Opioid abuse is not like other problems. With very little use, pain meds and heroin can quickly become an addiction. This addiction has unusual drug dealers. Some are intentional (Big Pharma like Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions and Actavis) that exploit our pain and desperation. Other’s are likely well-meaning like primary care doctors most of whom are manipulated by the pharmaceutical companies to write prescriptions.
If you or a loved one is prescribed pain meds, take this seriously. Use as little as possible and work closely with your doctor. If you can’t stop, get help immediately. The longer someone abuses opioids, the harder it is to get back on track.
It was a mystery for the last few years – why were so many people going to Missouri to get their prescriptions (…mostly opioids like Vicodin/Lortab or Oxycodone)? Mystery solved. As of 2012, Missouri was the only state in the United States that did not participate in a national registry for prescription drugs.
Let’s dive a bit deeper…
What’s The prescription drug monitoring program?
Better known as PDMP, it’s an online database that collects data on controlled substance prescriptions dispensed within each participating state. It can act as an early warning system for prescribers to avoid dangerous drug interactions and to ensure quality patient care.
PDMP is also a tool that also can be used to intervene in the early stages of prescription drug abuse, as well as to assist providers in preventing prescription drug abuse and enable providers of pain medications to know if they are treating someone who has been “doctor shopping” (going from doctor to doctor for multiple prescriptions).
PDMP does not impact the legal prescribing of drugs by a provider – it simply makes it possible to spot a potential problems or trends.
Why Missouri Doesn’t want PDMP?
Well, Missouri kind-of does want PDMP. In 2012 the state came oh so close to enacting PDMP. But while proponents say most Missouri citizens and legislators support participation in PDMP, it has been blocked by lawmakers like State Senator Rob Schaaf, a family doctor who argues (…inaccurately in my humble opinion) that allowing the government to keep prescription records violates a patient’s personal privacy. He’s probably referring to HIPAA and/or HITECH which are privacy laws that protect a patient’s health records. After successfully combating the 2012 version of the Missouri legislative bill, Dr. Schaaf said of drug abusers, “If they overdose and kill themselves, it just removes them from the gene pool.” Dr. Schaaf is seemingly more focused on individuals liberty (…for prescription drugs) than on life. Fortunately, he appears to be in the minority within Missouri.
How to access the PDMP information
It’s not so easy. You’ve got to be a doctor, part of the legal system or law enforcement to get access. The PDMP data is stored by specified statewide regulatory, administrative or law enforcement agency as designated by state law. The agency distributes data from the database to individuals who are authorized under state law to receive the information. Information is shared across state lines when needed.
For years I have listened to parents’ tales of wasted time and money as they shifted from one therapist to another, one residential treatment program to another without experiencing the progress they anticipated. What parents don’t know costs them big time. Tens of thousands of dollars in expensive, non-evidence based treatments along with countless hours searching generic databases that don’t really help someone understand the differences in care and how to tell good interventions from bad.
Yes, this happens to be one of the services Fonthill Counseling provides but even if you do not use us, take these suggestions to heart. We offer a free consultation and will help you determine if higher level of care like residential treatment is even a good fit for your struggling teen or young adult child.
1. Professional Advisement
Chances are, if you’ve ever bought a house or had surgery, you consulted with a professional within the respective industry. So what do parents think when they start their online searching for treatment options? Do they honestly think they know how to determine the quality, effectiveness and safety of a program from reading through a website or spending 10 min on the phone with an ‘admissions counselor?’ There is WAY more to choosing any sort of therapeutic intervention than the list your insurance provides or what you find on Psychology Today.
A high quality professional advisor (aka Educational Consultant or Therapeutic Placement Consultant) will know if insurance will cover expenses AND (…and this is the important part) how to actually GET insurance to pay. They know when a kid is appropriate to remain at home and start/continue with outpatient therapy and when they are no longer appropriate for home and need a higher level of care. They will also know the positives and negatives of programs that are clinically, financially and logistically the best fit for your loved one. One program we worked with for years had lots of staff turnover which resulted in 2 suicides in close succession. We no longer refer to them. Guess what? That program does not advertise about the suicides.
