An experimental drug blocks euphoric feelings prompted by drinking and could potentially prevent alcoholics from relapsing, after being tested on mice.
The next step will be to test the drug, CP 154,526, to see if it is safe for humans. If it clears that hurdle, researchers will start human trials to determine if the drug can prevent alcoholic relapse.
"We showed we could block behaviour in mice that resembles this increased euphoria even after the animals had been given a lot of alcohol," said Tamara Phillips, professor and vice chair of the behavioural neuroscience department at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).
Earlier research has shown that some people's brains become sensitised as a result of chronic exposure to alcohol. This change in the brain does not subside after people quit drinking. So when they begin consuming alcohol again, "they get a bigger jolt," Phillips said.
Alcohol consumption causes the body to release a substance known as "corticotrophin-releasing factor" or CRF. It activates receptors in the brain.
Phillips and her team determined that a brain receptor called CRF1 appears to be involved in this heightened pleasure sensation. They compared the responses of normal mice and mice bred without the CRF1 receptor to chronic doses of alcohol. Mice without the CRF1 receptor did not experience the euphoric jolt the normal mice demonstrated.
The research team also took normal mice with the CRF1 receptor and exposed them to chronic doses of alcohol. Before testing for the euphoric response, the researchers gave the mice an experimental drug called CP 154,526 - developed by Pfizer - which prevents CRF from reaching the brain receptor. This group of mice also did not experience the heightened reaction.
The results may be particularly applicable to stress-induced relapse. That's because the CRF1 receptor also triggers the body's response to stress.
This could have implications for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) patients. "I think if you block this receptor, you might be able to decrease drinking in response to PTSD," Phillips said.
Phillips' study recently was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.
source: New Kerala, http://www.newkerala.com
More than a third of people who present at Sydney emergency departments after smoking cannabis are violent and half have mental health problems such as severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts, shattering the image that dope smokers are relaxed and sleepy, researchers have found.
The data, collected by the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, at the University of NSW, indicates that cannabis users can be as aggressive as crystal methamphetamine users, with almost one in four men and one in three women being violent toward hospital staff or injuring themselves after acting aggressively. Almost 12 per cent were considered a suicide risk.
"It flies in the face of what people typically think of cannabis - that it is a natural herb that makes people mellow," the centre's director, Professor Jan Copeland, said yesterday.
"The reality is that it can make people highly agitated and trigger acute episodes of anxiety."
She said the study, which covered two hospitals from 2004 to 2006, revealed that more than 9 per cent of cannabis users had depression or bipolar disorder, 5 per cent had schizophrenia and 4 per cent had paranoia and a history of self-harm.
"It's the first time we have ever gathered this data and it is highly surprising. It's apparent that we need a higher level of early intervention to pick up these problems before they get to the emergency department," Professor Copeland said.
The head of emergency at St Vincent's hospital, Gordian Fulde, said yesterday most people still believed marijuana was a soft drug, but "the old image of feeling sleepy and having the munchies after you've had a smoke is entirely inappropriate for modern-day marijuana".
"The grass we smoked in the '60s could have been lawn clippings compared to this completely different breed of nasty cat," he said.
"With hydroponic cannabis, the levels of THC [the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol] can be tenfold what they are in normal cannabis so we are seeing some very, very serious fallout."
Cannabis use was soaring among young professionals in the city and inner west, Dr Fulde said, but users rarely needed sedation.
By giving drug addicts a sterile syringe and a warm place to shoot up, are we saving lives or condoning substance abuse?
To illuminate the double standard surrounding "harm reduction," Dr. Stephen Hwang, a medical researcher and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, offers the following scenario:
Suppose that an innovative but controversial intervention is launched to reduce complications of Type 2 Diabetes, and 7,000 subjects take part in a trial. Researchers, funded by Health Canada to study the intervention's effectiveness, find that while not curing diabetes, the intervention improves health, reduces infections and prevents premature deaths -- with no adverse effects. The findings are published in the world's leading medical journals.
But the federal government deems the findings inconclusive and says the only acceptable therapies for diabetes are those that either prevent or cure the condition -- even though no such therapies exist. Columnists, community leaders and national organizations expound that the intervention "enables" bad lifestyle choices, and that without the dire complications of diabetes, people with the condition would eat more, exer cise less and become increasingly obese. And those who didn't have diabetes would forgo healthy diets and exercise because they'd no longer fear the disease. The government considers banning the intervention.
Sound far-fetched? Not, says Hwang, if you replace the word diabetes with drug addiction, and the word intervention with Insite, the safe-injection site pilot project that began in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in 2003. Insite has allowed addicts to inject drugs under secure, clean conditions, and all under the supervision of a nurse.
"I wanted people to see how hypocritical we are in the way that we treat two chronic conditions that have a lot of associated harms," says Hwang. A specialist in inner-city medicine, he wrote the diabetes scenario for the peer-reviewed online journal Open Medicine, arguing that when it comes to drug abuse, ideology trumps science in a way that would not be tolerated with other chronic health conditions. Hwang's treatise was endorsed by more than 130 prominent Canadian scientists, doctors and public-health professionals.
Think there's a huge difference between drug addiction and diabetes? There isn't, says Hwang: Both arise through a complex mix of predisposed genetic and environmental factors -- triggered by lifestyle choices, behaviour and bad luck -- that result in disorders of body chemistry. Both have potentially severe complications, such as infections or premature death, that can be reduced with good medical care. Just as some addicts can kick their addictions, some people with diabetes, through weight loss, gastric bypass surgery or extreme exercise, can eliminate their symptoms and their need for medication -- though drug-free addicts and insulin-free diabetics both risk relapse. Yet do we refuse to treat the health complications of people with diabetes who cannot wean themselves off medication? Never.
"A heroin addict needs heroin as much as a diabetic needs insulin," says Norm Stamper, a former chief of the Seattle police department. "That need is real. It is physiological." After witnessing the failure of the United States' strict "war on drugs" to stem narcotic use and its associated problems, Stamper is now a leading advocate of safe-injection sites, methadone-treatment, needle-exchange and other harm reduction programs that aim to refocus efforts from policing to medical management.
