Wednesday, August 27, 2014

      The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.PRO-ACT
          Pennsylvania Recovery Organization --
     Achieving Community Together (PRO-ACT) 
Recovery in Our Communities
August 26, 2014
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Information and Recovery Support Line 24/7: 800-221-6333
If you knew how much work went into it, 
you wouldn't call it genius.
Michelangelo Buonarroti

Sunday, Aug. 31st:  Prevention and Remembrance

Every day 46 people die in the U.S. from prescription overdose.  Those most at risk are current users of prescribed opioids for pain management, heroin users and past users recently released from treatment, prison or a hospital who have a reduced tolerance and risk of relapse.  

The best strategy to combat OD deaths is a combination of legislation and education to assist healthcare providers, persons at risk and family members.

In Pennsylvania, Jack Whalen, District Attorney of Delaware County, and Rep. Joe Hackett (R-Delaware) recently announced their support for PA legislation allowing police to use naloxone.  Read more.  Here are ways you can help: 
Experts:  Using Pot Once Per Week Is Not Safe

Leading experts at the American Psychological Association's Annual Conferencediscussed the public health implications of marijuana legalization.  They found that frequent marijuana use can have a significant negative effect on the brains of both teenagers and young adults.  Negative effects include cognitive decline, poor attention and memory deficits.  People addicted to marijuana can lose an average of six IQ points by adulthood.   "Regular cannabis use" was defined as using marijuana once a week.  Read the full Press Release with research links.   

As policymakers consider legalization, they must also address preventing easy access to marijuana; developing effective interventions; and funding treatment and recovery supports for adolescent and young adult users.
Some Upcoming Events
Sept. 17th:  Meet The Council Open House8 - 9 am at 252 West Swamp Road, Bailiwick Office Campus, Unit 12, Doylestown, PA 18901
September 12, 20147:05 pm. Recovery Night at the Baseball Game, Phillies vs. Marlins, Citizens Bank Park. Click here for tickets. 
September 20, 2014PRO-ACT Recovery Walks! 2014, Great Plaza, Penn's Landing, Philadelphia. Click here to register and get more information.
Employment OpportunitiesPlease click here
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DONATEDonations help us to reduce the impact of addiction for more individuals and families. The Council is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Tune in to hear Lighthouse Network's
Dr. Karl Benzio on the air!

Karl Benzio, M.D. Counsels Callers
on "Hearing Hearts" with Dr. Gloria Gay on WEHA 88.7 FM

STATION: WEHA 88.7 FM (Pleasantville, NJ)
DATE: Thursday, August 28
TIME: 9:30 a.m. ET
PROGRAM: Hearing Hearts
TOPIC: Abuse in the Church: God...?
Check out other media interviews including TV appearances, radio programs, print features and articles here...
Lighthouse Network is a Christian-based, non-profit organization that offers an addiction and mental health counseling helpline providing treatment options and resources to equip people and organizations with the skills necessary to shine God's glory to the world, stand strong on a solid foundation in the storms of their own lives, and provide guidance and safety to others experiencing stormy times, thus impacting their lives, their families and the world.

Lighthouse Network offers help through two main service choices:
  • Lighthouse Life Change Helpline (1-844-LIFE-CHANGE, 1-844-543-3242), a 24-hour free, national crisis call center, where specialists (Care Guides) help callers understand and access customized treatment options.
  • Life Growth and self-help training resources for daily life, including online and DVD series and training events to help individuals achieve their potential.

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Lighthouse Network · 800 West State St · Suite 302 · Doylestown, PA 18901 · USA

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


" Lord , help !" they cried in their trouble ,and He saved them from their distress .

He sent His word and healed them ,snatching them from the door of death .

STEP 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Anyone that is now sober can testify that they had one foot in the grave and it is only by Gods mercy and grace they are still here with us among the living . Snatched is the word we need to focus on ! The definition of the word is ! To grasp or seize hastily, eagerly, or suddenly. Suddenly , is the word I use to describe my sobriety . Out of somewhere a super natural strength came upon me . Desire and temptations to use suddenly lost their unbreakable grip . What once mastered me was now under my (GODS) control . No longer did I have to go wandering in the middle of the night on a mission to satisfy the unquenchable desires that drove me where ever they wanted me to go . This is my life a gift given too me , no longer do I have to waste away . I AM FREE !