Even if you are just doing preliminary search to see what might be available for your acting out son or daughter, whether you’re thinking about therapeutic boarding school, residential treatment for substance abuse or an eating disorder, or you’re looking for a treatment program for depression or anxiety, find a professional.
WARNING! Stay away from any ‘professional’ that is offering advice for residential treatment, therapeutic boarding school or a therapeutic wilderness program but does not have any clinical credentials. Look for professionals that have at least a master’s degree in counseling, psychology, social work or marriage and family therapy. Also, and this is REALLY important, make sure they are licensed in some clinical field (Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, etc.). Many, many professionals are providing advice without really having a formal, clinical background.
Every parent asking us for help starts out by saying their highest priority is ‘quality’ or ‘effectiveness.’ But once we start drilling down into details, reality mandates compromise. One of the biggest realities is cost. Cost matters… and it should. It’s not healthy, and certainly not necessary, for parents to think it’s appropriate to spend any amount to fix a problem. Residential treatment can cost between $400 per day up to $80,000 per month. Insane. What many parents don’t realize is the ‘retail price’ quoted by a treatment program admission counselor (…price is almost never posted on their website) is often not set in stone.
Let me explain. If a parent calls Fonthill Counseling and needs to find an eating disorder program in the mid-West for their college-aged daughter, it’s likely we’ll contact Timberline Knolls (pretty good program located in Illinois). If the parent calls Timberline directly, they’ll get a daily or monthly rate quoted to them with a minimum length of stay. Now, if Fonthill Counseling calls, we can negotiate a lower rate along with other accommodations (ie. single vs double room, admission date, etc.). Most programs also have ‘scholarships’ or supportive funding they can tap when their numbers are low. They’d rather have full client roster but less income per person rather than few clients and even less income since their overhead costs do not change much based on census.
But now we have to back up a bit and talk about insurance. Bottomline – insurance does NOT want to pay for residential treatment. Ever. It’s vital that if you think your son or daughter needs a higher level of care, you have your professional get a) a psychological evaluation conducted and b) preauthorization. Here is a link to more details on getting insurance to pay for treatment. If you do not submit that to insurance or if the residential treatment program fails to submit it (and they are in-network) your chances of having insurance cover treatment is very, very, very low. If your insurance covers medical inpatient and residential treatment, they are required by law to pay for mental health residential treatment. Insurance companies will argue with you on this but its the law.
Unless the client is very motivated to participate in treatment, we recommend having your professional find a transport service to transition from home to treatment. These are not thugs in black shirts that throw a bag over your kid’s head and drag them to a running van. These are often well-trained professionals using counseling skills that create enough rapport and trust to get your kid to voluntarily get into the car. Like any service, there are sketchy people trying to make a quick dime and true professionals with exceptional interpersonal skills (we’ve used Right Direction Crisis Intervention many times with great success). Insurance will never cover this but definitely worth the cost.
Why not have parents escort their own kid? Unless you have great rapport and the issues leading them to treatment have nothing to do with trust issues, running away, drugs or medically complicated issues, parents do not have the clinical skills in supporting kids during a powerless experience like transitioning from home to residential treatment.
4. Quality Control
At Fonthill, we call this ‘oversight.’ Hiring a team like Fonthill ensures through regular email, phone and treatment team meetings their is unbiased, third party oversight over the treatment plan, therapy and communication at the residential treatment program. Most of the time, we are talking with the therapist and interpreting their clinical impressions back to the parents. Since parents are not clinicians, the terms and progress may not make sense but to us, we can sift through and quickly understand how things are going. Residential programs also treat clients with greater attention to detail than those without the same oversight.
How do you know when your child is ready to leave? When can you trust the treatment program is being honest about progress? What should be set up at home, in the community or back at college to ensure your money was not wasted when they transition back to real life? In our humble opinion, the first day of intake should be the first day of discharge planning. We ensure the residential treatment program has a measurable treatment plan with clearly identifiable goals.
