Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Sorting out our thinking on drugs

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  • Ross Bell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Virginia, sorry for your loss. And thanks for your thoughtful and personal contributions to this discussion. Have you come across this Aussie organisation, Family Drug Support? The founder, Tony Trimingham, lost his son to a heroin overdose and has been a staunch advocate for drug law reform since. Tony spoke in NZ in 2009, and he's in this clip.

    CARM's a tricky one - it's set up for health professionals, and requires pretty detailed information. We understand calls to the Poisons Centre also get reported. 0800 764 766

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yes, the LAPP must be been developed and adopted using the “special consultative procedure" in section 83 of the Local Government Act 2002. If they do that right, then the policy is in effect. Plus they give a copy to the Authority.

    Auckland Council is trying to ban use of approved products in a public place. The Act doesn’t give them this power. So not sure if they can do this as a by-law instead.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Virginia Brooks,

    Its the momma bear in me roaring

    I was about to type "why are you googling me? :) I understood why you are keen. Hope you find some answers. You may have to go study up yourself, then you could get back to us next year . Take care.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ross Bell,

    And there’s another fishhook in this that the Ministry needs to sort out quickly. During this interim process retail outlets must remain in the location immediately prior to the law. So even if they wanted to move from the main strip or away from the Naenae shopping mall, they can’t. This is an area of tension that could quickly be resolved with some clear heads. i.e. councils could set the LAPP saying they want stores in X locations, then the Authority should allow those stores with intermim retail licences to relocate to those areas.

    The Authority really, really should do that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ross Bell,

    Councils aren't required to have one

    Which is not what the Minister has been saying.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I really liked that Campbell piece, mostly for the user vox-pops. I'd love to see a follow up. But they struck me as real people with real reasons for their real choice, all of which had been dictated either directly or indirectly, by the guy with the white hair standing there looking scared. One good thing about these products being legal is that you even could have this article, with people speaking honestly about their purposes, reasons, experiences, concerns, right there at the point of sale. The bad part about them being legal when the safer alternative is not, and the number of vendors is shorn down to a minimum, is that wherever an outlet can run, it probably will, and will be a bottleneck of every type of wastoid. Just like what grog shops were like when they were few in number with short hours. Old drunks would line up for their morning drink, then slam it down and wander purposelessly, just enjoying their drunkenness, whether it annoyed other people or not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Virginia Brooks, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    sorry Sophie, you've lost me on this one:
    I was about to type “why are you googling me? :) I understood why you are keen. Hope you find some answers. You may have to go study up yourself, then you could get back to us next year . Take care.

    Go 'study up' what exactly and 'get back to us' means....???

    Since Jun 2008 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Virginia Brooks,

    I meant you might have to join Uni to get the answers you are looking for. The googling was reference to just that and your apology for sounding ungracious. Nothing more. You could try googling Otago to get the departments that may help you with enquiries. Also if you did do a paper ,it would probably end up being very helpful indeed for all of us in the future. Hope you find what you want to know.
    Sofie (with an f)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Virginia Brooks, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Thoughtful of you, but I am not seeking 'answers' per se. Synthetic LSD use was just one factor in the lead up to my sons death. His situation was complicated by multi-substance drug abuse and mental health issues. There is no conclusive 'answer'. My point in sharing his story was to highlight the fact that there is a lack of info and accurate data in our health services, therefore a lack of adequate treatment.

    My sons story is just one of many. At present, screeds of valuable data (in the form of untested synthetic substances) is being wasted because it is not systematically collected / collated. We do not even have adequate testing facilities or tests. Its not a good situation.

    As for 'joining uni and doing a paper'... I already have a couple of degrees and am currently engaged in further postgrad study at Auckland uni. I live in Auckland and am aware of Auckland uni's centre for addiction research. All very nice but none of this is the answer and no-one should have to 'do a paper' when (a) the govt needs to be taking more responsibility and (b) many fine and dedicated experts in medicine, pharmacology, toxicology, addiction issues, mental health issues, govt policy making already exist.

    What is needed is a way to utilise the knowledge that is already out there + political will + financial means to sustain useful services.

    Since Jun 2008 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Virginia Brooks, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Now see, if you did know me better, you would know 'thoughtful of you' was tongue in cheek...

    Since Jun 2008 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Virginia Brooks,

    What is needed is a way to utilise the knowledge that is already out there + political will + financial means to sustain useful services.

