Archive | December, 2007

Nobody In Their Right Mind Touches Drugs

28 Dec

Nobody in Their Right Mind Touches Drugs

By J. P. Anderson

 

 

The World Health Organization (2003), in Caring for Children and Adolescents with Mental Disorders: Setting WHO Direction, states that:

“The lack of attention to the mental health of children and adolescents may lead to mental disorders with lifelong consequences, undermines compliance with health regimes, and reduces the capacity of societies to be safe and productive”.

More than 80% of people in Ireland with a mental illness live out their lives without their illness being either diagnosed or treated. People suffering from a mental illness are usually discriminated against in almost all walks of life; this discrimination is now-days referred to as STIGMA.

Alcoholics (addiction to alcohol) and drug addicts are also discriminated against in like manner, stigma is again to blame, and this discrimination/rejection by community and indeed wider society has been in existence for centuries.

The only difference between the alcoholic and the drug addict is the type of drug the person is addicted to.

Homicide and suicide are highly associated with the use of alcohol among adolescents and alcohol has been found in high concentrations among adolescents who have completed suicide.

Alcohol use has often been referred to as ’the gateway’ substance, preceding the use of cannabis and other substances, (e, g; cocaine, heroin). Thus, heavier alcohol use during adolescence may be symptomatic or even prognostic, of a range of current and potentially hazardous behaviours amongst adolescents.

Higher levels of adolescent alcohol use have also been associated with a number of other adverse health-related outcomes, including sexual precocity, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, including, human immune-deficiency virus, (HIV) infection, poor school performance and school dropout. There are a small, but quite significant, number of adolescents who have quite severe problems with alcohol use and meet the clinical criteria for an alcohol disorder.

The children and adolescents, who meet these criteria for an alcohol disorder, typically manifest persistent, high-volume drinking-and pervasive adverse social consequences and dependency symptoms.

Furthermore, these children typically have a history of childhood behaviour problems, (e, g; conduct disorder difficulties, attention-al deficits), long-term troubled family relations, and a pattern of coexisting substance abuse, (e, g; cannabis or cocaine abuse). Higher levels of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems among children and adolescents are also associated with a range other deleterious behaviours that are hazardous to the health and well-being of youngsters.

The three major causes of adolescent mortality-accidents (e, g; automobile, boating), homicide and suicide are highly associated with the use of alcohol among adolescents. Higher levels of alcohol and other substance use have been associated with higher levels of adolescent suicide ideation, (I, e; thinking about committing suicide), and suicide attempts.

Family Government, has been traditionally been controlled by men, also generally the authors of domestic violence-which in many industrially advanced countries including the USA and Ireland has assumed epidemic proportions.

Family factors associated with increased risk for adolescent alcohol use, include, the drinking practices of other family members (e, g; parents and siblings), marital conflict, poor family management practices- (e, g; failure to monitor children as to where they are, and who they are with etc).

Harsh (physically abusive) discipline, physical or sexual abuse, and the lack of a warm, open, nurturing relationship with parents. In brief- highly troubled family relationships serve as a springboard for children and adolescents to engage in higher levels of alcohol-use and other problem behaviours (e, g; delinquency).

Extensive studies on the personality characteristics of opiate addicts conducted over a period of twenty years, classified such addicts as ‘psychopathic’. The research concluded that narcotic addicts are often psychopathic. That hospitalised adolescent and adult addict does not differ in their profiles. That greater similarities exist between adolescent addicts and delinquent non-addicts, and that psychopathology is an important *ethological element in addiction. (*Character formation in human behaviour). Similar profiles have also been found to characterize not only juvenile delinquents, but also hospitalised chronic alcoholics. Studies have suggested that ‘the social deviant’ does not engage in the daily activities that are ordinarily reinforced by and satisfy the larger society.

There are

an estimated 95,000 alcoholics in Ireland and also an estimated 150,000 drinkers under the legal drinking age of 18 year old.

To perceive the most extreme of alcohol problems, alcoholism as a disease, requires a kind of mental-health viewpoint not universal in the medical profession or with welfare agencies, to say nothing of the lay public. It is a deviant behaviour, and as such it is seen by many as immorality, weakness of will, perversity, or a bad habit. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and others, no longer accept its description as a disease. Causes attributed as illness of mind, offered as being caused by drinking, actually predate the onset of alcoholism and addiction to other substances (drugs).

Schizophrenia:

Schizophrenia is a mental illness, characterized by disordered-thinking, delusions, hallucinations, emotional disturbance and withdrawl from reality.

