug lords who oversee this illegal economy. Russian officials have called the change a "mistake." Joint Russian-American forces seized a ton of Afghan heroin in October 2010, and four more joint raids took place, but efforts have waned this year. "We think the most efficient and effective measure is to destroy the product, the drug plantations and the drug laboratories," says Ivanov. Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan rose 7% to 1,300 Km2 this year, according to the UN. Ivanov proposes the creation of a digital map to identify poppy plantations, showing where eradication is working—and where it isn't. Russia is the world’s leading per-capita consumer of heroin and Afghanistan is the top opium producer; 25% of Afghanistan's opium crosses into former Soviet states. The USSR left Afghanistan in 1989 after nine years of occupation, while US forces have been there since October 2001. President Obama has pledged to return the responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to the Afghan government by the end of 2014.
- Mexican Drug Cartels are a Growing Force in New Mexico [Fox News Latino]
- Women are the New Face of Alcohol Advertising [Toronto Star]
- Tobacco Company Sues Australia Over Plain Packaging Law [Wall Street Journal]
- Heroin Purity Warning for UK Users [Press Association]
- Florida Man Busted for Getting Cocaine in the Mail From Costa Rica [Daytona Beach News-Journal]
- Addict Fined Over Naked Oil Incident [Daily Advertiser]
- Smugglers Pack Cocaine in Surfboard [ESPN]
- Drunken Driver Calls 911 to Turn Himself In [Chicago Tribune]
As the principal of a recovery high school in Massachusetts, Michelle Lipinski has long assisted addicted teenagers; but they often distrust authority figures and seem unwilling to begin the conversations that can help them. To break these barriers, she's developed a new program: icanhelp. It trains teachers, coaches and church clergy members how to approach issues like drugs, addiction, pregnancy and abuse with teens they encounter. Most importantly, Lipinksi says, the program teaches participants how to raise such subjects with vulnerable, wary students—while keeping a safe distance. “We offer a safe, supportive environment where kids will confide in us with their problems,” she tells The Fix. "Kids want to talk; they often just don’t know how." Assisted by outreach organizations, she personally hosts training sessions in local high schools. icanhelp also subtly advertises drug awareness, services and support by posting lists of questions in high school halls and classrooms, prompting students to relate them to their own lives. Lipinski suggests this understated approach lets kids “self-identify” their problems, and seek help on their own terms. “There’s a big gap between prevention and treatment for kids who don’t have a mechanism to talk with an adult. There’s a way to intervene earlier, before it’s too late.” A 2010 National Drug Institute on Drug Abuse study found that 48.2% of teens try an illicit drug by the 12th grade. Anyone seeking more information on the program can email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former multiple boxing champ Oscar De la Hoya—who came clean about his alcohol and cocaine addictions, cross-dressing and infidelities earlier this year—apparently took his cocaine in an unusual way. Angelica Marie Cecora, a model and one-time confidante of Oscar De la Hoya, tells the NY Post, "He indicated he wanted [the powder administered rectally]." This followed some "cocaine-fueled confessions" during what the Post terms a "kinky romp" at New York's Ritz Carlton Hotel. Cecora, who has filed suit against De la Hoya alleging he forced himself on her and another woman last March, says she felt victimized by the Golden Boy. “He took advantage of me. I wanted to stop him from doing this to other people.” Most experienced drug users would attest that the backdoor isn't the standard orifice for using blow. But some, like De la Hoya and Stevie Nicks, whose decades-old urban legend of butt-blow abuse persists to this day, may buck the trend.
An Australian man with a passing resemblance to Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan spent three days in jail last year after Aussie border agents accused him of smuggling 1.6 kg of liquid ecstasy into the country—cunningly disguised in bottles of Pantene Pro V shampoo and conditioner. Actually, the bottles really did contain innocent hair product. Now, after 17 months of legal battles, Neil Parry has been awarded $100,000 in damages for the false arrest—most of which will simply cover his legal costs. Australian authorities sheepishly confess that they bungled the shampoo analysis, which they originally said tested positive for MDMA, the active compound in ecstasy. "Mistakes were made during the presumptive testing of Mr. Parry's goods," (under)states an official, who claims that new procedures have since been introduced. Ecstasy isn't known for being ingested through the scalp. Parry's boat was searched during the investigation, as were the homes of two of his friends. Procter & Gamble, makers of the Pro V hair care line, declined to comment.
Some sons of cocaine-addicted rats who dislike the drug could change the way we understand genetic inheritance. “Epigenetics" was a buzzword at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in DC last week; it's a new avenue of study, examining environmental influences that can turn genes on or off in an immediately heritable way. A paper on the epigenetics of cocaine addiction in rats seized the attention of the world’s top brain scientists. The study found that “cocaine-induced changes in the brain can be inherited by sons from their fathers,” says co-author Chris Pierce, of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. Let's think about that: in biology class, we were taught to scoff at Lysenkoism—a discredited Soviet approach to genetics that insisted on the heritability of acquired characteristics. But neuroscientists are now saying, Not so fast. Not only were certain changes in gene expression in the brain heritable in the cocaine-addicted rats, but the results of those changes were utterly unexpected. The sons of the addicted male rats didn’t like coke much at all. They were more resistant to the reward effects of the drug, and so less likely to become addicted. The implications are complex and mind-boggling. Researchers must now confront the notion that lasting brain changes caused by drug or alcohol addiction might represent heritable risks—or epigenetic benefits—to their kids. Says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse: “Maybe we can learn to silence certain genes during pregnancy that would help protect against addiction.”