The Drug Report

Facts about what can go wrong when people use drugs

  • The Best Drug Info Ever?

    A big part of my inspiration for The Drug Report was Beth Pearce's amazing film, VOICE OF THE VICTIMS: TRUE STORIES OF ECSTASY AND KETAMINE. The film simply lets the victims of drug tragedies tell their stories. It's real life, it's undeniable, and it's incredibly powerful. I'm sure Beth has saved many, many lives, and it is my hope that this blog will do so as well. To learn more about her film, go to Voice Of The Victims.


    A friend of mine likes to say, "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."

    When it comes to drugs, there are lots of opinions out there: Some think drugs are safe and fun, some think they're dangerous and frightening, and many think everything in between.

    But facts are facts, and when someone dies from drugs, or someone is murdered by a person who is on drugs, or is raped by someone who has given them drugs, that's just a fact. Drug users who actively promote drug use rail against these facts, and I expect they'll be commenting regularly on The Drug Report. But they can't change the facts.

Bentler Charged With Family’s Murder

Posted by Laer on October 21, 2006

Shawn Bentler has been charged with murdering his mother, father and three sisters. 

No motive has been released, althought Bentler has also been charged with possession of drug paraphrenalia.

Here’s a chilling report from a local paper in Iowa:

A 22-year-old man has been charged with murdering his parents and three teenage sisters at their home in southeastern Iowa, a sheriff’s office said Sunday.

Shawn Bentler is accused of gunning down five family members and faces five counts of first-degree murder, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office said. He is being held on a $2.5 million bond at the Adams County jail in Quincy, Ill.

The victims were found early Saturday near Bonaparte, according to the sheriff’s office. They were identified as Michael Bentler, 53; his wife, Sandra, 47; and their daughters Sheena, 17; Shelby, 15; and Shayne, 14. Autopsies were planned for Sunday.

The sheriff’s office said that it received a 911 call from Shayne Bentler at 3:38 a.m. Saturday and that she told the dispatcher her brother was “going to do something.”

According to sheriff’s documents regarding the 911 tape, a gunshot is heard in the background and someone screams, “Shawn, no!” The line then goes dead.

Authorities said they received a second 911 call at the same time from the cell phone of Sandra Bentler. That call went unanswered.

The family has been laid to rest. The son awaits trial in jail.

Were drugs a factor in this story? I don’t know and won’t speculate, but I will certainly continue to follow the story.


Posted in Charges & Trials, Crimes | 1 Comment »

Addicted Pharmacist’s Mistake Kills Man

Posted by Laer on October 21, 2006

Walgreen’s pharmacist James Wilmes had a bad habit. He routinely slipped OxyContin and hydrocodone from stock and popped it. He’d done it for years. In a word, he was an addict.

His addiction just caught up with him, the way addictions often do. The Chicago Sun Post picks up the story:

Walgreens must pay $31 million to the loved ones of a 79-year-old Schaumburg man who died after being given the wrong prescription from a drug-using pharmacist.

Leonard Kulisek slipped into a coma a day after taking the wrong medication and suffered through a series of illnesses over the next 22 months before he died.

Pharmacist James Wilmes admitted he’d been popping OxyContin and hydrocodone for eight years, stealing the pills from the Walgreens stock he managed, and jurors said they believe he was under the influence on the day he gave Kulisek the wrong medication. …

Kulisek was supposed to get a pill for gout, but Wilmes instead gave him an insulin pill that dropped his blood-sugar levels dramatically, putting him into a coma and causing him kidney troubles.

Kulisek filed his lawsuit while he was still alive.

“Walgreens tells you they’re the pharmacy America trusts,” said Kulisek’s attorney, David Axelrod. “But you really can’t trust them.”

Jurors said they believed Kulisek’s deteriorating health was caused by the wrong prescription and contributed to his death, saying Walgreens’ failure to catch Wilmes’ thefts and signs of addiction played a role in their verdict.

