Ecstasy Claims More Young Lives

Ecstasy Claims More Young Lives

The other chemicals frequently found in what’s sold as ecstasy or MDMA cloud the issue of how dangerous X really is (or isn’t).

Ecstasy—or something posing as it—has been blamed for the deaths of two young British club-goers, with at least 20 more party-goers hospitalized after an all-night dance marathon in London. The exact cause isn’t yet established, and reports are vague: the British press variously blames heat stroke, dehydration, and heart failure. “Death by Ecstasy” has been tabloid fodder for so long now that we tend to either take it for granted, or assume they got it wrong: the UK’s most famous example was in 1995 with the hugely publicized case of Leah Betts, an 18-year old who fell into a coma and died after taking Ecstasy. X was also blamed for 6 deaths due to excessive body temperature in Florida recently. The Florida X turned out to be PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) or a similar derivative. Some of these knock-off drugs mimic the chemical composition of X, but the effects can be vastly different. Science has claimed both that X harms your brain—and that those tests were wrong, and it’s relatively harmless. Then there’s the question of what’s really in the stuff sold. All kinds of alternative chemicals show up in studies of purported MDMA. Professor David Nutt, a former UK drug policy adviser who was fired for his controversial views, calls for a program allowing club-goers to test their ecstasy without fear of arrest. Predictably, this is yet to be adopted. Drug policy experts tell Addiction Inbox that surveys show young club drug users to be remarkably undeterred by this chemical lottery—even given prior knowledge that what they’re taking isn’t MDMA. And if you don’t care what drug you take, then all the educational campaigns in the world won’t save your heedless butt.

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Two N.J. pilot programs to ease reentry for nonviolent drug offenders

Gov. Christie said Monday that he wants to divert nonviolent drug offenders from prison and into rehabilitative programs, a move expected to save money and help lower the recidivism rate.

During a visit to Camden, the governor signed an executive order to expand the state’s drug-court program and to create a task force to centralize the state’s prisoner-reentry efforts and determine what barriers exist for inmates upon release.

The governor also wants to create a recidivism database that tracks the success of reentry programs.

As a former U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, Christie said, he was in a good position to call for prison reform. Nobody, he said, can call him soft on crime.

“I’ve been called a lot of things,” he said. “Soft isn’t one of them.”

Christie made the announcement at the Cathedral Kitchen on Federal Street, a community group that has offered free meals to the poor for more than 30 years.

Since 2008, the organization has run a culinary-arts program for ex-inmates and others who need job skills.

During his tour, Christie navigated the busy kitchen, where five men crowded around a table chopping green peppers and celery for chili that would be served to the nearly 400 people expected to show up for dinner Monday night. Farther down the kitchen assembly line, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies sat cooling on white parchment paper.

Christie said his wife, Mary Pat, wanted him to focus on giving former inmates a legitimate second chance. Drug addiction often thwarts a former inmate’s return to society, along with the difficulty in finding employment because of a criminal record.

“We’re missing the boat in terms of how we can help these people turn their lives around,” Christie said as his wife stood by his side.

Christie called for expanding the state’s drug-court program, which has operated in all 21 counties since 2004 and diverts nonviolent drug offenders from jail to treatment programs.

The two pilot programs will allow judges to sentence drug offenders directly to the program, rather than requiring offenders to seek enrollment in the program, said Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts.

Christie said he was still working with the judiciary to determine the best location for the two pilot programs.

Graduates of the drug-court program are less likely to return to crime, according to an October 2010 study by the state judiciary.

Only 16 percent of drug-court graduates are rearrested, compared with 54 percent of nonviolent drug offenders who enter the prison system. And only 8 percent of those who go through drug court are convicted of another crime, compared with 43 percent of nonviolent drug offenders who are imprisoned.

The country’s prison population escalated sharply in the 1980s and 1990s when mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders put more nonviolent offenders behind bars.

As prison budgets have grown, state officials have looked to alternative sentencing to ease the burden. It costs about $39,000 a year to incarcerate a person in New Jersey. It costs $11,300 to put that same person through the drug-court program, which includes frequent drug testing and intensive supervision.

