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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Adolescent Brain Is Far From Maturity

The teenage years are ever so crucial, what we experience shapes us into what we will become as adults. One's environment during the teen years plays a huge role in brain development, how we are treated and what we undergo dictates how we handle things to come in the future. When unhealthy habits are adopted at a young age it becomes incredibly hard to escape them. As we dive into the future scientists uncover more and more about how our brain works and how introducing foreign substances like drugs and alcohol can hold people back for years to come - even after they stop abusing substances. According to Dr. Frances Jensen, a neuroscientist at Harvard, our brains do not finish developing until the mid twenties - Adolescent brains “are only about 80 percent of the way to maturity”.

Children and teenagers are great learners, they have the ability to pick up and understand things at a rate that adults could hardly keep up with. According to scientists, adolescents have an excess of gray matter in the brain, since gray matter does the processing work inside the brain it is easy for them to adopt bad habits - anything from sex to drugs. It is crucial that children and teenagers develop healthy relationships with their peers in order to remove the possibility of risky-behavior as much as possible.

Teenagers think they know everything, when actually they have the ability to know everything; meaning learning how to do things is easy, but, understanding why we do them is something that comes in the adult years. The use of drugs and alcohol clouds the mind, causing all kinds of misfiring inside the brain which after many years of use will severely impair one's ability to be a productive member of society. Parents need to work with their children to help them understand how crucial early brain development is to living a fulfilling life - one free from addiction.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Fake Baths Salts Beware

The lengths an addict will travel to achieve a desired high is tantamount to someone dying of thirst searching for water - as far as it takes. There is just about nothing an addict will not try if they believe that it will make them intoxicated, even poisons will be consumed if there is even the slightest chance that it will make people high. Drug abusers around the country have been turning up in emergency rooms in large numbers because of snorting and ingesting fake bath salts, fake fertilizer or fake insect repellent. On Wednesday, Mark Ryan, head of the Louisiana Poison Center said, "at least 84 people around Louisiana have been hospitalized because of paranoia, fighting, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and physical effects such as hypertension and rapid heartbeat — most for a day or two but at least three of them for weeks".

There is talk on the Internet that leads people to believe that snorting bath salts is like doing cocaine or methamphetamine, only legal. Unfortunately, what people are experiencing, even seasoned addicts, is a lot more intense than the illegal drugs they were acquainted with. "These are experienced drug users ... There's a lot of things they'll suffer for the drug high they're looking for," said Henry A. Spiller, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Center in Louisville. "Even these people are coming into the emergency room. Even they can't handle these fairly nasty effects."

An E.R. doctor in Covington lost her stepson because of the dangerous side effects of bath salts. Julie Sanders said her stepson, 21-year-old Dickie Sanders, committed suicide only three days after sniffing bath salts, which people are calling "Cloud 9", just one of the names under which methylenedioxypyrovalerone (METH-uh-leen-di-OX-ee-PY-ro-VAL-uh-rone) or MDVP, is sold under. MDVP can be purchased at Head shops or gas stations around the country and on the Internet as well, poisons centers around the country have already had 160 calls because of these dangerous products.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Survey Finds Increase in Teen Drug Use

As cigarette smoking and binge drinking continues to drop among teenagers, marijuana use continues to rise. The country continues to become more relaxed about the harms associated with marijuana use; it makes sense that teenagers would begin to believe that marijuana is less harmful. Marijuana may not be as hard on the human body and mind as other drugs, but, it still has adverse effects with problems ranging from memory loss to lung disorders. Just because an illegal drug has been deemed medically effective does not mean that it is not harmful.

According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, which questioned 46,482 students from 396 public and private schools, between 2009 and 2010:
  • Eighth-graders who said they smoke marijuana daily increased from 1 percent to 1.2 percent
  • 10th-graders went from 2.8 percent to 3.3 percent
  • High school seniors from 5.1 percent to 6.1 percent
According to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan regarding cigarette use compared to marijuana in 2010:
  • 21.4 percent of high school seniors had used marijuana in the past 30 days
  • 19.2 percent had smoked cigarettes
"We should examine the extent to which the debate over medical marijuana and marijuana legalization for adults is affecting teens' perceptions of risk," Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a statement.
Teens that believe that regular marijuana smoking is bad for you decreased among:
  • 10th-graders from 59.5 percent to 57.2 percent in 2010
  • 12th-graders from 52.4 percent to 46.8 percent
The upside of all these statistics is in the realm of binge drinking among teens:
  • 23.2 percent reported having had five or more drinks consecutively during the past two weeks
  • Down from 25.2 percent in 2009
  • Down from the peak of 31.5 percent in 1998
We need be sure that we reinforce to the youth that every drug or drink has an adverse effect on the human body. While some are definitely worse than others, they all have a downside and left unchecked may become a problem in a number of ways.

