War Veteran Jesse Huff Commits suicide outside VA Hospital

Jesse C. Huff, was 27 years old had been in VA emergency room earlier in the morning.

Infantryman Jesse Huff during a period of training in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Thereasa Osborne of Elm City, N.C.

Infantryman Jesse Huff hands out candy to a child during a patrol in Iraq in 2006. Photo courtesy of Thereasa Osborne of Elm City, N.C.

By Lucas Sullivan and Margo Rutledge Kissell
April 16, 2010

DAYTON — Jesse Charles Huff walked up to the Veterans Affairs Department’s Medical Center on Friday morning wearing U.S. Army fatigues and battling pain from his Iraq war wounds and a recent bout with depression.

The 27-year-old Dayton man had entered the center’s emergency room about 1 a.m. Friday and requested some sort of treatment. But Huff did not get that treatment, police said, and about 5:45 a.m. he reappeared at the center’s entrance, put a military-style rifle to his head and twice pulled the trigger.

Huff fell near the foot of a Civil War statue, his blood covering portions of the front steps.

An assault rifle lies in front of the Dayton VA Medical Center, located at 4100 W. Third St. Police on the scene said the death is the result of a suicide. Photo: Ron Alvey

Police would not specify what treatment Huff sought and why he did not receive it. Medical Center spokeswoman Donna Simmons declined to answer questions about Huff’s treatment, citing privacy laws. But police believe Huff killed himself to make a statement.

Scott Labensky, whose son lived with Huff, agreed. He said the veteran was injured by a ground blast while serving in Iraq and received ongoing treatment for a back injury and depression.

“He never got adequate care from the VA he was trying to get,” Labensky said. “I believe he (killed himself) to bring attention to that fact. I saw him two days ago. He was really hurting.”

Simmons said Huff received care at the center since August 2008 and his care was being handled by a case manager.

The suicide rate among 18- to 29-year-old men who have left the military has gone up significantly, the government said in January.

The rate for those veterans rose 26 percent from 2005 to 2007, according to data released by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The military community also has struggled with an increase in suicides, with the Army seeing a record number last year. Last May, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base focused on suicide recognition and prevention after four apparent suicides involving base personnel within six months.

Huff arrived early Friday in a cream-colored van police found parked about 200 yards from a south entrance of the medical center. The van contained some U.S. Army clothing, a carton of Newport cigarettes and a prescription bottle of Oxycodone with Huff’s name on the side.

Oxycodone is often used to treat severe pain.

As a precaution, bomb squad technicians blew apart a backpack Huff carried before committing suicide. Source

Generic Name: oxycodone (ox i KOE done)
Brand Names: ETH-Oxydose, OxyContin, Oxyfast, Oxyir, Percolone, Roxicodone, Roxicodone Intensol

This drug is Addictive.

Oxycodone Side Effects

Oxycodone side effects may be common, adverse, or precursors to possible fatality.

Pain management specialists will recommend a dosage according to the patient’s individual pain relief response and his or her ability to tolerate the common or adverse side effects produced.

The more common Oxycodone side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Dimness in vision
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Itching reflex
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Sleeplessness
  • Sweating from shock
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Less common Oxycodone side effects, occurring in only 5% of the population, may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Euphoria
  • Hiccups
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Short or painful breathing (dyspnea)

And, reported on even more rare occasions:

  • Impotence
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Decreased testosterone secretion

Oxycodone Side Effects, Overuse

Most patients contact us due to the onset of more adverse Oxycodone side effects from habitual use and overuse.

Adverse side effects:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Fainting
  • Fast or slow heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Seizures
  • Severe dizziness
  • Slowed or difficult breathing
  • Tremor
  • Vision changes
  • Low resting heart rate
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Suspended breathing
  • Abnormally low blood pressure
  • Pupil constriction
  • Circulatory collapse
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Death

Severe allergic reactions:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue
  • Tightness in the chest

Convulsions may also increase in patients using Oxycodone with a history of:

  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Central nervous system infections
  • Drug withdrawal
  • Epilepsy
  • Head trauma
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Seizures

Oxycodone Side Effect Cautions

Monitor persistent Oxycodone side effects to verify a medical overdose . Different patients react differently to a medication and experience different or varying degrees of these Oxycodone side effects.

Oxycodone may cause severe hypotension (extreme blood pressure drops).

Oxycodone may be contraindicated (administer with caution) in patients having:

  • Acute alcoholism
  • Adrenal or thyroid problems
  • Bowel disorders or obstructions
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Circulatory shock
  • Decreased respiratory reserve
  • Drug-related psychosis
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Excessive CO2 blood count
  • Pancreatitis
  • Pre-existing respiratory depression
  • Reduced blood oxygen
  • Respiratory disorder affecting the right ventricle of the heart
  • Semi-conscious state or coma
  • Severe kidney or liver disease
  • Significant chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Spinal deformities impacting the lungs
  • Urinating difficulties

Other serious health concerns:

  • Oxycodone, like all morphine-type narcotics, should be administered with extreme care to patients in circulatory shock. Narrowing of the blood vessels may reduce heart rate (pulse) and blood pressure.
  • Intravenous injection, often illicit, risks lethal respiratory arrest.
  • Under doctor’s care, survey patients with head injuries, brain tumors, and other conditions of increased brain pressure for reactions.