The “War on Drugs” – an effort that began under President Richard M. Nixon to reduce drug sales and use in the United States – was well-intentioned, Christie said. But it isn’t working as officials had hoped.

“Just putting people in prison for nonviolent drug offenses makes no sense for our society in the long haul,” he said.

Christie appointed Lisa Puglisi as his coordinator for prisoner reentry. Puglisi, a lawyer who represented the Department of Corrections and later the state Parole Board, will serve as the governor’s main adviser on prisoner-reentry policy.

Puglisi, with James Plousis, chairman of the Parole Board, will cochair the Task Force for Recidivism Reduction.

The task force will include representatives of various agencies that can help, and sometimes hinder, an ex-convict’s reentry into society.

Obtaining a license or official ID, managing child-support payments, even getting a job in a restaurant where liquor is served can, without the right assistance, be difficult or impossible for an inmate, Plousis said. The task force aims to find the problems and help ex-inmates overcome them.

Although New Jersey, like Pennsylvania, has a recidivism rate of at least 40 percent, according to a recent study by the Pew Center on the States, New Jersey has decreased its rate 11 percent since 1999. It has also reduced its prison population 11 percent to 21,182 inmates since its peak in 1999.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s prison population continues to increase. It’s up 41 percent since 1999, and the state now holds more than 51,000 people.

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Denmark Moves Toward Marijuana Legalization

Denmark Moves Toward Marijuana Legalization

Copenhagen politicians are pushing for totally legalized, council-sold hashish. National lawmakers may allow it.

It’s one step back, one step forward in Europe. While Holland begins the slow process of rolling back its longstanding liberal approach to marijuana, authorities in Copenhagen, Denmark are pushing for full legalization of hashish. The proposal would see it sold and taxed legally, just like alcohol. The latest volley in the debate came as Copenhagen’s City Council voted last week to investigate ways to decriminalize the drug. “It’s better that the council distributes hashish and not criminals,” says Social Democrat councilor Lars Aslan Andersen. “I hope we get the opportunity to try a new policy because we can’t just continue the current prohibition strategy with hash, which is very outdated.” Copenhagen has form for attempting such forward-thinking legislation. A similar proposal received the backing of Copenhagen’s mayor Frank Jensen in 2010, only to fail when it was blocked at a national level. This time around, it’s believed there’s enough parliamentary support to pass a rewrite of Denmark’s existing drug policy—a necessary step in moving ahead with the Copenhagen proposal.

Of course, the idea has its detractors. “We strongly urge Frank Jensen as the country’s former justice minister to stop this crazy proposal,” says Martin Geertsen of the center-right “free-market liberal” Venstre party. “We don’t want to make it easier to get hold of hash because then more people would use it and be worse off for it,” Minister of Parliament Ole Hækkerup tells the Jyllands Posten newspaper. “If you look at people who use hard drugs, two thirds of them started with hashish.” Then again, nearly all users of hard drugs start with caffeine, yet no-one’s debating the legality of Nescafe. The centrist Radikale party is split: “It’s well known that we have been for and against [decriminalization] within the party,” says Radikale’s Jeppe Mikkelsen, decisively. “Personally I’m not religiously inclined to keep the current model, but we haven’t discussed it yet so we have to look at the proposals and see where we stand.” A special committee will now examine how to proceed with decriminalization, but with such a range of opinions, it seems unlikely that anything will be resolved on a national level anytime soon.

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Promises Treatment Centers Finds Addiction Interventions Particularly Powerful Over the Holidays

While many families overlook drug or alcohol problems during the holidays to keep the family intact, the addiction specialists at Promises Treatment Centers have found that addiction interventions are especially powerful at this time of year.

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) November 29, 2011

Holiday music and films instill visions of what the holidays should be, but they aren’t the reality for the millions of families affected by addiction. As holiday celebrations approach, families are left with a series of less-than-ideal ways to approach the addict in their lives. Do they ban the addict from the holiday festivities? Should they allow the addict to ruin another get-together?

Fortunately, there is another option. Staging an addiction intervention confronts the problem head-on, helping the addict get the treatment they need and granting family members the peace of mind to enjoy the holiday season.

