Wednesday, March 31, 2010

DUI crashes and deaths across US March 15 - March 28, 2010

From Hub Pages:em> DUI deaths and crashes March 15 - 28, 2010 across the United States. Can you imagine if these were terrorist caused deaths what the national response would be?

Shepherd, MT -- Mar. 15 (Update) -- Woman Admits Causing Death of 10 Year Old Daughter
Woman takes cold medicine to go to sleep but changes mind to go to dinner a few miles away. She has a few drinks and refuses to be driven home by friend. One mile from restaurant while heading home she accidentally crashes her minivan and both were thrown from vehicle when it rolled several times. Daughter dies at the scene.
Billings Gazette

Billings, MT -- Mar. 16 (Update) -- Man Gets DUI The Day After Daughter Kills Another w DUI
Daughter accused of killing another and is released for treatment. The next day father is arrested for DUI at 0.29 blood level (over 3.5 times the legal limit).
Billings Gazette

Tampa Bay, FL -- Mar. 16 (Update) -- Trial Begins for DUI Manslaughter
Minivan hits Jeep from behind causing Jeep to go airborne. After lands and rolls driver is pinned underneath and dies. Driver had level of 0.234 blood alcohol level.
Tampa Bay Online

Daytona Beach, FL -- Mar. 17 (Update) -- Man Pleads No Contest in DUI from Feb.
Man kills passenger and injuries 3 others in collision.
Daytona Beach News Journal

Orange County, CA -- Mar 17 -- Man Driving at Excessive Speeds Hits Another Vehicle Killing Driver
Man driving in excess of 100 mph on a toll road hits SUV launching driver from vehicle thereby killing other driver.
The Orange County Register

Sacaton, AZ -- Mar. 17 -- Man Gets 41 Months After DUI Resulting in Death of 12 Year Old
Man with a 0.14 alcohol level loses control of vehicle and crashes. Kills 12 year old passenger.
AZ Central

Huntington Beach, CA -- Mar. 18 -- Man Kills Passenger In Single Vehicle Accident
Man loses control of vehicle and hits tree. Female passenger dies hours later. Today he was sentenced to 16 months of jail.
Orange Country Local News Network

Chicago, IL -- Mar. 18 (Update) -- Man Hits 6 Year Old Girl in Median
Man hits a girl standing in the median of a road (with her aunt). He was high on marijuana and cocaine.
Fox News - Chicago

Huntsville, AL -- Mar. 18 -- Senior Driver Hits and Kills Local Marine Soldier
71 year old man driving in the wrong lane strikes an oncoming vehicle. Male Marine soldier and family dog die as a result of crash. Wife is in stable but critical condition.

Tacoma, WA -- Mar. 18 -- Man Side Swipes Vehicle Killing Infant
Man runs red light and side swipes another vehicle and flees scene. Today he pleaded guilty in court to vehicular homicide, DUI, and felony hit and run.

St. Ignace, MI -- Mar. 19 -- Man Sentenced for Death of Three Women
Man hits and kills three women attending a family reunion. Gets 15 years of jail. This was his third DUI.
Channel 13 - WZZM

San Diego, CA -- Mar. 19 -- Bartender Pleads Guilty to Fatal DUI Crash
Bartender with a 0.15 blood alcohol level rear ends another vehicle causing it to catch fire and other driver burns to death. Sentencing to be in May and up to 10 years of jail time may result.
10 News

Martinsburg, WV -- Mar. 19 -- Man Kills Woman in Vehicle Accident
Man hits another woman's vehicle head on. She dies on scene.
The Herald-Mail

Lexington, KY -- Mar. 21 -- Man Appears in Court for DUI and Death of January Collision
Man to appear in court after driving in wrong lane with headlights off. He sideswipes one vehicle and then hits a second vehicle head on killing driver.
Lex 18

New Haven, CT -- Mar. 23 -- Man Gets 3 Years After Killing Brother in DUI
Man with a blood alcohol level of 0.176 accidentally kills brother. Driver had many drinks and lands his Jeep into water thereby causing his brother to drown.
New Haven Register