Additional signs of Oxycodone overuse involve:

  • Decreased interest in affection
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Ignorance of others’ distress caused by patient
  • Indifference toward family events
  • Lack of interest in simple things
  • Loss of activities and hobbies
  • Loss of vocational drive
  • Signs of clinical depression

Source

Odds are Jesse was on this drug for some time.

He in all likelyhood suffered from a number of side affects, which would greatly enhance his depression…

Related

War veterans who could benefit from medical marijuana, regardless of the legality in their own states, have to go outside the VA system and find new doctors just to learn about and try a potentially helpful medicine.

Sign this petition and tell the Obama administration that our veterans deserve better. They deserve to have doctors who practice medicine, not politics.

Give them Medical marijuana, it is much safer then pharmaceutical drugs.

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Afghanistan: Troops Guarding the Poppy Fields

Paul Joseph Watson

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not content with savaging American taxpayers with two huge new financial burdens during an economic recession, in the form of health care reform and cap and trade, close allies of Barack Obama have proposed a new war surtax that will force Americans to foot the bill for the cost of protecting opium fields in Afghanistan, paying off drug lords, and bribing the Taliban.

Warning that the cost of occupying Afghanistan is a threat to the Democrats’ plan to overhaul health care, lawmakers have announced their plan to make Americans pay an additional war tax that will be taken directly from their income, never mind the fact that around 36 per cent of federal taxes already go to paying for national defense.

“Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for,” the lawmakers, all prominent Democratic allies of Obama, said in a joint statement on the “Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010 (PDF),” reports AFP.

The move is being led by the appropriately named House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, Representative John Murtha, who chairs that panel’s defense subcommittee; and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.

The tax would apply to anyone earning as little as $22,600 per year in 2011.

The proposal is described as “heavily symbolic” with little chance of passing, but it once again illustrates the hypocrisy of an administration that swept to power on the promise of “change” to the Neo-Con imperial agenda and a resolve to reduce U.S. military involvement overseas. In reality, there are more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan now under Obama that at any time during the Bush administration.

At the height of the Bush administration’s 2007 “surge” in Iraq, there were 26,000 US troops in Afghanistan and 160,000 in Iraq, a total of 186,000.

According to DoD figures cited by The Washington Post last month, there are now around 189,000 and rising deployed in total. There are now 68,000 troops in Afghanistan, over double the amount deployed there when Bush left office.

What precisely would this extra tax be used to pay for? Namely, bribing the Taliban, paying off CIA drug lords, and protecting heroin-producing opium fields.

Numerous reports over the past two weeks have confirmed that the U.S. military is paying off the Taliban with bags of gold to prevent them from attacking vehicle convoys, proving that there is no real “war” in Afghanistan, merely a business agreement that allows the occupiers to continue their lucrative control of record opium exports while they finalize construction of dozens of new military bases from which to launch new wars.

The Afghan opium trade has exploded since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, following a lull after the Taliban had imposed a crackdown. According to the U.N., the drug trade is now worth $65 billion. Afghanistan produces 92 per cent of the world’s opium, with the equivalent of at least 3,500 tonnes leaving the country each year.

This racket is secured by drug kingpins like the brother of disputed president Hamid Karzai. As a New York Times report revealed last month, Ahmed Wali Karzai, a Mafia-like figure who expanded his influence over the drug trade with the aid of U.S. efforts to eliminate his competitors, is on the CIA payroll.

As Professor Michel Chossudovsky has highlighted in a series of essays, the explosion of opium production after the invasion was about the CIA’s drive to restore the lucrative Golden Crescent opium trade that was in place during the time when the Agency were funding the Mujahideen rebels to fight the Soviets, and flood the streets of America and Britain with cheap heroin, destroying lives while making obscene profits.

Any war surtax will merely go straight to maintaining the agenda that Obama inherited from Bush, the continued looting of Afghanistan under the pretext of a “war on terror” that, as revelations about bribing the Taliban prove, doesn’t even exist.

Source

Afghanistan opium poppy cultivation 1994-2007

The Taliban has almost eradicated the poppy fields. No sooner did the war begin and the poppy fields wee reborn.

Children work the poppy fields young as 8 or 9

Narco-Nation Building

By Paul L. Williams, Ph.D

July 7 2009

Hey, guys, don’t pick the poppies.

That’s the order from the Obama Administration to the 4,000 Marines presently engaged in Operation Khanjar or “Strike of the Sword,” an invasion of the Taliban infested Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.

The Marines of Bravo’s Company 1st Platoon sleep beside groves of poppies Troops of the 2nd Platoon walk through the fields on strict orders not to swat the heavy opium bulbs. The Afghan farmers and laborers, who are engaged in scraping the resin from the bulbs, smile and wave at the passing soldiers.

The Helmand province is the world’s largest cultivator of opium poppies – the crop used to make heroin.

