Families for Sensible Drug Policy (FSDP) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization representing an international coalition of families, professionals, organizations and public health advocates dedicated to implementing innovative public health initiatives with the goal of empowering families to increase access to effective substance use disorder treatment and reduce the harmful consequences of oppressive drug policies.
Listen to “TAP043 Families for Sensible Drug Policy with Barry Lessin” on Spreaker.
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Posted in Addiction, Policy, Recovery, Treatment
Stanton Peele, Ph.D., J.D., is a seminal figure in the addiction field. All Treatment awarded him the Best Academic Addiction Blog for 2012. Dr. Peele has developed the on-line Life Process Addiction Program. His most recent book (with Ilse Thompson) is Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life with The Life Procss Program. Since the publication of Love and Addiction in 1975, Dr. Peele has been a pioneer in applying addiction beyond the area of drugs and alcohol, social-environmental causes of addiction, harm reduction, and self-cure of addiction. He has presented these ideas and data in a series of twelve books—including Love and Addiction, The Meaning of Addiction,Diseasing of America, The Truth About Addiction and Recovery, 7 Tools to Beat Addiction, and Addiction-Proof Your Child—and over 250 professional and popular articles. Recognition for his academic achievements in addiction has included the Mark Keller Award from the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Drug Policy Alliance. Dr. Peele lectures internationally on the meaning, treatment, and future of addiction.
Posted in Addiction, Disease Model, Policy, Recovery, Research
“We are treating the symptom and not the disease, and the disease is prohibition.” — Patrick Heintz regarding the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA)
With experience in both corrections and substance abuse counseling, Patrick Heintz has worked with incarcerated populations for over 20 years. Beginning as a child care worker in a maximum security Department of Youth Services facility, he spent the majority of his career at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department as a counselor/corrections officer.
As a substance abuse counselor licensed by the State of Massachusetts working in a variety of corrections settings, he was witness to what he calls the “revolving door and intergenerational nature of the offender population”. Patrick explains, “Early on in my career, it became apparent that to a large extent, this revolving door phenomenon was a direct result of the prevailing laws associated with the war on drugs. It became a daily frustration that no matter how service-oriented and well intentioned treatment attempts were in a corrections setting, nonsensical drug laws such as mandatory minimum sentencing, school zone violations and other punitive consequences of drug arrests kept us from being optimally effective.”
As a human service worker in corrections, it was obvious to Patrick that substance abusing and addictive personality disorders were more mental health issues than a law and order problem. He experienced an avalanche of realizations upon first hearing a LEAP presentation where the speaker pointed out that after 40 years of being at war with drugs, the percentage of the population abusing drugs remains at approximately the same level as in 1971, when the war on drugs began. Patrick contends that “Sociologically there will always be deviations from the norm including substance abuse, but they cannot be legislated or enforced away.”
Posted in Addiction, Drug Enforcement, Drugs, Opiates, Police, Policy, Research, Trama, Treatment
On July 7, 2016, one or more individuals, including a suspect identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, shot twelve police officers and two civilians in Dallas, Texas, killing five of the officers. The shooting occurred at the end of a protest against police killings in the aftermath of the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Johnson was killed during a shootout and standoff with police, while three other suspects are in police custody. It was the deadliest incident for U.S. law enforcement since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The drug war and the disconnect between the police and communities of color is indirectly responsible for the attacks.
Posted in Drug Enforcement, Drugs, Police, Policy
The emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) – often called “synthetic drugs,” “legal highs,” or “research chemicals” – pose a number of challenges for policymakers, media covering these issues, medical and social service providers, and people who use these substances.
Unfortunately, current media and policy responses to NPS – a broad category that includes everything from synthetic cannabinoids such as “K2”, to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, to traditional plants such as kratom – have been largely fueled by misinformation rather than facts. For example, in New York City, concerns about synthetic cannabinoids led to misleading media coverage and targeted policing in communities of color and among the homeless, missing a critical opportunity to lead with harm reduction and public health strategies instead of criminalization.
These substances often come on the market as legal alternatives to illicit drugs. In the U.S., they are routinely banned, leading chemists to come up with slightly new formulations to evade existing laws. This cat-and-mouse game has led to a proliferation of these substances, whose potential harms (and benefits) are largely unknown.