As we get close to discharge, as the professionals circle up and agree that he or she is ready to return home or back to campus, Fonthill Counseling will often link with a therapist, psychiatrist and case manager and make sure all appointments and documentation is set up way before. This is sometimes called aftercare, community-based living, or step-down. The final discharge meeting should just be a big hug-fest since all the prep work has already been done.
We like to have the first therapy session take place within 24 hrs of discharge. First medication management appointment should be within the first 72 hrs. Case management continues to provide that oversight and continuity, making sure the treatment plan from residential treatment is modified and extended into real life. Typically, we are providing parenting support, on-call support if something goes wrong, and linking with school personnel to help the kid get back on track.
Finding residential treatment is much larger a task than what folks realize but with a little support from a professional, you can avoid wasting resources that would be better spent on your family.
Kolmac Clinic has six locations in Washington DC area. Unfortunately the program does not offer services in Virginia, but has locations in downtown DC and Maryland. Each site boosts group treatment tailored to the population in need. For example, the Towson, MD site has a larger population of young adults and targets programming to this population. The K St location specializes in corporate executive’s substance concerns.
During the visit to he K St location, the office appeared dated and office presentation seemed less important (e.g., stain on rug, old furniture). Staff appeared friendly, but often passed through the waiting room (in the middle of the office) without acknowledging guests waiting for appointments.
Fees + Insurance + Financing
The daily charges are $400 for detoxification, $193 for rehabilitation, $120 for the initial clinical evaluation and $100 for continuing care. Most insurance plans cover part or all of the costs at Kolmac. The exact out-of-pocket expense for the patient varies accordingly. Patients interested in treatment with us should call with insurance information and our staff will explain costs. Once the patient has scheduled an appointment our staff will verify the insurance coverage. Payment plans are available if needed.
The clinic accepts all insurances except Tricare and state funded plans (e.g., medicare and medicaid).
There is quite the mixed bag of reviews found online. With an agency the size of Kolmac, this is to be expected. There generally are either really terrible reviews or really great reviews without much in between. This is one of those clinics we HIGHLY recommend visiting first before you make a decision about starting treatment with them.
Best way to reach them is through their online contact form found here or their general number at 301.589.0255.
Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training
Today I’d like to introduce you to one of the most effective treatments/interventions for substance abuse that is rarely used and even-more rarely discussed. It’s called CRAFT and is a behavior therapy approach designed primarily for those with substance abuse issues. Developed by Nate Azrin in the 1970s, his technique focused on operant conditioning to help people learn to reduce the power of their addictions and enjoy healthy lifestyle. CRA was later combined with the FT (…family training), which equips family and friends with supportive techniques to encourage their loved ones to begin and continue treatment, and provides defenses against addiction’s damaging effects on loved ones.
The first part of this acronym – Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA) was originally created for individuals with alcohol issues. Clinicians later went on to apply it to a variety of substance use disorders for more than 35 years. The clinical premise is based on operant conditioning (…type of learning in which an individual’s behavior is modified by its antecedents and consequences), basically, CRA helps rearrange the client’s life so that healthy, drug-free living becomes more interesting/stimulating and thereby competes with substance use.
CRA is designed to be a time-limited intervention. The time limit is decided upon between the clinician and client. For example, a set number of sessions (for example, 16 sessions) or time limit (for example, one year) may be decided upon either at the very beginning of therapy or within the early stages of therapy.
One major goal of CRAFT is to increase the odds of the substance user who is refusing treatment to enter treatment through close support of family members, as well as improve the lives of the concerned family members. CRAFT clinician and participants teach and reinforce the use of healthy rewards to encourage positive behaviors. Additionally, it focuses on helping both the substance user and the family strengthen their relationships which is often torn apart.
In the model, the following terms are used:
- Identified Patient (IP) – the individual with the substance abuse issues that is refusing treatment
- Concerned Significant Others (CSOs) – the relevant family and friends of the IP.
When a loved one is abusing substances and refusing to get help, CRAFT is designed to help families learn practical and effective ways to accomplish these three goals:
- Move their loved one toward treatment
- Reduce their loved one’s substance use
- Improve their own lives
This comprehensive behavioral program accomplishes these objectives while avoiding both the detachment espoused by Al-Anon and the confrontational style taught to families by the Johnson Institute Intervention.
