Posts Tagged ‘addiction’

Ending America’s opioid crisis requires more than a moral crusade

July 7, 2018

The legal backlash against drugmakers echoes the fight against Big Tobacco

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The US needs to invest tens of billions of dollars in a national network of treatment centres where addicts can get help regardless of their ability to pay © Getty

By David Crow

As opioid addiction rips through the US like wildfire, politicians are targeting the drugmakers that ignited the flames. Their attempt to extract billions of dollars from Big Pharma to tackle the epidemic is a just and righteous fight — but one in which victory is far from guaranteed.
States, counties and cities have filed lawsuits accusing the industry of masking the risks of opioid painkillers while using aggressive tactics to boost their sales. Chief among the targets is Purdue Pharma, which sells OxyContin, an infamous drug known as “heroin in a pill” that has made billionaires out of Purdue’s owners, the Sackler family.

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The Massachusetts attorney-general opened up a new front in the legal fight last month when she sued Purdue’s current and former executives and directors — including several Sacklers and a board member at GlaxoSmithKline, for their alleged role in fuelling the US opioid addiction epidemic.

The backlash has echoes of the fight against cigarette makers, which concluded in 1998 when they agreed to pay roughly $200bn to US states to offset the cost of treating sick smokers.

It is undeniable that the cost of the opioid addiction epidemic is huge, and it could even end up outstripping the bill for tobacco-related illnesses. The sad fact about smokers who develop lung cancer is that many die quickly, so their impact on public finances falls to zero.

This crisis is killing people, too — 42,200 died from overdoses in 2016 — but many of the 2.6m Americans with opioid abuse disorders will cycle in and out of addiction for decades, which will put long-term strain on public services.

Already, the cracks are starting to show. Addiction treatment in the US is provided mainly by a patchwork of thousands of independent operators more used to dealing with alcoholism than opioid abuse. Their inability to handle the epidemic means that police are fighting more drug-related crime, emergency rooms are at breaking point, and child protection offers are scrambling to find homes for displaced kids. A recent report estimated that the crisis is costing Ohio up to $8.8bn a year — more than its annual budget for primary and secondary education combined.

But if the financial case for restitution is clear-cut, the legal one is less so. While there was a direct link between the sale of cigarettes and lung cancer deaths, many people suffering from opioid addiction have since progressed from prescription painkillers to heroin. Dealers’ tendency to cut the street drug with fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid imported from China, is responsible for a rise in overdoses.

Other actors also share some blame, from the US Food and Drug Administration, which approved the painkillers, to the doctors who prescribed pills so liberally and the wholesalers that did not report suspiciously large orders. Then there are the academics who authored studies — paid for by pharma companies — concluding there is hardly any risk of addiction. The many links in the chain will make it more difficult for lawyers to show the companies are the prime suspects — the “proximate cause” of the epidemic.

Even if the lawsuits are successful, it is not clear that liable drugmakers will be able to muster anything near the $200bn agreed in the tobacco settlement, which requires cigarette makers to pay regular instalments. Last year, British American Tobacco, the largest company in its sector, handed over almost $4.6bn. Purdue generated just $1.8bn of sales from OxyContin in 2017, according to Symphony Health Solutions. Nor is it certain that all the cash generated by OxyContin is still held by Purdue, a private company that does not have to report its finances. It is likely that much of the money has been taken out in dividends over the years by the Sackler family, which was worth about $13bn in 2016, according to Forbes.

Larger pharma companies have deeper pockets, but they reduced their exposure to opioids when the crisis started to rage. Johnson & Johnson sold its painkiller franchise to Depomed, a much smaller company, for $1bn in 2015. It has also offloaded its opium poppy processing business, as has GSK.

The states are hoping that the drugmakers will settle, and that wholesalers and drugstore chains will throw in some cash to protect their reputations and limit their legal bills. But any agreement will take years to agree, and longer still for the funds to start flowing through.

Meanwhile, states need to work out how they are going to pay for this crisis. First, they should put pressure on Washington. When President Donald Trump declared a “public health emergency” last year instead of a “national emergency”, the subtle difference meant there was no release of federal funds.

I hope the companies and individuals who have profited from this crisis have to give back their gains, but let us not confuse the moral crusade with a properly thought-out plan. The US needs to invest tens of billions of dollars in a national network of treatment centres where addicts can get help regardless of their ability to pay. The opioid crisis is acute, and it is happening now. Its victims cannot afford to wait.




Heather Locklear voluntarily checks herself into rehab

July 1, 2018

Actress Heather Locklear has gone to rehab.

The former “Melrose Place” star voluntarily agreed to check herself into a long-term treatment facility for substance abuse and mental health issues after she spent the last week in a psychiatric ward, TMZ reported.

The troubled 56-year-old blonde was arrested Sunday after chugging a bottle of tequila, crashing her Porsche at her California mansion and then attacking cops when they arrived.