Denver, CO -- Mar. 23 -- On Duty Police Officer Gets DUI
Several people see a police car driving erratically and call police who pulls over on duty cop.
Oklahoma City Injury Board

Las Vegas, NV -- Mar. 25 (Update) -- Second Postponement of Trial for Man Killing Teen UNLV Student
Man while intoxicated kills 18 year old student of UNLV back in April 2009. Judge grants second postponement of man under house arrest but won't grant a third.
Las Vegas Sun

Chicago, IL -- Mar. 25 -- Man Gets DUI 13 Years After DUI Resulting in a Death
Man gets a charge of DUI. He was found guilty back in 1997 of DUI resulting in a death by electrocution of his passenger.
Chicago Tribune

Vicodin Addiction

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

People in recovery needed for the New York State Advisory Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services

I got this email today, 03/30/10 from the OASAS Director of Governmental Affairs.


There are currently several consumer vacancies on the New York State Advisory Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. A consumer representative includes a person in recovery from alcohol, substance abuse and/or problem gambling; significant others of a patient or a person in recovery; representatives of prevention, treatment and recovery organizations. The appointment is made by the Governor and requires confirmation by the New York State Senate. The Commissioner will submit a recommendation to the Governor’s Office for the appointment. The nominees selected for appointment will be required to complete a background investigation and submit financial disclosure forms for review by the Governor’s Office and the Senate Finance Committee.

The Advisory Council meets on a quarterly basis in Albany at the OASAS Offices at 1450 Western Avenue. The Advisory Council advises the Commissioner on major policy initiatives, proposed regulations or changes to current regulations, reviews new certification applications and applications for major capital projects. In addition to consumer representatives, the Advisory Council includes representatives from all modalities of addiction services. The Council also includes representatives from entities that pay for prevention, treatment and recovery services and a representative from the Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors. Members of the Advisory Council are reimbursed for the cost of travel and lodging. As the Council is a policy making body, members are required to submit financial disclosure forms to the New York State Commission on Public Integrity annually.

If you have questions regarding the Council or the appointment process please contact Patricia Zuber-Wilson at or by telephone at 518-485-2317. If you are interested in being considered for appointment or know of someone who may be interested in being appointed to the Advisory Council the recommendation must be received by Monday, April 12, 2010. Please submit a resume and/or a letter of interest that includes why the person should be considered for appointment and contact information for the individual. The materials should be sent to:

Patricia Zuber-Wilson
Director of Government Affairs/Executive Secretary of the Advisory Council
Office of Government & Interagency Collaboration
1450 Western Avenue
Albany, NY 12203-3526
518-485-2335 (fax)

Has marijuana prohibition worked?

Video lasts 4:11.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Patients at GCASA with a history of mental health treatment

In looking at the 2009 admissions data to GCASA, it appears that about 43% of 947 patients admitted to GCASA's outpatient treatment programs have a history of mental health treatment. About 65% of the 103 patients admitted to the Atwater Community Residence and Supportive Living have a history of mental health treatment.

Implications for GCASA's services:

1. It is apparent that GCASA's patients present with complex problems and that good treatment needs to be comprehensive and address the patient's psychiatric as well as substance abuse problems.

2. In thinking about patients with co-occurring disorders it is often not clear whether the substance abuse problem has triggered the psychiatric problem or the psychiatric problem has triggered the substance abuse problem. Whichever, it takes a skilled and experienced clinician to understand how the psychiatric and substance abuse problems are inter-related.

3. GCASA collaborates with mental health providers and these cases which involve both disorders take more case management and coordination services and therefore are more expensive to treat. Unfortunately, reimbursement mechanisms don't differentiate the costs involved in treating people with co-occurring disorders as compared to people with a substance abuse disorder alone.

4. From a management perspective, it requires more resources to treat people with co-occurring disorders because it requires a more highly trained and therefore more expensive staff. Also, the time that clinicians spend on cases which involve co-occurring disorders is increased.