CRAFT and these traditional approaches all have been found to improve CSO functioning and increase CSO-IP relationship satisfaction. However, CRAFT has proven to be significantly more effective in engaging treatment-resistant substance users in comparison to the Johnson Institute Intervention and Al-Anon (or Nar-Anon) facilitation therapy.
CRA Breakdown of Treatment
The following CRA procedures and descriptions are typical recommended clinical content areas for the substance user:
- Functional Analysis of Substance
- explore the antecedents of a client’s substance use
- explore the positive and negative consequences of a client’s substance use
- Sobriety Sampling
- a gentle movement toward long-term abstinence that begins with a client’s agreement to sample a time-limited period of abstinence
- CRA Treatment Plan
- establish meaningful, objective goals in client-selected areas
- establish highly specified methods for obtaining those goals
- tools: Happiness Scale, and Goals of Counseling form
- Behavior Skills Training
- teach three basic skills through instruction and role-playing:
- break overwhelming problems into smaller ones
- address smaller problems
- Communication skills
- a positive interaction style
- Drink/drug refusal training
- identify high-risk situations
- teach assertiveness
- Job Skills Training
- provide basic steps for obtaining and keeping a valued job
- Social and Recreational Counseling
- provide opportunities to sample new social and recreational activities
- Relapse Prevention
- teach clients how to identify high-risk situations
- teach clients how to anticipate and cope with a relapse
- Relationship Counseling
- improve the interaction between the client and his or her partner
With CRAFT, CSOs are trained in various strategies, including positive reinforcement, various communication skills and natural consequences. One of the big pieces that has a lot of influence over all the other strategies is positive communication.
Here are the seven steps in the CRAFT model for implementing positive communication strategies.
- Be Brief
- Be Positive
- Refer to Specific Behaviors
- Label your Feelings
- Offer an Understanding Statement – For example, “I appreciate that you have these concerns, … [or] I understand that you really want to talk right now, and that this feels urgent, … [or] I would love to be there for you.”
- Accept Partial Responsibility – This step “is really designed to decrease defensiveness on the part of your loved one. … It’s not about accepting responsibility for things you are not responsible for. … [Rather, it’s to] direct you towards the piece that you can own for yourself. … [For example, ] what you can take responsibility for are the ways that you communicate,” etc.
- Offer to help
Take home message – Help decrease defensiveness on the part of the loved one that you are speaking to, and increase the chances that your message is really going to be heard—so, increasing the ability that you have to really get across the message that you want.
Consequences with specific limits/expectations being in place is essential in terms of communicating your message, but it’s also really important, maybe even more so, to be consistent in following through with those consequences and rewards.
As an organization, Al-Anon does not currently adopt, hold, or promote the view that CSOs can make a positive, direct, and active contribution to arrest compulsive drinking, which is the opposite premise of CRAFT. Al-Anon is a fellowship with a focus on helping families and friends, themselves, without promoting a direct intervention process for alcoholics. Because “no one ever graduates” from Al-Anon, it can be viewed as an open-ended program, not time-limited.
- Powerlessness. Al-Anon‘s First Step promotes a powerless view for families and friends, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”
- Disease view. Al-Anon writes, “As the American Medical Association will attest, alcoholism is a disease.” Al-Anon also states, “Although it can be arrested, alcoholism has no known cure.”
- Three C’s. Al-Anon has a dictum called “the Three C’s—I didn’t cause alcoholism; I can’t control it; and I can’t cure it.”
- Loving detachment. Al-Anon “advocates ‘loving detachment’ from the substance abuser.”
- Family illness. Al-Anon writes, “Alcoholism is a family disease,” and “we believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.”
CRAFT is not perfect and is not easy to implement partially due to lack of clinician training and also because of having multiple people involved (ie. IP, concerned others, and clinician). Programs, agencies and clinicians may not even be aware of CRAFT if you ask so if you or a loved one are in need of a non-residential approach that’s well researched and effective, find a substance abuse therapist able and willing to use it.
