Friday, 30 April 2010

It's Official - "Tough on Drugs" Causes More Crime & Violence

Now, it's official. Police crackdowns and prohibition causes more violence and crime than it stops.

I have been saying this for years ... drug related violence is because of our drug laws not drugs themselves. The presumed connection between drugs and violence is severely misguided by the public. Any mention of alcohol violence, hold-ups or street thuggery and some people will ignorantly claim that being high on drugs is to blame. This is simply not true. The violence stemming from drugs is either from addicts committing crimes to procure money for their habit or those in the drug business fighting it out on the streets. Whether they are intoxicated is not important as most drugs rarely cause aggression or violence. It's amazing the reaction I get when I make this comment online which often results in being called a looney, an idiot or an obvious drug user. 

The whole point is, the effects of drugs do not usually make someone violent. It's the illegality that causes violence. Business disputes between drug dealers are not settled in court but on the streets with guns, knives or very large thugs. Think about an addict committing a break-in - it's because they need money to buy drugs that they have run out of. They are most most likely not high at all but suffering massive withdrawals which makes them desperate enough to commit the crime. The drugs they seek are illegal which makes them very expensive and crime is usually the only way addicts can afford them. It's a nasty cycle in today's climate of drug hysteria.

The usual course of action by police, under direction from the government, is to crackdown heavily on drug users and dealers. This has been the failed strategy for 60 years plus. We have completely ignored the havoc caused by US alcohol prohibition and overlooked the mounting evidence from experts while the "War on Drugs" continues to reek carnage on society. As the number of victims increase under the "Tough on Drugs" strategy, we have to ask ourselves if we will continue to allow politicians to base their decisions on political posturing, misguided personal beliefs and pressure from moral crusaders. Science and evidence should determine drug policy, not politicians taking a position on drugs because it is politically advantageous to do so. 

Crackdowns On Drug Dealers Led To Rise In Violent Crime, Study Finds
By Cahal Milmo, Chief Reporter
April 2010

Police crackdowns to cut the supply of illegal drugs by removing dealers and criminal overlords actually lead to rises in drug-related violence, gun crime and murder, according to an international study. A review of 20 years of research into drug enforcement has found that attempts to snuff out the trade in illegal substances have the opposite effect to that intended, by creating a power vacuum when drugs barons are imprisoned which is rapidly filled by competitors eager to fight each other for the newly-vacated territory.

Campaigners for the reform of drugs policy said the findings, which follow numerous studies showing that prohibition has failed to stop narcotics from becoming more plentiful, added to the pressure on governments to declare the "war" on the £200bn global illicit drugs industry over, and adopt a policy of controlled legalisation.

The study by the Canada-based International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP) found that heavy-handed tactics, ranging from attempts by the American-sponsored Colombian armed forces to eradicate drug cartels to the arrest of dealers in Sydney, had led to increases in violence. Often, this violence is fuelled by criminals arming themselves to profit from price rises caused by seizures of drugs or the dismantling by police of dealing networks.

The assessment of 15 reports on the relationship between violence and drug enforcement, presented yesterday at an international conference in Liverpool, found that 87 per cent of studies reported that police seizures and arrests led directly to increased violence.

Dan Werb, co-author of the ICSDP document, said: "The convention has been that law-enforcement action to reduce the availability of drugs, thereby increasing drugs prices and decreasing supplies, also has the effect of reducing violence. Not only has prohibition been found to be ineffective with regard to price and supply; this study has also shown that it is accompanied by an increase in drug-related violence.

"Prohibition drives up the value of banned substances astronomically, creating lucrative markets and worldwide networks of organised crime. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that any disruption of these markets through drug-law enforcement seems to have the perverse effect of creating more financial opportunities for organised crime groups, and gun violence often ensues."

The study, which highlights the drug-related violence gripping Mexico as an example of the vicious circle fuelled by crackdowns, said researchers in Florida had recorded a five-fold increase in violence and property crime linked to drug arrests. Another study of six US cities found that attempts to shut down crack markets led to increased homicide rates in four of them.

A six-year Australian investigation into drug dealing in Sydney found that the arrest of dealers and subsequent disputes between rivals had contributed to murders and a substantial rise in non-fatal shootings with handguns.

Campaigners for a regulated market in drugs said the study bolstered the argument for legalising drugs and introducing a sliding scale of controls, ranging from membership of coffee-shop style premises for the sale of cannabis to licensed pharmacies selling cocaine.

A spokesman for the Transform Drug Policy Foundation said: "We have a government in pathological denial of the negative impact of a prohibition-based drugs culture. Which other global industry worth £200bn is left in the hands of organised criminals rather than being taxed and properly regulated?"

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

News Ltd Hypocrisy & The Culture of Nasty, Aggressive, Unethical Media

I have read quite a few articles by David Penberthy and although I mightn’t agree with him all the time, he is certainly a classy, seasoned writer. His many years experience has graced him with the ability to break down important issues into readable chump for the masses. But like many social commentators, his views can become clouded in the murky atmosphere of his employer. Maybe his long history in the Murdoch stable of junk media has something to do with it, including 4 years as editor of that putrid swamp called The Daily Telegraph?

Interestingly, David started out in adelaide as a ‘real’ journalist reporting on education, industrial affairs and politics before going to Canberra to head up The Adelaide Advertiser’s parliamentary bureau. He finally settled in at The Daily Telegraph as state parliament bureau chief. Sometime after this he had to make a decision to move to a more reputable media group or become one of Murdoch’s highly paid stooges. He chose the latter. 