She was arrested on police battery charges and released, but was immediately rushed to the hospital hours later for an overdose of some kind, according to the report.

While she was involuntarily held in the hospital, doctors determined that she suffers from mental health issues.

A week earlier, Locklear was taken in for a psych evaluation after her parents called the police saying she was threatening to find a gun and kill herself and tried to choke her mother.


Morning Prayer for Thursday, June 28, 2018 — Maintain your calm and composure amid pressing duties and unending challenges

June 28, 2018

If you can take your troubles as they come, if you can maintain your
calm and composure amid pressing duties and unending engagements,
if you can rise above the distressing and disturbing circumstances in
which you are set down, you have discovered a priceless secret of
daily living. Even if you are forced to go through life weighed down by
some unescapable misfortune or handicap and yet live each day as it
comes with poise and peace of mind, you have succeeded where most
people have failed. You have wrought a greater achievement than a
person who rules a nation. Have I achieved poise and peace of mind?

Meditation For The Day

Take a blessing with you wherever you go. You have been blessed, so
bless others. Such stores of blessings are awaiting you in the months
and years that lie ahead. Pass on your blessings. Blessing can and does
go around the world, passed on from one person to another. Shed a
little blessing in the heart of one person. That person is cheered to
pass it on, and so, God’s vitalizing, joy-giving message travels on. Be a
transmitter of God’s blessings.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may pass on my blessings. I pray that they may flow into
the lives of others.

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Book: Holy Spirit by Fr. Edward Leen
Every human being has the spark of God within. What we want to do is make that spark into hot, life saving flame! We want the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.


God’s Role in Addiction Recovery: The Greatest Gift of All

June 28, 2018

Bill W.’s “A.A. Grapevine” article “The Greatest Gift of All”

A.A. cofounder Bill W. began his December 1957 article in the “A.A. Grapevine” titled “The Greatest Gift of All” by stating:

“The greatest gift that can come to anybody is a spiritual awakening.”

Bill continued:

“So, then, what is this ‘spiritual awakening,’ this ‘transforming experience?'”

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Bill Wilson

Bill went on:

“To begin with, a spiritual awakening is our means of finding sobriety. . . . We know that a spiritual experience is the key to survival from alcoholism and that for most of us it is the only key.”

Notice Bill’s shifting between “spiritual awakening,” “transforming experience,” and “spiritual experience?” More on that in a moment.

Then Bill spoke in his article about “a certain newcomer” who had approached Bill “[s]oon after he entered A.A.”

And Bill continued:

“Four years later, I ran across the same ‘newcomer.'”

Bill then related that that newcomer, “Joe,” had told him:

“‘The other day an old-time AA gave me an example which I’ll never forget. Jack is a real old-timer. In fact, he started AA in my town.’

And Bill recounted that Joe–speaking about Jack the old-timer on his death bed–stated:

“‘Whiskey had brought him [Jack the old-timer] great pain but, as a result, AA had given him great joy. With his “awakening” in AA had come the utter conviction, indeed the sure knowledge, that “in my Father’s house there are many mansions.” . . . He never did get to the A.A. convention. But Jack knew, and we know, that this didn’t really matter, for Jack was in full possession of ‘the greatest gift of all.”‘”

[Bill W., “The Greatest Gift of All” in the December 1957 of the “A.A. Grapevine”; reprinted in “The Language of the Heart: Bill W.’s Grapevine Writings” (New York: The AA Grapevine, Inc., 1988), 233-36].

Recognize the allusion to Jesus’s declaration in John 14:1-3 (KJV):

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

And there is more.

As many know, on the 2014 anniversary of the April 10, 1939, copyright date of the Big Book, A.A. issued a “75th Anniversary Commemorative Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.” The AAdotOrg website stated about that volume: “This Conference-approved special edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous” is a reproduction of the first printing of the first edition of the Big Book as it was published in 1939.”

And here are two interesting, important, and related facts that may be gleaned from a careful study of the first printing of the first edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous”:

1. For those who have heard/been taught that “the Big Book has never changed,” Step 12 read in the first printing of the first edition of the Big Book:

“Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, . . .”

Note the phrase “spiritual experience?” That phrase was changed to “spiritual awakening” in the second printing of the first edition.

2. The phrase “spiritual awakening” occurred exactly zero (0) times in the first printing of the first edition of the Big Book. Zero.

And there is still more.

About December 14, 1934, while in a hospital room at Towns Hospital where he was staying for treatment of his alcoholism, Bill W. stated that he had cried out: “‘If there be a God, let Him show Himself!'” And Bill stated: “‘Suddenly, my room blazed with an indescribably while light. . . . I became acutely conscious of a Presence which seemed like a veritable sea of living spirit. . . .” [‘PASS IT ON,’ (New York, N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1984), 121].

And about that experience, Bill also stated:

“. . . the great thought burst upon me: ‘Bill, you are a free man! This is the God of the Scriptures.'” [“The Language of the Heart: Bill W.’s Grapevine Writings (New York: The AA Grapevine, Inc., 1988), 284].