An addiction intervention is a pre-planned meeting with the addict and their closest family, friends and colleagues that is designed to help the addict into drug rehab. In a loving, supportive manner, concerned participants describe the way addiction has impacted their lives and the consequences for refusing to accept help.

Families are often reluctant to confront a loved one’s addiction during the holiday season. But according to the addiction specialists at Promises drug rehab centers in Malibu and Los Angeles, in many ways the holidays are the best time to stage an addiction intervention.

“The holidays can be one of the most effective times to break through a loved one’s denial,” said Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises Treatment Centers. “When family members stage an addiction intervention or help a loved one into treatment over the holidays, they send a particularly strong message that the family’s number-one priority is for their loved one to get well.”

The message is particularly powerful during the holidays because it is a time when many people struggling with addiction assume their downward spiral will go unnoticed or get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparation. It is also one of the only times of the year when family members are together in the same place. Families that step in and take action can get their loved one’s attention, increasing the likelihood that the addict will accept the help being offered.

Without intervention, in just a few short months a drug or alcohol problem can go from worrisome to deadly. November and December typically see an increase in drunk driving accidents, accidental overdoses, depression and domestic violence, often tied to drug and alcohol abuse. Delaying drug rehab means a few more months that loved ones, including children, may be exposed to harmful behaviors and many more late nights spent worrying for the addict’s safety.

Substance abuse typically worsens over the holidays, with Thanksgiving Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve consistently ranking among the top drinking holidays of the year. Some reasons for increased drug and alcohol abuse over the holidays include:

“Nothing, including a date on the calendar, should stand in the way of getting help for addiction,” said Dr. Sack. “The longer someone waits to begin drug rehab, the more damage may be done to their physical and emotional health as well as their relationships, career, finances and future.”

The best way to spread holiday cheer isn’t by buying another high-tech gadget, but giving the gift of sobriety. Drug rehab is a safe place to address the feelings and underlying issues that have contributed to drug and alcohol addiction and lay the foundation for happier holidays ahead.

About Promises Treatment Centers

Promises Treatment Centers in Malibu and West Los Angeles are the premier addiction treatment centers in southern California. Led by some of the country’s leading addiction specialists, Promises has built an international reputation for innovative addiction treatment and exceptional service. Whether an individual requires detox, residential drug rehab, outpatient treatment, extended care or a sober living environment, Promises has been the drug rehabilitation center of choice for more than 20 years. For more information about Promises Treatment Centers, visit or call (877) 351-7506.

Promises is part of Elements Behavioral Health, a family of behavioral health care programs that includes The Ranch, The Sexual Recovery Institute and The Recovery Place. Elements offers comprehensive, innovative treatment for substance abuse, sexual addiction, trauma, eating disorders and other mental health disorders. We are committed to delivering clinically sophisticated treatment that promotes permanent lifestyle change, not only for the patient but for the entire family system. For more information about Elements Behavioral Health, visit


Dr. David Sack
Elements Behavioral Health
Email Information

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Henry’s Fund donates money to help others with drug addiction

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The non-profit “Henry’s Fund” donated $5,000 in KPD’s name to help others with drug addiction.

The grant money was given to Helen Ross McNabb’s Gateway Center Adolescent substance abuse treatment program on Monday.

Last year, Henry Granju, 18, suffered an overdose after a beating he received during a drug deal and died. “Henry’s Fund” was formed in his memory.

The $5,000 gift was made in the Knoxville Police Department’s honor to recognize their dedication in fighting drug trafficking among young people.

More information about “Henry’s Fund” is available on the non-profit’s website.

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The Marlboro Man’s Last Stand

The Marlboro Man's Last Stand

After years of tightening regulation and dramatic decline in adult smokers, Big Tobacco prepares its endgame: Teenagers.

In an orchestrated attack on cigarette regulation in the UK, tobacco giant Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company, filed a flurry of Freedom of Information Act requests in September designed to give them access to proprietary academic research on teenage smoking habits. It’s no coincidence that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in November that the percentage of adult smokers in America had finally fallen below 20%. American teens smoke at slightly higher rates than adults, as do citizens of the UK. (Figures in the EU vary widely, but hover in the high 20s.) For the past month, tobacco firms Philip Morris and Gallaher have been busily engaged in a campaign to force academic researchers in Britain to turn over sensitive cigarette research—a campaign Philip Morris quietly dropped this week, after two months of adverse publicity.