Seth Fitzgerald from The Drug Classroom attended an important conversation about novel psychoactive substances on the evening of June 9th – 10th in New York City hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance. At New Strategies for New Psychoactive Substances: A Public Health Approach, the discussion included what is currently known about these substances, strategies for intervening when use becomes harmful, exploring new forms of drug regulation, and examining how messaging and media about NPS can become more constructive. The gathering laid the foundation for a series of recommendations for policymakers, medical and social service providers, researchers, and media.
Posted in Addiction, Drug Enforcement, Drugs, Policy, Prevention, Psychedelics, Research, Synthetic Cannabinoids
Sheila Vakharia earned her doctorate at Florida International University’s School of Social Work. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Binghamton University and a Post-Master’s Certificate in the Addictions from New York University. She was most recently employed as a social worker at a grassroots HIV/AIDS and homelessness advocacy organization in Manhattan, where she provided harm reduction-based substance use counseling, facilitated harm reduction support groups, and conducted quality assurance activities. She was also a SIFI certified field instructor for B.S.W. students from New York University at that time. Prior to that, she worked at an OASAS-licensed rural outpatient substance use treatment facility where she conducted diagnostic assessments, made level-of-care treatment determinations, and facilitated aftercare groups for individuals with co-occurring disorders.
Jeannie Little has been at the forefront of developing harm reduction therapy for people with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders since 1990. Beginning with her work at the Department of Veterans Affairs, she developed the harm reduction therapy group model and has trained therapists nationally and abroad. She teaches and consults with staff in outpatient clinics, drop-in centers, and supportive housing programs. She directs a national group of researchers and harm reduction therapists that is working to bring harm reduction therapy into the mainstream of substance abuse treatment. She has authored many papers and, with Dr. Denning, she co-authored Practicing Harm Reduction Psychotherapy and Over the Influence, a self-help book for consumers.
Posted in Addiction, Disease Model, Drugs, Policy, Prevention, Recovery, Research, Treatment
Frances first got involved with SSDP in 2011, when she co-founded the Northwestern University chapter as a freshman. Although she had known that the War on Drugs was irrational and ineffective before attending college, it wasn’t until she attended her first Midwest Regional Conference at Roosevelt University that she learned that drug policies were also unjust and inhumane. Since then, harm reduction has been a guiding principle behind all of her professional and personal pursuits, and she strives to educate people about the intersectionalities associated with the War on Drugs.In the drug policy world, Frances has served on SSDP’s Board of Directors, and has worked with cannabis law and industry organizations to research cannabis policy in various states, and write and review applications for cannabis cultivation centers and dispensary licenses. On campus, she was involved with Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators (SHAPE), Alpha Chi Omega sorority and and has served as the President of the Panhellenic Association.
Goals for SSDP Peer Education Program
- To promote open and honest dialogue around drug use, drug policy and drug culture
- To reduce drug-related harms through a lens of love, rather than stigma or punishment
- Convey factual information about drugs, including how to access further resources
- Convey factual information about drug policy, including how to access further resources
SSDP Peer Educators achieve this goal through three primary activities
- Facilitating small-group educational programs in residence halls, in fraternities and sororities, for other student groups and high schools, and during Orientation Week
- Providing students with informal counseling and professional referrals
- Planning campus-wide events in collaboration with other student groups, academic departments or community organizations
- Soliciting feedback and communicating to National staff to ensure that the program continually meets students’ needs
Posted in Addiction, Drugs, Policy, Prevention, Research
Rhana Hashemi author of “The Fallacies of a Drug-Free American Dream.”
Posted in Alcohol, Policy, Research
Adam Lowery is a mental health counselor, trainer, speaker, podcaster, activist and coach whose passion is helping others change and optimize their lives. Through an abusive childhood, he focused on his dream to play college football. But at age twenty-two, injury ended his NFL dreams. Disheartened and angry, he chose a life of addiction and crime. He survived the world of drug dealing and quickly became successful in the nightclub business. But the success did not fill the void. He walked away from it all and went on walkabout for two years — traveling from the Florida Keys to the Acoma Native American Reservation in New Mexico Adam was on his Spiritual Rampage.
