Articles pertaining to Addiction, preferably changes in Legislation ( Federal and State), and any changes in Rules and Regulations governing "Narcotic Treatment Programs". Please feel free to send me any information you feel is relevant regarding Addiction. Please check weekly under Membership for Active Alerts and Member's Updates. Thank You.
|The mu opioid receptor genes that carried the A118G variation (such variations in genes are called single-nucleotide polymorphisms) produced less mRNA than did the genes without the variant.|
In addition, the A118G change caused a ten-fold increase in protein production
inside the hamster ovary cells.
We want to congratulate Wolfgang Sadee
along with colleagues at Ohio State.
Scientists have learned how a genetic variation long suspected in making some people susceptible to alcoholism and narcotic drug addiction actually does so.
In laboratory studies, this variation greatly reduced the amount of protein that the DNA in a cell produced.
It's the difference in protein expression that may make receptors on certain brain cells much more vulnerable to the effects of addictive drugs, said Wolfgang Sadee, the study's lead author, professor and chair of pharmacology and director of the pharmacogenomics program at Ohio State University. These particular receptors, called mu opioid receptors, serve as a molecular docking station for narcotic drugs and alcohol.
Until now it wasn't clear exactly what about this genetic variation, called A118G, would increase a person's chances of developing a drug addiction. (A118G is a variation in what researchers call the mu opioid receptor gene.)
While Sadee and his team didn't look at the interaction between narcotics and the mu opioid receptor, they suspect that differences in protein production may leave brain cells with these receptors more open to the effects of drugs.
“The real significance of this work is that one day, we may be able to tailor treatments for addiction based on how a person's genes behave,” said Sadee, who is also chair of pharmacology at Ohio State .
he researchers studied brain tissue samples taken from the cerebral cortex and the pons of human cadavers. The pons is a cluster of nerve fibers on the front of the brainstem, and it's responsible for relaying sensory messages from the spinal cord to the cerebellum. The cerebral cortex is a thin layer of tissue that covers the surface of the cerebral hemisphere; it is responsible for processes such as thought, memory, motor function and social abilities.
The researchers studied these particular brain tissues because both are rich in cells that have mu opioid receptors. Opioids are pain-relieving medications or illegal drugs that can be quite addictive, and these receptors in brain cells serve as a target for narcotic drugs. The interaction between narcotics and the receptors stops a person from feeling pain and also triggers the sensations of craving, reward and expectation that addicts often experience.
The researchers extracted and analyzed DNA and RNA from the brain tissues. They then injected the genetic material into ovary cells from Chinese hamsters. They could then measure the changes in the regulation and processing of messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA carries instructions from the DNA inside a cell's nucleus to the rest of the cell, telling the cell that it's time to make more protein.
Surprisingly, the mu opioid receptor genes that carried the A118G variation (such variations in genes are called single-nucleotide polymorphisms) produced less mRNA than did the genes without the variant. In addition, the A118G change caused a ten-fold decrease in protein production inside the hamster ovary cells.
The mu opioid receptor gene is the first of 20 or so genes implicated in drug addiction that Sadee and his colleagues want to study. Those other genes may play a role in addiction to various drugs, including alcohol and nicotine.
“Drug addiction is a complex disorder, one that has a strong genetic component,” Sadee said. “It's very hard to prove that there is a causative link between one polymorphism and addiction. But the current study provides strong evidence that there is.”
Sadee conducted the study with Ohio State colleagues Ying Zhang, Danxin Wang, Andrew Johnson and Audrey Papp.
The work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Ohio State University
| H.R. 1528|
The Safe Access To
Drug Treatment and
Act Of 2005 ----
Most Absurd and
You've Been Drafted: Uncle Sam Wants You for the War on Drugs
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
I want to thank the over 4,400 people who have sent emails to their Representatives opposing Congressman Sensenbrenner's draconian mandatory minimum sentencing bill. This bill is now garnering national attention.
This bill would have serious consequences for our democracy, requiring you to spy on all your neighbors, including going undercover and wearing a wire if needed. Refusing to become a spy for the government would be punishable by a mandatory prison sentence of at least two years.
We need your help to fight this bill, including your ideas.
We alerted you last week to the bill, entitled "Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2005" (H.R. 1528). Thousands of you have faxed Congress in opposition to the bill and we've already raised $2,000 online to fight it. Thank you!
We already told you about many of the terrible provisions in this legislation, but we are especially concerned about a section of the bill that turns every American into an agent of the state. Here's how it works:
If you "witness" certain drug offenses taking place or "learn" that they took place you would have to report the offense to law enforcement within 24 hours and provide "full assistance" in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of the people involved. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a mandatory two year prison sentence.