Afghanistan grew 93 percent of the world’s poppy crop last year, with Helmand alone responsible for more than half of the opium production in the country, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Heroin, as it turns out, represents the only staple of the Afghan economy. The country manufactures no domestic products for exportation and the rocky terrain yields no cash crops – – except, of course, the poppies.

The poppies fuel the great jihad against the United States and the Western world. More than 3,500 tons of raw opium is gleaned from the poppy crops every year, producing annual revenues for the Taliban and al Qaeda that range from $5 billion to $16 billion.

Destroying the fields could very well put an end to terrorist activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But the Obama Administration remains intent upon protecting the poppies so that the Afghan farmers and local drug lords can reap the benefits of what purports to be a bumper crop.

Many Marines in the field are scratching their heads over the situation.

Jason Striuszko a journalist embedded with the U.S. Marines in Garmser, reports that many of the leathernecks are scratching their heads at the apparent contradictions — calling in airstrikes and artillery on the elusive Taliban while assuring farmers and drug lords that they will protect the poppies.

“Of course,” Striuszko says, “those fields will be harvested and some money likely used to help fuel the Taliban, and the Marines are thinking, essentially, ‘huh?’”

“It’s kind of weird. We’re coming over here to fight the Taliban. We see this. We know it’s bad. But at the same time we know it’s the only way locals can make money,” said 1st Lt. Adam Lynch, 27, of Barnstable, Mass.

Richard Holbrooke, the Obama Administration’s top envoy in Afghanistan, says that poppy eradication – for years a cornerstone of U.S. and U.N. anti-drug efforts in the country – has only resulted in driving Afghan farmers into the hands of the Taliban.

The new approach, Holbrooke maintains, will try to wean the farmers of the lucrative cash crop by giving them help to grow other produce, like wheat, corn and pomegranates.

Most of the 33,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan operate in the east, where the poppy problem is not as great. But the 2,400-strong 24th Marines, have taken the field in this southern growing region during harvest season.

An expert on Afghanistan’s drug trade, Barnett Rubin, complained that the Marines are being put in such a situation by a “one-dimensional” military policy that fails to integrate political and economic considerations into long-range planning.

“All we hear is, not enough troops, send more troops,” said Rubin, a professor at New York University. “Then you send in troops with no capacity for assistance, no capacity for development, no capacity for aid, no capacity for governance.”

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Stover, whose platoon is sleeping beside a poppy crop planted in the interior courtyard of a mud-walled compound, said the Marines’ mission is to get rid of the “bad guys,” and “the locals aren’t the bad guys.”

“Poppy fields in Afghanistan are the cornfields of Ohio,” said Stover, 28, of Marion, Ohio. “When we got here they were asking us if it’s OK to harvest poppy and we said, ‘Yeah, just don’t use an AK-47.’”

Source

U.S. soldiers inspect a cache of opium that was seized at a border police station on the outskirts of Herat,  October 23 2007. Afghan border police in the western Afghan city have seized 644 kilograms of opium. Afghanistan accounts for over 93 percent of the world’s supply of opium, the main ingredient in heroin, a lucrative trade whose proceeds in part fund some of the Taliban-led insurgency.    AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

They don’t tell you about this, about Afghanistan’s growing domestic drug problem – an estimated 1.5 million addicts, including 120,000 women, according to the Ministry of Narcotics – all those advocates of legalizing the country’s robust opium crop – a yield that provides some 93 per cent of the world’s heroin. This heroin, which is refined opium, ends up on streets across the globe but also is destroying families here. Source

They also fail to mention the problem now in Iran , Iraq,
Russia, Europe and North America.

There are millions of new heroin addicts around the world.

Karima leaned to one side and rubbed her temples with half-painted pink fingernails. The smile that was wide and infectious for her visitors had now surrendered to the internal darkness that ruled her addiction.

The day had started like most in her life: With an opium tea that she drinks to “feel happy.” On bad days, she needs it three or four times.

Karima is 13.

She is bright, and confident, but left school during fourth grade. From the two narrow rooms they call home in an otherwise abandoned building, she cannot see a future that is either clean or normal — a hard assessment for a girl who is barely a teenager.

“There is no one but me to support the family and we have nothing to live easily,” she said. “I feel sad most of the time and the tea makes me feel better.”

Her mother, Najiba, raised five children on a steady diet of narcotics to ease their hunger pains and winter chills and her own grief from losing a son. The whole family has been through drug treatment — twice — and Najiba claims to be healthy.

Karima is still addicted. She buys the drugs herself with money from her father and boils the opium tea the way her mother long did for her.

Her wild-eyed youngest sister, Raisa, is three years old and clicks her tongue while fidgeting with a red patent purse. Raisa had opium in her veins before she was born. Najiba cut her off months ago, but Raisa remembers the “dizzy” tea and craves it. I asked her why.

“Because I miss it,” she said in the tiniest voice. “I like it.” Source

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials. Source

Opium production is one of the chief sources of revenue for the warlords that occupy the Afghan parliament and is one of the main reasons why the government is seen as corrupt by the Afghan people. As long as NATO continues to bomb civilians in an effort to extend the control of those warlords, the Afghan people will continue to join the resistance to the foreign occupation.