5. Patients admitted to residential services have a longer history of substance abuse treatment and their problems are more severe. It makes sense that the percentage of patients admitted to residential services would be higher. GCASA is very blessed to have Mary Beth Pace, L.C.S.W., a MICA (Mentally ill chemical abuser) specialist as the new Assistant Director of Residential Services. Having a mental health professional in a leadership position in residential services is a big asset for GCASA's service delivery.

Gambling addicton sometimes starts in adolescence.

Good video on gambling addiction. Lasts 7:26

Poverty increases in GCASA's service areas

The New York State Community Action Association has came out with its New York State Poverty Report in February, 2010. Since GCASA serves mostly poor people primarily in Genesee and Orleans Counties in its treatment programs, it is worth taking a look at some of the data.

New York State has the highest poverty rate among the Northeastern states and ranks as the 17th poorest state in the nation.

Child poverty rates in Buffal, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica are at astonishing levels with 40% of children in those cities living below the poverty line.

Almost 50% of families in poverty are headed by single women.

28% of New Yorkers living below the poverty line do so in spite of being employed.

People of color are the most poor with 1 in 5 African Americans, 1 in 4 Latinos, and 1 in 10 Caucasions.

Over 2.6 million New Yorkers under 65 do not have health insurance.

At the county level 12.3% of people in Genesee County or 12.3% live below the poverty line. 16.9% of children live in poverty along with 9.9% of seniors.

The percentage of families in poverty headed by women is 54.6%. 14.1% of the population has no health insurance.

Median income in the county is $48, 509 and the unemployment rate is 7.1% but the % of poor unemployed is 29.8%.

In Orleans county 12.9% of the population lives in poverty and 15.7% of children, and 6.5% of seniors. 14.3% of the population has no health insurance.

The Median income in Orleans County is $47,313, and the unemployment rate is 8.2%, but of the % of the people who are poor it is 32.8%.

The unemployment rate month the poor is higher now than during the Great Depression.

GCASA is serving primarily working and lower class people who struggle with poverty. It is hard to discern whether substance abuse aggravates poverty or whether poverty aggravates substance abuse. Substance is one way of coping with stress. People with resources have more of a buffer against the negative consequences of substance abuse while poor people are more likely to become caught up in the criminal justice and welfare system.

Bobby Militello is coming on April 24th!

Bobby Militello is coming to the First Annual GCASA Evening of Jazz at the Stuart Steiner Theater at GCC on April 24th.

For more information click here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Treatment saves money

Friday, March 26, 2010

GCASA offers Prom Prevention message to over 400 high school juniors and seniors from 6 Genesee County High Schools

From The Daily News on 03/25/10 in part:

BATAVIA -- "Just don't let this happen to you," said Korey Kustes from his wheelchair on Wednesday morning.

The message was clear as he rolled away from the middle of the stage for a brief moment of silence.

Then, applause rippled through the Genesee Community College Forum as 400 area high school students showed their gratitude, commending him for the honesty and the bravery it took him to admit that he had made a mistake in his past that led to a lifelong consequence.

As a young man paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a car crash involving alcohol, Kustes told his story to area juniors and seniors. He told them how his situation could happen to anyone who isn't careful, and how he is making it his mission to promote awareness for good choices.

Six schools in Genesee County brought their students to a presentation sponsored by Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

Substance Abuse treatment saves taxpayers money

Does substance abuse treatment save money for the tax payers? Absolutely! The savings are very signficant.

According to a study in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse in 1999 the cost savings of methadone detoxification for opiate addicts was very large.

In New York State the costs of incarceration which average about $35,000 per year are greatly reduced when drug problems are dealt with through treatment rather than through lengthy incarceration. GCASA's data shows a big reduction in re-arrests for people who have received treatment here.

This is article #2 in a series on the benefits of substance abuse treatment.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

7:1 benefit-cost ratio for substance abuse treatment

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has a great fact sheet on the Cost Offset Of Treatment Services.

There will be a series of articles on this topic over the coming week.

