Archive for January, 2011

Don’t try to fix people!

We cannot, by ourselves, heal or convert.

But if we can empty ourselves of our desires to fix people,

Healing and converting will effortlessly begin.


M. Scott-Peck

1 Comment

What’s Wrong With the Drug War? Drug Policy Alliance

Everyone has a stake in ending the war on drugs. Whether you’re a parent concerned about protecting children from drug-related harm, a social justice advocate worried about racially disproportionate incarceration rates, an environmentalist seeking to protect the Amazon rainforest or a fiscally conservative taxpayer you have a stake in ending the drug war.

U.S. federal, state and local governments have spent hundreds of billions of dollars trying to make America “drug-free.” Yet heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other illicit drugs are cheaper, purer and easier to get than ever before. Nearly half a million people are behind bars on drug charges – more than all of western Europe (with a bigger population) incarcerates for all offenses. The war on drugs has become a war on families, a war on public health and a war on our constitutional rights.

Many of the problems the drug war purports to resolve are in fact caused by the drug war itself. So-called “drug-related” crime is a direct result of drug prohibition’s distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand. Public health problems like HIV and Hepatitis C are all exacerbated by zero tolerance laws that restrict access to clean needles.  The drug war is not the promoter of family values that some would have us believe. Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure, joblessness, addiction and delinquency. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Few public policies have compromised public health and undermined our fundamental civil liberties for so long and to such a degree as the war on drugs. The United States is now the world’s largest jailer, imprisoning nearly half a million people for drug offenses alone. That’s more people than Western Europe, with a bigger population, incarcerates for all offenses. Roughly 1.5 million people are arrested each year for drug law violations – 40% of them just for marijuana possession. People suffering from cancer, AIDS and other debilitating illnesses are regularly denied access to their medicine or even arrested and prosecuted for using medical marijuana. We can do better.

Leave a comment

Concern over generic drugs

THE nation’s pharmacists have been urged to come clean about the sale of generic medicines, amid concern they can cause confusion and are not always a cheaper alternative.

New research shows it is now commonplace for Australians to be asked, at the pharmacy counter, if they want a generic version of the brand-name drug their doctor has prescribed.

Nine out of 10 respondents to a Galaxy Poll said they had been offered a generic alternative within the past two years, and more than half (55 per cent) said they did not ask about price before accepting the offer.

Melbourne-based pharmacist Gerald Quigley said that although there was a view that generics were always “a better deal”, sometimes they were no cheaper than a popular branded rival.

Generics also introduced new risks when given to vulnerable members of the community, he said, particularly elderly people who need to take an array of pills every day.

“When your yellow-and-green capsule suddenly becomes a blue-and-red capsule, it is amazing how many older people say: `I can’t remember taking that before, and I just won’t take it’,” Mr Quigley said.

“… There needs to be a lot more discussion about this to make sure that patients get what they expect and what they trust.”

Drug companies can produce a generic version of a popular medicine – containing the same active compounds but different in appearance – once the patent held by its original maker has expired.

The poll of more than 500 Australian adults, commissioned by drug company Nycomed Australia and released today, found that 42 per cent of people now accept the offer of a generic “every time” while 32 per cent did so “most times”.

One in five (21 per cent) worried that taking a generic drug could lead them to receiving the wrong medicine, while eight per cent said they never accepted the offer of a generic.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia national president Kos Sclavos said the poll results contained some positive news, and that it was competition between the generic and branded drug manufacturers that put downward pressure on prices.

“From the Government’s point of view, where there is a generic they can force the price down … That’s one of the reasons why medicines are becoming more affordable,” Mr Sclavos said.

“And, from a pensioner point of view, every cent makes a difference.”

Generics have been available in Australia since the early 1990s but, Mr Sclavos said, sale volumes had remained low compared with other countries, such as the UK.

There were only a “half a dozen” cases where the generic and branded versions of a drug were the same price, he said. In most cases, the saving was 20 to 30 cents, but could be as high as $20.