Wilmes admitted he stole 86,000 pills in his career.

Of course, drugs didn’t make Wilmes kill Kulisek. They just made it possible for him to do so, but altering his perception of reality.

Could a similar mistake have happened if Wilmes wasn’t an addict? Certainly. But he was an addict and that made his fatal mistake a $31 million one.

The paper goes on to report that Wilmes was fired by Walgreens, has gone through rehap and continues work as a pharmacist, under probation. That’s worrisome, like an alcoholic working as a bartender.

Posted in Charges & Trials, Crimes, Prescription drugs | Leave a Comment »

OxyContin, Xanax Leave Teen Ruined

Posted by Laer on October 21, 2006

Justin Palmer used to be just another 19 year-old.  Now he’s a very special one … but not in a good way:

On March 12, he left the house of his mother, Elayne Walters, in the Berkeley neighborhood to go to a party. On the way, he bought OxyContin, a strong pain reliever similar to morphine, and took the drug a few hours later with Xanax, an anti-anxiety medicine.

His friends found him in the morning.

The lack of oxygen ravaged his respiratory system. He spent a month in a coma. Friends and former teachers poured into the hospital.

Eventually, he opened his eyes. Sometimes they tracked his little brothers around the room. He made clucking noises.Walters asked the doctors what they called her son’s condition.They used phrases like persistent vegetative state.

Palmer is improving — slowly, with lots of pain and lots of work.

Palmer lists all the things he can now do. His right arm — once frozen against his chest — can raise a sandwich to his mouth. Or a drink. Even comb his hair and brush his teeth.And, look, he says, wiggling his left thumb. Four weeks ago, he could barely make it twitch.He’s relearning social skills, like not interrupting people when they’re speaking. He has developed the curious habit of asking women who pass by how old they are.

But he worries about his legs. On Wednesday, for the first time, he shared his fears with his mother.

“What if I never walk again?” he asked.

Walters told him, “God didn’t bring you this far to stop here.”

And he has a continuing fear, that another teenager will think that prescription drugs are safe and don’t pose the threat of street drugs. To them, a word of advice:

“Don’t do drugs,” Palmer says, slowly and clearly. He raises his right fingers and gestures at the body frozen in his wheelchair. “Look.”

Posted in Prescription drugs | Leave a Comment »

“I Made a Mess of Myself”

Posted by Laer on October 21, 2006

Of all the drugs covered in The Drug Report none is as potentially lethal as alcohol.  Long-term it can kill by attacking the liver; short-term it can cause comas and death.

And then there’s the tried and true way alcohol kills — the drunk driving crash.  Here’s a story that’s poignant and all too comment, from The State (Columbia SC):

The Pelion High School auditorium was still as Brandon Silveria described how his life changed after he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his car into a tree in 1987 after drinking with friends.

He was in a coma for several months and then had to relearn how to swallow, walk, talk and think. He has permanent brain damage that causes violent seizures and memory problems.

“I made a mess out of myself by making a stupid choice,” he said. …

Halfway through the presentation, they showed a video featuring pictures of Brandon Silveria from before the accident and his recovery.

Silveria was a senior in high school at the time and had just learned he would receive a full athletics scholarship to Boston College, Tony Silveria said. He was popular, dated a beautiful girl, played football and enjoyed surfing with his friends.

Tony Silveria encouraged the teens to consider not only how their choices would affect their lives, but how they would change their families’ lives.

To date, Brandon Silveria’s medical bills total at least $3 million, his father said.

Brandon and his dad now tour the country talking to high school kids?  They listen to his brain-injured voice, described as sounding like a tape recording on slow and think, “What if it were me?”

Scare tactics?  No, I’d call it reality tactics.

Posted in Alcohol | 1 Comment »

Ketamine Floods Into BC

Posted by Laer on October 21, 2006

Police in British Columbia are worried about the sudden appearance of Ketamine on the streets of western Canada — for good reason. 