Here's what more than 20 studies --all by independent evaluators, published in prominent journals -- have found: Insite has reduced instances of needle sharing and drug injecting in public places, and there has been a decrease in the amount of injectionrelat ed litter. In the Insite neighbourhood, there have been no increases in drug trafficking or assaults, and instances of vehicle break-ins and car theft have decreased. Despite almost 900 overdose events at Insite -- a common hazard of drug use -- no overdose deaths have occurred at the facility, compared with an average of 60 a year in Metro Vancouver. Additionally, since Insite began, the number of drug addicts who have entered detox programs, addiction counselling and drug-addiction treatment has increased by over 30%.
Dr. Perry Kendall, the B. C. Health Officer, says opposition to Insite is not based on evidence of effectiveness but on the notion that drug addicts have made bad choices and must change or live with their fate. "The belief," he says, "is that if health providers remove or lessen the harms of addicts' behaviour, addicts won't hit bottom and therefore won't have the motivation to go clean."
"The issue is not whether the addict would be better off without his addiction--of course he would--but whether we are going to abandon him to illness or death if he is unable to give it up," says Dr. Gabor Mate, who has served as staff physician at Insite and is the author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. Mate's book is a must-read for those who reject harm reduction as "coddling" drug addicts or who believe "Just Say No" is a realistic policy. In his book, Mate shows his patients' struggles and demons, how they became addicts and how they found a way out. The book illus trates a central premise of HR: accepting those with drug addictions and trying to move them along the continuum to better health -- keeping them alive and well long enough to have a chance to quit later.
Some who were once adamantly against Insite have come to support it. One such person is George Chow, former president of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver. Chow successfully ran for city councillor on a ticket of rejecting Insite -- the centre was on China town's doorstep -- gathering some 18,000 signatures from the Chinese community. Yet, after Insite had been in operation for three years, he changed his mind. "I am keenly aware of the debate surrounding [Insite]. But I am pleased to say that the initial fears of the community -- a potential increase in crime and public disorder -- have not materialized," Chow wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the fall of 2007.
If only more of us were willing to change our positions based on evidence, we might finally begin to make progress against this terrible affliction called drug addiction.
source: The National Post, http://www.nationalpost.com
New York became the first state in the country to require all state-run addiction treatment centers to help their patients quit smoking. The plan, which went into effect last week, requires treatment centers to help patients quit smoking by offering nicotine replacement therapy, including nicotine gum and patches, to all smokers. For those lacking health insurance, the nicotine replacement therapy will be free of charge.
The treatment centers also will be required to be smoke-free. Officials estimate the new law will impact up to 250,000 patients. Approximately 92 percent of those in alcohol and other drug treatment programs are cigarette smokers, according to estimates.
As someone who dedicates my life to advocating for treatment for those struggling with addiction and as someone who is personally addicted to cigarettes, I have mixed feelings about the new rule. I applaud the effort to help people quit smoking, but am worried that the smoking ban may deter some smokers who are hoping to quit other addictions from seeking help.
Helping smokers kick the habit will save lives and should be applauded. More than 400,000 people die prematurely from cigarettes — more than all other legal and illegal drugs combined.
It is important that public health officials and treatment providers acknowledge that cigarettes — a legal drug — can cause as many health problems as the more demonized illicit drugs. Having a proactive strategy to help people quit is a positive initiative that should be supported.
The second piece of the new law is more problematic. Prohibiting smoking at the treatment centers may sound like a worthwhile public health objective, but it is clear that this policy will discourage some people from seeking treatment. Some people may be seeking treatment for drugs like alcohol, heroin or cocaine, but they may not be ready to quit smoking.
Do we really want to set up barriers and conditions for people that keep them from seeking treatment? Not everyone can or wants to abstain from all drugs all at once. If someone wants to quit heroin, but is not ready to quit cigarettes, we should not discourage them from getting help.
Much of the campaign to help people quit cigarettes is positive and lifesaving. It is smart, cost-effective and humane to offer people free assistance and tools for quitting the harmful habit.
But let’s remove the smoking ban at the treatment centers. We need open doors that encourage people to get help for their problems, and not establish inflexible rules that drive people away from life-saving programs.
While some may desire a more perfect world where people quit all drugs at the same time and never relapse, the reality is that some may need to quit different drugs at different stages and relapse is a common experience. Let’s help people where they are at and not let perfect be the enemy of good.
source: The Buffalo News, http://www.buffalonews.com
News reports state that about a third of learners in the Western Cape alone are binge drinkers with some as young as 10 classified as heavy drinkers.
The death of 11-year-old Roseline Majola in March this year highlighted the alarming rise of alcohol abuse in children and teens. Majola was stoned to death by her friends who were allegedly drunk at the time.
Her friends aged nine to 15 were charged with murder and four were convicted in May and will be sentenced in June.
The most recent statistics available in South Africa is a survey conducted in 2002. Nearly half of all South African learners had used alcohol according to the South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey.
Alcohol usage amongst boys was found to be 56.1% and amongst girls an alarming 43.5%. A further 31.8% said they had used alcohol within the past month and 23% said they had engaged in binge drinking in the month before the survey.
More shocking is that 15.8% boys and 9% girls had their first drink before the age of 13 years.
Izabelle Little, author and co-ordinator of Life Talk, an online forum for teens and parents, says we are facing an alcohol abuse crisis.
"Binge drinking is a huge issue. Every day I get hundreds of e-mails telling heartbreaking stories. Alcohol abuse is leading to tragedies that are avoidable", says Little.
Alcohol abuse in children and teens is a worldwide problem.
According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, 90% of all underage drinking is in the form of binge drinking.
A National Health Service (NHS) report released in the UK earlier this year showed that hospital admissions linked to alcohol have increased by 50% since 1995 and prescriptions for treating alcohol addiction jumped to 20% in the past four years.
An Australian study released in February this year found that ten percent of 12-17 year olds engage in binge drinking in any given week. In 16 – 17-year- olds one in five binge drink on a weekly basis.
In March this year the Australian government embarked on a 53 million dollar campaign against binge drinking.
What is binge drinking?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines binge drinking as the consumption of five or more drinks in one sitting or on one occasion.