“I’m actually pleased with the (poll) research because it shows our pharmacists are doing the right thing … Five or six years ago we were in trouble for not doing that,” Mr Sclavos said of the now commonplace offer of a generic.

“Obviously, there is still more work to do in terms of patients getting confused about it, and that’s something we’ll take on board and act upon.”

He said many pharmacies offered pill packaging services to help elderly patients take their array of daily medications correctly.

The Federal Government has committed $10 million for a public awareness campaign to address confusion surrounding generic drugs.


1 Comment

TetheredTeenage psychiatric patient shocks Netherlands

BBC Mobile News Europe     21 January 2011

By Chris Morris BBC News

Brandon’s mother says he is restrained like a “caged animal”

The Netherlands has been plunged into a debate about how to deal with violent psychiatric patients, after images of a tethered teenager appeared on Dutch TV.

The pictures were taken after a tip-off from a whistle-blower, who worked at the institution where the 18-year-old, known only as Brandon, is confined.

The pictures show him wearing a harness attached to a metal bracket on the wall by a thick leather strap.

He has been confined in this way every single day for three years.

His mother has been quoted saying he lives like “a caged animal”.

Brandon, who suffers from severe learning difficulties, has been confined to institutions since the age of five.

He used to be allowed home at weekends but staff became increasingly afraid of his moods as he grew older and, since 2007, with the permission of a judge, he has been tethered daily.

Mental health experts in the Netherlands say this is not an isolated case, and there may be as many as 40 patients held in similar circumstances.

But a number of Dutch politicians reacted with shock when the pictures of Brandon were shown on television and there was an emergency debate in parliament.

The deputy health minister, who visited the institution where Brandon is confined, described the images as truly harrowing.

She defended the practice of continuous restraint, saying sometimes you need to protect people from themselves, but also promised an urgent review, to see if any other methods could be used.

, , ,

1 Comment

Good death is a right: advanced care planning

The Australian       20 January 2011

THE focus of the healthcare system is on providing longer, healthier lives.

As Neil Batt pointed out in last Saturday’s Weekend Health, there’s little focus on the quality of death.

In a culture where medical technology can deliver miraculous cures, this topic makes people uncomfortable, and leads to the “death panel” claims of Sarah Palin and others. But most people are very clear about what they see as the attributes of a good death.

A key factor is advanced care planning, with respect for patients’ end-of-life wishes by family and doctors. Patients want a sense of control, co-ordinated care and assurances they will have adequate pain and symptom management. They look to family and significant others for psychosocial support, also worrying about relieving the burden on loved ones.

A study from the Singapore-based Lien Foundation, “The quality of death: ranking end-of-life care around the world”, ranks how well people die in 40 countries. Australia ranks second, behind Britain and ahead of the US, in ninth place. The US ranks poorly because cost is included as a factor.

This is arguably the key to the dissent over advanced care planning, particularly in the US, that saving money is the goal. But the key to a good death is affirmation of the person, not the patient or healthcare system.

Lesley Russell is senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress in Washington, DC, and a research associate at the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.


Leave a comment

If I wanted to ruin someone’s life…

Nothing has harmed the quality of individual life in modern society more than the misbegotten belief that human suffering is driven by biological and genetic causes and can be rectified by taking drugs or undergoing electroshock therapy.  Modern psychiatry has made up the most ugly story possible about human conflict and emotional pain – reducing it to nothing more than bad genes and unbalanced chemical reactions.

If I wanted to ruin someone’s life, I would convince the person that biological psychiatry is right – that relationships mean nothing, that choice is impossible and that the mechanics of a broken brain reign over our emotions and conduct.  If I wanted to impair an individual’s capacity to create empathic, loving relationships, I would prescribe psychiatric drugs, all of which blunt our highest psychological and spiritual functions.

W. Glasser M.D. Counselling with Choice Theory 2000


Falling in love…

We can choose how to respond to the experience of falling in love

But we cannot choose the experience itself.

Leave a comment


By far, the most important form of attention we can give our loved ones,

is – Listening!

Leave a comment