David might be a top bloke and an excellent writer but a few days ago, he produced what must surely be the most hypocritical article of his career. In an attempt to highlight inappropriate comments in the media, he wrote an article in The Punch titled, Our Only Regret Is We Didn’'t Get To Murder Carl Williams. Although his intentions might have been noble, there was no avoiding that this was coming from the ex editor of The Daily Telegraph on a Murdoch owned website. 

How anyone can get off on this is beyond me. But a lot of people are. You get the sense reading much of the online commentary, almost all of it anonymous, that the one regret some people have is that they didn’t get to kill Carl Williams themselves.
-- Our Only Regret Is We Didn’T Get To Murder Carl Williams - The Punch.

The hypocrisy is mind bending considering that most Murdoch newspapers in Australia are notorious for their nasty, dog whistle journalism. And their misleading, derogatory articles. And their expertise at attracting a range of socially unacceptable rednecks. And of course, the venomous, vile, mostly anonymous comments that would even make the writers of Saw, cringe. 

Here's a few examples I have previously provided:

I agree,they should all be locked away.Destroyed if you like.They are nothing but filthy,dirty drug addicts full of disease.
--Posted by Holly - The Daily Telegraph 

...Now I suggest you go have a big hit and crawl into some dirty alley and die...
Posted by Aaron - HeraldSun

Easy way to deal with drugs addicts is for the government to give free 100% pure crap away and let them all die. No hassles, no worries ...
--Posted by millsy of perth - PerthNow

Hahaha, if idiots are stupid enough to pop pills in the first place let them all overdose and die for their own stupid mistakes and stop wasting tax payers money on police squads trying to stop them!
--Posted by chris2pher of Adelaide - PerthNow
Get tough on medical practitioners who deal. Give the drug addicts one chance to get off it or execute them. End of story.
--Posted by Louise of Sydney - The Daily Telegraph 

Heres an idea, don't let ambulance officers or doctors treat drug takers (illegal ones, not those that take drugs for pain), if they overdose, they die.
--Posted by locky of sydney - The Daily Telegraph 

I have written many articles about Murdoch’s trash media in Australia and it’s no secret I despise them. And it’s not just the sensationalist, apocryphal garbage they produce each day but also the readers who spew out their redneck, right wing, vile comments. It’s probably not surprising that News Ltd websites have been targeted many times for their lack of comment moderation including an almost permanent spot on ABC’s Media Watch. And just to round up Murdoch’s swamp are the prize “opinion writers” such as Piers Akerman, Andrew Bolt, Timmeh Blair, Janet Albrechtsen, Neil Mitchell, Steve Price etc.

Internal Evil
There’s more to this story than just nasty comments by readers. There are some News Ltd writers who did exactly what David Penberthy is complaining about? Is it right to point out the "bloodlust" of the readers when the writers display the same behaviour? News Ltd writers are well known for many things. Some are evil, satanic columists who lurk around in dark offices, punching out hidden messages night after night, trying to awake Rupert’s army of Orcs. Some are part of the fringe, anti-science brigade. There's those who are lovingly referred to as “ambulance chasers of the media world” and some are just lousy writers. What they seem to have in common is a lack of respect for the truth and a habit of being as crass as possible.

Jason Moran would have done the world a favour if he had plugged Williams between the eyes several times.
--Keith Moor: Don't Cry For The Fat Boy - The Herald Sun

and this... 

And so fat Carl is dead. Boo hoo
--Paul Kent - Daily Telegraph

Where’s the restraint from News Ltd staff? And why wasn't this picked up by the writer, the editor, the sub editor, the typesetter, the gimp, the web moderators or others.

An exercise bike ends the life of Underbelly overbelly Carl Williams, leading to this complaint about prison conditions:
UPDATE. A prisoner has been charged with the exercide of Williams.
UPDATE II. Does the Herald Sun deserve credit for Williams’s shortened sentence? If so, well done

--Tim Blair - The Daily Telegraph


Let’s see his ‘baby face’ now. Let’s see what Carl Williams looks like after being bashed to death. Show the body, as we used to do when a killer was finally dead and we needed to kill his legend, too.
--Andrew Bolt - The Herald Sun

When I first read the Punch article, I was not only flabbergasted by the hypocrisy but also delighted by a wonderful comment that summed up how I felt. Feeling energised by this comment, I replied to it and added my 2¢ worth. To my amazement, it was never published. I had always considered The Punch to have very good moderators compared to other News Ltd websites and I had only ever been knocked back once (from memory). Unlike other News Ltd websites, you expected every comment you post to be approved as long as they were sensible. I assumed it was rejected because of the link I provided which pointed to a damning article about The Daily Telegraph and the bogan comments made about Schapelle Corby. I tried to repost a few times but I soon noticed that the original comment I was replying to had been deleted. There was still a reference to it but it had disappeared along with other associated replies.

BTS says: 11:53am | 22/04/10
Excellent point Craig, my post at 10.17am refers.

But there is no longer a comment from BTS at 10.17am. Why was it removed?

This just makes the David Penberthy’s article even more hypocritical although there are still other comments that highlight the same point - just not as brutal. Unfortunately I don’t have the original comment so I can’t reproduce it here. If “BTS” ever reads this, please let us see your comment.

Our Only Regret Is We Didn’T Get To Murder Carl Williams

By David Penberthy
April 2010
(Also appeared in the The Advertiser)

Carl Williams was a human being. But he was a human being in the physiological sense of the word. He breathed oxygen, had two arms and two legs, he had all the defining physical characteristics which qualified him for inclusion in the homo sapiens species.