The Washington Post

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baby Boomer Addiction Rate Rising

The destructive path of addiction affects entire families, from one's spouse all the way to the youngest child. There are a number of addicts who have managed to function in society for decades without major repercussions. Sooner or later their addiction finally catches up to them. Very few addicts are not aware that the life they have chosen to live is damaging to themselves and to others around them. Interventions may be the final breaking point, but, a real addict knows that they have a problem despite their ability to skirt major problems.

Baby Boomers are the first large population of over-50 adults to be addicted not just to alcohol but also with drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). As the nation's 77 million baby boomers age, the agency predicts, the number of drug addicts who qualify for senior discounts will only grow. In a report published in December 2009, SAMHSA disclosed that 4.3 million adults age 50 and older had used an illicit drug in the preceding year. The number of boomers with substance-abuse problems will double from 2.5 million in 1999 to 5 million in 2020, the agency forecasts. As people get older and the need for prescription medications becomes greater so will the addiction rate, pain medication and sedatives in conjunction with alcohol is a deadly cocktail.

Free time has also played a part with baby boomers using more alcohol and even illegal drugs like cocaine, without ways to stay busy on a daily basis boomers begin to dabble with drugs and before they know it there is a severe addiction problem. Fred Blow Ph.D. is a leading researcher on aging and addiction. Blow, noticed "a lot more boomers suddenly coming into treatment programs with cocaine problems." He added that, "We'd never seen that before in this population." The new group of cocaine addicts, he says, is middle-aged, middle-class, and often retired. With tons of free time on their hands they don't know what to do with themselves, drugs kill one's time and then they kill the user: When retirement is bereft of fulfilling activities, Blow says, some people turn to drugs to fill the void.

"Whereas alcohol was the dominant, singular problem pushing people into treatment in the past," Blow says, "now we're seeing more cases of a multiple-substance-abuse problem — people using alcohol plus marijuana, or alcohol plus cocaine."


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Alcohol Increases Drug Abuse Risk

The use of alcohol, even moderate, could lead to drug use according to new research which suggests that those who drink alcohol may have an increased risk of amphetamine use. It has been well known that alcohol is often used in conjunction with drugs especially prescription drugs that give you energy, so this news is not surprising. There is a direct epidemiological link between drinking alcohol and the misuse of prescription drugs, according to Craig R. Rush of University of Kentucky and senior author of the study.

This study is based off of previous research which found that moderate drinkers were affected more by amphetamines than light drinkers. "The idea behind the present study was to follow that study up with one in which we determined whether moderate drinkers were also more likely to work to receive amphetamine in the laboratory, in addition to being more sensitive to its subjective effects," said Rush. 33 individuals were used in the study; they were divided into either moderate or light drinkers, depending on whether they drank more or less than seven drinks per week.

They found that moderate drinkers would work on computer tasks in order to receive the high dose of amphetamine; this showed scientists that consuming moderate levels of alcohol may increase an individual's vulnerability to the effects of stimulants like amphetamine. "Sensitization effects to stimulants can be powerful, most notably with regard to their persistence. We need to determine if drinking heavily might actually produce physiological changes in individuals that causes them to become more sensitive to the pleasurable effects of psychostimulant drugs, such as amphetamines", said Mark T. Fillmore, a professor of psychology at University of Kentucky.

Rush concurred with Fillmore, adding that, "Other future directions could be to look at the influence of alcohol use history on the effects of other drugs of abuse or to determine how acute alcohol administration, as opposed to self-reported drinking history, impacts response to stimulants." he noted.

Results will be published in the March 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Drug Testing in High School?

People have mixed feelings about random drug testing for high school students, some people think that it is overkill and unnecessary while others believe that it could save lives as well as prevent addiction. High school students are, in most cases, still minors which means that what their parents want should be catered to; there are a number of parents who simply do not have the resources to be testing their children who they suspect might be abusing drugs, so it makes sense that it should become the responsibility of public schools to get to the bottom of such problems. There are some schools across the country that have adopted random drug testing programs and there are more schools considering such things every day as reports are showing a rise in drug and alcohol use.

A new report has shown an increase in drug and alcohol use at Oak Park-River Forest High School, a parent’s group is thinking of testing some students for various drugs as well as using drug-sniffing dogs to search lockers and parking lots for alcohol, illegal drugs and abused prescription drugs. Parents against such programs feel that these tests as well as drug sniffing dogs will be a violation of students' privacy. Dean Jason Dennis told parents he believed 5 percent to 10 percent of the 3,200 students at the school use drugs. “Most kids are doing great things,” he said.

