U.N. Report Suggests Some Autism and Addiction Treatments Are Akin to Torture

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TIME
By Maia Szalavitz, March 06, 2013

So-called treatments for drug users and the disabled in some places of the world—including the U.S.— are far from helpful, says a new United Nations (U.N.) report.

The U.N. special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, presented the report to the agency’s Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, and says that some practices used to treat autism and addiction are “tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

The report [PDF] singled out tactics such as forced labor, punitive use of electric shock, prolonged restraint and isolation, rape and other sexual violence in detention, as well as and denial of maintenance medications like methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone) in treating addiction. It also reported on failures to provide adequate pain treatment as potentially constituting torture. Even when these practices fall short of outright torture and are merely “ill treatment,” they should be banned in health settings because they “frequently facilitate torture,” the report says.


Citing accounts from human rights organizations on centers in Asia where drug users and homeless people are rounded up for “treatment,” the special rapporteur details sickening abuses including “tate-sanctioned beatings, caning or whipping, forced labour, sexual abuse and intentional humiliation,” and ‘flogging therapy,’ ‘bread and water therapy’ and electroshock resulting in seizures, all in the guise of rehabilitation.”

The report notes that these “[c]ompulsory treatment programmes that consist primarily of physical disciplinary exercises, often including military-style drills, disregard medical evidence.” Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) say that that simple incarceration and forced labor are not “recognized by science as treatments for drug use disorders.”

While the U.S. does not place drug users in brutal work camps without trials— as has been documented in countries like Vietnam, Laos and China— there are some American correctional boot camps, rehabilitation centers and treatment facilities for the disabled and mentally ill that rely on tactics Mendez wants banned.

The U.N. report also criticizes more widespread treatment approaches used in the U.S. Many treatment programs — including those demonstrated on television by Dr. Drew in programs like Celebrity Rehab and Sober House — oppose the use of long term maintenance with methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone), which are considered among the most effective treatments for heroin or painkiller addiction.

“A particular form of ill-treatment and possibly torture of drug users is the denial of opiate substitution treatment,” the report says, noting that this is considered a human rights violation when done in jails and prisons. “Similar reasoning should apply to the non-custodial context,” it says, meaning that provision of such treatment should be required when desired by patients and where evidence suggests it would help. Some countries — like Russia — completely ban the use of maintenance treatments, despite the fact that they have been shown to cut overdose deaths dramatically. American prisons also routinely deny access to maintenance medications, citing concerns about inmates selling them, which puts them in violation of these human rights.

“I think this is the most powerful U.N. statement calling denial of opioid substitution treatment a denial of the right to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” says Rebecca Schleifer of Human Rights Watch, which exposed many of the international treatment abuses.

continued: http://healthland.time.com/2013/03/...ism-addiction-treatments-are-akin-to-torture/
 
Great article!

“A particular form of ill-treatment and possibly torture of drug users is the denial of opiate substitution treatment,” the report says, noting that this is considered a human rights violation when done in jails and prisons. “Similar reasoning should apply to the non-custodial context,” it says, meaning that provision of such treatment should be required when desired by patients and where evidence suggests it would help. Some countries — like Russia — completely ban the use of maintenance treatments, despite the fact that they have been shown to cut overdose deaths dramatically. American prisons also routinely deny access to maintenance medications, citing concerns about inmates selling them, which puts them in violation of these human rights.

I'm glad they said this.
 
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Yea absolutely one of the report's highlights. And regarding mental institutions, kinda timely considering how we were kind of talking about this subject the other day :) even if the bottom line seemed to be, such as in your ex's place, that those who need help most find themselves, at best, stuck between a rock and a hard place (not to mention how it can place their loved ones in similar circumstances)!

Anywho, glad to hear you approve capt'n ;)
 
I hope in 50 years the future generation is able to look back on the war on drugs and just shake their heads, much like how we look back on lobotomies and spraying children with DDT in disbelief.

The grief and human suffering that the DEA (and its UN offshoot) have caused is enormous.
 
