Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Drug Court obviously imposes constraints on drug abusers, but the problem is relapse and a return to using again, which can not only be discouraging, but land them into a long term battle with little hope of recovery. Or..sometimes a prison sentence.
Many drug abusers who've tried and failed are turning toward spiritual support. There are many good Christian rehabs in the US with a excellent success rate for those who are sincerely committed to making changes in their lives.
Something to think about......
Monday, March 1, 2010
Can God help beat additions? Yes, absolutely, 100% and no doubt about it. I've seen it happen in several cases where people were absolutely at the end of their ropes and had tried every other possible means of recovery. Once they truly turned to God, and were honest with him as well as themselves, they were delivered completely with no withdrawals, or cravings.
However, the way to keep their deliverance and sobriety from drugs and alcohol depends on their continuing on with a true dependence on God, not drugs.
It works, I've been there. Drug court can help through constraints, but the "inner craving" to use will still be there. That's why there are so many failures with drug court alone.
Drug court graduate hopes to give back
Source: The Natchez Democrat | February 21, 2010
Feb. 21, 2010 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex) -- NATCHEZ -- It was by the grace of God and the Sixth Judicial District Adult Drug Court Program that Robert Bailey was able to stand behind the lectern at Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church and declare his thanks.
"I want to thank all of you for seeing something in me that a lot of people didn't see, something I didn't even see," Bailey said. "But today, thanks to God, I am sober three years."
Bailey was one of four graduates from the drug court program Thursday, and he was the first to admit it wasn't easy.
"It wasn't fun, and it wasn't always nice," he said.
Drug court is a voluntary program that functions as a hyper-intensive probation program. While in drug court, participants are able to work, but they have to meet tough standards, stringent drug testing and constant checks from drug court administrators.
And it isn't always easy.
Two of the other graduates talked about having to spend time in jail, and another spoke of having to earn the love of his family over time.
But the end result is that the participants get to leave a life of addiction, and the court expunges the drug offenses that landed them in jail from their record.
That makes drug court a silver lining to the cloud of addiction that hung over their lives, Circuit Court Judge Forrest "Al" Johnson said.
"Whenever they got to the point that precipitated the action that brought them here, it was a blessing in disguise because it brought them to drug court," Johnson said.
For Bailey, it was a long, soul-numbing road to drug court. The first step, just like the 12-step addiction programs teach, was admitting he had a problem.
"Most of my adult life, I was on drugs," he said.
"After seven years of active addiction, I could admit to myself I had a problem."
And looking back, he was robbing everybody blind, but not monetarily -- he was robbing them of the love and attention they deserved.
"I have never stolen anything in my life, but I stole from my family, I stole from my kids," he said. "I couldn't be a child to my parents, a father to my kids."
For the first two years of drug court, he kept the rules, never failed a test and fulfilled his obligations despite some problems in his personal life.
But he didn't feel like he was alive, Bailey said.
And that is when the second step to the 12-step program, recognizing a greater power that can give strength, helped him.
"When you quit drugs, it leaves a hole, and you have to fill it with something," Bailey said. "I won't tell you what to fill it with, but I found Christ.
So with the support of his family, and a trust in God, Bailey said he's facing the future.
But this isn't the last time Bailey will be in drug court.
That's not because he'll commit another offense, though.
It's because he wants to help others in their struggle through drug court.
"I have never been addicted to drugs, and I don't know what that's like," Circuit Court Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders said. "But (the graduates) do."
"This afternoon, I was speaking with Robert, and he said he will be back. He said, 'I will be back to help you.'"
Newstex ID: KRTB-1038-42235359
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Guys and gals,
Drug Courts can help. Monitoring systems such as alcohol bracelets are "control mechanisms", but maybe the best way out is to get committed to YOURSELF, get in a good treatment program, enlist the support of your family, friends and spiritual counselor, (last, but certainly not least,imo).
ST. LOUIS, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services (EMASS) has announced that Saint Louis County Justice Services awarded their alcohol monitoring contract for the county's DUI offenders to EMASS and their transdermal alcohol sensors, known as SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitors).