2 Corinthians 1:10 We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.
By Joseph Dickerson
The Eagles Nest Coffee House
Saturday, August 23rd
7:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Featuring music
Travis Lee
Kira Shcherbakova &
Jessie Schultz
The Yardley Community Center,
[in the Pine Room downstairs]
64 South Main Street, Yardley, PA

Good Afternoon, Everyone!

I know you all want to support our over 70+ walkers from Central Bucks and our belief in advocacy towards recovery.Here is your chance!

The simplest way to donate is to go to click on donate at the top of the page fill out the form.

The other option is to donate to one of our diverse walking teams by going to click on the sponsor a walker on the left side, then click on search by team, type in the name of the team, then click on the team name, fill out the form and submit.. PLEASE support what they are walking for! Our team names in Central Bucks are:

Team Bucks County

Eagleville Hospital

The Addict’s Mom

Doylestown Walking Wounded

Team Central Bucks

Upper Bucks Recovery

Thanking you in advance!!

Rick Petrolawicz, C.R.S.

Certified Recovery Specialist/ Volunteer Coordinator

The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania / PRO-ACT

Central Bucks Recovery Resource Center

252 W. Swamp Rd., Bailiwick Unit 12

Doylestown, PA 18901

24 hr. Information/ Intervention and Recovery Support Sevices: 1-800-221-6333

Prevention & Recovery...Expertise in Action!

The information in this email is confidential and may be legally privileged and protected under State and/or Federal Laws. It is intended solely for the addressee. Access to this email by anyone else is unauthorized. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any actio ntaken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful. If you believe that you have received this email in error, please contact the sender or call 215-345-6644.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


God would surely have known it , for He knows the secrets of every heart .

STEP 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves .

Take a few minutes and let that verse from the Psalm sink in ! Why do we think we can hide from our Father from above. Keeping my secrets and sins filled me with sickness and sorrow that cannot be expressed .Thinking about it my sickness of secrets was worse then my various self medicating ways. Worthless , unworthy , disgusting , pathetic , and Loser are a few words my sickness of secrets had me convinced I was .Self does not want you using the 12 steps or reading Gods Big Book ( BIBLE ) , because they will lead you to freedom from your secrets and self medicating ways .Step four opened the door to my vault of secrets ,exposing them for what they were . Fuel that fed my addiction and kept the blaze burning bright . Exposing and discussing my secrets took away their super natural subliminal control of my life .Once my secrets were fully exposed they lost their super natural grip of control over my life and I lost all reason to self medicate . Freedom from my secrets and self are the true key to freedom . God knows your secrets He is waiting for you to expose them ,so He can break that super natural grip that keeps you stuck . You are not the cause of your addictions , hidden secrets of self are the catalyst ,get rid of that and the blaze will go out . 

Ephesians 5:11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them .

By Joseph Dickerson

Can Deep Brain Stimulation Cure Addiction?
This relatively simple neurosurgical procedure can be used to treat a variety of disorders originating from abnormal brain activity such as Parkinson's, OCD, Tourette's, and more. So why does nobody know about it?

this is your brain on . . . Shutterstock


Deep brain stimulation sounds a bit intimidating, if not downright scary. And, unless you’re a neuroscientist or science news junkie, you’ve probably never heard of it.

In reality, deep brain stimulation—DBS—is a relatively simple neurosurgical procedure that can be used to treat a variety of disorders originating from abnormal brain activity. Since the 1960s, deep brain stimulation at low frequency has been used to treat chronic pain. In 1987, scientists discovered that high-frequency stimulation of the thalamus could be used to treat the tremors found in movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). Approved by the FDA to treat PD in 2002, DBS is also approved to treat other movement disorders, including essential tremor and dystonia. It was FDA-approved to treat obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) in 2009, and it is increasingly being used in research studies to treat a host of other disorders, including but not limited to epilepsy, Tourette’s syndrome, severe depression, cluster headaches, obesity, and drug addiction.

How does it work?

The basic premise is that DBS either inhibits or excites deep brain structures to alleviate abnormal patterns of neuronal firing. “You can think of it as a pacemaker for the brain,” says Dr. Nader Pouratian, director of the UCLA Neuromodulation for Movement Disorders and Pain Program. He admits that they are still not exactly sure how it works and what areas of the brain it targets in the case for using it to treat movement disorders like PD.