But he was shorn of the emotional characteristics which define humanity – empathy, compassion and kindness, remorse, guilt and shame. He murdered three people - one of them a father in front of his children at a school football game – and sold drugs on such a massive scale that one can only speculate as to how many people were poisoned or even killed by using his products.

It’s been said this week by Victorian Police Commissioner Simon Overland and others that any death is a tragedy. But some deaths are more tragic than others, and like most people I struggle to feel any sense of sorrow at Williams’ death.

My first reaction was a callous and instinctive journalist’s reaction – what a story. And aside from feeling a kind of detached sadness for his children - even though he had conspired to deprive three other children of their own father - the fact that Williams met his end the way he did seemed both inevitable and unsurprising.

If one word can summarise the feeling at his passing, it is ambivalence. But while it’s perfectly understandable that we are not inclined to commiserate over William’s death, it’s sickening that so many of us have chosen to celebrate it. Rather than remaining ambivalent, people have opted instead for glee.

This overwhelmingly jubilant reaction to his death has been like a medieval ritual where a witch or a thief is killed and then trussed up and pelted in the town square. Talking at the start about Williams’ own lack of humanity, many of those who have inserted themselves in the public debate have damaged their own humanity by succumbing to this alarming form of bloodlust.

Those people should stop and reflect on the manner of Williams’ death and ask whether anyone ever deserves to go out the way he did. Two of the best Australian films, Ghosts of the Civil Dead, based on the Jika Jika lockdown where a prison guard was stabbed to death, and the Mark Read biopic Chopper, brutally document prison violence. One of the most bracing scenes in any film is surely the moment where Chopper turns on a fellow inmate in the exercise yard and slides a Phillips head screwdriver into the side of his neck. As the prisoner collapses Chopper stands back and hides the screwdriver, and says to one of the guards while laughing: “Look sir, I think Keithy’s done himself a mischief.” It is almost unwatchable, and from what we know, not a world away from the lethal jumping Williams’ faced in his final moments on Monday.

How anyone can get off on this is beyond me. But a lot of people are. You get the sense reading much of the online commentary, almost all of it anonymous, that the one regret some people have is that they didn’t get to kill Carl Williams themselves.

Some readers of websites such as the have joked that Williams’ bashing with the metal stem from an exercise bike would help end the cycle of violence in Melbourne, boom boom.
Others just went straight into Old Testament mode.

“Bye bye Carl, now you’re Satan’s bitch” wrote Ginni of Melbourne. “Throw the fat bastard in an unmarked hole and bury him forever,” said Adam of Ringwood. Rohan of Dogville wrote: “Ashes to ashes, scum to scum”. Sleeping Easier wrote: “The killer deserves nothing less than a reduction in sentence and the keys to the city for saving tax payers the burden of feeding this filth for 35 years. Well done.” Showing a rare interest in the policy ramifications of Williams’ death, Matthew of Melbourne said: “Why waste taxpayers money for a royal commission. What do you expect, you’re in a room full of murderers, killers and what not.”

Many were overjoyed at the apparent cash bonanza to taxpayers brought by Williams’ death, with the windfall savings of a couple of hundred bucks a day from no longer having to house him at Barwon prison.

“What great news,” wrote Jesse of Bendigo, “…we can only hope they’re all down in hell shooting each other up again, at least there’s no kids down there, lowlife scum all of them are they got what they deserve, why waste taxpayers money keeping scum alive.”

Some readers even regarded Williams’ death as more a problem of TV scheduling, complaining that Nine had cancelled Top Gear to show a documentary about the gangster.

It’s demeaning that people will even take the trouble to write down this sort of rubbish.

As a social trend, it feels like the inverse of the modern-day phenomena of public displays of mourning over the death of a celebrity or star. It’s been described as stadium grief, where people try to outdo each other in their hysterical reaction to the death of someone they have never met.

The journalist and British Labour politician Roy Hattersley was one of the first writers to chronicle this trend in an excellent series of newspaper columns after Princess Diana’s death. Writing in the Guardian in 1998, Hattersley examined the role of Diana’s brother Earl Spencer in turning her burial place at the Althorp mausoleum into a “funereal theme park”. Hattersely described the site as less a testament to Spencer’s dead sister than “a commemoration of the defining vulgarities of the 20th century’s closing years.” More broadly he questioned the motives of those who would choose to mourn there.

“It has always seemed to me that ostentatious grief and conspicuous mourning is less a tribute to the dear departed than a cry for recognition from the bereaved,” he wrote.

Just as Diana’s demise invited an impromptu global contest to see who could cry the longest, Williams’ death has spawned the most repellent displays of one upmanship to see who can be the hardest, the most macho, the most unwavering in their support for violence and vigilantism.

There might be a special place in hell for Carl Williams but there is a long wait in purgatory for those who this week have found themselves cheering a murder.

Aggression, Ethics and Honesty
This culture of making aggressive, vile comments has also been noticed in parliament.

Another area I am very alarmed about is the level of anger and aggressivity that we are seeing on websites that probably many members in this chamber read, like the PerthNow and inMyCommunity websites. I am sure that when members check articles in their local newspapers they look at sites like PerthNow and see anonymously written, very aggressive and often factually wrong and grammatically incorrect statements. Why should people get away with making these sorts of statements without putting their real name to them? Would they make such statements if they had to put their name and address to them?
--Chris Tallentire MLA  (ALP) WA Parliament Assembly- Extract from Hansard - February 2010

Is a new trend in Australia? Is is because of the internet? Is it the media who allow such comments to flourish or maybe they are responsible through their own articles. I don't know the answer to this but I do know that we, as a society respect the media much less than we once did - especially newspaper journalists.

