Should Drug Classes be a Part of the Government's Response to Drug Abuse?

by Mike Miller June 18, 2014

This is the third in a series of blogs here at which addresses the role of government in that battle against drug use and abuse. In the previous blogs we looked at how Congress has dropped one of its most vital research programs (I encourage you to go back and read these).

The program was called The Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring survey (ADAM). As reported in

This survey promised (and delivered) confidentiality and anonymity, arrestees had nothing to lose and a lot to offer. An optional urine test was given at the end as a final step. This objective test would, for the first time, reveal the truth about the enormity of the drug problem in America.

How important were these numbers? Instead of filling a hole in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)—which doesn’t account for the homeless or prisoners—ADAM’s numbers blew it out of the water. The only large-scale measuring system to rely on an objective measure of recent drug use, it provided more accurate information than any survey in history. Anyone who disagreed, could easily look at the numbers.

I have long espoused that programs like ADAM and drug classes help in reducing America's problem with drugs.

Do Not Board a Plane High!

by Mike Miller June 13, 2014

Being intoxicated on an airplane is never a good idea. Have you ever experienced air travel after ingesting too much of an intoxicating substance? If so, I am sure you will agree.

At least there’s no question about what this guy was smoking. As reported in

Passengers aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to Sacramento, Calif., got to make a surprise stop in Portland, thanks to the behavior of a passenger who had apparently smoked “purple hash” prior to takeoff.

During the course of the flight, Sheron Lamar Rogers flashed gang signs, praised Jesus and demanded alcoholic drinks -- not necessarily in that order. Rogers was taken into custody at the Portland International Airport following his high-altitude antics and charged with interfering with flight crew members.

The incident with Rogers began when he boarded the plane Tuesday morning (March 4th) and claimed he had a first-class ticket, even though there was no first-class seating on the flight. Attendants then had to ask Rogers to stow his luggage three times. "I do what I want," Rogers replied. You know this is not going to end well.

After hitting the emergency button and demanding an alcoholic drink before the plane was even in the air, Rogers kept going when the plane reached its cruising altitude. Rogers asked attendants for three glasses of wine, was denied, and then brought up Jesus.

After verbally abusing flight attendants and other passengers, the pilot re-directed the flight and Rogers wound up in jail.

When he was met at the airport by Port of Portland, Rogers said he’d been smoking "purple hash" before the flight but he wasn’t high on the plane. I hope he gets a good online drug class and stays clean and sober the rest of his life.

Abusing Prescription Pain Medications

by Mike Miller June 8, 2014

It used to be that a drug problem involved some illicit drug like marijuana, cocaine or heroin. Today the drug problem has expanded greatly, and unless you live in a cave with no access to the Internet and social media, you know that prescription medications are a serious issue.

The legislature in the state of Texas is working to try and help alleviate the state’s horrific problem will illicit prescription medications. Lawmakers are looking for strategies to curb emerging substance abuse trends among children, pregnant women, and adults, as well as to reduce health care costs and mortality. As reported in

Can you believe that one pill of OxyContin can cost $72 on the street, while a bag of heroin can cost $10? The reason I mention this is that the epidemic of prescription medication abuse has a direct impact on the fact that heroin has made a major comeback as the cheaper alternative.

Drug poisoning deaths similar to heroin rose from 168 in 1999 to 525 in 2012 in Texas, more than heroin with an increase from 111 to 354 over the same time period.

Overdoses overall became the leading cause of death in 2010, above even car crashes, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, with 105 people dying every day from a drug overdose.

In 2010, 60 percent of the 38,329 drug overdose deaths were related to pharmaceuticals.

Every state is suffering from the abuse of prescription medication. So far, the only strategy that seems to work is to establish a nationwide database of patients with what they have been prescribed and filled. There are needs to be more drug classes and punishments to doctors who become “pill mills” need to be drastically increased.

Governor Promotes Drug Awareness in Massachusetts

by Mike Miller June 3, 2014

At we like to report on the efforts made by individuals who are educating the public on harmful drugs and using their power to keep people safe. The Governor of Massachusetts is fighting the good fight.

Governor Deval Patrick is trying to ban the sale of Zohydro in Massachusetts and that puts the state at the forefront of a raging debate about whether the powerful new painkiller deserves a place in American medicine. In October, 2013 the Food and Drug Administration approved the pill, which can treat severe pain without some of the side effects of other painkillers. But legitimate concerns remain about whether the drug could add to the epidemic of opioid addiction. As reported in

In becoming the first state to ban the drug, Massachusetts is demanding that the manufacturer first develop a more abuse-resistant version that can’t be crushed and snorted. This happened after years of abuse by OxyContin users.

It is no easy task to overrule the FDA — in effect, nullifying federal health. The FDA exists to assess those difficult trade-offs between safety and access, and it believes that Zohydro is not more harmful than other opioid painkillers, and may improve care for some patients.