Doctor Fourie, regional director of SANCA explains further, "Binge drinking is a pattern of using alcohol in which people intoxicate themselves during weekends or on special occasions."
Why do teens binge drink?
Little says, "We have a culture of drinking in South Africa and teens are a product of the society in which they live."
According to Little teens drink for a number of reasons: alcohol is freely available at parties and clubs; peer pressure – it appears to be the cool thing to do; alcohol advertising is targeted at teens; many teens are bored and alcohol provides a diversion; and some drink to escape from a broken home, poverty or abuse.
The dangers of binge drinking
"Alcohol lowers inhibitions and teens end up doing things they wouldn't normally do. Teens engage in sexual activities, increasing their chances of becoming infected with sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV. Alcohol abuse increases the chances of getting mugged or sexually abused. The abuse of alcohol can also be a gateway to other drug abuse. It can leave life-long scars", says Little.
Dr Fourie explains that binge drinking is extremely unhealthy. "If your blood alcohol level is too high, it affects the brain and could lead to a coma. It also slows down your heartbeat and could be fatal if your blood alcohol level is too high."
Fourie says what makes it even more dangerous for teens are that they tend to drink mixtures of ciders, beers, spirits and wine.
"It is a high-risk drinking pattern that can lead to serious addiction and result in social problems and high-risk behaviour such as engaging in unsafe sex and drunken driving. People can't act and think rationally when they are intoxicated," says Fourie.
The silent scourge
"Parents don't know what's happening. They drop their teens at parties and even night clubs where there is no adult supervision and alcohol is free and flowing. They believe that it won't happen to their child and only find out when they are contacted by a school counsellor, or if something tragic happens," says Little.
Fourie stresses that parents should be cautious about the freedom they give their children.
Little says that society had failed teens by not giving a strong message about the dangers binge drinking holds.
"Teens don't realise how dangerous drinking is. They have the – it-won't-happen-to-me attitude. Children start drinking as young as the age of 10 and by the time they are 14, they are alcoholics.
They think they can cope with their drinking habits, but most of them are in denial of how serious it is," according to Little.
She emphasises that it is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. "The government is aware of the problem and some initiatives have been set in place; however more can be done. Alcohol abuse and underage drinking are only the symptoms of underlying issues. We should start addressing the causes. Parents, schools and communities all have a role to play."
Know the signs
Little advises to look out for the following signs:
* Personality and behavioural changes
* The smell of alcohol
* Signs of a hangover: headaches, red eyes, shivers, throwing up
* Excessive and sudden use of mouthwash and breath mints
* Alcohol is disappearing from your liquor cabinet
* Your liquor has been watered down
* Wild parties, late nights and sleepovers
* The hiding of bottles in bedroom cupboards
"If you suspect your teen has a drinking problem, get help. Seek professional help. Don't try to handle it yourself," says Little.
source: Health 24, http://www.health24.com/
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration underscored its continued support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday despite fresh allegations from a former U.S. anti-drug official that Karzai is playing both sides of the effort to combat a raging drug business.
Thomas Schweich, who until June was one of the State Department's senior counter-narcotics officials, accused Karzai of protecting drug lords for political reasons. Schweich wrote in an article to be published Sunday in The New York Times magazine that "narco-corruption went to the top of the Afghan government."
Schweich said the Taliban-led insurgency fighting Karzai's government profits from drugs, but Karzai is reluctant to move against big drug lords in his political power base in the country's south, where most opium and heroin is produced.
"Karzai was playing us like a fiddle," Schweich wrote. The article appeared on the Times' Web site late Wednesday.
"The U.S. would spend billions of dollars on infrastructure development; the U.S. and its allies would fight the Taliban; Karzai's friends could get richer off the drug trade," he wrote.
State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos did not directly address Schweich's allegations but defended U.S. policy and backing for Karzai.
"We know and understand that there is a corruption issue in Afghanistan but we're working with the sovereign government," Gallegos said Thursday. "President Karzai has shown us through word and deed that he is working with us to help improve the plight of that country."
Corruption is a deeply rooted problem and addressing it, along with the country's massive development need, will not be quick, Gallegos said. "This is a long-term commitment in terms of time and this is a large commitment in terms of dollars."
Afghan officials were not immediately available to respond to Schweich's allegations.
Drug production has skyrocketed since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted the Taliban regime. In 2007, Afghanistan produced 93 percent of the world's supply of opium, the raw material of heroin.
Karzai has repeatedly promised his U.S. backers that he is committed to rooting out endemic corruption and fighting the drug trade.
"Karzai had Taliban enemies who profited from drugs but he had even more supporters who did," wrote Schweich, who used to serve as coordinator for counter-narcotics and justice reform for Afghanistan. He was based in Washington.
Presidential elections in Afghanistan come next year, and Karzai has indicated he'll seek re-election.
Schweich accused the Pentagon and some U.S. generals of obstructing attempts to get military forces to assist and protect opium crop eradication drives.
NATO and U.S. military commanders have been reluctant to get involved in the drug fight, arguing that destroying farmers' crops would alienate tribesmen and increase support for the Taliban.
In 2003, about 198,000 acres of land was used to cultivate poppy. By 2007, it rose to 476,900 acres.
Opium production topped 9,000 tons, enough to make over 880 tons of heroin with a street value of $4 billion, according to the United Nations.
Figures for 2008 are not yet available.
The Ministry of Counter Narcotics says that 20 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces will be poppy-free this year — compared with 13 provinces in 2007. But in the south, cultivation remains rampant.
Governor Cuts Funding To Money-Saving Drug- And Alcohol-Treatment Centers
When the Illinois General Assembly sent Gov. Rod Blagojevich a budget that was $2 billion dollars short on revenue, he had to veto something. So far, the governor has ordered reductions of $1.4 billion.
In Wednesday night's "Truth in Politics" CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports on one program where cuts appeared to be short-sighted. It may, in fact, be the dumbest budget cut ever.
One of the governor's cuts was $55 million in funding for drug- and alcohol-treatment programs that the federal government would have matched penny-for-penny. The cut has forced programs across the state to shut down and many of their tens of thousands of clients are likely to end up in jail, costing taxpayers far more.