Newspaper journalists are given only a 10% rating for their honesty and ethical standards – compared, for example, with doctors (81%) and police (57%).

Any media outlet that constantly produces trumped up, sensationalist articles are eventually going to be recognised as trash media.

The outlets most often identified by consumers as “not accurately and fairly” reporting the news are the Herald Sun (Melbourne), The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), Woman’s Day, Channel Nine, Channel Seven, and John Laws. 

In the end, it all comes back to Rupert Murdoch and the influence his media has on society. Take a look at Fox News in the US. Surely, one of the most biased, dangerous news outlets on the planet. And incredibly with the slogan, "fair and balanced". Look at the British tabloids - famous the world over for almost surrealistic headlines and stories. And gaining rapidly in reputation is the Australian trash media. What amazes me most is that we still invite Murdoch to speak about media in Australia. We don't treat him as the greedy, entrepreneur that he is but as some media oracle who is just and fair. It might be one thing admiring his financial success but when it comes to ethics, that's an entirely different matter.

Influence in Australia
Murdoch's desire for dominant cross-media ownership manifested early—in 1961 he bought an ailing Australian record label, Festival Records, and within a few years it had become the leading local recording company. He also bought a television station in Wollongong, New South Wales, hoping to use it to break into the Sydney television market, but found himself frustrated by Australia's cross-media ownership laws, which prevented him from owning both a major newspaper and television station in the same city. Since then he has consistently lobbied, both personally and through his papers, to have these laws changed in his favour. This occurred in 2006 when the Liberal-National Coalition Government, having gained control of both houses of the Australian Parliament, introduced reforms to cross-media ownership and foreign media ownership laws. The laws came into effect in early 2007.

News Limited has nearly three-quarters of daily metropolitan newspaper circulation and so maintains great influence in Australia. Internal News Limited documents reveal a brazen offer during the 2001 Federal election campaign to promote the policies of a major party in its best-selling newspapers nation-wide for almost $500,000. Other documents include a marginal seats guide written by a senior business manager for internal use. It evidences a corporate strategy to target marginal seats at the 2004 election. Some of the documents appeared on Media Watch but received very little coverage.

Rupert Murdoch has announced that News Ltd websites will become a paid subscription services very soon. His reasoning being that we should pay for quality journalism. I'll leave you to ponder that cracker!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Diary: What Does Heroin Feel Like? (Part III)

Diary: I can’t believe how many people ask this question. It is by far the most popular search on Google that brings readers to this site. I wonder if The Australian Ecstasy Diaries or The Australian Speed Diaries have a lot of internet traffic from searches for “What does ecstasy/speed feel like?”. 

Heroin has always had a certain mystique about it. The promise of being served up some heavenly bliss with lashings of risk taking and illegality. Hardcore excitement will always attract a crowd and heroin is no exception.

Why are so many people tempted by this drug? It’s not like we haven’t been warned about the possible consequences. Most of what we have read, if not all of it has told us to stay away, that the risk of overdose is high, that it ruins lives and is highly addictive. Yet, even with all these warnings, millions of people over the years have made the decision to use it which we sometimes read about in the news. Overdoses, ambulances, wasted lives, parents in despair, you’ve seen the headlines. So again ... why?

If you ask the moralists or religious leaders, people who use heroin are trying to cope with some major problem in their life. Rednecks and conservatives will tell you it’s because they’re dole bludgers. The government won’t actually tell you why but at some stage during their long rant, will promise to be “Tough on Drugs” and increase penalties for drug dealers who sell within 25 km of any school for disabled children with learning difficulties who have students enrolled with eating disorders. The media will tell you that according to Betty Jones, a long time resident of Malvern, there’s a new drug scourge sweeping the middle class suburbs called the “heroin epidemic”. Piers Akerhead will blame Kevin Rudd. Miranda the Devine will tell you it’s because they don’t drink enough booze and Andrew Bolt will deny that anyone wants to try heroin and it’s just a left wing conspiracy to get more money from the rich. Not many though, will even consider that it may just be enjoyable? Face it, mankind has always taken mind altering drugs since the beginning of history. Why would it be any different now?

What do you think? Have you ever had a jonesy for a taste of hammer? Are you one of those who typed into Google, what does heroin feel like and ended up here? Do you have a friend who has tried it and lived to tell the story? Or are you a seasoned user who is curious about someone else’s experience?

What is Heroin?
Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid drug synthesized from morphine, a derivative of the opium poppy. In simple terms, it is morphine processed with a chemical called, acetic anhydride which allows it to cross over the blood-brain barrier almost instantaneously where it is processed in the brain as morphine. Morphine does not give the same, intense high like heroin for some reason and is probably why most opiate addicts prefer heroin if a good batch is available. Morphine is popular because it is usually pharmaceutical quality and not cut with fillers like heroin often is. When heroin is scarce and the quality is low, many users tend to seek out legal opiates like morphine, OxyContin and Hydrocodone. But in the US and Europe, heroin is becoming cheaper as to compete with the growing trend for pharmaceuticals.

