Lets Stop Throwing Sick People into Jail, and Being Surprised When They Don’t Get Better!

The vast majority of drug offenders incarcerated…and there are millions, receive either no drug therapy, or minimal prison based treatment, and these two approaches have not historically shown much effectiveness in reducing recidivism either to drug abuse or to re-offending.

A NIDA funded program in Delaware prisons looked to explore a different matrix of treatment, using a three stage approach to therapy prior to complete release. Inmates begin in the general prison population, proceed then to a structured prison based drug treatment program, and finished their sentence in a community based drug treatment facility.

The results demonstrate quite clearly that a progressive and lengthy model of correctional treatment shows far greater efficacy, and ultimately saves a great deal of money. Of prisoners who proceeded through the three stage program, 77% had not re-offended after 18 months, compared to only 43% of prisoners having participated in prison only drug and alcohol treatment programs. Demonstrating yet again that incarceration alone for drug offenses does not solve the problem, and that every dollar spent on treatment as versus incarceration yields an incredible societal dividend.

Let’s follow the lead of Delaware, and give sick people treatment, instead of just locking them away.

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The vast majority of drug offenders incarcerated…and there are millions, receive either no drug therapy, or minimal prison based treatment, and these two approaches have not historically shown much effectiveness in reducing recidivism either to drug abuse or to re-offending.

A NIDA funded program in Delaware prisons looked to explore a different matrix of treatment, using a three stage approach to therapy prior to complete release. Inmates begin in the general prison population, proceed then to a structured prison based drug treatment program, and finished their sentence in a community based drug treatment facility.

The results demonstrate quite clearly that a progressive and lengthy model of correctional treatment shows far greater efficacy, and ultimately saves a great deal of money. Of prisoners who proceeded through the three stage program, 77% had not re-offended after 18 months, compared to only 43% of prisoners having participated in prison only drug and alcohol treatment programs. Demonstrating yet again that incarceration alone for drug offenses does not solve the problem, and that every dollar spent on treatment as versus incarceration yields an incredible societal dividend.

Let’s follow the lead of Delaware, and give sick people treatment, instead of just locking them away.

Why We Need to Start Drug Education in Grade School

The study authors completed a long term data analysis of almost 5000 youths starting from the early 1990’s, and have examined specifically the age of first experimentation with different substances, and the prevalence of continuing substance use later in life.

The results are unsurprising, and confirm other research done on adolescent drug abuse.

Some of the findings include:

  • Sixty percent of teens who start using marijuana before the age of 15 will still be using the drug 8 years later. Only 20% of teens who start after the age of 19 will continue to use 8 years later.
  • Boys start using drugs earlier, and with more frequency, and are less likely to stop.

The study authors conclude that early in life prevention programs are of paramount importance, and that waiting until kids are in junior high may well be waiting too late. They note that a significant number of kids are trying alcohol at ages of 10 and 11 and that these kids may never, at this age, have been exposed to any drug or alcohol information. They suggest late elementary school grades as a better time to start drug and alcohol educational programming.

The study results also underscore the importance of drug and alcohol education in the family, and starting from a young age. Our kids are starting to experiment earlier than we realize, yet if we can keep them from this early experimentation, they stand a much better chance to avoid the pains of later in life addiction or alcoholism.

The study authors completed a long term data analysis of almost 5000 youths starting from the early 1990’s, and have examined specifically the age of first experimentation with different substances, and the prevalence of continuing substance use later in life.

The results are unsurprising, and confirm other research done on adolescent drug abuse.

Some of the findings include:

  • Sixty percent of teens who start using marijuana before the age of 15 will still be using the drug 8 years later. Only 20% of teens who start after the age of 19 will continue to use 8 years later.
  • Boys start using drugs earlier, and with more frequency, and are less likely to stop.

The study authors conclude that early in life prevention programs are of paramount importance, and that waiting until kids are in junior high may well be waiting too late. They note that a significant number of kids are trying alcohol at ages of 10 and 11 and that these kids may never, at this age, have been exposed to any drug or alcohol information. They suggest late elementary school grades as a better time to start drug and alcohol educational programming.

The study results also underscore the importance of drug and alcohol education in the family, and starting from a young age. Our kids are starting to experiment earlier than we realize, yet if we can keep them from this early experimentation, they stand a much better chance to avoid the pains of later in life addiction or alcoholism.