This reality led to the recent resignation of Matthew Hoh, a former US army captain and Foreign Service official in Zabul province. Hoh resigned because he said that the presence of the foreign troops was the main reason why the resistance was growing and he believed that the war needed to end.  Source

They have never connected Bin Laden to 9/11

Bin Laden has been dead since December of 2001

9/11 was just an excuse to go to war in Afghanistan nothing more.

The results of the invasion of Afghanistan is devastating to say the least.

The radiation will have a very devastating impact on Afghans. The testing proved the use of radioactive weapons. Source

The end result will be as it is in Iraq and other countries Nato and the US have invaded.

Doctors report “unprecedented” rise in deformities, cancers in Iraq

Kosovo

Since its dealings with the Meo tribesmen in Laos during the Vietnam era, the CIA has protected narcotics traffic in key locations in order partly to finance its covert operations. The scale of international narcotics traffic today is such that major US banks such as Citigroup are reported to derive a significant share of their profits from laundering the proceeds. Source

CIA Drug  Operations a little history

Bush – Cheney and drugs

Pipelines in the Middle East Afghanistan included/ Maps as well

Drug money used as a geopolitics weapon by CIA-RAW-Mossad

March 12, 2010

By Brig Asif Haroon Raja

US Administration under George Bush senior had formulated New World Order in 1989 in anticipation to assuming world leadership. Among several aspects how to go about harnessing world resources and to micro manage world affairs, Islam was identified as the next threat to US interests after the imminent collapse of communism which by that time was gasping for breath. Afghanistan figured high in US security paradigm. After the Taliban captured power in 1996 and declared Sharia and refused to abide by terms and conditions of US economic tycoons with regard to shipment of oil and gas from Central Asia through Afghanistan, it was circled for invasion in 1997. In August 1998, Osama bin Laden’s camps in Khost province of Afghanistan were struck by cruise missiles. In July 2001, some high US officials declared that Afghanistan would be invaded in October that year. Going by this sequence of events, it becomes evident that neo-cons in connivance with Jews manufactured 9/11 to achieve their global ambitions. Jewish controlled media played a key role in triggering world wide condemnation of 9/11 attacks and in fomenting hatred against Muslims among the non-Muslim world.

9/11 was an excuse to formulate draconian laws and policies of pre-emption and unilateralism. Terrorism became the most sinful and unforgivable offence. Under the buzzword of terrorism, world cooperation was harnessed to fight global war on terror and supposedly free the world from this menace which in their view posed the biggest threat to world security. Freedom movements within Muslim world were converted into terrorism and terrorism became synonymous to Islam. Al-Qaeda was created from nowhere and transformed into a faceless monster that would appear like a ghost in all areas of US interest. Islamic threat was demonized to justify existence of NATO that had lost its rationale and locus standi after end of Cold War and expiry of Warsaw Pact in 1991.

Afghanistan was not invaded to avenge terror attacks allegedly master minded by Afghanistan based Osama bin Laden and those who harbored him. The real intention was to convert Afghanistan into a permanent US military station wherefrom it could promote its strategic interests. These interests included tapping unexplored mineral resources of Central Asia and shipping gas and oil to Europe and USA through Afghanistan and Pakistan; monitoring China and Russia; remaining within turn round distance of Persian Gulf; preventing Iran from going nuclear and affecting a regime change of its choice; subverting and denuclearizing Pakistan; making India the regional policeman; restoring and controlling world largest supply of opium for world heroin markets and to use drugs as a geopolitics weapon against opponents, especially Russia. In pursuit of its multiple objectives Afghanistan was ruthlessly destroyed and till to-date has not been vacated.

CIA has a track record of using drug money to support its covert operations all over the world. It toppled Mossadeq led regime in Iran in 1953. It armed Iraqi Kurds in 1975 to destabilize Iraqi regime. It also used drug money to back Contras movement in Nicaragua in 1980 to bring democracy. Cocaine being the most sought drug became the favorite production of CIA. Unprecedented volume of cocaine trafficking took place in the 1980s but no eyebrow was raised in Washington. Drug money was extensively utilized by CIA to finance Afghan jihad against Soviet troops in Afghanistan from 1979 till 1989. Commercial production of opium began in 1980s, replacing cocaine with heroin and this new product flooded the US and European markets. By the time Afghan war came to an end, Afghanistan had become the second largest opium producing country. Its production rate had swelled to 1350 metric tons.

When the Taliban under Mullah Omar captured power in 1996, the Islamic regime carried out host of social reforms including imposition of ban on opium production. There was steep decline in this practice for the first time. The Taliban during their rule till October 2001 suffered from worst economic crisis due to severe sanctions imposed by USA and western countries but they never used opium to build their economy. Interestingly, this ban became one of the core reasons for the US to invade Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has now become a narco-state and the largest opium producing country in the world. Younger brother of Hamid Karzai Ahmad Wali Karzai in Kandahar has been the main player exporting heroin to Europe through Turkmenistan. Indian Embassy in Kabul has been working as the coordinating centre for drug trade. Countries like Pakistan and Iran lying in the path of drug trade route are the worst affected since drugs destroy social norms and values as they have in the west. It has made a debilitating impact on societal fabric. By 2008, 8000 metric tons had been exported to world markets. Afghanistan is producing 8250 metric tons per year, which makes 90-92% of world opium supply. Illegal opium production is worth $ 65 billions. Afghan warlords involved are deeply involved in enriching their coffers through drug trade.

