Soccer legend Diego Maradona has revealed that he struggled with drug addiction during his playing days and believes that he could have achieved more if he weren’t an addict.
Maradona, who was part of Argentina’s World Cup winning team in 1986, admitted he feels much older than his 53 years due to his former lifestyle. He began using cocaine in the mid-1980s and was addicted until 2004, in addition to suffering from alcoholism.
During that time, he had several very public hospital stints due to his health failing from frequent drug use. He overdosed in 2000 and 2004, and was admitted to a hospital in 2007 for hepatitis and the effects of alcohol abuse. Maradona also underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2005.
"I gave my opponents a big advantage due to my illness. Do you know the player I could have been if I hadn't taken drugs?" he told Argentine channel Tyc Sports. "I am 53 going on 78 because my life hasn't been normal. I’ve lived 80 [years] with the life I’ve gone through."
In a 2007 interview, he said that he hasn’t drunk or done drugs since 2004, and remains sober by all accounts. Although he was seen slurring his words outside of a Buenos Aires restaurant last July, it is not clear whether he was intoxicated at the time.
“For my two daughters, I’m going to continue until the end,” he said in 2007. “I’m alive and I want to keep living."
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A study from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that illegal drug use among American teenagers has dropped, along with rates for alcohol use, binge drinking, and smoking tobacco.
The annual survey, which profiles 70,000 individuals aged 12 years or older across the United States, showed that between 2002 and 2013, substance abuse issues among teenagers dropped from 8.9% to 5.2%, while rates of drug abuse among teens between the ages of 12-17 also dropped from 12% in 2002 to under 9% in 2013.
Alcohol use experienced a similar decline in a single year, dropping from 13% in 2012 to 11.6% the following year, while rates of binge drinking, which was reported as a problem for 10% of high school students in 2013, fell from about 7% to approximately 6%.
Rates of driving under the influence among preteens and teens in 2013 went from 14% in 2002 to 11%, while use of tobacco products among teenagers plummeted from 15% to 8% during the same time period.
While the study’s results are encouraging, the authors were quick to note that almost 25 million Americans aged 12 and older are current illegal drug users or had used within the past month. Marijuana use in that demographic actually rose from 6% in 2007 to 7.5%, which constitutes nearly 20 million individuals. The survey also revealed that many Americans are not getting the treatment they need for substance abuse issues.
According to their findings, SAMHSA learned that almost 23 million Americans aged 12 and older needed treatment for drug or alcohol problems, but only 2.5 million sought professional help.
The BBC recently reported on a think tank’s recommendation that a new alcohol tax be installed to help fund abstinence-based treatment programs to address the growing problem of alcohol abuse.
The Centre for Social Justice proposed a ring-fenced "treatment tax" that would raise the cost of alcohol bought in shops by 2p per unit by 2024. The think tank estimated the new tax would raise £155m a year from 2015, and will increase to about £520m a year from 2024. The CSJ explained how, “Our report lays out a program for whoever next enters government, to tackle addiction and reduce its costs to society.”
The tax is one of a number of measures recommended by the think tank to tackle the problem of alcoholism and addiction in England. The CSJ made similar proposals in 2007, when the current Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was in charge of the group, but that particular effort failed. Given the financial drain caused by the rising costs of addiction and alcoholism, the new CSJ director, Christian Guy, hopes these latest recommendations will receive a better response.
"At the moment we do very little for alcoholics, and for drug addicts we just dump them on methadone," Guy Christian Guy told BBC Breakfast. "The chance to get clean in this country is the preserve of the wealthy. For the poor, for the people relying on a public system, there's very little choice to get clean."
Although the British Department of Health believes the current public health budget is enough to address the problem at hand, the CSJ strongly disagrees. They want the government to fund treatment centers for 58,000 addicts per year by 2024. With 300,000 people in England addicted to opiates and crack, 1.6 million dependent on alcohol, and one in seven children under the age of one living with a substance-abusing parent, the group believes the problem is spiraling out of control.
A rare bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate is trying to make $80 million available to states and local governments to expand drug treatment, prevention, and recovery.
Introduced by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014 would allocate resources to states and municipalities that adopt certain proven methodologies to fight addiction. Among those strategies would be evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention, an increase in prevention efforts that would include making naloxone more widely available to law enforcement and other first-responders, and a stronger monitoring system for painkiller prescriptions.
“The bill represents a significant step forward in how we understand and address addiction,”said Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman from Rhode Island who himself suffered from drug and alcohol addiction. “The bottom line is that addiction and other mental illnesses are treatable, and recovery is real.”
Writing an op-ed in The Hill, Whitehouse stressed the need for the legislation in light of how 22.7 million Americans need treatment, but only 2.5 million get help, according to statistics from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Whitehouse also referenced how the heroin epidemic has plagued his own state of Rhode Island, where more than 100 people have died from drug overdoses so far in 2014.
"We believe this will make a real difference both for victims of addiction and for American communities," Whitehouse wrote. "Getting clean and staying clean enables former addicts to contribute to our economy and our society in ways they might not otherwise; and reducing drug abuse can help us all feel safer on our streets, behind the wheel and in our homes. Those are goals we can all support."
A South Carolina man has been accused of illegally running drug rehab centers and distributing medication in three states while declaring himself to be an addiction counselor despite having no professional training.
Clayton Alfred White, 42, surrendered to police on 10 charges, including unlawfully practicing a regulated profession or occupation without a license and falsely claiming to be a professional counselor. He had opened facilities throughout South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia since this March. Clients stated the facilities were advertised as “Oceanside Recovery for Men” and gave White thousands of dollars for inpatient treatment.
One victim said she paid White $5,835 to enroll her son in a 90-day program, but failed to receive any of the promised services, including “medical care, addiction therapy, and on-site LPN staff to monitor clients and dispense medications." Another victim paid over $7,000 to enroll their son from March 31 to August 6, but also did not receive services as promised. One former client accused White of housing 18 clients at one facility despite claims that only eight people would be housed.
An investigation by detectives determined that White was not a licensed doctor, clinician, or licensed medical practitioner of any sort, nor was he overseen by a board of directors. A warrant for his arrest was issued on August 8.
Unfortunately, addicts are being taken advantage of in other parts of the country, including Philadelphia, where rehab operator Jeffrey Jackson was recently accused of operating numerous unlicensed recovery homes and housing dozens of addicts in residences that were deemed unsafe for human dwelling.