Tag Archives: heroin

UK Installing Methadone Vending Machines in Prisons

The UK government is spending 4 million pounds on a program to install methadone “vending machines” in prisons to help drug-addicted offenders wean off of heroin.

An article in the Telegraph UK writes the machines allow prisoners to receive a personalized dose of methadone automatically by giving a fingerprint or iris scan. Phil Hope, a justice minister, said that vending machines have been installed in 57 prisons so far. The goal is to have the machines installed in 70 of the 140 prisons in England and Wales.

However, the program has been very controversial. Conservatives claim the figures show that Ministers were prepared to “manage offenders’ addiction” rather than tackle the problem. Dominic Grieve, the shadow justice secretary, said, “The public will be shocked that Ministers are spending more on methadone vending machines than the entire budget for abstinence-based treatments.”

He continued, “Getting prisoners clean of drugs is one of the keys to getting them to go straight. We need to get prisoners off all drug addiction—not substitute one dependency for another. The Government’s approach of trying to ‘manage’ addiction is an admission of failure.”

A spokesman from the Department of Health said that it spends about 240 million pounds on prisoners’ health each year, with 40 million pounds going to drug treatment programs.

“Methadone dispensers are a safe and secure method for providing a prescribed treatment,” he said. “They can only be accessed by the person who has been clinically assessed as needing methadone and that person is recognized by a biometric marker, such as their iris.”

Russia Calls for Joint Action from US and NATO to Eradicate Heroin in Afghanistan

Russia’s counter-narcotics chief criticized U.S. and NATO anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan, calling them inadequate and asking for joint action against the Afghan heroin flooding into the former Soviet Union.

In an interview with the Associated Press Wednesday, Viktor Ivanov, head of Russia’s drug control agency, said he recently urged the Obama administration’s drug czar to begin a program of spraying herbicide from the air to eradicate Afghanistan’s fields of opium poppies.

“I hope that our open-minded dialogue will encourage the U.S. to take more adequate measures,” Ivanov said.

Russian-U.S. counter-drug efforts are considered a key area of cooperation as both countries try to improve relations following years of tensions.

The problem of drug abuse is of vital concern for Russia, where cheap Afghan heroin has helped fuel a surge in addiction rates and injection drug use has been a key factor in the spread of the virus that causes AIDS.

Authorities say that there are between 2 million and 2.5 million addicts in Russia, and that about 30,000 die each year of drug overdoses.

Afghanistan provides more than 90 percent of the heroin consumed in the world, and most of it flows through ex-Soviet Central Asia and Russia.

Ivanov voiced concern that the administration of President Barack Obama has abandoned the Bush-era policy of large-scale eradication of opium crops in Afghanistan.

Some U.S. officials have called the tactic ineffective in curbing cultivation and claimed that it boosted support for the Taliban. Instead, the Obama administration has focused on targeting drug labs and encouraging farmers to raise alternative crops.

Ivanov, a former KGB officer who served in Afghanistan during the Soviet war there in the 1980s, told the Associated Press that growing wheat and other legal crops isn’t practical in the midst of the escalating conflict.

“As long as the situation remains tense and the confrontation continues, no one will engage in agriculture,” he said. “They won’t be able to cultivate grain even if they want to.”

He insisted that the aerial spraying of herbicides is the only efficient way to stem the drug trade, and pointed out that the U.S. has used the tactic against the illicit coca crop—the source of cocaine—in Colombia.

Efforts to chop down and bulldoze poppy fields on the ground in Afghanistan have brought few results, he said. He also said the Western decision to leave the fight against drugs to the Afghan government was a mistake because local authorities lack the clout to accomplish the goal.

Ivanov said he met with Gil Kerlikowske, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, and State Department officials during a September visit to Washington, and both sides agreed to continue discussions on aerial spraying.

A recent U.N. report found that the amount of land planted with opium poppies in Afghanistan dropped 36 percent between 2007 and 2008. But the same report said the amount of opium produced fell by only 10 percent, due to improved growing techniques.

While Moscow is leery of the presence of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, Russia is counting on those troops to stem the flow of Muslim militants and Afghan heroin into the former Soviet Union.

Earlier this year, the Kremlin allowed the shipment of supplies for U.S. forces in Afghanistan across the Russian territory, a route that could become an increasingly important alternative to Pakistan, where supply convoys are sometimes attacked.

Ivanov said that the U.S. may not see Afghan heroin as an urgent problem because little of it finds its way into the United States. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says most heroin consumed in the U.S. comes from Mexico and South America.