At an Alsip site called "A Safe Haven," women trying to kick addiction to drugs and alcohol get enough help that their children can live with them, even if they've previously been taken away. Beginning Monday, though, all 120 of the women and kids there will have to leave.
Demetria Woods said, "not knowing where we're gonna go, what happens next, where will we live, the children … how this affects us is overwhelming.
Anthony Cole, vice president of the Haymarket Center, said, "It means you're gonna have increased homelessness, increased people committing crimes, increased neglect and abuse of children, increased burden on Cook County Hospital, increased burden on mental health institutions, because where else can these people go?"
Haymarket got a letter from the state Wednesday; their award-winning addiction-treatment center is losing nearly $4 million.
Come next Monday, they'll be forced to close half the beds in the detox unit. Recovering cocaine user Porcha James said she is thankful she and her son are already in.
"Without Haymarket and places that provide treatment or recovery, I and my son of 12 would be homeless, I would probably be selling drugs or doing lots of other illegal activity," James said.
"We're going to turn them away at the door. It doesn't make sense. They're going to go back and continue to do drugs and not care about their responsibilities as parents," Cole said.
"A Safe Haven" founder Brian Rowland said, "That's what tears me up. I mean, they can't take care of these kids. These kids are going to end up back in the care of (the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services."
According to a University of Chicago study in 1994, up to 80% of the state's prison population committed crimes related to substance-addiction; $1 spent on addiction-treatment saves at least $7 by reducing crime, child abuse and diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
The Illinois House voted to restore most drug- and alcohol-treatment money, leaving it up to the Illinois Senate to keep the funding in place, but the Senate President Emil Jones has indicated he won't bring senators back until after the November election.
source: (© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Drug-users tend to die young, but we know surprisingly little about those who survive the dangers of overdose or violence to which their lifestyle makes them susceptible. A study of a group of injecting heroin-users in Edinburgh reveals that even those who stop the most dangerous forms of behaviour remain at risk.
Drug-related deaths in Scotland reached a record high in 2006 and a recent report by the UN showed that Scotland has almost twice as many drug-related deaths (at 8.2 per 100,000) as the rest of the UK and comparable European countries. The Edinburgh research, carried out over 10 years from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, found that more than half the users were HIV positive and that Aids-related illness was replacing overdose as the main cause of death. That is largely due to a switch from injecting heroin to oral drugs, both prescribed (including methadone) and illegally-obtained ones. Despite this, however, the overall mortality rate among drug-users and former users will remain high owing to Aids. There are other worries attached to their behaviour, including a high number of sexual partners, with HIV now more likely to be acquired by sexual transmission than by sharing needles.
The study confirms the other bleak long-term effects of drug use. Two-thirds of the group had at least one child, but the majority of the men and 16% of the women did not live with their children, resulting in those who could not be cared for by the other parent going to grandparents, being adopted, fostered or in residential care.
This research (carried out among patients in Muirhouse, an area with a high concentration of deprivation) is published as Audit Scotland is investigating the effectiveness of drugs policy in Scotland, in particular the £12m a year spent on the methadone programme. According to the Edinburgh researchers, however, the decrease in injecting predated the policy of prescribing methadone and they suggest an increase in sentences both for dealers and people found in possession of heroin, which "disrupted an active drug-using community" was an important factor.
Their conclusion, that drug-users require long-term support for a multiplicity of problems, follows a green paper from the Westminster government which suggests that drug addicts on long-term benefits should be required to attend treatment and rehabilitation programmes. That is easier said than done: only 18% of the group abstained completely from drugs during the course of the study, while 21% had periods of abstinence and relapse. At a time when 50,000 people in Scotland have a problem with heroin or other opiates, and proposals on how to reduce associated problems include drug consumption rooms, or "shooting galleries" where intravenous users can inject in a safe environment, a coherent, effective drugs policy is urgently required. This study stands as a warning that there are no short-term solutions.
source: The Herald, http://www.theherald.co.uk
Summer passes all too quickly, and before you know, it will be time for this area's young people to head off to college. Along with all the ''stuff'' they take, we'd like them to take a clear appreciation of the deadly risks of binge drinking.
The Associated Press recently reported on a study it did, showing that 157 college age people drank fatal doses of alcohol between 1999 and 2005, with the annual number of deaths trending upward.
The biggest risk falls on freshmen students out in the world on their own for the first time and eager for new experiences. Out of 18 freshman drinking deaths, 11 occurred in the first semester, an AP analysis of news stories showed.
College students don't drink much more than other adults, but they tend to pack all their drinking into a shorter time span, with weekends and the after-final exam days in December prime examples. Binge drinking is more prevalent among college students than others in the 18 to 22 age range.
A young person's 21st birthday has proven to be a highly risky time for drinking. One birthday practice is to drink 21 shots for a 21st birthday, which proved fatal for 11 young adults, including eight college students, the AP noted.
Some colleges have taken steps to promote awareness of the dangers associated with heavy drinking, and that is commendable. More intensive efforts would likely be useful. The toll of alcohol deaths studied by the AP even included one young woman who had been involved in high school alcohol-awareness programs.
The more reminders to be responsible about drinking, the more likely a young person will absorb the advice and make it part of their own behavior, even when the drinks are flowing freely around them
source: Morning Journal
Many harm reduction advocates believe the real harms are done by drug laws, not drugs - addicts, meanwhile, don't get the rehab they so desperately need
Billy Weselowski has seen it all, and he hates what he sees on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. "You can't go a block without a bicycle pulling up and giving you all the syringes you want," he growls.
Mr. Weselowski knows this world all too well. He grew up here. His childhood was a nightmare of violence and abuse. At 13, he blacked out from booze for the first time, and quickly wound up on the streets. He injected, snorted, stole, pimped women, stabbed men and became an accomplished felon. He was the hardest of the hard core.
Today, he runs rehab programs for drug addicts that borrow from the tough-love model of AA. He has successfully treated thousands of people, using an approach that emphasizes structure, personal responsibility and abstinence.
But this approach to addiction is deeply out of fashion. The experts who make drug policy, allocate public money, dispense research funds, advise politicians and push for reform aren't interested in hearing from people like him. Instead, they're interested in "harm reduction" - which, among other things, means giving people all the syringes they want.