While international drug mafia is fully controlled by Zionists, CIA is complicit in global drug trade. Without active support of Pentagon and CIA, it is simply not possible to export opium in thousands of tons. Free licenses are liberally issued to drug producers and traffickers. There are credible reports that US military planes have been made use of and even some coffins were filled with heroin instead of bodies. Truckloads of heroin transfer heroin daily. Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, silenced for years by George W. Bush Administration, testified to the use of NATO planes transporting drugs as well as international terrorists.

Under the pretext of hunting al-Qaeda, CIA has made deep inroads in Pakistan. Drug money is not only used by CIA to finance its illegal operations in Pakistan and elsewhere but also US economy also which because of economic crunch is badly in need of liquidity in its banks that are closing down at an alarming rate. Russia has lashed out at US and NATO for refusing to destroy poppy crops in Afghanistan and not fighting drug production which implies that raw drug sources will remain sacrosanct. The US however puts blame on Taliban for poppy cultivation in Afghanistan for financing insurgency and to snatch this source, it has mounted massive offensive in Helmand, a stronghold of Taliban and major opium growing region.

Under the pretext of hunting al-Qaeda, CIA has made deep inroads in Pakistan. Drug money is not only used by CIA to finance its illegal operations in Pakistan and elsewhere but also US economy also which because of economic crunch is badly in need of liquidity in its banks that are closing down at an alarming rate. Russia has lashed out at US and NATO for refusing to destroy poppy crops in Afghanistan and not fighting drug production which implies that raw drug sources will remain sacrosanct. The US however puts blame on Taliban for poppy cultivation in Afghanistan for financing insurgency and to snatch this source, it has mounted massive offensive in Helmand, a stronghold of Taliban and major opium growing region.

Like the CIA, RAW and Mossad are also heavily involved in narcotic business. Indian drug barons have cultivated close ties with Afghan drug warlords and with Laos which is among the leading drug trading country. India ranks fifth largest illegal opium producing country in the world.  Illicit poppy is being cultivated in large quantity in Himachal Pradesh, Arunchal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Mizoram. India is using profits made out of drug trafficking towards covert operation in Pakistan. Operation aimed at destabilizing Pakistan codenamed CIT X had been jointly conceived by RAW and Mossad for which criminal elements, mercenaries and drug mafia were engaged. 57 training camps were established in East Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam, Gujarat, Rajasthan and occupied Kashmir to train and launch terrorists inside Pakistan. Training was imparted to dissident elements from MQM, Jiye Sindh Mahaz, Jiye Sindh Students Federation and Baloch nationalists and other nationalist groups. Source

The so called war on drugs also fuels the US prisons.  The more drugs on the streets the more profit and slaves for prisons.

The Prison Industry in the United States Costs Taxpayers Billions

Just added this November 7 2012

A few facts, new and old.

Afghanistan, Heroin, Addiction, Death

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Aftermath of war: Drug addiction taking a toll in Gaza

After the bombing, drug addiction strikes Gaza
Under siege and grappling with joblessness, factional violence and the aftermath of war, Gazans are turning to pills as they seek to escape reality. Donald Macintyre speaks to a mental health group struggling to help addicts

October 14  2009

Abu Ahmed lived through last winter’s Gaza war in a daze. Though the district where he lives was invaded by Israeli ground forces and came under heavy fire, including the use of white phosphorus shells, he felt little fear. For by then, the 45-year-old unemployed father of 10 was popping tablets of the painkiller Tramadol to feed an ever more dangerous habit.”Of course you care about the children but [with the drugs] you forget about yourself,” he explains. “You feel less frightened.”

Manufacturers warn the maximum daily dose of the synthetic opioid should be no more 300mg per day; Abu Ahmed was taking as much as 800mg – in the grip of an addiction which has rapidly spread throughout Gaza over the last two years. As the population struggles to cope with Israel closing their home to the outside world, the sometimes violent power struggles between Fatah and Hamas, and then the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, the Tramadol pills – smuggled in through tunnels from Egypt – have provided a welcome escape from reality.

Mental health professionals say there has been a rise in the drug’s usage in Gaza since the war. The Hamas authorities have tried to crack down on it, but the drug’s severe withdrawal symptoms means it is a seriously hard habit to break. Hasan Shaban Zeyada, a senior psychologist at the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) is convinced that many of the psychological problems underlying the addiction are “the consequence of living in this situation: the siege, internal division and the war”.

Abu Ahmed used to have a good job as a driver. But like an estimated 100,000 other Gazans he lost it when Israel imposed its blockade after Hamas seized control of the strip from Fatah in June 2007. “Before the war the situation was so hard. There was no work, plus I had to take care of 11 people, including my wife. All people could do was sit around in the street and drink tea or coffee.”

