Tag Archives: Dr. Robert DuPont

Addiction often begins with a beautiful boy or girl

By Dr. Robert DuPont in StatNews  In the American mind, drug addiction happens only to people “born under a bad sign.” That’s just not true. Worse, it implies that success in life protects individuals from addiction. Throughout my 50-year career working on drug abuse prevention and treatment, I’ve often seen drug addiction befall every kind of person.

That’s one reason I have been urging people to see “Beautiful Boy,” a new film about the relationship between a good father and his good son as the teenager dives into addiction. Continue reading Addiction often begins with a beautiful boy or girl

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Pope Francis I Calls Worldwide Summit to Address Drugs

“Drugs are a wound in society and a trap for many people – victims who’ve lost their freedom.”   These were the words of Pope Francis at the conference on drugs held today, November 24, in Vatican City.

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, there are so many things to be thankful for in our world — the joy that is possible without drug use.  Although the US leads the world with 56% percent of the world’s illicit drug users, other nations are falling into the same trap.  Substance users and abusers try to find a shortcut to the spirituality that takes years to achieve.   It doesn’t work, as Pope Francis recognizes.

“Pope Francis is a global leader against drug abuse, said Kevin Sabet who will speak at the conference entitled “Workshop on Narcotics: Problems and Solutions of this Global Issue.”  Dr. Kevin Sabet is President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). The Pontifical Academies of Science has organized the conference.

“This event underscores both Pope Francis’ staunch support of protecting young people worldwide through preventing drug use and his strong opposition to the legalization of drugs,” Sabet continued.   “The Pope has stated numerous times, in very unambiguous terms, that drug legalization is not only bad for kids, but that it fails to produce its desired effects.”

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Queen Silvia of Sweden is seated next to Pope Francis, as he address a conference on drugs November 24 in the Vatican

Sabet will address the Pontifical Academy on the subject of “The Social Impact of Drug Policy Change.” He will discuss early findings from marijuana legalization in the U.S. and other issues related to drug policy change worldwide. Other U.S. representatives include Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Dr. Nora Volkow, Dr. Robert DuPont, Dr. Jon Caulkins, and Dr. Bertha Madras. The event examines, among other topics, the prevention of substance abuse related to children and young people. It also includes a papal audience, which Dr. Sabet will attend.

 Other attendees include H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden and Mr. Yuri Fedotov, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Drugs give rise to powerful delusions, in a world which can be difficult and challenging.  Escape from reality doesn’t make problems go away, but merely creates new ones.   A followup post contains excerpts from the small group audience.   Please read here.

 

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Coalition of Health Organizations Urges DNC to Reject Marijuana

Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a broad coalition of organizations working to prevent and treat substance abuse sent a letter today to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of their decision on their party platform, including marijuana policy.  Former Representative Patrick Kennedy , Honorary Chair of SAM, who once chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, signed the letter.

Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), the National Alliance of Alcohol and Drug Counselors (NAADAC), Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (TASC), Phoenix House, CeDAR and The Hills Treatment Center represented the recovery community in urging politicians not to legalize drugs.

“The DNC should resist any calls to legalize drugs,” said Kevin Sabet, a former advisor to the Obama Administration and current President of SAM, a bipartisan organization dedicated to implementing science-based marijuana-policies. “The legalization of marijuana is about one thing: the creation of the next Big Tobacco.

The letter details how legalization has resulted in huge spikes in arrests of Colorado youth from communities of color-up 29 percent among Hispanics from 2012 (pre-legalization) to 2014 (post-legalization), and up 58 percent among Black youth in the same timeframe-while arrests of White children fell.  Additionally, there has been a doubling of the percentage of marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Washington in just one year after legalization (2013 to 2014). Emergency poison control calls related to marijuana from 2013 to 2014 in both Colorado and Washington rose, by 72 percent and 56 percent, respectively, and there has been a 15 percent average annual increase in drug and narcotics crime in Denver since 2014.

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Kevin Sabet was interviewed by Arizona radio host Seth Leibsohn on June 21, when he compared the health effects of marijuana to the worst of alcohol and tobacco combined. Arizona is another state targeted for legalization by the marijuana industry in 2016.

 

“The pot lobby has successfully fought off Colorado’s attempts to regulate advertising targeting children, rules restricting the use of pesticides, and rules to limit marijuana potency. This same lobby is now exporting these tactics to other states in November,” said Jeffrey Zinsmeister, Executive Vice President of SAM. “This assault on health and safety regulations is no less than a repeat of Big Tobacco’s tactics from t he 1960s and 1970s.  Parents Opposed to Pot is concerned that the Democratic Party’s platform (as worded) will protect marijuana businesses and their profits at the expense of children and teens.  Legalization policies in Colorado and Washington reveal that businesses can be quite unscrupulous in the way they advertise and locate.  For example, a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado is currently operating next door to an “alternative” high school for students with special needs.

 

A draft of the platform could be interpreted by some as an endorsement of marijuana legalization and/or expansion.  The specific wording, as shown in the letter to the DNC Chair and platform committee, is vague.  (Although decriminalization and legalization are not the same thing, many people use these terms interchangeably.)

Parents Opposed to Pot wonders why marijuana, a major drug of abuse, would be promoted during the time of a drug epidemic.  Another section of the platform addressed the opioid drug abuse, but refused to deal with the gateway effects of marijuana and alcohol and to educate accordingly. US government statistics show that at least 66% who overdose began their illicit drug use with marijuana.