How My Dog Keeps Me Sober

Lord help me be the kind of person my dog thinks I am

Ran across this quote the other day, and I can’t think of a better ambition for life than that! My dog thinks I’m kind, generous (except with the doggie treats, which he must think I hoard miserably) wise and a whole lot of fun to be with.

I can’t think of anyone else in this world who thinks quite as highly of me as my dog. I gotta admit my inspiration is coming from some odd sources these days, but hey, I’ll take it where I can get it…(God works in mysterious ways?). So for today, I’m going to try to live up to these lofty doggy ideals of perceived conduct. I’m going to try to be as kind and wonderful to all as he thinks I am.

I’m going to try on wisdom for a change by talking half as much and listening a whole lot more, and when I have something negative to say, I won’t. I’m not going to drink too -he honestly doesn’t have strong feelings on this one – but I’m going to add it on the list. I’ll try it on for today, and see how it fits, and maybe tomorrow too.

I won’t be what he thinks I am, but if I can get halfway there, I’d be twice what I am now!

Lord help me be the kind of person my dog thinks I am

Ran across this quote the other day, and I can’t think of a better ambition for life than that! My dog thinks I’m kind, generous (except with the doggie treats, which he must think I hoard miserably) wise and a whole lot of fun to be with.

I can’t think of anyone else in this world who thinks quite as highly of me as my dog. I gotta admit my inspiration is coming from some odd sources these days, but hey, I’ll take it where I can get it…(God works in mysterious ways?). So for today, I’m going to try to live up to these lofty doggy ideals of perceived conduct. I’m going to try to be as kind and wonderful to all as he thinks I am.

I’m going to try on wisdom for a change by talking half as much and listening a whole lot more, and when I have something negative to say, I won’t. I’m not going to drink too -he honestly doesn’t have strong feelings on this one – but I’m going to add it on the list. I’ll try it on for today, and see how it fits, and maybe tomorrow too.

I won’t be what he thinks I am, but if I can get halfway there, I’d be twice what I am now!

Eat Together as a Family. Save Your Kids From Drugs?

Photo: SuziJaneResearch by the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse compared the drug and alcohol consumption patterns of teens that ate family dinners 5 or more times per week, with those that ate them 2 or less times per week, and the difference revealed is dramatic. Families that don’t often eat together have teen children that are:

300% more likely to smoke marijuana 250% more likely to smoke cigarettes 150% more likely to drink alcohol

Wow! What an easy way to make a real difference, in your teen’s life, and for the family as a whole. The study authors state that although the simple act of eating together as a family seems most important, the experience can be enhanced with conversation and by ensuring the TV is turned off throughout the meal.

Research continually demonstrates the influence of family and parental involvement on the likelihood of teens avoiding the troubles of drugs and alcohol. And this recent study shows just how easily parents can ensure they exert that influence. Make it fun for all, order a pizza if that’s what it takes, and sit down as a family, at the table. It’s worth it.

Photo: SuziJaneResearch by the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse compared the drug and alcohol consumption patterns of teens that ate family dinners 5 or more times per week, with those that ate them 2 or less times per week, and the difference revealed is dramatic. Families that don’t often eat together have teen children that are:

300% more likely to smoke marijuana 250% more likely to smoke cigarettes 150% more likely to drink alcohol

Wow! What an easy way to make a real difference, in your teen’s life, and for the family as a whole. The study authors state that although the simple act of eating together as a family seems most important, the experience can be enhanced with conversation and by ensuring the TV is turned off throughout the meal.

Research continually demonstrates the influence of family and parental involvement on the likelihood of teens avoiding the troubles of drugs and alcohol. And this recent study shows just how easily parents can ensure they exert that influence. Make it fun for all, order a pizza if that’s what it takes, and sit down as a family, at the table. It’s worth it.

Christian Recovery…Be Sober AND Happy!

OK, here’s a secret, a secret that people in the recovery business don’t necessarily want you to know. Getting over addiction doesn’t guarantee happiness. It probably means a lot less pain when you can leave abuse behind, but a lack of pain does not necessarily equate to happiness, and deep down, bottom line and big picture, that’s the only thing that’s really important.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you are not going to be happy after you quit drinking or drugging, it’s just not a guarantee.