Here's the most important fact. Treatment has a cost benefit ratio of 7:1 or for every $1,583 spent on treatment, (just about the total cost of outpatient treatment at GCASA) there is a financial benefit of $11,487.00 according to a study which appeared in 2006 by Ettner, Huang, et al. in the Health Services Research journal.

GCASA's treatment services not only have a huge positive impact on human suffering but make a lot of financial sense as well.

This is article #1 in a series on cost benefit of SA treatment services.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bobby Militello headlines GCASA's First Annual Evening Of Jazz

Bobby Militello is coming to Batavia to the First Annual GCASA Evening Of Jazz on April 24th at the Stuart Steiner Theater at GCC.

For more information click here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bobby Militello headlines GCASA's First Annual Evening Of Jazz

Dave Brubeck and Bobby Militello at the Montreal Jazz Festival 2009.

Bobby is coming to Batavia on April 24th for the First Annual GCASA Evening Of Jazz.

To watch the video of Take Five click here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Government loves gambling but it can have a very dark side

GCASA brought Michelle Hadden from the New York State Council on Problem Gambling and a number of other gambling experts to Batavia on March 9,2010 for a workshop.

The Daily News covered the event on March 10, 2010 and here is part of what their article says:

Genesee County is at the "epicenter" of the state's push to expand gambling venues, and that, no doubt, comes at a cost to families and personal finances, said a prevention specialist with the New York Council on Problem Gambling.

The rural counties between Rochester and Buffalo have close access to casinos at Batavia Downs, Hamburg, Niagara Falls and Salamanca. The state has proposed expanding the hours and adding table games at the eight video gaming centers, including at Batavia. That would raise $45 million for a cash-strapped state, Michelle Hadden, the prevention specialist with Problem Gambling, told about 60 people Tuesday at a gambling awareness program.

You can read the whole article by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

U.S. Government deliberately kill over 10,000 people during prohibition by poisoning alcohol

Did you know that during prohibition the Federal Government deliberately poisoned alcohol to kill Americans to scare people? At least 10,000 people were deliberately killed.

You can read about it in an article entitled, The Chemist's War, by Deborah Blum which appeared on Slate on 02/19/10.

Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bobby Militello headlines GCASA's First Annual Evening Of Jazz

Bobby Militello with Dave Brubeck at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1984.

Bobby Militello will be the headliner at the First Annual GCASA evening of jazz on April 24, 2010, at the Stuart Steiner theater at Genesee Community College.

For more information click here.

Prohibition poster

You don't have to drink to have fun

Sunday, March 14, 2010

NYPD officers drive drunk with impunity

According to a special report in the New York Daily News, New York City Police Officers drive drunk and keep their jobs. Here is a snippet from the article:

New York City cops caught driving drunk may have problems to worry about - but losing their job usually isn't one of them.

Since 1999, at least 55 active duty cops have been charged with drunken driving while on the force. All pleaded down to nonfelony charges and nearly all remained on the job.

That includes a sergeant who seriously injured passengers in another car, another charged with resisting arrest, and four cops who had drunken-driving convictions before joining the force.

These are the findings of a Daily News probe that examined NYPD records and criminal histories for the 13 southernmost counties of New York State. The department confirmed the results.

The disturbing phenomenon emerges after a spate of headlines about cops charged with driving drunk. Officer Andrew Kelly was indicted in the September death of a preacher's daughter. The next month, Detective Kevin Spellman was charged with killing a Bronx grandmother. Both refused to submit to sobriety tests.

Since then, three more cops have been charged with drunken driving: one who trashed a department car at the Midtown Tunnel, another who flipped his luxury sedan onto the sidewalk in front of Tiffany's, and a third who crashed into a parked car.

The number of cops convicted in drunken-driving incidents is an extremely tiny percentage of the 30,000-member force. But the incidents occur fairly regularly, year after year.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Drug overdose deaths have declined 27% in last 2 years in NYC

From Thaindian News on March 2, 2010

A new Health Department report informed that drug overdose deaths have declined 27% in two years, the lowest level in New York City since 1999. The New York City Health Department announced on Monday.

