Monday, August 31, 2009


Seems like addiction is in the news quite a bit lately. With the loss of DJ AM, who's real name is Adam Goldstein, we unfortunately see another death in the face of addiction. Found in his New York apartment "wearing only sweatpants, face down on his bed with a crack pipe and unspecified prescription drugs" nearby, Goldstein obviously was struggling with a relapse. A tragic ending for someone who had been sober for a number of years- a reminder that addiction is a chronic, progressive and fatal disease. The sad part is, less than a year ago, Goldstein survived a horrid plane crash, only to end his life at a too-young age with drug use. The thing to remember here- he was in the grips of a disease. Keep away from judgment- at this point, Goldstein's decision making was so far from the norm that going to far could only be expected. THIS is what addiction does.

Dr. Drew Pinsky brought up an interesting point- that pain medication likely led Goldstein down a path away from his recovery. We know that pain medication can be addictive and dangerous- we just saw Michael Jackson perish from an overdose as well. So Pinksy probably isn't that far off. We'll never truly know what caused DJ AM to go on a final drug run...but we can learn from this. It's sad that it sometimes takes a tragic loss for people to get a wake up call, but maybe some of our friends and families that are struggling with addiction, or asking for help, will see this as a warning for their own behavior.

In October, The Associated Press reported, MTV was to begin his new reality show, “Gone Too Far,” in which he and concerned families staged interventions for drug abusers. As a legacy, I hope they continue with the broadcast. In the end, DJ AM was reaching out to try and help young addicts. Struggling with relapse or not, he still was able to encourage individuals to see help. That, in its own way, is heroic. So Adam, we'll miss you.

Here's DJ AM performing in Las Vegas:

And here's AM talking about his in-progress MTV show about addiction:

Here's something funny.

As always, follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. Become a fan of the blog on Facebook. And see you this week.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Problems at the Clean Plate Club

I don't know about any of you, but I was raised in the Midwest and had "clean your plate" drilled into my head from a young age. Ever since World War II, when Harry S Truman introduced a campaign in schools to "clean your plate" because resources were scarce, that notion of a clean plate has stuck with us. With portions in restaurants rising at alarming rates, and the idea that one can very easily "super size" a meal, we have an impending obesity crisis on our hands- one that is already surfacing. According to the latest statistics from the Center For Disease Control, more than 66 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. These are INCREDIBLY troubling numbers- and the real question is, how do we change this culture?

As I've written before, we're seeing more and more eating disorders surfacing from all sorts of different areas. The other "eating disorder" is the one we, across America, face every day- the fast food nation. With portions becoming out of control and people hurrying to eat and finish meals, we've seen a large increase in obesity across the nation. The Food and Drug Administration is even trying to crack down on portion sizes in restaurants.According to the FDA report, the annual healthcare cost for obesity is right around $93 billion. This is (sorry about the pun) a HUGE problem.

An interesting solution was proposed by various pundits- perhaps a "fat tax" would create some change? According to a study released in July of this year by the Urban Institute and the University of Virginia, unless diet and consumption changes drastically, in 2015 a whopping FORTY PERCENT of Americans will be considered obese. Additionally, the study brings up the option of a "fat tax," or a tax on unhealthy foods like chips and soda, and here are the stats. A 10% excise or sales tax on fattening foods could raise $522 billion over the next 10 years. A 20% tax could raise $937 billion. These are impressive numbers, to say the least. Nearly a trillion dollars because Americans can't stop eating unhealthy food? What's the deal?

Are we dealing with an addiction to fats, salts and sugars? Dr. David Kessler, author of "The End of Overeating" seems to think so. According to research for his book, Dr. Kessler found the dopamine receptors in our brains are stimulated by unhealthy foods, so, much the same as a drug addict starts to crave the rush of an illicit substance, we start to crave unhealthy food. And, according to both his book and the billions of dollars in ad campaigns every year, the market has adapted to our cravings. With fast food on every corner and unhealthy options at every restaurants, we have to diligently fight to eat intelligently and healthfully. A battle on many fronts, to say the least.