Right after that experience, while Bill was still at Towns Hospital, Bill’s school friend from Burr and Burton Seminary, Ebby T.: “. . . brought Bill a book that offered further clarification. It was William James’s ‘The Varieties of Religious Experience.’ . . .

“Bill said he started reading the moment Ebby left. . . . James . . . had made a detailed analysis of a wide number of religious or conversion experiences.” . . .

“He [Bill W.] would later say that James . . . had been a founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.” [‘PASS IT ON,’ 124].

Notice the phrase “religious experience” in the title of A.A. “founder” William James’s book? And notice the statement that “James had made a detailed analysis of . . . religious . . . experiences”?

Then we come to Rev. Sam Shoemaker, a man whom Bill W. credited as the source of “the spiritual substance” of ten of A.A.’s 12 Steps [“The Language of the Heart,” 298]; who often quoted Professor William James’s book, “The Varieties of Religious Experience;” and whom Bill referred to as a “co-founder” of Alcoholics Anonymous. [See Dick B., “New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A.” rev. ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1999), 6]. Shoemaker often made statements such as the following, found in his first book, “Realizing Religion”:

“Our heavenly Father knows where we are really different. What you want is simply a vital religious experience. You need to find God. You need Jesus Christ.” [S. M. Shoemaker, Jr., “Realizing Religion (New York, NY: The International Committee of Young Men’s Christian Associations, 1921), 9]

Note again the reference to a vital “religious experience.”

So was there a term that came before “personality change,” “spiritual awakening,” and even “spiritual experience?” Here is some food for thought for the discerning reader:

“And the GREAT FACT is just this and no less: that all of us have had deep and effective religious experiences. . . .” [“Chapter #1: THERE IS A SOLUTION,” 10–(early draft of what was later renumbered as chapter two in the first and following editions of Alcoholics Anonymous). For online “copies” of an early version of this chapter—with no guarantees made as to accuracy of reproduction—see:…; accessed 8/28/12.]

Bill W. stated in his “autobiography” that when he had “walked into Towns Hospital” on December 11, 1934–about three days after he had been to Calvary Mission and had responded to the altar call there–he had “shouted” to Dr. Silkworth who had met him in the hall:

“‘At last, Doc, I’ve found something!” [Bill W., “My First 40 Years” (Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 2000), 140].

And looking back on his trip to Calvary Mission about December 8, 1934, and his “consciousness of the presence of God” in his hospital room at Towns a few days later, Bill W. stated in his “autobiography”:

“For sure I’d been born again.” [Bill W., “My First 40 Years,” 147].

As the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book ‘PASS IT ON’ says of this time in A.A. cofounder Bill W.’s life:

“He [Bill W.] always said after that experience, he never again doubted the existence of God. He never took another drink.” [‘PASS IT ON,’ 121]

[For more information about the phrase “(vital) religious experience” as it was used in earliest A.A., see: “Appendix Three: The Expression ‘Religious Experience’ and the ‘Solution’ to Alcoholism” in Dick B. and Ken B., “Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous: God’s Role in Recovery Confirmed!” (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2012), 75-84]

So what is “the greatest gift of all?” Consider these words (“selah”):

John 3:16 (KJV): “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

And note that Bill W.’s article appeared in a December issue of the “A.A. Grapevine.”

“Gloria Deo”

In GOD’s love, Dick B.’s son Ken


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Sir Anthony Hopkins

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Each human being has a spark of God within him. Curing addiction can awaken this spark and create a spiritual experience — and a better person!

Global opium and cocaine production at record highs: UN

June 26, 2018

Global production of cocaine and opium, stemming largely from Colombia and Afghanistan respectively, has hit record levels, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Tuesday in its annual report.

The production of opium rose by 65 percent from 2016 to 2017 to 10,500 tons, “the highest estimate recorded by UNODC since it started monitoring global opium production at the start of the 21st century,” a statement said.

Afghanistan accounts for the overwhelming majority with an output of 9,000 tons, a rise of 87 percent over 2016.

© AFP/File | Afghanistan accounts for the overwhelming majority with an output of 9,000 tons

“Among the drivers of that increase were political instability, lack of government control and reduced economic opportunities,” the report said.

The resurgence of production in Afghanistan has led to a 37 percent rise in the area under opium poppy cultivation to almost 420,000 hectares worldwide, UNODC said, adding that more than three-quarters of this was in Afghanistan itself.

Global manufacture of cocaine in 2016 also “reached the highest level ever reported” — an estimated 1,410 tons or a 25 percent rise on 2015.

Colombia accounted for the bulk of production with output increasing by more than a third between 2015 and 2016 to 866 tons.

The area used for growing coca leaf, the raw ingredient for cocaine production, is now some 213,000 hectares, with 69 percent of that in Colombia.

The rise in production in Colombia represents a challenge to the implementation of the accord forged between the government and rebels from the now defunct FARC, and “is bound to augment the power and wealth of trafficking groups”, the report said.