Despite the fall in the drug-related fatalities, drug overdose still remains as the third leading cause of premature death among New Yorkers between 25 to 34 years old. Survey data also informs that nearly a million New Yorkers used illicit drugs during the last year.

Marijuana is the city’s most commonly used illicit drug, but most of the severe health consequences result from cocaine and opioids, which include heroin and pain relievers. Nearly a tenth of hospital admissions are drug related. Cocaine is the leading cause of drug-related emergency-department visits and hospitalizations, followed by heroin and other opioids; but opioids are involved in more fatalities.

The reason for the decline in overdose deaths isn’t clear. Some initiatives may have influenced, such as the law established in 2006 to distribute naloxone within high-risk populations. Naloxone is a highly effective antidote to opioid overdose that can be life-saving when administered promptly.

Friday, March 12, 2010

OASAS Commissioner recognizes March as Professional Social Work Month

Karen Carpenter-Palumbo sent the following email message out on 03/04/10 in recognition of March as Professional Social Work Month.


In recognition of March as National Professional Social Work Month, I want to acknowledge and thank all of the dedicated social workers in our state, particularly those who are part of our Profession of Choice, the addictions services field.

One of the OASAS five major strategic goals, or Destinations, for the addictions field is Talent Management, with a focus on becoming a profession of choice for attracting, selecting, retaining, motivating and developing its talent. New York's addictions workforce includes more than 35,000 paid and volunteer workers, including nearly 7,400 OASAS-certified prevention and treatment professionals.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that the social work profession will increase nationally at a rate of 16 percent over the next 10 years. It also projects that the mental health and substance abuse social workers profession will grow by almost 20 percent over the next decade, in part due to recent changes in legislation and criminal justice policy which redirect substance abusers into treatment rather than prison. As this trend grows, demand will strengthen for treatment programs and social workers to assist persons with substance use disorders on the road to recovery.

To meet the anticipated demand and attract even more social workers to our system we are working with schools of social work throughout the state to encourage inclusion of addictions content in their curriculum. Currently, 10 different schools of social work in New York offer OASAS-approved coursework that may be applied toward credentialing education requirements. These schools play an important part in attracting talent into our service delivery system by encouraging social workers to pursue OASAS’ professional credentials, including the CASAC, CASAC Trainee or CPP.

We are also actively engaged in promoting field placements for students in our OASAS-certified programs. In 2009, OASAS conducted a survey to assess the level of interest in acquiring or utilizing social work interns. Nearly 60 percent of OASAS providers responded favorably, indicating that they would be willing to accept both undergraduate and graduate level social work students. Given this interest and the projected workforce shortages in the years ahead, OASAS will need to expand its involvement with the New York State Association of Deans of Schools of Social Work as a way to connect the social work schools with the growing need for skilled entry-level professionals.

For more information on National Professional Social Work Month, as well as a number of other important observances this month, visit our Web site.

I would also like to encourage you to let others know about the tremendous rewards of working in the addictions profession and help us bring more social workers into our field. Again, thank you to all of the dedicated social workers of New York who help us reach the 2.5 million New Yorkers suffering from alcohol, drug and gambling addiction. Your work is invaluable and appreciated each and every day.


Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo

GCASA, once again, is a pioneer and on the cutting edge having provided field placements for Social Work, Counseling, and Human Services services for well over a decade.

There was an article on this blod detailing GCASA's committment to professional education on 01/27/10, the staff who function as field instructors on 01/28/10.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trauma and substance abuse

Dr. Sandra Bloom wrote a very interesting article which appeared in the American Psychotherapy review in July of 2000 entitled, "Double Trouble: The Perils of Substance Abuse and PTSD."