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Lobotomies and like "treatments" are still more common than one might think, although I agree with your post in its entirety. If you live in or ever visit Los Angeles, you must absolutely take an hour or two to visit the (and this is a much more interesting website related to the museum than it's official one, as the official one is kinda deceptive as to who paid for the museum, although this doesn't totally de-legitimatize the museum's focus/purpose)

And, lest we forget, in the words of Mark Twain, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
 
I've heard tales of sticking an autistic man in a long term care facility in the QT or isolation room for a week where he basically urinated on himself. No human contact, while he "settled down."

Or so the story goes at least.

I mean, shit, I was left to brain rot locked in a room for what seemed liked forever in a psychotic state, alone.

Damn straight that's not healthcare. Its bloody torture. At least with torture they have the bloody decency to put a bullet in your head after they are done with you.
 
This is pretty much exactly what I would expect - most of it is well known anyway, but at least it is being acknowledged as wrong and called what it is here. That might not mean much now, but it could eventually help change things if enough attention is focused on the problem. If there is ever enough outrage or opposition to this kind of treatment and withholding of helpful treatment, it will eventually bring about change - it may take a long time and be of no help to anyone now, but could prevent it from happening to more people some time in the future.

The mentally ill are treated quite badly in some places in the USA - this is not even drug users I am talking about. I've been to an institution where it seemed that everyone was treated bad to some extent and the only thing they did was medicate patients and keep them locked up like prisoners - no talk therapy and very limited recreational or mentally stimulating activity. During much of the day, even the limited amount of activities provided to patients were taken away and patients had to just sit in a lobby with nothing to do but talk to each other or try to sleep (mostly on the floor).

That said, I spent a short time in another place (I did not really need to be there, it was just a misunderstanding) that was very good and helpful to anyone who needed it - always someone to talk to and I did not see anyone treated badly that I can recall.
 
Once when I was in a psych hospital they said it's time to go to bed and I said no, I don't want to go to bed, so they got a team of about 6 to rush me and physically drag me to a 'seclusion room' where they left me there for about 7 hours, watching me on a video camera. I wasn't told about any seclusion room so I had no idea what was going on and it added to the fear. I also got attacked by a male nurse for spitting on him. Yes I know I shouldn't have spat on him but I was crazy at the time. They had to have 8 people stand out my room around that point because I kept trying to break the doors down lol. I remember they kept giving me shots of loads of drugs but I kept going and going and going. It wasn't until they gave me something called acuphase that I decided to stop. Another time one of the nurses decided she just didn't like me and remember as she was serving me my food she told me she hoped I would choke on it and die. When I tried to make a complaint the nurses pretty much intimidated me out of going ahead with it.

I have fantasies about going back there to find those nurses and telling them how I feel.
 
Foreigner;11388853 said:
I hope in 50 years the future generation is able to look back on the war on drugs and just shake their heads, much like how we look back on lobotomies and spraying children with DDT in disbelief.

The grief and human suffering that the DEA (and its UN offshoot) have caused is enormous.

My feelings exactly.
I would add that we may see the end of the drug war as similar to women getting the right to vote, people of all skin colors getting to go to the same schools, and gay people being allowed to marry. Like those, it is an issue of fundamental human freedom. Nature, or God, or someone put me on this earth, so how dare the government say that certain plants/chemicals that nature/God/Zeus put here are illegal? Pathetic.
 
I would like to hear Political science major and Bl member Mariposa describe her opinion on this subject.
And then here her repeat that remark about BL member Glooek recieving ECT ( electric shock therapy ).
 
beagleboy;11394212 said:
Attn central NY suboxone adicts!
This one time i went to Oswego County Hospital Mental Helath facility Bunner St.
I had been abusing my Suboxone ( script for 12mg/day. I was doing 2x that/daily ) and then all of a sudden my prescribing physician goes on vacation for 2 weeks. I went to Bunner st, and i didnt have ANY withdrawls. I am a Scientologist ( I love Tom Cruise. Katie is a drug addict and has started to post on this website ) and the staff still treated me with kid gloves when I told them of my predictiment.
I had previously when Prescribing Physician went on anothe rvacation for a few weeks suffered from the worst withdrawls EVER.