In Mr. Weselowski's view, harm reduction is a farce. "They're killing people by the truckload," he says.
Canada's official drug policy is known as the Four Pillars approach: prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. In practice, prevention and treatment have been neglected, while harm-reduction measures have steadily gained ground. Free needle and methadone programs are now widespread. (The term "needle exchange" is obsolete; needles are now handed out by the boxful.) Hundreds of addicts a day visit Vancouver's supervised injection site, which has become ground zero in an angry war of words.
Yet, harm reduction remains the orthodoxy of the day. "The supervised injection site is beyond questioning," says one Vancouver resident. "You are branded unprogressive, unfeeling and everything else 'un' if you criticize it."
David Marsh, the Vancouver region's medical director for addictions, says harm-reduction policies are often misunderstood. "Essentially, harm reductions are interventions that help reduce the harms associated with drug use, without necessarily requiring that drug use be decreased or stopped." They are a compassionate way to help the most addicted and marginalized of them all, to tide them over until they're able and willing to seek help. "It's part of Canadian tradition not to turn our backs to people at their lowest."
Harm-reduction advocates now rule the drug policy establishment. They dominate Health Canada, addiction research centres, drug policy groups, and the public health services of local governments. Nowhere is this more true than B.C., where social attitudes toward drugs are the most liberal in Canada. Public officials have fought tenaciously for the supervised injection site. For some, it represents a crucial step toward a far more sweeping form of harm reduction - legalization.
Many harm-reduction advocates believe the real harms are done by drug laws, not drugs. Prohibition is impossible, prevention is futile, and abstinence is unattainable for many. Therefore, if we stop criminalizing drugs, we'll get rid of most of the drug problems - the international gangs, the billions wasted on interdiction and enforcement, the crimes committed by addicts who need drug money, the imprisonment for petty drug crimes, and so on.
It's an attractive theory, at least on paper. Drug-law reformers have ideological allies around the world, in think tanks and at major universities. Among them is financier George Soros. Because of his deep pockets, he's been called the Daddy Warbucks of drug legalization.
All of this is spicy stuff. Harm reduction is a hot research field that attracts major money and offers major career opportunities. At Vancouver's international drug conference last year, no one was interested in reactionary things like 12-step programs, rehab or recovery.
The noisy marijuana lobby provides a lot of fuel for this crusade, despite the fact that pot is not the issue. Marijuana use is not what creates the lion's share of crime, public disorder, massive costs to the health system, and ruined lives. The real problem is hard drugs, especially cocaine.
Vancouver's last three mayors have been outspoken advocates for legalizing marijuana (and the source of a certain civic pride for Vancouverites). The current one, Sam Sullivan, has called for medical versions of hard drugs to be available to addicts. The city's official drug policy calls for the federal government to legalize marijuana, and also to review its prohibition policies for other illegal drugs.
Three years ago, B.C.'s public health officers - the same ones who've cracked down on smoking - released a detailed report calling for "government controlled supply" for formerly illegal drugs. "Harm-reduction strategies have not been as effective as possible due to their implementation within the prohibition model." It laid out an ambitious model for "post-prohibition harm reduction," where the government, guided by its wise public health officers, would supervise the production and distribution of legal heroin and crack.
Cuckoo? Not so much. Top health officials in B.C. already endorse the use of medical heroin, and a trial program has just wound up. Some of them belong to groups lobbying for legalization, and least one influential official is a vocal advocate for the benefits of psychedelic drug use.
Not surprisingly, the group that runs Insite, Vancouver's safe-injection site, stridently opposes current drug laws, as does the publicly funded drug users' lobby, VANDU. These two groups are notorious for the noisy lengths they go to in order to silence their critics. They're also good at high-profile PR stunts, such as the recent demonstration on Parliament Hill where they planted 868 wooden crosses to symbolize the 868 people who overdosed at Insite.
"Insite was about people dying - friends and neighbours!" spokesman Mark Townsend told me in an interview. In fact, the research found that Insite averts around one overdose death a year, not 868. When asked about this discrepancy, Mr. Townsend brushed it off as irrelevant.
Given the current government in Ottawa, it's unlikely that the push for legalization will make headway any time soon. There's also another obstacle: the public. Health officials have faced citizen revolts in cities where people don't want free needles passed out in their neighbourhoods.
Sadly, all this theatre has deprived Canadians of a genuine debate over drug policy. The question isn't whether Insite is good or bad. The question is what steps we can take that really will reduce the harm drugs do.
Despite the shouting, it's not too hard to guess where the moderate majority stands on drugs. They don't want people prosecuted for smoking a little weed. (After all, plenty of them do it, too.) But hard drugs are different. We don't want to decriminalize them. But we also don't want to punish addicts by throwing them in jail. We want a humane drug policy that will help them get better - and if that means giving them a choice between rehab or jail, then maybe that's okay.
So maybe what we need is not more Insites but more Billy Weselowskis - people who can give drug addicts a shot at dignity and a life. Mr. Weselowski knows that even hard-core junkies can recover. After all, he did. "We help get them connected to a spark of hope inside their soul."
source: The Globe and Mail, http://www.theglobeandmail.com
ALBANY — Members of a new panel tackling how to handle the growing underage-drinking problem said today that one priority should be making sure parents understand the risks of letting their children consume alcohol, particularly in the home.
Alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice for youth in America, and more than 75 percent of high-school students have had alcohol by the time they graduate, according to officials with the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. More than half of 12th graders and a fifth of eighth graders have been drunk at least once. About 823,000 New Yorkers under 21 drink each year.
"We know that 50 percent of the kids in grades 7 through 12 had a drink last month. For some of them -- their one and only drink. For others, the start of their drinking, the start of their drugging, the start of the addiction," said Karen Carpenter-Palumbo, commissioner of alcoholism and substance abuse services.
Underage drinking costs more than $3 billion a year in New York -- in youth injuries, deaths, crashes, fetal-alcohol syndrome, fights, poisonings, property crime, rapes and other areas, she said.