Kevin Sabet explains the marijuana industry, “Marketers cleverly package pot candies to make them attractive to kids, and pot shops do nothing to improve neighborhoods and communities. Moreover, there are other, more effective ways to address questions of racial justice and incarceration. So does the DNC want to be known for fostering the next tobacco industry, or will it stand with the scientific community, parents, and public health?”

 

Major anti-drug organizations stand in unity with SAM and against all drug abuse and addiction. Executive officers of the Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF), National Families in Action (NFIA), Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA, Community Alliances for Drug-Free Youth (CADFY), the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), National Association of Addiction Professionals co-signed the letter, as did Dr. Robert DuPont, Founding Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and President of the Institute of Behavior and Health

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Marijuana Puts Education, Kids Futures at Risk

Heather Mizeur naively campaigned for the governorship of Maryland by supporting universal pre-Kindergarten and paying for it by legalizing marijuana.  Her support came from NORML and the marijuana industry.

What good does earlier education do for child welfare when you introduce a whole set of new problems?

Look at what is going on in Colorado and Washington, and the unusual types of child endangerment that have gone on with legalization.   Many very young children have gotten into marijuana edibles which look like cookies and candy.

“Encouraging marijuana commercialism and consumption to fund and support education are two inconsistent goals,” explained Diane Carlson, a co-founder of Bravetracks, a non-profit devoted to encouraging youth activity, employment and engagement in Colorado.  “Even before Coloradans voted in 2012 to legalize marijuana, Denver, where marijuana was first commercialized, had some of the highest youth use rates in the nation,” she said.

“The THC content of marijuana is extremely potent with levels reaching 20% and above in Colorado, due to competition in the industry.  Highly potent pot has become incredibly commercialized here and yet our kids have been told it’s benign. Increased access and use is a huge issue for Colorado teens who have no idea how such highly potent products can impact their health and their futures,” according to Carlson.

Since legalization, the pot problem only seems to be getting worse. “Disturbingly, Colorado kids will suck on lollipops, chew on gummy bears, or munch on granola bars without anyone knowing highly potent marijuana is being consumed. They have ‘vaped’ on pens, asthma inhalers or highlighters loaded with a concentrated form of THC that can go undetected in class.”

One high-school teacher in Denver, who wishes to remain anonymous, exclaimed, “Our job is so difficult and there are so many challenges to educating kids well in the best circumstances.  She added, “So why did the state add this other layer of challenge to our jobs and make it harder for our students to achieve success?”

Marijuana Money

“Where Commerce Meets Revolution” is how the Marijuana Policy Project (MMP) describes the Cannabis Business Summit held yesterday and today in Denver.  This title leaves no doubt that the MMP and other pot advocacy groups are about the money.

Amendment 64 passed in Colorado despite warnings of the teachers’ union and a persuasive letter from teacher Christina Blair to the Huffington Post.  It is probably because big money paid for the win in Colorado, with most of that money coming from the industry’s out-of-state lobbying groups.

One year later, by December 2013,  school administrators and law enforcement noticed the changes that came into the schools.  Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has warned the governors of other states not to follow Colorado’s example.

Revolutionary ideas grab attention, but Heather Mizeur didn’t win her primary.  She only promoted an idea which was heard all over the nation’s capital region.

Most likely the children who heard Mizeur’s TV commercials about marijuana will end up believing marijuana is completely harmless and could indeed be tied to education.

The pot industry regularly promotes it as a way to fund education.   It is an ironic that they would suggest a solution that only makes a problem worse.

Beware that many local candidates and representatives in Congress are taking money from the marijuana industry.   We need to watch out for the fallout from this “green rush.”  It could be worse than the mess left by the mortgage industry.

Marijuana and Teens

With the push to legalize and expansion of medical marijuana, children and teens have gained an erroneous perception that pot is harmless, studies show.  Surveys of teens indicate use would definitely go up, if marijuana is legalized.

According to David G. Evans, executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition,  “Studies indicate that usage will increase to levels near between those of tobacco and alcohol users.”   The annual survey show that all teen marijuana use, and daily marijuana use, have consistently gone up over the last five years.  As a nation and for our individual children, we need to be concerned.

There is a connection to regular marijuana usage, gaps in college education and dropping out of high school, which often hinders future success.  “Chronic/heavy marijuana users are twice as likely to experience gaps in college enrollment as minimal users, ” according to  Dr. Robert DuPont, Director of the Institute for Behavior and Health,  in Rockville, MD.

Marijuana use in the young often creates a-motivational syndrome and apathy, in addition to and apart from the affects of addiction.  It is not a way of saying “yes to life, yes to love, yes to opportunity and yes to education,” as recommended by the Pope Francis in a recent address at the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome.

Dr. DuPont and Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, wrote an article to suggest that changing policy necessitates a large, multi-year study using technology that has developed over the past 2 decades.  The study would aim to understand more about the effects of marijuana on the adolescent brain.  Researchers at Northwestern University recently published their studies indicating the changes on specific parts of the brain, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has written about some of those findings.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry gives  a warning about  marijuana and young minds:  “Marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development, cognition, and social functioning may have immediate and long-term implications, including increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, lasting decline in intelligence measures, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.”

 

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