Schizophrenia, is commonly thought to disproportionately affect people in the lowest socio-economic groups, although, some people claim that socially-disadvantaged persons with schizophrenia are only more visible than their more privileged counterparts not more numerous. Many people still see mental illness as a stigma whatever the cause. About one in every hundred Americans-including as many as one-third of homeless adults suffers from schizophrenia. Advancing knowledge about the role of the brains physical structures in mental illness should change our perceptions about such diseases, including depression and manic-depression. Mental illness afflicts more than 20% of all Americans, and about 40% per-cents of Americans with severe mental illness receive no treatment.

In the USA, schizophrenics occupy more hospital beds than do patients suffering from cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. At any given time, they account for up to half the beds in long-term care facilities and 40% of treatment days. With the aid of antipsychotic medication, to control delusions and hallucinations, about 70% of schizophrenics are able to function in society.

While the exact cause of schizophrenia is not known, it is belived to be caused by a combination of physiological and environmental factors. Studies have shown that there is clearly a hereditary component to the disorder. Family members of schizophrenics are ten times more prone to the disease than the general population, and identical-twins of schizophrenics have a 46% chance of having the illness themselves. Relatives of schizophrenics, also tend to have milder psychological disorders with some of the same symptoms as schizophrenia, such as, suspicion, communication problems, and eccentric behaviour. The initial symptoms of schizophrenia usually occur between the ages of 16 and 20 years, with some variations depending on type. Disorganised schizophrenia tends to begin early, usually in adolescence or young adulthood, while paranoid schizophrenia tends to start later, usually after the age of 25 or 30. In rare cases, schizophrenia may have its onset during childhood, and has been known to appear as early as five-years-of-age, occurring primarily in males, it is characterised by the same symptoms as adult schizophrenia. Diagnosis of schizophrenia in children can be difficult because delusions and hallucinations may be mistaken for childhood fantasies. It is important for the condition to be diagnosed as early as possible, the longer the symptoms last, the less well they respond to treatment. Even when treated, schizophrenia interferes with normal development in children and adolescents and makes new-learning difficult. Researchers have found correlations between childhood behaviour and the onset of schizophrenia in adulthood. A 30 year longitudinal research project studied over 4,000 children born within a single week in 1946 in order to document any unusual developmental patterns observed in those children who later became schizophrenic. It was found, that a disproportionate number of them learned to sit, stand and walk late. They were also twice as likely as their peers to have speech-disorders-at the age of six and have played alone when they were young. One study, found that the routine physical movements of these children, tended to be slightly abnormal, in ways that most parents wouldn’t suspect were associated with a major mental illness, and that the children also tended to show fear and anger to an unusual degree.

It is estimated that 15 to 20% of schizophrenics commit suicide out of despair over their condition or because the ‘voices’ they hear tell them to do so, and up to 35% attempt to take their own lives or seriously consider doing so. Between 25 and 50% of people with schizophrenia abuse drugs or alcohol. The vast majority of both suicide attempters and completers have evidence of at least one major psychiatric disorder. These disorders are most often, affective disorders, causing changes in moods or emotions. Major depressive disorder is the single biggest factor for attempted and completed suicide. The tendency of schizophrenics to discontinue medication is very harmful. Each time a schizophrenic goes-off medication, the symptoms of the disease return with even greater severity and the effectiveness of the drug is reduced.

The onset of schizophrenia may be acute, developing over a few weeks or even days, or insidious. ICD-10 recognises seven categories of the disease; paranoid, hebephrenic, catatonic, simple, undifferentiated, residual and post-schizophrenic depression. Life events have been implicated in the precipitating of the first episode of illness in about 60% of patients, however, life stresses are involved in precipitating all acute psychiatric disorders and are not specific to schizophrenia. It is well known, that use of cannabis can provoke relapse in patients with schizophrenia or manic-depressive illness. The main impact of cannabis abuse on marriage is related to the relapse which it induces in some patients with major mental-illness and the effects of euphoria and secondary *apathy is associated with the heavy persistent use of the drug. (*Authors note: Apathy; = lack of emotion). Cocaine, amphetamines (speed), hallucinogens, and cannabis, are the most readily available drugs on the black market, and although not associated closely with physical dependence, they are widely abused, due to their mood-enhancing properties and are also associated with serious psychiatric disturbances in many abusers.

Schizophrenia is the disorder which is at the nub of psychiatry, and created the necessity to build mental hospitals to house such patients Moreover, it is the disease which has led to the stigmatisation of psychiatry and to the erroneous association between mental-illness and violence. Most patients with psychiatric disorders do not commit crime, and conversely most crime is not committed by those who are psychiatrically ill. In spite of these facts, there is a common perception amongst the public, that the two are inextricably linked, particularly in relation to violent offences. Immigration has long been believed to be associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, leading to speculation that the most unstable in a population migrate, this has not been verified by research, but data based on hospital-admission-data, as distinct from out-patient data, do confirm the dramatically higher admission rate for immigrants, a finding that has become politically sensitive in Britain.