    You'll like my story on Erowid et al when it's published (within the next couple of weeks, I think) in the Drug Foundation magazine. And as I said, I'll post the full interviewer with the Erowid founders here too. They struck me as very thoughtful people.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Virginia Brooks,

    At present, screeds of valuable data (in the form of untested synthetic substances) is being wasted because it is not systematically collected / collated. We do not even have adequate testing facilities or tests. Its not a good situation.

    Yes that is true. I do think this is a really big study though. There are many social variables that influence human behaviour and synthetics are one which are different everytime someone takes them.It would be an excellent study I think. Maybe I'll get to try one day soon.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Virginia Brooks, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    It would make a great piece of research. I hope you get a chance to do it. Plus its timely research - the synthetics industry is here to stay for the foreseeable future and (I believe) we are still just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

    Looking forward to reading your Erowid article, Russell. Keep up the good work.

    Since Jun 2008 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Virginia Brooks,

    none of this is the answer and no-one should have to 'do a paper'

    I hear you.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • debunk, in reply to Virginia Brooks,

    Virginia
    Need something like the Ramsey toxicology database (presuming this accumulated knowledge is going into one - tho appears not from the article) as a smartphone APP for emergency services etc configured as a decision support/expert system. Huge amount of info ( Ramsey "has spent decades collecting more than 27,000 samples of narcotics, which he has meticulously catalogued, labelled and hidden away in huge sliding drawers.")

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    I really liked that Campbell piece, mostly for the user vox-pops. I'd love to see a follow up.

    along very similar lines, here's the prequel:
    http://www.3news.co.nz/Synthetic-highs-Whats-the-solution/tabid/817/articleID/340383/Default.aspx

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to debunk,

    onfigured as a decision support/expert system

    sounds ideal

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • debunk, in reply to Sacha,

    There is a database for the Ramsey work at St George's medical school in London..
    He is described as a "toxicologist and drug scientist"..

    "His organisation, TicTac, produces a database that is used by law enforcement and health professionals to identify mystery pills and powders."

    Needs to be available as an APP.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • debunk, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Russell
    Perhaps you could ask the MoH if it would be possible for them to obtain the TicTac database from the toxicologist Dr Ramsey at St George's Hospital in London and put it in a smartphone APP for local doctors and hospitals .. since apparently it is "used by law enforcement and health professionals in the UK to identify mystery pills and powders" ??

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    On a related matter... People with HIV and other chronic conditions have used prescription marijuana to treat the side effects of medication for decades, but a new study published in the February issue of the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses suggests that daily doses of one component found in marijuana could help cells fend off the virus.

    The study is the second of its kind to indicate that delta-9-THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, could help increase the number of healthy cells in HIV-positive patients who use the drug on a regular basis. A 2011 study by the same team of researchers at Louisiana State University Health Science Center’s Department of Physiology found that HIV-positive rhesus monkeys treated with daily doses of delta-9-THC had lower levels of viral infection, higher numbers of immune cells, better survival rates, and less weight loss. So while HIV-positive humans who use marijuana don’t yet have concrete scientific proof that the herb is good for them—and anything smoked and inhaled includes dangerous carcinogens—it’s safe to add Molina’s study to the growing body of evidence that the active ingredient in marijuana does have some legitimate medical properties.

    There are at least four other studies that say the same thing:

    August 2004

    An Ohio State University study indicates that HIV-positive people’s cognitive function may worsen when they use marijuana.

    April 2005

    Researchers at Imperial College in London find that HIV-positive marijuana users report reduced muscle pain and nausea, among other improvements.

    May 2007

    Results of a Columbia University study suggest that marijuana increases caloric intake and improves mood in HIV-positive people.

    May 2013

    Tel Aviv University scientists report that small doses of marijuana can halt brain damage in the general population.

    Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report Reply

  • Virginia Brooks, in reply to debunk,

    re: Perhaps you could ask the MoH if it would be possible for them to obtain the TicTac database from the toxicologist Dr Ramsey at St George’s Hospital in London and put it in a smartphone APP for local doctors and hospitals .. since apparently it is “used by law enforcement and health professionals in the UK to identify mystery pills and powders” ??
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes Yes Debunk, this is forward thinking - its a great idea. Ramsey has a unique archive of research and its great to hear St Georges are using it. This would be a major plus for us to have in NZ. And then to add to, as we go... build our own NZ / pacific database.
    Exciting - the possibilities.
    It would be ideal to get that happening, plus your idea of an NGO to administer a system like checkit.

