Category Archives: Bizarre

Pakistani Clinic ‘Treats’ Drug Addicts With Beatings and Torture

Hashish addict Noor Rehman has spent three years chained to a concrete slab covered by insects.
Beaten and malnourished, he lost his eyesight in a “clinic” run by a Pakistani mullah claiming to cure addicts who were kept against their will and forced to recite the Koran.

“They treated us worse than animals,” the 30-something with a salt and pepper beard muttered among a room full of mullah Maulana Ilyas Qadri’s last remaining patients, all clapped in irons.

When police broke into the clinic last week in Haripur, a city built on a hill around 80 kilometres north of Islamabad, they found 115 ‘patients’ chained in pairs and shackled to the ground.

Most have now been freed and Qadri has been arrested, but around 20, including Noor, are waiting for their families to come and take them home.

The clinic’s methods fall on the more extreme end of the spectrum — even for Pakistan — but offers some insight into how the conservative Islamic nation deals with the taboo subject of drug addiction.

Observers say a lack of legal oversight allows such institutions as well as some mental asylums to become places where families can ‘do away’ with inconvenient relatives.

To prevent inmates from escaping and getting back on to drugs, Qadri left them permanently chained, day and night — except for a few precious moments to go to the bathroom, still chained to their partner.

If they uttered a word of complaint, they were beaten by the mullah and his four guards.

– ‘No therapy, just chains’ –

“They tortured us! By the end of it, patients developed mental issues,” said Noor, who lost his sight eight months ago after two years of confinement.

“It was due to psychological pressure and stress,” he said. Unhygienic conditions where an eye-infection would likely go untreated may have also played a part.

Noor’s brother took him to the centre after discovering his hashish addiction. But he could never imagine himself being imprisoned, let alone becoming handicapped as a result.

Like many other “patients” he blames his family — in this case his brother, who he accuses of leaving him at the centre so he could steal his lands.

Shafiullah, an Afghan refugee with a sinewy physique and bright, turquoise eyes, added: “There was no therapy here, just chains.

“The mullah lets us go out only when he wants our help in construction work. It was us who built these walls,” he said, still chained to a fellow patient.

Others said they were forced to cook and clean in the absence of staff.

Many became addicted to the widespread and — at 50 US cents a hit — cheap drug, with Pakistan a hub for opium smuggled in from neighboring Afghanistan since the 1980s.

Today, Pakistan has more than four million cannabis consumers and more than 860,000 heroin users, a figure which has doubled since 2000 according to a recent UN survey.

Many detoxification clinics offer primitive therapies. Some isolate their patients behind bars — but it is unusual for them to be deprived of their freedom.

– ‘Nothing to do with Islam’ –

A complaint by the family of one patient at Qadri’s clinic led to a police raid and his downfall. Locked up at Haripur police station, the incarcerated mullah continued to defend his controversial methods, even as he faces the prospect of jail time for torture and illegal confinement.

“I recite the Koran, then blow on water and give this water for drinking three times a day. Normally the addicts who stop using have the tendency to vomit and shake. But thanks to the Surah Yassin (a verse) they don’t have problems,” said the self-proclaimed healer.

“And then one week, without any medicine, they are better. Even in the top institutions you will never see this,” he boasted, while calling himself a victim of police corruption for failing to pay them a bribe.

“He chained us and beat us with a stick. This has nothing to do with Islam,” responded ex-patient Shafiullah.

The controversial mullah was previously arrested in 2006 for imprisoning patients in his clinic. But he was released under bail and then acquitted.

He then re-opened his centre where his shock therapy costs each family Rs8000 ($80) per month.

During family visits, patients were instructed to say “everything is okay, else they would be beaten” said Mehboob Khab, head of the police station where the Mullah is jailed.

But his controversial methods also found approval among many families.

“When he’s chained up, my son cannot escape. These chains are doing him good, and on top of it he has learnt to recite the Koran,” said a man called Sultan, who was outraged by the closure of the centre.

Niaz, who came to pick up his brother Lutuf, said the treatment was necessary. “My brother needed this severe treatment. Without it he would get back on the drugs.”

Lutuf stared blankly into space for a moment before responding.

“My brother doesn’t know the whole story. I know what happened here.”

Snail Venom Has Potential to Create Powerful New Painkillers

Though still in the research phase, the venom-filled treatment could produce a new class of drugs one hundred times more powerful than morphine.

