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This School Year, Make a Commitment to End Medicine AbuseWhile helping your teens get ready to return to the classroom this month, it’s important to understand the pressures they may deal with in the coming year. Talking to them now about what they may face will help them be ready to make the right decisions. Perhaps over-the-counter cough medicine abuse has not come up in your child’s life yet, but since one in three teens say they know someone who has abused cough medicine, chances are this issue may surface at some point in your teen’s life.
And while you are in “back-to-school” mode, this is the perfect time to introduce yourself to the school nurse in your child’s school and let them know about the Home to Homeroom toolkit. This toolkit was created by Stop Medicine Abuse and the National Association of School Nurses and includes materials that the school nurse in your child’s school can use to create awareness about medicine abuse.
Get the Home to Homeroom Tool Kit Here.
Get to Know Peggy McKibbin, Our Newest Five Mom!
Peggy is a mother of two and a school nurse with nearly 15 years’ experience of working with teens, pre-teens, and their families. She has partnered with the National Association of School Nurses to educate her community about the dangers of medicine abuse, and she is passionate about the “teachable moments” that parents can use to talk to their kids. Get to know Peggy in her first blog post for Five Moms.
Make the Time to TalkIt’s important for parents to be hands-on when it comes to their children’s schools. Teachers and school administrators have a great sense of what students are talking about, and it’s important to know what your school’s policy is on drugs and alcohol abuse. Ask your children’s school about prevention programs, substance abuse screening, and more.
Get ideas for questions to ask your child’s school here.
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Friday, August 31, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
By Taylor Ellsworth
06/05/12 The Fix
When I was 16, it seemed like the whole world was making the transition from MySpace to Facebook. Facebook was much cooler and the fact that it had originally been exclusive to college students appealed to my desire to be someone other than myself—namely, a grown-up. My friends and I started using it essentially as a means of publicity: we documented every party and dance with hundreds of photos, all posted on Facebook within a day of the event. Never once did I think that I might regret being photographed with eyelids that wouldn’t stay open or a bottle in hand; we were keeping track of the glamorous nights we—well, really, I—wouldn’t remember. If no post-party pictures of me appeared on Facebook within a few days, I would feel anxious and left out. If others looked at the pictures that were posted and noticed that I wasn’t in them, I was sure they would know my secret: deep down, I was terrified that nobody liked me.
One of the most unshakable elements of my alcoholism has been the struggle to recognize objective reality versus the reality I make up based on my constant fear of what other people think of me. I can’t, for instance, handle AA meetings that include several minutes of silent meditation because, as soon as the room goes silent, I can hear the blood rushing through my veins and my breathing gets so loud that I am convinced everybody else can hear it too and they are wondering why the fuck I am breathing so loud and I am probably the only one with my eyes closed. I’ve learned over time that I have no control over this sort of thought process and that the only thing I can do is try to adjust my reaction to it. It was this perpetual fear that made me loathe my blackouts: the notion that, once I was past the drunken point of no return, I lost complete control over my image. I would say and do things that would make sick when I heard about them, and I couldn’t clean up the mess the next day because I would have no recollection of my missteps. And of course I harbored constant worry that everybody I knew actually hated me.
In the early days of recovery, I would troll my Facebook newsfeed, comparing my Saturday night routine of hitting a meeting and late-night diner to the always cooler experiences everyone else seemed to be having.
Facebook served as a tool by which to measure my likeability and popularity. If there were lots of pictures posted of me from the last party, I was cool. If someone mentioned an inside joke on my wall, I was interesting. Conversely, if a group of my friends posted pictures of some event that I hadn’t been invited to, I was devastated. In sobriety, I have often heard the phrase, “Don’t measure your insides by another person’s outsides.” This method of comparison, however, was the exact function that Facebook served for me. If I found anything social involving my friends that didn’t include me on Facebook—invitations, pictures, anything really—I would be overwhelmed by a sense of despair. Even if I had gone out both nights of the same weekend, it meant nothing about my relationships unless what appeared on Facebook was aligned with how I wanted to be perceived.
When I look back at those pictures—I am still tagged in almost all of them—it seems like all I did was hang out at parties. The truth is that I spent many nights alone, wallowing in my bedroom, drinking Nyquil and hating myself, but there is no evidence of that on Facebook. In the photos, I look like any other shallow teenage party girl. However, more often than not, I felt like the biggest loser on the planet. And my skewed self-image followed me into sobriety as well.
In the early days of recovery, I would troll my Facebook newsfeed, comparing my Saturday night routine of hitting a meeting and late-night diner to the always cooler experiences everyone else seemed to be having. Most of my friends were off at college for the first time, experiencing the wonders of themed frat parties and day drinking.
Of course, since getting sober, I have learned how to take pride in more than the attractiveness of my public pictures and every once in a while I accomplish something I deem actually Facebook-worthy, like finishing an 18-mile run or getting a raise. In these moments, I perfunctorily write a status update to inform the masses, despite the fact that I’ve already told my real friends. The successive flood of likes and positive comments provides an artificial rush that allows me, for a handful of seconds, to feel superior. However, when I don’t have anything spectacular and like-worthy to tell my “friends,” Facebook only aids me in beating my self-esteem with a two-by-four. For me, there is no space on Facebook in between being the best and the worst.
When I hear alcoholics share in meetings about the newfound confidence and self-worth they got from working the steps, I often don’t relate. I have certainly grown from working the steps as well: I don’t hate myself and want to die today; I don’t have to get a drink in me immediately upon entering a social situation; I never wake up next to anyone besides my boyfriend or my cat; I don’t tear my friends down behind their backs to feel prettier or smarter or more interesting; but despite the drastic turn my life has taken, I still struggle to like myself most days. Maybe my insecurity is the demented child of my alcoholism and bulimia, or maybe it really is an eternal alcoholic affliction that nobody wants to admit.
If I know that my self-esteem is so fragile that a superficial status update can change it dramatically, why, one might wonder, is Facebook still the home page on my browser? Well, partially, anyway, because I’m wiser now. I know that timelines don’t serve as an avatar of the person whose name flanks the top of the page because most people share only their successes and that what I see is a collection of my friends’ and barely-acquaintances wittiest status updates, cutest Instagrammed pictures, and most glamorous check-ins. I get that Facebook simply doesn’t provide an accurate portrayal of anyone’s life. This knowledge is the difference between my relationship with Facebook at a coked-out 17 years old and now. Sometimes, I can recognize that the thought, “Fuck, I should be living in Barcelona right now, with her legs, her hair, opening graduate school acceptance letters, baking organic gluten-free muffins, running eight-minute miles and building houses in Guatemala” is unreasonable and slightly insane. This sort of thought used to be my reality. When it does feel real, I know to call another sober woman because usually just starting a sentence with the words “I saw on Facebook” reminds me of the triviality of my imagined deficiencies.