SCRAM includes an ankle bracelet, worn around-the-clock, that samples an offender's perspiration every 30 minutes in order to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety. Both the St. Louis County Circuit and Drug Courts have used the SCRAM System on 375 offenders to-date. Nearly 70 offenders, predominantly repeat drunk drivers, are monitored daily in St. Louis County. The St. Louis City Court has monitored an additional 85 offenders with SCRAM.
According to EMASS President Mike Smith, the contract is particularly important because the review process included testing of other alcohol monitoring systems by Saint Louis County Justice Services officials. "We've been providing SCRAM technology to courts in the eastern part of Missouri since 2003 because we believe this technology is the best and most reliable way for the criminal justice system to fight the epidemic of drunk driving," says Smith. "SCRAM has revolutionized the way we manage DUI offenders, allowing courts to focus on the root cause of the criminal behavior, which is the alcohol abuse and addiction." EMASS has monitored nearly 2,500 offenders with SCRAM in 28 eastern Missouri counties. Smith says that by testing other technologies and selecting SCRAM and EMASS, the award underscores the county's belief in the system. "It tells us that we're delivering the right technology and providing value to their program. We are honored to be a part of this contract," he says.
Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets the SCRAM System throughout the U.S., says the strongest testament to the reliability of the SCRAM System is when agencies test their product side-by-side with other testing protocols. "Seeing is believing," says Don White, AMS COO. "We've got a long, proven track record of successfully monitoring hundreds of thousands of offenders. But first-hand experience - putting SCRAM head to head with other testing protocols - is the best way to show officials the potential for managing their offenders and keeping communities safe," he says.
Statewide, SCRAM has been used to monitor nearly 4,000 Missouri offenders, including a highly publicized pilot program with the Missouri Department of Corrections. Nationally, SCRAM is used in 48 states and has monitored 125,000 offenders since 2003.
On February 1, AMS also began a controlled roll-out of the next generation of their system, which incorporates House Arrest monitoring into their transdermal monitoring bracelet. Known as SCRAMx, the system will begin limited use in eastern Missouri counties in March, allowing courts the option to increase or decrease supervision of repeat, high-risk offenders with a single monitoring bracelet.
Alcohol and Crime in Missouri
According to The Century Council, which compiles DUI/DWI data state by state, more than 35,000 offenders are arrested each year for DWI in the state of Missouri. Of those, more than 28 percent are repeat offenders. And according to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 36 percent of violent crimes and 75 percent of domestic violence cases include offenders who were drunk at the time of the offense. Drunk drivers represent 18 percent of all those on probation each year, more than any other single offense. "Recidivism rates for offenders struggling with alcohol are astounding. Programs that can manage the addiction and ensure sobriety through continuous testing are seeing significant impact," says White.
About Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services (EMASS), Inc.
Founded in 1991, EMASS is a company that provides a wide range of services to the courts and criminal justice system throughout Missouri, including private probation supervision, pre-sentence investigations, SATOP service for DWI offenders, domestic violence counseling and education seminars, driver improvement programs and alcohol/drug education programs, as well as traditional electronic (house arrest) monitoring. Headquartered in St. Louis, EMASS has field offices in St. Charles, the City of St. Louis, Florissant, Olivette, O'Fallon, Warrenton, Montgomery City, Jefferson City, Columbia, Springfield, Union and Troy, Missouri.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAM®, the world's only Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system, which uses non-invasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption. SCRAM fully automates the alcohol testing and reporting process, providing courts and community corrections agencies with the ability to continuously monitor alcohol offenders, increase offender accountability and assess compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 116 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.
SOURCE Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010
U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader praises efforts of local initiative
By Ruth Liao • Statesman Journal • February 17, 2010
"When northeast Salem esident Lucas Carpenter, 35, was arrested in June on theft and meth charges, he just felt failure and regret. He was having problems with his marriage, his children and his self-esteem.
But Carpenter underwent a turnaround as a participant of the Center for Family Success, a nonprofit program for parents with criminal backgrounds. He's going through drug treatment, family counseling, financial management and parenting classes.
"My life's in the middle of a complete overhaul," he said.
Carpenter shared his story with U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. and representatives from Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on Tuesday.