Ocean-dwelling cone snails have become responsible for one of the most powerful drugs on the planet. Australian researchers have created a drug using venom from cone snails that is reportedly 100 times more powerful than morphine and “appeared to significantly reduce pain.”

The Sydney Morning Herald has noted that the still-unnamed drug doesn’t have the addictive components of other painkillers. The primary ingredient in the drug is conotoxin, a compound secreted by cone snails.

But as of now, it has only been tested on rats and a human trial is still two years away. “We don’t know about side effects yet, as it hasn’t been tested in humans. But we think it would be safe,” said lead researcher David Craik of the University of Queensland in Australia. The goal of the drug is to manage neuropathic pain, which affects 15 percent of the U.S. population and can arise from cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and other debilitating diseases.

Craik thinks that the venom-filled treatment could open up a “whole new class of drugs capable of relieving one of the most severe forms of chronic pain that is currently very difficult to treat.” A painkiller with conotoxin called ziconotide has already been approved for human use, but is not available in pill form and requires a spinal cord injection.

Zombie Beer Brewed With Real Brains

This brainy brew contains cranberries for carnivorous color and smoked goat brains for grisly flavor.

If you fancy yourself a zombie and would like to drink like one, then Dock Street Brewing Company has a beer for you. Their new brainy brew, Walker, is made with cranberries and real, actual brains.

Being fans of The Walking Dead, the brewing company wanted to pay homage to their favorite mindless hordes with a beer that’s infused with carefully roasted brains – goat brains, of course, since we aren’t real zombies yet – for a savory undead twist. The beer is also brewed with cranberries to give it a bloody hue to really help drinkers get in touch with their inner mindless cannibal.

The beer runs at about 7.2 percent alcohol by volume – about 50 percent more potent than most American beers – meaning it will turn drinkers into brainless, shambling shells of themselves in no time. Geek.com has pointed out that this is possibly the worst beer to drink during a zombie apocalypse, as it can put you in a slumped-over stupor rather quickly and leaves your breath smelling like roasted brains, an aromatic meal that will attract the zombie hordes.

The company is set to premiere their “smartest beer” at their own screening of The Walking Dead finale at the end of this month.

New Study Examines Psilocybin as Cure for Cocaine Addiction

Hallucinogens show promise in curbing one’s criminal behavior and addictions.

Starting later this year, a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham said he hopes to begin giving psilocybin obtained from hallucinogenic mushrooms to cocaine addicts to study if it can curb addiction.

Peter Hendricks, a clinical psychologist in the School of Public Health has reason to be optimistic.

Hendricks and colleagues studied about 30,000 people charged with a felony who were sent to a diversion program called the Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities (TASC) program, a case management intervention for those with a history of substance use.

Researchers found that those who used hallucinogenic drugs — even when controlled for variables — were less likely to fall back into crime and drug use after the program.

“There was an association between hallucinogen use and outcome in this TASC program, such that hallucinogen use was associated with decreased likelihood of failure,” Hendricks said.

So with this grounding, Hendricks said they are ready to take it to the next step, giving psilocybin pills to cocaine addicts, pending lots of red tape, including approvals from the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency. But similar research, with promising results, has been ongoing elsewhere so it is not like they will be plowing new ground for approval, Hendricks said.

Hendricks said the study of hallucinogenics and their medical benefits has enjoyed a resurgence after enduring the negative stigma in the 1960s attached to sensational claims and call for unfettered access made by those such as LSD guru and Harvard University professor Timothy Leary.

“No one that I know is going the route of Timothy Leary who really was unhinged and advocated for everybody to use,” said Hendricks.

It’s still a bit of a mystery how hallucinogens may work to the desired benefits of addiction control, Hendricks said.
It could be they act as a mood elevator. It could be they offer a shot of confidence that the addiction can be beat. Or, it could be something deeper.

Perhaps the hallucinogen, such as the naturally occurring psilocybin mushroom, spurs an introspection that leads to a self-revelation that leads to a big change.

Hendricks calls it an Ebenezer Scrooge moment.

“Something profound happened to Ebenezer Scrooge,” Hendricks said. “Think of Saul on the road to Damascus, a great persecutor of Christians, has some sort of experience and transforms over night.”

It’s not that Hendricks is implying Paul/Saul was eating magic mushrooms. He brings these examples up as analogies to the kind of transformative spiritual experience hallucinogens might help provoke in changing an addict’s behavior.