So here's a call for drastic change- shop local, organic food, and eat smaller portions. Learn to recognize what "full" means and don't eat past the threshold. Ignore those pesky McDonalds signs- at least most of the time. Without some clear thinking, we truly will have an epidemic on our hands. I'm not advocating for complete and total change- but you CAN change yourself. Start there, and others will follow.

Here's a link to a video from Katie Couric on CBS News talking about the obesity epidemic.

Here's a video from Thomas Frieden, the Commissioner of New York City Department of Health, talking about combating obesity:

We got a great shout-out from the Sober Living Blog about Addiction Tomorrow! Thanks guys!

As always, follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. Become a fan of the blog on Facebook. And see you this week.

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Michael Jackson, back in the news.

This afternoon, CNN reported that Michael Jackson died of a propofol overdose. Taken directly from that article, here are the doses administered to Jackson during those final hours:

-- At about 1:30 a.m., Murray gave Jackson 10 mg of Valium.

-- At about 2 a.m., he injected Jackson with 2 mg of the anti-anxiety drug Ativan.

-- At about 3 a.m., Murray then administered 2 mg of the sedative Versed.

-- At about 5 a.m., he administered another 2 mg of Ativan.

-- At about 7:30 a.m., Murray gave Jackson yet another 2 mg of Versed while monitoring him with a device that measured the oxygen saturation of a his blood.

-- At about 10:40 a.m., "after repeated demands/requests from Jackson," Murray administered 25 mg of propofol.

If this isn't gross negligence, I don't know what is. Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal doctor, administered the doses himself. Now, being a doctor, he should've recognized that all of these are dangerous doses and that a "normal" person wouldn't have been able to survive even 1/5th of these. Regardless- if Jackson, as reported, was receiving prescriptions from multiple doctors, then shame on them as well. However, if Dr. Murray was Jackson's personal physician, he had a RESPONSIBILITY to insure Jackson's health. I hope, at the very least, that his license to practice is pulled, and at the most, he and the other prescribing doctors are charged with gross negligence, if not homicide. If the doctors knew this was going on, they should've done something, like refuse to prescribe or practice with Jackson. A gross abuse of power and money seems to be the what's behind this.

The power, apparently, laid in Jackson's hands, as he requested that Dr. Murray give him the injection. Murray, however, HAS a conscious. He should've been aware of the problem- and yet, he refused to do anything about it. A shame. Enabling behavior by family, staff, and healthcare providers contributed to the loss of yet another life.

In other news, it appears as though Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley has entered drug rehab.Beasley was fined $50,000 by the NBA last September after security officers at the league's rookie symposium detected the scent of marijuana in his hotel room. Too bad it took some consequences to get him in the doors, but we are glad he's getting the help he needs. As I touched on a couple of weeks ago, drug use is becoming more and more of a prevalent story. We can only hope that this awareness leads to more people seeking the help that they need.

Here's a video of Dr. Sanjay Gupta talking about the effects of Propofol:

Here's something funny.

I'll be posting another blog entry tomorrow morning, so be sure to check back in. In the meantime, as per usual, follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. Become a fan of the blog on Facebook. And see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Really, California? Really??

I opened the paper yesterday to see a disturbing headline: "California might act to jail more drug offenders." Great. We really need more criminals, and less people in recovery. The question here, you bureaucratic imbeciles, is who does this make the world better for? Is prison somehow better at rehabilitating drug addicts than drug addiction treatment? How does this make sense?!? We already have 3.2 percent of our population in prison; do we need more? Two weeks ago, federal regulators ordered California to cut their prison population; so, oh government of ours, what the hell?

"While one side of the government is addressing prison overcrowding, another side seems to be acting directly counter to that goal," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director of the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance. Here's a fun fact- the mere $120 million for California government funded drug treatment has been cut in half from 2006. Last month, legislators here in California decided to cut 1.2 BILLION from the prison budgets. Why not full, oh, say, 1/10th of that money into drug treatment and help cut down recidivism rates? Why not focus and develop better treatment programming and staff so that the people you have turned into criminals can have a shot at a better life? I mean seriously, people, COME ON. Open your eyes. Prison is not rehabilitation when one is dealing with drug addiction. Addiction treatment will create change. Develop better programming- and laws- and we won't need nearly as many prisons. But will special interest groups be upset? Who cares?? It will be better for our entire population.