My sponsor doesn’t have a Facebook page so she can’t understand why I continue to abuse myself by checking mine every day. And I can’t bring myself to delete it. I say it’s because I want to stay connected with friends from afar, or I don’t want to be forgotten from invite lists because of my non-presence on the social network. But it’s also about control. It terrifies me that the world will keep spinning without me. As long as I have a Facebook page, I can monitor everyone else, competing with their broadcasted accomplishments, showing them how far I’ve come since passing out on their bathroom floors. It’s the same delusion of control that I maintained while drinking—that refusal to let go in spite of obvious evidence that it was only hurting me because I was convinced that if I did, I would be destroyed by my feelings. What happened to me after getting sober, however, wasn’t destruction. With sobriety came freedom from the awful bondage of the bottle and baggie. Maybe someday I’ll be willing to find out if deleting Facebook brings similar relief. But I’d like it even more if I could learn to like myself enough that I don’t have to know.
Taylor Ellsworth writes from Portland, Oregon. She also wrote about getting fired by a sponsee and managing her eating disorder, among many other topics, for The Fix. Follow her on Twitter here.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
As a supporter of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, you have contributed to the profound impact we have on families and friends coping with a loved one’s drug or alcohol abuse.
I am proud to share with you our new, online annual report, found exclusively at drugfree.org. In it, you’ll see the collaborative efforts of our staff, partners, sponsors and those who share their voice on this critical health issue.
Among 2011’s many successful initiatives:
We launched the bilingual Parents Toll-Free Helpline, where licensed social workers skilled in addiction counseling offer confidential, comforting guidance for concerned callers.
The Parents360 Plus prevention program was evaluated and scientifically proven to better educate parents on discussing substance abuse with their children, by providing them with the tools and resources necessary to have those conversations.
We enhanced our educational efforts with Join Together, our collaboration with the Boston University School of Public Health, to deliver you the most up-to-date substance abuse and addiction news that impacts your work, life and community.
Our documentary, “I Thought I Knew: Real Stories of Addiction and Recovery,” was developed to highlight the true stories of people who have faced addiction. It received top honors from the Association of Independent Commercial Producers Awards, was selected as the daily doGooder Video of the Day and featured as part of the Join Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness conference.
These are just a few of our noteworthy successes from the past year. It’s because of you and your support that we have made strides toward our vision of a world where all young people will be able to live their lives free of drug and alcohol abuse.
Please make a donation today to continue supporting our work in 2012.
President and CEO
The Partnership at Drugfree.org
P.S.Text DRUGNEWS to 50555 and reply YES to receive the latest news and updates from The Partnership at Drugfree.org.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
A small but significant rate of 12-step programs—from AA to rehabs—turn into dangerous cults. What makes working the program go so wrong?
By Maia Szalavitz
12-step programs—with their clichéd language, frequent meetings and religious mien—are cults. So say many critics. But in fact, the traditions of AA, NA and the other As are intentionally structured to prevent their members from crossing that line. Nonetheless, there is a reliable way to use the steps to create a full-fledged destructive cult.
Cults are not simply weird or dangerous religious groups, according to those who study groups that have had disastrous outcomes, like Jim Jones’ People’s Temple, which ended in mass member suicide, and the Branch Davidians, which ended in a fiery siege by federal agents. Instead, cults are self-enclosed organizations that use a well-defined set of coercive persuasion tactics.
These typically include isolating people physically and emotionally from friends and family, breaking them down emotionally and taking total control over their environment, movement and finances. Because these procedures can also characterize rehab, residential treatment itself without proper oversight carries a risk for creating cultlike behavior.
However, since 12-step programs in the community aren’t residential, can’t physically isolate people or take their life savings—and because they are formally leaderless—they have little risk of becoming the next Jonestown, Guyana, or Waco, Texas.
But the repeated development of cults or near-cults—from Synanon toStraight Inc. to today’s Washington, DC, Midtown Group—based on the steps is not coincidental. The reason is a toxic compound created when AA’s voluntary steps are twisted so that they can be imposed by force, especially in settings where people cannot escape. Chuck Dederich, the founder of Synanon, was the first to recognize the power of this recipe for subjugating people and creating followers. Indeed, Synanon was the model for every “therapeutic community” (TC) in the US, including mainstream leaders like Phoenix House and Daytop.
Originally hailed in the 1950s as a tough, peer-pressure-based cure for heroin addiction, by the late 1970s it was stockpiling weapons, forcing couples to get sterilized and swap partners and, perhaps most notoriously, had placed a de-rattled rattlesnake in the mailbox of a lawyer who had begun winning cases against it on behalf of former members who had been abducted and abused. When Dederich was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder in the snake incident in 1980, the charismatic leader was dead drunk.
A toxic compound is created when AA’s voluntary steps are imposed by force.
By then, however, the Synanon model had already spread across America and around the world. In addition to Phoenix House and Daytop, the best known include Delancey Street, Walden House, Gaudenzia, Gateway House, Marathon House, Odyssey House, Samaritan Village, Amity, CEDU, the Seed and Straight Inc.
Following Synanon, these TC programs are or were residential, typically lasting from 90 days to 18 months. Originally, the idea was to break initiates through strict rules and daily humiliation and confrontation, and then rebuild them as they work their way up a structured hierarchy.
To rise through the levels toward graduation, participants have to demonstrate compliance by imposing the rules on others and emotionally attacking their fellows to help break them. These days, many TCs have abandoned the marathon attack therapy sessions and tried to reduce or eliminate the use of humiliation—but they retain the strict rules and hierarchical systems.
So how do the use of attack therapy and forcing the steps on people inspire cult formation?
Step 1: It starts with the first step. Voluntarily admitting you are powerless is relatively harmless (although there’s some evidence that this belief as part of the disease model of addiction is linked with worsening relapse). By contrast, however, being forced into a position of absolute powerlessness is what defines a traumatic experience, and so it can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related psychological problems, like depression. And traumatizing people is an excellent way to break their will and turn them into compliant followers.