Two young men, 25-year-old Neil Scott and 18-year-old Timothy Brooks, developed what they allegedly called the “Main Line Take-Over Project” (the Main Line referring to a group of affluent towns and cities outside Philadelphia). Their business plan: Take over the drug trade at some of Pennsylvania’s best schools. The team also had at least eight employees with a sophisticated business infrastructure. Scott and Brooks would allegedly push their dealers to each move at least one lbs of pot per week, and offer incentives like lower drug prices and the ability to buy drugs on credit if they successfully hooked new customers.
Montgomery County authorities announced April 20th that they were able to destroy this ambitious effort. They confiscated marijuana, hash oil, cocaine, ecstasy as well as cash and weapons and arrested the pair allegedly at the center of it.
“They were in business to make money, and they were going to do whatever they needed to do to make sure that no one threatened their business,” Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said.
Officials claim Scott ran the operation by shipping pot from California to Pennsylvania, while Brooks supervised sub-dealers at area high schools.
And these weren’t just any schools. They include the prestigious Haverford School ($35,000/yr tuition), from which both Scott and Brooks graduated. Also included were Conestoga, Radnor, Harriton and Lower Merion – each of which have some of the highest SAT scores in Pennsylvania. According to the district attorney’s office, all had students tied to the drug ring. College students involved hailed from Gettysburg, Haverford and Lafayette Colleges.
In brief comments Tuesday, Scott’s lawyer Tom Egan said his client’s “main concern … is how the mandatory minimums are going to operate if he’s indeed guilty of the offenses.”
Greg Pagano, Brooks’ attorney, spoke more extensively regarding his client, who went to the University of Richmond in 2013 on a lacrosse scholarship then left after one semester. He said Brooks had gotten injured, after which he was at home, “idle and suffering from some depression” when he got involved with Scott “at a very susceptible, low point in his life.”
“He’s willing to accept responsibility for what he did,” Pagano said of Brooks, whom he said “was involved in this conspiracy for a very, very short period of time.”
In a news conference and release, authorities laid out what they described as an elaborate operation to build up business. This effort included things like offering incentives to sub-dealers, such as lower drug prices and being able to buy them on credit.
Including Scott and Brooks, eight people have been arrested in the case, an arrest warrant is out on another, and there are petitions for two juveniles. All but two of those arrested attended local schools such as Lafayette College, the Haverford School and local public high schools. They face a host of drug, criminal conspiracy and other charges.
Reflecting on the areas where this alleged drug scheme operated, Seth Williams — the district attorney for Philadelphia, which is near the schools in question — said in a press release, “The days of, ‘It can’t happen here’ are long gone.”
The arrests follow an investigation that began in January. Authorities say seized text messages showed the suspects’ plans to expand the business, with Scott giving Brooks business advice on how to expand marijuana sales in local high schools and Brooks encouraging sub-dealers to “efficiently distribute drugs at their schools,” Ferman’s office said.
Authorities assert the discovery of a loaded .223 caliber AR-15 assault rifle, in addition to a semi-automatic pistol and another rifle, suggest the drug ring’s leaders had the capability to use force.
Ferman admitted she’s bothered by the fact Scott — who left Connecticut College after three semesters of study after being sanctioned for using marijuana and creating fake IDs — and Brooks both attended Haverford, then allegedly did what they did.
“You’re dealing with kids from one of the finest institutions probably in the country,” she said. “To take those skills and turn it into this kind of illegal enterprise is very distressing.”
California lawmaker, Mike Gatto, is proposing a new law that would ban the use of “affluenza” as a defense in criminal trials. In December, a Texas teenager was spared jail time in a fatal drunk-driving crash. The teen’s defense team’s supporting evidence was that he was incapable of understanding consequences for his choices due to affluenza.
The Los Angeles-area state Assemblyman introduced a bill this week that would prohibit considering a person’s privilege when sentencing – basically, environmental conditions impacting a defendant’s behavior should be ignored.
“The fact that a defendant did not understand the consequences of his or her actions because he or she was raised in an affluent or overly permissive household shall not be considered a circumstance in mitigation of the crime in determining the punishment to be imposed,” the bill states.
