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TUESDAY, MARCH 6, 2000202/307-0703


WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new issues paper from the Justice Department's Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Project at the American University addresses the effects of alcohol on persons who have been addicted to other substances. The paper is part of the continuing Drug Courts Resource Series, and was prepared as a summary overview for drug court practitioners.

The paper, which examines the underlying physiological, sociological, and psychological foundation for prohibiting persons addicted to controlled substances from using alcohol, is intended to provide an overview for drug court officials in order to assist them in working with experts in the field to further address these issues in the design and operations of local drug courts programs. The paper was authored by John N. Marr, who heads Choices Unlimited in Las Vegas, Nevada. Choices Unlimited is a private organization that provides treatment services for Nevada's adult, juvenile, and family drug courts.

The paper, The Interrelationship Between the Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs, addresses the interaction of alcohol with other drugs as well as the effect of alcohol on the system of individuals who have been using controlled substances, even if they are currently abstinent.

The author cites the fact that many substance abuse treatment programs, probation departments, and courts place restrictions on alcohol consumption by persons under their care or jurisdiction for drug or alcohol-related offenses. Despite this fact, very little has been written in support of such policies for the drug court layperson not specially trained in addiction medicine.

The paper describes how the repeated introduction of alcohol and other drugs into the human neurological system affects the brain's ability to naturally release and replenish its chemical reservoirs, thus resulting in the person's inability to attain feelings of pleasure and well-being without using alcohol or other drugs. The author summarizes the physiological and clinical attributes of major categories of drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, sedatives-hypnotics, opiates, and hallucinogens, and their interaction with alcohol.

According to the author, alcohol, when taken by itself, has the effect of a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. However, when mixed with other drugs, alcohol can produce additional reactions, such as:

The paper also addresses frequently asked questions regarding this issue that have emerged from the drug court experience. Copies of The Interrelationship Between the Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs, as well as information about other Drug Court publications and programs are available through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Website at and from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), 2277 Research Boulevard, Rockville, Maryland 20850. The NCJRS Fax On Demand toll-free telephone number is 1-800/851-3420. Media should contact Sheila Jerusalem at OJP's Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.