Here are some examples of offenses you would have to report to the police within 24 hours: You see someone you know pass a joint to a 20-year old college student. Your cousin mentions that he bought Ecstasy for some of his college friends. You find out that your brother, who has kids, recently bought a small amount of marijuana to share with his wife. Your substance-abusing daughter recently begged her boyfriend to find her some drugs even though they're both in drug treatment.
In each of these cases you face jail time if you don't call the police within 24 hours. It doesn't matter if the offender is your friend or relative. It also doesn't matter if you need 48 hours to think about it. You have to report the person to the government within 24 hours or go to jail. You also have to assist the government in every way, including wearing a wire if needed. Refusing to cooperate would cost you at least two years in prison (possibly up to ten). In addition to turning family member against family member, the legislation could also put many Americans into dangerous situations by forcing them to go undercover to gain evidence against strangers.
This is what we're up against in Congress and, as I told you last week, it's not going to be easy. Sensenbrenner, the chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee, usually gets what he wants. Lots of people are afraid to challenge him. But we have a duty to our children to stop our country from turning into a police state. I'm sure you feel this duty, as well.
Here's what you can do:If you haven't already, please e-mail your member of Congress. Send us your creative ideas. How can we galvanize the American people against this bill? Email email@example.com . If you didn't give money last week, please give today. Even $25 goes a long way (for instance, $25 will allow 100 voters to fax their members of Congress in opposition to this bill.) Submit a letter-to-the-editor to your local paper urging your member of Congress to oppose the bill. Send this email to everyone you know. Unless tens of thousands of Americans speak up this bill could become law. It's already passed out of subcommittee. The sponsor is now trying to line up the votes he needs to get it out of the full committee. From there it goes to the floor for a full House vote.
The provision that would turn Americans into spies is not the only thing wrong with this bill. I have tried to link you to legislation but for some reason it will connect you. If you really want to read H.R. 1528; there is no way but to type the URL address in your browser. Personally, I think they want you to give up when the link fails to take you there but lets show them we are more persistent than they thought. Type in the URL Address below then follow instructions.
http://www.thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/query H.R. 1528
Director of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance
We support Drug Policy Alliance. We are active members. Please take time to read the full text of HR 1528. We need all of you to get involved. If you can help in any way -please send money to help Drug Policy Alliance fight the HR 1528. It is a must read to believe!!! You still will have trouble believing what you read! If it passes - we will in be in trouble - there will be nothing but chaos.
| H.R. 1582 The Safe|
Access To Drug Treatment
and Child Protection Act
LET THE SICK USE MARIJUANA
The Supreme Court Kicked the Issue to Congress, Which Now Should Act.
The Supreme Court has spoken on the subject of medical marijuana. Federal authorities can prosecute sick people for using the drug, the court ruled Monday, even in states with laws that make medicinal use legal. But just because Washington can prosecute, that doesn't mean it should.
In deciding against two California women who sued after the Drug Enforcement Administration busted them for using locally grown marijuana to relieve symptoms of a variety of conditions, the court said it's up to Congress, or the president, to move medical marijuana beyond the reach of federal drug law. Congress should do it. There's no good reason to thwart the will of the people in the nine states where voters, or their legislative representatives, have approved the use of marijuana to relieve the debilitating nausea and wasting of chronic illness.
Rep. Barney Frank ( D-Mass. ) has been trying for 10 years to move Congress to direct federal law enforcement officials to stand down. He has reintroduced his states' rights to medical marijuana bill in the House again this year - with 30 co-sponsors. "People are kind of afraid of it," Frank said of his colleagues. The lawmakers should find a little spine.
The high court tossed the ball to Congress after ruling reluctantly that, given the current state of the law, it cannot justify barring the prosecutions of medical marijuana users under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
The only issue before the court was whether the Constitution's commerce clause, which authorizes Congress to regulate interstate trade, applied even though the marijuana in question was neither commercially traded nor moved across state lines. Tortured, but well established, court precedents said that it does, because there is "a rational basis" for concluding that marijuana, even though intended for home consumption, "has a substantial effect on supply and demand in the national market for that commodity." That's a stretch.
Diane Monson has a painful degenerative spine disease. The DEA, in an August 2002 raid, confiscated six marijuana plants that she had grown for her own consumption. Angel Raich, who has a brain tumor and scoliosis, got her marijuana free of charge from a friend. It's difficult to see how circumstances such as theirs could significantly impact the national supply or demand for marijuana.