“The short answer is, we don’t know,” Pouratian says. “We do know that it changes the pattern of activity in the brain.” As to what neurons are being targeted, “unfortunately, we don’t know exactly.” He says that more recent studies have shown that DBS not only targets cell bodies, but also the surrounding fibers—which has great importance for treating diseases like addiction that involve multiple brain pathways. “There’s an increased awareness that when we’re stimulating a certain point of the brain, it probably causes widespread changes in networks involved in that region—so we’re modulating a network in the brain” and not just a single group of brain cells.

During DBS, electrodes are surgically implanted in the brain. A battery pack is implanted in the neck, and wires are implanted that connect the electrodes to the battery pack. The battery-controlled generator is programmed to stimulate the electrodes to deliver electrical impulses to whatever areas of the brain are selected for target, changing this area’s firing pattern. The process is personalized for every patient’s unique brain anatomy, individual symptoms, and specific disease.

While it is still a last-resort treatment, UCLA is at the forefront—at their clinic and others like it, DBS is growing in popularity as success rates for treating PD and movement disorders increase. At the UCLA pain program, they offer DBS for treating Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, and essential tremor, as well as OCD. They also offer it for chronic pain, Tourette’s syndrome, and cluster headaches—these, however, are all off-label, meaning the FDA hasn’t approved them yet.

Focus on addiction

German psychiatrist and researcher Jens Kuhn of the University of Cologne accidentally discovered DBS as a treatment for addiction. In 2006 Kuhn tried DBS on a patient with panic disorder, but instead of working on that, it actually helped him cut back on the amount of alcohol he drank. Over the next several years, Kuhn’s group published the first reports on the benefit of DBS stimulation of the nucleus accumbens—a region involved in addictive behavior—in smoking and drinking. “Recent valid animal studies show significant induced improvement in cocaine, morphine, and alcohol addiction behavior following DBS of the nucleus accumbens,” says Daniel Huys, who works alongside Kuhn.

Indeed, a search of the literature reveals that individual case reports have shown successful use of DBS in alcohol and heroin addiction. Research studies have tested using DBS for alcohol, cocaine, opioid, tobacco, binge eating, morphine, and heroin abuse. Still, these are early days, and from a clinical standpoint, DBS has a long way to go when it comes to treating addiction.

Clinical perspective

Apart from a handful of research groups (namely in China, Germany, the Netherlands, and the US) who have published a very small number of case reports using DBS to treat primarily alcohol and heroin addiction, Wayne Hall says the interest in using DBS to treat addiction isn’t great. “I suspect that this is largely because DBS is seen as a very expensive, high-technology intervention for a small minority of patients,” says Hall, who is the director and chair of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland in Australia.

No clinical trials have been published to date. “I think that this has been because researchers have struggled to find suitable candidates for such trials, not that many patients are interested, and the results in some of these [case studies] have been a bit underwhelming,” Hall says. Judy Luigjes of the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam had planned to do a clinical trial of DBS in addiction, but she reported that her group struggled for two years to find a single candidate for DBS. “Overall we found it very difficult to recruit patients for this treatment,” she says. “There is quite a bit of hesitancy to refer patients for this kind of treatment among clinicians. It is an invasive procedure, and I think not every clinician favors the view of addiction as a brain disease and DBS as a treatment.”

According to, there are currently four clinical trials underway for DBS in addiction, including treating opiate relapse, severe alcohol addiction, severe opioid addiction, and refractory alcoholism. Kuhn’s group is running one of them, a randomized double-blinded, sham-controlled study using DBS to treat severe opioid addiction. Other proof-of-concept studies of DBS continue for use in pain, epilepsy, tinnitus, OCD, depression, and Tourette’s syndrome, as well as in eating disorders, addiction, cognitive decline, consciousness, and autonomic states.


Deep brain stimulation is a last-resort therapy. That means before considering this surgery, patients must have tried medications and other therapies and not responded well. Who’s to say that an addict has actually exhausted all his resources before “giving up” and looking toward DBS?

There can be complications to the surgery, too—often, however, they are so minimal as to be ignored, says UCLA’s Pouratian. The biggest problem might be the fact that the surgery targets networks, which could have far-reaching effects, and addiction involves many pathways to the same disease.

The success of DBS treatment is inextricably linked to reliable feedback from the patient—what happens if an addict relapses during treatment? Or, decides that the therapy is no longer worth the effort? “Heroin- and alcohol-addicted persons are usually much more ambivalent about whether to stop using heroin or alcohol than Parkinson’s patients are about treating their movement disorders,” Hall quips.