Research into PTSD repeatedly confirms that at the heart of all trauma is the feeling of being completely vulnerable and out-of-control in a frightening situation, in a word, powerless. Whether well-intentioned or not, any program with the capacity to disempower participants by blocking their contact with the outside world and controlling their access to food, sleep and social support is potentially dangerous. This dynamic—in connection with the way power itself corrupts staff—explains why institutions ranging from orphanages to hospitals to prisons, where vulnerable people are subject to total control by others, constantly have abuse scandals and why they need to be subject to intense oversight.
Steps 2 and 3: When imposed coercively, these principles make matters worse. Again, voluntarily surrendering to a “higher power” can feel healing for many—but being forced to submit to human beings who make themselves and their program into your higher power is far less benign. Believing that surrendering your will and even your life to the leadership is the only path to recovery results in overwhelming vulnerability.
Not only is this dangerous for the victims, but it is also risky for leaders who are convinced that they “know best” and their program is so effective that they are justified in using any means necessary to “help” people. Once staff embrace the belief that breaking people to fix them is acceptable, once they “know” that they are absolutely righteous even when being emotionally cruel, the corrupting nature of this total power is intensified.
This elevation of staff and dehumanization of patients is the opposite of treating people with dignity and respect: the word of the “healers” is law and those in need of healing are powerless.
At rehabs, for example, when staff believe that they have all the answers, including which patients are “in denial” or “faking” or lying or, for that matter, telling the truth, there is a great potential for serious health and psychiatric complaints to be ignored. This can have—and has had, in dozens of cases—fatal consequences for those who are physically detained in programs. It also allows power to run amuck.
Steps 4, 5 and 10: Now, add in the demands for the confession of sins and for an ongoing moral inventory and you have an additional method of controlling people. Most religious cults focus on confession because knowing members’ darkest desires and most shameful secrets increases the power of the leaders. Not only can frequent confessions enable the blackmail dissenters, but they can also train participants to focus so relentlessly on their own failings that they have no energy left for criticism or resistance of the group itself.
Monday, August 27, 2012
What drug policy would Romney issue from the Oval Office? He's not saying. But his financial ties to the owners of teen rehabs infamous for abuse speak volumes of trouble.
Romney, Sembler and Adelson photo
By Jed Bickman
Mitt Romney's Great American Rehab Rollup
With the future of America’s response to drug use and addiction at stake in this presidential election, many are wondering how a Mitt Romney administration would take up the mantle of the War on Drugs. Beyond his opposition to medical marijuana and his occasional hawkishness on foreign drug-war interventions, the candidate himself has, characteristically, kept his positions strategically nonspecific. This week's Republican National Convention in Tampa, at which the Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ticket will be officially ratified, is unlikely to clarify the matter, as it is being scripted entirely around the goal of portraying a kinder, gentler Romney, a common man devoted to family, faith and country. Drugs are assuredly not part of that picture. However, the records of those around hims speak loudly.
Taking a page from Nancy “Just say no” Reagan, Ann Romney has said that as first lady, her pet issue (Michelle Obama has obesity) would be to work with “at risk” teens, code for drug-using teens. (The wife of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Janna, has a different potential drug problem: she was a lobbyist for PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry's trade group.)
This is not surprising, given that Romney has a long history of being involved with in “rehab” schools [OK?] for teens—not just any institutions but “tough love” ones with disturbing reputations for abuse. And not just one or two tangential connections, either. Mitt Romney’s entanglements with abusive schools for troubled teens are anything but tenuous.
First of all, as The Fix reported in April, he still makes money off of them. In 2006, after Romney’s tenure as CEO, Bain Capital bought CRC Health, which owns Aspen Education Group, a large chain that includes boarding schools for “troubled teens” that use “behavior modification” techniques. Although Romney left Bain before they bought CRC Health, he still shares in Bain’s profits.
Moreover, of the three Bain managing partners that sit on the CRC board, two gave the Romney super PAC, Restoring our Future, a half million dollars, on top of the maximum $2,500 dollars they each gave directly to the Romney campaign.
As a recent Salon investigation revealed, Aspen Education has an impressive rap sheet of wrongful deaths and abuse at its institutions. Children have died of neglect under their care as the pressure that Bain exerts on the company to make a profit filters down to their patients. Among the most serious abusers is Mount Bachelor Academy in Oregon, where staff members forced residents to wear provocative clothing and do lap dances. At a clinic called Turn-About Ranch in Utah, a girl was duct-taped to a chair after filing a complaint about the sexual abuse she had suffered at the hands of CRC staff. In addition, the quest for larger profit margins routinely leads to people being kept in these institutions longer than is therapeutic so that the institution can reap the revenue.
Bain Capital's Aspen Education has an impressive rap sheet of wrongful deaths and abuse at its rehabs.
Mitt Romney has even closer—and more explosive—ties to other abusive rehabs. One of the chief fundraisers for his 2008 presidential campaign, Robert Lichfield, who raised $300,000 at one Romney fundraiser, was the founder and a board member of the World Wide Association for Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS). This network of 20 schools nationwide and in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Samoa and the Czech Republic has faced charges of fraud and other crimes in several states and numerous federal civil suits alleging child abuse, including one by 350 former students. Many have been raided by officials and closed. Staff routinely locked teens in dog cages, sexually and physically abused them, starved them, and emotionally brutalized them.
Like Romney, Lichfield is a Mormon, and some ex-students have reported being sent to the schools by their parents after questioning or rejecting Mormonism in order to be “re-educated” in Mormonism—to the exclusion of other (or no) religions. The WWASPS scandal got so hot that the Romney camp had to break its lucrative ties to Lichfield when the indicted Utah millionaire “resigned” as one of six co-chairmen of Romney’s Utah finance committee.
But the real icon of drug policy in Romney’s campaign, deeply involved to this day, is Melvin Sembler, a Florida strip-mall magnate who was a national fundraising chair for Romney in 2008 and is again a Florida State Co-Chair for Romney’s finance committee. Sembler, whose office is across Tampa Bay from where the Republican National Convention is taking place, held the first GOP fundraiser for Paul Ryan after Romney tapped him as his VP. (Florida, of course, is one of three crucial swing states in presidential elections.)