Afflicting the sick is no way to wage war on drugs.
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake
Check Bits and Pieces (Third Section) located at the top of the page for more information on the issue. Please send any comments you have on the ruling.
Note: About the writer --------- Maia Szalavitz is the author of the forthcoming
book "Tough Love America: How the 'Troubled Teen' Industry Cons Parents and
Hurts Kids" (Riverhead, 2005). She has also written for the New York Times,
Elle, Redbook and other publications.
The Bush Administration Is Considering Imposing a Gag Rule on U.S.-Funded
Groups That Provide Clean Needles to Addicts, Despite Their Huge Success in
Preventing the Spread of HIV.
March 24, 2005 - Sexual behavior is one of the most difficult human
behaviors to alter, and the tragedy of the ongoing global HIV pandemic
reflects the enormous complexity of that effort.
But one cause of HIV transmission is far easier to remedy than unprotected
sex: intravenous drug use with contaminated needles.
Unfortunately, the United States is now trying to block the most effective method for fighting needle-transmitted AIDS -- distributing clean needles to addicts -- by pressuring the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to suppress data showing the success of needle-exchange programs and by considering an international "gag" rule on AIDS groups that work with needle users and receive American funding. This would be tragic even if clean-needle programs saved only the lives of drug users, but they can have a far greater impact on the epidemic if instituted quickly enough.
Contrary to popular stereotype, it's far easier to get an addict to use a clean needle than it is to get a man to use a condom, so containing HIV among addicts also massively reduces risk of later sexual and mother-to-child transmission. I should know, because as a woman and a former I.V. drug user, I first wrote about this issue 15 years ago for the Village Voice, in an effort to debunk myths that were being used way back then to block needle exchange.
My argument at the time was based on some suggestive data, my own experience and common sense, but now there is overwhelming scientific evidence to favor these programs.
It breaks my heart that more than ever before, politics is overshadowing science at the cost of so many lives.
While some countries with large HIV epidemics among heterosexuals (most-notably Uganda) have reduced its prevalence to 5-10 percent, the numbers
infected are stabilizing, not declining.
In such heterosexual epidemics, for each person who dies, someone else is
newly infected to take his or her place. And in many nations, heterosexual
infection rates are still climbing. In the United States there is some evidence of an unfortunate resurgence in HIV infections among gay men. Both heterosexually and homosexually transmitted infections continue to plague minority communities, with HIV rates among African-Americans doubling between 1988-1994 and 1999-2002. In those cases, the opportunity to fight HIV with clean needles either was lost or never existed.
In 1989, Congress, led by Senator Jesse Helms, banned federal funding for
needle exchange in this country, which essentially allowed HIV to get a
foothold in our minority communities. But in many other parts of the world,
particularly in the former Soviet Union and Asia, HIV is still mainly transmitted by drug use. For example, 75 percent of new infections in Russia and more than half of those in China result directly from I.V. drug use. In these epidemics, in which heterosexual and pediatric cases overwhelmingly begin with transmission from addicts, even a moderately effective intervention with addicts done early can have major effects. Providing sterile syringes to addicts to fight HIV is not just moderately
In fact, it may be the best-supported intervention in all of public health.
In 2004, the World Health Organization conducted a review of more than 200
studies on the issue, and concluded that "there is compelling evidence that
increasing the availability and utilization of sterile injecting equipment
by [I.V. drug users] reduces HIV infection substantially ... There is no
convincing evidence of any major, unintended negative consequences."
Alex Wodak, director of the Drug and Alcohol Service at St. Vincent's
Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and the author of the WHO review, says, "I
find it incredible that a major country was prepared to go to war on flimsy
evidence that we now know was wrong but is not prepared to save the lives
of its own citizens when the evidence is as strong as it gets in public
health." In New York state, for example, which spends $1 million annually
on syringe exchange and has also decriminalized pharmacy sales of needles,
infection rates among I.V. drug users dropped from 50 percent or higher in
the early '90s to 10-20 percent in 2002. At the peak of the HIV epidemic in
New York, at least two-thirds of heterosexual and pediatric infections
resulted from sex with I.V. drug users.
In 2003, by contrast, there were just five HIV-infected babies born in New
York, compared with 321 at the epidemic's peak. While some of this success
is due to medications used to prevent transmission from mother to child,
infection rates among mothers are also down, having decreased by almost
half between 1990 and 1999. In fact, the much publicized "down low"
transmission from African-American bisexual men to women has become a
larger factor in the epidemic in New York only because drug-related
infections (outside prisons) have declined.