Recent police intelligence indicates that Ketamine is fast becoming a popular street/club drug throughout the province. Police say a significant Ketamine bust in Richmond at the end of September — in which 28 kilograms of the drug was seized along with several firearms — indicates organized crime involvement.

Ketamine is used by doctors and vets to knock out patients for surgery.  As such, it is carefully applied by specialists — vets or anaesthologists — under controlled situations.  On the street … well, let’s just say controls are not quite so good.

If you want to see first hand what can go wrong if a person inadvertently overdoses on Ketamine, watch the Erin Rose clip at Voice of the Victims

While you’re there, please buy a set.  Beth Pearce tells me she’d like to do another film — this one covering DXM, GHB and alcohol — and your purchase will help her achieve that goal.

Posted in Ketamine | Leave a Comment »

Why do I Delete Some Comments?

Posted by Laer on October 15, 2006

My frequent commentor is angry that I often delete his comments.  He asks:

The censorship on this site is a bit harsh. Instead of just deleting my posts, why not respond to them?

What do you see as the purpose of this site? Is it to prevent young people from trying drugs, users from coming off drugs, scaring parents into scaring their children into not trying drugs?

I do not allow comments to be posted on this site that support drug use.  When you say you’ve done Ecstasy for 10 years or whatever with no ill effect, I delete it because it promotes drug use.  Also, since I don’t know you, I can’t verify whether there are no ill effects or not.

I also do not post your comments that give statistics because I don’t run stats on this site; it’s not about stats, it’s about the tragedies behind the stats.  The degree of risk doesn’t matter if you’re dead or your child is dead. 

The purpose of this site is simple:  It runs news on drug tragedies so people have access to this information.  They might use it for their own purposes to resist peer pressure to use drugs.  They might use it to help their kids understand the possible consequences of drug use.  They might be drug counselors or teachers looking for examples to use in their work.

The site does not deal with “drug politics,” like legality, it doesn’t report drug stats and it certainly doesn’t report any stories that might tempt someone to try drugs. The reason is simple:  The focus here is sharp.

Posted in Comment Policy | 2 Comments »

Hints of Drugs in Family’s Slaying

Posted by Laer on October 14, 2006

Three teenage sisters, Sheena, Shelby and Shayne Bentler are dead — murdered — along with their parents, Michael and Sandra.

The only surviver of the Bonaparte, Iowa family is son Shawn, 24.

AP reports that he was arrested less than 60 miles away and charged with an unrelated crime — possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police are calling Shawn a suspect in the murder, but it’s obviously too early to draw conclusions.  The description of Shawn in the Des Moines Register doesn’t hint at trouble:

Shawn Bentler also spent time at his dad’s side at the family business, said Dustin Troutman, 22, who has known Shawn since preschool and was a classmate in high school.

Shawn was a popular guy, had lots of friends, and was living in Quincy, Ill. with another classmate from Harmony High. He was learning a house design program that he had shown Dustin Troutman on his laptop.

Dustin’s mom, Peggy Troutman, who owns the Bonaparte Mercantile, said Shawn Bentler often popped into her store to say hello. “I’ve never seen him mad,” she said. “He’s always in a good mood when I’ve seen him.”

He always had a different girlfriend, she said. “He was quite the ladies’
man,” she said.

Other friends said Shawn Bentler has fathered two children.

We’ll see what unfolds.

Posted in Charges & Trials | Leave a Comment »

Why Drug Death Counts may be Under-Reported

Posted by Laer on October 13, 2006

In the story about Kai X, the young man killed by oxycontin profiled below, there was in interesting passage:

The drug problem in this area is not exaggerated. In fact, it is understated.

Drug deaths often do not make the news as drug deaths. In the newspapers, we read only that a young man or woman has been found dead and that foul play is not suspected.

By the time a toxicology report comes back four months later, the death is old news, especially if it does not involve a prominent person or a separate crime. Unless we know the family, we never make a positive link between the death and drugs.