Here's a quick excerpt from a New York Times article from a couple of weeks ago:

"R. Gil Kerlikowske, who in May was sworn in as the Obama administration’s director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is a supporter of drug courts as an alternative to mandatory drug sentencing. The new drug czar and the man nominated as his deputy, A. Thomas McLellan, are viewed by many addiction experts as representative of a sea change in thinking about treatment: away from the punitive, toward more acceptance of nuances and complications of addiction.

“Ten years ago, if you would have asked me this question about addiction, I would have said it’s obviously a moral failure and I don’t know why people can’t pull themselves up from their bootstraps and handle this and get themselves totally clean,” Mr. Kerlikowske, a former police chief in Seattle, said in an interview. 'But we can be going in a different direction. We can look at this from different viewpoints now.'"

So let's build out our drug courts if we can't change the laws. But if we change the laws, we'll have less need for punishment- divert people with possession charges to treatment and allow them a chance to get better. Legal consequences can be a GREAT motivator for people to get well. Allow them that option. Please. We beg you.

So California? I say, get it together. Make us better. Stop creating problems for yourself.

Here's a video on Prop 5, the drug treatment bill that failed to pass in 2008:

A special thanks goes out to Adi Jaffe with the All About Addiction blog for his guest post on Take Part which got me fired up about this.

My friend Jane Mintz of Real Life Interventions recently started an online school for intervention training- check it out here. Pretty cool option, and helps with accountability. This is a training available for her newly designed intervention model, the Field Model of Intervention. Great user interface as well.

Here's something funny.

As always, follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. Become a fan of the blog on Facebook. Support my advertisers! And see you this week.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Wire- a unique viewpoint on the war on drugs

I've been wanting to write about this for a couple of months now, but with all the addiction in the news I just haven't gotten around to it. The Wire, the recently-ended HBO series, is one of the best shows ever to make it on TV (in my humble opinion). If you haven't watched it, you can rent it or buy it on Amazon here. The show is infinitely rewatchable, so definitely a good investment.

David Simon, the creator of the show, worked for the Baltimore Sun (newspaper politics and policies are featured in-depth in the show's final season) for a time before writing a couple of books and eventually Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire. There's a great article talking about Simon's background in The Atlantic; I'll touch on some of the points there, but the article is definitely worth a read. What's great about the show is the humanizing aspect- that both cops and drug dealers have their flaws-- and their good parts. I haven't ever felt a lot of empathy for drug dealers, at least until I saw The Wire.

Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, talks quite a bit about the dichotomy of drug dealing, and why many of the dealers on the street stay poor. Since drug dealing is like a pyramid scheme (those on top make a ton of money, but those on the low outposts can barely make as much as working at a McDonald's), it's difficult to break the poverty cycle in a drug-centered community. The Wire covers all of this throughout their various seasons, portraying all sides of the drug trade.

I love this show for a variety of reasons- a) it shows the ins and outs of battling drugs on the ground level from a police perspective; b) it talks directly about the effects of drug use and dealing on individual families; c) it shows an honest portrayal of people trying to make it out of the ghetto via the drug trade; d) the character Bugs is a great example of an addict trying to get well; and e) takes risks in dealing with the relationship of drugs and the police force. Many different opinions are expressed here, and David Simon's voice is a clear bell against the war.

If you want an inside scoop on the war on drugs, definitely check out The Wire- my favorite show ever. Never got great ratings, so I'll excuse you if you have yet to see it. But make sure you do.

Here's a great clip:

Oh and a quick note on the ongoing healthcare debate (I'll write a separate blog on this on a later date), we here at Addiction Tomorrow are in favor of an optional government sponsored healthcare plan- after all, having an option is better than not having one, and will be beneficial for the greater good. We need to make sure the private sector will be held accountable to standards of practice, but not snuffed out by a government healthcare plan. Ok, I'm off my soapbox for the day.