– Alarm over opioid crisis –

Meanwhile the spread of opioid crisis, which has caused particular alarm in the United States in recent years, “is becoming a major threat to public health”, with opioids “accounting for 76 percent of deaths where drug use disorders were implicated”.

2016 saw a record 63,632 people die of a drug overdose in the US, a 21 percent increase on 2015.

The increase is “largely due to a rise in deaths associated with pharmaceutical opioids, including fentanyl and fentanyl analogues,” the report said.

This has been cited as part of the reason why the US has experienced a decline in life expectancy over two consecutive years, a phenomenon not seen for decades.

While fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin is the main drug of its kind on the American market, the UNODC also expressed “growing concern” over opioid use elsewhere.

“We need to raise the alarm about addiction to tramadol, rates of which are soaring in parts of Africa,” the report says.

– Worries over ‘baby boomers’ –

The report said the most widely consumed drug in 2016 was cannabis, with about 192 million people using it at least once during the previous year.

The UNODC also looked at drug use trends according to age, finding that “drug use and the associated harm are the highest among young people compared to older people”.

It also said that “drug use among the older generation (aged 40 years and older) has been increasing at a faster rate than among those who are younger”.

While noting that there is only limited data available relating to this finding, the report said that “people who went through adolescence at a time when drugs were popular and widely available are more likely to have tried drugs and, possibly, to have continued using them”.

Many of that “baby boomer” generation will presumably be among the cohort of over-50s who accounted for 39 percent of all drug-related deaths in 2015.

In Europe between 2006 and 2013, deaths from overdoses rose among those over 40 while going down for those below that age.


Heather Locklear reportedly hospitalized after ‘overdose’ call

June 26, 2018

Heather Locklear was reportedly hospitalized after a report of an overdose at her home — just hours after she was released on bail for assaulting a police officer.

Locklear was taken to the hospital on Monday afternoon when paramedics went to her residence in Thousand Oaks, California, after cops received a report of an overdose, according to TMZ.

The 56-year-old actress was arrested for battery on a police officer Sunday night, just a few days after being released on a three-day hold in a psych ward.

She was placed in a psychiatric hold last week after she allegedly threatened to kill herself because she thought her fiancé was cheating on her.


Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up To Be Like Anthony Bourdain — Participated in ‘death ritual’ months before suicide

June 25, 2018

TV chef Anthony Bourdain talked about his own mortality — and participated in an ancient death ritual — in the season finale of his CNN show “Parts Unknown,” which aired about two weeks after his suicide.

The episode, which aired Sunday, followed the celebrity chef and his friend, director Darren Aronofsky, across Bhutan in South Asia as they ate with traditional yak herders in the Himalayas and dined in the country’s capital of Thimpu, Eater said.

In one scene, a man explains the country’s religion, Bhutanese Buddhism, as something meant to remind people “time and again, not to take things too seriously. This is, in fact, an illusion.”

Bourdain responds: “Life is but a dream.”

“It is considered enlightening and therapeutic to think about death for a few minutes a day,” he narrates over a shot of breathtaking mountain ranges.

In an article for CNN, “Black Swan” director Aronofsky reflected on the meaningful nature of his travels with the late chef.

“It seems ironic now that on our last day of shooting we performed a Bhutanese death ritual,” Aronofsky wrote. “We debated the fate of the country, the fate of the world. He was perplexed as to how mankind’s endless hunger to consume could be curtailed.”

Footage for the finale was shot about six months ago, and the crew had already begun shooting for Season 12. It is unclear if or how the network plans to air it.

Bourdain was found dead earlier this month in a hotel room in Kayersberg, France, where he had been filming an episode of the show. He was 61.



America’s Millennials Are Waking Up to a Grim Financial Future

June 21, 2018

Job prospects, savings, safety nets, life expectancy—the data show just how bad a mess they face.

Lately I’ve been losing track of how old everyone is. Friends, co-workers and family members are resisting middle age with vigorous exercise, careful diets and regular doctor visits. Even when 50-year-olds look like they’re 50, they often dress or party as if they’re still in their twenties.

Our capacity to fetishize youth never ceases to amaze. But while older Americans definitely want to look like younger folks, they certainly don’t want their finances. That’s because the wealth gap between generations keeps widening, and their children’s future is beginning to look ugly.

Just two years ago, the median American born in the 1980s—the cradle of millennials—had family wealth that was 34 percent below what earlier generations held at the same age, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported last month. And all the data show it’s probably going to get worse.

As affluent baby boomers thank years of soaring markets for their paid-off mortgages and plump portfolios, millennials and the next cohort, Generation Z, are weighed down by student debt and stagnant wages. They can only contribute the bare minimum to their retirement plans and struggle to find affordable homes within commuting distance of their jobs.