Incredibly, conservatives in Congress, led by Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., are
considering a needle-exchange version of the abortion gag rule, which
prevents U.S.-funded international aid organizations from mentioning
abortion to pregnant women.
This new move could stop American-funded groups from even telling
intravenous drug users that they should use clean needles, let alone where
to get them -- at a stage in the epidemic when clean needles would be
maximally effective in preventing indirect, as well as direct, transmission
in many countries.
The United States is already alone among developed countries in refusing to
fund syringe-swap programs here or abroad.
And rather than recognize the success of states like New York that fund
their own programs, the president wants to export its failed and disastrous
In yet another example of its attempts to suppress science that does not support its ideology, the Bush administration recently threatened the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime with loss of funding if it did not remove from its literature and Web site supportive information about needle exchange and other "harm reduction" programs for addicts that do not demand complete, immediate abstinence from drugs.
The United States is the major financial supporter of UNODC.
After a meeting with a U.S. State Department official last November, UNODC
Director Antonio Maria Costa promised to "review" its statements on the subject, saying the organization would now "neither endorse needle exchange as a solution for drug abuse nor support public statements advocating such practices."
Only months earlier, Costa had made the opposite pronouncement: "The HIV/AIDS epidemic among injecting drug users can be stopped -- and even reversed -- if drug users are provided, at an early stage and on a large scale,with comprehensive services such as outreach, provision of clean injecting equipment and a variety of treatment modalities, including substitution treatment [like methadone]."
He added that fewer than 5 percent of the world's I.V. drug users have access to such help, and he went on to criticize countries that incarcerate large numbers of addicts because this increases HIV rates.
That last bit likely was a sensitive point, since America has the largest documented prison population in the world.
It's enough to make a former I.V. drug user like me think about shooting up again. At a meeting of the 48th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria, in early March, Costa did make at least a modest attempt to stand up to American pressure, saying that needle exchanges are "appropriate as long as they are part of a comprehensive strategy to battle the overall drug problem."
Nonetheless, American Drug Czar John Walters reiterated U.S. opposition to needle exchange in his speech to the group.
Japan was our only public
ally--with all of Europe.
While China did not explicitly
speak up for needle exchange,
with 70 percent of its HIV
infections linked to I.V. drug
use, it is experimenting with
such programs and argued passionately for other harm-reduction measures like methadone maintenance.
Though support of needle exchange by human rights groups, who raised the
issue before the meeting started, may have blunted the impact of the U.S.
attack, the American grandstanding did manage to kill a resolution that
would have stated UNODC's support for needle access and human rights for
addicts. Public health experts worry that the Bush administration's stance
will undermine still shaky political support in countries that need to expand
needle-exchange programs if they are to successfully ward off HIV. A
gag rule on needle exchange would force AIDS groups to drop their programs
or lose funds, seriously undermining access to clean needles for millions
around the world.
Even if the administration supports a death penalty by AIDS for I.V. drug users, you'd think the innocent lives of their children or unwitting spouses might count for something.
Or perhaps, being fiscal conservatives, opponents might worry about the
thousandfold greater expense of HIV/AIDS treatment, compared with pennies
for sterile needles.
Although the Clinton administration declined to overturn the 1989 Helms
amendment banning federal funding for needle-exchange programs, at least it was honest that it was making a political, rather than a scientific or fiscal, decision, as science writer Chris Mooney noted in the American Prospect. But the Bush administration is trying to deny the science, too, which means the harm of its stance won't be limited to the current debate.
One administration official even suggested that the Washington Post contact
several AIDS researchers who'd done studies on needle exchange, claiming
that their work supported its contentions that such programs are ineffective and dangerous.
When the Post called the researchers, however, they denied the administration's charge, stating that their data demonstrated the opposite. It's worth looking more closely at one of these studies, which is in the small minority of the hundreds now published to even suggest any kind of negative result.
In 1997 in the journal AIDS, Stephanie Strathdee and her colleagues reported that despite having North America's largest needle-exchange program, instituted in the late '80s, Vancouver's rate of HIV infections had increased dramatically during the early to mid-'90s. Worse, needle exchange users were more likely than other addicts to be HIV positive. But as Strathdee and others have noted repeatedly, this does not mean that needle exchange caused participants to become infected.
In fact, during the period of the study, Vancouver began to be flooded with cocaine.
