Here's what happened between and - There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users, such as drug addicts and prisoners. In , 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by that number fell to 28 percent. Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, one of the chief architects of Portugal's new drug strategy, says he was inspired partly by his own experience of helping his brother beat addiction. In Portugal today, outreach health workers provide addicts with fresh needles, swabs, little dishes to cook up the injectable mixture, disinfectant and condoms.
But anyone caught with even a small amount of drugs is automatically sent to what is known as a Dissuasion Committee for counseling. The committees include legal experts, psychologists and social workers. Health works shepherd some addicts off the streets directly into treatment. That's what happened to year-old Tiago, who is struggling to kick heroin at a Lisbon rehab facility. Failure to turn up can result in fines, mandatory treatment or other sanctions. In serious cases, the panel recommends the user be sent to a treatment center.
Tiago, who requested his first name only be used to protect his privacy, started taking heroin when he was He shot up four or five times a day, sleeping for years in an abandoned car where, with his addicted girlfriend, he fathered a child he has never seen. At the airy Lisbon treatment center where he now lives, Tiago plays table tennis, surfs the Internet and watches TV. He helps with cleaning and other odd jobs. And he's back to his normal weight after dropping to 50 kilograms pounds during his addiction. After almost six months on methadone, each day trimming his intake, he brims with hope about his upcoming move to a home run by the Catholic church where recovered addicts are offered a fresh start.
Portugal's program is widely seen as effective, but some say it has shortcomings. Antonio Lourenco Martins, a former Portuguese Supreme Court judge who sat on a commission that drafted the new drug strategy and was one of two on the nine-member panel who voted against decriminalization, admits the law has done some good, but complains that its approach is too soft. Francisco Chaves, who runs a Lisbon treatment center, also recognizes that addicts might exploit good will. Worldwide, a record 93 countries offered alternatives to jail time for drug abuse in , according to the International Harm Reduction Association.
They range from needle exchanges in Cambodia to methadone treatment in Poland. Vancouver, Canada, has North America's first legal drug consumption room - dubbed as "a safe, health-focused place where people inject drugs and connect to health care services. Whether the alternative approaches work seems to depend on how they are carried out.
In the Netherlands, where police ignore the peaceful consumption of illegal drugs, drug use and dealing are rising, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Five Dutch cities are implementing new restrictions on marijuana cafes after a wave of drug-related gang violence.
However, in Switzerland, where addicts are supervised as they inject heroin, addiction has steadily declined. No one has died from an overdose since the program began in , according to medical studies. The program is credited with reducing crime and improving addicts' health. The Obama administration firmly opposes the legalization of drugs, saying that it would increase access and promote acceptance, according to drug czar Kerlikowske.
The U. But even the U. And Kerlikowske has called for an end to the "War on Drugs" rhetoric. For one, the U.
The Biology of Intoxication
Still, an increasing number of American cities are offering nonviolent drug offenders a chance to choose treatment over jail, and the approach appears to be working. In San Francisco's gritty Tenderloin neighborhood, Tyrone Cooper, a year-old lifelong drug addict, can't stop laughing at how a system that has put him in jail a dozen times now has him on the road to recovery.
A meeting! I mean, there were my boys, right there smoking crack, and Tyrone walked right past them. There is enough data now to show that these alternative courts reduce recidivism and save money. Nationally, between 4 and 29 percent of drug court participants will get caught using drugs again, compared with 48 percent of those who go through traditional courts. Expanding drug courts to all 1. The first drug court opened in the U.
By , there were ; by , 1, This year, new drug courts opened every week around the U. There are now drug courts in every state, more than 2, serving , people. Last year, New York lawmakers followed counterparts across the U. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services is training doctors to screen patients for potential addiction, and reimbursing Medicare and Medicaid providers who do so. Arizona recently became the 15th state in the nation to approve medical use of marijuana, following California's legislation. In Portugal, the blight that once destroyed the Casal Ventoso neighborhood is a distant memory.
Americo Nave, a year-old psychologist, remembers the chilling stories his colleagues brought back after Portuguese authorities sent a first team of health workers into the Casal Ventoso neighborhood in the late s. Some addicts had gangrene, and their arms had to be amputated.
Those days are past, though there are vestiges. About a dozen frail, mostly unkempt men recently gathered next to a bus stop to get new needles and swabs in small green plastic bags from health workers, as part of a twice-weekly program. Some ducked out of sight behind walls to shoot up, and one crouched behind trash cans, trying to shield his lighter flame from the wind.
A year-old man who would only identify himself as Joao said he's been using heroin for 22 years. He has contracted Hepatitis C, and recalls picking up used, bloody needles from the sidewalk. Now he comes regularly to the needle exchange. An Early Prohibition Fail When Theodore Roosevelt was police commissioner, from to , he tried to stop the sales of beer, wine and liquor on Sundays in saloons.
Men and women, who worked six days a week in that era, were not amused. New York State Sabbath laws already forbade attending sporting events or theater performances, or selling groceries, after 10 a. New Yorkers in droves defied that particular edict. Sunday actually marked the barkeep's biggest sales day. Saloon owners handed a bribe to precinct cops who forwarded some loot to Tammany politicians, and the city's thirsty could discreetly slip in the side doors of saloons. For almost 40 years, it was a popular pragmatic compromise. Enter Roosevelt. Fearless and bullheaded, the new commissioner vowed to enforce the law, both to root out bribery in the Police Department and also to reunite families on Sundays.