The cigarette companies have also targeted the UK Department of Health, demanding access to the minutes of confidential meetings involving health department officials and cancer experts, “to the surprise of those who attended the private discussions,” according to Steve Connor, the science editor who spearheaded the investigation for the British newspaper, the Independent. The FOI requests, the Independent concludes, are part of “a global campaign by tobacco companies to fight any further legal restrictions of cigarette sales and promotion, particularly the introduction of plain cigarette packets.”

Hooking the developed world’s teen smokers is the one bright spot in Big Tobacco’s future, and industry executives know it. What Phillip Morris wanted was university research on a wide range of attitudes and behaviors teens hold towards smoking—especially their feelings about new plans for British cigarette packaging. Like the U.S. and Australia, officials in Britain are planning plain packages in a neutral color, with no brand logos, only the brand name in simple typeface plus warning labels.

Big tobacco appears intent on drawing a line in the sand any way it can over the issue of plain packaging. The U.S. and Australia have already mandated these changes—restrictions that aim to turn cigarette packs into either fright cards or the proverbial plain brown wrapper. But the British attack by Big Tobacco rocked the public health community, where confidentiality is often the keystone of successful research, especially into stigmatized issues such as underage smoking. Researchers were horrified, but legal opinion on the request was mixed. From the tobacco industry’s point of view, the problems began when Cancer Research UK, the nation’s leading cancer charity, bankrolled a study by the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at Stirling University in Scotland. The investigators surveyed thousands of British teenagers to investigate their attitudes and behavior toward smoking, with special emphasis on why they do or do not pick up the pack—and the habit. Needless to say, a study intended to read the minds of Big Tobacco’s target market would be met with parental fury.

With a database of some 5,500 teens between the ages of 11 and 16—who participated only on condition of anonymity—Stirling was unprepared for the Phillip Morris request. A separate FOI request by Gallaher, a subsidiary of Japan Tobacco International, demanded “all correspondence between the [health] department and outside organizations, such as the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the UK Centre for Tobacco Control studies, and the scientific research charities Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.” Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said it was clear that the industry “wants access to government documents and academic research for one purpose only to help it fight regulation.” The Independent said that in the case of the Health Department requests, “the company wanted to understand what materials were being relied upon as evidence for planned plain-packaging legislation.

But why are the tobacco firms so concerned with packaging? Let’s face it: The red Marlboro chevron, the cartoon camel, and the Lucky Strike bull’s-eye are all hugely lucrative branding devices.

“All the experts say that the tobacco industry will fight tooth and nail to retain their branded packets.” says the Independent’s Steve Connor. “The tobacco industry claims it does not target children, but branded packets are undoubtedly attractive to this under-age group as well.”

But why are the tobacco firms so concerned with packaging? Let’s face it: The red Marlboro chevron, the cartoon camel, and the iconic bull’s-eye of Lucky Strike (designed by the man who brought us the Coca-Cola logo) are all hugely lucrative branding devices. The industry is increasingly faced with the problem of finding legal space—any space—where they can exploit these powerful icons. Thus, the fierce fight over the package itself—virtually the last advertising space over which the industry exerts some advertising control. An internal cigarette industry analysis released in 2007 put the matter forthrightly: “If you smoke, a cigarette pack is one of the few things you use regularly that makes a statement about you. A cigarette pack is the only thing you take out of your pocket 20 times a day and lay out for everyone to see.”

The trade magazine World Tobacco counseled companies that “if your brand can no longer shout from billboards, let alone from the cinema screen or the pages of a glossy magazine… it can at least court smokers from the retailer’s shelf, or from wherever it is placed by those already wed to it.”

In a report issued by Cancer Council Victoria recently, Australian researchers analyzed 24 published studies and concluded that “the cigarette pack has become the key  marketing tool employed by the tobacco industry to attract and retain customers.”

