Archive for Gil Kerlikowske

Sober is the New Black in 2010!

Posted in Current Events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2009 by corecompany


I am sad to report that I still have a job. I am still the CEO of the core company and we still do what we do: intervene, manage crisis, consult on treatment options, manage a sober living, advocate for policy reform, produce a TV show. This is not really an advertisement to the four of you who read this, it’s a long way to let you know that addiction is alive and well and continuing to create havoc in communities, families, schools & work environments. With the Holidays in full swing and winding down, how did substance misuse impact you? Family fights? Car crashes? Overdose? Someday, I will teach history and coach baseball. I would like to think that will happen because my business is obsolete, more than likely, it will happen because I need a change. Fear not, I’m not going anywhere for a while.

1)   Michael Jackson: What’s to say? I hope bubbles is OK and isn’t stuffing his feelings with too many bananas. The man walked around with a chimp.

2)   DJ AM. Sad, sad, case. A great guy, tried really hard, lost his struggle.

3)   Britney Murphy: “Natural Causes”?  Huh? Well, technically cocoa leaves are natural.

4)   Mexican Blood Bath: More people have been killed in the Mexican border towns in the drug war than in Iraq. Talk about terror and right here. Where is the discourse on this? C’mon CNN, Fox, etc., lets see this discussed.

5)   Ted Kennedy: One of the Good Old Timers, never found recovery and what a tragic thing that was, what could he have been as a sober guy?

6)   Josh Hamilton: Great example of owning one’s own imperfections and trying to do better. Didn’t make excuses, didn’t blame, didnt minimize, showed that recovery and the people in it are imperfect and that for most is part of the deal.

7)   Diane/Daniel Schuler: Denial kills. Enabling does too.

8)   Dash Snow: A cliché of his own youthful arrogance and ego. Beautifully talented, brilliant young mind lost to the disease.

9)   Gil Kerlikowske: Is he with us? Is he not? Is he a reformer? Is he a cop? Where are you Gil? Great seeing you at the recovery rally, hope to see more of you in our sub-culture

10)  Redmond O’Neal: dismissed as an overindulged Hollywood brat, and lets face it, that is likely accurate. Also a very troubled young guy suffering from the disease and forever guilty at being absent from his mother’s passing.

11)  Chris Kennedy Lawford: Great work for the wretched of the earth. Who is dismissed more than poor people, afflicted with IV addiction and a rotting liver? I’m not sure. Great work coming forward and using lineage for the greater good. Keep it going, brother.

12) Levi Johnston. Addict? I don’t know. Child of addiction? Almost certain. His mother has multiple arrests on drug charges and his father is AWOL, bad idea for a young guy in the spot light and a new father himself to be self-determining. To add to the pain, impossibly stupid, gun-toting moose hunter hates him and enters into pissing match. Really, Governor? I mean resigned Governor. Call me anytime you want to talk about it Levi.

13) Tom Amiano: Someone had to do it. Someone had to say “Hey, let’s decriminalize Marijuana”. Well, lots of people say it but he wrote a bill, wears a suit, and is a legit city politician. Bringing it into honesty.

14) John Odom: Died of an overdose. How sad, where was baseball when this kid was spinning out?

15)  Michael Phelps: Whatever, he smokes weed. So? All I can say is don’t share yours with him. Can you imagine the bong hits that guy could take?

And so, it goes on, the reform, the fight, the tragedy and the redemption. Many, many, happy tales of how recovery and intoxicant free-living works. Maybe my New Year resolution should be to throw some happy tales in the mix.


What’s the Death Toll of the Drug War?

Posted in Drug Reform with tags , , on November 28, 2009 by corecompany

Google “Death toll in the drug war”. Not much comes up, mostly the content is about the number of people killed in Mexico. What about here in The US?

It was Nixon who declared war on drugs, which means the war on drugs has been going on for a very long time now. Sure there are statistics or records of some kind kept as to the numbers of people who die in the drug war. What is the body count? Does anyone know, and if not, how come? Why is there no discourse in political arenas about this?  It’s staggering, really. I can’t come up with a good answer. How did the “just say no” culture win over science, logic, personal freedoms?  Have we just accepted this as the way it is? Will we ever have a cultural first step?