He gave speeches envisioning hard-working men picnicking with wives and children. He anticipated a drop in drunk and disorderly arrests then the city's highest arrest category and a decline in Monday hospital visits. He expected that wages saved from saloons would help feed families and pay the rent. Roosevelt soon encouraged cops to shut down the bars at the stroke of midnight on Saturday.
New Yorkers, during that Sahara summer of , fled to Coney Island, then part of a separate city, Brooklyn. People turned to harsh-tasting medicinal liquor, then sold by druggists. He was also accused of being a hypocrite, since the wealthy could afford to drink at home or at private clubs or at hotels, partially exempt from the law. Critics further charged that he was trying to cleanse the city's vast German and Irish populations of their decadent habits and make them more 'American.
Undaunted, Roosevelt lobbied the Republican-dominated legislature to pass even tougher excise laws. On April 1, , the Raines Law went into effect, expanding the Sunday shut-down hours from midnight Saturday to 5 a. Monday, banning 'free lunch' counters, and requiring that saloon doors be kept locked and blinds raised to let police peer inside. The law also exempted hotels with 10 rooms, which could serve guests liquor with a meal 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In a New York minute actually the next few months , more than 1, saloons added 10 dinky rooms.
Tammany building inspectors didn't care if some had four-foot-high ceilings or were in former coal bins. The playwright Eugene O'Neill once described on a saloon table "an old desiccated ruin of dust-laden bread and mummified ham or cheese which only the drunkest yokel from the sticks" would ever dream of eating. New York - already awash in illegal casinos and brothels - was transformed into the city that never sleeps.
These Raines Law saloon-hotels could serve round the clock. Even the Metropolitan Opera added 10 bedrooms to be able to offer late-night wine. And those saloon bedrooms, located a drunken stagger from the bar, provided a haven for prostitutes and a temptation to couples who'd had a few too many drinks. Adding 10, cheap beds was bound to loosen the city's morals. Roosevelt's liquor crackdown backfired; so did the Raines Law. The city's spirit of place, what Stephen Crane once dubbed New York's 'wild impulse,' refused to be tamed.
Theodore Roosevelt the reformer was deeply proud of his efforts to clean up New York but in his illustrious later days, running for governor, then for vice president, then president, he never won a majority vote in the city. Never take a beer away from a New Yorker.
- ICAP Series on Alcohol in Society.
- In Trouble with the PE Licensing Board.
- The Prohibition Hangover: Alcohol in America from Demon Rum to Cult Cabernet.
- Killer Commute (Charlie Greene Mysteries).
- Expressions of Drunkenness (Four Hundred Rabbits) : Anne Fox : ?
The Hi-jacked Brain Of all the philosophical discussions that surface in contemporary life, the question of free will - mainly, the debate over whether or not we have it - is certainly one of the most persistent. A popular analogy clouds our understanding of addiction. That might seem odd, as the average person rarely seems to pause to reflect on whether their choices on, say, where they live, whom they marry, or what they eat for dinner, are their own or the inevitable outcome of a deterministic universe.
Still, as James Atlas pointed out last month, the spate of "can't help yourself" books would indicate that people are in fact deeply concerned with how much of their lives they can control. Perhaps that's because, upon further reflection, we find that our understanding of free will lurks beneath many essential aspects of our existence. One particularly interesting variation on this question appears in scientific, academic and therapeutic discussions about addiction. Many times, the question is framed as follows: "Is addiction a disease or a choice? A disease is a medical condition that develops outside of our control; it is, then, not a matter of choice.
In the absence of choice, the addicted person is essentially relieved of responsibility. The addict has been overpowered by her addiction. The counterargument describes addictive behavior as a choice. People whose use of drugs and alcohol leads to obvious problems but who continue to use them anyway are making choices to do so.
Since those choices lead to addiction, blame and responsibility clearly rest on the addict's shoulders. It then becomes more a matter of free will. Recent scientific studies on the biochemical responses of the brain are currently tipping the scales toward the more deterministic view - of addiction as a disease. The structure of the brain's reward system combined with certain biochemical responses and certain environments, they appear to show, cause people to become addicted.
In such studies, and in reports of them to news media, the term "the hijacked brain" often appears, along with other language that emphasizes the addict's lack of choice in the matter. Sometimes the pleasure-reward system has been "commandeered. I imagine that this is precisely why this term is becoming more commonly used in connection with addiction.
But it is important to be aware of the effects of such language on our understanding. When most people think of a hijacking, they picture a person, sometimes wearing a mask and always wielding some sort of weapon, who takes control of a car, plane or train. The hijacker may not himself drive or pilot the vehicle, but the violence involved leaves no doubt who is in charge. Someone can hijack a vehicle for a variety of reasons, but mostly it boils down to needing to escape or wanting to use the vehicle itself as a weapon in a greater plan.
Hijacking is a means to an end; it is always and only oriented to the goals of the hijacker. Innocent victims are ripped from their normal lives by the violent intrusion of the hijacker. In the "hijacked" view of addiction, the brain is the innocent victim of certain substances - alcohol, cocaine, nicotine or heroin, for example - as well as certain behaviors like eating, gambling or sexual activity.