Christian Recovery

Now if you don’t believe in God, Christian recovery doesn’t offer you much, obviously. If you do believe in God though, the Christian method of recovery may have some advantages over secular forms of treatment. I’m not sure that long term success rates are all that different between Christian recovery and secular recovery, but if you change things around a bit, and define success as happiness, I think Christians in recovery win hands down. Some people can stay sober through sheer determination – through grit – and some of these people can even stay sober like this for ever. But man oh man…this takes work! It wears you down, and maintaining such constant vigilance drains the life out of you and it’s pretty hard to be truly happy when you’re just so tired.

Now by contrast, in Christian recovery, one of the fundamental principles to grasp is that you don’t have the strength alone to get better, only God does. Let go and let God! Once you can trust in God, feel His grace and believe that He will show you the path, you no longer have to worry every minute of the day about staying sober…God’s on the job! And this letting go, this makes it a whole lot easier to start really enjoying your life of sobriety.

That’s not all too. Christian recovery is an exercise in humility, real humility before Christ. Although going through addiction is a pretty tough way to find humility, let me tell you that once you do, and once you feel your relationship with Christ flourish through your newfound humility…whatever you went through before was worth it! We also relearn the power and beauty of prayer through recovery, and that feels pretty good too. No recovery is easy, but once you can put your trust in Christ, you’ll feel better, you’ll feel His Grace and His strength, and it won’t feel so hard anymore. You may be able to recover through a secular rehab, but if you want Christian happiness, walk the Christian 12 steps, and rediscover how sweet life can be.

OK, here’s a secret, a secret that people in the recovery business don’t necessarily want you to know. Getting over addiction doesn’t guarantee happiness. It probably means a lot less pain when you can leave abuse behind, but a lack of pain does not necessarily equate to happiness, and deep down, bottom line and big picture, that’s the only thing that’s really important.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you are not going to be happy after you quit drinking or drugging, it’s just not a guarantee.

Christian Recovery

Now if you don’t believe in God, Christian recovery doesn’t offer you much, obviously. If you do believe in God though, the Christian method of recovery may have some advantages over secular forms of treatment. I’m not sure that long term success rates are all that different between Christian recovery and secular recovery, but if you change things around a bit, and define success as happiness, I think Christians in recovery win hands down. Some people can stay sober through sheer determination – through grit – and some of these people can even stay sober like this for ever. But man oh man…this takes work! It wears you down, and maintaining such constant vigilance drains the life out of you and it’s pretty hard to be truly happy when you’re just so tired.

Now by contrast, in Christian recovery, one of the fundamental principles to grasp is that you don’t have the strength alone to get better, only God does. Let go and let God! Once you can trust in God, feel His grace and believe that He will show you the path, you no longer have to worry every minute of the day about staying sober…God’s on the job! And this letting go, this makes it a whole lot easier to start really enjoying your life of sobriety.

That’s not all too. Christian recovery is an exercise in humility, real humility before Christ. Although going through addiction is a pretty tough way to find humility, let me tell you that once you do, and once you feel your relationship with Christ flourish through your newfound humility…whatever you went through before was worth it! We also relearn the power and beauty of prayer through recovery, and that feels pretty good too. No recovery is easy, but once you can put your trust in Christ, you’ll feel better, you’ll feel His Grace and His strength, and it won’t feel so hard anymore. You may be able to recover through a secular rehab, but if you want Christian happiness, walk the Christian 12 steps, and rediscover how sweet life can be.

15% of New England Teens Are Substance Abusers…Too Many!

Teens visiting the doctor throughout New England were given a confidential questionnaire to fill out surveying their alcohol and drug use behaviors.

Now, we know that a lot of teens are using drugs and alcohol, and we know that about 80% of teens will have done so by the time they finish senior year in high school, but we didn’t know that so many of these teens that are experimenting with drugs and alcohol are consuming these substances at such a significant rate.

Fifteen percent of teens screened in New England self reported substance use behaviors that met the criteria for substance abuse. Not substance use, substance abuse.

We know that the earlier teens start taking drugs and alcohol in quantity the more likely they are to become addicted and also to experience psychiatric illness. We also know that early intervention and preventative screenings that unearth problematic use behaviors can make a real difference. Sometimes all it takes is a few words from a doctor or a school counselor, in private, about use behaviors and the risks of those behaviors to make a real behavioral difference.

The study leaders call for an increase in substance abuse screenings and preventative interventions nation-wide. Let’s hope they get heard by those that can enact such changes, and let’s hope that we can stop a lot of these preventable tragedies…before abuse becomes addiction and pain.