What Does Heroin Feel Like?
My previous articles, What Does Heroin Feel Like part I & II, I tried to give you a snapshot of what goes through someone’s mind whilst on heroin. It’s very hard to describe the feeling heroin gives you and there are many factors like dose, purity, tolerance, frame of mind, last usage etc. Heroin can be intense at first if injected or smoked but will slowly dissipate and a sleepy, comfortable feeling takes over. You will undoubtedly go on the nod (nodding off to sleep).

The heroin high has a certain smell to it which seems to come at the back of your throat and nose. It’s strange because I’m not quite sure where it actually is but I can smell and taste it. Most users I have spoken to can smell or taste it as well. The strangest thing about the heroin smell is that without it, heroin just isn’t the same. I can always tell when someone has tried to pass off a dummy dose because there’s no unique smell to it. The heroin smell changes over time and every once in a while, you will be reminded of how heroin once felt by a familiar smell.

An old dealer of mine who didn’t use would give me samples to test before he bought a batch to sell. I would rate them out of ten for him. On one occasion he had a sample that he claimed was 100% pure. He was really wary to let me try it but I did my best to quell his fears. That’s the sort of caring person I am! Anyway, I had half of what I usually sampled which was a quarter of my normal dose. Within seconds I knew I was about to pass out and overdose. I told him to ring an ambulance as I sat on the floor waiting to black out and possibly die. My head was exploding from the inside, pushing waves of pressurised blood to my face. My heart was pumping like a massive hydroelectricity power station that caused my skin to sting. I was eventually able to stand up although the dizziness was giving me nausea but the thought of dying on my kitchen floor wasn’t very appealing. My dealer was also having a melt down of his own as he desperately tried to help without knowing what to do. After a minute or so of this, the feeling started to subside quickly. Five minutes later and I felt nothing at all. Afterwards, in the post-mortem discussion, I had to tell him some bad news about my potential overdose - it wasn’t heroin. He wasn’t convinced but I knew because there was no smell. I still don’t know what it was but it certainly wasn’t any mind altering drug especially heroin.

When you overdose on heroin, it is instantaneous. You don’t feel it creep up on you and there’s a warning. You are sitting somewhere injecting one minute, fully alert, then you are waking up sometime later...  that’s if you’re lucky.

The effects of heroin change over time. The first few doses, you get that similar euphoria of waking up in a hospital after some operations. It reminded me of pethadine after having a barium meal. Probably because of the clinical smell and taste in my throat. The pleasure factor is partly from the uniqueness of it’s effect - a clinical feeling combined with an intense euphoric, semi-dream state. But all good things must come to an end. After the initial experiences, heroin goes from absolutely fucking amazing to just fucking amazing. And that’s when the first cravings begin. Soon, you’re skipping out on visiting friends or going to the gym so you can score. The cravings are mainly in your head as you chase that heavenly feeling and of course, that smell and taste. It’s probably why using heroin is described as having a “taste”. The world is truly an amazing place at this stage when your high on hammer. Trying to describe this feeling is almost impossible. It doesn’t make you extra friendly or super confident like amphetamines or alcohol and it doesn’t force you to sheepishly hide from social situations. You don’t hallucinate or feel any extra sexual excitement like ecstasy or LSD. It’s just a heroin high.

If this is where you are now, it’s time to stop. You will start to go through some incredible withdrawals unless they have already started. If you ever take any advice in your life, this is the advice you should be taking. STOP NOW! You don’t have to stop forever, just take a break until your tolerance subsides.

From here, it’s all downhill. You will never experience those original feelings again. Sometimes it comes close but this will just spur you on even more. The feeling from heroin starts to make you drowsy and you will nod off at the most unexpected times. Most of those still using at this point are now addicts and probably on methadone. That’s the end of heroin as you knew it. The best part of it will only last 5-10 minutes and then you will just experience a sleepy but mild feeling of contentment. 

A Blast From God Himself
Just recently and against the norm, I had an amazing hit of heroin that felt like nothing I had experienced for many, many years. It was comfortably intense at first and lasted nearly 8 hours. This is what could be called the perfect hit. Most experienced users will tell you that a really good hit of quality heroin is usually followed with a sharp but bearable pins & needles feeling. I didn’t feel this sensation but still got the rush that I often experienced when I first started using. Personally, I am not completely convinced that pins & needles are just due to strong heroin as I have experienced them previously on morphine that had not been filtered properly and even with some low grade heroin. But none of this mattered at this stage as I sat down and closed my eyes.

The initial high lasted for about 20 minutes before I was able to concentrate on anything worthwhile. I had a busy day with work and was actually glad to come down a bit. But as usual, not long after the first incredible feeling had subsided, I started to miss it. 

Four hours later and I was still going strong. I had not taken my morphine pills that morning with my last dose being over 20 hours ago but the heroin was holding me well. I realised that heroin was much “lighter” than Slow Release Oral Morphine (SROM) but it didn’t deal with my pain issues as well. I had no depression and was able to function much better than usual. The major drawback was nodding off ... not that I’m complaining. This was the first time in quite a while that I had so much enthusiasm. For some people like me, heroin gives them a kick to get up and do things which is the opposite effect for most. I was ripping into my work and got quite a bit achieved. I made several phone calls that I had been delaying and even hassled a client about a late invoice. The most pleasing aspect of my day on heroin was the return of my interest in computer technology. I had bookmarked a bunch of websites with some interesting ideas and technologies for my business and I got to finally go through them. One of them is being implemented now. 

