It seems hardly a week goes by without another mainstream group calling for an end to the war on drugs. This time it’s the turn of Blacks In Government (BIG), an organization representing African-American government employees at the federal, state, county and municipal levels. BIG resoundingly approved a resolution at a national delegates' meeting last week, calling for an end to the war on drugs—citing its racial bias and failure to effect levels of drug use in the US. In June this year the NAACP also passed a historic resolution calling for an end to the war on drugs. Other African-American groups that have taken a similar stance include National Black Caucus of State Legislators and the National Black Police Association.
The BIG resolution will be delivered to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, according to an alert sent out by LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). It calls for “alternatives to incarceration that may, in part, include a model to regulate and control the distribution of some drugs.” The resolution cites the words of LEAP’s Major Neil Franklin and US Marshal Matthew Fogg, who have long noted that African Americans constitute 53.5% of all imprisoned drug offenders in the US, even though drug use is divided pretty evenly across racial lines. Responding to this staggering discrepancy, BIG asks for “a federal investigation for solutions to eliminate the pretense and continued arrest and incarceration of African Americans at extraordinarily disparate rates for drug related charges.” Fogg, a former US marshal and BIG national first vice president, says “I personally witnessed racially biased enforcement procedures when I ran a joint DEA task force. When I requested equal enforcement of upscale suburban areas, I met internal resistance.” These are exciting times for opponents of the destructive and nonsensical war on drugs, with the anti-prohibitionist viewpoint moving rapidly into the mainstream. But are politicians listening?
The team doctor for the San Diego Chargers, David Chao, apparently doesn't let work get in the way of fun—or of feeding his addictions. After racking up two DUIs and being sued over 20 times since 1998, including four times by ball players for malpractice, this year the doctor settled a malpractice suit with a civilian for $2.2 million. Now he's reportedly under investigation for writing himself over 100 prescriptions between 2008 and 2010. When then-Chargers safety Kevin Ellison was pulled over with 100 Vicodin pills, Chao was linked to the case. And yet he remains fully employed by the Chargers. Whether he can keep his NFL job as the headlines darken remains to be seen. Chao came to be the Chargers’ lead physician after his partner, Gary Losse, who previously held the position, left the medical profession amid revelations of his addiction to prescription drugs. Chao inherited the medical practice, Losse’s Chargers position and—remarkably—seven lawsuits alleging that Chao had enabled, condoned and facilitated Losse’s addiction. After his most recent DUI, the California state medical board is recommending that Chao be disciplined with five years' probation. including psychiatric treatment and ethics training. But Chao has rejected the charge, calling it “unjustified and superfluous.” Despite the controversy swamping the Chargers' doctor, he may be more example than exception in a professional athletic league known for its brutality. Along with the concussions, broken bones and other frequent injuries comes a class of sports doctors who are quick with the painkillers to get players back on the field. Addiction to painkillers is a common problem for NFL players, who commonly report that they take “eight or nine” Vicodin at a time.
You might think a man with a painful erection that persists for half a day would decide to follow his, uh, nose to the hospital. But David Miller, 30, of Manhattan's Upper East Side allegedly decided to rob his dad instead, reports the New York Post. Cops cuffed Miller—who suffers from a condition called priapism, causing unwelcome erections for over four hours—for allegedly resorting to robbery to get the painkiller-money to help ease his situation. Tommy Miller, 57, suspects his son is addicted to oxycodone, and he may just be right—cops say he broke into his father's home, pulled out a knife and declared, "I want you out, and I want money." Miller Sr. had his son arrested on charges of burglary and attempted robbery. “My son has a very rare disease, he has a priapism, which means he gets an erection that lasts five or six hours, and it’s very painful,” he explained. “They gave him oxycodone. That’s his problem." It's not the first time Miller Jr. has been accused of robbery to feed his habit—earlier this year, he was charged with pulling out a kitchen knife and saying to a man sitting on a park bench—with his trademark directness—"Give me $20! Give me $20!" The "victim" overpowered him and called the cops instead. The causes of priapism are often obscure, but may include black widow spider bites, carbon monoxide poisoning—and the abuse of prescription medications, marijuana or cocaine. David Miller, who has a rap sheet of 11 arrests running back to 2006, has been bailed out by his dad in the past, but at press time was still locked up with some hard men on Rikers Island.