One of the 21-member panel's charges will be to look at social-host legislation that was proposed by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Carpenter-Palumbo said. The bill would prohibit anyone 18 or older who owns, rents or controls a private residence from allowing underage drinking on their property. The penalties would be $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second, and $1,000 and/or up to a year in prison the third time. The legislation, which passed in the Senate but died in the Assembly this year, would not affect local social-host laws, which have been considered around the state.
A study by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration concluded that more than 40 percent of the country's estimated 10.8 million current underage drinkers (youth between 12 and 20 who drank in the past month) were provided free alcohol by adults 21 or older. The report also found that one in 16 underage drinkers (650,000) was given alcohol by a parent in the past month.
New York should pass a social-host law not only because of the number of underage youth who consume alcohol in their homes, but also the aftermath of their drinking, said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn, who is sponsoring legislation on the issue. Ortiz said he has heard the argument that parents should be able to allow drinking in their own homes, but the stakes are too high not to strengthen penalties for doing that.
"I respect parents who say that but I think parents have to also understand that we have a job to do and if they don't know how to take the responsibility, government will," he said.
Council member Frank V. Ciaccia, assistant county manager and the Stop-DWI coordinator in Genesee County, said it's important to focus on parents because they have such influence over the behavior of their children.
Genesee County has an underage-drinking tip line to notify police about parties that are underway or being planned. Members of the panel discussed whether there should be just one hotline statewide, since many communities don't have their own, but Ciaccia said local hotlines should continue. People feel more comfortable talking to a law-enforcement official familiar with the address.
The State Police have a hotline to report illegal purchase or consumption of alcohol by underage drinkers. The number is 866-UNDER21, and calls are referred to law-enforcement agencies around the state.
Stefan Kalogridis, president of the Eastern New York Liquor Stores Association, said his group supports the state's efforts to curb children's access to alcohol. The state's liquor retailers are often faced with people using or trying to use fake IDs and buyers who purchase alcohol and give it to minors.
The association is hoping to launch a program this fall that would provide owners of liquor stores with discounts on scanners. Many are small mom-and-pop businesses that may not have the ability to buy the equipment at full price, Kalogridis said.
WASHINGTON -- Tobacco companies have manipulated menthol levels to attract young cigarette smokers and keep older ones, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported Wednesday.
Their finding, with which industry spokesmen disagree, is based on a review of more than 500 internal tobacco-industry documents dated from 1985 through 2007.
The documents showed, according to the researchers, that tobacco companies studied how controlling levels of menthol could increase brand sales.
They concluded that new and young smokers liked mild menthol that masked the harshness of tobacco smoke. Veteran smokers, the companies are said to have concluded, favored stronger doses of menthol for its cooling effects on their throats.
The findings come as Congress weighs whether to grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products, including additives, at the national level. The bill would let the FDA ban all cigarette flavorings except menthol. If FDA tests of menthol showed that it added to the health risks of smoking, the agency could ban menthol, too.
No conclusive evidence shows menthol cigarettes to be more harmful than conventional ones, said Terry Pechacek, associate director of the Office of Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 44% of smokers aged 12 to 17 reported smoking menthol cigarettes. Among smokers older than 35, 31% smoked them.
According to the Harvard study's lab tests of menthol concentrations in cigarettes since 2000, menthol went down in brands that young people preferred, such as Newport, Salem Black Label and Kool Milds. It went up in brands such as Marlboro Menthol, which were aimed at older smokers.
The report says that in 2000, Philip Morris launched Marlboro Milds with a lower concentration of menthol to attract young smokers. That same year, according to the report, Philip Morris increased the menthol in Marlboro Menthol to attract older smokers.
Behind the moves, the researchers assert, was an effort to woo new smokers. Their report cites, among others, a 1987 R.J. Reynolds document that suggests menthol can make it easier to get started. "Initial negatives can be alleviated with a low level of menthol," it says.
According to the researchers' report, a rapid introduction of milder menthol brands in the past decade violates a provision in the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 between tobacco companies and state governments that prohibits them from directly or indirectly targeting youths.
"They are going after the most vulnerable population," said Gregory Connolly, a coauthor of the report and director of Harvard's Tobacco Control Research Program.
Michael Robinson, a spokesman for Lorillard Tobacco Co., called the report "a politically motivated lobbying tool."
"Lorillard does not control levels of menthol to promote smoking among adolescents and young adults," he said in a statement. "Lorillard does not engineer any of its cigarettes to promote smoking initiation or nicotine addiction."
source: Detroit Free Press
Growing numbers of hospital patients are being treated for liver disease due to alcohol abuse, a Dublin specialist has warned. Prof John Crowe, director of the Centre For Liver Disease in the Mater Hospital, revealed the hidden toll of heavy drinking: over a seven-year period, the number of hospital patients discharged after diagnosis with drink-related liver disease went up by 234pc.
He pointed out that statistics showing Irish people are downing more units per head means we are out of step with most other European states, where consumption is falling.
"Significantly, the annual advertising spend on sport sponsorship is not available," he added.
"From a medical perspective, the effects of excess alcohol consumption can be divided into acute and long-term injury."
A&E departments are left to cope with patients suffering coma, physical injury, self harm including suicide attempts, psychiatric disturbance and withdrawal syndromes due to alcohol abuse.
"Between 1995 and 2002, annual alcohol-related admission and discharges increased from 9,254 to 17,378, which is a 92pc rise.
"Significantly, the discharge diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease has increased by 234pc, from 705 cases in 1995 to a total of 1,745 in 2004.
"This increase is highly significant because it illustrates the emerging burden of chronic alcoholic liver injury that exists within the community," he wrote in the Irish Medical Times. It usually remains undetected until significant complications leading to irreversible liver damage has occurred.
His own experience in the Matter has shown that internal hospital referrals of patients with advanced alcoholic liver disease increased from six cases in 1996 to 114 in 2006. Men outnumber women by two to one and the average age is 50 years.
Over the same time, discharges with a diagnosis of alcoholic cirrhosis rose by nearly 300%.
source: Independent ie, http://www.independent.ie/
State's only public treatment system says 93% of patients aren't using other opiates
A client of the Charleston Center of Charleston County takes a dose of methadone.
When he tried to quit using OxyContin, heroin and other opiates cold turkey, Ken S. said the pain was so great he felt it in the marrow of his bones.