An article in Esquire by John H. Richardson tries to come up with some numbers about the death toll in the drug war. The numbers, rough unresearched, and speculative are amazing. With overdoses the estimate is 15,223 dead, annually. The number in Iraq is 4,684 over the last seven years.  The estimate for what the drug war costs is $52 billion, yes, billion. That seems like a lot of money to spend trying to control a personal choice. More offending then the cost of life and financial resources is that the war is completely ineffective. In other words, we pay a huge tab to kill people, shatter families, incarcerate our own people, all because we don’t like that people get high?

I am never quite sure which layer of the drug war bothers me the most. At the moment I think it’s that we just keep accepting this, keep letting government leaders brush it under the rug and not really take on the issue. Will there be a time in history when we look back on the drug war with shame? Will future generations look at it as a form of genocide? They might. ‘There was an era when we used to shoot drug users or try to incarcerate them, we denied them fourth amendment protection because we didn’t like them.”  Email your senator, your congressman, and while you’re at it, shoot an email to Gil Kerlikowske and ask: “What is the death toll of the drug war?” Go on, just ask.

NYC Needs a Recovery High School

Posted in Education with tags , , , , , , on October 17, 2009 by corecompany

This week Loft 107 hosted a fun dinner to spread the word about establishing a Recovery High School in NY for adolescents battling addiction who need a safe, structured sober environment to attend High School. Dr. Tian Dayton wrote about it on the Huffington Post:

Me.Want.Now! The Overindulgent Mind of an Addict.

Posted in Drug Reform with tags , , , , on September 24, 2009 by corecompany


Instant gratification is something that plagues us all.  In a world of texting and instant messaging it is easy to get used to that kind of time and yet it’s not realistic. Delaying gratification is something that all drug addicts in recovery must learn.  They must get used to a pace of life that is slow and frankly, boring to them.  Try as they might, one of the difficulties of sustainable recovery is that NOTHING will ever feel as good as the DOC (drug of choice for you outsiders).  Patience is not the strong suit of any addict. Sometimes I think addicts can me summed up in three words: ME (self centered in the extreme) Want  (addicts are a black hole of want) Now (waiting? Ummm, no). ME.WANT.NOW! Sound like an overindulged child? Yes, I know.

            Even when people have been sober for a while, these characteristics are prevalent.  Often in a subtle way.  In recent months I have paid close attention to Gil Kerlikowske and the office of Drug Czar. I thought that under a new administration, we would have new policies. I wanted this for treatment providers, for families, for addicts, for all of us. I wanted this now. The truth is we have been in this drug war mess since Nixon. Did I really think Gil would change this in a few months? It’s a frustrating situation but he has already come a long way. He has publicly supported recovery high schools, called for an end to the drug war and yesterday in the Miami Herald Gil said, “draconian sentencing laws aren’t helping us win the drug war”.

            So, brick by brick my citizen. Recovery is a long slow process and recovery from the endless drug war won’t be an exception.  Of course I want this changed now. I don’t like waiting and sometimes, without even knowing it, the entitlement of what I want dressed up as being a warrior for the greater good wins. In other words, Thanks Gil, keep up the good work!

A&E Recovery Rally – Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Posted in Current Events with tags , , , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by corecompany

recovery rally

Today was the 2nd annual recovery rally, sponsored by A & E television network.  A gathering of an estimated 10,000 people walking across the Brooklyn Bridge to celebrate recovery. It was a great public advocacy event bringing together the entire bouquet of humanity a whole range of recovering people, treatment providers and the best part, politicians. Karen Carpenter Palumbo, commissioner of OASAS led the political delegation that included Felix Ortiz, Marty Markowitz and Gil Kerlikowske the drug czar. As critical as I have been at times of Gil, it was an amazing thing to see him participate in the event. He seemed to enjoy the company of actress Kristen Johnston, but more importantly, he came, as did Governor Patterson.  This was a great day in the community-organizing world of treatment and recovery. In the past, the idea that any drug czar would have been there is absurd. Hard to imagine Barry McCaffree marching across the Brooklyn bridge with 1,500 people currently in treatment at Phoenix house. No the war on drugs seldom includes recovering from drug abuse and addiction, politicians don’t like this issue. I have talked to them and the common theme is “addicts don’t vote”. No, no they don’t.

