By Ruth Kenny
November 6th, 2017
The African continent is home to lots of unconventional churches and colorful preachers who employ all kinds of outlandish rituals to attract parishioners. In the past we’ve written about ministers spraying congregates with “holy” bug spray, making them drink motor oil or talking to God on the phone. However, Johannesburg’s Gabola Church is apparently the first to choose alcohol as its main theme.
Photo: Lucky Morajane/The Daily Sun
At Gabola, baptisms are performed using the preferred alcoholic drink of parishioners. Alcohol is also consumed during sermons, with bottles of beer, whisky and wine anointed by the church’s founder and resident bishop, Tsietsi Makiti. As crazy a combination as alcohol and God worship may seem, Makiti has a very good reason for relying on it to attract congregates. He claims that the church’s mission is to welcome drinkers who had been rejected by traditional churches, providing a safe space to drink and also worship God.
“This is where those labeled ‘drunkards’ by other churches are welcome,” Makiti told the Daily Sun. “This is a space for people to come together in God’s name without being ashamed of being drinkers. We are only saying this is an environment where one can drink without being judged at all”
Photo: Lucky Morajane/The Daily Sun
A church that not only condones, but actually encourages alcohol consumption, what’s not to like, right? Bishop Tsietsi Makiti founded his church just two months ago, but it already has over 500 members and has baptized over 2000 people, using the booze of their choice. The holy man claims that he has been overwhelmed with invitations to expand Gabola Church all over South Africa.
“If you drink beer, you get baptized in beer. The same goes for those who drink cider and other alcoholic beverages,” Makiti said. “This church also prays for their drinks before they are served. With God in our taverns, we would see crime being reduced and love and respect promoted.”
Photo: Lucky Morajane/The Daily Sun
The congregation at Gabola Church is currently all-male, but its bishop plans to make it more inclusive in the near future.
“Women are also not allowed because we have men who are drinking, and we cannot have instances where some of them start troubling these women. We will allow women at a later stage, once our congregants have been well prepared,” Tsietsi Makiti said.
Photo: Lucky Morajane/The Daily Sun
Minors, on the other hand, have no place at Gabola Church. “Wherever we hold our services, we disallow children from buying alcohol, even if they are sent by their parents; we send them back.” the bishop said.
The church currently meets in Freddy’s Tavern, Orange Farm, in the south part of Johannesburg, from 11 am to 3 pm. The owner of the tavern, Freddy Mathebula, says that ever since Makiti started his alcohol-themed church, things have taken a turn for the better.
“Since the church started, crime has been reduced and we have received a great response from the community,” Mathebula told reporters.
The idea of a “gateway drug” may sound like a throwback to the “Just say no” era. But new research offers fresh evidence that alcohol and nicotine — two psychoactive agents that are legal, ubiquitous and widely used during adolescence — ease the path that leads from casual cocaine use to outright addiction.
About 21 percent of those who use cocaine on an occasional basis wind up taking the drug compulsively, experts estimate. That leads researchers who study drug addiction to ask: What sets those addicts apart from their peers?
Perhaps alcohol and nicotine are the missing link.
When rats were primed with either substance, they experienced durable chemical changes in their brains that could make them more susceptible to cocaine dependency, according to a study published Wednesday in Science Advances.
Those changes were etched into the machinery that turns genes on and off in the reward centers of the brain, creating a “permissive environment” for addiction, the study authors wrote.
Indeed, when rats were allowed to drink alcohol every day for nearly two weeks — a considerable length of time in the lifespan of a rat — and then given access to a dose of cocaine, they engaged in drug-seeking behavior with such determination that they were barely deterred by painful electric shocks.
The experimental results help “cement the validity of the gateway hypothesis,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funded the study.
The findings also suggest that researchers might be better off focusing on “gateway mechanisms” — the common molecular pathways through which some substances can influence future addiction — than on “gateway drugs,” she added.
To be sure, even rats who had never tried alcohol took to cocaine when given the chance, pressing a lever to administer themselves doses. And as researchers made rats work harder for a dose of cocaine, both teetotalers and alcohol-primed rats stepped up their efforts. Many rats continued to press the lever — even when doing so resulted in increasingly stronger electrical shocks.