After the surgery, there is a period that can take up to months when patients visit the hospital regularly and together with the clinician, search for the optimal settings by reporting back the changes that they observe in their symptoms. “It is a treatment that requires quite a bit from patients because it takes some time and effort to find the right settings,” Luigjes says. “Compared to other psychiatric disorders it seems especially difficult for patients with a severe chronic addiction to commit to this kind of intensive treatment. Many patients showed initial interest but stopped somewhere during the screening procedure often without giving a reason. It seems especially difficult for people who have little stability in their lives or no people around them that can support them.”

Proving efficacy

Over last five years, UCLA’s Pouratian confirms that much progress has been made in the field in beginning to recognize psychiatric diseases as diseases of abnormal circuitry in the brain, and “recognizing that we can target therapies to fix those circuits.”

However, proving efficacy will be the hardest part for making DBS a mainstream treatment for addiction. Because they had a lot of difficulties recruiting patients for the trial, Luigjes questions “the feasibility of larger trials and establishing [DBS’] efficacy,” she says. “I am not sure if it will be a definite treatment, however if so, I think it will not be in the near future.”

Hall sees it being trialed for other intractable psychiatric disorders. OCD seems of most interest at the moment. He says that interest has declined for using DBS for depression because of poor trial results, but it could be resuscitated if more promising sites of stimulation are identified. “I would predict that if DBS is used for addiction in the future it will only be used in a minority of patients and will remain a niche treatment for addiction rather than becoming a mainstay form of treatment as it looks like it’s becoming for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.”

UCLA’s Pouratian says that “realistically, the earliest it would be available would be five years from now.” He believes it will take an advocate with a strong interest in bringing addiction treatment to the forefront, as well as more careful clinical trials. “I think it’s a promising therapy for a spectrum of diseases, including addiction, but we need to be a little bit more methodical or careful—every time a trial does not work, the negative repercussions [do] far greater harm to the field.”

Jeanene Swanson is a regular contributor to The Fix. She last wrote about the science of nicotine addiction, erasing your traumas and alcoholism and genetics.

Arresting the Deliveryman
When people ship illegal drugs via shipping services, are the shipping services to blame?



Until recently, news about companies charged with trafficking prescription drugs and other substances read much likethe case against Pharmalogical, Inc., a Long Island-based pharmaceutical company accused of selling $17 million in misbranded or counterfeit medications. Even a casual perusal of Internet news sources will yield dozens of stories along those lines – brick-and-mortar companies attempting to use their anonymity as stand-alone suburban businesses to grab fast and easy cash by supplying the staggering demand for pills. The facts are essentially the same – only the names and locations are different.

But in July of this year, the shipping giant Federal Express found itself among the company of operations like Pharmalogical, Inc. when it was indicted on 15 federal charges for distributing prescription drugs on behalf of two Internet companies that had been shut down for sale of pharmaceuticals to customers with “no legitimate medical need.” The indictment alleged that from 2000 to 2010, FedEx and two subsidiaries conspired with a pair of online pharmacies to deliver prescriptions for Xanax, Ambien and other controlled substances to buyers in highly suspect locations – vacant lots and abandoned homes – and drivers even reportedly being accosted by individuals while en route to these destinations. 

Reportedly, FedEx continued to deliver prescriptions for their alleged co-conspirators – Chhabra-Smoley and Superior Drugs – even after company members, operators and medical professionals associated with both pharmacies had been indicted, arrested and convicted of illegally distributing drugs. A conviction for the company amounted to five years of probation and $2.5 million in fines, or a financial penalty equal to double the profits earned by the illegal shipments, which was estimated at $820 million, for a total penalty of $1.6 billion.

FedEx pleaded not guilty to the charges in a San Francisco court, and argued that the Drug Enforcement Agency's allegation that they had been warned on six separate occasions to stop working with the two companies was false. The company also claimed that their profits from the shipments were far below the $820 million claim. But the case took on a more dire tone this month, when federal prosecutors added money laundering to the list of charges filed against FedEx. The new indictment, filed on August 15, alleged that Chhabra-Smoley and Superior Drugs paid their shipping fees with money obtained through illegal means. The indictment also stated that shipments delivered by the company resulted in the death of several individuals, but no official charges related to these incidents were filed against FedEx.