Good For Depression?
In the end, my heroin experience was really positive. It may seem a bit odd that I am writing a glowing report on using heroin but compared to my usual day of erratic depression, on and off pain issues and trying to live a normal life, it was like a breath of fresh air. Ironically, there has been a recent surge in doctors calling for opiates to used more for depression. It may not be for everyone as the risk of addiction is very high as tolerance levels keep rising. What about those like me who have to take buckets of opiates everyday? Or those on methadone which is well known for depression? Opiates offer something unique compared to other anti-depression medication. They instantly make you content or god forbid, even happy. Isn’t that the crux of depression ... not feeling happy anymore? If the newer SSRIs, SNRIs, NRIs, NDRIs, SSREs or more traditional Tricyclic anti-depressants don’t work, what are the alternatives? I would suggest that maybe opiates need to looked into more. That is of course that drug hysteria doesn’t get in the way as usual.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Only in the Trash Media

When was the last time you listened to a comedian and based an important life decision on one of their jokes? Never? So why would The HeraldSun take an obvious joke from a comedian in a Rolling Stone interview and publish it as if it was a serious statement? 

Russell Brand Sparks Controversy, Saying Heroin Could Save Music Industry
April 2010

RUSSELL Brand thinks heroin would save the music industry.

The British comedy actor claims heavy drug use could help the world avoid the “awful music” teen stars such as Justin Bieber are releasing. 

Brand – who has overcome heroin addiction and is the patron of a rehab centre in the UK - told Rolling Stone magazine: “The top of the hit parade would look very different if teenyboppers were exposed to heroin.

“It would weed a lot of them out. I don’t think Justin Bieber could handle Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd’s habit. 

“A lot of people in their journey to rehab overdose, and then, perhaps, we could be spared their awful music. It’s Darwinian. It’s the law of natural selection.”

His comments have infuriated drug prevention groups in the UK. David Raynes of the Drug Prevention Alliance last night told the Daily Mail, "this is mindless idiocy."

His suggestion could upset fiancee Katy Perry, who has previously professed a love for 16-year-old Justin.

The I Kissed A Girl singer recently admitted she wanted to adopt the Baby hitmaker. 

Writing to Brand on her Twitter page, Perry posted a picture of Bieber and said: “Hey... I know we’re getting hitched + all but I was wondering if u’d be open 2 the idea of adopting 1st? I have an idea… Whata bout this cute lil one? I’m sure he could use a great home!!! (sic)”

Brand also insisted that rock stars who penned top tracks while drugged should be the idols of today, rather than "transient pop stars".

He said, "The music I listen to is mostly by the dead and dying, which is how I want my rock stars: Syd Barrett, Jimi Hendrix and the Doors."

A link also appeared to the same article at with the title, Bad Musos 'Should Take Heroin And Die'. Gawddd, what a title! And to top it off, a picture of teeny bopper, Justin Bieber appeared with the caption, Justin Bieber is one of the teeny boppers Russell Brand thinks would benefit from some drug use.

How could anyone believe that Russell Brand’s comments were serious? Only a crappy papers like The HeraldSun, Daily Mail etc. could come up with this shit. They even took a joke Twitter post from Brand’s fiancé and again tried to pass it off as another serious comment.

His suggestion could upset fiancee Katy Perry, who has previously professed a love for 16-year-old Justin.

Surely the authors can spot a joke when they see one? This is grade 5 journalism at best.

The I Kissed A Girl singer recently admitted she wanted to adopt the Baby hitmaker. 

Writing to Brand on her Twitter page, Perry posted a picture of Bieber and said: “Hey... I know we’re getting hitched + all but I was wondering if u’d be open 2 the idea of adopting 1st? I have an idea… Whata bout this cute lil one? I’m sure he could use a great home!!! (sic)”

What an absolute cracker! The more I read Murdoch’s media, the more I am learning to appreciate it.

Overseas, Russell Brand has also upset anti-drug nutter and disgraced customs investigator, David Raynes. I wonder why Raynes was singled out? I dare say it’s because he is one of the silly few who would believe the comments would actually cause any harm. Apart from stuffing up a huge drug raid in the UK, Raynes is notorious for his links to Narconon and anti-drug comments that defy logic and science.

This is mindless idiocy. It smacks of a desperate attention seeking from Brand. It's just ridiculous. You despair of these people - why would anyone say that?

Brand is the patron of Focus 12, a charity which deals in drug and alcohol addiction and has donated more than $300,000 (Australian) dollars. The chief executive, Chip Somers defended Brand and dismissed any criticism that his comments were harmful.

Back to the article. Let’s not forget those who give Murdoch’s media much of it’s spunk ... those dedicated to the comments section. 

Honestly anyone who wishes someone to die from drugs has the brain mass of an ant
Posted by Kelly of West Gippsland

A bit rich considering the number of readers who regularly tell us that those who overdose deserve it or that we should put poison in drugs to wipe out the drug user population.

And from the same reader:

Thanks for undoing all of the hard work parents around the world have been teaching their kids about staying away from drugs.
Posted by Kelly of West Gippsland

Yes, blame an interview in a music magazine that is supposed to be funny. How about blaming the writers or the media outlet that twisted the comments of a comedian and published them for millions of people to read.

I have compiled a brief ‘best of’ collection for your perusal. Enjoy.