But alcohol made a big difference.
In experiments led by psychiatrist Dr. Edmund Griffin, neurobiologist Dr. Eric R. Kandel and epidemiologist Denise Kandel, all of Columbia University, a group of rats were allowed access to alcohol for two hours a day over 11 days. Then they gained access to cocaine for various stretches over the next 32 days.
The two groups of animals also reacted differently to the painful shocks meant to deter them from using cocaine. Among rats who’d gotten no alcohol, the shocks prompted most to stop pressing the lever pretty quickly, with only 14 percent continuing to do so. However, among rats primed with alcohol, most were willing to endure several sets of shocks before giving up, and 29 percent continued to press the lever even when doing so brought on the strongest shocks researchers gave.
It wasn’t just their drug-seeking behavior that was different; the researchers observed a wide range of chemical differences in their brains as well. Many of those changes were seen inside the nucleus accumbens, a key node in the brain’s reward-seeking network. And they took place in the epigenome, the chemical messaging system that turns genes on and off in response to changing needs or circumstances.
Scientists had previously seen that when the specific brain changes wrought by alcohol were induced by other means, the result was a higher propensity to addiction. The results of earlier work by the same research group show that prolonged nicotine use can do the same thing.
“We certainly suspected” that both alcohol and nicotine were implicated in addiction to illegal drugs, Volkow said; population studies have clearly suggested as much. “But the finding of this common gateway pathway between nicotine and alcohol opens up new avenues in prevention research,” she said.
Teen smoking has dropped to its lowest level since tracking began 41 years ago, with 7 percent of kids in 8th, 10th and 12th grades saying they’ve smoked in the last month. But the proportion of high school students who say they’ve drunk alcohol in the last month is about 33 percent, with 18 percent acknowledging a session of binge drinking in that period.
Volkow added that the study raises the question “whether marijuana, which is also considered a gateway drug, shares these properties.”
University of Pennsylvania neuroscientist John Dani, who researches addiction but was not involved in the new study, called the findings intriguing on many levels.
By changing the order in which humans usually try cocaine and alcohol, the authors showed there may be something uniquely “priming” about using alcohol first, Dani said.
That message is particularly important for adolescents, who should understand that drinking and smoking early in life may cause lasting brain changes that make addiction more likely down the line.
The fact that the experiments were conducted on rats, not people, does not diminish the significance of their results, Dani added.
“A rat is not necessarily a good model for the behavior of a human, but their neurons do things very similar to our neurons,” he said. “We have those same enzymes and same epigenetic processes in our neurons, and that’s where this has real value. At this molecular level, they’re very similar to us.”
Photo Credit: Lightspring / Shutterstock
As everyone today knows, opioid narcotics like fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine and oxycodone have created a toxic epidemic in the United States with at least 100 daily overdose deaths. This happened because Pharma paid off doctors, medical associations and federal lawmakers to loosen opioid regulations.
There was a reason narcotics were traditionally limited to severe pain cases, not “everyday” pain—they are addicting and can kill, as we are now seeing. But Pharma—especially the Sackler family’s Purdue which makes OxyContin—banked on the fact that younger doctors and patients did not remember why narcotics were so heavily restricted. They were right.
As new Pharma-driven prescribing guidelines were drafted and the industry-appeasing FDA waved new pills and patches through despite daily deaths, brazen “pill mills” and “Oxy docs” popped up, as did legions of addicts. Soon “opioid addiction” treatment clinics popped up to play the other side of the street—the addictions caused by the pill mills—further enriching Pharma.
Not only can narcotics like the popular OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and the fentanyl patch lead to coma, respiratory depression, shock, pulmonary edema and death, but studies suggest they can increase a body’s sensitivity to pain and make pain worse—a phenomenon called opioid-induced hyperalgesia. The drugs also cause constipation, hormonal derangement and negative mental changes.