Teens visiting the doctor throughout New England were given a confidential questionnaire to fill out surveying their alcohol and drug use behaviors.

Now, we know that a lot of teens are using drugs and alcohol, and we know that about 80% of teens will have done so by the time they finish senior year in high school, but we didn’t know that so many of these teens that are experimenting with drugs and alcohol are consuming these substances at such a significant rate.

Fifteen percent of teens screened in New England self reported substance use behaviors that met the criteria for substance abuse. Not substance use, substance abuse.

We know that the earlier teens start taking drugs and alcohol in quantity the more likely they are to become addicted and also to experience psychiatric illness. We also know that early intervention and preventative screenings that unearth problematic use behaviors can make a real difference. Sometimes all it takes is a few words from a doctor or a school counselor, in private, about use behaviors and the risks of those behaviors to make a real behavioral difference.

The study leaders call for an increase in substance abuse screenings and preventative interventions nation-wide. Let’s hope they get heard by those that can enact such changes, and let’s hope that we can stop a lot of these preventable tragedies…before abuse becomes addiction and pain.

Why Do We Lie to Kids About Drugs?

We teach them in drug education classes about the harms of drugs and alcohol, and the pains that these can bring to those that would abuse them. We teach them these things because we love them and we worry for them and we know the perils they face as they proceed through the turbulent years of adolescence.

Our intentions are good, and all we wish to do is to spare them pain; but we almost always take things too far. We scaremonger; we say all drugs are bad…equally bad, and we present worse case scenarios as commonplace occurrences.

And it works fine for a while, and they believe us…for a while. But then they get a little bit older, and they see that some people that smoke marijuana don’t seem to be experiencing all of those drastic consequences that we foretold of. They get a bit older, and they learn a bit more and they start to realize that they were lied to!

They learn that not everyone that smokes a joint becomes a junky; in fact mostly they seem to do just fine. And then we wonder why they don’t believe us when we warn them of the dangers of meth…but why should they, we can’t be trusted. We need to start teaching kids the truth about drugs so that they can be informed about the real risks and consequences of their actions. We need to teach them that marijuana is not as harmful as a lot of other drugs and that most people that use it will not become raving lunatic drug addicts. We need to teach them that there are a lot of legitimate risks associated with today’s marijuana, but we need to stay real about it, and tell them the truth. They’ll learn it for themselves eventually anyways.

And maybe if we tell them the truth about marijuana, maybe they’ll smoke it or maybe they won’t (it’s pretty unlikely that more will smoke it than do know!) but at least they will know that they have been treated with respect, told the truth and educated to make their own decisions; and maybe then they will believe us when we warn them of the real dangers of a lot of other life-destroying drugs floating about out there.

 Kids aren’t dumb, they’ll learn the truth, and they will remember being lied to.

We teach them in drug education classes about the harms of drugs and alcohol, and the pains that these can bring to those that would abuse them. We teach them these things because we love them and we worry for them and we know the perils they face as they proceed through the turbulent years of adolescence.

Our intentions are good, and all we wish to do is to spare them pain; but we almost always take things too far. We scaremonger; we say all drugs are bad…equally bad, and we present worse case scenarios as commonplace occurrences.

And it works fine for a while, and they believe us…for a while. But then they get a little bit older, and they see that some people that smoke marijuana don’t seem to be experiencing all of those drastic consequences that we foretold of. They get a bit older, and they learn a bit more and they start to realize that they were lied to!

They learn that not everyone that smokes a joint becomes a junky; in fact mostly they seem to do just fine. And then we wonder why they don’t believe us when we warn them of the dangers of meth…but why should they, we can’t be trusted. We need to start teaching kids the truth about drugs so that they can be informed about the real risks and consequences of their actions. We need to teach them that marijuana is not as harmful as a lot of other drugs and that most people that use it will not become raving lunatic drug addicts. We need to teach them that there are a lot of legitimate risks associated with today’s marijuana, but we need to stay real about it, and tell them the truth. They’ll learn it for themselves eventually anyways.

And maybe if we tell them the truth about marijuana, maybe they’ll smoke it or maybe they won’t (it’s pretty unlikely that more will smoke it than do know!) but at least they will know that they have been treated with respect, told the truth and educated to make their own decisions; and maybe then they will believe us when we warn them of the real dangers of a lot of other life-destroying drugs floating about out there.

 Kids aren’t dumb, they’ll learn the truth, and they will remember being lied to.