Archive for Drug Policy

The NFL, Congress and Drugs…

Posted in Current Events with tags , , on November 5, 2009 by corecompany

nfl

The NFL has sought the help of Congress, yes, Congress, the big system in the pretty white building that your tax dollars finance, to help them with their drug policy. It seems that some Minnesota Vikings found a loophole in the NFL’s drug policy and the league has taken it to congressional hearings. Is this really a congressional matter?  One would guess that congress has some big important stuff to do.  Why cant the NFL draft and actualize their own policy. Has it occurred to the NFL that they need to revisit their policy and see why it doesn’t work?

Sports has always been a confusing system in which to draft drug policy. For starters, it is fueled by alcohol. Sporting events are swimming in booze, financed by beer consumption so right away there is a system tolerating drunkenness. Beer and football go together, like peanut butter and jelly or crack and hookers.  The layers of complexity with sports and drugs happens quickly and most policy is standard “just say no” rhetoric.  This culture canonize athletes and then demonize them when they show weakness and human frailty.  It’s easy for us to condemn the likes of Michael Vick without knowing his story, culture, upbringing, etc.  Why do we expect that athletes are above using and that it is something that they can be warned out of doing. An NFL career has a very short shelf life, it makes sense to me that  players will look for every advantage they can find while they still have earning potential. This is a mental health issue, rather than burdening congress with this, shouldn’t the NFL be accountable for their own actions? Why did congress agree to this? Blame, scapegoating and buck passing never gains traction with any chemical misuse issue. That is one of the few absolutes in chemical dependency policy. It doesn’t work in schools, families, communities and it won’t work in the NFL.

Rather than calling congress it would make much more sense to hire a committee, headed by a psychiatrist with specific addiction training, to address these matters. The committee should include a peer. The NFL should have a mental health professional as part of their team, not a performance enhancing “sports psychologist” but a social worker. There should be an intake, a biopsychosocial , with every player, quarterly meetings with the mental health worker. Why is this hard?

Representative Lee Terry (R. Nebraska) says “We will be much harsher on cleaning up the sport than the directors of the league.” Great. More, “tough on crime” ego driven nonsense. Ok, Representative Terry, if you are going to “clean up the sport” start with the beer bottles in the parking lot.

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NCAA Drug Policy Needs an Overhaul!

Posted in Education with tags , , , on June 24, 2009 by corecompany

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NCAA drug testing policy

             There are few certainties when dealing with chemical misuse but one of them is that treatment works better than punishment. Part of the diagnostic criteria is that the individual is willing to use in spite of negative consequences (like punishment).

            In Section 18.4.1.5.1 4 (yes, that’s what it says) the NCAA drug policy states that if a student athlete (a questionable label in and of itself) tests positive for a street drug a second time they will lose all remaining eligibility. So in other words, “we will threaten and punish you” two things that almost never work with chemical abuse. Additionally, what is done with these “bad” kids who would use street drugs? Not much, I surmise. What University can claim a mental health professional as a member of the staff? Not one across campus in an over extended counseling office but one integrated into the daily lives of young people? None that I know.

            As an additional weirdness, only the rifle sports ban alcohol. That is good policy: “give a kid a gun; don’t let them get drunk”.  What the NCAA is saying is: go ahead and use the most damaging drug, the one that financially supports us.

            I agree that being drug free is a good idea for athletes; I think it’s a good idea for everyone, but why is a very dangerous psycho reactive drug (Etoh, demon alcohol) not banned with the rest of them? Additionally, why is there not a proactive plan to engage athletes before the damage is done? And why, oh why, is there not treatment for the young people who fall into a very easy trap?

            The NCAA is a very important system to have sensible, realistic policy. At some point in their lives many young people aspire to be accomplished athletes so a system like the NCAA is an important communicator whether they realize it or not or feel they have a responsibility to the issue is another question.

U.S. Drug Policy is a Total Failure!

Posted in Drug Reform with tags , , , on February 12, 2009 by corecompany

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Former Brazilian president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in collaboration with former Columbian president Cesar Gauiria and former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo have announced that the U.S drug policy is a “total failure”.  The situation with drugs in the US is a mess to be sure. Hard to declare it a total failure since the goals and objectives of the policies are not clearly defined, they are not even murkily defined. What are they designed to do? The Latin American presidents called for a more European model in drafting policy, where drug use/abuse is treated by health officials and not by law enforcement. They issued a statement that said “We are very concerned that the policies of narco-trafficking in the U.S. have practically no public debate today”.  I agree!!

My intention is not to minimize the sacrifice and loss of those individuals who have died in Iraq, but I wonder how many young people have died in the drug war during the time we have been in Iraq?  Are the lives of drug addicts less valuable?  In America it is more likely that black males will be incarcerated than go to college. I’m grateful for President Obama who is providing the belief that there is possibility for black, male youth. Go that extra mile Barack! Ending the paramilitary drug war will save lives, torment, revolutionize the culture, help people get into treatment, and reduce harm. Let’s meet with the Latin Americans and collaborate on Western Hemisphere policy.  I’ll volunteer to go with you for support….