Dr. Bloom's main point is the high association between trauma and substance abuse and other personal and social problems. She writes in part:

"Approximately 50 - 60% of women and 20% of men in chemical dependency recovery programs report having been victims of childhood sexual abuse. Approximately 69% of women and 80% of men in such programs report being victims of child physical abuse."
Dr.Bloom goes on to cite other very interesting statistics which demonstrate the relationship between abuse and later life problems then she writes:

"Taken together, these research results have staggering implications for drug policy. First of all it means that any approach replicating the 'Just Say No" slogan
of the 1980s is not going to work. Among the most severely addicted substance abusers are people who are so overwhelmed by the physiological impact of prolonged exposure to violence, that sobriety is very unlikely without a great deal of help beginning in childhood. It means that lecturing children on the dangers of substance abuse is not going to be an antidote for drug abuse to the most damaged and most damaging of those children. Approaches that focus on criminal justice alone are not likely to be very helpful."

GCASA offers a great deal of specialized programming for women, adolescents, children, and adults involved in the criminal justice system. While abstinence and harm reduction are important treatment goals, GCASA staff is well aware that substance abuse is often a symptom of problems as well as being the presenting problem itself.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

GCASA salutes the new CASACs in New York State

It is interesting that of the almost 200 newly announced CASACS (Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselors) only 10 or 5% are in Western New York and 2 of the ten I am proud to write have obtained their CASACs while working at GCASA. They are Charlene Grimm and Laura Lynch.

Of the other 8, 7 were from Erie County, and 1 from Niagara County.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Michael Nerney presents "Kids In The Candy Store" and "Is There A Bully In The Classroom" at GCC on 04/23/10

On Friday, April 23, 2010, from 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Michael Nerney will be at Genesee Community College to present 2 workshops entitled, "Kids In The Candy Store", and "Is There A Bully In The Classroom?".

Cost is only $20.00 which includes a continental breakfast and lunch.

The workshop is sponsored by the Drug Free Communities Coalition of Genesee County and the Western New York Prevention Resource Center.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Free Income Tax Preparation at GCC

Genesee County DSS and GCC have partnered to open a VITA Program for low income folks in our community. VITA is a volunteer income tax assistance program that does FREE basic tax preparation for people earning less than $49,000 per year. Basic tax returns are submitted on-line for FREE on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5 to 8 pm at DSS, or on several select dates at GCC. While there are a couple of other VITA programs in the county, they are primarily open during normal business hours, making it difficult for some working folks…..such as your staff…. to take advantage of the service. Our VITA Program caters to those people who may otherwise turn to a paid tax preparer (such as those advertised on TV) that not only charge for the preparation, but also try to sell rapid refunds or cash-on-the-spot services.

So far, we have completed nearly 70 returns for folks in the community. But as tax season starts to wind down, we are finding that we have some openings in our schedule for the next few weeks. There will be walk-in evenings of tax preparation from 4-8 pm at GCC on Thursday, March 11 and on Thursday April 1, with no appointment necessary. If anyone would like an appointment for other Tuesdays or Thursdays through April 15th at DSS, they can call Evelyn at 344-2580, extension 6476.

Domestic violence and Gov. Patterson

GCASA works with many women who have been the targets of domestic violence and many men who have been perpetrators.

It raises a grave concern when Governor Patterson interfers with accountability between a domestic violence victim and her abuser, an aide of the Governor. Also, the State Troopers were accused of having been involved in this situation in an unethical way at the behest of the Governor if the reports are accurate.

While substance abuse counselors and mental heatlh professionals are held to high ethical standards, it seems hypocritical that high placed governmental officials are not held to the same standards.

Here is a report on Democracy Now! not just about the situation in which Gov. Patterson has been involved, but on domestic violence in general.

An interesting fact is that there are 8 states in which domestic violence is considered a pre-existing condition which prevents women from getting health insurance.

To access the report, click here.

Drugs take away the pain

"The reason I do drugs is so I don't feel the fucking feelings I feel when I don't do drugs," Nick, a forty year old heroin and crystal meth addict once told me, weeping as he spoke. "When I don't feel the drugs in me, I get depressed." His father drilled into his twin sons the notion that they were nothing but "pieces of shit." Nick's brother committed suicide as a teenager; Nick became a lifelong addict."