But seriously, he has a point.
Posted by Craig

Russell brand has always been a complete moron. He thinks that by saying outlandish statements and getting a few laughs from the mindless fools that think what he says is funny, that makes him a comedian. Please......if there were less people in the world like russell brand, it would be a much better place.
Posted by Aaron of Melbourne
Aaron of Melbourne @ 12:41. Comment 6 of 8. I quote: "He thinks that by saying outlandish statements and getting a few laughs from the mindless fools that think what he says is funny, that makes him a comedian." Ummmm, that's EXACTLY what makes him a comedian!! Idiot!
Posted by Mr Damage of Cheltenham
Russell, you are an idiot. I am an ex heroin addict so I know how hard it is to stop using, and I would not wish that pain on my worst enemy. After 13 years of not using it, I dont even think about it. It was another lifetime. The fact that you still obsess over it tells me you are still using. Now I suggest you go have a big hit and crawl into some dirty alley and die, for that is what you wish for these kids. BTW, your not even funny so I dont know why I even know who you are.
Posted by Aaron
Russell Brand you are nothing but an A grade D-head. Honestly anyone who wishes someone to die from drugs has the brain mass of an ant. Thanks for undoing all of the hard work parents around the world have been teaching their kids about staying away from drugs. I will never watch anything with YOU in it again. Idiot!
Posted by Kelly of West Gippsland
Brand, you are far from funny and you are the one that needs the 'big H' to help you to even be mildly funny....go crawl under a rock and give yourself a nice little hot shot!
Posted by Kelly of Hoppers
Digga of Traralgon Posted at 1:25 PM Today
Heroin killed my nephew. If I met this Russel guy I would shove his comments up his arse with my foot. He is a dickhead.
Posted by Digga of Traralgon
PDZ of Melb Posted at 1:39 PM Today
What is it with HHS lately taking small grabs of what people say and adding the word "slammed" to them? More often than not, you read the article and it bears no relationship to the headline at all.
Posted by PDZ of Melb

Comment of the Day (runner up)
Duuude, heroin is a bit heavy man. Just get em on the ganja so the mellow out laugh, create and get the munchies.Maybe that will stop releasing all the crap and make the music more groovy!
Posted by Dude of Nimbin

Comment of the Day 
(Can you understand it? At least the runner up has substance abuse as an excuse)
Its true,the whole scene is tied up in drugs all thos young punks will have 2 much cash and up on the drug that killed river phoenix,Russell will be a seagull pecking at how crass things are.The pompus harry high pants with the obesity plauged family will cry out and give him publicity for expressing an opinion.
Posted by Kundalini sweep of Melbourne

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Giving Free Drugs to Addicts

What is more important? Stopping; violent crime, theft, robberies, drug overdoses, thousands being murdered in drug wars, the spread of HIV and HCV etc. or trying to stop drug addicts getting high? History has revealed 2 things - you can’t have both and trying to stop society from using drugs simply does not work. So, which would you choose? ... stopping associated crime and violence or stopping users getting high?

I’m sure most rational people would prefer to cut out nasty social ills like robberies, HIV, HCV, violence and murder but I am just as sure that some muffins would be so anti-drug that they would refuse to answer or try to change the question. 

Most informed people already know that prohibition causes crime and violence whilst not having much success at lowering drug use but how about the public? Do they know this or do they simply find it difficult to acknowledge due to decades of misinformation from the authorities? Is legalisation or handing out free drugs to addicts just too radical for the everyday citizen even if it cut crime rates by half and changes society dramatically for the better? According to a recent survey by McNair Ingenuity Research, 66% of Australians think people would be more likely to try or use drugs if legalised but only 5% confess that they would indulge. 

One of the survey’s most interesting results concerned what people thought would happen if illegal drugs were decriminalized. Although only 3% of people said they would personally use drugs more often, 62% said they thought other people would. The results were similar when we asked whether you’d be more likely to try drugs at all (only 5% said they would, but 66% thought others would).

It seems we define the people who can’t be trusted with drugs as everyone but ourselves.

-Kirsten Drysdale - Hungry Beast. ABC TV

Giving drugs to drug addicts is not new. Most western countries supply highly addictive opioids like methadone, buprenorphine and suboxone to heroin addicts. Other countries give out Slow Release Oral Morphine (SROM) and even free heroin. These programs are heavily regulated and restricted to opiate abuse like heroin because opioids are basically non toxic. The most success has come from supplying heroin to long term addicts who have failed repeatedly in other treatment programs. The success or prescription heroin has prompted a growing trend for drug experts to push this strategy. 

The main problem is that many addicts don’t qualify for the program because of the strict guidelines and heroin is the only targeted drug (a limited number of cocaine addicts were also given their drug of choice in the latest UK scientific trial). What about those who missed out on the trials or those who are just not “hard core” enough to make it to a permanent program? What about users of cocaine, methamphetamines and prescription medications? Once again it seems that politics and ideology are robbing addicts of valuable treatment options. 

As an addict in Vancouver for 38 years I was certain I would have no problem attending the program. It seems they only took Downtown addicts which gave them a very limited demographic and my calls went from wait to forget it. You could contact the NAOMI people if you want info but you'll be searching through an unpublished project.I hope you discuss parameters as most trials make getting off of heroin a prerequisite, which kills the project as you may well imagine. Harm reduction and working and happy clients should be the goal.Don't let them set you up to fail. 
-Comment by Terry McKinney. Vancouver BC (28/05/2008) - The Australian Heroin Diaries

How imbecilic can we be when we know that most established addicts will use street drugs everyday but the idea of government supplying safe and free drugs is simply out of the question. Up will come that old argument that dishing out illicit drugs is dangerous to their health and we should be trying to get people off drugs, not encouraging them. These reasons might be fine in prohibition utopia where drugs can be eliminated but not in the harsh realms of reality. And that’s the problem. The people who make these important decisions aspire to a “Drug-Free World” which has more chance of being a Disneyland theme park than materialising on planet earth.