    Since Jun 2008 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    debunk, what is that database used for practically? Is it to actually administer emergency treatment, or for the purposes of future research and maybe policy making? Or both?

    I ask because the former seems like a very hard ask. Virginia's experience in the A&E mirrors my own, the one time I had to take someone who was in a bad way on synthetic stuff to hospital. They didn't really care what it was that he had - he even had the actual packaging with him, and they scarcely glanced at it. They were more concerned with the usual triage procedures - checking the vital signs, asking about the symptoms, making a decision whether to even do anything at all (considering that in an A&E there are quite often competing concerns, other people with much more serious needs than just to lie down and be monitored for a few hours). I went along mostly on the off-chance that if he took a serious turn for the worse, I'd feel obliged to tell them that there's a good chance with this particular guy that the synthetics he's holding aren't the only drugs he's taken today, and I could probably have guided them about what to look for. It wasn't needed. Nor was it asked for. Nor would I have violated his privacy by telling them anything about it, unless the need suddenly seemed very urgent.

    And the experience was quite illuminating. In cases of potentially toxic overdosing, the hardest part for the medical staff (who are in the first place typically triage nurses, then doctors later) is to ascertain any kind of truth about what's actually been ingested. When it comes to exotic rare concoctions, which have potentially been mixed inside the patient into even rarer crossovers, there's very little evidence for them to go on as to what chemicals they might try as an antidote. That's even if the packaging does actually contain the truth. If it's serious enough, and the patient is looking like they're getting worse, I'd think they would do their own blood analysis, rather than trusting anything the patient, or anyone with them, would say. Because they have to know how the drugs are affecting this particular person right now. And that might manifest in different things for different people. Or even just different foods they ate that day.

    I guess what I'm saying is that sound medical decisions are typically based on huge trials. Isolated points of evidence for individual reactions aren't going to form the basis of decisions that doctors would want to take, unless they really had nothing else to go on, and the patient is steadily worsening.

    I'm not even vaguely saying what Virginia is asking about is a bad idea. It's a very good idea. I'm just asking about the motivation. It would seem to me to be excellent evidence to inform the world about the effects of various chemicals.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to ,

    I could never get my head around smoking dope as any kind of medication, rather than just being a recreational drug.

    I can see why some people would want that, but presumably either pills or a vaporizer would be a better way to have it. It would only make sense to me for people who are already smokers. Then they could mix it into their tobacco. Not sure though, whether that might be even more unhealthy, considering that dope hits are usually held in longer, and you'd be doing that with tobacco smoke, potentially increasing the harm from that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • debunk, in reply to BenWilson,

    Read the article on the "evidence" and how difficult the whole area is

    www.theguardian.com/society/2013/apr/26/hidden-dangers-of-legal-highs

    No-one will do "trials" of these psychoactives because there are too many and changing too fast according to the market. I will see what I can find about this unit and the database - tho if its used by police and health sector must be useful for identification of substance type and therefore possible treatments?

    "Really, if you'd said even 10 years ago that you;d be able to buy tryptamines on the high street who'd have believed you?" said Ramsey wearily." Times have changed.

    "In comparison with regular drugs, there is hardly any data on the harm these drugs do."

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2012 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to BenWilson,

    This is absolutely how I feel, you articulate it so well Ben. In my experience, if you feel like you could be dying, one gets pretty honest pretty quickly with the professionals and in my experience o'seas ,Professionals have seen similar signs present time and time again so there is the monitoring and checking vital signs first and what one ingests does not compromise that which anyone can receive in A an 'E. They are duty bound to help you in order of most serious at the front.
    As an aside, I haven't taken synthetic cannabis, but I have had, I would say, a lot of experience with and around many other drugs. Marijuana is a brilliant pacifier and encourager for such conditions as general pain and chemo and a friend uses it for MS, but not for everyone. It is the individuals circumstance and the type of medical problem that has occurred and I have been advised from health professional of the considered benefits of bud . They have all suggested a vaporiser which I find truly professional in that my situation has deemed it worthy of a mention. Once a Doctor got through to me in trying to suggest I consider some prescribed medications that I was weary of by saying "Sofie, let's face it, you have tried just about every other illegal drug, how but giving these blood pressure tablets a try too." I laughed and thought, yes my blood pressure is more of his expertise than mine. I now take them for life.

    ETA. It has always been my choice to take whatever drugs I have (except when in Hospital in a coma) and I have always excepted there may consequences and to be honest, I think most people who take drugs know that one day they might not like, know about or care about the outcome. That's life.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

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