Some of the Stirling data is already accessible in published studies. The July issue of Journal of Tobacco Control featured an article about the influence of packaging on the behavior of young smokers, showing that those with plain packets took out their cigarettes less frequently, handled the cigarettes less often, and sometimes hid the packs. Lead author Dr. Crawford Moodie said the study, which was based on only 50 young adult smokers, “confirms the lack of appeal of plain packs.” Moodie said his group was “now looking to build on this research to understand more about the impact of packaging on smokers.” Big Tobacco wants to understand more about it, too, so it can find ways of making plain packaging more appealing. And it wants to use Cancer Research’s own data for the purpose.

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Norwich man caught growing cannabis at his home

Peter Walsh

A man with a long-standing drug addiction, who cultivated enough cannabis plants in his house to potentially produce £38,000 worth of drugs a year, could be sent to prison.

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A man with a long-standing drug addiction, who cultivated enough cannabis plants in his house to potentially produce £38,000 worth of drugs a year, could be sent to prison.

Craig Watson, 28, appeared at Norwich Magistrates Court yesterday charged with producing a quantity of cannabis, a controlled class B drug, between February and August 2009.

Watson, of Berners Street, off Aylsham Road, Norwich, will be sentenced at Norwich Crown Court at a later date after magistrates deemed the offence to be “so serious” that it should receive a punishment greater than they were able to impose.

DenisKing, prosecuting, said police searched Watson’s address where “a bag of herbal cannabis was found on the sofa”. But a further search of the property revealed cannabis growing equipment upstairs.

Mr King said both upstairs bedrooms contained hydroponic equipment with plastic sheeting covering about 30 plants. The electricity meter had also been bypassed.

He added: “The potential yield over a period of a year would be something like 6.89kg of cannabis from the plants reaching full maturity and three to four yields in that time with a street value of something like £38,000. That’s the top value police would put on it in terms of potential yield.”

Mr King said police also found £400 in cash and two mobile phones at the property with text messages relating to the sale of cannabis.

Alison McManus, mitigating, said Watson, who entered a guilty plea at the first time of asking, lived on his own and had no previous matters against him.

She said: “He has a long-standing addiction, which has resulted in mental health issues.”

Ms McManus said that Watson, who has had a girlfriend of six years and a three-year-old son, spent £140 a week on drugs, but as a part-time cleaner in receipt of benefits could not afford to keep paying for his addiction so he “tried to grow it himself”.

She said Watson researched how to grow the drugs and intended to grow as many as he could in a short space of time – which would have lasted him a couple of years – before stopping.

She said the potential yield referred to by the prosecution was based on “complete speculation” and depended on all of the plants surviving and of having a successful set up and also having three to four yields.

The court heard that following his arrest, Watson sought help for his problem from various agencies, which he is still doing, and spent 15 days at Hellesdon Hospital.

Charles Nevick, chairman of the bench, committed the matter to Norwich Crown Court for sentencing at a date to be fixed.

Watson was released on unconditional bail until the next hearing.

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T.I. Salutes Eminem for Helping Him Overcome Drug Addiction


T.I. and Eminem share a connection that goes beyond respect for each other’s artistry. In late 2010, T.I. sought advice from Eminem when struggling with a similar drug addiction.


After being released from his first prison stint for federal weapon charges on March 26, 2010, T.I. took to prescription pills — oxycontin and hydrocodone — to relieve the pain he derived from a hefty amount of oral surgeries.  Unfortunately, what started out as medical aid quickly turned into an addiction.

Exclusive: T.I. Talks New Album, Working with Usher | T.I.’s 10 Biggest Billboard Hits


Fearing he had a developed drug problem, T.I. reached out Eminem (who has famously dealt with addiction himself), for advice. “I asked him how he knew he was an addict,” T.I. told VIBE in 2010. “[He said] basically, if you put yourself in harm’s way… if you risk that, you’ve got to assume that there is something fundamentally wrong with your thought process.”


T.I. told’s The Juice that, alhough he has yet to connect with Eminem since he was freed from his second prison stint on Sept. 29, 2011, the Detroit rapper continues to be an “enormous supporter.”