The label on Purdue’s OxyContin says “WARNING: ADDICTION, ABUSE AND MISUSE; LIFE-THREATENING RESPIRATORY DEPRESSION; ACCIDENTAL INGESTION; NEONATAL OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME; CYTOCHROME P450 3A4 INTERACTION; and RISKS FROM CONCOMITANT USE WITH BENZODIAZEPINES OR OTHER CNS DEPRESSANTS.”
Many opioid addicts began their downward spiral with opioid prescriptions they should never have been given for chronic pain. Unlike acute pain, chronic pain should seldom if ever be treated with opioids, but thanks to the short-term pill approach of our health care system, it usually is. The cost to society of the opioid epidemic in crime, disability, treatment of addiction and overdoses, lost wages and of course deaths has yet to be fully calculated.
“The problem is, patients are started, develop tolerance, need a higher dose, get tolerant to the higher dose, use more than prescribed, ask for early refills, get switched to a ‘pain management specialist,’ who if they violate the pain contracts, get fired, discharged, and then they go to the street for the opioids,” says James O’Donnell, a pharmacology professor at Rush University in Chicago.
The following medical case from a pharmaceutical textbook shows just how dangerous opioid drugs can be, whether derived naturally from poppies or created synthetically by chemists:
“A 35-year-old divorced male school teacher and wrestling coach in a southwestern state was seen by a sports medicine specialist. He had complained of chronic low back pain, and he had been taking hydrocodone/acetaminophen for the pain. The sports specialist was concerned about acetaminophen toxicity, and prescribed ‘low dose’ methadone, 10mg twice daily, and discontinued the hydrocodone/acetaminophen. The next day, he stayed at his parent’s home. He was very drowsy, sleeping on and off most of the day, and went to bed early. In the late morning of the third day, his mother was unable to awaken him. He was declared dead by EMS.”
Trump has announced a national public health emergency over opioids for a scourge created by Pharma. When the extent of damage from cigarettes was revealed, Big Tobacco agreed to cease advertising and to pay, in perpetuity, various states to compensate them for some of the medical costs of caring for persons with smoking-related illnesses. Like Pharma, Big Tobacco said cigarettes “weren’t addictive.”
With permission from
by: JD Heyes
October 19, 2017
As the country and lawmakers in Washington continue to debate the merits (and legality) of marijuana, the state of Colorado has made a startling discovery: The quasi-legalization of recreational pot use there has had a dramatically positive effect on the rate of opioid deaths.
As reported by Reason Magazine, since the legalized sale of recreational marijuana began in January 2014 after voters in the state approved a measure permitting it (recreational use still remains against federal law, however), the state has witnessed a 6.5 percent fall in opioid deaths.
Research published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed the findings, which are sure to animate advocates for wider legalization of recreational marijuana as well as those, perhaps, who are working to bring the current opioid epidemic under control.
“Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths. As additional data become available, research should replicate these analyses in other states with legal recreational cannabis,” the researchers concluded after studying and analyzing the opioid death rate in the state between 2000 – 2015.
“That suggestions yet another argument for marijuana legalization,” argued Reason, a libertarian publication that has long advocated for the issue. “Pot might stem and even reverse some of the trends unleashed by America’s decades-long drug war.”
Actually, one of the biggest causes of the current opioid epidemic is the modern medical system and Big Pharma. For years pharmaceutical firms have pushed the habit-forming pain medications and doctors over-prescribed them (like antibiotics) to the point where the federal government had to step in and regulate their sales.
Having said that, Reason does make this valid point: The federal government may well have also been complicit in the rise of the opioid epidemic, having stymied deeper research into the pain-killing qualities of marijuana.
That dearth of research, and the government’s inability to stave off the epidemic is probably what is driving President Donald J. Trump to continue the government’s “get tough” approach to controlling opioids, the magazine reported. The administration looks set to declare the epidemic a “national emergency,” which Reason believes will only worsen the problem:
A shift in attitudes can go a long way to combat opioid use in a way that strong-arms tactics never can.