It is possible that the family of Michael Hughes murdered recently in Dublin’s Harold’s Cross, stabbed to death over eighty times with a garden shears in the head and chest (and placed in a sealed coffin) would not be overly worried as to whether or not Tommy Connors – the man accused of Michael’s murder was/is or may be discriminated against by wider society.

He (Connors) is alleged to have told Gardai who arrived at the scene of that terrible slaughter of an innocent young man (Michael Hughes) –

“I have just killed the devil”.

Violence due to Mental Illness:

“Many crimes of violence are certainly being committed by people with diminished faculties. A situation currently exists, where patients who were formerly in long-term in-patient care in psychiatric hospitals have been discharged for continuing care in out-patient treatment, in line with the state’s on-going policy of drastically reducing the number of patients in psychiatric hospitals. This has led to major difficulties in treating psychiatric illness in out-patient community settings, …due to lack of motivation by patients to attend for medication and continuing psychiatric assessment, vital to the control of much mental illness. This is exacerbated by the fact that the number of people seeking treatment has continued to increase. Meanwhile, violence committed by people with psychiatric illness has become a major problem for communities expected to care for them.

Because the target of their violence is invariably the individual. In an out-patient setting, it is nearly impossible to predict when an individual is likely to become violent towards himself, through suicide, or towards others, through homicide”.

(*Authors note: Source, Dr Michael FFrench O’Carroll, author The Irish Drugs Epidemic1997).

The views of Dr Art O’Connor, who heads the psychiatric team in Dublin’s Central Mental Hospital. Dundrum, are made all the more disturbing because of the special vantage point from which he can monitor the progress of criminality amongst the most mentally disturbed prisoners in Ireland. He said in a newspaper interview, that “Ireland is now a more violent society than at any historical point within the lifetime of our generation. For a growing proportion of the states criminals may now be employing extreme violence simply for the thrill of it”.

Through his daily experience, Dr O’Connor claimed that, those who dismiss the alleged crime wave as mere hysteria are “seriously mistaken, as this growing proportion of the states criminals have lost all regard for human life and this growing number of criminals have turned to brutality simply because they enjoy it“, and he asserted that those who have now turned to violence are not mad; “only a tiny percentage of crimes are committed by those suffering from schizophrenia or depression. There is no difference from the rest of society, except in their scorn for morality”. Dr O’Connor contended that the new type of Irish criminal is merely taking his lead from his international peers and that the horrors we are now only beginning to see, the-hired hit-man, the ruthless criminal, the crimes without humanity are common-place elsewhere. (Authors note: Source, The Irish Drugs Epidemic 1997).

Mental illness has a significant although complex relationship with social class.

Teenagers with manic-depression are likely to abuse drugs or alcohol in an attempt to alleviate the anxiety caused by the condition. Roughly two-thirds of all persons with bipolar disorder have substance-abuse and dependency problems. Unless it is treated, the illness gets worse with each episode and harder to control. In addition, 15% of those who fail to receive adequate treatment for bipolar disorder commit suicide.

Anyone who works with behaviourally disturbed children is all too aware of an increased chance of extreme behaviours in children who are adopted as well as those in the care of sole parents, with sole parents; mothers are often left with the difficult child of a difficult man. This may not be a politically popular statement, but unfortunately it’s true.

Without, the emotional warmth and guidance provided by parents and other family members, adolescents from highly troubled families, often seek some level of comfort and support with other, often deviant-prone adolescents, who are also from troubled family backgrounds. This process of selective association among teenagers from troubled families often results in a progression towards higher levels of alcohol and substance abuse and other deviant behaviours by these adolescents.

Failure to confront the root causes (mental illness and the social structures) causative of use of – and addiction to alcohol and other drugs provides a certain guarantee that chemical dependency will continue amongst vulnerable people, and such chemical dependency will be represented by a steady progression into an even more profound dependency upon drugs.© J. P. Anderson 2007.

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UNICEF: Children’s Lives Improved Since Tsunami

28 Dec

UNICEF: Children’s Lives Improved Since Tsunami

By J. P. Anderson

In the three years since the 26 December 2004 tsunami devastated entire regions around the Indian Ocean, UNICEF and its partners have improved the lives and health of millions of children and families affected by the disaster.