Despite U.S.-Russian differences on how to solve the Afghan drug problem, Ivanov vowed to expand joint anti-narcotics efforts with Washington. “We are interested in cooperation,” Ivanov said.

Mother Hiding Heroin in Her Body Is Spared Jail

A 23-year-old Wales mother who was caught with heroin hidden inside her body avoided jail yesterday when the judge gave her a chance to change her ways. Samantha Davies faced up to four years in jail.

Prosecutor Tony Trigg said police had told Davies they were going to search her when they stopped her car last April. “She volunteered to them that she had one wrap of heroin hidden in her bra and another eight wraps in a money bag concealed inside her body,” Trigg told the court.

“When she was interviewed she said she had been supplying heroin for about five weeks because she heavily addicted and needed as much as eight bags a day for herself,” he continued. Davies said her boyfriend was buying the drugs and sharing them with her.

Of every 20 bags she made out of her share, she sold on five or six because it was the only way she could afford her next purchase. Last year she was in court for drug possession and shoplifting.

Meirion Davies, defending, said, “Her situation is a cliché. This is what happens when you become hooked on a class A drug. It destroys your life and could ultimately end it.”

He said Davies’ mother and stepfather were still standing by her and that she had promised to cut herself off from her former boyfriend. The court was told she was now living away from her former boyfriend in a place where he couldn’t find her and was doing her best to recover from her addiction.

Judge Christopher Llewellyn-Jones QC gave her a two-year community order with drug rehabilitation, adding that she has a family who loves her and a little boy who needs her. He added, “We don’t expect miracles but we will expect you to become drug free.”

Crack and Meth Use Down in Ohio; Heroin and Prescription Drug Use Up

A new report shows that cocaine and methamphetamine use in Ohio has decreased slightly, but that prescription drug abuse continues to rise. These figures are provided in the latest 80-pad “Surveillance of Drug Trends in the State of Ohio” report generated by the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring (OSAM) Network.

OSAM interviews active and recovering drug users, treatment professionals, law enforcement officers, and crime lab personnel to collect its data, providing treatment community and policy makers with the information needed to plan for addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services. OSAM’s findings are published twice a year. The latest report summarizes data collected from June 2008 to January 2009 by regional epidemiologists across Ohio.

“While we are encouraged to see a downward trend with cocaine and methamphetamine use, we continue to maintain concern with the alarming proliferation of prescription drug abuse and the relatively high availability of heroin,” commented Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS) director Angela Cornelius Dawson.

She continued, “Our goal must at all times be to help reduce the stigma that underlies the disease of addiction, no matter the drug of choice, so as to ensure prevention, treatment, and recovery support services remain well-funded and accessible to all who need them.”

Oxymorphone and Suboxone (prescription drugs developed to help people detox from opiates) rates are increasing in Athens, Cincinnati, and Dayton; oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) rates are surging in Columbus and Cleveland; and Subutex (another opiate withdrawal drug) is appearing in Cleveland, Dayton, and Toledo. These prescription drugs, like heroin, continue to be the most prevalent among young white people.

Xanax and other benzodiazepines are identified as a growing problem in Akron, Athens, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown. Most abusers appear to be dependent on opioids for self-medicating purposes to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Given the expanding use of Suboxone among treatment providers and private physicians for opioid detoxification and maintenance, the researchers note that more research is needed to understand diversion of this important medication.

Ritalin and Adderall, drugs commonly used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in children, are being abused at increasing rates in Athens, and treatment providers have noted an increase in the injection use of oxycodone, Suboxone, and Subutex.

The August 2008 report first alerted the public to a sudden spike in heroin availability and use, which remains unchanged in all regions of the state except Columbus, where it is reported to be in moderate decline. LSD use is also decreasing throughout the state.

Ecstasy use remains high across the state with the exception of Dayton, and marijuana continues to be high in availability and use (except in Cincinnati and Toledo), However, epidemiologists report than it is now being used frequently in conjunction with cocaine, PCP, embalming fluid, and cough syrup.

The research points to a marked decrease in the use of crack and powder cocaine in all regions except for Columbus, where the use of crack cocaine remains moderately high. Methamphetamine use is declining across all regions as meth lab busts have increased over the last 6 months. Epidemiologists did not report increases in methamphetamine users seeking treatment, however. Methamphetamine users remain difficult to access, in part due to the stigma associated with abuse of this drug.