Here's something funny.

As always, follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. Become a fan of the blog on Facebook. And see you this week.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Relapse and Addiction in the news

Lots of addiction and drug use in the news as of late: of course the biggest story was Michael Jackson; his death, and the long history of addiction, will rival Elvis's in history I imagine. And if it doesn't, then we should make sure we as a people and a media are looking at it honestly. That, of course, was a huge splash and brought about a new wave of awareness about prescription pain medication.

A couple of months ago, the "Shamwow guy," Vince Shlomi, was arrested for being in a drunk fight with a hooker. And this past Friday, news about Billy Mays (pictured above) and a history of cocaine use breaks across the wire. Then over the weekend, Josh Hamilton, a darling of the media for his miraculous comeback from drug addiction (see a great article on his comeback from ESPN the Magazine here and I mentioned his comeback in my blog earlier this year), had pictures posted on, a sports media blog, of an obvious relapse during spring training in January.

A couple of thoughts here: first and foremost, it's hard to be in the public eye. We've seen tortured artists, athletes, and successful people for centuries-- some of the most powerful people in the world have been the most troubled (see Howard Hughes, Elvis, Michael Jackson, etc. etc.). The list goes on and on. And when people who have any sort of issue- a drug problem, depression, anger management issues and the like- get into the public eye, the odds of a slip being exposed to the media are increased tenfold. For someone like Mays, whose persona was one of an over-the-top pitchman for various products on late night television, cocaine seems like a natural fit. For Hamilton, who had completely lost everything and built it back up, a relapse (for someone not as popular) may have been a tiny setback. However, in Hamilton's case, his entire season is being scrutinized for evidence of drinking or drug use, and whether or not his lack of performance this season is tied into that.

As we know, addiction is a chronic and fatal disease, as we've seen with Jackson and Mays. What we also need to remember is that sometimes people slip, like Hamilton did in January. Instead of making snarky remarks and making life more difficult, we as a group need to support Hamilton and his recovery. One can only hope that the Rangers will allow him time to find his way back to a recovery program-- and that Hamilton will make that decision as well.

Here's a video of the Josh Hamilton story, previous to his last relapse:

Hope: The Josh Hamilton Story - More amazing video clips are a click away

Here's a clip of Hamilton talking about his relapse:

Blitzcorner | Josh Hamilton Speaks about Relapse Video

Here's something funny.

As always, follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. Become a fan of the blog on Facebook. And see you this week.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Addiction in Mexico and the War on Drugs

In a recent "Wealth of Nations" blog post on the Newsweek website, the issue of addiction in Mexico has been brought to light. With so much focus on the American drug problem- and don't get me wrong, it's a big one- we sometimes lose sight that other countries are battling the same demons. With our miserably-failing "War on Drugs," we've created a mess here and abroad, but at least we have some good private resources available for people seeking help. Walter Cronkite wrote, in 2006, about the failing war on drugs and included this quote: "People who do genuinely have a problem with drugs, meanwhile, are being imprisoned when what they really need is treatment." To that, Mr. Cronkite, I say thank you. Thank you for stating the obvious, and for being a trusted voice to say it.

And I'm off on a tangent. Meanwhile, the article about drug use in Mexico had some interesting insights and facts. An estimated 4.5 million Mexicans now use drugs, up some thirty percent in the last five years, and the number of actual addicts is up 100% since 2002. These are astounding figures. We often view Mexico as the place where drugs come from, a highway from South American drug production to American drug consumption, but how often do we see the direct effect of addiction on that country? Mexico is also in the process of decriminalizing possession, and that could have considerable effects on the addicted population. This could be a true epidemic should they not develop more than the 100 treatment centers they have operating within their borders. More will be revealed, that's for sure.

I encourage everyone to check out the Drug Policy Alliance, a groundswell working to end the war on drugs and create a better plan to battle addiction in this country.

Here's a great video on crystal meth use in Mexico City:

Here's something funny.

As always, follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. Become a fan of the blog on Facebook. Support my advertisers! And see you later this week.