The bill is a response to a controversial Texas case. In December 2013, State District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced a 16 y/o Ethan Couch to 10 years probation for drunk driving and killing four pedestrians and injuring 11 after his attorneys successfully argued that the teen suffered from affluenza and needed rehabilitation, and not prison. The defendant was caught on surveillance video stealing beer from a store, driving with seven passengers in his father’s Ford F-350 pick-up, speeding (70 MPH in a 40 MPH zone), and had a blood alcohol content of .24‰, three times the legal limit for an adult in Texas, when he was tested 3 hrs after the accident. Traces of Valium were also in his system. Dr. G. Dick Miller, a psychologist hired as an expert witness by the defense, testified in court that the teen was a product of affluenza and was unable to connect his behavior with consequences due to his parents teaching him that wealth buys privilege and insulates him from repercussions. The rehabilitation facility near Newport Beach, California (Newport Academy) that the teen will be attending will cost his family an estimated $450,000 annually.
Back to Gatto – He said he is trying to prepare for the next time someone attempts to hide behind the affluenza defense.
“People often think of the Legislature as too reactive,” Gatto told the L.A. Times. “Up until last year, for instance, it was not illegal to commit rape if the victim thought the rapist was her husband or boyfriend, and people said how did you let this stay on the books so long? We’re trying to be proactive.”
The bill, introduced Tuesday, January 14, may be debated in committee as early as February.
Findings of a Summer Day Tour at Edge Learning and Collegiate Community in Chicago
Among the towering buildings and rattle of platformed trains in downtown Chicago is a vibrant support community for young adults called Edge Learning Community. I met with their Director of Business Development, Chris McClaughlin, on a toasty Summer day recently. He was kind enough to meet me in the downstairs lobby – a modern but elegant entry convenient to one of the major stops for the Chicago Transit Authority (map here).
Up we went to their expansive and deceptively large common area. Sleek, clean furniture juxtaposed the industrial feel of the exposed brick walls and weathered hardwood floors. This was just the beginning of an exceptional space and community.
To the left, Chris escorted me to their rooftop ‘backyard’ area complete with grass (actually astro turf), outdoor projector for movies, lounge chairs and hot tub. Sweet views of Chicago were the bonus. The space felt way more private than you would imagine. Despite giant glass and steel over shadowing the old building on multiple sides, one has a sense of serenity. Not a bad start to a tour.
After talking about some of the history of the buildings and infamous Chicago characters, we cut through the inside common area out onto another patio on the West side. This was a super-call outdoor bar and grilling area which felt more like a bistro than therapeutic program. Chris pointed out the buildings where Al Capone had secret get-a-ways, we talked about the history of the city and then, after the late-morning sun started to cook us, we got around to talking about the program. It’s center around what they refer to as Core Competencies: Whole Brain Thinking (Rational & Irrational Thinking); Creativity and Continuous Learning; Effective Communication; Leading within Teams; Community Stewardship; Sustaining Healthy Relationships; Self Care; and Management of Resources and Technology. Rather than cutting and pasting from their site, I recommend going to their site to read through the details.
After lunch in the kitchen/dining room, we toured the rooms that, to be honest, felt way more like high-end apartments with large kitchens. High ceilings and plenty of space for single or multiple students make each room a great space for studying, hanging-out and even cooking. Chris and I spoke about the limitations of many programs that only accept young adults in recovery. Edge is well-prepared and works often with folks struggling with addiction but they don’t think of themselves as a substance abuse program. It is not for those in the very early stages of recovery. It is definitely not for those that do not have basic internal locus of control and responsibility for their behaviors. The heavy lifting of support for each resident is performed by coaches who, for all intents and purposes are therapists as shared with me by their clinical director Jason Wynkoop. They are highly trained and competent to work with young adults struggling with organization, recovery, mental health issues and behavioral support needs.
Our tour and day ended high above Chicago talking about Edge, it’s program and the bright future they have since so many older, more established programs are just not meeting the current needs of students today. To summarize, here are some Pros and Cons to consider. If you need more insight, contact us. We’re happy to share what we know to help you make the best decision.