Patrick’s action have been spurred by the spate of deaths caused by overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin. The state recently allocated $20 million to treatment, sped up the implementation of a mandatory prescription-tracking system, and eased barriers that have prevented some first responders from carrying a drug that can save the life of people who’ve overdosed.

Those are all good steps. But the inescapable problem is that as long as opioid painkillers remain part of medicine, the goals of preventing addiction and managing pain will always push in opposite directions. In the long run, the best approach is to encourage the development of less dangerous, non-opioid painkillers to replace drugs like OxyContin and Zohydro.

That’s not something the state can do by itself, but bans like Patrick’s are one of the few ways the government can nudge the drug industry into action. The FDA has tried to coax pharmaceutical companies into devoting more research resources to non-opioid painkillers, with limited success. The carrot approach may only go so far. If drug makers begin to fear state regulators, perhaps they’ll put more effort into developing alternatives. Abuse of prescription painkillers has contributed to a public health crisis in the entire country.

What are your thoughts?

Government Needs to Step Up to the Plate on Drug Classes

by Mike Miller May 29, 2014

This is the second in a series of blogs here at looking at the role of government with respect to the war on drugs. In the first we looked at the cancelation of the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring survey (ADAM), the top form of gathering information regarding the use and abuse of many illicit drugs.

Does this sound like a good idea? Do you think the government should play a greater role in fighting drug abuse? As reported in

Here is a little history behind the program that was just let go without a single congressman fighting for it.

Pioneered by Eric Wish in the 1970s, The Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring survey (ADAM II), cancelled as a result of budget cuts, went into what has become the virtual hub of America’s drug war: prison.

Originally known as Drug Use Forecasting (DUF), it revolved around the practice of interviewing prisoners and taking urine samples. The procedure was simple: Researchers would speak with arrestees in booking facilities and ask them questions about their drug use. Which ones. How often. For what cost. Who else likes it, too.

Given that those arrested have such a high proclivity for drug use I think this program is integral in understanding the nature of drug use as it is associated with criminal behavior. I think this is a valuable use of federal tax dollars. We will continue to look at this topic in the next blog.

Does Government Understand the Country's Need for Drug Education?

by Mike Miller May 24, 2014

As the problem with drug abuse in America worsens, many questions need to be asked. First, what role, if any, should the federal government play? Second, what are lawmakers doing to help protect citizens? It seems as though some lawmakers are giving up. One example is the cancellation of a program that could have been helping.

The Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring survey (ADAM) was terminated in March, and not one congressmen tried to save it. Now the U.S. is without an accurate estimate of its drug users. That means less funding for research and treatment. Why was this program canceled? As reported in

Do you think the government should play an active role? If so, you are in the majority. A new study revealing 67 percent of Americans want the government to focus on treatment for drug abusers was met with joy last week. A “truce” in the war on drugs, experts opined, may be just around the corner.

But while the public looks poised to make good, the government is quietly quitting. In March, the nation’s richest source of information about cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine abuse was terminated, and again, not one congressman tried to save it.

We will continue to look at this topic in the next blog.

Hispanic Parents Understand Need for Drug Education

by Mike Miller May 19, 2014

Here at our goal is first and foremost to keep our kids from using and abusing recreational drugs. In our last blog entry we looked at the pervasive use among Hispanic teens. On the bright side, Hispanic parents are leading the way by setting a good example for their children.

Hispanic adults and drug abuse As reported in

It may seem as though, if Hispanic teens are at the top of the list for drug abuse, they would also be at the top of the list for drug abuse as adults; however, this is not the case. According to the most recent Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report, as Hispanics age, their rate of drug abuse drops below the national average for adults.

Differences based on Hispanic subgroup and immigration status also play a role in Hispanic substance abuse.

Among Hispanic adults, substance use varied greatly by subgroup; past month illicit drug use, for example, ranged from a high of 13.1 percent among adults of Spanish origin (from Spain) to a low of 3.9 percent among those of Dominican origin.

Among Hispanic adolescents, substance use also varied by Hispanic subgroup; past month alcohol use, for example, ranged from 21.6 percent among Spanish adolescents to 13.8 percent among Puerto Rican adolescents.”

The study found Hispanic adults born in the United States had higher rates of past month substance use than Hispanic adults who were not born in the United States, and among Hispanic adolescents, those who were born in the United States had higher rates of past month cigarette use, alcohol use, and marijuana use than those who were not born in the United States.

As a counselor for both in-class and online drug classes I have often espoused that parents are the key to reversing drug abuse. I understand the impact of peer pressure, but there is nothing stronger than strong parental role models and parental involvement. I look forward to hearing your input.