Gabor Mate, M.D., In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts, p. 14

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sticker Shock Campaign, May 8, 2010

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Cocaine deaths rise with weather temperature - Who knew?

From Reuters HealthDay on 03/04/10:New research suggests that cocaine overdose deaths in New York City go up with the temperature: They're more likely when the average weekly temperature goes past 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The findings, published online March 3 in the journal Addiction, are based on death statistics in the city from 1990 through 2006.

The increase in accidental overdose deaths during warmer temperatures appears to be because cocaine raises body temperature and makes it harder for the cardiovascular system to cool the body, according to background information from the journal's publisher. When using cocaine, people also tend to be less apt to comprehend that they're hot and need to do something to cool off.

The research clarifies earlier findings that had linked cocaine overdose deaths to much higher temperatures -- those over about 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

The study estimated that the number of cocaine overdose deaths in New York City would rise by at least two a week when the average temperature is higher than 75 degrees, compared with an average of 75 degrees or lower.

What to do? Air conditioning and special health alerts could help in urban areas where cocaine use is high, the study suggested.
"What was it that did in reality make me an opium eater? Misery, blank desolation, abiding darkness."

Thomas DeQuincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Who is the addict?

"Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look."

William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar

Just as many addicts do. And what is that "lean and hunrgy look" but a sign of the hole in their soul. A hole that begs, demands, sreams to be satiated and filled.

"I believe there is one addiction process, whether it is manifested in the lethal substance dependencies of my Downtown Eastside patients; the frantic self-soothing of overeaters or shopaholics; the obsessions of gamblers, sexaholics, and compulsive internet users; or the socially acceptable and even admired behaviors of the workaholic. Drug addicts are often dismissed and discounted as unworthy of empathy and respect."

Gabor Mate, M.D.
In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts p. 2

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress. It is language that tells us about a plight that must be understood."

Alice Miller, Breaking Down The Wll Of Silence.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What's wrong with substance abuse policy in the United States?

"The United States leads the world in scientific knowledge in many areas but trails in applying that knowledge to social and human realities. One fact demonstrates the imbalance: Americans make up 5 percent of the world's population but 25% of the world's prison population. A main cause of this shocking discrepancy is the antiquated social and legal approach to addiction."

Gabor Mate, M.D.
In The Realm Of The Hungry Ghosts, p. XV

Thursday, March 4, 2010

National Problem Gambling Awareness Week 03/07 - 03/13/10

Sunday will launch the National Problem Gambling Awareness Week which will run from 03/07/10 to 03/13/10.

A press release issues on 03/03/10 states in part:


As part of National Problem Gambling Awareness Week (NPGAW), the New York Council on Problem Gambling asks that all New York state gambling industries consider participating this year and launch a gambling advertisement-free week during the week of March 7 through March 13. Furthermore, the New York Council on Problem Gambling recommends that the unused advertising funds be allocate for a problem gambling awareness campaign instead.

“Many New Yorkers recognize the gambling advertising jingles and know where they can go to gamble,” said New York Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director James Maney. “But very few know the warning signs of problem gambling or where to find help when they need it.”

After the mismanagement at the Batavia Downs and Casino by the Western Region Offtrack Betting Corporation it might be a good thing if they stopped advertising for awhile and donated the savings to the New York Council of Problem Gambling.

Based on the 2006 OASAS Household Survey it is estmated that 5% of adults experienced a gambling problem in the last year and my be in need of treatment. About 10% of students in grades 6-12 experienced a gambling problem in the past year.

GCASA offers Gambling Prevention and Treatment Services in both Genesee and Orleans Counties. In Genesee County, call Jamie Beedham at 585-815-1879, and in Orleans County call Pat Crowley at 585-589-0055.

Most New Yorkers who gamble do so responsibly, but over a million New Yorkers suffer from gambling problems and their problem affects several million more.

While most New Yorkers can identify the jingles and slogans of the Lottery commission encouraging them to gamble and they know where to access gambling activities and games, very few know the warning signs of problem gambling or where to turn for help.