But ask most young people working around town. They know the real score. Drugs are readily available, their friends are doing them, and they can rattle off the names of those who have died because of it.

If people knew the real death toll of drugs, do you think it would make a difference?  I would hope so.

Posted in Prescription drugs | 1 Comment »

Oxycontin Snuffs Out A Young Life

Posted by Laer on October 13, 2006

The story in the Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune seems all too routine:

Kai Hoeckel was dead. He was found one morning last week, cold to the touch, lying on a futon at his father’s home in Grove City.

The toxicology report is not back yet, but there’s a good chance the prescription drug OxyContin killed him.  He was 23. 

Of course it’s not routine — anything but.  It’s the death of a real person who has people who loved him … who still love him … who will forever miss him.

There’s no bringing Kai Hoeckel back.   And there’s no foolproof manual telling us how to comfort his mother or make ourselves feel better or where to go from here.

Maybe his death will spur a flurry of action that will save someone else. That’s about the best we can hope for.

And, [his mom Carroll] Swayze sees a lesson in her personal tragedy.  “You have to see the good in every day,” she says. “Savor every moment. I don’t think people realize what they have.

A friend called from Virginia Beach the other night. ‘What do you want me to do?’ she asked. “I said, ‘Just go hug your son.'” 

Good advice … and talk to your kid, too.  Share this story with them.

Posted in Prescription drugs | 1 Comment »

Drugs Lead to Coma and a New Life

Posted by Laer on October 13, 2006

Corey Haughn has the unfortunate job of being the poster boy for everything that’s wrong with taking massive amounts of drugs and alcohol.  He speaks (as well as he can) to kids, begging them not to follow in his footsteps (or wheel chair tracks).

Here’s what he took, according to the Tulsa World:  more than 20 tablets of Xanax, countless bottles of liquor and several doses of methadone over a three-day period .  Corey says he wasn’t trying to kill himself, rather:

“I was just working on a ‘really good’ high.”

Aaarrgggh!  How come so many kids think it’s just fine to take such an insane amount of drugs? 

Here’s what Corey’s life is like today:

“I wasn’t supposed to come out of that coma. I was supposed to be brain dead,” Haughn said. “Once I woke up, doctors said I would be lucky to have the brain capacity of a lizard.”

A drug-induced stroke had caused his coma, his family realized, and the journey to recovery was going to be a tough one.

Today, the now 20-year-old is partially paralyzed and lives in a Glenpool nursing home. He wheels himself around in his wheelchair.

He dresses like any other young man his age: Jeans, green-and-white striped golf shirt, sports shoes.

He looks people in the eye when he speaks to them, but he speaks softly. His handshake is confident but without force.

When he speaks, he struggles to breathe and sometimes wheezes. Verbalizing his thoughts takes longer than it used to.

If you doubt this description, watch the clip of Erin Rose at Voice of the Victims.  And consider this — it was one “normal” dose of Ketamine that put Erin into her coma — not a three-day-long dope-and-booze-athon.

Please, please buy the two Voice of the Victims videos.  It’s only $25 for the set, and it is the best tool you can find.

Posted in Alcohol, Ketamine, Methadone | Leave a Comment »

Dealer Charged in Death of a Dad

Posted by Laer on October 9, 2006

Prosecution of drug dealers should become a deterrent to dealing potentially deadly drugs.  Here’s another case of a dealer being charged in the death of one of his customers:

A federal grand jury has charged a former nightclub host with selling cocaine and methadone to a businessman who died from an overdose.

Brandon Erwin, 29, used to work part-time at Blue Martini, a nightclub in the swanky International Plaza mall. Federal authorities allege in court papers that Erwin arranged ecstasy and methadone sales at the bar.

Among Erwin’s customers, authorities say, was Andrew Culver, 25, a father of two who worked recruiting accountants. Culver died in November.

An autopsy concluded Culver died of intoxication from the combined effects of cocaine and methadone, said Dick Bailey, operations manager for the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office.