The drugs or the neurochemicals produced by the behaviors overpower and redirect the brain's normal responses, and thus take control of hijack it. For addicted people, that martini or cigarette is the weapon-wielding hijacker who is going to compel certain behaviors. To do this, drugs like alcohol and cocaine and behaviors like gambling light up the brain's pleasure circuitry, often bringing a burst of euphoria. Other studies indicate that people who are addicted have lower dopamine and serotonin levels in their brains, which means that it takes more of a particular substance or behavior for them to experience pleasure or to reach a certain threshold of pleasure.
People tend to want to maximize pleasure; we tend to do things that bring more of it. We also tend to chase it when it subsides, trying hard to recreate the same level of pleasure we have experienced in the past. It is not uncommon to hear addicts talking about wanting to experience the euphoria of a first high. Often they never reach it, but keep trying. All of this lends credence to the description of the brain as hijacked. Analogies and comparisons can be very effective and powerful tools in explanation, especially when the objects compared are not overtly and obviously similar at first glance.
A comparison can be especially compelling when one of the objects is familiar or common and is wrested from its usual context. Similarities shared between disparate cases can help to highlight features in each that might otherwise escape notice. But analogies and comparisons always start to break down at some point, often when the differences are seen to be greater than similarities.
This, I submit, is the case with understanding addiction as hijacking. A hijacker comes from outside and takes control by violent means. A hijacker takes a vehicle that is not his; hijacking is always a form of stealing and kidnapping. A hijacker always takes someone else's vehicle; you cannot hijack your own car. That is a type of nonsense or category mistake. Ludwig Wittgenstein offered that money passed from your left hand to your right is not a gift. The practical consequences of this action are not the same as those of a gift.
Writing yourself a thank-you note would be absurd. The analogy of addiction and hijacking involves the same category mistake as the money switched from hand to hand. You can treat yourself poorly, callously or violently. In such cases, we might say the person is engaging in acts of self-abuse and self-harm. Self-abuse can involve acting in ways that you know are not in your self-interest in some larger sense or that are contrary to your desires. This, however, is not hijacking; the practical consequences are quite different.
It might be tempting to claim that in an addiction scenario, the drugs or behaviors are the hijackers. However, those drugs and behaviors need to be done by the person herself barring cases in which someone is given drugs and may be made chemically dependent.
In the usual cases, an individual is the one putting chemicals into her body or engaging in certain behaviors in the hopes of getting high. This simply pushes the question back to whether a person can hijack herself. There is a kind of intentionality to hijacking that clearly is absent in addiction. No one plans to become an addict. One certainly may plan to drink in reckless or dangerous ways, not with the intention of becoming an addict somewhere down the road. Addiction develops over time and requires repeated and worsening use.
In a hijacking situation, it is very easy to assign blame and responsibility. The villain is easy to identify. So are the victims, people who have had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hijacked people are given no choice in the matter. A little logic is helpful here, since the "choice or disease" question rests on a false dilemma. This fallacy posits that only two options exist. Since there are only two options, they must be mutually exclusive.
If we think, however, of addiction as involving both choice and disease, our outlook is likely to become more nuanced. For instance, the progression of many medical diseases is affected by the choices that individuals make. A patient who knows he has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and refuses to wear a respirator or at least a mask while using noxious chemicals is making a choice that exacerbates his condition. A person who knows he meets the D. Linking choice and responsibility is right in many ways, so long as we acknowledge that choice can be constrained in ways other than by force or overt coercion.
There is no doubt that the choices of people progressing to addiction are constrained; compulsion and impulsiveness constrain choices. Many addicts will say that they choose to take that first drink or drug and that once they start they cannot stop. A classic binge drinker is a prime example; his choices are constrained with the first drink. He both has and does not have a choice. That moment before the first drink or drug is what the philosopher Owen Flanagan describes as a "zone of control.
The complexity of each person's experience with addiction should caution us to avoid false quandaries, like the one that requires us to define addiction as either disease or choice, and to adopt more nuanced conceptions. Addicts are neither hijackers nor victims. It is time to retire this analogy. The Sports Drink Myths The British Medical Journal published a scathing investigation into the influence of the sports drink industry over academia, in the interest of marketing the science of hydration.
The lengthy piece by Deborah Cohen documents how, over the past several decades, mandates regarding the necessity of hydrating during exercise entered the public consciousness to the point that they're now thought of as common sense. Before the hype: The first New York marathon, in , inspired a new interest in running. At the time, however, little scientific attention was played to the role of hydration in runners' performance.
Throughout the s, in fact, "marathon runners were discouraged from drinking fluids for fear that it would slow them down. There is ample evidence of ways in which the experts who propagated this information were funded or "supported" by sports drinks companies, and while this in itself isn't necessarily wrong, she argues that researchers who have conflicts of interest are not objective enough to be writing guidelines, as is the case here. There is no good evidence to support the ideas, for example, that "Without realizing, you may not be drinking enough to restore your fluid balance after working out" Powerade , or that urine color is a reliable indicator of the body's hydration levels.