I think you meant to post this in NaSADD.
 
Definitely agree with the article for the most part. I think it's pretty fucked how ignorant 99% of the population is about things like opiate addiction. It's never in the news or pop culture or in any way talked about seriously. Forcing a junkie into rehab or jail is, like they said, torture. Kicking a heavy opiate habit can be just about the worse torture thought up by mankind.

However I'm sort of conflicted, I mean, junkies do put themselves in that position to some degree.

Then again, like I said, there are very, very few people out there who understand that opiate withdrawal is more than just a craving for drugs, much more
 
Mendez also cites denial of access to pain treatment as a torturous practice in health care settings. According to the WHO, 83% of the world’s population has little or no access to treatment for severe pain with the most effective medications like morphine, even at the end of life. Poor and middle income countries house half the world’s cancer patients and 95% of all new HIV cases, but only use 6% of the world’s supply of morphine. “Failure to ensure access to controlled medicines for the relief of pain and suffering threatens fundamental rights to health and to protection against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” the report says.

I've been through this type of treatment myself. In Hong Kong I had my wisdom tooth removed in what I found to be incredibly painful way. I was not knocked out with anesthetics instead I was given a local anesthesia and kept wide awake during the entire procedure which I found incredibly uncomfortable and painful despite the local anesthetics. Afterwords I expected at least vicodin or percocet for the pain but the strongest medication they would give me was tramadol and when I asked for something stronger they treated me like I was looking to score a high or something. Basically I was treated like an addict for wanting stronger pain medications for my pain. Even my parents thought I was acting like an addict trying to score a fix when I asked them if they could ask the doctor for something stronger for me since my Cantonese wasn't that good at the time.

I was absolutely stunned that the strongest medication available to me was only tramadol considering the amount of pain I was in and found it unbelievable when they didn't put me under during the removal procedure itself. There is such a stigma associated with any type of opiate use in China (and well the rest of Asia really) that even when they are needed doctors are unwilling to prescribe them. I guess given the history of opiate use in China (what with the opium wars and everything) it is somewhat understandable. But I was in legitimate need of pain meds and they outright refused to give me any and treated my behavior as those of a junky trying to score a fix rather than a patient in genuine need or pain relief. There needs to be a change in how people view pain medications in Asia and in other parts of the world as well.
 
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slimvictor;11392325 said:
My feelings exactly.
I would add that we may see the end of the drug war as similar to women getting the right to vote, people of all skin colors getting to go to the same schools, and gay people being allowed to marry. Like those, it is an issue of fundamental human freedom. Nature, or God, or someone put me on this earth, so how dare the government say that certain plants/chemicals that nature/God/Zeus put here are illegal? Pathetic.

I too agree wholeheartedly with Foreigner's post there. But I'd temper my optimism a bit. The situation of women generally has GREATLY improved since 1900, let alone 1800 etc. That said, what about women of color? (I am not a woman, though, not that that would change anything.) We still seem like we're required to conform to an archetypical sort of culture and society, progress aside.
 
slimvictor;11392325 said:
My feelings exactly.
I would add that we may see the end of the drug war as similar to women getting the right to vote, people of all skin colors getting to go to the same schools, and gay people being allowed to marry. Like those, it is an issue of fundamental human freedom. Nature, or God, or someone put me on this earth, so how dare the government say that certain plants/chemicals that nature/God/Zeus put here are illegal? Pathetic.

quality post
 
i came off of two years of suboxone maintenance and it was fucking horrible.... coming off subs was damn near the end of me psychologically emotionally and at the beginning physically.......... so i dont know how awesome subs really are....

and i also think its a bit of a jump to compare denial of sub maintenance to electroshock, forced labor, and sexual abuse....
i really dont think sub maintenance is necessarily always the best route.... now people get to compare themselves to someone who is thrown in a concentration camp of sorts just because they werent given suboxone
 
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