He gained the post as a reward for his financial loyalty to George W. Bush. But Sembler has raised money for and, in turn, won favors from Republican Party leaders going for decades. He served on President Reagan's White House Conference for a Drug-Free America. More recently, he was a drug-policy advisor to both President Bush and Bob Martinez, Florida's former governor, according to a 2005 in-depth investigation by John Gorenfeld on Alternet.com.
Sembler is militant in his support not only of the drug war but of foreign wars in general, cofounding, along with Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and Romney backer to the tune of $100 million, “Freedom’s Watch,” a group that spent millions to advocate intensifying the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both Sembler and Adelson accompanied Romney on his July trip to Israel. Adelson's extravagant bankrolling of Romney's campaign will be rewarded at the Convention with the naming of its "Woman Up!" pavilion after his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, who runs the Adelson Clinic, which treats patients with opiate addiction, specializing—curiously enough—in teens on oxy, in Las Vegas and Tel Aviv. (The Fix found no record of charges of abuse at the Adelson Clinic.)
But Mel Sembler’s name is most likely to strike fear into the hearts of anyone involved in teen drug rehabs. Sembler and his wife, Betty, founded a chain of such institutions under the name Straight, Inc., which at its peak in the ‘80s had 12 clinics in nine states and a track record of extreme abuse. Straight’s “rehabilitation” approach was adopted from an earlier program called The Seed, which was suspended by the US Senate for practices similar to Communist POW camps. As in the Scientology’s Narconon rehabs, Straight developed the cultlike feature of turning former students into counselors who embraced and enforced the institution’s brutal regime.
A student at Straight, Inc.—one of Bush's "thousand points of light"—was beaten, raped and locked in a janitor’s closet.
In one of many stories from Straight that have been exposed, a teenage girl testified to being compelled into the program after being caught with an airline bottle of liquor given to her by a friend, and then beaten, raped, locked in a janitor’s closet in pants soiled by urine, feces, and menstrual blood, forced into a false and bizarre confession to being a “druggie whore” who went down on truckers for a fix. Monroe’s story is extreme but in no way unique. Similar accounts from Straight survivors have been collected en masse online atTheStraights.com.
In one Pennsylvania death row case of a homophobic hate-murder, evidence of the perpetrator’s abuse at the hands of Straight counselors—which included beating boys while calling them “faggots” and spitting on them—was an admissible mitigating factor.
“My best guess is that at least half of the kids were abused,” Dr. Arnold Trebach, a professor emeritus at American University and founder of the Drug Policy Foundation (now the Drug Policy Alliance), which supports ending the drug war, told Gorenfeld.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
By Valerie Tejeda
Armstrong's seven Tour de France wins will
be cancelled out.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong has officially given up his fight against the longstanding doping charges brought against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). He claims it's so he can focus on working for Livestrong, the foundation he started for cancer patients. And while Armstrong has not and will not make any admission of guilt, claiming to the end that "I played by the rules," the decision will result in the USADA stripping all of his results since 1998—including his seven Tour de France titles. "I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances…" announced Armstrong in a two-page statement. "We have a lot of work to do and I'm looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause."
Armstrong will also be banned for life from competing in any sport or event sanctioned by a sporting body that is a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency code—including the World Triathlon Corporation, which Lance has signed a $1 million deal to compete for, with the money going to his foundation. However he doesn't accept the USADA's sanctions and threatens a lawsuit if the organization proceeds with them, calling the process "unfair and one-sided" and the claims against him "outlandish and heinous" with "zero physical evidence." US District Judge Sam Sparks rejected Armstrong's suit challenging the USADA's authority last Monday. "It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes," says USADA CEO Travis Tygart. "This is a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition." Despite reportedly completing over 100 doping tests, Armstrong has yet to test positive for any illicit performance-enhancing substance.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Rhode Island Rally for Recovery
RIR Unplugged Set ….
Richie Supa,Ricky Byrd, and Kasim Sulton
The Rally for
Recovery is an annual festival organized by people in long term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. It is primarily a community building effort; we seek to strengthen the bonds between people in recovery. We are also engaged in building an attractive culture of recovery in Rhode Island, with the belief that everyone has a right to, and is capable of, recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Our goals are to reduce the negative perceptions associated with
addiction recovery. It has been our experience, based on our own recoveries, that this road is filled with obstacles that hinder reintegration into society. We feel it is important that people who have chosen the recovery path be able to obtain housing, employment, and other necessities without prejudice.
Our festival is focused on families and is a child-friendly event. We feel it is important that, as children of people in recovery grow older, they have fond memories of our drug and alcohol free festival. We hope this knowledge will deter them from experimenting with alcohol and other drugs in the future. Last year we had a vast array of activities for young people including crafts, face-painting, a reptile show, a rock climbing wall provided by the Rhode Island National Guard, an “orbitron,” a giant inflatable obstacle course, and a pink fire engine from Pink Heals.
The Rally for Recovery began in 2002 with a gathering of a few hundred people. Last year we had almost 5,000 people in long term recovery attend the rally. In 2012 we expect a crowd in excess of 7,000, and in 2013, because Providence was awarded the hub event for the national Recovery Month celebration, we expect over 10,000. We are also a co-sponsor of WaterFire and include a memorial luminaria procession at the end of each rally.
This year we seek to broaden our base of support by reaching out to the business community. We offer several contribution levels. Sponsoring our festival puts your company name in front of people who are likely to patronize your business. It also bolsters your business’s reputation, sending a clear message that you support the community building efforts of those who seek not to use alcohol and other drugs.
This Year’s Rally Performances
This year we’ll have musical entertainment by the 88th Army Band, BMor7, Rockers In Recovery Unplugged, and Music One. Our speakers include basketball star and author Chris Herren, founder of Learn to Cope Joanne Peterson, Jim Silva and more.
Recovery Month Kickoff and Quilt Unveiling will take place on Thursday, August 31st at 10 am in front of the Women’s minimum security prison in Cranston.
On September 28th we will hold the first annual Aquidnick Island Recovery Celebration at Newport Hospital atrium.
Our contact information:
Mr. Ian Knowles
200 Metro Center Blvd. Unit 10
Warwick, RI 02886
200 Metro Center Blvd. Unit 10
Warwick, RI 02886
You may also contact Ian Knowles via telephone at firstname.lastname@example.org 114, or via email,
Thanks for visiting Life After! The Partnership at Drugfree.org recently launched You Are Not Alone, a transformative new campaign calling on all those affected by addiction – individuals, families, communities and organizations – to come forward and help our kids in need. You Are Not Alone comes to life in a collection of stories, each one a message to families of the 11 million teens or young adults who are struggling withsubstance abuse. This public storytelling brings together the millions who have been directly impacted by addiction with those families who currently have a teen who needs help.