A better alternative to water: The journal recounts that hyponotraemia -- a drop in one's serum sodium levels -- has a bad track record of causing illness and death in marathon runners, and that we know that drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia. But it then makes the point that sports drinks do not preclude hyponatremia and that there was an article in The New England Journal of Medicine that found no correlation between hyponatremia and the type of fluid consumed. Starting young: Both GSK and Gatorade have developed school outreach programs that further the case for sports drink consumption during exercise.
Though the Institute of Medicine says that, in children, "Thirst and consumption of beverages at meals are adequate to maintain hydration," studies either directly funded by or involving authors with financial ties to Gatorade make a major case for the need to promote hydration, claiming, for example, that "children are particularly likely to forget to drink unless reminded to do so. Says Tim Noakes, Discovery health chair of exercise and sports science at Cape Town University, "They are never going to study a person who trains for two hours per week, who walks most of the marathon -- which form the majority of users of sports drinks," and the majority of people at whom sports drinks marketing is aimed.
Flawed research: GSK was the only company that provided the BMJ with a list of studies attesting to the beneficial effects of sports drinks, which identified a number of major flaws in their methodology: small sample sizes, poorly designed research, data dredging, and other problematic practices. Upon analysis, the journal concludes that "only three 2. Cohen suggests a link between this and that negative studies questioning the role of hydration are, according to sources, extremely difficult to get published in journals. Harmful, not healthful: And, of course, there is the suggestion that sports drink consumption among children is contributing to growing obesity levels.
Their association with hydration and athletics means they're not thought of as being unhealthy in the way that other sugary drinks, like soda, are note that Mayor Bloomberg included sports drinks in his super-size ban. Several studies highlight consumer beliefs that sports drinks are healthy, even essential, showing just how far marketers have been able to push exercise science in the support of sports drinks. Cohen concludes with an argument that dehydration has been overblown into the "dreaded disease of exercise," in yet another example of fear mongering for the sake of corporate interest.
Alcohol Protects Your Bones Later in life, drinking one to two alcoholic drinks daily may curb bone loss - so much so that just a two-week break from alcohol hastened bone decline in women in a new study. Researchers looked at the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on "bone turnover," or the breaking down of old bone cells, in healthy post-menopausal women. After menopause, women's production of new bone cells slows, but the rate of shedding old cells does not slow as much.
In other words, the "out with the old" outpaces the "in with the new," leading to a porous skeleton that easily fractures. But past studies have shown that women who drink moderately one or two alcoholic beverages per day have higher bone density than non-drinkers or heavy drinkers. Now, the new study suggests why: Alcohol appears to reduce bone loss in middle-age women by suppressing the rate at which their bones shed old cells.
In line with previously observed trends, the women in the study who drank more alcohol up to two drinks per day had denser hip bones than those who drank less as little as half a drink per day. More tellingly, blood tests showed that abstaining from drinking for just two weeks triggered an acceleration of bone turnover in all the women.
After a day alcohol holiday, the women's blood contained heightened levels of a molecule that gets released during bone turnover. And less than a day after the women resumed their normal drinking, blood levels of that molecule dropped again. It is yet to be determined whether alcohol also benefits younger drinkers' bones. In one past study, to year-old women experienced a drop in the marker of bone turnover after they drank two beers, but "longer-duration studies are required before any conclusions can be made regarding the beneficial or detrimental effects of moderate alcohol on bone health on younger individuals," Iwaniec told Life's Little Mysteries.
She added that it is possible alcohol "may be detrimental to the growing skeleton, but have beneficial effects on the aging skeleton. Past studies have linked moderate drinking with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, lower risk of stroke in women and lower mortality in general. Just before the hangover.
Okay, actually beer likely dates back to the dawn of cereal agriculture, loosely pinpointed at 10, B. The alcoholic inception is reckoned to have occurred when some early farmer sampled water in which bread had been sitting and fermenting for a day or two. The first brews would have been concoctions of crushed or malted grain steeped and heated slowly in water, and then baked and submerged again.
The oldest recorded evidence of brewing is in the epic of Gilgamesh c. E by differing accounts , related by the Sumerians on clay tablets. By B. These syrupy, nutritious beers ranged from "strong" to "red brown" to "good dark" - and they soon caught on elsewhere. The ancient Egyptians loved their suds, preferring beer to water which was often contaminated.
The Egyptians in turn spread beer to the Greeks, who, as you might have guessed, preferred wine as their Dionysian drink. The small shop, its windows filled with graffiti-style posters, also sells fertilisers with names like Nirvana and Bud Candy, alongside strong lights and giant rolls of tin foil to line greenhouses. In one corner, a couple of juicy-looking tomato plants grow in a demonstration set-up. But the youth behind the counter guesses that his customers are not all growing tomatoes.
Birmingham now has 58 hydroponics shops, up from 42 just a year ago. Whether aided by the latest plant-growing technology or not, cannabis production is soaring. According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, the number of cannabis factories detected each year increased from around in to 7, in Birmingham is one of the most fertile areas; West Midlands Police, which set up a Cannabis Disposal Unit in to tackle the problem, dismantled more than factories last year.