I was in Canberra when the trial was set to happen. Now a decade later, failed relationships, failed uni attempt, lost employment and still raging habit, i often wonder where i'd be now if it had've gone ahead. damn howard! i wrote to chief minister stanhope last year at 3am, hanging out, begging for him to think about another try. 6 wks later he replied (shock horror) and said he was 100% behind it, but couldnt do anything til howard was gone. well hes gone.......Methinks its time i start emailing again :) 
-Comment by plzHoldSteady (22/01/2008) - The Australian Heroin Diaries

I always wonder how many lives we could have saved and how many addicts would now be clean if the proposed ACT heroin trials weren’t poo-pooed by Howard. Given the success from every heroin trial overseas, it must be quite a few. Imagine how many lives we could save or change for the better if skipped the strict criteria for candidates of prescription heroin. What if we simply opened it up to anyone who has been on methadone for more than a year or had attended a rehabilitation program and failed? And what if we supplied all dangerous drugs like ice, cocaine, heroin etc. and even ecstasy and other drugs that can be contaminated with filler products? What is the real downfall of this idea compared to the benefits? The same groups would continue to use the same drugs and those who don’t use drugs would continue to abstain. The sky would not fall in and societal chaos would not engulf mankind. Some dedicated users might increase their intake but many more will take advantage of extra treatment options and quit using drugs. 

I don’t think the public has correctly been told what would happen to their surroundings if illicit drugs were distributed by the government or legalised. The most obvious effect is that crime would drop by about half and several billion dollars would be saved every year. This are not just a slight decrease in costs or small improvements but massive, unparalleled changes to crime rates and government spending. Whole police departments used to fighting drug crimes would be relocated to other, understaffed divisions ... including more cops on the street. The back log in courts would eliminated. Huge percentage drops in overdoses and deaths. Organised crime losing their most profitable source of illegal income. Prison populations dropping so much that not only won’t new jails be required in the near future but some actually might shut down. Dangerous meth labs would almost cease to exist. You would be able to buy flu tablets with pseudoephedrine again without having to produce your passport, a personal reference from an astronaut or leaving your first born as collateral. Convenience store workers, pharmacy staff and train travellers  won’t have to worry about desperate junkies robbing them anymore as they will cease to exist. The CourierMail, Adelaide Advertiser, Daily Telegraph etc. will have to expand their subject matter or lose 8-10 pages. The quality of drug education will improve ten fold. Young adults will no longer be so susceptible to a permanent criminal record. Teen drug use will drop as the mystique of drugs will be gone as well as unscrupulous drug dealers who don’t ask for age ID. The problem of alcohol will be addressed more rigourously and classed as a dangerous drug. And so on...

Ironically, easier access to drugs will improve life for users and addicts. Their health will greatly improve and many of them will be able to work once again. They will be able to re-establish relationships with their families and no longer run the risk of being imprisoned. Many of the health issues for drug addicts are the result of prohibition, especially for heroin users. Opiates including heroin are basically non toxic and can taken for decades with very few physical problems. Haven’t you ever wondered why street junkies on heroin look sick but those on pain medication look normal? They are both taking the same sort of drug but the most visible heroin addicts in society often don’t eat very healthily, sleep where ever they can, have very few clean clothes and are more focussed on dodging the police and paying for their next hit. Take away the high cost and the stigma attached to drug addiction and they get to live much more productive lives. In the countries where heroin is prescribed to addicts, there has been substantial improvements in their health and personal lives. Most of them cease any criminal activities and many find work. 

The big question is - why are other countries looking into evidence based strategies like heroin assisted treatment and related programs while Australia keeps regurgitating tired, old drug policies that fail every year?

New Approach To Drugs Seeks Footing In Costa Rica
April 2010

The drug debate in Latin America has started to shift.

For decades, possession and addiction in the Americas have been treated with a zero tolerance policy. Efforts to slow drug use have largely centered on arresting and punishing users.

But packed jails, overburdened court systems, and a growing consensus that the war on drugs is failing are transforming the discussion.

In August, 2009, Argentina's Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to prosecute people for possession of drugs for personal use. One month later, Colombia's high court issued a similar ruling.

In Peru and Bolivia, there are now small clinics that give cocoa leaves to crack addicts in order to manage and lessen their addiction. Bolivia's President, Evo Morales, has asked the United Nations to eliminate the narcotics label on the coca plant.

Now, in Costa Rica, high-ranking officials are joining the tolerance dialogue.

In March, Costa Rica's Chief Prosecutor, Francisco Dall'Anese, proposed offering free drugs to addicts as a way to compete with dealers. Squeezing in between the addict and the supplier to offer a cheap alternative would “break” the finances of drug pushers and “reduce demand,” he told the Spanish–language daily La Nación.

“Here, what we would do is preempt the business of drug dealing,” he said.

The reasoning behind the proposal is fairly simple. By stopping the flow of income to drug dealers and eradicating the addict's need to steal in order to buy another fix, crime rates should drop.

This idea is not revolutionary. Countries in North America and Europe have used harm reduction techniques such as methadone clinics for years to treat heroin addiction.

These efforts have been regarded as successful in reducing crime and curving addiction by medical journals.

Dall'Anese's proposal, though, does represent a fundamental shift in Costa Rican drug policy, as providing addicts with free, chemical substitutes would take the drug addiction problem out of the hands of law enforcement and place it at the doorstep of public health officials.

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