We encourage you to check out You Are Not Alone and share your story there. Join the movement and share your story to help let others know that they aren't alone when facing substance abuse.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Go to enough meetings and you’ll start to notice that many of the least appealing people you encounter can be divided into one of several different types. Behold our guide to eight of them.
It takes all kinds. Danny Jock
By JD Kaye
We are people who normally would not mix, says the Big Book. What it doesn’t add is that many of these people start to mesh together through a few common identifying characteristics. While, let’s be honest, all of us can do things at times that might make us resemble one of these types, many others have pulled up a more permanent seat at a particular table. So who do you recognize from your home group?
THE COURT CARDER
These are those folks who have gotten a nudge from the judge—that is, they’re required to attend AA because of an alcohol-related offense. Most easily recognizable by their late entrance and loud yawns coming from their back row seat, the Court Carder loves to watch the clock and skedaddle out the door as soon as they’ve gotten someone—anyone!—to autograph their slip of paper. This type is most common in LA, where DUIs are seen as an AA rite of passage. You will, in all likelihood, not find the Court Carder nibbling on a sugar cookie and fellowshipping at the back of the room post-meeting, telling another meeting attendee that he really related to his share. While encouraging these folks is never a bad idea, keep in mind that they may consider you just south of a Scientologist. So remember that it's attraction, not promotion. Unless he asks otherwise, a handshake and a meeting directory is the best starter kit you can offer.
THE DOUBLE WINNER
The fact of the matter is that a fat chunk of AA members could probably benefit from a few Alanon meetings, but the ones to avoid are those who seem to enjoy boasting about their various afflictions. When it’s just Alanon we’re talking about, this isn’t a problem: plenty of alcoholics grew up with addicted or at least dysfunctional parents who robbed them of the ability to put their needs first. But the Double Winner is always in danger of becoming a Triple, Quadruple or even Centuple Winner. Got issues with food, gambling, sex, money or hoarding? Well, Triple and higher winners have problems with everything and happily tout their membership of 12-step programs that you probably haven’t even imagined existed. These people tend to regale you, when they run into you at the grocery store with your in-laws, with stories about how working a fourth step in their sex addiction program helped them to surrender their hooker habit. Double, Triple and Quadruple Winners might do best to calm down and remember that recovery isn't a pyramid business scheme, and that they don't climb higher up the chain by working 24, 48, or 96 steps.
THE SEX ADDICT
While addiction to other 12-step programs is a concern, that doesn’t mean that the seriously sick aren’t lurking around AA. The infamous 13th-Stepper and sexual predator can come in male or female form and are most easily identifiable by their proximity to the newest and most attractive members of the program. We're not talking about your average AA-er, unwittingly acting out the usual grab bag of sexual dysfunctions with others, but those who repeatedly try to get those not yet on their feet onto their backs, oftentimes leaving them in psychological and emotional turmoil. Don't expect roses on your doorstep (or even a text message) after the Sex Addict is done with you. In fact, you might want to think about attending some new meetings so you don’t have to see this guy or gal saving seats for their next victim. Be forewarned that you might be a Sex Addict if others look at you with "Don't even think about it" disdain every time a doe-eyed newcomer walks in.
If AA says that members share “what it was like, what happened, and what it's like now,” then Drunkaloguers are those who skip out on the “what it’s like now” part in order to regale rooms with tales of drug deals gone bad, police chases and gunshot wounds that sometimes sound dangerously close to Bullshit City. Or just those who, when asked to speak for 30 minutes, spend 27 rambling about their disastrous childhood and multiple karaoke contests while in tequila-induced blackouts, the next two on how their life went completely downhill, and the final minute on finding AA and giving up booze—and oops, now they’re out of time and oh, don't forget to work the steps. Problem is, if you stick around in AA long enough, the drunkalogues can start to get boring—and spending too much time on the old days can somehow twist memories of self-destruction into just some crazy times. The Drunkaloguer can have much crossover with the Sick Old-Timer; in other words, the reason they’re not sharing their recovery is that they don’t have any.
THE PINK CLOUDER
Sobriety can be challenging for many AAers, but for the Pink Clouders (otherwise known as the Tony the Tigers of the program), everything's grrrrrrrrrrreat! The euphoric condition is characteristic of early sobriety, when the mind and body are free of drugs and alcohol but the harshness of real life has yet to set in. Pink Clouds exist because, for some people, simply not getting drunk or high is a high in itself. Pink Clouders often don’t seem to realize that just putting the plug in the jug doesn’t mean their every last concern has flitted away—but why tell ‘em when they’ll find out soon enough anyway? The cause of inappropriate smiling and naturally dilated pupils, the ignorant bliss these people float around in is enough to make a struggling AA member want to turn a Pink Clouder into a Black-and-Blue Clouder. But have no fear, Sick Old-Timer, because when a Pink Clouder naturally descends from that dreamy state where sobriety suddenly feels like a brick rather than a feather, it can get pretty darn unpink. So enjoy it while you can, Pink Clouders (and hang in there long enough to work the steps).
THE SICK OLD-TIMER
When sympathy's what you're after, for God's sake don't call the Sick Old-Timer——because if water boarding was allowed in meetings, this guy or gal would be the one administering it. This type-A military breed gives advice in the form of Big Book page and paragraph numbers without any further explanation, and will cut you off in a second if he catches you cross-talking, going over your time limit or violating any other specific group rules. Known to greet newcomers with recommendations that they take the cotton out of their ears and stuff it in their mouths—while thinking nothing of updating Facebook posts while sitting in meetings—the Sick Old-Timer is very much who you don’t want to be. Find yourself constantly judging everyone around you, even though their lives appear to be moving forward while yours remains stuck in one place? You may well be one of these yourself. Of course, since one of the primary characteristics is a lack of self-awareness, you’re probably going to be the last to realize it. If you worry you’re in danger, shake things up, find some new AA pals, get a new sponsor, try tackling those steps and for God’s sake, stay away from the newcomers.