Depressed and suffering from headaches, he was offered a Tramadol pill by one of his friends. Several of them were using the drug for its supposed power to improve sexual performance, but for Abu Ahmed it was just a way of relieving the strain of life. “When I took it, I felt very relaxed,” he says.

But Abu Ahmed soon became hooked. Supplies of Tramadol had surged after Hamas militants blew a breach in the southern wall between Gaza and Egypt in January 2008. “You could get it at pharmacies and there were people selling it on the street,” he says. He quickly graduated from taking one pill a day, to three or four and then, though he could ill afford it, as many as eight.

A combination of a doubling in price to around £3.40 for a strip of 10 tablets and a Hamas edict (belated and far from effective) that pharmacies should not sell the drug without a prescription persuaded Abu Ahmed that he had to stop. “I tried to get away from it but I couldn’t. I had a headache, pain in every part of my body. I had to go the bathroom every 10 minutes. I was sweating. Then you take one pill and you feel better of course.”

It was about six weeks after that that Abu Ahmed– who has a history of drug abuse with hashish – turned, on the advice of a friend, to the GCMHP, the pioneering Palestinian organisation started in 1990 and still directed by the territory’s leading psychiatrist and civil society spokesman Dr Eyad Sarraj. With the help of counselling from the group’s trained therapists, as well as controlled and decreasing doses of alternative drugs like Avitan, he has stopped taking Tramadol. At the height of his addiction, Abu Ahmed was going without eating for up to three days and his weight dropped to 58 kilos (just over nine stone). Now it is back up to 85.

“They [the GCMHP] made me feel I was in safe hands,” explains a grateful Abu Ahmed, adding that the agency arranged for food aid for his family while he was recovering. “They showed respect. And they came to my house to tell my family how they should cope with me when I became nervous and angry.”

Yet for all its high professional standards, the organisation cannot help more than a minority of addicts. Although some unofficial estimates put the number of drug addicts as high as many thousands, the GCMHP’s Mr Zeyada, who trained in Tel Aviv University, will not, as a scientist, hazard a figure. But he says there is a shortage of mental health provision in Gaza and that “GCMHP cannot take responsibility for the whole community”.

Although there has been improvement in mental health awareness in the territory, many residents in socially conservative Gaza baulk at the idea of seeking treatment for psychological problems. “The level of stigma is so high,” he explains. Instead, many patients go to their GPs reporting physical problems like headaches, back or abdominal pain, and the doctors, “because of a lack of knowledge about psychological disorder,” simply prescribe analgesic drugs – of which Tramadol is a prime example – and “after a while the patients become addicts or abusers”.

Operation Cast Lead has been over for nine months, but the return to a state of siege, with unemployment at a record 45 per cent, has left a sense of “helplessness and powerlessness” among residents, compounded by the fact that there is no guarantee the war will not be repeated.

For women, the sense that they exist only to serve their children and husbands makes them especially vulnerable to depression – and use of medication like valium and xanax. For men, the feelings of powerlessness and loss of masculinity are all too often caused by an inability to protect their children in war or provide for them in relative peace. “For a father who cannot fulfil the basic needs of his children it is not easy, especially in a society like Palestinian society,” says Mr Zeyada.

Many young people, he adds, are also vulnerable. “They don’t have hope, they cannot do anything for the future. They are disappointed, depressed, helpless and powerless. They can’t find a job, they can’t plan for the future, or [afford to] get married.”

Until three weeks ago 21-year-old university student Mohammed, who had first taken the occasional Tramadol pill in 2006 after failing his high school exams, was on a daily dose of 1,000mg per day, increasingly alarming his family as he sat at his computer all night and slept all day. “You are in another world,” he says. “Even when people keep criticising you, you don’t feel angry.”

In his first month of rehab, Mohammed explains that his addiction reached crisis point when his father, who used to work in Israel and is a passionate believer in university education for his children, was tipped off about his habit. There followed a climactic row last month in which his father threw him out of the family house in northern Gaza, telling him: “If you want to go back to study, and be committed to Islam, then I will help you get out of this problem. If you don’t want to be helped, then I will take you to the [Hamas] police and that’s it.”

Mr Zeyada says another factor is the deep split between Fatah and Hamas, which there appears, once again, little hope of healing. Not only does it divide individual families, but for many Gazans it compromises their proud Palestinian national identity with a divisive factional one which makes them especially sensitive to criticism and hostility from political opponents. There are even cases from school playgrounds of conflict breaking out between children favouring (for non-political reasons) a particular colour T-shirt: yellow (Fatah) or green (Hamas).

Abu Ahmed agrees: “Even in one home you have Fatah and Hamas. That is a big problem.” But now that he feels much better, he looks back on the depression that he believes turned him to Tramadol. “Look,” he says. “Even if a person kills someone, he can still sleep at night. If he goes out and steals something, he will still sleep. But if you have children and you can’t find work to give them what they need, then you can’t sleep.”

Tramadol: ‘Full body blanket’

* Tramadol is a powerful painkiller with a narcotic effect. A single 200 mg dose can leave users sedated for much of the day so time passes quickly.