Through its ‘building back better’ recovery initiative, UNICEF has constructed and rehabilitated schools, health facilities and child care centres, as well as providing children with life-saving immunization, nutrition, safe water and sanitation.

This effort has brought positive results in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Some of the achievements to date include:

Over 100 schools constructed and rehabilitated, and another 250 in the works

59 health facilities completed, with construction under way on an additional 115

More than 20,000 water points restored, serving more than 730,000 people, and over 42,000 latrines constructed

Insecticide-treated mosquito nets distributed to protect nearly 3.5 million people from malaria

Over 1.2 million children served by UNICEF’s psycho-social activities

330,000 people reached by HIV/AIDS awareness and education campaigns.

Meanwhile, the lessons learned from the tsunami have led to sweeping changes in the way UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies work.

“We’ve learned that we need to be quicker. We’ve learned that we’re not on our own.” said UNICEF’s Chief of Programme, Humanitarian and Transition Support Section, Jonathan Cauldwell. “The lessons we’ve learned from the tsunami will go on for decades to come.”

Despite ongoing challenges, post-tsunami reconstruction in several countries is expected to be completed in early 2009.

Woman 19 Dies After Ecstasy and Cocaine Cocktail

26 Dec

Dublin: Another Cocaine And Ecstasy Death

By J. P. Anderson

An investigation has been launched into the death of a 19-year-old woman in Dublin on Sunday night.

It is believed she died after taking ecstasy and cocaine while at a party with friends at the Ardmore Hotel in Finglas.

She collapsed at around 4.20am and was taken to the Mater Hospital where she was subsequently pronounced dead.

Two men were later arrested on suspicion of drug dealing but have since been released. A file is to be sent to the DPP.

The woman, who was from Glasnevin in Dublin, was part of a group who booked into the Ardmore Hotel for a small private Christmas party on the 23 December.

Singer Joe Dolan Dies In Dublin

26 Dec

Singer Joe Dolan Dies

By J. P. Anderson

The singer and entertainer Joe Dolan has died at the Mater private hospital in Dublin.

He was taken ill at his home in Foxrock last night and died just after 3pm this afternoon from a suspected brain haemorrhage.

Mr Dolan, from Mullingar in Westmeath, had enjoyed musical success in Ireland and around the world for over 40 years.

With his band the Drifters his first chart success came in Ireland with ‘The Answer to Everything’ in 1964 but he is best perhaps known for songs ‘Good Looking Woman’ and ‘Make Me an Island’.

Mr Dolan, who was in his late 60s and one of five children, was recently forced to cancel a number of Christmas concerts because of illness but he was at home in Foxrock in Dublin last night when he was taken ill.

Surrounded by his family he passed away after suffering a suspected brain haemorrhage just after 3pm.

Cannabis Seized By Tallaght Gardai Man Arrested

21 Dec

Cannabis Seized By Tallaght Gardai Man Arrested

By J. P. Anderson

A 24-year-old man has been arrested after 37kg of cannabis resin were seized in a garda search in Tallaght this morning.

The cannabis resin has an estimated street value of €260,000 and is being submitted for analysis along with other drug paraphernalia recovered in the operation.

The man is being questioned at Tallaght Garda Station.

Look Out For The Elderly

20 Dec

Look Out For The Elderly

By J. P. Anderson

The chairwoman of the IFA Farm Family & Social Affairs Committee has requested all of its members to call on their elderly neighbours living alone over the Christmas period.

Mary Sherry said there are 160,000 people older than 70 and living alone in the country, half of which live in rural Ireland.

She said some of these people live in remote isolated areas and the holiday season can be a very lonely time for them.

Ms Sherry said the number of people living alone in rural areas will increase because of our ageing rural population.

The IFA Chairwoman requested members to be vigilant at this time for anything unusual in their communities and to drop in on their neighbours, adding that on dark winter evenings most of us go home and stay indoors.

She strongly encouraged a more active and wider participation by IFA members not alone during the holiday period but at all times of the year.

12 years Prison Sentence Over €10.6m Of Heroin

20 Dec

12 Years Sentence over €10.6m of Heroin

By J. P. Anderson

A man has been sentenced to 12 years after almost €11.5m worth of drugs was found at an apartment in Dublin last October.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Stephen Carlile, with an address at Áras Na Cluaine, Nangor Road in Clondalkin, had €10.6m worth of diamorphine (heroin) and €839,000 worth of cannabis at the apartment he rented.

Gardaí also found guns, ammunition and drugs paraphernalia in the apartment.

The court heard that 23-year-old Carlile was a drug addict who had run up debts and had agreed to store the drugs because he was in fear of certain people.

The last two years of the sentence were suspended.