The case against FedEx is by no means an isolated event. In March 2013, United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office over charges that between 2003 and 2010, the company was using its services to distribute prescription meds for Internet pharmacies using invalid prescriptions. UPS also agreed to forfeit $40 million in payments received from the pharmacies, and institute a compliance program that would ensure that such businesses would not be able to use the company for distribution purposes in the future. A essay feature filed in May 2014 also alleged that has offered a wide array of prescription drugs, including antibiotics and anabolic steroids, which require strict medical supervision. Unlike UPS and FedEx, however, the retail giant has so far avoided the attentions of both the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by the sheer volume of its daily global shipments. Third-party sellers in foreign countries can also circumvent CBP intervention by marking their product as a gift, but in some cases, Amazon itself fulfills orders from its own warehouses, making them complicit in the sale and distribution of these substances. To date, neither the FDA nor Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has launched any official inquiry into Amazon’s business practices.

Time will tell whether Amazon will find itself facing indictments similar to those filed against FedEx, or if they will take the path of least resistance adopted by UPS and simply turn over funds to avoid charges. But as drugs continue to crisscross the United States and even the globe in ever-increasing numbers – according to the U.S. Postal Service, arrests for shipping illegal substances with their service is up 33 per cent from 2013 – government agencies will continue to adopt a hardline approach to trafficking through shipping companies and retailers. Chances are, these seemingly untouchable giants may be the Pharmalogical, Inc.’s of the future.

Paul Gaita is a Los Angeles-based writer. He has contributed to The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Amazon and The Los Angeles Beat, among other publications and sites.

Ending the War on Drugs: A Radical Take From Emerging Leader Dr. Carl Hart
As a public figure neuroscientist Carl Hart is changing minds about drug use itself. This after fighting the drug wars and then fighting the racism and myths behind them. 

Dr. Hart Photo via


Dr. Carl Hart grew up in a tightly knit, black working class Miami neighborhood in the 1970s and 1980s. A chance decision to take the military services aptitude test in high school led him to a career in neuroscience and a professorship at Columbia University. Along the way, reports of the crack epidemic decimating black America prompted him to research drug addiction as a way to help the community he came from. These reports, however, were not supported by the data he uncovered, and Dr. Hart’s career began to move in a different direction. The result of this exploration was High Price (published in paperback this summer), a mixture of memoir and science that charts the intersection of America’s war on drugs and its hostility towards marginalized groups.

Dr. Hart sat down with me in his office at Columbia University to discuss some conclusions he has reached about the facts of drug use and effects, and the politically expedient stories we have been taught to believe.

One of the things that became apparent is that this whole notion of a crack epidemic, there simply was no evidence for it.

I understand that you came into the field of drug research because you wanted to find out what was going on, with all the media reports of this scourge on the black community, and then things took a very different turn. I would like to hear a little bit about how that journey occurred.

Well I think most of us bought into it. It was in the 80’s where you had the whole crack thing. President Reagan and Nancy, they said that we had this “crack epidemic” going on. And then there were people in the community who were blaming crack cocaine for a wide range of problems: lack of employment, crime, all of these sorts of things, crack was being blamed for. And then all my favorite artists were also buying into this sort of thing – Gil Scott Heron, Public Enemy, and movies – New Jack City, Spike Lee did some films. All of these people were my favorite artists and they were important in helping me learn how to think. The Congressional Black Caucus, they all bought into this. They signed onto the 1986 laws that punished crack 100 times more harshly than powder. And so, when you have that sort of situation, it’s like, well, all these people can’t be wrong. I admire and respect these people. So I thought that one of the ways I could contribute is to learn more about drug addiction and try and help people with their drug addiction. You solve drug addiction, you solve the drug problem, and then you solve unemployment issues, you solve issues of violence and crime. So I thought.