* One user described it as like being wrapped in a “full body blanket” where problems are not solved but the “volume is turned down a notch”.

* It has similar effects to opiate painkillers such as pethidine inducing sleepiness, a lack of inhibition and a sense of wellbeing.

* Because it is not an opiate, it is not controlled as closely and may be easier to obtain.

* Tolerance builds quickly and users need increasing doses to obtain the same effect. Heavy users report forgetting chunks of the day.

Source

They would be suffering from many of the things soldiers suffer from Post Traumatic Stress, Depression, and other mental illnesses as well as physical  injuries. The aftermath of war comes with a extremely long list of illnesses.

They have every reason in the world to turn to drugs.

The trauma they have suffered is horrendous.

This should come as,  no surprise to anyone.

UN to debate Goldstone report after Abbas U-turn

Israeli War Criminals, think they are above the law

Israel: True Cost to U.S. Taxpayers

Boycott Israel Information from Israelis who are not happy with the ocupation

BOYCOTT ISRAEL CAMPAIGN

Boycott Israel Information

The making of Israel’s Apartheid in Palestine

Prison statistics call U.S.’s priorities into question

by Matt Petryni

PUBLISHED ON 3/4/08
As of last Thursday, the United States, land of the free, is on record as the world’s leader in imprisonment. A report released by the Pew Center last week calculated that 2.3 million Americans are behind bars, about one percent of our adult population. Russia and the former Soviet Union countries follow, while the northern Europeans – Sweden, Finland and Denmark – imprison only around ten percent of our number. We’re also a major player in executions, killing more of our citizens per capita than such tasteful governments as those of Syria and Sudan.

All of these shocking statistics, though, must come with some qualifications (as do all shocking statistics, I find). Ranking us below regimes like China’s is difficult, due to the trouble in getting accurate information on how many people they incarcerate. And while we might “officially” execute more people than Sudan does – something we should probably stop doing, no doubt – it must be acknowledged that many of the tragic deaths in Darfur could probably be added to Sudan’s number.

Further, the sheer number isn’t enough to evaluate the “oppressiveness” of a country’s prison policies. While we might lock up the most people, it could be argued that we do so with more respect for some kind of substantive due process and civil rights than more repressive regimes do. And while we’re undoubtedly efficient at killing people who have been convicted of murder, many countries use execution as an explicit means to eliminate political enemies and minority ethnic groups.

Nonetheless, it is important that we look at our incarceration numbers with concern. It does appear, by some accounts, that our increased incarceration rate has corresponded nationally with a drop in crime rates. Yet this has more trouble translating to the state level, as many states that have thrown more of their residents in jail have had trouble keeping control over their crime rate. Some states have even experienced significant drops in crime despite having released more of their prison population than other states. This is not to suggest that we could reduce crime by freeing criminals. But it does point out that it may not be as simple as “increasing incarceration means decreasing crime.”

As primitively “fun” as it may be to lock up the sinners and whatnot, it is also incredibly expensive. Oregon spends more of its general fund on corrections than does any other state – a number that has increased 4.6 percent in the last 10 years. These numbers are rising fast across the country. Statistics suggest that, inflation adjusted, nationwide spending on prisons has more than doubled from roughly $19.4 billion (today’s dollars) in 1997 to $44.1 billion last year. Each prisoner, it is estimated, costs taxpayers about $24,000 per year (compared to $8,700 invested per student on schools).

Why so much imprisonment? In the United States, we tend to use incarceration as an indirect answer to many social problems: drug addiction, mental illness, poverty. This is not to say that the crimes of criminals are by any means “excusable” due to their circumstances. Criminals are still responsible for their personal actions and should be held accountable. But for those of us who aren’t just interested in the satisfaction of casting the first stone, and would actually like to see fewer homes broken, fewer women raped, and fewer people killed, the policies that result in widespread incarceration and their relation to crime rates must be critically examined.

Drug addicts, for example, cycle through prisons at an alarming rate. As recently as 2004, state prisons incarcerated 249,400 criminals for drug offenses, roughly 20 percent of all state prisoners. This doesn’t even include federal prison numbers, where more than half are incarcerated for drug offenses. It is estimated that every dollar invested in the treatment of drug addiction returns $4 to $7 to taxpayers in the reduction of drug-related crime. I’m not a financial expert, but if I could get a 400 to 700 percent return on my investment, I’d take it.

And putting the practicality of a Puritanical drug policy aside, a better question might be the ethicality. Drug addicts are not simply criminals in the classic sense. It doesn’t work, statistically or ethically, to “punish” them for a serious disease. Even some of the staunchest advocates of drug addiction “punishment” have ended up being users and abusers themselves, making clear that recognizing the fear of punishment for the “crime” of drug addiction seems no deterrent to “committing” drug addiction.

With so much money being spent treating the ills of society by locking them up in our prisons, and with our incarceration rate so high, it’s well past time to consider more effective, more productive and more ethical means of driving our crime rate down. It isn’t about letting criminals off easy: It’s about keeping them from hurting others in the first place.

