NYC Mayor Says No More Marijuana Arrests
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NYC Mayor Says, No More Marijuana Arrests: This Week in Addiction and Recovery News

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told the city’s police department to stop arresting people caught smoking pot in public, CNN reported on Monday. Instead, the mayor instructed the NYPD to issue summonses for public pot-smoking offenses. CNN added that the NYPD has kicked off a working group to review its marijuana enforcement procedures and present its findings within 30 days. “The working group is reviewing possession and public smoking of marijuana to ensure enforcement is consistent with the values of fairness and trust, while also promoting public safety and addressing community concerns,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Phil Walzak told CNN. The CNN piece added that changes to the NYPD’s policy on smoking in public will not take effect until the end of this summer.

New Study: ADHD Medication Overdoses Are Up

The number of US children who’ve overdosed on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications has skyrocketed in recent years. A brand new study examined calls to US poison control centers between 2000 and 2014 that involved ADHD meds and children, with researchers discovering that the number of calls increased from 7,018 in 2000 to 11,486 in 2014—a whopping 64% increase. (The study’s authors determined that “exposure” meant the “unnecessary ingestions, inhalation or absorption” of ADHD medications.) Researchers narrowed their study down to four common ADHD medications: methylphenidate (Ritalin), amphetamine (Adderall), atomoxetine and modafinil. Ritalin was responsible for the highest number of exposures. They also compared overdoses on the four meds across three separate age groups: zero to five, six to 12, and 13 to 19. In the youngest age group unintentional exposure was due to “exploratory behaviors” while exposure among children aged six to 12 was due to “therapeutic errors or accidentally taking multiple pills.” Among children in the oldest group, more than 50% of the exposures were intentional. “These are stimulants, and they’re used by teens for various reasons,” the study’s lead author said. “Students, for example, might take it to get through a final exam. But like other stimulants, they might also take it because it gives them a high.”

Psychologist Debunks Many Techno-Addiction Myths

An interesting piece at The Conversation debunked several common misconceptions and myths around technology addiction. Penned by a psychologist who works with teens and families and researches the connection between technology and addiction, the op-ed takes down several myths. Chief among them: technology is a drug. While the author concedes that the pleasure center of the brain is awakened while playing video games or checking Facebook, “technology use causes dopamine release similar to other normal, fun activities: about 50 to 100 percent above normal levels.” The author also argues that technology addiction is highly common among kids, with only 3% of gamers (“or less”) developing problem behaviors down the road. Technology addiction also isn’t a mental illness, the author contends, nor is uniquely addictive. It also isn’t triggered by technology in the first place, the author says: “Efforts to treat ‘technology addiction’ may do little more than treat a symptom, leaving the real problem intact.” Perhaps the most striking observation is that technology doesn’t contribute to teen suicide rates: “There’s a tiny kernel of truth to our concerns about technology addictions,” the author concedes, “but the available evidence suggests that claims of a crisis, or comparisons to substance abuse, are entirely unwarranted.”

Do You Know Everything About Heroin?

With pharmaceutical opioids quickly vanishing as an option for many addicted Americans, those same people haven’t turned to sobriety—they’ve instead turned to heroin. This isn’t an eye-opening revelation, a comprehensive Rolling Stone feature acknowledges, but the number of misconceptions around heroin remains just as eye opening. “Despite the rising rate of opioid abuse and overdose in this country, we continue to mischaracterize heroin, thereby neglecting to understand the indelible hold it has on users,” writer Jonathan Reiss said, ticking off the number of things people don’t truly know about heroin. For one, heroin doesn’t always come in a white powder form, Reiss said, noting that off-white powder (“the most desirable kind”) originates from Asia while the “usually less powerful” brown powder comes from Mexico. Other misconceptions include the fact that outsiders oftentimes confuse opioid withdrawal for symptoms of someone experiencing a high. Former President Nixon’s war on drugs also inadvertently triggered the heroin epidemic, with DEA agents cracking down largely on marijuana (“Ironically, it was the drug war itself that pushed the cartels into the heroin business”). Other observations in the piece include the fact that pharmaceutical companies directly triggered the opioid crisis, the overdose-reversing drug Narcan has experienced a 500% increase in sales since 2004, and that alternative drugs like methadone, kratom and marijuana have “shown major promise” in helping people get clean.

Rocker Steven Adler Celebrates Sobriety

Former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler said this week that he’s “never been happier” after recently celebrating four years of sobriety from alcohol. Infamously kicked out of the band in 1990 for his drug use, Adler has made a remarkable recovery. “After, like, the ninth month of not drinking, my whole life did a 180[-degree turn],” Adler said. “Everything changed. I became happy again. I love life again. I enjoy the sunsets. I enjoy the sunrise. It’s beautiful.” He added that he hasn’t done drugs since 2008. In the interview, Adler also described his daily routine, which is markedly healthier than in years previous: “I wake up [and]the first thing I do is read ‘The Four Agreements,’” he said. “[The book says to] be impeccable with your word; don’t take things personal; don’t make assumptions; and always do your best—no more no less. I read a little of that, I have my decaf tea, I go on the treadmill and I do a little jogging to stay in shape, and then I practice. It’s all mind, body and soul. So I read the book for my mind, I do the treadmill for my body, and I play the drums for my soul.”

How Can the USPS Stop Drugs from Coming into the Country?

NPR’s All Things Considered examined the problem trend of drugs, especially fentanyl from China, coming into America via the US Postal Service. Drug traffickers use the USPS simply because it’s so easy to do: “The chances of [traffickers]getting caught are just so minimal,” Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem said. NPR’s Brian Naylor agreed, commenting that the USPS “receives some 1.3 million inbound packages a day from overseas. It manages to inspect just a tiny fraction—about a hundred.” Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman thinks the solution lies in something called the STOP Act, which would require all mailers of international packages to provide specific information like names, addresses and the packages’ contents. This info would then be uploaded to a database that US authorities could access. The NPR show noted that FedEx and UPS already have this system in place.

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About Author

Paul Fuhr is an addiction recovery writer whose work has appeared in The Literary Review, The Live Oak Review, The Sobriety Collective and InRecovery Magazine, among others. He is the author of the alcoholism memoir “Bottleneck.” He's also the creator and co-host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and recovery. Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and their cats, Dr. No and Goldeneye.