If you're in need of generic responses for complicated problems in the form ofdepersonalized clichés, call a Sloganeer! For better or worse, this type is here to remind you, like a mockingbird with a myriad of overwrought AA slogans, that it's all been said and done. Not all Sloganeers are bad—while being told that you should have an “attitude of gratitude” by a snaggle-toothed homeless-looking row-mate may make you want to throw a punch, it can also be exactly what you need to hear. Just beware of those whose entire vocabulary seems to be culled from the Unwritten Encyclopedia of Sober Banalities ("Keep it Simple, Stupid!"). Hardcore sloganeers sport different keychain attachments for every day of the week, each featuring a hopeful inspirational quote, and have been known to speak for hours without uttering a single adage-free sentence—which let's face it, can come off as a little robotic and cultish to newcomers. Meeting makers may make it but that doesn’t mean we all need to hear that every second..
Hardcore sloganeers sport different keychain attachments for every day of the week, each featuring a hopeful inspirational quot
THE RELAPSE ADDICT
While the Sloganeer would say, "You're either moving towards a drink or away from one" the Relapse Addict appears to do both. Also known as the Shame Junkie, this person stays completely immersed in the drama of constant falls from grace and subsequent treks towards redemption. Each return to the program is followed at some point thereafter by a petering out. In short, once the pink cloud's gone, it's sayonara to the program for these temporary teetotalers who are always caught in the middle—either reading the Big Book or setting a drink on one. It can be an excruciating place to be but when a Relapse Addict gets real, their story can be the most helpful to others. After all, some get sober after their first meeting, some after their 13th trip to rehab. It takes what it takes, and Relapse Addicts would surely like to not be Relapse Addicts. So take the cotton from your ears and shove it in your mouth, Sick Old-Timer!
Being in recovery might mean no more throwing up and getting concerned looks from your liquor store cashier 10 times a day. But what the hell are you supposed to do with all your new free time? Plenty choose to become Fellowshippers, in which they transfer their previous obsessions of hanging out in dimly lit bars and crack dens to spending free time with other alcoholics outside of meetings. Fellowshippers are the social butterflies of the program and can usually be found at both "the meeting before the meeting" (translation: coffee) and "the meeting after the meeting" (translation: more coffee). But really, it's about more than the joe, and the only Fellowshippers to be wary of are the Getting-Sicker-By-The-Minute ones, who use their relatively high profiles in AA to avoid doing any work on themselves (see also: Sick Old-Timer above). Or Fellowshipping Extremists, who can border on annoying when they turn every life activity into a SOBER EVENT. Want to go bowling? For a Fellowshipping Extremist, it's "Sober Bowling!" Need to go grocery shopping and pick up your dry cleaning? Take a hardcore Fellowshipper along and it's "Sober Errands!”
JD Kaye is the pseudonym for a sober alcoholic who lives in the South.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Residents and staff at a recovery house in
Philly Photo via Courtesy of the FIX
Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbettdropped the social programming equivalent of a nuclear bomb on the addiction recovery community in Philadelphia earlier this month, when he eliminated the welfare funding that pays for the vast majority of recovery housing in the city. General Assistance—a small monthly welfare cash payment of $205 for temporarily disabled single adults with no dependents—has for decades provided some relief to Pennsylvania's poorest of the poor. Philadelphia’s recovery houses—sober living spaces for homeless addicts coming off the streets—have long used GA payments coupled with food stamps (now called SNAP) to provide room and board for people whose only alternatives are homeless shelters and abandoned buildings. As The Fix reported, Philly recovery houses aren’t exactly posh, and their strict enforcement of abstinence and heavy 12-step regimens might rankle with some. But they provide a crucial service of last resort to many desperate people who would otherwise be out on the street. Except that now they are out on the street. Because with the elimination of General Assistance, this vast network of roughly 400 sober houses just blinked out of existence.
Social workers, legal aid attorneys and city human service agency staff have been meeting frantically for months in anticipation of this day, pregaming the possible outcomes of a massive hemorrhage of unstable, newly-recovering addicts back onto the streets. Does this blow up the city’s homeless shelter system? Does it spike crime during an already violent and chaotic summer? Maybe that's why the Philly Police Department has begun sweeps through Kensington—the neighborhood with the city's highest concentration of IV drug users—arresting addicts en masse? It's hard not to wonder cynically if this transfer of poor addicts from recovery house cots to jail cell bunks is really something Corbett is doing by accident.
Killing GA was at least unproductive, if not inhumane. It saves very little money in the short term, and will have huge mid-term costs: once spat out of recovery housing, addicts in early recovery will utilize far more expensive resources like homeless shelters, emergency rooms, hospital beds, detox beds and psych units, as well as prisons. Right now the situation is in flux, and it's unclear just how bad the outcome will be. But Philly's addiction professionals, who now have nowhere to send their clients who are coming out of detox, fear the worst.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
My name is Jeremie (bacpac) and I am part of Puttin Sober, a group of bikers in recovery (it is an AA group)...I am hosting this SUPER kewel SOBER RAVE! This Friday @ The Solution...4201 N. Longview (east of 12th st., n of Indian School): The Solution (Transitional Living, like yours) becomes a DANCE space this FRIDAY nite 9-12; courtyard outside, its own parking, and A WHOLE GANG of RESIDENTS who are excited about this RAVE! The idea of a SOBERRAVE is to bring it to young people who are not finding safe places in sobriety to go have fun. I hope you will look at this flier and if you can print it and post it, or just let your community know about it, I'd really be grateful. If I can drop off fliers, please give me a ...Here's the link to the color flier! C'mon let's get our youth in recovery out to a SOBER RAVE!!! thanks! jeremie bacpac.
By Join Together Staff | August 16, 2012 | 1 Comment | Filed in Alcohol, Drugs,Mental Health, Military, Research & Treatment
A new study shows people who are treated for both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse have improved PTSD symptoms, without an increase in severity of substance dependence.
The researchers say the results counter the common belief that treating PTSD might worsen substance abuse, by bringing up negative memories, CNN reports.
The study used prolonged exposure therapy, which is considered to be one of the most effective treatments for PTSD, the article notes. Patients work with therapists to return to their traumatic event. They describe it in the present tense, allowing them to relive the trauma. As this process is repeated, the brain reacts less severely to the trauma over time. This makes the memory appear less traumatic.