And in the process of learning, one of the things that became apparent is that this whole notion of a crack epidemic, there simply was no evidence for it. Use of crack cocaine was always relatively low compared to powder cocaine, compared to marijuana, compared to other drug use. So that was inconsistent. And then other things that were inconsistent were “one hit and you’re addicted.” Just not true. We found that out through research studies that we did and also that other people did. All of these things started to challenge my thinking, and so I started to really question our entire field. And after reading historical accounts, newspapers about what people said about cocaine and other drugs, previously, then you start to see that this isn’t so much about the drugs, it’s about going after groups that we don’t like. And then you start to look at the racial discrimination and the data in terms of who is being arrested for what. So when I started to see all this stuff come together, I was actually angry, because I felt like a fraud had been perpetrated against me. But I didn’t know how to do anything about it. Because at this point, I was steeped in science, steeped into trying to be a tenured faculty at an institution. And if you’re trying to do that, you have to publish, and play the game. And part of playing the game, I learned, is that you publish these findings that say, “Drugs are bad.” That’s part of playing the game, because then it’s easier to get your papers published, if drugs are bad. And you certainly can’t say drugs have these good effects. So I was kind of trapped. I didn’t know what to do. Then I figured out I could publish review papers of the literature that other people had done. And then when you publish review papers you can publish critical reviews. And you can start pointing out that the data doesn’t follow the conclusions, and so I started slowly raising questions within an appropriate science mechanism. And then once I started doing that, I was asked to do a book, and I was tenured at this time, and that then provided the perfect vehicle to really say what the data say, and to point out the hypocrisy.

But, in this country, we are allowed to have these baseless ideas and policies when they deleteriously affect groups that we don’t care about.

When you did get this opportunity to write a book, why did you decide to integrate memoir?

Well one of the things that I know is that I have written damn near a hundred science articles, and maybe three people have read them. They’re boring. And in science, we try not to interject our personal feelings into what we write. But that’s deceptive. Because we do it all the time, but we pretend that we don’t. So it’s more dishonest than anything. But that dishonesty decreases the likelihood that anybody outside your field will read what you write. So I decided to use memoir for multiple reasons. I was thinking about who I was really trying to reach. I was trying to be clear that I was writing a book about the young cats, the brothers and sisters who look like me and came from communities where I came from. That was my audience, and I was very clear about that. But I knew if I wrote it well enough, it would have universal appeal. And then when you talk about that target audience, there are few books that are written for them. And so, in order to write a book for them you have to make a connection. And if they knew where I came from and how I came up, I thought that would connect, and they could see themselves in my story, and they could learn something about critical thinking, and not even realize they’re learning about critical thinking. I know anecdotes are powerful, but they are not data, I know that too. So I had to make sure I backed up the anecdote with data. That’s the major reason, to make the connection with these people who look like me, and who books aren’t usually written for.

And what you wanted to communicate was in part that this so-called “crack epidemic” was primarily institutionalized racism and not actually based in fact? And what was really going on was…

Crack was just part of it, that’s some of it because I did some crack cocaine research. But it’s a lot larger than crack cocaine. Certainly I talk a lot about methamphetamine, and I talk a little bit about keeping people safe with drugs, and I talk a lot about neuroscience and how they’ve been manipulated to believe some of these things. But the larger sort of thing is that in the United States we have perpetrated a lot of racial discrimination and we’re not honest about it. And so I was trying to look at the bigger picture, and drugs were just used as a vehicle to get me to talk about racial discrimination, to talk about poverty, the deflection of the federal government to really deal with issues. I’m a drug expert so it gave me a way in to talk about these larger issues, but the most important thing in the book for me are those larger issues, and crack was just one of those situations where it’s a myth that you destroy right up front, and if you bust that myth, now you’ve got people willing to listen for a lot of things, and so, again, it just became a vehicle.

Could you talk a little bit about this mythology that crack versus powder cocaine is so much more powerful, and so much more addictive, and how you have contributed to busting up that myth?

When you look at the chemical structure of powder cocaine and crack cocaine, the only difference is that the powder cocaine has the hydrochloride portion attached to it. They both have the cocaine base, and the pharmacological activity is in the base, not the hydrochloride salt. The hydrochloride salt is there just to make it stable such that the drug can’t be smoked. That’s the only difference. And so what you’re really talking about is a route of administration difference, but people didn’t realize that, and so that’s where I started from. And then you look at all the data that compare the effects of intravenous cocaine to smoked cocaine. The time course, intensity of effects, all the same. Same drug, same effect. So when you just step back and look at the data, you realize that the hysteria is not based on data, it’s just some great stories that people make up. 

And yet the severity of punishment for crack versus powder, you write, is now 18:1, and was 100:1 in the 1990s.

That’s right. It was 1986-1988, the laws passed were 100:1, and in 2010, like you pointed out, Barack Obama signed legislation to make it 18:1, such that crack is punished 18 times more harshly than powder, which is fucking stupid. So that just goes to show that we’re still stupid, even when we get a president that people voted for because he said that he would get rid of this difference. He didn’t. Most politicians are cowards, and they don’t have the political guts to do the right thing, and we see this now.