Ken, 40, who chose not to give his last name so he could remain anonymous, said that about a year ago he landed on the doorstep of the Charleston Center of Charleston County, a drug and alcohol treatment program that runs the state's only public methadone program.
He had been abusing opiates since he chugged a bottle of codeine cough syrup at 10 years old. And he was at the end of a two-year spree of heavy abuse of prescription opiates and heroin that left him in fear of losing his job and his family.
He was so out of control, Ken said, that he physically and verbally abused his wife as his child watched. "My 9-year-old son was scared of me," he said.
Ken was so ashamed of what he'd done that he tried to stop using the drugs, but the withdrawal symptoms were unbearable. He found himself doubled over and vomiting in the shower as nearly scalding water washed over him.
"It was disgusting," he said. He knew then that he desperately needed help.
He remembered hearing that a former girlfriend, who also was an opiate addict, had participated in a methadone program and was successful getting off the drugs.
So, Ken showed up at the Charleston Center. It was his last hope, he said, "the last house on the block."
Ken said he hasn't abused drugs in about a year. And he takes the methadone only as prescribed.
He's rebuilding his life with the help of the methadone program, which includes counseling and regular drug screening. He also is part of a 12-step recovery program. For the first time in many years, Ken said, he can think about doing things to help others instead of simply thinking about himself and planning to get more drugs.
He's aware of the stigma surrounding methadone programs, how they conjure images of homeless junkies injecting themselves with heroin.
Ken is employed, middle class, married and has never used a needle. He thinks the negative stereotype keeps other addicts from seeking the help they need.
Methadone, a long-acting synthetic opiate, has been used to treat heroin and other opiate addicts since the 1960s. Some addicts treated with methadone gradually decrease their dosage until they are drug-free while others stay on it for decades. They don't get high from methadone, and are able to function normally, including holding jobs.
According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, methadone is a rigorously well-tested medication that is safe and efficacious for the treatment of narcotic withdrawal and dependence.
Still, it remains controversial with the public and among some alcohol and drug treatment professionals who believe that only abstinence-based programs are effective.
Dr. Jack Emmel, medical director of the Charleston Center, winces when people ask him whether treating heroin and other opiate addicts with methadone is simply trading one drug for another.
When it comes to opiate addiction, he said, "you'll find no program that has the success rate of a good methadone program."
Addiction to shorter-acting opiates, which include heroin, OxyContin, Lortab and Vicodin, severely alters a person's brain chemistry, he said, while methadone stabilizes it.
Methadone, however, doesn't work quickly. It takes many months, even a year in some cases, for an addict's brain chemistry to return to normal, Emmel said.
Addicts who attempt to stop using opiates too quickly experience severe withdrawal symptoms and are likely to return to abusing the drugs, he said. Ninety percent of such addicts who stop cold turkey, even those whose withdrawal is medically supervised, relapse, he said.
Ed Johnson, program administrator for the center's opiate treatment program, said patients who use methadone fare better.
The center's random drug tests have found that 93 percent of patients who are using methadone aren't using any other opiates. And 65 percent aren't using any other drugs. Those rates indicate that the methadone program is more successful than most drug treatment programs, not just programs for opiate addiction, he said.
Johnson said the stigma surrounding methadone programs has worsened after some recent highly publicized drug overdose deaths involving methadone and other drugs.
Methadone also is used as a painkiller, he said, so it ends up on the street. But most addicts use it only when no other opiates are available. It doesn't give them a good high, but it holds off painful withdrawal symptoms, he said.
Johnson and Emmel said the center's staff thinks gradually decreasing the dosage of methadone and becoming drug-free or staying on the drug long-term are both viable options.
"A person whose methadone dose is adjusted properly is 100 percent functional," Emmel said. And some people can't get off it, just as some people with diabetes can't eliminate the need for insulin by changing their diets and exercising.
The center serves about 250 patients in the methadone program, Johnson said. They are all different ages and come from all walks of life. Fewer than half use needles. Most abuse prescription drugs.
The state has 10 private methadone programs, including one in Charleston.
The Center's program is self-supporting, and patients pay about $13 per day, Johnson said. That includes methadone and counseling. Without counseling, most patients would likely relapse, he said.
Ken says that's true for him. In the year he's been on methadone, he's been "working full-throttle on recovery," he said. He's been decreasing his dosage of methadone over the past several months, and expects to be off of it and completely drug-free by mid-August.
source: Charleston Post and Courier, http://www.charleston.net
New research into the selling of drugs online has found that while the number of sites offering drugs has declined for the first time since the study began in 2004, overall availability is still too high.
Researchers at the Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) spent 210 hours online researching companies selling drugs to consumers and found 365 sites this year, compared to 581 over the same period last year.
“This decline in the number of Web sites advertising or selling controlled prescription drugs may reflect efforts of federal and state agencies and financial institutions to crack down on Internet drug trafficking. Nevertheless, in spite of those efforts, anyone of any age can obtain dangerous and addictive prescription drugs with the click of a mouse,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.
“This problem is not going away. It is morphing into different outlets for controlled prescription drug trafficking like Internet script mills and membership sites that sell lists of online pharmacies, and different payment methods like eChecks, COD and money orders.”
The study found that 90 per cent of sites sold benzodiazepines (like Xanax and Valium), with 57 per cent selling opioids (like Vicodin and OxyContin), and stimulants (like Ritalin and Adderall) available at 27 percent of sites.
Overall 85 per cent of sites did not demand a prescription for the drugs, and half of those that did only required the prescription to be faxed, which makes forgery easier.
Most of the drug sites were located outside the United States, although almost a quarter are registered in the country. Worryingly the geographical location of over a third of the sites proved impossible to determine.
The group called for mandatory regulation and certification of internet drug sites, with an original prescription required and search engines should block all unregistered sites.
On the morning after the house party on Johnson Street, Jenna Foellmi and several other twentysomethings lay sprawled on the beds and couches. When a friend reached out to wake her, Foellmi was cold to the touch.
The friend's screams woke up the others still asleep in the house.