“I haven’t had a chance to speak to Em since I’ve been home,” T.I. said. “I heard that while I was down, he was trying to get in contact with me, but I don’t know if the dots just didn’t connect. [Eminem] overcoming his own adversities, winning the battle against his own demons and continuing to break the mold and re-set the standard of what it means to be the most successful hip-hop artist in the game … I salute that to no end.”


T.I. continued to pay respect to Eminem and his current projects. “I love what he’s doing with Slaughterhouse. I love the move that he made to sign Yelawolf. And the record with him and Royce da 5’9″ … that record is going h.a.m. He killed that BET Hip-Hop Awards cypher. I’ve been peeping the move[ment].”


Eminem Signs Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse to Shady Label


Now that he’s clean and somber and living postively,  T.I. shares words of wisdom to those struggling with drugs or having a difficult time staying out of trouble.


“It starts with you on the inside,” he said. “I can give all the advice in the world, but at the end of the day you just got to make that decision internally with yourself. You have to see that you are ready to make a change. Until that moment comes, all advice in the world is going to be in vain cause I’m going to be talking to a brick wall.”


“Everybody can tell you what you need to do, how to do it, when you need to do it, how bad you need to do it,” T.I. continued. “But until you get that right ass whipping, as they say, and until you have hit rock bottom or have seen something in yourself that is so out of character and it displeases you so much that you just have no choice but to change it … then you ain’t going to see it.”


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Chris Herren speaks to teens at SSTAR about drug addiction

Chris Herren spoke at Stanley Street Treatment and Resources (SSTAR), Nov. 22 to a group of teenagers about the heroin/oxytocin addiction which led him from a $5 million NBA career to rock bottom in record time.

A six-foot-three point guard, Herren really started his career on the courts of Durfee High School where he drew the attention of several college recruiters. He played at Boston College and later moved on to  Fresno State. His claim to fame were stints in the NBA where he played first for the Denver Nuggets, and later the Boston Celtics.

Injuries throughout his career diverted him from the court. He covertly (and often publicly) battled drug addiction including heroin and what he called the “gorilla on (his) back,” the prescription painkiller oxycodone.

Though Herren lost his golden ticket to the professional arena, he has become just as popular in his efforts to share the lessons he learned on the court. He trains and mentors young basketball players in his company Hoop Dreams with Chris Herren, Inc; and runs the Chris Herren Foundation, which provides funds for addicted individuals who want treatment but can’t pay for it. 

He co-authored (with Bill Reynolds) the book Basketball Junkie; and shares his story in lecture halls across the country. Herren spoke at SSTAR last week, because the local facility started him on the path to sobriety.

“When I pulled in here tonight, I saw the lights of the (detox) building across the street and some strong memories came up. It was just a little over three years ago, that SSTAR opened its doors to me and my recovery,” Herren said.

Herren warned audience members about the dangers of starting bad habits young. Among these were teenagers enrolled in SSTAR’s Adolescent Community Treatment Program (ACT) which provides outpatient treatment to people aged 12-17 who are using or have used drugs or alcohol.

“I look at many of you in the audience now, and I see myself. When I was your age, at Durfee, and took my first hit of cocaine, I didn’t have any idea that the choices that I was making then would follow me throughout my life,” he said.

Herren told heart-wrenching stories which probably parallel the rise and fall stories of many ordinary people addicted to drugs and alcohol—with a few exotic details thrown in. Yet whether he was speaking about smuggling drugs into Bologna, Italy;  or being spared arrest in Iran due to the kindness of a fan, a postal guard, who discreetly confiscated his package of drugs; he never loses sight of how this related to the people in the city he grew up in.

“My whole life everyone was telling me, you have to get out of Fall River, don’t go home, it is going to be your downfall. The irony was wherever I was in the world—China, Italy, Tehran, wherever I was, I could find drugs. Eventually I came to realize, Fall River wasn’t my downfall, I was my downfall,” Herren said.

The ACT program at SSTAR provides treatment to teenagers struggling with addiction. In addition to traditional substance abuse treatment the program incorporates family participation; and learning skills such as anger management and communication. Fees are sliding scale, but nobody is turned away if they can’t afford to pay. For more information about the ACT program call 508-558-2490.

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