Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gambling has exploded in the last 40 years as an acceptable social activity

The number of states in the United States with some form of gambling increased from 2 in 1972 to 48 in 1999.

In a 1999 report  by the National Opinion Research Center, 86%of adults in the United States reported some gambling in their lifetime and 68% reported some form of gambling in the past year.

Research has found that Native Americans are 4 to 6 times more likely to have pathological gambling problems than the non-Native American population.

As a child growing up in the 50s, gambling was considered a vice and immoral. Today, gambling is a major governmental and church fund raiser.

Times have changed and so has the incidence and prevalence of pathological gambling as a public health issue.

The statistics in this article come from "Implications of American Indian Gambling for Social Work Research and Practice, Social Work,, Volume 55, No. 2, April 2010, pp.139 - 146. For the abstract, click here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Are drug dealers getting off easy under the Rockefeller drug laws reforms?

The New York Daily News is a tabloid paper which likes to hype stories for headlines. On June 27, 2010 it ran a story in which Bridget Brennan a special prosecutor in New York says that drug dealers are getting let off easy and being released from prison. I wonder if Ms. Brennan has considered that all the stores in New York which sell tobacco are getting off easy especially when tobacco is America's most addictive and deadly drug? What about liquor stores which sell alcohol America's second most addictive and deadly drug? The deadly effects of cocaine and heroin is nothing compared to tobacco and alcohol, but those substances are taxed and their sale is controlled by the state. Supposing New York legalized drugs and taxed them and controlled the conditions of their sale? From a public health perspective it would be a much more effective and rational policy that the one we have now when we incarcerate drug dealers at the cost of $35,000.00 per year per person. That money could hire a drug counselor to provide treatment for a year to over 200 people.

The New York Daily News is in the business of selling newspapers. It does that by scaring people and getting them emotionally upset. These scare tactic headlines and statements like Bridget Brennan made do nothing to enhance the health, safety, and quality of life in New York. Hopefully discriminating readers will know better than to believe the New York Daily News hype. Unfortunately, I don't think that is the case. I took the poll which accompanies the article which asks the question in a very biased way, is the new law too easy on drug dealers, and 75% of the people said Yes. The answer is No. New York is moving in the right direction in reforming the Rockefeller drug laws. Such news though does not sell papers like the New York Daily News.

You can read the Daily News article by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

20% of adolescents said they used alcohol and drugs prior to last episode of intercourse

About 33% of high school students are sexually active, 1/3. The percentage gets higher with the grade.

About 20% of sexually active high school students said they used alcohol or drugs prior to their last episode of sexual intercourse. Males are much more likely to report alcohol and drug use prior to sexual intercourse than females, 26% compared to 17%.

These rates have not changed since the survey was begun in 1991.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

To read the whole report from the Center For Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, click here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cigarettes now almost $10.00 a pack in New York State

On July 1, 2010, taxes on tobacco products went up significantly again in New York State. They went up $1.60 a pack of cigarettes bringing the total price almost to $10.00 per pack.

What's the impact?

It's very hard on poorer people who will now be spending $70.00 a week for their weekly supply if they smoke a pack a day.

It will mean that more people will head for the reservations and the border states in search of a cheaper fix. It will also mean a black market will spring up and the label of "drug dealer" will take on new meaning.

Overall, it probably is a good thing in the sense that the social benefits outweigh the social costs, but we at the point in raises taxes on tobacco has unintended consequences which can increase social dysfunction and criminalize a new group of people who are not criminals but addicts.

The Berkshire Eagle had an interesting article yesterday on the predictable rush to the border for addicted New York State smokers. You can access it by clicking here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

DWI death is tragedy all the way around

Stephanie Campbell gets 2 - 6 years for DWI death of Lindsay Thomas on June 28,2010 in Syracuse.

Watch the video by clicking here.