New Hampshire Legislators Should Take a Drug Class, Not Legalize Pot!

by Mike Miller May 14, 2014

I do not know where you stand with respect to legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, but I can attest that I am firmly against. For those of you who regularly read our blog here at I am constantly looking for ways to keep people from experimenting with drugs. Legalizing them is certainly not the answer.

The next state that appears to be following in the erroneous footsteps of Colorado and Washington is New Hampshire. Is it ironic that the state slogan is “live free or die?” As reported in

Last week former congressman Patrick Kennedy was in New Hampshire to lobby against a bill that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Kennedy and his group – Smart Approaches to Marijuana – say legalizing marijuana would create another class of addicts and likened it to tobacco and alcohol addictions.

It took decades for our nation to understand that alcoholism was a disease and an addiction that needed to be drawn out of the shadows, confronted and treated. As a result, the road to recovery for many has been opened and much of the stigma erased.

The argument is that legalization will spawn higher numbers of addicts. Do you agree?

Do you feel that our nation has been able to wage a more effective war on smoking and alcohol by removing the stigma and that legalization is the answer? Do you agree that because both are sold and regulated, we have been better able to measure their use and our success in fighting abuse and addiction?

I think this nation needs to take a step back and think about our children. Very little is being said about the continued need to educate through drug classes and counseling to keep kids from experimenting with marijuana as well as alcohol and tobacco.

Take an Online Drug Class Before Experimenting with Ketamine

by Mike Miller May 9, 2014

I believe in the saying that you cannot get too much education. This is especially true when recreational drugs are concerned. The message against experimenting with and using drugs needs to be a constant in your face action. Sometimes that is not enough, but it is all we can really do. Sometimes tragedy happens anyway. This is the tale of one such tragedy.

This is a perfect example of how one act of stupidity can destroy an entire family. As reported in

Ellie Rowe, from Glastonbury, Somerset (England) , took the drug – an anesthetic and painkiller in human and veterinary medicine while at the BoomTown Fair last summer. The teenager was volunteering as a steward at the festival with a friend, Stephanie Peirce, when she snorted a line of ketamine powder having drunk a few cans of lager during the day.

The 18-year-old Peirce fell asleep in their tent after taking the drug and came around to find Rowe, also 18, unconscious.

On-site paramedics attempted to revive Rowe, including giving her an emergency tracheotomy to aid her breathing, until an ambulance arrived and took her to the Royal Hampshire county hospital in Winchester where she was pronounced dead.

Toxicology tests showed Rowe had 2.14mg of ketamine per liter of blood in her system, which is the second lowest fatal dosage of the drug recorded. Rowe died as a result of alcohol and ketamine toxicity and central nervous system depression having taken ketamine and alcohol.

Like most overdoses, this one was a tragic accident. Ellie was a young girl who would have had no idea whatsoever that what she did would cause her death. She was not a habitual drug user, she thought it would be fine.

I would hope that others could learn from this tragedy lest their lives and families get destroyed as well. It would be nice if mandatory drug classes could help keep others from making the same mistake.

Teacher’s Aid Needs to Take a Drug Prevention Class

by Mike Miller May 4, 2014

Do you worry that those instructing your children are bad influences on them? In an ever-terrifying world where danger appears to lurk in every corner comes yet another story to scare parents. This one occurred in San Diego, California but could take place virtually anywhere.

A San Diego Unified special education aide continued working in the classroom, after he was arrested at the border with more than $500,000 worth of cocaine and methamphetamine. As reported in

How is this guy not in jail? Garrett Anthony Clifton was pulled over at the San Ysidro Port of Entry last April trying to enter the United States with 9.9 kilos of methamphetamine and 8 kilograms of cocaine.

Over the next several months, Clifton attended nearly a dozen federal court appearances including pleading guilty to importation of meth and coke. For the majority of this time, he kept his job teaching special education students at San Diego Unified.

He was still teaching students as of a few weeks ago. He is set to be sentenced to federal prison on Feb. 28 for importation of cocaine and methamphetamine - a charge that carries a minimum 10 years imprisonment and maximum of life in federal prison.

Don’t you think that parents and their guardians have a right to know that there has been illegal behavior on the part of an adult who is supposed to be a role model -- who is supposed to be protecting their children and educating them? So, why wasn't the school district notified about Clifton's arrest and conviction?

State law requires law enforcement agencies to provide official information about an arrest to schools and other entities classified under the law as "care-providing." The state education code requires an employee to be placed on paid administrative leave when they are arrested for a crime that would disqualify them from working with children, such as a drug bust.

Apparently there's no similar federal law or mechanism for notifying schools of federal arrests.

What I do know is that when we have employees working with children and they're arrested with $500,000 worth of narcotics, we need to know about that, so that we can make sure that we're doing everything we can to keep our kids safe.