Aesthetics: Fantastic common areas (no crappy This-End-Up blocky wood sofas that smell like dog). Mature, hip and nicely appointed apartments with great views . As a side-note, I had no idea This-End-Up was still in business until I researched the link for this review. Wow.
Location: If you are freaked out by silence, if you can’t stand wilderness, and if you prefer the hyper-rhythmic flow of the city, Edge is where you need to be, especially if you are in college and need support. It’s close to huge parks, museums, great restaurants, entertainment and tons of public transportation. Cars are definitely not needed here.
Independence: For those needing collaborative but not overbearing support from super competent professionals, Edge is your place. There is an expectation you are in school and keeping busy during the day.
Model: It’s not a bad thing but if you are looking for a super traditional transition program this may not be for you (or your son or daughter). Their collaborative approach rocks for some but may feel overwhelming to those that just want a bed for their head.
Location: If the cacophony of big city life wears you down, this is not the program for you. Edge’s DNA is inseparably tied to the fast-paced hustle of 2.715 million neighbors. Fit is a big deal when looking for support during the already stressful (and fun) time of college and young adulthood.
To be honest, there just aren’t many Cons – nothing here is inherently bad. Quality, in this case, is clearly defined by fit. For those ready for the interdependence of young adulthood we highly recommend visiting Edge for one of their informational meetings/weekends, talking to alum and getting a tour before committing to Edge. Once you know it’s the right place for you, you’ll experience the intense, positive support of this fantastic, innovative community.
Original article by CHARLES ZHU
The country’s economy has exploded over the past quarter-century. And so has the market for narcotics whose use was once virtually unheard of.
An exponential curve seems to describe most things in modern China — cars, housing, Louis Vuitton handbags, ice cream, iPads.
It also describes the growth of drug use and addicts. Only 25 years ago, narcotics and illicit drug use were nearly unheard of. Today, Chinese society and government authorities are increasingly grappling with the explosion in drug use and drug addicts, as well as how to respond to the phenomenon. With more relaxed borders, increased wealth, and greater individual freedoms, drug addiction and its consequences threaten to become a permanent fixture within Chinese society. As the Brookings Institution notes in a recent report on U.S.-China counter-narcotics cooperation, what was once called “the American disease” is now a global one.
Drug Growth in China
Drug consumption has grown rapidly in the past few years. According to the Brookings Institution, the number of officially registered addicts increased from 70,000 in 1990 to more than 1.79 million at the end of 2011 — a 16 percent annual growth rate. In reality, the number of actual addicts may run as high as12 million, although the distinction between addicts and users in China is not clearly made in these statistics. Moreover, about 32 percent of China’s HIV-positive population contracted the disease via intravenous drug use. In comparison, about 18 million people in the United States reported that they needed treatment for a drug abuse problem in 2009.
Drug use trends have been shifting away from heroin and toward designer and club drugs. Yunnan province, as part of the Golden Triangle, a hotbed of opium production since the 1920s, has also been a hub for heroin trafficking. A heroin fix could run as low as 70 cents in China-Burma border towns. This made drug addiction particularly cheap. Heroin remained the drug of choice among more than 70 percent of registered drug addicts up until 2010.
However, the share of heroin among registered addicts dropped to 64.5 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, China’s Xinhua news agency reports synthetic drugs such as methamphetamines, ecstasy, and ketamine accounted for 32.7 percent of registered addicts, while other hard drugs such as cocaine have also grown in popularity. Synthetic drug trafficking is not centralized within Yunnan, with drugs instead coming from North Korea, international transport hubs, and home-grown labs. Crucially, China is a huge source of precursor chemicals like ephedrine and pseudophedrine, which are used to create methamphetamines.
The influx of drugs into China has demanded more attention from law enforcement authorities. Record-breaking drug busts happen frequently, with Hong Kong making the city’s largest-ever cocaine bust just last week. In June 2010, Chinese officials seized 1,032.36 kg of heroin and arrested 16 suspects including eight Pakistanis, two Nigerians, one Kenyan, and one Ghanaian. It was the biggest drug trafficking case in the history of Chinese drug control since 1949.