Of course, it’s perfectly normal for people just starting out to have less in the bank. However, the St. Louis Fed warned that, even when taking that into account, young Americans are slipping dangerously behind. For a time, Generation X was also losing out, thanks to the 2008 financial crisis. But its members managed to make up most of the shortfall in the years since, tapping into the longest economic expansion in decades.

For some reason that period of tremendous growth barely helped millennials. The St. Louis Fed called this anomaly “a missed opportunity because asset appreciation is unlikely to be as rapid in the near future.” That’s pretty bad news for twenty and thirtysomethings who may have been hoping to catch up. But it gets worse.

By 2034, Social Security won’t be able to pay out full benefits, the program’s trustees estimated this month. Any solution that would rectify its finances will probably require more taxes and more benefit cuts—all coming out of the pockets of younger workers. Boomers, who are exiting the workforce in droves, will already be comfortably seated when the music stops, or out of the picture.

Fixing Social Security is hardly the only issue where younger Americans have different priorities than their elders. U.S. President Donald Trump was elected on the votes of older Americans favoring tax cuts and less government, while young voters flocked to Senator Bernie Sanders, who supports rebuilding social programs and establishing national healthcare.

Alicia Munnell, the director of Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, recently lamented that government inaction on Social Security means “that most baby boomers have escaped completely from contributing to a solution.” This month, she offered some depressing advice to younger Americans about what they can do to make up the difference: Work longer.

The reaction to her earnest advice was rage.

“Wait, this is the good news?” read one indignant post on Twitter, echoing many others. Slate’s Jamelle Bouie called it “a great example of ‘we turned the economy into a miserable hellscape and you’re just going to have to deal with it.’”

Ouch. But Munnell assured young people that they don’t need to cancel their retirements entirely. “In fact, my research shows that the vast majority of millennials will be fine if they work to age 70,” she wrote for Politico. (Small solace given that life expectancy for Americans recently took a turn for the worse.)

Still, Munnell has a point. Across a generational time-frame, people are still living much longer than their parents. As my colleague Peter Coy recently pointed out, a man who is “chronologically” 65 is actually more like a 55-year-old from the perspective of 1957. With the extra years, a longer career doesn’t necessarily mean a shorter retirement.

Retirement-age Americans are already working in record numbers. Whether by choice or necessity, because of boredom or fear, a full third of those between 65 and 69 were in the workforce in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, along with 19 percent of those aged 70 to 74—together almost double the number 30 years ago.

Nevertheless, the retirement advice of “just work longer” can sound pretty tone deaf to younger ears, especially when the old American promises—of advancement, financial security and home ownership for everyone who works hard—have faded into myth.

What about the booming economy of 2018? Won’t that help smooth the path for young savers? Perhaps, but Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists recently said the current pace of the U.S. economy is “probably as good as it gets.” That can only make young Americans more furious about the “missed opportunity” mentioned by the St. Louis Fed.

Paychecks aren’t reflecting the improving economy. Hourly wages were unchanged in May from a year earlier. And according to a Fed survey, four in 10 Americans said it would be tough to come up with $400 for an emergency expense. The same 2017 survey found 27 percent skipping medical treatments because they can’t afford them. Another poll this month reaffirmed the inability of many Americans to save any money at all.

So work longer? First you have to live longer, and that’s not guaranteed.

Wide swaths of the country are getting sicker and dying younger than just a few years ago, with a widening health gap between educated, affluent Americans and everyone else. Alcohol abuse and obesity, upticks in suicide and an epidemic of drug overdoses have all played a role in an ominous milestone: Year-over-year declines in American life expectancy while the rest of the world lives ever-longer.

Perhaps it’s a statistical blip. If not, the U.S. faces an almost dystopian future—one of hyper class-stratification in which the few are rich and living longer while the many postpone retirement, struggle to get by and ultimately die younger.

There is some good news for younger generations, though. As they focus on the hand they’ve been dealt, they will find there is one good card to play, one that may allow them to address the myriad problems they face: numbers.

It’s no secret the widening gap in financial security is shadowed by a similar gap in politics, setting up the potential for generational warfare at the ballot box in coming elections.

The outcome of the 2018 midterms may largely come down to whether left-leaning millennials and Gen-Xers, who make up a majority of eligible U.S. voters, show up. In recent elections, these two demographics voted at much lower rates than previous generations at the same ages, according to the Pew Research Center. Unless that changes, wealthier, right-leaning baby boomers and the remaining members of the so-called Silent Generation will once again swamp them at the polls.

Regardless of turnout, or even who wins, academics predict a growing animus between young and old to match the polarized party politics currently roiling the nation.

“I think you’re going to see growing conflict,” said Susan MacManus, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of South Florida. One sign that “this huge generation is awakening to things is that we have seen record levels of younger candidates stepping up to the plate and running for office at every level,” she said.

And she said these young people, just now realizing how bad their prospects are financially, are increasingly angry.