Please join the celebration of National Problem Gambling Awareness Week from the 7th - 13th.

GCASA treats high percentages of patients with substance abuse and psychiatric disorder

There is a lot of talk in high places these days in the Substance Abuse and the Mental Health fields about what is named "co-occurring disorders" or here in New York State, Mentally Ill Chemical Abuser, or MICA.

Many people struggling with substance abuse disorders also have psychiatric disorders, 44% or 458 out of 1050 patients report having had some mental health treatment in their life at GCASA.

Here is the program specific data:

In Genesee county it was 263/606 for a percentage of 43.4.
In Orleans county it was 127/341 for a percentage of 37.2
In the Atwater Community Residence it was 37/57 for a percentage of 64.9.
In Supportive living it was 31/46 for a percentage of 67.4%.

People with a combination of psychiatric and substance abuse disorders are more difficult to treat and require a more skilled labor force. Many substance abuse counselors are not all that well trained in psychiatry, and many mental health professionals are not well trained in substance abuse. These professional groups like to fight with each other and the patient often looses. Many patients are told by mental health professionals that their psychiatric disorder cannot be effectively treated until their substance abuse disorder is treated and many substance abuse professionals tell patients that their substance abuse disorder cannot be treated until their psychiatric problems are dealt with.

It is rare to find behavioral health professionals who feel competent to treat both substance abuse and mental health disorders. At GCASA we are fortunate to have such trained staff and we offer MICA services in both of GCASA's clinics and in our residential services program.

GCASA's medical director, Dr. Charles King, a Family Medicine Physician with accreditation in addiction medicine often provides front line psychopharmacological treatment for GCASA's patients. Unfortunately, there often is a long wait of a couple of months for GCASA's patients to access mental health treatment in the two county mental health clinics in Genesee and Orleans counties.

Patients with substance abuse and psychiatric disorders are likely to be more dysfunctional with longer pre-morbid disordered histories which makes the prognosis for treatment more questionable. The amount of services such patients need are much greater than someone with just a substance abuse disorder and so they are more costly to treatment.

For the most part, GCASA treats these patients effectively with meager resources. However, treating these patients with meager resources stresses the system.

This is article #8 in a series on 2009 GCASA admission data.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dissolvable tobacco - What will they think of next?

The Idaho Reporter reported on 02/22/10,how regulations were stalled in the Idaho State Senate. The most interesting thing in the article though was how "dissolvable tobacco" is being marketed and targeted towards youth in Idaho. I had never heard of "dissolvable tobacco" before.

Check it out by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Compliance checks work if there is an onging, consistent program

GCASA has collaborated with local law enforcement since 2001 in Genesee County and 2006 in Orleans County to perform alcohol compliance checks.

In 2006-2007, a total of 112 establishments in both counties were visited with a compliance rate of 89.3%.

In 2007-2008, a total of 138 establishments were visited with a compliance rate of 76%.

From January to September 2009, 121 establishments were visited with a compliance rate of 93.1%.

The large decrease in compliance in 2007-2008 is believed to be a result of a lack of consistency in conducting compliance checks. A murder in each county temporarily took manpower away from conducting the checks. As a result, establishments did not believe compliance checks were being done and became lax about checking for proper identification. As compliance checks have become more consistent, the compliance rates have greatly increased. If area businesses know they are being monitored, they are more vigilant about properly training staff and asking for identification to purchase alcohol.

Thanks to Shannon Ford, CPP, compiling this data.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Underage drinking decreases in Orleans County

GCASA has provided prevention services in Orleans County since 1999. Three years ago GCASA helped develop a county wide coalition which is called Orleans United Against Substance Abuse. While only three years old, the coalition is already seeing some encouraging changes in the rate of underage drinking.

The rate for 30-day use of alcohol has decreased from 28.9% in 2005 to 21.8% in 2007. Binge drinking rates have decreased from 15.7% in 2005 to 14.1% in 2007.

GCASA is proud of the work it and its partners have done to impact in a positive way underage drinking.

Thanks to Shannon Ford, CPP, for compiling this data.