The presentation showed the efforts of Marion County Kids First Initiative, a collaboration of programs and services for children whose parents are addicted to methamphetamine.
In 2008, Kids First was awarded federal grant funds of about $380,000, which were given in October 2008 and last until June of this year, said Barb Young, Marion County senior policy analyst.
Marion County also received $740,000 for its next phase of funding, which is set to come in October, Young said.
According to a survey conducted in 2005, 73 percent of inmates in the Marion County jail were parents, said Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson.
"A lot of times, we don't think of people in the criminal justice system as parents, just individuals," she said.
Marion County Sheriff's Cmdr. Jeff Wood, who supervises the parole and probation division, said his agency is using evidence-based programs to help clients feel motivated to change, not simply referring them to a drug and alcohol treatment program.
Schrader said he was impressed to hear of the "wraparound" approach in the programs. Schrader said he wanted to invest in these types of programs.
"You cannot have success if you lock up people for an 'X' amount of time," he said.
He said he hoped to see smaller towns and rural communities adopt a similar approach.
The Center for Family Success is run by the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency. The program helps to motivate participants with skills and services such as goal-setting, housing referrals, financial management, parenting classes and mentoring in order to reunify families broken by incarceration or drug abuse.
In all, 65 men and women have participated at the center; 60 people took part in job and skills training and 25 people were placed in jobs.
For Carpenter, who began using alcohol and drugs when he was 9 years old, meth was the hardest addiction to overcome. He used meth for eight years before his arrest last summer. Then, he took part in Marion County drug court and the Center for Family Success. Carpenter said staying clean has helped improve his family relationships and ongoing job search, especially having a relationship with his mentor Christopher Hupp, the program's director.
"He's helped me dust off the tools that I have," he said."
rliao@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6941
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Drug Testing Technologies: Sweat Patch
A recent innovation in the science of drug testing, the PharmChek Drugs of Abuse Patch - or "sweat patch" - is used to test for various illegal drugs. The sweat patch is affixed to the skin in much the same way as a band-aid, and is worn for up to 14 days. The patch is used to detect the presence of drugs as excreted through perspiration. Individuals required to wear the sweat patch are those on probation or involved in child custody cases. The federal government is currently considering use of the sweat patch in federal workplace drug testing.
The Drug Policy Alliance and DPA Network feel that the use of sweat testing in any of these settings is inappropriate, as published, peer-reviewed research has revealed serious problems with current sweat testing technology. We believe that sweat patch testing poses an unacceptably strong potential for false positive test results. False positives carry serious consequences for tested individuals - sometimes including incarceration or loss of child custody.
If you are involved in a court case where sweat patch evidence is being used, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Drug Policy Alliance tracks the use of the sweat patch, and in some cases can assist individuals in challenging the use or admission of sweat patch test results.
How does the sweat patch work?
The sweat patch consists of a gauze pad covered by a protective membrane similar to that of a band-aid. The membrane has an adhesive perimeter that sticks tightly to the test subject's skin. The sweat patch is usually worn on the subject's upper arm. Before application, the subject's arm is swabbed with an isopropyl alcohol rub.
After the patch has been worn for approximately seven to ten days, it is removed and the gauze pad is sent to the laboratory for testing. The lab usually performs "screening tests" for several different drugs, using an immunoassay testing system. If any screening test indicates the presence of a drug, the lab performs a "confirmatory test" for that drug, using the more precise "gas chromatography / mass spectrometry" (GC/MS) testing system. If the confirmatory test finds levels of the drug above the "cutoff" the lab is using, the lab will report a positive test result.
Where is the sweat patch being used?
Many counties around the country use the sweat patch to drug test individuals who are on probation, in drug courts, or involved in child custody cases. PharmChem contracts with these counties to sell them the sweat patch testing kits, to perform the drug tests, and to help the counties defend the results in court.
The Administrative Office of the Federal Courts also has a contract with PharmChem. This contract gives individual federal court districts the option to use the sweat patch when they drug test individuals who are on probation or "supervised release" for federal crimes. Not all federal court jurisdictions use the sweat patch, but many do.
How has the sweat patch fared in court?