New Mental Heath Problem: Video Game Addiction

June 18, 2018

Video Game Addiction Tries to Move From Basement to Doctor’s Office

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Video games work hard to hook players. Designers use predictive algorithms and principles of behavioral economics to keep fans engaged. When new games are reviewed, the most flattering accolade might be “I can’t put it down.”

Now, the World Health Organization is saying players can actually become addicted.

On Monday, “gaming disorder” will appear in a new draft of the organization’s International Classification of Diseases, the highly regarded compendium of medical conditions.

Concerns about the influence of video games are dovetailing with increasing scrutiny over the harmful aspects of technology, as consumers look for ways to scale back consumption of social media and online entertainment.

The W.H.O. designation may help legitimize worries about video game fans who neglect other parts of their lives. It could also make gamers more willing to seek treatment, encourage more therapists to provide it and increase the chances that insurance companies would cover it.

“It’s going to untie our hands in terms of treatment, in that we’ll be able to treat patients and get reimbursed,” said Dr. Petros Levounis, the chairman of the psychiatry department at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “We won’t have to go dancing around the issue, calling it depression or anxiety or some other consequence of the issue but not the issue itself.”

Around the world, 2.6 billion people play video games, including two-thirds of American households, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Annual revenue for the industry is expected to grow 31 percent to $180.1 billion globally within three yearsFortnite — the latest blockbuster, in which players battle to be the last one standing in an apocalyptic storm — recently earned a reported $300 million in a month.

The industry has pushed back against the W.H.O. classification, which is expected to be formally adopted next year, calling it “deeply flawed” while pointing to the “educational, therapeutic and recreational value of games.”

But gaming has long had an addictive quality. The game EverQuest, introduced nearly 20 years ago, was nicknamed EverCrack for the long binges it inspired.

Now, mental health professionals say they increasingly see players who have lost control.

“I have patients who come in suffering from an addiction to Candy Crush Saga, and they’re substantially similar to people who come in with a cocaine disorder,” Dr. Levounis said. “Their lives are ruined, their interpersonal relationships suffer, their physical condition suffers.”

Read the rest at the source:



Compulsive video gaming playing now new mental health problem

The World Health Organization says compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a new mental health condition—a move that some critics warn may risk stigmatizing its young players.

In its latest revision to an international disease classification manual, the U.N.  agency said Monday that classifying “Gaming Disorder” as a separate condition will “serve a public health purpose for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue.”

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO’s department for mental health, said WHO accepted the proposal that Gaming Disorder should be listed as a new problem based on scientific evidence, in addition to “the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world.”

Dr. Joan Harvey, a spokeswoman for the British Psychological Society, warned that the new designation might cause unnecessary concern among parents and said only a minority of gamers would be affected.

Others welcomed the move, saying it was critical to identify  game addicts quickly because they are usually teenagers or young adults who don’t seek help themselves.

“We come across parents who are distraught, not only because they’re seeing their child drop out of school, but because they’re seeing an entire family structure fall apart,” said Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a spokeswoman for behavioral addictions at Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists. She was not connected to WHO’s decision.

Bowden-Jones said gaming addictions were usually best treated with psychological therapies but that some medicines might also work.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, who has been researching the concept of video gaming disorder for 30 years, said the new classification would help legitimize the problem and strengthen treatment strategies.

“Video gaming is like a non-financial kind of gambling from a psychological point of view,” said Griffiths, a distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “Gamblers use money as a way of keeping score whereas gamers use points.”

He guessed that the percentage of video  players with a compulsive problem was likely to be extremely small—much less than 1 percent—and that many such people would likely have other underlying , like depression, bipolar disorder or autism.

 Explore further: WHO gaming addiction classification an important step for treatment, says expert


Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, June 16, 2018 — You are my inheritance, O Lord.

June 16, 2018

Image result for Elisha plowing, pictures

“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the Evil One.”


Saturday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 364

Reading 1 1 KGS 19:19-21

Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat,
as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen;
he was following the twelfth.
Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.
Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,
“Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,
and I will follow you.”
Elijah answered, “Go back!
Have I done anything to you?”
Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;
he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,
and gave it to his people to eat.
Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

Responsorial Psalm  PSALM 16:1B-2A AND 5, 7-8, 9-10

R. (see 5a) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

AlleluiaPS 119:36A, 29B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Incline my heart, O God, to your decrees;
and favor me with your law.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 5:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.