If you deal drugs, take this into consideration.  Do you want to be a murderer?  Do you want to serve time in prison?

If you use drugs, please don’t mix them!

Posted in Charges & Trials, Ecstasy, Methadone | 2 Comments »

Deadly Cocaine in Newcastle?

Posted by Laer on October 9, 2006

This post will generate many comments demanding that drugs be legalized; I will post none of them because the purpose of The Drug Report is to alert people of drug dangers, not to discuss drug policy issues.

According to the Newcastle (England) Evening Chronicle, drug users in the Newcastle area must be on the alert — there may be a batch of deadly cocaine in the city. 

Tests are being carried out today to discover if killer drugs are for sale on the streets.

It’s feared a rogue batch of cocaine is to blame for the death of a teenager and has left a woman fighting for life.  Mark Brown, 18, died in Newcastle General Hospital, his death comes as it emerged a person is being killed by drugs in the North East every week.

Mark, of Dove Close, Killingworth, North Tyneside, was one of three people admitted to hospital over the last few days showing similar symptoms of drugs misuse.

A 27-year-old woman, also from North Tyneside, is in a critical condition and a 22-year-old from Hebburn, has been discharged from hospital after treatment.  All three were initially admitted to North Tyneside General.

Police said initial drugs analysis had proved inconclusive and further tests will be carried out today.  It is understood Mark had suffered delayed signs of paralysis as aresult of the adverse reaction to the drugs.

Please be careful!

Posted in Cocaine | 1 Comment »

More Evidence of Rave Violence

Posted by Laer on October 9, 2006

This is not a huge point to me, but a frequent commentor regularly argues that Raves are violence-free, or close to it.  I question such generalities.  Here is documentation of aggravated robberies at a recent rave in Sydney, from AAP Newsfeed:

Police arrested and charged 24 people for possession of drugs or supplying drugs at a dance party in Homebush Bay.

Another six women were charged with aggravated robbery after two patrons were assaulted and had their tickets and money stolen.

Police said they searched 93 people at the event, Prophecy – Chaos Theory – Dance Party, held at the Acer Arena at Olympic Park last night.

Posted in Charges & Trials, Ecstasy | 5 Comments »

Drug Mix Kills Teen

Posted by Laer on October 4, 2006

A tough life has ended in a tragic death:

A Probe into childcare services at a county council is under way after a teenager in care died from a drugs overdose. The body of Miles Shanks, 15, was found on a derelict industrial site, close to Northampton town centre, on June 17.

The teenager, said to be from Erewash but whose family lived in Old Basford until earlier this year, had been placed in foster care by Derbyshire County Council. …

A pathologist report, which is likely to be a key focus of the council’s inquiry, revealed Miles Shanks died from choking on his own vomit and the toxic effects of drugs MDMA, ecstasy and cocaine.

At the time of his death, Miles was living with a foster family in West Hunsbury, Northampton. He had spent a large part of his life in care.

The report is from the Nottingham Evening Post, whose reporters apparently don’t understand that MDMA is ecstasy.

Posted in Cocaine, Ecstasy | 4 Comments »

Midshipman Charged with Drug Rapes

Posted by Laer on October 4, 2006

Family and friends have attended the US Naval Academy at Anapolis, so I have a great deal of respect for the school.  But not all there is top-rate:

The Naval Academy has charged a former football player with drugging and raping two female midshipmen on separate occasions, including at a party attended by at least four teammates.

Kenny Ray Morrison, 24, is accused of raping one woman in a Georgetown hotel room at the rowdy, boozy party Feb. 4, and the other in Annapolis on April 21, according to charging documents. …

According to charging documents, which offer no details about the Annapolis incident, Morrison gave both of his alleged victims gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, also known as GHB, without their knowledge. It is a common date-rape drug that is also used recreationally.

As a midshipman, Morrison will be tried before a courts martial, the rules of which stipulate life in prison if he’s found guilty of rape.

Posted in Charges & Trials, GHB | 1 Comment »