Your correspondent visited one recently closed by police; the gardener was a cocaine-addicted woman growing a few plants in a spare room in the hope of earning a cut. Other set-ups have been found in tents in the bedrooms of high-rise council flats and in the lofts of terraced family houses. Many growers are simply feeding their own habits. As one officer on the West Midlands Police drugs team says, "It's becoming the most popular cottage industry in the country. The big cannabis factories set up by the latter, with their telltale heat hazes, are fairly easy to spot. Smaller operations are often uncovered only when the electric lights start fires, or when local teenagers mount a burglary.
The police and the courts can neither keep up with the surge in small-scale production, nor are they desperately keen to do so. Last month the government published new sentencing guidelines that advised judges to treat small cultivators less strictly. Attitudes to smokers are softening, too. The reclassification of cannabis in , from class C to the more stringent class B, was oddly accompanied by a more liberal approach to policing consumption.
Users caught on the street are rarely arrested; rather, they are issued 'cannabis cautions' a reprimand which doesn't appear on a criminal record or fined. In Brixton, a south London neighbourhood, an open-air cannabis market exists within ten minutes' walk of the underground station. The dealers are frequently moved on but they soon regroup elsewhere. As one dealer admits, his competitors are a bigger hassle than the police. Violence is far more likely to get a dealer into legal trouble than business. Strangely, this lackadaisical approach is not encouraging people to take up the reefer habit.
According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the proportion of people who admit to having used cannabis in Britain has fallen more quickly than in any other European country over the past few years. Just 6. The herb is now ubiquitous and effectively tolerated - and, perhaps as a result, not all that alluring. How genetics shape our addictions Have you ever wondered why some people find it so much easier to stop smoking than others? New research shows that vulnerability to smoking addiction is shaped by our genes.
A study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital - The Neuro, McGill University shows that people with genetically fast nicotine metabolism have a significantly greater brain response to smoking cues than those with slow nicotine metabolism. Previous research shows that greater reactivity to smoking cues predicts decreased success at smoking cessation and that environmental cues promote increased nicotine intake in animals and humans.
This new finding that nicotine metabolism rates affect the brain's response to smoking may lead the way for tailoring smoking cessation programs based on individual genetics. Smoking cues, such as the sight of cigarettes or smokers, affect smoking behavior and are linked to relapse and cigarette use. Nicotine metabolism, by a liver enzyme, also influences smoking behavior. Variations in the gene that codes for this enzyme determine slow or fast rates of metabolism and therefore, the level of nicotine in the blood that reaches the brain.
In the study smokers were screened for their nicotine metabolism rates and their enzyme genotype. Participants were aged 18 - 35 and smoked cigarettes daily for a minimum of 2 years. People with the slowest and fastest metabolism had their brain response to visual smoking cues measured using functional MRI. Fast metabolizers had significantly greater response to visual cigarette cues than slow metabolizers in brain areas linked to memory, motivation and reward, namely the amygdala, hippocampus, striatum, insula, and cingulate cortex.
In other words they learn to associate cigarette smoking with the nicotine surge," says clinician-scientist Dr. Alain Dagher, lead investigator at The Neuro. For them, smoking is not associated with brief nicotine surges, so they are smoking for other reasons. Possibilities include maintenance of constant brain nicotine levels for cognitive enhancement ie, improved attention, memory , or relief of stress or anxiety.
One possibility is to measure the rate of nicotine metabolism as part of the therapeutic decision-making process. For example, targeting cue-induced relapse risk may not help those with slow nicotine metabolism, who are more likely to benefit from long-acting cholinergic drugs such as the nicotine patch, consistent with previous clinical trials. Conversely the use of non-nicotine based therapies aimed at reducing craving may help fast metabolizers, as demonstrated for buproprion, an anti-depressant that has been used for smoking cessation. As they sup their beer, revellers might do well to give a nod to the technology that makes possible the creamy head which sits atop it - for unlike the natural head on an ale or a lager, the head on stout is a work of art.
To make it foam, draught stout is forced through a special plate.source site
Alcohol [Health, Med. Disorders] - P. Myers, R. Isralowitz (Greenwood, 2011) WW
Bottled and canned versions require the intervention of a tiny beer-widget. This is a hollow plastic sphere that, upon the container being opened, releases a jet of gas into the beer. When introduced, the widget was the subject of an incredibly irritating advertising campaign, apparently conceived by marketing types who were terrified their customers might be put off by such an elegant piece of technology.
The widget's days, though, may be numbered, for a crack group of mathematicians from the University of Limerick, led by William Lee, has modelled bubble formation in stout beers in detail. Their work suggests that lining the rims of cans and bottles with a material similar to an ordinary coffee filter would be a simpler, cheaper alternative to the widget.
The team's calculations show that a copious number of bubbles would form from air trapped inside the hollow fibres making up this lining. They have just submitted their work for publication in Physical Review E and are hoping that industry will soon begin testing their proposal. Most beers are pressurised with carbon dioxide. Stouts, though, use a mixture of that gas and four times its volume of nitrogen.
This makes the beer less acidic, and also produces smaller, creamier bubbles. But nitrogen is less soluble than carbon dioxide. Hence the need for the widget. And the widget adds to the container's cost, so brewers of stout would be delighted to find a way to get rid of it.
In that spirit representatives of Diageo, which owns Guinness, one of the most widely sold brands of stout, approached Dr Lee in They wondered if he might be able to construct a mathematical model of the formation and growth of bubbles in stout. Dr Lee was happy to oblige.