In the study, 103 participants with both PTSD and substance abuse were randomly assigned to receive either prolonged exposure therapy plus substance abuse treatment, or to receive only treatment for substance abuse. After nine months, both groups had reduced PTSD symptoms. Participants who received combined treatment did not show an increase in substance abuse severity.
The findings appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Courtesy of the fix and TMZ
2:20 PM PT -- An autopsy conducted on Saturday was inconclusive and the cause of death is pending toxicological test results.
"Real World" star Joey Kovar died after taking what could turn out to be a lethal mixture of Viagra, cocaine and alcohol... law enforcement sources tell TMZ.
Our sources say ... Thursday night, just before midnight, Joey went to a woman's house in Chicago Ridge, Illinois, told her he'd been doing cocaine ... and asked her to drive him to a location where he could score more coke. The woman, Stacey Achterhof, rebuffed his request, and asked him to stay at her place.
We're told Joey, who was also fueled up on alcohol, took "some Viagra" and messed around with Stacey ... but they did not have sex. At some point Stacey fell asleep, and when she awakened early Friday morning she found Joey bleeding from the nose and ears.
Law enforcement sources tell us ... his eyes were also "blackened" -- something that frequently occurs when someone ODs. Law enforcement sources tell us they suspect Joey had an aneurysm.
Stacey was interviewed extensively by cops on Friday. We're told she says she saw Joey take Adderall and Xanax in recent weeks -- and multiple sources close to Joey tell us although they were prescribed, he often took more than called for by doctors.
There's no indication, at this point, Stacey will be charged with a crime.
As for Joey, toxicology results will take weeks, but our law enforcement sources say they believe the results will show a fatal combo of Viagra and cocaine and alcohol.
Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2012/08/18/joey-kovar-dead-real-world-viagra-cocaine/#ixzz245AWOu5F
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Do you know a talented, young musician who is dedicated to leading a healthy lifestyle?
The Partnership at Drugfree.org, in conjunction with the GRAMMY Foundation® and MusiCares®, is kicking off the back-to-school season in search of young musicians (ages 14-18) to compose or create an original song and/or music video that promotes and celebrates healthy living and/or appropriately depicts a story about drug abuse. In our efforts to raise awareness of addiction and recovery, we encourage teens to submit their powerful messages of struggle, hope and triumphant healing.
The first, second and third place winners will each receive:
A trip to Los Angeles to attend the 55th annual GRAMMY Awards® Backstage Experience, a unique backstage tour taking place as artists rehearse live for the GRAMMY awards;
Placement and exposure of their musical entries on the GRAMMY365® website, MTV Act Blog, and the Above the Influence campaign website;
An iPad, equipped with the GarageBand app;
The opportunity to release a record with Iron Ridge Road Recordings, courtesy of Clarity Way of Hanover, PA; and
A certificate from the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares in acknowledgment of each winner’s activism in disseminating of health information on substance abuse.
A cash award of $500 will go to the first place winner; $250 to the second prize winner; and $100 to the third place winner courtesy of the Visions Adolescent Treatment Center in Malibu, California.
Submit a musical entry now at drugfree.org/teensmakemusiccontest.
Be part of the Teens! Make Music Contest today!
We look forward to honoring our nation’s most talented and inspirational musicians.
Youth Service Leader
The Partnership at Drugfree.org
P.S.Text DRUGNEWS to 50555 and reply YES to receive timely text alerts on the news you want as a parent, friend or supporter of our cause. Sign up today!
Message & data rates may apply. Full Terms at mGive.org/T
Friday, August 17, 2012
By Join Together Staff | August 15, 2012 | 1 Comment | Filed in Addiction,Drugs, Research & Treatment
Addiction to heroin and morphine can be blocked, suggests a new study conducted in rodents. The study revealed a key mechanism in the immune system that amplifies addiction to opioids.
Researchers found an immune receptor in the brain that stimulates the reward response to heroin and morphine, which makes opioids addictive, according to Bloomberg News. It may be possible to prevent dependence on the drugs by blocking the immune receptor, while increasing the medical benefits of the drugs for pain relief, the researchers report. Their findings are scheduled to be published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The rats and mice in the study were given a drug called plus-naloxone, a variant of the drug Narcan, which is given to patients to counter opioid overdoses.
“Our studies have shown conclusively that we can block addiction via the immune system of the brain, without targeting the brain’s wiring,” researcher Mark Hutchinson of the University of Adelaide in South Australia said in a news release. “Both the central nervous system and the immune system play important roles in creating addiction, but our studies have shown we only need to block the immune response in the brain to prevent cravings for opioid drugs.”
He told Bloomberg News that human studies that will combine plus-naloxone with drugs such as morphine to prevent opioid addiction could start in 18 months. He said the results could eventually lead to new drugs that help patients with severe pain, as well as treat heroin addiction.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
By Join Together Staff | August 14, 2012 | 1 Comment | Filed in Addiction,Alcohol, Drugs, Healthcare, Research, Treatment & Youth
Therapists who treat adolescents for drug and alcohol abuse deliver more complete treatment when they are offered monetary rewards based on the quality and quantity of care they deliver, suggests a new study.
However, the study did not find more thorough treatment by therapists resulted in better results for teens. Those who saw therapists participating in the “pay-for-performance” program were not any more likely to stop using drugs and alcohol, compared with their peers whose therapists did not participate in the program.
Pay-for-performance rewards are becoming more common throughout the healthcare system, according to Reuters.
The study included 29 community-based drug treatment organizations, which were chosen to start using a teen behavioral treatment program. Some of the programs were given monetary incentives for therapists who thoroughly implemented the program’s strategies.
About 100 therapists and more than 900 teenagers were included in the study. Most of the teens were boys being treated for alcohol or marijuana use.
Therapists in the financial incentives group were given $50 for each month they demonstrated their treatment met program guidelines. They received an additional $200 for each patient with whom they discussed specific topics and used a range of treatment tools, such as talking about the teens’ social life, and their progress toward treatment goals.
Therapists who received the incentives tended to deliver more complete care, compared with their colleagues who did not receive incentives. While pay-for-performance therapists gave 17 percent of patients the full recommended amount of treatment, less than 3 percent of therapists not receiving incentives did so. “Relatively small incentives led to very large improvements in performance,” said lead researcher Bryan Garner of Chestnut Health Systems in Normal, Illinois.