To lose one prototype iPhone may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness. Especially when both bouts of "carelessness" take place in drinking establishments. According to a CNET report, an Apple employee left a classified, unreleased iPhone at a Mexican tequila lounge called Cava22, in the Mission district of San Francisco back in July. The guilty geek, whose desperation can well be imagined, apparently put in multiple calls to the bar's owner Jose Valle about a lost iPhone—but to no avail. "I guess I have to make my drinks a little less strong," remarked Valle. After the culprit came clean to his company, Apple representatives told police that the unidentified phone—which may be a version of the iPhone 5, rumored to be due for release very soon—is "priceless." Then they electronically traced the missing device to a house in nearby Bernal Heights. But when they paid a visit to its male occupant with the cops in tow, a search revealed nothing. Changing tack, the Apple reps reportedly offered the suspect hard cash for the phone's return, with no questions asked. But they were too late—it's believed the device may already have been sold on Craigslist for just $200. It's a familiar feeling for the technology giant. The same thing happened last year, when another Apple employee, computer engineer Robert Gray Powell abandoned a then-unreleased iPhone 4 in a German beer garden in Redwood City, California, after celebrating his birthday. Gadget blog Gizmodo paid $5000 for the prized prototype to two lucky finders—whose luck ran out when charges were filed against them last month. It's likely that a stern text or two will have been sent to hard-partying Apple staff following the latest booze-related blunder.
- Florida Shutting Pill Mill Clinics [New York Times]
- Is Shoplifting the Opiate of the Masses? [Addiction Inbox]
- Labor Day Warning: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over [Forbes]
- College Professor Allegedly Led Motorcycle Gang, Drug Ring [LA Times]
- Indiana Survey Shows Teen Marijuana Use Rises, Alcohol Falls [Indiana Daily Student]
- Heroin Use Fueling Madison County Burglary Spree [BND.com]
- Inside Mexico's Drug War: Slideshow [Washington Post]
- De La Hoya's Coke-Fueled Drag Photos Are Real [CBS]
Hot on the heels of yesterday's International Overdose Awareness Day comes the first day of September, AKA National Recovery Month—an observance instigated by the government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It's now in its 22nd year of trying to educate Americans on how treatment and mental health services can turn lives around. But it's fair to say that the disease of addiction, despite killing many thousands of Americans annually, still lags behind conditions such as breast cancer or Parkinson's when it comes to visibility and awareness. This year's efforts to change that involve 140 government entities at state, federal and local levels, as well as hundreds more non-governmental organizations. Over 600 community events are officially listed so far, covering every state but New Hampshire and South Dakota. Mass events include Hands Across the Bridge on Labor Day, when hundreds will join hands over the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon states, and the Philadelphia Walk for Recovery on September 24, a day when many more gatherings are being organized by the advocacy group Faces and Voices of Recovery. Meanwhile, one determined recovering addict named Sandra Huffman is currently undertaking a 1300 mile trek from Florida to Philadelphia to raise money and awareness.
Numerous rehab facilities are getting in on the act. The large Hazelden network, for example, is holding multiple events. Howard Meitiner, the President and CEO of Phoenix House, which runs over 120 treatment programs, told The Fix, "We hope that National Recovery Month will inspire the millions of people who are in recovery to speak out." He added, "The more we increase the public visibility of recovery, the more we can reduce the stigma associated with substance abuse treatment." Phoenix House and The Fix will co-host a Twitter chat about the different paths to recovery on September 21. Media outlets involved in promoting National Recovery Month include Talk Therapy Television and a campaign is urging people to pledge support on Facebook. SAMHSA also offers treatment information and referral online. One of the main aims of all this is to put millions of Americans who have overcome addictions and mental disorders on the map—demonstrating that recovery can and does happen.