Young, wealthy urbanites as well as rural youth are driving the popularity of synthetic drug use, with people under 35 years of age comprising more than 80 percent of all addicts. Urban areas like Shanghai, for example, reportedly experienced a 20 percent increase in the number of drug addicts just last year.
But illicit drug use is not confined to one single demographic, nor to one single purpose. In late April, a commercial bus driver who later tested positive for illegal narcotics crashed his bus, killing 14 people. A national drug testing campaign soon followed, with authorities suspending the licenses of 1,436 coach and truck drivers because of drug use between March and May of 2012. While urban youth may use drugs for partying, long-haul drivers oftentimes need uppers to help stay awake. Sometimes they unwittingly consume the stuff, in forms like methamphetamine-laced cigarettes.
China has historically held to a hard-line, black-and-white view on narcotic drugs. For example, Lin Zexu, a Qing Dynasty official who initiated a war against British opium when most Chinese authorities tacitly allowed it, is widely honored and respected in China today.
Modern Chinese attitudes towards drugs, at least among the older generations, still contain strains of Lin’s approach. Chinese President Hu Jintao initiated a “National People’s War on Illicit Drugs” in 2005. And as one Chinese sociology professor stated in the Global Times, “In my opinion, the sub-culture created by new drug users stems from the youth’s pop culture of hedonism and consumerism…to many Chinese youths, Western pop culture means experiencing happiness, physical pleasure and an open attitude toward sex. All these could be realized through taking designer drugs.”
But online, the addict is slowly acquiring a human face. The most popular documentary currently available on Youku, a Chinese video sharing site, is titled “Fenghuang Road” (凤凰路). Debuting this year with sponsorship from the Guangdong regional government, Fenghuang Road has received nearly 7 million views. The series follows nine women addicted to heroin, who prostitute themselves and purposely get struck by cars to make money in order to feed their habit.
The documentary is so popular in part because it puts a human face on a rapidly growing problem. As one Youku user writes, “Every single one of them at times display great depravity and at other times pure innocence.” Another comments, “They are all ordinary, commonplace people, but all travel less-than-ordinary roads. Society’s indifference — we never see the corners and nooks…” Indeed, one of the women in the video became addicted because her mother was locked up in jail and her father died when she was young.
The growth of the illegal drug problem is visible even in Chinese censorship. On China’s Twitter-like weibo platforms, searches for marijuana (大麻) and specific slang for other drugs such as ketamine (K粉) are blocked, perhaps owing to the growing use of the Internet to facilitate drug sales. But official names of drugs along with non-specific slang such as “ice skating” (溜冰, referring to crystal meth) or “postage stamp” (邮票, referring to LSD) are still searchable.
In light of the recent growth in drug use, several governments are sponsoring online dialogues and information campaigns, especially those targeted at youth.
For example, various civic organizations are partnering with the Tianjin city government to host a viral anti-drug campaign on Weibo, asking youth to retweet anti-drug messages to three of their friends. Participants are entered in a raffle for the chance to win an iPad, iPods, and other electric goods. These efforts should bear some fruit. Reports indicate that much misinformation currently circulates regarding designer drugs, including the pernicious myth that such drugs are not addictive.
One thread asks netizens to contribute their own ideas to stem the growing popularity of drugs among youth. Though netizens are quick to offer ideas, there’s also an acknowledgement that drug use may be here to stay and societal attitudes must adapt. As @只有我俩的分组 states, “I have many friends who do pot…I won’t ever do it and I’ll try and convince my friends otherwise. I think this problem depends a lot on how society is developing. It will be very difficult to stop this problem quickly.”
In what may be a sign of changing attitudes, some netizens argue that drug use touches on certain root problems beyond a mere lack of self-control. As @草儿922 writes, “Education about the generation gap is crucial. Adults don’t understand what kids are thinking, leading to internal dissatisfaction from kids…adults should connect with their kids, know their thoughts; and not let their lives seem hollow so that they are led to a path that they don’t want to travel.”