Between 41 and 51 percent of patients seen by both groups of therapists improved during the study, and had not used drugs or alcohol for at least a month before their last check-in, the researchers reported in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
By Join Together Staff | August 13, 2012 | 3 Comments | Filed in Addiction,Alcohol, Drugs, Mental Health, Military & Treatment
More than 20,000 U.S. veterans have left military service during the past four years with an other-than-honorable discharge, which can restrict their disability and veterans health care benefits, The Seattle Times reports. Many of these men and women are struggling with drug abuse and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to federal law, veterans who are not honorably discharged because of misdeeds must submit to a review of whether they engaged in “willful and persistent misconduct,” and whether that behavior disqualifies them for health care or disability benefits. These rules leave some veterans struggling to find treatment, the article notes.
Officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs told the newspaper the department has no way to track how many reviews are conducted, how long they take, or what the outcomes are.
“I would go so far to say that, when we speak of Army values, leaving no soldier behind, there is almost a moral obligation,” said Major Evan Seamone, Chief of Military Justice at Fort Benning, Georgia. “We are creating a class of people who need help the most, and may not be able to get it. And, when you do that, there are whole families torn apart, and higher levels of crime. It’s a public-health and public-safety issue.”
Major Tiffany Chapman, a former Army prosecutor, said some soldiers who are dishonorably discharged were troubled before they joined the military, while others appeared to be relatively stable before they faced combat. “You just don’t know how you are going to react once you have been to war,” she said.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Mexican and American organizations unite to search for non-violent solutions across the US, starting Sunday.
"Giving a voice to the families of victims." Photo via
By Chrisanne Grise
With death toll of the bloody Mexican drug war rising as high as 71,000, dozens of Mexican and American organizations will embark on a month-long “Caravan for Peace” on Sunday, August 12. Its aim is to spread awareness and open dialog about non-violent solutions with citizens and leaders in both countries. Ideally, the caravan—which is purposely timed between the two nations' presidential elections—will revise their relationship, promoting a view of Mexico as a neighbor, not a threat.
“We are dedicated to giving voice to the families of victims of this violence and to publicizing the real costs of this war,” says Javier Sicilia, a poet who was named one of Time’s 2012 “Person of the Year” activists; cartel members murdered his son in 2010. He's joining the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) to lead the caravan. “We have made it clear that the Mexican state must stop denying its responsibilities, which it does by criminalizing the victims of violence,” he says. “Instead, it must accept that there are victims, and that it is the Mexican government’s responsibility to provide justice and reparations to them. With this in mind, we have asked for a change from the current security strategy to one focused on human security.” That said, the goal is also to influence American drug-war strategy; Sicilia says he hopes to promote discussion about US policies in areas such as gun trafficking, alternatives to drug prohibition, combating money laundering and bilateral cooperation over human rights and security.
The trek will cover 6,000 miles and stop in 20 US cities, starting in San Diego on Sunday and arriving in Washington, DC, on September 10. Each stop along the way will feature rallies and debate. Other organizations involved in the initiative include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). A similar caravan crossed Mexico last year, and is credited with pushing the drug war up the country’s political agenda. Anyone interested can join the caravan as a volunteer, track the route online, or register to ride on one of the caravan buses or to follow along in your own car.
Caravan For Peace
Mexico Drug War
Sunday, August 12, 2012
By ERIC P. NEWCOMER and VIVIAN YEE
Published: August 7, 2012
Drug traffickers have been widely known to employ extreme and inventive measures to smuggle narcotics into the United States, but six people arrested on Tuesday may have won a prize for creativity.
Prosecutors accused the six of smuggling narcotics from Ecuador by stuffing cocaine inside empanadas and heroin inside sesame candy. But the real find, the authorities said, was a stack of what looked like diplomas from a scuba-diving school that had been soaked in more than three pounds of liquid cocaine.
“The techniques employed were extremely sophisticated,” New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor, Bridget G. Brennan, said.
During the investigation into the reputed drug operation, the authorities said they discovered that the man they called the ringleader, Jorge Guerrero, was also stealing valuables from lost luggage that he was supposed to deliver to airline passengers after it was found.
“He was just such an opportunist,” Ms. Brennan said. “His day job was stealing from lost luggage.”
Mr. Guerrero, 39, was indicted on charges of conspiracy and attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance. The penalty for the possession charge is up to 20 years in prison. He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
Law enforcement officers said Mr. Guerrero’s operation could buy 2.2 pounds of cocaine in Ecuador for about $2,000 and sell it for $25,000 to $30,000 in the United States. William Novak, an assistant district attorney, described Mr. Guerrero as the “main receiver” of the drug shipments sent as freight and the mastermind of the smuggling ring. Mr. Novak argued for holding him without bail, claiming that Mr. Guerrero was a flight risk because he had many relatives in Ecuador.
“If he flees, he’s never coming back,” Mr. Novak said.
Mr. Guerrero’s lawyer, Frank Rothman, portrayed him as a married man with three children who was unlikely to flee. He said the police had not found drugs in Mr. Guerrero’s home.
Judge Bonnie G. Wittner ordered him held without bail.
Mr. Guerrero’s wife, Cecilia Guerrero; Riqui Perez; Noe Fernandez; Luis Amable Caisa Altamirano; and Judy Campos were also arrested. The authorities charged that Ms. Guerrero often helped her husband with the smuggling operation and the luggage thefts. She was charged with conspiracy and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
During a search of the Guerreros’ home in Jamaica, Queens, officers said they found 13 suitcases, over 50 designer handbags, 20 cameras and 50 watches.
The authorities said a six-month investigation had tied the defendants to drug trafficking.
Over three months, agents confiscated more than 11 pounds of narcotics in New York and New Jersey that they said was linked to the defendants.
On May 3, agents discovered more than a pound of cocaine hidden inside chocolate bars and more than half a pound of cocaine concealed in chocolate candies. On May 28, over three pounds of cocaine was found stuffed inside empanadas. On June 8, they said, they seized the sesame candy, with more than a pound of heroin in it. On June 25, a pound of cocaine was discovered at the bottom of a container of homemade sugar and cookies. On July 12, the diplomas were found.
Law enforcement officials estimate the cocaine and heroin were worth about $150,000 on the wholesale market in the United States.
Michael Levine, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Agency for 25 years, said liquid cocaine could be converted back into a solid form. But a significant portion of the cocaine is typically lost in the process. He added that small- to midlevel traffickers have soaked liquid cocaine in clothes. But he said he never heard of it being soaked in paper.