Washington was the first state to outright legalize recreation marijuana use in 2012, but the first pot shops did not open until July 2014. Since that time recreational marijuana use has occurred in Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts, and via the legislature in Vermont.
However, none of these states have as yet sold marijuana recreationally for as long as Colorado, but the effects of having easier access to legal marijuana on the opioid death rate has nevertheless been examined before. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in October 2014 found that between 1999 and 2010, states with laws permitting the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes had an almost 25 percent lower “mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate” than states that did not permit medical use of cannabis.
“Because chronic pain is a major indication for medical cannabis,” said those researchers, “laws that establish access to medical cannabis may change overdose mortality related opioid analgesics in states that have enacted them.”
The current opioid epidemic has been labeled the worst drug crisis in American history. The death rate is now rivaling that of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s, with overdoses from opioid ingestion now killing some 27,000 people per year.
In fact, as Natural News founder/editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, has noted often, Big Pharma is the biggest killer of Americans each year than anything else. As for overdoses, they are now killing more Americans each year than automobiles. (Related: Keep track of Big Pharma-related deaths in real time at PharmaDeathClock.com.)
J.D. Heyes is editor of The National Sentinel and a senior writer for Natural News and News Target.
by: Isabelle Z.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
(Natural News) We’ve heard a lot about the crime and deaths caused by the opioid crisis, but what about the financial impact of it? Many small towns are struggling to cover the costs associated with the epidemic, whether it’s emergency calls, coroner bills, courtrooms, or overcrowded prisons.
Reuters recently examined the case of Ross County, Ohio, which has seen its budget for child services doubling from $1.3 million to $2.4 million in just five years. Three fourths of the children placed into protection there come from parents with opioid addictions; that proportion stood at just 40 percent five years ago. The county’s general fund is only $23 million to begin with, so now they are considering places they can make cuts to foot the bill, and it appears that economic development schemes and youth programs could be axed as a result.
Meanwhile, the toxicology and autopsy costs in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, have gone from $89,000 in 2010 to $165,0000 in 2016, and prosecuting crimes related to opioids and providing public defenders to the accused is sending court costs through the roof. Mercer County, West Virginia, meanwhile, expects its county jail expenses to rise by $100,000 this year, with 90 percent of the extra costs said to be related to opioids. West Virginia led the nation in the number of drug overdoses for the third year in a row in 2015.
According to a 2011 study published in Pain Medicine, healthcare costs associated with prescription opioid abuse were $25 billion, while criminal justice system expenses were $5.1 billion. Workplaces, however, had the biggest cost, with lost earnings and employment amounting to $25.6 billion. The total cost of the crisis to the economy was estimated at the time to be $55.7 billion, and it’s only growing.
How did the situation become so dire?
Opioids – which include prescription painkillers as well as heroin and fentanyl – are 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and they’re highly addictive. Many of those who find themselves caught up in their web started out with prescription painkillers and then moved on to drugs like heroin, and some pharmaceutical companies have been spending a lot of money encouraging doctors to prescribe these drugs through kickbacks and other incentives to create new addicts.
Their encouragements are clearly working; the National Survey of Drug Use and Health indicates that 97.5 million Americas took prescription painkillers in 2015. Opioid abuse is responsible for the deaths of more than 100 Americans each day, and drug overdose deaths have tripled since 2000.
Will Big Pharma ever be held accountable?
The city of Everett, Washington is one of many launching lawsuits against the makers of opioids. Everett is suing the makers of OxyContin for their role in the epidemic after experiencing unusually high numbers of overdose deaths. They are suing Purdue for negligence, saying they placed profits over the welfare of people and caused substantial damages to the city. The company already pleaded guilty in 2007 to charges it misled patients and doctors about the drug’s addictive properties.
Meanwhile, the attorneys general from 41 states are widening their investigation into the sales and marketing practices of the opioid industry. Five Big Pharma firms have been served subpoenas requesting information as investigators seek to find out if their actions exacerbated the epidemic. It’s about time they are held accountable for their contribution to this crisis, which is bankrupting our nation city by city and state by state, prompting fears that if nothing is done, American could collapse into a narco-pharma state.