And once he had produced the model, he started thinking more about the problem. He wondered why the normal mechanism of bubbling in beers and sparkling wines does not appear to work in stouts. Conventional wisdom used to hold that once the pressure inside a bottle or can has been released by opening it, the bubbles in a fizzy drink, whether alcoholic or not, are seeded by pockets of air trapped in scratches and imperfections on the surface of the glass being drunk from.
Over the past decade, however, scientific scrutiny has revealed that most bubbles actually form on fibres of cellulose that have either fallen into the glass from the air or been left behind when it was dried with a towel. These fibres, which are generally hollow, trap a small amount of air in their interiors.
To see what is going on in stouts, Dr Lee and his team wrote down the equations governing the physics of the dissolved gases and fibres. They found that molecules of nitrogen and carbon dioxide are able to diffuse from the liquid through the walls of the fibres into the air pockets trapped inside them, causing those pockets of air to expand.
If a pocket reaches the end of a fibre, it breaks off as a bubble. The problem, as far as stouts are concerned, is that the low concentration of dissolved nitrogen means the process works at only a 15th of the rate seen in ales and lagers. But Dr Lee has an answer to that: more cellulose. He and his team spiked their beer with extra fibres from a cut-up coffee filter and watched the bubbles form under a microscope. By crunching the numbers from these observations, they calculate that lining a can of stout with nine square centimetres of fibres should form a head as good as that produced by a widget.
If their method works on an industrial scale it will have two benefits. Stout will be cheaper. And those irritating adverts proclaiming that you do not need to know how a widget works in order to enjoy its benefits will disappear for ever. A wooden tankard marked with the initials RH pulled from the river bed in East London can hold three pints, suggesting that its owner would routinely consume large quantities of beer in a single sitting.
The mug, which is made from beech, is thought to date from the late 16th or early 17th century. It is the only surviving example from its era apart from some eight-pint jugs discovered in the wreckage of the Mary Rose near Portsmouth. Those jugs were probably used to transfer beer rather than be used as drinking vessels. Wooden objects rarely survive unless they are kept in an airless environment. The tankard is being displayed in a tank of water at the Museum of London's Docklands site to prevent it from decaying.
The Case For Prohibition No government has ever created a commercial pot market. But next week voters in Colorado and Washington State are poised to do just that, passing ballot initiatives that legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana much like alcohol. Both efforts are polling above 50 percent, but regardless of whether they pass, the country is bending toward historic reforms and the remaining prohibitionists are on the run.
Only about one in three Americans think pot should remain illegal, and that shrinking block of opposition is poorly organized and underfunded, producing no formidable spokesperson, not even a sad-sack orator to argue futilely, that legalization is the devil's work. And, yes, despite the gin-clear failures of prohibition and the face-raking lies told about marijuana in the past, there remains a prohibitionist case to be made.
This much is obvious: the upsides of legalization have been wildly oversold, and the potential downsides blithely ignored. I'd like to correct that balance, not because I support prohibition but because I think legalization should succeed or fail on the merits, as much as they can be known. The book is the work of four scholars who collectively bring nearly 70 years of experience to the issue. Because there is no 'objective' choice on marijuana policy, they provide a stew of good data and best guesses: the raw material for an honest, logical debate they hope will benefit all sides.
In the end, however, the prohibitionist side seems to benefit most of all. The case against legalization begins with a defense of its opposite: the benefits of prohibition. Reformers sometimes say prohibition is pointless, because everyone who wants to use pot already does. But as state laws have softened, pot use has risen sharply. More than three million people started smoking it regularly in the past five years, and the rate of high-school experimentation is at a year high.
One in 15 high school seniors are smoking daily or near daily. And when a kid first lights up at about age 16, it's usually not with a cigarette. Prohibition prevents an even more tremendous uptick, according to Marijuana Legalization. Remove it and you can expect a doubling or even tripling of the existing market, a spike to levels far surpassing any on record, and this in a country that already consumes the plant at three times the global average. What would be the health and welfare cost of such an explosion?
Meanings and origins of Australian words and idioms
The honest answer is: we don't know. No one actually knows what legalizing marijuana will do to adult use, teen experimentation, and public health and safety overall. No one knows because no modern society has ever tried it.
We know enough, however, for serious concern. The mantra of marijuana legalization is "Safer than Alcohol," which - to be fair - is generally true. But safer than alcohol is not the same as "safe. Some of those cases are the result of multiple drug interactions, where marijuana gets the blame while cocaine does the damage. But for many tens of thousands of ER visits marijuana is the only drug mentioned.
And there's even data suggesting that, as the authors of Marijuana Legalization put it, marijuana can kill. Between and , the Centers for Disease Control, somewhat curiously, attributed 26 deaths to cannabis use - half in the subcategory "dependence. More than 4 million people self-report behavior that meets the clinical criteria for marijuana dependency or abuse. The "capture rate," as scholars call it, was once about 9 percent, according to one study, but for people who start before age 25 - as almost everyone does today - it jumps to 15 percent, the same capture rate as alcohol and just a percentage point less than cocaine.
Drug treatment programs for marijuana have fives times the number of enrollees as they did just two decades ago. Most are referred by the U. The most common explanation is that pot has grown more potent over that period. In the s and '70s, the percentage of THC the stuff that gets you high in good bud was usually less than 10 percent.