Source

Imprisoned vets tell their war stories for history

As U.S. forces withdrew from Vietnam in early 1974, Seaman Apprentice Frederic D. Jones was fighting his own battles.

The cocky Baltimore teenager spent nearly three months AWOL in the Philippines. There, he said, he played cat-and-mouse with shore patrol while fending off a murderous drug dealer, romancing the sister of a militia leader and robbing other servicemen to feed his heroin habit.

Eventually caught, Jones negotiated an honorable discharge but couldn’t stay clean. An armed robbery spree in 1995 got him a 45-year sentence in the Maryland Correctional Institution near Hagerstown.

While Jones, now 52, is locked away from society, his war story has been preserved for posterity. He is among the first incarcerated veterans to tell his military service tale to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Video recordings of more than 30 inmates at the medium-security prison are archived at the library’s American Folklife Center, along with those of nearly 60,000 other veterans. Just one other prison, the Fairton Federal Correctional Institution in Fairton, N.J., has collected veterans’ stories, said Bob Patrick, director of the Veterans History Project.

Congress created the oral history program in 2000 to document the personal wartime experiences of American service members. The library doesn’t try to verify their stories, but The Associated Press confirmed the service records of the inmates mentioned in this report.

Patrick said that by recognizing their roles in history, the project dignifies the service of veterans who take part. Jones was so proud of his videotape that he had a copy sent to his elderly mother.

“She was so overjoyed and surprised,” he said.

Since any veteran, no matter how decorated or disgraced, can contribute to the archive, Jones’ story was as welcome as that of any admiral. And it’s hard to imagine one more colorful.

On his nearly 90-minute recording, Jones recounts his adventures as a “young, wild, impulsive,” 18-year-old in and around the Subic Bay Naval Base. There, he said, a female gang called the Black Stockings helped him steal cash and watches from drunken sailors and aided him in avoiding a drug dealer he had wronged.

“I ended up getting a contract on my life,” Jones says. “I felt like I had never left home.”

Jones, who is black, said he enlisted in the Navy seeking structure and style — he liked the bell-bottomed uniforms — but he quickly grew disenchanted by the racism and drug use he found.

“I’d had my own preconceived ideas what the military was — I mean straight-up, strict discipline,” Jones says on the video, made a year ago. “The drugs, the gang mentality — it was all right there in the military. It was a big letdown.”

In a June interview with the AP, Jones said he doesn’t blame the military for his mistakes but has found in prison the sort of discipline he had expected from the Navy. Behind bars, he and 58-year-old John E. Barba, who is serving a life sentence for robbing and murdering a methamphetamine maker, have become co-chairmen of the prison’s veterans history committee.

Guided by materials from the Library of Congress, they have become such skilled interviewers since last fall that they and prison librarian Mary Stevanus, who spearheaded the history project, hope to produce a how-to booklet or video for other veterans groups, in or out of prison.

“What you’re looking for is the meat of the stuff,” said Barba, who served domestically in the Navy from 1970 to 1974. Working together, he and Jones conduct informal “pre-interviews” with their subjects, making notes of compelling material “so when they’re giving their interview, we can dive in,” Barba said.

They extracted a harrowing account from Ronald L. McClary, 62, of his experience under fire as a fresh-faced Marine in Vietnam. On his video, the burly inmate, seated before a large U.S. flag, recalls his daily “search-and-destroy” missions.

“Every day, you would look at one of your buddies and wonder who wasn’t going home today or who was going to get killed today. Everybody knew it was going to be somebody,” said McClary, who is serving 12 years for the second-degree murder of his wife in Baltimore 2005.

He recounted a firefight in which two buddies were killed.

“Three rounds went off. The first round hit Amos in the head. Amos fell. When Amos fell, Cope looked around and looked down at Amos. The second round hit Cope in the head. And I seen it. I told you, three rounds went off. Cope was to my left. Amos was to my left, and then there was me. You cannot tell me today the third round wasn’t meant for me. But I was down. I was eating dirt.”

Ordered by his lieutenant to get up and charge the enemy, McClary fired two shots before his gun jammed. “I had to get back down,” he says on the video. “I’ve never been so scared in all my life.”

Jones said he feels privileged hearing such stories.

“These guys have kept this stuff to themselves for 40 years,” he said. “You’ll see one guy that actually breaks down and cries. I mean, these are hardened criminals and he breaks down and cries on his video.”

About 226,000 of the national’s 25.1 million veterans were in prison or jail in 1998, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics’ most recent report on the subject.

Matt Davison, chairman of an incarcerated veterans project for New York-based VietNow National, a veterans advocacy group, said most inmate vets he’s met are proud of having served — and many feel remorse for having done something dishonorable.

Barba said most of the inmates he has interviewed for the history project express gratitude that they were able to serve.

In one video, white-haired World War II vet Lee D. Gerhold, doing 50 years for arranging an ex-wife’s murder, grips his cane and says, “I’m thankful to the country for accepting me.”

Source

More Prison Statistics

Published in: on November 2, 2008 at 8:57 pm  Comments Off on Prison statistics call U.S.’s priorities into question  
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