            It is estimated that one addict impacts the lives of 100 people which is why I believe addiction is the #1 public health crisis and should be given the attention for the politicos that it needs. Thanks, Karen, Marty, Felix, Gov Patterson and Gil, (the best drug czar ever)!  It was a great step for addicts, families and communities to show the importance of recovery.

Gil Kerlikowske and Recovery High Schools

Posted in Education with tags , , , , on July 27, 2009 by corecompany


Whenever I am on my soapbox I often wonder what it all means. Having worked in chemical dependency and being interested in the politics of it, I form a lot of opinions. I stand and point, frequently. I advocate for treating chemical dependency as a health issue and not as something that can be addressed by paramilitary interventions, but what does all of this mean?

            One of the ways to foster change is to support recovery high schools. Recovery high schools are community based scaffolding built around young people who are committed to living intoxicant free and need help to do it. In other words, we can send kids to treatment, but then what? High School? They don’t call that institution HIGH school for nothing. Currently there are 30 recovery high schools nationwide (not one in NYC, c’mon New York 12 steppers, get active!). They range in size and funding but in my view they bring a complex issue into honesty. They address a chronic problem at a maintenance level rather than when the fever spikes and the crisis hits. The outcomes are great. Grades are better, graduation rates are better, and matriculations to higher education rates are better.

            One of the difficulties about measuring success in recovery is that we will never know what isn’t happening, who knows what would become of the kids if they didn’t have a recovery high school to attend? Jail? Maybe? Death? Maybe? Emotional turmoil? Almost certainly. 

            I attended the association of Recovery High Schools in Indianapolis and learned a lot. The highlight for me was that Greg Ballard, mayor of Indianapolis, took the time to attend the conference and address the attendees. We need more people in government who understand the power of recovery, especially for young people. Additionally, Gil Kerlikowske sent some staffers to scope out what recovery schools are and what they mean.  I also learned that Gil visited North Shore Community High, a recovery High School in Mass.  Thank you Mayor Ballard and Czar Kerlikowske for supporting these schools. Any chance you can get mayor Bloomberg to look into this?

Is Michael Jackson’s Death a Wake Up Call?

Posted in Current Events with tags , , , on July 15, 2009 by corecompany

gil kerlikowske2

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Gil Kerlikowske called Michael Jackson’s death a “wake up call about prescription drugs”.  I guess. Is anyone confused about this? Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Judy Garland, Anna Nicole, Heath Ledger, Chet Baker, Jean-Michele Basquit, Lenny Bruce, Kurt Cobain, (is America awake yet?), Chris Farley, River Phoenix, Jimi Hendrix (now? Now is America awake? Must have hit the snooze button), Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Chris Penn, Charlie Parker, Freddie Prinze, Dee Dee Ramone, Sid Vicious, Hank Williams. Arguably none of these other people were as famous as Michael, maybe Marilyn Monroe, but wouldn’t these other drug related deaths be wake up calls? Are we so loaded that even with a wake up call we go right back to sleep.

            The problem with the wake up call idea is that it implies that chemical dependency is a lesson to learn.  That the answer to this complex health issue is ‘education”. Kerlikowske has been quoted as saying “addiction is a disease”. Wake up calls make no sense. It’s really pretty offensive. If Jackson had died of Leukemia would Kerlikoske call it a “wake up call”? No, no he wouldn’t. That would imply that he was “at fault” and “deserved” his death. If this serves as a wake up call the wake up is to us that we still don’t think of addiction as a diagnosable disease!