But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the Evil One.”
Image may contain: one or more people
First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
We live in a world today where freedom has run wild.
Anyone, at any time, it seems, can speak or do something that others disagree with or voice disapproval. Freedom abounds without, it seems, any limits.
What happened to “order.” Or as the military says, “Good Order and discipline.”
God has placed limits on man through his creation and his Word. Philosophers used to talk about “Natural Law” — that intelligent men discovered for themselves and lived by.
We seem to have forgotten all the thinkers that have come before us. The works of men like Aristotle, the “Father of Western Philosophy,” are rarely studied any more.
We are taken by our own greatness and technology — as if looking into an iPhone for hours every day somehow makes us better people.
The readings today remind us about our human powerlessness — a term often heard in addiction treatment but almost no place else.
Man is, by himself, quite limited. He is not often awesome — especially when compared to God.
God just asks a few things from us: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Within that teaching flows “feed my sheep,” “love one another,” “honor your father man mother” and other teachings worth knowing, and holding and practicing and living.
Today’s Gospel offers us yet another gem:
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the Evil One.
Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

16 JUNE, 2018, Saturday, 10th Week, Ordinary Time


SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 KG 19:19-21; MT 5:33-37  ]

It is easy to make promises but can we keep our commitments?  This is the question that is posed to us in the gospel.  Yesterday, the gospel spoke about adultery. Today, we are asked to search our hearts with respect to our commitments.  Indeed, many people make empty promises even in marriage.  How many marriages are lasting?  Today, infidelity is so common and marriage vows are taken too lightly.   Regardless whether these vows are taken before God, many do not observe the vows.  That is why Jesus said, “do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is Gods throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king.  Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black.  All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’”

How is it that very few are able to keep their commitments and promises today?   

Firstly, in a secular climate, where faith in God is diminished; many no longer fear God or consider their vows sacred.  Promises and oath-taking make sense only when they are made before God and not just our fellowmen.  When promises are made just to each other, we can break them.  But even then, when they are made before God, the lack of consciousness of the sacredness of our vows will cause us to break our vows.   In the past, men had greater reverence for God.  In today’s world, the sense of the sacred, the fear of the Lord is no longer felt.

Secondly, we are living in a very individualistic world.  We want to be satisfied immediately.  We live in a world where we make ourselves the center of everything.  Everything must revolve around us.  We want to have things our way.  We want to enjoy and be satisfied with the pleasures of life.  Modern men and women are educated and they have great independence.  They rely on their own logic and justify their needs.  So keeping fidelity today is a great challenge when liberated men and women seeking love and understanding would not tolerate their partner cheating on them.  Since there is financial independence, divorce is the easy way out of the relationship.

Thirdly, even commitment in priestly and religious life is a great challenge.  Many priests and religious have given up on their vocation. They ask themselves, “What is the use of making sacrifices especially when one is not appreciated.”   They too are attracted by the pleasures of the world.  Priests and religious, being human, also have their own affective, physical and material needs.  And because of the demands of the apostolate, many priests and Church leaders, lay or clerical, have no time to pray, to be soaked in the love of God.  As a result, ministry becomes a means to find love and acceptance, not a channel to share the love of God in them.  When we need lots of appreciation and recognition from others, it shows clearly that the motivation of ministry is not the love of God in us but a means to fulfill our need to be loved by our people.  When we make use of people to satisfy our emptiness then we end up frustrated and unfulfilled.  So the lack of interior life is the cause of ineffective ministry and commitment to the people of God, and the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are compromised.

Fourthly, commitments are difficult because we lack role models.  The irony is that many of the role models given to us in the world, whether world leaders, corporate or political, and the movie stars, are divorced and have been unfaithful to relationships and their spouse.  The media today presents such infidelities as something acceptable and not just condoned.  They consider such matters in relationship as private and nothing to do with society.  So our young people today have few models to give them the strength to remain faithful in relationships when they see so much cheating all the time.  This is made worse when such people often come from broken families and single parentage.  Not only are they without role models of fidelity in relationship but they are not capable of commitment themselves.  At any rate, today, loyalty is no more a virtue as in the past.   The world rewards you for the profits that you bring into the company; not your loyalty to the company.  The world is not concerned with upholding values but what brings in money.  The bottom line is profits, not morality and justice.

Today, we are called to learn from the example of Jesus and Elijah.  Commitment calls for total surrender.   Unless we surrender ourselves totally, we cannot speak of commitment.  Jesus was totally committed to His Father and for this reason, He lived a life of integrity.  He was true to Himself and as the gospel tells us, He has no fear of man.   He was true to His Father and therefore true to Himself.

In the same way too, we read how Elisha responded to the call of Elijah to be a prophet.  “Elijah came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him.”  This was a sign of election.  Initially, Elisha was hesitant about this choice.  He was not ready to give up his family and his trade.  He told Elijah, “’Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. Elijah answered, ‘Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?’”  The answer is clear: if Elisha is not ready, then he might just as well forget about the call.  The commitment that Elijah wanted was a decisive commitment.  With that we read that “Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.”   To kill the oxen and to use the plough for cooking is a sign of total surrender, commitment and a break from the old way of life.  There is no question of turning back or falling back on something that one has.

This is the kind of commitment that the Lord asks of us.  It must be decisive, total and immediate.  This is why religious are expected to take the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity when they commit themselves to the Lord.  Unfortunately, many do not even live these vows in fact, or even in spirit.   Many of us no longer take these vows seriously as in the olden days.  Consequently, today, we are called to search our hearts.