Each trial court has the right to make its own decision as to whether sweat patch evidence will be admitted, and how that evidence will be used. A decision by an appellate court would govern the trial courts in that appellate court's jurisdiction, but so far there are no appellate court decisions on the sweat patch from either state or federal courts.
Many trial courts have considered the sweat patch. Some courts have admitted sweat patch evidence, and relied on it in deciding to imprison probationers or terminate parental custody. Others have found the sweat patch insufficiently reliable for these purposes: at least six different federal courts have rejected government efforts to base punitive action on sweat patch test results.
While Drug Policy Alliance tracks court decisions on the sweat patch, many of these cases are confidential, and hardly any have resulted in written court decisions. There is no exhaustive list of court rulings on the sweat patch. Only two courts have issued written decisions that discuss the science behind the sweat patch and are published in official legal case reports.
§ U.S. v. Snyder. F.Supp. 2d. 2002 WL 257381 N.D.N.Y., 2002. This recent federal court decision finds that in certain circumstances, the sweat patch can be environmentally contaminated, leading to a false positive test result. Because the defendant in this case made a plausible case that his positive test results were a product of environmental contamination, the court rejected the use of the sweat patch to revoke the defendant's supervised release.
§ U.S. v. Stumpf. 54 F. Supp. 2d 972 D. Nev. May 31, 1999. This federal court decision finds sweat patch evidence admissible, and rules that it can be used as the basis for revoking an individual's supervised release. This decision was issued prior to the release of several scientific studies that indicate problems with the sweat patch. The decision contains virtually no scientific analysis: the court simply describes the views presented by each side's expert, and then states that the court agrees with the government's expert.
What are the problems with the sweat patch?
The problems with the sweat patch are many:
False positives through environmental contamination. Scientific studies have demonstrated that environmental contamination can produce false positives in the sweat patch.
Naval Research Lab study. This study by the United States Naval Research Laboratory found that the sweat patch is susceptible to environmental contamination through two scenarios:
"Contamination from within": Environmental contamination may occur when a test subject has a small amount of drug residue on her skin where the patch is to be placed, and the isopropyl alcohol rub fails to remove that residue. The sweat patch will then pick up that drug residue, which becomes indistinguishable from drugs excreted through the subject's sweat, resulting in a false positive test result.
"Contamination from without": Environmental contamination may occur when drugs in the environment leak through the protective membrane covering a patch that is being worn. This situation is more likely when the membrane is wet and when it is exposed to a substance with a high ("basic") pH level. This is the environmental contamination scenario that led to the rejection of sweat patch evidence in U.S. v. Snyder .
PharmChem's internal studies have duplicated the results of the Naval Research Laboratory Study in finding that "contamination from within" can occur. PharmChem has refused to release or publish the results of these studies, but the studies were described in detail in the recent court hearing in U.S. v. Snyder .
Studies designed in consultation with PharmChem and conducted at the Center for Human Toxicology in Salt Lake City also duplicated the results of the Naval Research Laboratory Study in finding that "contamination from within" can occur.
False positives through skin storage. A recent study suggests that long-term storage of drugs in skin could lead to false positive test results. See Levisky, Bowerman, Jenkins, and Karch, "Drug Deposition in Adipose Tissue and Skin: Evidence for an Alternative Source of Positive Sweat Patch Tests," Forensic Science International 110 (2000) 35-46. The study indicates that chronic drug users may store drugs under the skin surface. These drugs may be released a long time after drug use so that "a sweat patch, used as a detection device, might falsely indicate that new drug use had occurred." Such false positives are a particular concern to the many individuals who have been heavy drug users, have conquered their drug habits, and are currently being tested by the sweat patch.
False positives during application and removal. Application and removal of the sweat patch are usually performed by non-medical personnel, in a non-clinical setting. Patches are often applied and removed in a probation office by probation officers who have received only a videotaped training. Any sloppiness or failure to follow proper procedures can easily result in false positives. PharmChem officials have themselves admitted that a there is a risk of false positives during application and removal. Indeed, one study indicates that even when application and removal is performed by scientists, in a laboratory setting, contamination can result in false positives. See Cone, Hillsgrove, Jenkins, Keenan, and Darwin, "Sweat Testing for Heroin, Cocaine, and Metabolites," Journal of Analytical Toxicology 18 (1994) 298, 304.)