Foellmi, a 20-year-old biochemistry major at Winona State University, died of alcohol poisoning on Dec. 14, one day after she had finished her last exam of the semester. According to police reports, she had three beers during the day, then played beer pong — a drinking game — in the evening, and downed some vodka, too.
Foellmi's death was tragic, but typical in many ways.
An Associated Press analysis of federal records found that 157 college-age people, 18 to 23, drank themselves to death from 1999 through 2005, the most recent year for which figures are available. The number of alcohol-poisoning deaths per year rose from 18 in 1999 to 35 in 2005.
Over the seven-year span, 83 of the college-age victims were, like Foellmi, under the drinking age of 21.
"There have always been problems with young people and alcohol, but it just seems like they are a little more intense now than they used to be," said Connie Gores, vice president for student life at Winona State. "The goal of a lot of them is just to get smashed."
A separate AP analysis of hundreds of news articles about alcohol-poisoning deaths in the past decade found that victims drank themselves well past the point of oblivion — with an average blood-alcohol level of 0.40 percent, or five times the legal limit for driving. In nearly every case, friends knew the victim was drunk and put him or her to bed to "sleep it off."
"Her friends were with her. It's not like they just left her alone," said Jenna's mother, Kate Foellmi. "She went to bed and she was snoring. She just didn't wake up."
Schools and communities have responded in a variety of ways, including programs to teach incoming freshmen the dangers of extreme drinking; designating professors to help students avoid overdoing it; and passing laws to discourage binge drinking.
Charges were filed in about 40 percent of the cases in which outcomes of criminal investigations were known — most often against fraternity members or others who obtained alcohol for someone underage. There were a few hazing charges. In most cases, plea bargains were reached and the penalties included fines, probation or community service. Jail time was rare.
The federal data showed deaths spiking on weekends — when young people are more likely to go out with the goal of getting drunk — and in December, when college students wrap up finals. Most of the dead were young men.
College students on average drink only a little more than adults in a typical week or month, said Scott Walters, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas. But college students "tend to save the drinks up and drink them all at once."
The federal figures do not indicate whether a victim was a student or not. But the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that adults ages 18 to 22 in college full-time are more likely to binge-drink than those not in school.
AP's analysis of news articles found freshmen at greatest risk, with 11 of 18 freshmen deaths occurring during the first semester.
Walters said one reason is that freshmen are on their own for the first time and trying new things. Also, there is a mentality that "if you're under 21 and someone's got alcohol, you've got to drink it, because you never know when somebody's going to have it again."
One practice — drinking 21 shots on a 21st birthday — has proven especially lethal. Of the college-age deaths that made news, 11 people, including eight college students, died while celebrating their 21st birthdays.
"The 21st birthday we knew was coming. We didn't know about the 21-shot thing," said Cindy McCue, who lost her son Bradley, a junior at Michigan State University, in 1998 after he downed 24 drinks in less than two hours.
The McCue family started a nonprofit organization nearly 10 years ago called Be Responsible About Drinking, or B.R.A.D., to teach young people about the dangers. The foundation created birthday cards reminding those turning 21 to celebrate responsibly.
Some universities are trying to send the same message with Web sites and programs that feature slogans such as "Remember Last Night."
San Diego State has a Web site that lets students punch in information about their drinking habits and learn about the risks. Winona State is starting an online course to teach incoming freshmen the dangers of excessive drinking.
Forty professors at Fresno State in California have taken a pledge to learn about the effects of alcohol misuse and advise students. The professors' names are on posters around campus. Other universities have banned or restricted alcohol advertising and sponsorships in athletics.
Minnesota passed a law that blocks people turning 21 from being served alcohol until 8 a.m. on the day of their birthday — a measure aimed at stopping customers who turn legal at midnight from drinking as much as they can before closing time. Other states have similar laws.
In the case of Bradley McCue, who went out at midnight when he turned 21, the bartender kept serving him, even though he was obviously intoxicated, his mother said. The bar owner was charged with supplying alcohol to an intoxicated person and other counts. The owner agreed to pay $50,000 in fines and costs, close for 30 days, and retrain employees.
Jenna Foellmi worked to put herself through school, made the dean's list one semester and was a high school member of Students Against Destructive Decisions, according to her mother.
"She was the one we never had to worry about," Kate Foellmi said. "I remember calling her up and saying, `I am just so proud of you. I'm so glad you have your head screwed on straight.'"
On the morning of Dec. 13, the young woman finished a physics final and called her mom, screaming: "I passed!" She told her mother she was going to go have a beer.
"I said, `You deserve one,'" Kate Foellmi recalled.
Exactly how much Jenna drank that night isn't clear. The coroner did not release her blood-alcohol level, saying only that it was "not compatible with life."
source: Associated Press
The brain scientists who brought VH1 "Celebrity Rehab" are lobbying for a spinoff called "Sober Living."
The show, which would be a cross between "Surreal Life" and "The Real World," would put a number of "Celebrity Rehab" alumni together in a luxurious Beverly Hills mansion for 30 days while they try to rebuild their careers without drugs and alcohol.
Like "Celebrity Rehab," the new show would prominently feature Dr. Drew Pinsky ("Loveline"), who oversees the celebs during their stints in televised rehab.
Filming on the show could begin as early as next week, although VH1 has yet to give the project a thumbs up.
Among those approached by producers to appear on "Sober Living" allegedly have been members from the latest cast of "Rehab" residents, former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler, model/actress Amber Smith and last season's resident, Seth "Shifty" Binzer the lead singer of the rock band, Crazytown.
Many drug rehab centers offer comprehensive care for patients after they leave treatment - ranging from 12-step programs to regular monitoring. "Celebrity Rehab" attempting to offer some kind of follow up for its patients is not a shock, although turning it into a TV show open only to those residents invited back by producers is a bit surprising.
The cast of the most current edition of "Celebrity Rehab" was released from their 21-day stint on the wagon last Saturday. The new season is slated to begin airing on Aug. 4.
On the show, washed-up stars check into a Pasadena, Calif. drug and alcohol clinic and are filmed participating in therapy and socializing with other troubled members of the cast.
Last season even featured former "Taxi" star Jeff Conaway going through detox.
A VH1 spokeswoman said that network does not comment on shows that may or may not be in development.
source: New York Post