Today, it's often 15 percent and higher, with average potency more than doubling since the mids, according to tests run on seized pot. Marijuana has also become more variable, coming in hundreds of strains and edible forms. One medical marijuana company makes a chocolate truffle with 60 times the THC of a joint.
Others make hash, hash oil, and specialty bud with more than 25 percent THC. This isn't automatically a problem, especially if potency means people use less to get high. But it's hard to judge whether your first truffle has hit the spot before you have an urge to eat another. And a greater percentage of THC means a greater high - so much greater that the Netherlands has proposed policing all products with percent-THC-and-up like 'hard drugs. This high potency pot is pricey, and comprises only a fraction of the existing black market. But, again, that's only because of prohibition.
If legalization were passed, high potency products would probably fall in price and blanket the market, according to Marijuana Legalization. That's worrying because even studies of low-power pot use - the only kind of studies available - show significant risks, especially for young people. Research released this past summer connected teenage pot use to a permanent drop in IQ between the first puff and early middle age.
Other emerging literature suggests that pot use elevates the risk of schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms. Besides harming themselves, pot users also put others at risk: driving high raises one's likelihood of crashing - and driving with a little booze and little pot is much more dangerous than driving with either alone.
Marijuana use may also have measurable domestic costs. Finally, there are the long-term ramifications of legalization. Under prohibition, marijuana is an out-of-sight product with little branding and virtually no advertising. Expect that to change. The alcohol and tobacco industries traditionally get 80 percent of their profits from heavy users, and there's every reason to believe that marijuana sellers would need at least the same ratio.
That means the pot business could be the basis for a third huge, blood-sucking vice industry, dependent on converting kids and supporting heavy users. Reformers argue that legalizing weed would goose the economy, free law enforcement resources to pursue more serious crime, and unclog the criminal justice system. They say it would empty prisons and undercut the black market. The problem is: none of this is necessarily true.
Start with the economics. Marijuana is not America's largest cash crop, contrary to a boast so widely repeated it's assumed to be true. Sales would skyrocket with legalization, but prices would plummet, deflating the overall market value. Bottom line: pot's not the new corn. It's also not a surefire tax winner. Tobacco tax evasion is rampant at a fraction of that rate. And even if all the tax dollars came in, much of it would go not to schools or other worthy programs but to the costs of regulating and enforcing the new marijuana law.
Lastly, because legal pot would be so easy grow, its job-creating power would be weak. It probably wouldn't support more than 15, growers and an army of minimum-wage service workers - not the kind of jobs someone touts on the campaign trail. As for the war on pot, it's just not as high stakes as you might assume. About , people are arrested on possession charges every year, a howlingly large number.
But virtually none of those folks end up in prison. Fewer than people are serving state or federal sentences for marijuana possession alone, and many of those people plead down to that charge, or have serious histories of violence. Legalization wouldn't mean the end of marijuana arrests either, because police will still be called on to enforce the new laws, just as they do with alcohol.
And it wouldn't mean the end of the Mexican gangs, which, contrary to another common boast, are diversified enough to survive entirely without marijuana profits. And yet despite all this I still am not a prohibitionist. As the Seattle Times recently put it in an editorial endorsing legalization in Washington State, the relevant question isn't whether marijuana is good: 'It is whether prohibition is good. It is whether the people who use marijuana shall be subject to arrest, and whether the people who supply them shall be sent to prison.
The question is whether the war on marijuana is worth what it costs. In fact, of all the available options the status quo of arresting hundreds of thousands of people - most of them nonwhite, poor, and in for a world of collateral damage as a result of their arrest - is probably the least attractive choice, worse only than full legalization. The better decision is incremental reforms at the state level and a hands-off approach from the feds. Let people grow pot, and sell it, but not for profit, and without advertising, and in a tightly regulated marketplace.
Tinker every year, adding new provisions and privileges as much needed new research comes in. And always update the law with a sunset provision. That way the process can't be hijacked by lobbyists and special interests - and only one thing goes up in smoke. Several times between and the birds crashed into buildings in the Los Angeles area. Cedar waxwings don't have a crop - an expandable pouch near the throat used to store food - so they stow berries in a distensible oesophagus, where they ferment.
They ingested so many that their livers could not keep up with the alcohol production, leaving them too drunk to fly safely. The Legal Model Legalisation is the only direction. But beware the Dutch model, which creates an economy ripe for organised crime. Earlier this summer, on the walkway behind Venice Beach in Los Angeles, a doctor rolled past me on a skateboard. I could tell he was a doctor because he was wearing green surgical scrubs and they had the word DOCTOR printed on them. I could have told the truth, even, which would have been, 'jetlag, mild back pain, psoriasis, asthma, lingering addictions to chocolate and cigarettes and allergies to most cats and some mushrooms', but I don't think it would have made much difference.
He'd still have said exactly what he did say when I told him I was fine, thanks, which was: 'Prescriptions are fifty dollars. Reader, relax. This was not Obamacare in action. Rather, it was the pointy end of literally a local growth industry. For this doctor - let's call him Brad - had only one prescription to offer me and that was for marijuana.