No dose-response relationship. For any drug testing system, the "dose-response relationship" indicates the test result that one would normally expect to see based on ingestion of a certain amount of a particular drug. This information is central to analysis of the results of any drug test. If one does not know the dose-response relationship for a particular drug in a drug testing system, one cannot make meaningful statements about test results for that drug. And most importantly, one cannot set a "cutoff level" that will distinguish a positive test result from trace contamination of the subject, the sample or the testing system.
No one knows the dose-response relationship for sweat testing. The few attempts at controlled-dose studies have been methodologically inadequate, and have found enormous variability in test results.
In one study, a subject tested at 15 ng/ml after being given a dose of methamphetamine, while the next subject tested at 631 ng/ml, 42 times higher, after being given a smaller dose. (Compare subject # 6 with subject # 7, in unpublished "SCRI" study in PharmChem's FDA submission.) Such wide variations in response between different test subjects are typical. Subjects given 20 ng of methamphetamine, tested six days after ingestion, show results as low as 5.7 ng/ml (SCRI subject # 7) and as high as 905 ng/ml (SCRI subject # 15). These high-end results are in no way aberrational: twenty different tests in the SCRI study alone produced readings above 500 ng/ml; many readings were over 1000 ng/ml.
Substantial disparities exist even with two patches taken simultaneously from a single individual. The SCRI study tested two patches from the lower chest of Subject # 13, nine days after a dose of methamphetamine. One patch tested "negative" at 7.1 ng/ml, while the other tested at 30 ng/ml - a "positive" four times as high. Similarly, the study tested two patches removed from the lower chest of Subject # 5, seven days after the dose of methamphetamine. One patch tested at 34 ng/ml, while the other tested at 185 - more than five times as high.
To our knowledge, neither PharmChem nor any scientist has claimed to understand the dose-response relationship for sweat testing. Nonetheless, PharmChem employs cutoff levels that it claims can distinguish actual drug use from contamination. Without an understanding of a dose-response relationship, however, PharmChem's cutoff level is unreliable.
No regulation of PharmChem's testing program. The federal government does not regulate the use of the sweat patch. PharmChem's sweat testing program is not overseen by the federal government. The federal government does not require PharmChem's sweat testing program to use any particular collection techniques, chain-of-custody procedures, quality control mechanisms, or testing procedures.
All aspects of PharmChem's sweat testing program are designed and operated by a private corporation, without any public checks and balances or quality assurances. No government entity ensures that PharmChem is spending the money necessary to make its tests as accurate as possible. When a company markets a product as a means to catch more drug users, there may in fact be a financial incentive to return positive test results, regardless of accuracy. Without government regulation of PharmChem's testing program, such a dynamic can take effect.
Patch wear problems. The adhesive membrane covering the sweat patch is supposed to bind tightly to the subject's skin, theoretically protecting the sweat patch and preventing tampering. However, subjects routinely report that the membrane does not adhere properly, peeling or rolling up along one or more edges of the sweat patch. This appears to be particularly common when subjects perspire heavily. As far as we know, there have been no studies to determine how often the sweat patch will fail to adhere in real-life wear conditions.
When a sweat patch does not adhere properly, the subject is usually accused of having attempted to tamper with the sweat patch, and is considered as having submitted a positive drug test.
What about rumors that PharmChem has given false testimony about the sweat patch in court?
This memorandum was submitted as part of an ethics complaint filed with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Society for Forensic Toxicologists. It recounts testimony given under oath by Neil Fortner, a vice president of PharmChem, in various court hearings regarding the reliability of the sweat patch. These hearings occurred in cases involving removal of child custody and the threat of incarceration.
The memorandum describes numerous false statements made under oath by Mr. Fortner regarding scientific research on the sweat patch. The memorandum also describes false or strongly misleading statements made under oath by Mr. Fortner regarding his academic credentials. Drug Policy Alliance possesses and can produce copies of court transcripts and other documents referenced in the memorandum.