American Morning

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May 10th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Teen fights prescription addiction

In March, we gave you a frightening look inside an 18-year-old's battle with a dangerous cocktail of prescription drugs that nearly ended her life. Today, our Kiran Chetry goes back to visit Melissa to see whether or not she's serious about getting clean. Tomorrow on American Morning, Melissa takes us inside her new world of sobriety. We'll show you the challenges she faces – old habits and old friendships that could pull her back into addiction.

By Kiran Chetry, CNN

(CNN) – We first met 18-year-old Melissa a month ago. She’s a self-described addict of prescription drugs.

“My mother's prescribed Xanax. … I began taking them as well, and um, it was just kind of like an immediate comfort from them,” she says.

Melissa and her best friend, who didn't want us to use her name, told us snorting crushed up pills was a daily habit.

“I wouldn't really say that I'm addicted, like I've been on and off.”

Melissa's cousin Adam, now sober, says he overdosed 15 times before getting clean.

“It's just like, you need it, and you don't want to do anything else and you don't care about anything else and you spend every last penny you have on it, just to have that feeling and for me that was immediate,” he says.


Filed under: Addicted... • Drugs
April 5th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Addicted... Hollywood's prescription drug problem

Editor's Note: Prescription drug abuse has grabbed headlines with the high-profile deaths of celebrities like Corey Haim, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, and Michael Jackson. In our original series “Addicted…” we examine how users get their fix and how deadly it can sometimes be. Tomorrow on American Morning, our Kiran Chetry talks to two current prescription drug abusers to get an up close and personal look at how easy it is to start a habit and how hard it is to break it.

Filed under: Addicted... • Drugs
March 25th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

California to vote to legalize marijuana

(CNN) – Marijuana supporters are celebrating a big political step forward. California may become the very first state to legalize recreational pot use.

The measure will be on the ballot in November and, if passed, could bring in some much-needed tax money for the cash-strapped state. Our Dan Simon talked to people on both sides of the debate.

Filed under: Drugs
October 20th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

U.S. attorneys told to go after pot traffickers, not patients

By Terry Frieden
CNN Justice Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Justice Department has provided federal prosecutors "clarification and guidance" urging them to go after drug traffickers, but not patients and caregivers, in the 14 states that have medical marijuana laws.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Signs beckon patients into a medical marijuana clinic in Los Angeles, California."]

A memo sent to U.S. attorneys said that in carrying out Justice pronouncements made earlier this year indicating a policy shift to end prosecutions against users, authorities should continue to pursue drug traffickers.

"It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "But we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal," Holder added.

The memo from Deputy Attorney General David Ogden was sent to U.S. attorneys in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The issue is particularly significant in California, where there has been uncertainty about the government's approach to raiding marijuana dispensaries, which are increasing and thriving.

Read the full story »

Filed under: Drugs
August 10th, 2009
10:38 AM ET

Little Maine town has big heroin problem

When you think of the war on drugs you often think of cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. But coastal Maine?

You may be surprised to hear in a tiny area of New England, heroin has become a massive problem; too big to contain.

"It's very available out here. It's scary," says recovering drug addict Leeanne Lariviere.

Thousands of miles from the drug cartels of Mexico – Kittery, Maine in bucolic New England is a new Mecca for heroin use.

Detective Steve Hamel of the Kittery Police Department has been working narcotics for two decades. He says he's seen it all, but never this.


Filed under: Drugs
July 3rd, 2009
07:08 AM ET

Commentary: The face of substance abuse today

Andrew T. Wainwright is a national expert on addictions and intervention. He is co-author of the book "It’s Not Okay to Be a Cannibal – How to Stop Addiction from Eating Your Family Alive" and CEO for AiR, which provides behavioral health case management services that are a beneficial addition to the treatment of chemical dependency, mental health and eating disorders.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Andrew Wainwright is a national expert on addictions and intervention."]

From my desk on the front lines of addiction treatment, the view is staggering. Prescription drugs are prevalent, proliferating and have introduced a new generation to the wonderful world of drug addiction.

These are people who otherwise might never have experienced addiction. The previous barriers to entry of stigma and circumstance were too high. Dangerous neighborhoods and unsavory characters, untrustworthy chemicals to be taken in unspecific amounts and the fear of becoming addicted kept most amateurs on the sidelines. But in 1996 that all changed.

In January of 1996, Purdue Pharma, a privately-held pharmaceutical company, launched the marketing campaign for their new pain relief product OxyContin. OxyContin was supposed to be nonabusable thanks to a special time-release ingredient. Unfortunately, this proved not to be true.

This might not have been such a big deal had Purdue not launched a multi-million dollar national advertising campaign, targeting both doctors and consumers alike. This campaign had a two-pronged approach. First Purdue incented doctors to prescribe their products then they encouraged consumers to request them by promising legitimacy, safety and lack of consequences.

From a purely business standpoint it was the right thing to do – if you can drive demand you can sell more product. From a “What are the long term effects on our society?” standpoint – it was devastating.

Today, three percent of our population is abusing prescription drugs. Prescription drug abuse accounts for forty percent of all treatment center admissions. Prescription drug abuse is growing fastest among teenagers and young adults.

These are the worst stats we could hope for.


Filed under: Commentary • Drugs
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