California has an estimated 1, medical marijuana dispensaries. By all accounts the medical clause is fairly accommodating. Alas, I was on holiday with two small children and life was already dreamy enough. But the system seemed to me a good one. To my mind, it's the future to be hoped for. High five, Brad. Rather, this report - a brave and wise report, for the most part - focused on the Dutch model. It's not only the Dutch model it's also been adopted to varying degrees elsewhere, notably in Portugal but the Dutch have certainly led the way.
And if your pre-eminent concern is public health, as models go it's a pretty good one. There, possession of small amounts of almost anything is decriminalised. Some drugs such as cannabis can be bought openly in coffee shops. Addiction is static, even as the population grows, and a high proportion of addicts are in treatment. Drug use among teenagers is lower than it is in Britain and they don't learn to run instinctively away from policemen.
The idea is that drug use is a health issue, rather than a criminal one, and it seems to work. Where it stops working, though, is behind the coffee shop door. Drug use may have been decriminalised in the Netherlands but drug production and supply have not been. This means that, while a lump of cannabis can be bought openly over the counter, something altogether more murky has gone on for it to have got there in the first place.
Or, to put it another way, what we have here is an almost legal demand that cannot be legally supplied. Indeed, dealers, growers and traffickers are still prosecuted in the Netherlands with vigour. In effect this creates an economy ripe for organised crime and in the Netherlands that's precisely what has happened.
Some studies the Dutch criminologist Cyrille Fijnaut is your essential reading on this now put the country at the nexus of organised crime across Europe. It seems to be a fairly restrained sort of organised crime, admittedly, rarely bothering the rest of Dutch society, but it is organised crime nonetheless. It pays no tax, it operates with menaces and it creates routes that can be - and are - exploited by those with even less savoury wares to peddle, such as guns and human traffic.
This is not the case in California. The genius of the medical marijuana wheeze is that it extracted the whole supply chain from criminality, turning an unlawful conspiracy into something akin to a cottage industry. Rather than being smuggled into the state, marijuana started being grown openly on farms. And not, as it turned out, all that profitably. What started as something of a gold rush during the end of the last decade seems to have plunged into horrific downturn by about , due to feverish oversupply by overexcited hippies.
Marijuana is, after all, just a weed. Why should it cost any more than oregano?
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The experiment has not been without its hitches, admittedly, and may yet collapse messily. Sixteen US states consider medical marijuana to be legal, but the Federal Government does not agree with them. This means you have Drug Enforcement Agency officials raiding businesses that have valid local permits, numerous court cases, and panicked - or possibly stoned - regional authorities issuing contradictory rulings every other week.
Whatever happens, nobody will be hoping for prohibition to return more vehemently than the murderous cartels over the border in Mexico. Marijuana used to give them 60 per cent of their profits. Maybe it soon will again. Nobody knows what proportion of British criminality is linked to the drugs trade, but estimates put it as anywhere up to a fifth. Decriminalisation of users would prevent essentially innocent people from becoming a part of that, which surely has to be welcomed. But it also leaves a whole, immense industry in the hands of criminals.
Yesterday's report nodded at this, with the suggestion that home-growers of cannabis could be more leniently treated so as to prise the industry away from the gangs. But why would it? Gangs have sheds, too. The logic of drugs leads only one way, which is towards legalisation and regulation. Politicians must know this but they obfuscate, perhaps terrified by the gap between reality and the traditional rhetoric.
But does any minister or official honestly believe that this decline has anything to do with this policy, or that initiative? Come off it. In truth, even the drop only goes to highlight the sheer impotence of government at influencing what people do or don't want to do. Where government could have a real effect is on the other side. Three years ago mephedrone was a legal high; sold as plant food. Possibly dangerous, it was a public health issue. Now illegal, it's a criminal issue, too; a new challenging problem recast as part of an old intractable one.
Who gained? There do not need to be narco-states, or armed gangs in our inner cities, or generations of kids who see their blinged-up elder brothers on street corners and conclude that actual jobs are a mug's game. They'[re the results of a vast global industry that government after government in country after country only ever tries to squash, and never tries to manage. Decriminalisation is all about where drugs go, and it's a good start. But where they come from matters too. Conservatives Changing View On Drug War One morning last month a farmer in Arizona discovered an unusual crop in one of his ploughed fields: more than 30 large soup cans were lodged in the ridges and furrows.
Police believe they had been fired across the border from Mexico by drug smugglers using a cannon. The ingenious scheme was dreamt up by drug gangs desperate to get their merchandise into America after the tightening of security along the border. In recent years smugglers have attempted to hide contraband in everything from golf balls to flip-flops and even inside puppies masquerading as show dogs. It is all too easy to imagine the weary sighs of the police officers who were called to the field of cans. Being on the front line of America's war on drugs must often feel like being part of a losing battle - a reality that is now being acknowledged on a number of surprising fronts.
Last year two American states, Washington and Colorado, voted to legalise, regulate and tax cannabis. The politicians who pushed through the legislation were not bleeding-heart liberals, but hard-headed conservatives. The Report was released in December The project Griffith University undertook was to develop a prevention model capable of reducing alcohol related violence and aggression. The study also included a scientifically defensible research design to test this model, in licensed venues across Australia and New Zealand. Get the facts, enter a search term.
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