Injectors, who had previously used primarily heroin, started shooting coke
as well. Since cocaine is injected far more frequently than heroin because
of its shorter-lasting high, the number of daily injections is often
greater by a factor of 10 or more, increasing the odds of being exposed to
HIV. Syringe exchanges tend to attract only the poorest, highest-risk users
in Canada because needles can be legally purchased at pharmacies there,
which might have confounded the data, but the program also had a variety of
limitations that contributed to its initial failure.
As Vancouver improved its program, however, and even opened safe-injection
rooms, infection levels among I.V. drug users stabilized and then began to
drop, according to Canadian government statistics. New HIV infections among
I.V. drug users fell by more than 70 percent between 1995 and 2000, though
part of this drop may represent saturation of the I.V. user population. (A study on the injection rooms published this week in the Lancet found that addicts who used the facility were 70 percent less likely to share needles than those who didn't visit it.) A 1997 study that compared cities around the world with and without needle-exchange programs found that those with programs had an average annual decrease in the prevalence of HIV of 5.8 percent, while those without programs had an increase of 5.7 percent.
No study has ever found that the existence of needle exchange motivates
addicts to keep taking drugs -- in fact, most find that syringe-exchange
users are more likely than other addicts to seek treatment.
It's no surprise, therefore, that every major public health body that has
looked at the issue -- from the World Health Organization to the American
Medical Association to the Institute on Medicine to the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies -- has strongly endorsed
making sterile injection equipment available to addicts.
The policies that the Bush administration endorses as alternatives to
needle exchange -- attempts to reduce the supply of illegal drugs, for
example -- have not been shown to affect drug-use rates, let alone reduce
HIV. Despite U.S. drug-control budgets that have increased almost
exponentially since the 1980s, the purity of cocaine and heroin has at
least quadrupled, the prices of both drugs have dropped by at least half,
and neither addicts nor teenagers report difficulty purchasing most drugs.
It profoundly saddens me that I must still cite studies to defend needle
exchange nearly 20 years after activists first began to fight for it. It
also disturbs me that needle-exchange programs rarely get the credit they
deserve. A Jan. 30 New York Times story on the virtual end of HIV infection
in newborns in the United States didn't even mention the role of clean
needle programs in this accomplishment.
And the articles about bisexual black men infecting heterosexual female sex
partners have largely neglected the critical role that I.V. drug use in
minority communities has played in the epidemic.
One can make a good case, in fact, that there wouldn't even have been such
an epidemic in black and Latino heterosexual populations if the United
States had provided clean needles earlier and hadn't insisted on locking up
(without access to condoms or needles) so many minority drug users.
The U.K. dodged this bullet: Under the conservative government of Margaret
Thatcher, it rapidly implemented clean-needle measures in response to the
outbreak of AIDS, starting in 1986. HIV prevalence has rarely reached more
than 1 percent among intravenous drug users there, compared with over 50
percent at the epidemic's peak in New York. Heterosexual AIDS in the U.K.,
consequently, is almost entirely limited to immigrants who were infected in
Africa. Says Neil Hunt, a director of the U.K. Harm Reduction Alliance and
an honorary research fellow at Imperial College London, "It's a largely
unheralded, astonishing success."
So why is it so hard for U.S. policymakers to accept that needle provision
works? A large part of it is surely prejudice related to drug-war propaganda -- for instance, the belief that addicts are out of control and thus unwilling to protect themselves even when protection is offered.
And some of it may even reflect a desire to simply let addicts die. But I
also think some people believe that addicts like to share needles, the same
way many people prefer to have sex without condoms, and that changing such
behavior would take too much effort.
And for those who suggest that needle exchange encourages drug use and
keeps addicts using longer, I would argue that it is not the presence or absence of needles that determines one's desire to get high. For many, drug use stems from deep unhappiness and an inability to handle distress, not from an effort to obtain extra pleasure in their lives.
Compassion is the appropriate response to such suffering, and for many addicts, the first place they ever experience such grace is at a needle-exchange program.
It's the one place that accepts them just as they are.
Contrary to critics' claims, needle-exchange programs offer a message of hope, not a "counsel of despair," as U.S. officials recently claimed.
They do not tell addicts that they are forever doomed to addiction and might as well kill themselves. Instead, they say, "We want you to live; we believe you are valuable." And that message is often the spark that starts recovery. It's far from all that is needed, but without it, many are too demoralized to try. I can't abide the idea that my country is still fighting against HIV prevention. But what's most infuriating is that such action is not only unnecessary but also inhumane.
It's throwing a symbolic sop to the religious right (which isn't even especially focused on the issue) at the demonstrable cost of human lives.
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake
Last updated: 18 June 2005