Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Drug Czar

With the new nomination of Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske for drug czar, we're finally seeing a move to put treatment ahead of prison. FINALLY! This may mean we'll start to make progress actually getting addicts and alcoholics help instead of simply putting them in jail and not actually rehabilitating them. By incorporating treatment, we'll be able to provide some options for these struggling people, instead of simply putting them in jail.

"The success of our efforts to reduce the flow of drugs is largely dependent on our ability to reduce demand for them," Kerlikowske said at a ceremony. "Our nation's drug problem is one of human suffering, and as a police officer but also in my own family, I have experienced the effects that drugs can have."

Kerlikowske's stepson has had problems with drugs and alcohol in the recent years, so he understands the situation families go through. I think that's invaluable knowledge for a person in charge of drug prevention in this country; without empathy, it's hard to make good decisions around how we treat this disease.

Here's a video introducing Kerlikowske:

Hopefully we can make some more roads for people to get well. This is a step in the right direction.

Here's something funny. Thanks to Eliza for this!

As always, find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. And if you like the blog, leave a comment! Follow the posts! Feedback is welcome!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Father Martin's passing

With the passing of Reverend Joseph C. Martin last week, we in the recovery field lost a great man. An article in the Baltimore Sun described a huge, overflow funeral mass for him. He's touched many alcoholics around the globe via his videos, his talks, and the treatment center he founded, Father Martin's Ashley. This is a great loss for us, and a signal to move forward with an attitude of gratitude for those of us who still get to help people recover.

"All I wanted to do was fix a few drunks." -Father Martin

Here's some Chalk Talk:

Make sure to check it out and remember his example when we're working with the alcoholics who are struggling to make it.

"I’ll die with a piece of chalk in my hands, talking with a bunch of drunks and addicts." -Father Martin

EVERYONE should check this out.

And here's something funny.

As always, find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. Comments are welcome!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Marijuana as an economic stimulus?

So there's been lots of discussion regarding the state of California attempting to legalize marijuana- I've heard it covered on NPR, CNN, MSNBC and the like. A big article in Time magazine covers a lot of the topics- from economic impact to societal impact. Now Dr. Sanjay Gupta has come out and said he is against the decriminalization of marijuana, and I can't hep but stop and think a little. With our current legal drugs (alcohol and nicotine) costing us $98 billion and $157 billion respectively, is it worth it add another one to the mix?

And yet I'm struck by anecdotal evidence. In talking with people who DO continue to smoke pot, they seem less likely to get behind the wheel of a car after having "one too many tokes." The long term health effects of smoking marijuana are similar to those of smoking nicotine, an already legal substance. And from purely talking to people, it seems as though marijuana has a lesser occurrence of addiction than alcohol does. So I'm torn. If we're already making money from people for two terrifyingly addictive substances, why not add a third to the list? And if that's not justified, then why not ban alcohol and nicotine as well? We're living in this gray area that seems to be driven by lobbyists, and that's the hard part.


Here's some thoughts from CNN-

And here's a debate from Fox News (which I don't really watch but the debate was good:)

Here's something funny.

As always, find me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Luxury Rehab

After re-reading the article on Wonderland in the New Yorker I was inspired to write about the rise of luxury rehab. Having put in my time working for the super-high-end facilities, and seeing the rise of $100,000/month treatment and $20,000/month sober livings, I've been wondering about the effectiveness of these programs. Are we really helping people when we buy in to their entitlement? Or is this simply a free market scenario, where a program can charge whatever they feel the consumer will pay?

I worry that treatment is getting watered down, that we as professionals are starting to cater too much to the addicted client just so then they'll stay longer or pay more money. These sorts of things are not THERAPEUTICALLY good for a client who is used to simply buying his or her way out of their problems; it just serves as another thing they can tick off the list of things they've paid for and has or hasn't worked.

And of course, with the Dr. Drew reality shows, Perez Hiltons and TMZ's of the world, and now New Yorker features, we can start to expect to see more people starting programs NOT out of an idea of service, but out of an idea to make lots of money. Once again, it is a free market, and best of luck to them.

However, we're dealing with a disease that kills millions of people a year, effects tens of millions, and creates billions of dollars in lost revenue for the country. So maybe we need to take a look at keeping programs in perspective; I understand the need to make a living, but if you're working in treatment and driving a $200,000 car, there's probably something ethically wrong happening.

Making sure our hearts are in the right place is the only way we can do this well!

Here's something great that a couple of guys in Canada did:

For something funny, click here.

As always, find me on LinkedIn and Twitter, and search for me on Facebook. Gearing up for US Journal conference in Vegas at the end of this week, so there may not be as many posts. Let me know if you'll be there.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Social Networking

Hi everybody. Sorry it's been a few days since the last post; I've been running back and forth from Los Angeles to Newport Beach and preparing to head to Las Vegas and Minneapolis in the next couple of weeks. So if the blogging is few and far between, that's why.

I've been asked a couple of times in the last week how social networking has benefited my working relationships. Although I just canceled my MySpace account, I am very active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Plaxo. I've found that these are a great way to stay on top of the people I work with; namely, keeping in touch with those I work with who are out of state and maybe people who I don't necessarily need to speak on the phone with.

However, the nature of my job is outreach, so finding more and more resources to help addicted people and families get well is made remarkably easier with the help of social networking. With Facebook, I can get a glimpse into the normal, everyday life of a person I work with, as well as stay in touch with the various people I've met out of state. With the iPhone and Blackberry applications, these things are very simple to stay on top of, and easy to let people know where one is at. I use my Facebook status update to let people know when I'm traveling and where, and that makes it simple for people to find me when they need to.

With LinkedIn, I've been able to start a networking group called Addiction Recovery Professionals, which has now connected well over 200 people from around the world. We've been able to discuss professional relationships, referrals, and many other things via the group discussion feature, not to mention the great contacts we all have in our back pockets knowing that we're all in the same mission. The only downfall of LinkedIn is that you can't directly invite people you don't know--that is, LinkedIn will block your invitations if it feels like you're "spamming." With my job being outreach and trying to connect with people who are into the same things, this is a challenge. Facebook and Twitter are much more effective ways for me to connect.

Twitter presents a challenge: talk exactly about what you're doing in 140 characters or less. This allows you to post links, share location, and describe anything you're seeing or doing. Like Facebook status updates, these are instantaneous updates on the people you know (or don't). I use Twitter mainly to follow cycling and some of my friends since not a lot of people in the addiction field are currently on it. Check it out!

Here's a video of Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, describing it's many uses:

For something funny, click here.

As always, find me on LinkedIn or Twitter, and search for me on Facebook if you'd like. Hope all is well, and see you tomorrow.