Drug use is expanding across the universe and Russian Health Minister Yevgeny Bryun feels John, Paul, George and Ringo are to blame. Says Byrun, "after The Beatles went to expand their consciousness in India ashrams, they introduced that idea—the changing of one's psychic state of mind using drugs—to the population. When business understood that you could trade on that—on pleasure, and goods associated with pleasure—that's probably where it all began." It’s no secret that the Beatles experimented with many different substances. Back in 2004, Sir Paul McCartney admitted that many of their songs' lyrics referenced drugs: "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was about LSD, "Got To Get You Into My Life" was about pot and "Day Tripper" was about acid. In the past, officials in the Soviet Union went to great lengths to keep music by the “Fab Four” from influencing the country—once even placing a public ban on their albums. "Musicians such as these, who have plunged to the depth of musical decline, do not deserve a place on Soviet records,” said Melodiya, the state record manufacturer, at the time. But even today, Bryun says consequences of the "propaganda" instigated by The Beatles in the '60s contributes to Russia's growing drug problem. The nation has seen a reported 60% increase in drug addiction since 2000 and the Minister believes advertising and mass culture have undermined the country's attempts to tackle the problem. However, Russia's president Vladimir Putin might disagree. An avid Beatles-fan, Putin once rubbed elbows with Sir Paul after he performed "Back in the USSR" on Red Square in 2003—afterwards, he described the music as "a gulp of freedom" for Soviet youth.
The UN's annual World Drug Report, newly-released reveals global trends including a steep rise in illicit drug use in developing nations. According to the UN's office on drugs and crime (UNODC), some 230 million people (five percent of the global population aged 15-64) used illegal drugs at least once in 2010. And this is expected to rise; the report predicts that the number of illicit drug users worldwide will grow 25% by 2050. The bulk of this increase is expected to occur in developing countries, where shifts in cultural acceptance and gender equality have contributed to rapidly increasing illicit drug use. In fact, drug use in poorer countries could double by 2050 while remaining stable in more developed nations. The report also shows 27 million people across the globe (roughly 1 in every 200 people) is a "problem drug user"—by definition a chronic user of heroin or cocaine. And while there is a slight decrease in global heroin and cocaine use, the popularity of synthetic drugs like meth and ecstasy, including lab-produced "legal highs," is growing. The reigning global drug is still marijuana—and with an estimated 119 million-224 million users, it's expected to stay in first place. But gaining momentum are prescription drugs—which experts predict will be the upcoming generation's substances of choice. Deaths from abuse and misuse of Rx painkillers have quadrupled since 1999 in the US, where they now outnumber heroin and cocaine-related deaths combined. The White House has officially declared prescription drug abuse an epidemic, and America's fastest-growing drug problem.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille wants to get through to young people about drugs in a language they understand—rap music. In her recently dropped track, featuring DJ Ready D and Khanyi, de Lille aka "Aunt Patty" spits the lyrics: “Don't start, be smart. Drug free is the way to be!” At the end of the one-minute song she lets listeners know that “help is at hand, 24/7” and references a toll-free number to call for help with a drug or alcohol problem. The Mayor's rap track is part of a campaign called "Don't Start, Be Smart" to help tackle Cape Town's massive drug problem—the city is home to an estimated 15,000 heroin users. But not all young people are swayed by her musical message—to judge by those asked for their opinions by The Fix. “The beat was pretty weak,” says college junior Billy. “Aside from 'drug free is the way to be,' I don't understand any of the lyrics.” Ivy, a junior in high school, calls the track: “Bad, bad, bad, real bad! I'm not even doing drugs but this song isn't helping at all. If a druggie listened to it, they'd probably just laugh and do drugs.” College junior Andrew says the problem is that de Lille has no street cred. “It sounds like they're trying too hard, forcing it out,” he critiques, claiming the song "definitely does not make me want to stop doing drugs. Sadly.” Still, while "Aunt Patty" may be short on game, her hopes are high: "Rap music reaches the core of their being," she says, "That’s why I’m rapping a message of hope."
