Don't blame drugs for the 'Miami Zombie'

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An incredibly gruesome assault by the ‘Miami Zombie’ is being blamed on drugs. Maia Szalavitz sets the record straight:

[T]he best predictor of violent behavior is a previous history of violent behavior, which we now know that the Miami man had. He was apparently the first person ever to be tasered by North Miami Beach police. Why? He had beaten and was threatening to kill his mother.

How drugs relate to violence:

When taken by mentally ill people … drugs can dramatically increase the risk of violence. A 2009 review of the research found that while having schizophrenia itself may raise a man’s risk of violent behavior by two to four times, drug misuse may multiply that risk by a factor of 12. By itself, schizophrenia — with or without substance misuse — increases a person’s chance of committing homicide by a factor of nearly 20. And yet, in the press, drugs continue to get the primary blame for such crimes.

Jack Shafer has a primer on the face-eater’s drug of choice, bath salts:

Tragically, the media-inspired drug-scare cycle tends to raise the awareness of a “new” drug at the expense of the drugs that have a greater impact on public health (alcohol, tobacco). Even worse, scare stories end up promoting the new drug better than any Madison Avenue campaign ever could, creating a “boomerang effect.”

Via Andrew Sullivan.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.