Adam returned home on a mission to help others and obtain a masters mental health counseling. Before even graduating he was hired as a clinical therapist in a public rehabilitation facility. Within three years Adam founded Transrational Structural Behavior Theory, authored The Cognitive Rampage, a dose of authentic revelation (as the application of TSBT), launched TCR podcast now in 110 countries and all 52 United States and will be releasing his first documentary in the Winter of 2016 “Chemical Incarceration, addicted to the process” detailing the dark side of the addiction treatment industry.
Posted in Addiction, Disease Model, Drugs, Opiates, Policy, Recovery, Research, Treatment
America continues to try and address the massive overdose epidemic occurring nationally by waging war against her own citizens, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attempts to provide helpful guidelines through labeling and education, and it’s a thrilling time to be a drug treatment provider with maintenance therapies, replacement therapies, and conventional abstinence therapies all being available. Seth Fitzgerald from The Drug Classroom and drug treatment provider Glen Marshall explore the real cause of prescription drug overdose and how prohibition and adulteration continue to be fatal. I’m looking at you Fentanyl. Finally, we conclude with this gem from the Nixon administration and his favorite drug marijuana.
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities, We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” — Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman
Cannabis Substitution: Marijuana Maintenance as Addiction Treatment
The Drug Classroom
Posted in Addiction, Benzodiazepine, Cannabis, Drugs, Heroin, Opiates, Overdose, Policy, Treatment
A common classification often used with medicinal and recreational drugs is “synthetic” versus “natural.” Despite the apparent face validity of “natural” drugs being less harmful, they are no less dangerous, and in some cases are more so, than their synthetic cousins. The individual using the substance, their set, setting, neurochemistry, along with the drug’s intrinsic properties must always be the prevailing determinants when evaluating a substance for ingestion. The Addictive Podcast deconstructs this common societal myth about what’s “best” to put in one’s body when it comes to drug type and origin.
Posted in Alcohol, Cannabis, Drugs, Hallucinogenics, Opiates, Policy, Salvia, Synthetic Cannabinoids
The libertarian philosophy upholds “liberty” as its principal objective. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and personal freedoms based on a foundation of an individual choosing what is best for itself. They are skeptical of authority and governmental intrusion into the rights of individuals. Libertarians argue that the invasiveness of the state and the abuse by law enforcement that is likely to accompany it presents a greater threat to personal freedom and liberty then drug using behavior itself.
The Libertarian national platform indicated in 2008 that “we support the protections provided by the fourth amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes. We favor the repeal of all laws creating ‘crimes’ without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.”
The Addictive Podcast is joined by Sean Mitsui, President of the Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Hawaii Manoa who provides his perspective on the drug war as someone who stands up for libertarian values which are in direct conflict to the mechanisms that have evolved out of prohibition including civil asset forfeiture, massive incarceration rates, and the personal invasion of the citizenry often through violent means and profiling; in addition to 50 to 100 billion dollars in economic costs annually to the taxpayer with no measurable improvement in personal or societal safety.
Posted in Drug Enforcement, Policy
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is an international grassroots network of college students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society. At last count, SSDP had over 4000 members on 300 campuses across 13 different countries. Glen sits down with outgoing Northwestern University SSDP Chapter President and future cognitive psychologist Caroline Naughton along her friend and special guest Cesar Almeida to discuss the social and emotional components of youth activism, and what it takes to be an advocate of change facing this issue personally and professionally.
Posted in Drug Enforcement, Policy
The 2015 International Drug Policy Reform Conference was a biennial event that brought together people from around the world who believe that the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. This conference was the largest gathering of reformers ever and included over 1,500 attendees representing 72 different countries.
Therapist Glen Marshall and drug education advocate Seth Fitzgerald both attended and take you through their experiences at the conference as well providing takeaway and contact information you can use to make changes in your own communities.
Drug Policy Alliance
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (Northwestern University Chapter)
Families for Sensible Drug Policy
The Center for Optimal Living
HAMS – Harm Reduction for Alcohol
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Senator Mazie Hirono
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
Posted in Cannabis, Drug Enforcement, Police, Policy, Psychedelics