In case you haven't been paying attention, it seems everyone in the US is taking adderall these days—not only to treat ADHD, but also to get better grades, and increasingly, to become a speed-fueled "supermom". The number of Adderall prescriptions for American women ages 26-39 from 2002-2010 has increased by 750%. Some women are taking it the powerful (and addictive) stimulant to treat ADHD as prescribed, but others use it as a diet pill—and many women are saying they abuse the stimulant because they feel it makes them better mothers. "I grew up in a house where my mom was very neat," says Betsy Degree, a mom from suburban Minneapolis. "Everything was really clean, beautiful dinners every night and that didn't come naturally for me. I was able to get all the stuff done around the house. I was able to cook the dinner and have everything perfect." Degree became addicted to Adderall after taking it to help her maintain that "perfect" household—but after exhausting every method possible for getting prescriptions from her doctor, she turned to meth, lost her business, and nearly lost custody of her kids. Reportedly, many of these mothers have discovered how to score the drug or trick their doctor into prescribing it to them. Registered nurse Joani Gammil says she read a book that told her how to lie to her doctor to get Adderall and continued using it until she nearly died of an overdose. Some doctors are claiming that abuse of Adderall among mothers has become an epidemic. "This is a significant problem," says Dr. Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden, an addiction treatment facility. "We've got an increase in women using drugs like Adderall ending up in our treatment programs...We know from a medical perspective it's dangerous and can cause seizures, strokes, heart attacks, even death."
The global War on Drugs is partially responsible for the HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to a new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy. The report, which is signed by former presidents of Brazil, Columbia, Pakistan, Mexico, Greece, Chile, and other world leaders, including George Schultz, the former US Secretary of State, shows that the war on drugs exacerbates the spread of HIV and interferes with public health by forcing drug users into the shadows and creating barriers to healthcare and services. Countries that adopted harm reduction policies, such as needle exchanges and supervised injection facilities (like in British Columbia), drastically reduced the number of new infections. The stigma and fear of criminalization drives addicts underground: a study, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, shows 19% of new infections among drug users could have been avoided if police stopped abusing drug users (and simply enforced the laws as written). The report calls on national governments to “halt the practice of arresting and imprisoning people who use drugs but do no harm to others,” saying that mass incarceration is connected to needle sharing and unprotected sex, and creates a barrier to obtaining antiretroviral treatment. Thailand—which had success in combating the spread of HIV among sex workers through using a harm-reduction and public health policy—has maintained a tough stance on drugs, resulting in a much higher degree of vulnerability to HIV among drug users than any other segment of the population, including sex workers. In a broad survey of cities around the world, in cities without needle exchange programs, overall new HIV infections increased by 6% per year, whereas in cities with those programs, the rate decreased by the same amount. The report urges policy makers to adopt “evidence-based and rights-affirming” interventions against drug use and scaling up public health driven treatment options in countries like the US that use a policing model to combat drug use.
Amy Winehouse's father Mitch has written a new memoir—and if his daughter was as rebellious as the book claims, he was more than justified in showing some tough love. The memoir titled Amy, My Daughter was released today and documents a number of tempestuous father-daughter interactions, including the time Amy "went mad" at Mitch for thwarting her plans to sneak crack cocaine into her rehab facility. The incident came just a few days after Amy suffered a seizure from drugs hidden inside a teddy bear by her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil. "We had security guys working shifts to look after her by this time and the next day I took a call from one of them to warn me that a package was on its way,'' Mitch writes in the memoir. ''I jumped in my cab, and reached the clinic just in time to see a known drug-dealer with a bunch of flowers for Amy. The security man searched the bouquet and found a rock of crack cocaine. Amy went mad when she found out we'd intercepted the drug.'' The book also discusses Mitch's disappointment in Amy's decision to marry Blake, her "incredible power of recovery, given the quantity of poisonous substances involved," and her tragic death from alcohol poisoning in July 2011. However, for those cynics who suspect the book is a way for him to cash in on his daughter's death, rest assured—all proceeds from the book will be donated directly to a charity set up in Amy's name.