In the final analysis, commitment is only possible when we can say with the psalmist, “You are my inheritance, O Lord.  Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you. I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God.’ O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup; it is you yourself who are my prize.”  Only when God is our true inheritance and when we recognize Him as the ultimate security in our lives, we cannot give that commitment to the Lord and to our fellowmen.  Only those who know that the Lord is the one who can give them life, will turn to Him for direction and for consolation, like the psalmist who prayed, “I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel, who even at night directs my heart. I keep the Lord ever in my sight: since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.”  Without a commitment to the Lord, our commitment to our fellowmen is weak.  Let us once more turn to the Lord for strength in our commitment, for the Lord Himself is faithful to His covenant and His love for us. God is the faithful One even when we are unfaithful.   Indeed, His fidelity was shown to our Lord Jesus Christ at His death, as the psalmist says, “And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad; even my body shall rest in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay.”  So let us trust in the Lord who is faithful to His anointed ones and those whom He loves.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

Written by The Most Rev William Goh

Commentary on Matthew 5:33-37 By Living Space

Sermon on the Mount (cont’d):

Today’s third example of Jesus’ “filling out” the meaning of the Law is based on the instruction, “You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord.” In the book of Numbers we read: “If a man makes a vow to Yahweh or takes a formal pledge under oath, he must not break his word: whatever he promises by word of mouth he must do” (Numbers 3:30).

Jesus goes far beyond this requirement. He simply tells us to stop making oaths altogether. The true follower of Christ does not need to take oaths or to swear on anything, however sacred, to guarantee the truth of his words. “All you need say is ‘Yes’ if you mean ‘Yes’, ‘No’ if you mean ‘No’.”

The Christian should be a person of known integrity. He can be taken at his word and no further guarantee is required. It is nice to be known as such a person. Truth should be our second name.

Sometimes, of course, people may not be entitled to the whole truth. In fact, honour may require us even to sacrifice our life rather than reveal something that might put another person in danger but we should never be guilty of positively deceiving another.


Lectio Divina from the Carmelites

Reflection• In today’s Gospel, Jesus rereads the commandment: “Do not commit perjury”. And here also he surpasses the letter, concerning the spirit of the law and seeks to indicate the last objective of this commandment: to attain total transparency in the relationship among persons. Here we can apply what we said concerning the two commandments “Do not kill” and “Do not commit adultery”. It is a question of a new way of interpreting and setting into practice the law of Moses, starting from the new experience of God Father/Mother which Jesus has brought to us. He rereads the law beginning with the intention which God had in proclaiming it centuries ago on Mount Sinai.


Matthew 5, 33: It was said to our ancestors: you must not swear. The Law of the Old Testament said: “Do not commit perjury” And it added that the person should swear for the Lord (cf. Nb 20, 2). In the prayer of the Psalms it is said that “one can go up to the Mountain of Yahweh and reach the holy place, if he does not have innocent hands and a pure heart, and does not confide in idols, nor swears in order to deceive”(Ps 24, 4)..The same thing is said in diverse other points of the Old Testament (Ecl 5, 3-4), because one must be able to trust the words of others. In order to favour this reciprocal trust, tradition had invented the help of the oath. In order to strengthen one’s own word, the person would swear for someone or for something which was greater than he and who could punish him if he did not fulfil what he had promised.


Things continue to be like this up to the present time. Whether in the Church or in society, there are some moments and occasions which demand a solemn oath on the part of persons. In last instance, the oath is the expression of the conviction according to which nobody can trust completely the word of the other.

• Matthew 5, 34-36: But I say to you: do not swear. Jesus wants to heal this deficiency. It is not sufficient “not to swear”. He goes beyond and affirms: “But I say to you: do not swear at all: either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by earth, since that is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is ‘Yes if you mean yes, ‘No’ if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One”.

They would swear for heaven and for earth, for the city of Jerusalem, for their own head. Jesus shows that all that is medicine which does not cure the pain and suffering of the lack of transparency in the relationship among persons. Which is the solution which he proposes?

• Matthew 5, 37: Let your speech be yes, yes; no, no. The solution which God proposes is the following: Let your speech be yes, yes; no, no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One”. He proposes a radical and total honesty. Nothing more. Anything more that you say comes from the Evil One. Here again, we are confronted with an objective which will always remain in our mind and which we will never succeed in fulfilling it completely.


It is another expression of the new ideal of justice which Jesus proposes: “to be perfect like the Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5, 48). Jesus uproots any attempt to create in myself the conviction that I am saved because I observe the law. Nobody can merit God’s grace. Because otherwise it would not be a grace. We observe the Law, not in order to merit salvation, but in order to thank with all our heart, for the immense gratuitous goodness of God who accepts us, and saves us without any merit on our part.

Personal questions

• How do I observe the law?

• Have I experienced some time in my life the gratuitous goodness of God?

Concluding Prayer

I bless Yahweh who is my counsellor,
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep Yahweh before me always,
for with him at my right hand, nothing can shake me.
(Ps 16,7-8)