On the contrary, a school report found 39 percent of seniors admitted to “binge” drinking in the last two weeks, up from 37 percent in 2008. Some 41 percent of seniors said they smoked marijuana in the previous month, up from 33 percent in 2008. That’s more than double the national average. Reports like those can be unsettling and back the belief that it is a good thing to do drug testing at random, addiction often shows up in the teenage years, the sooner a problem is discovered the better.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Medicaid Prescription Drug Bust

Don Heupel / AP

Prescription drugs are being sold on the streets at an alarming rate, finding their way into the hands of just about anyone. People who are prescribed pain medication which is paid for by the government are then selling the medications to dealers on the street. This is testament to the fact that a large number of patients who are prescribed powerful narcotics don't actually need them. The DEA is working hard to put a stop to all this but they can only do so much, this is a problem of epic proportions. Officials have charged 33 people so far in a large-scale investigation of Medicaid patients who fill their prescriptions just to turn around and sell them on the streets. Ethel Johnson is one of the 33 people the DEA has monitored and charged in a large-scale investigation so far, this is a new kind of supplier in the illegal pharmaceutical drug trade; the suppliers' doctor's visits and drugs are funded by state welfare programs which end up only feeding the streets.

"I have to admit we were sort of surprised at how big this had become," said Charles Tomaszewski, former supervisor of the DEA office. "The suburbs, the city, there was no area that wasn't touched by this." Patients, free of charge, receive powerful narcotics like OxyContin and then sell to a dealer for as much as $1,000. If the patient is on Medicaid, the program is billed about $1,060 for a typical 60-pill, 80-mg prescription, along with the $23-to-$39 cost of the doctor's visit, 1000 dollars to someone on welfare is a lot of money so it is easy to see how this problem has gotten out of hand. "A report last year by the Government Accountability Office estimated that 65,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in New York and four other states had visited six or more doctors in fiscal 2006 and 2007 to acquire duplicate prescriptions for controlled substances", according to MSNBC.

Prescription drugs are too easy for patients to get their hands on; by using just a few key words with just about any doctor one can acquire just about any drug they want. Pain medication, like OxyContin, is legal heroin that is cleaner and more lucrative because the suppliers and dealers get them for practically nothing, and then is it is sold for about a dollar a milligram. 90 pills (at 80 milligrams a piece) are worth about $7,200 on the streets; if the dealers are buying the bottles for $1000 dollars they are making an enormous profit.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Mass Driver Faces 11th Alcohol-Related Charge

Drunk driving is a problem in every state in America, punishment varies depending on where you reside, and some states are more lenient than others. First offenses rarely result in jail time; heavy fines are pretty much the standard along with suspension of one's license. Second and third DUIs usually result in jail time, heavier fines, and in most cases jail time. So what happens when you get your 11th DUI ?

A man with an active Massachusetts driver’s license was taken into custody over the weekend for driving drunk, having 10 prior impaired-driving offenses on his record, authorities said. It would be fair to say that it makes very little sense that a person with that many offenses on their record could have an active driver's license in any state considering the fact the DMV is a national database. Apparently it is possible to slip through the DMV's cracks and continue putting people's lives at risk. Vernon Perry, 52, refused to take part in a breath test when he was taken into custody after being observed speeding, crossing the double yellow line, and failing several field sobriety tests, Seekonk police Captain Craig Mace said yesterday.

"Under state law, drivers can have their license suspended for up to one year for their first operating under the influence conviction, up to two years for their second, up to eight years for their third, and up to 10 years for their fourth, according to documents posted on the Registry’s website. Drivers can lose their license for life after a fifth offense, documents show."

It is unbelievable that anyone with 5 or better, 10 DUIs on the record could ever be allowed to operate even a riding lawnmower let alone an automobile. Perry clearly needs help for his apparent alcohol problem, but, it seems like the DMV needs to get their ducks in order before more people's lives are put into jeopardy.

"Thirty-two percent of all traffic deaths in Massachusetts were alcohol-related last year, and there have been 666 drunken-driving fatalities in the state in the past five years, according to data published on the national MADD website."

Boston Globe

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Amphetamines Replace Heroin and Opium In Asia

Synthetic drugs, like methamphetamine, are replacing plant based drugs, like cocaine and heroin, across Asia according to a new report released by the United Nations (UN). Methamphetamine based drugs are a "critical emerging threat to the region", said the report released Thursday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In the United States we watched as methamphetamine production and addiction started in Oregon and moved east like a wild fire engulfing towns and cities across the country. In the last few years methamphetamine production has popped up in almost every country in the East and South-East Asia region, a region that had been previously dominated by the opium and heroin trade.

The report claims that Myanmar's eastern border region is the main source of methamphetamine in that part of the world, with laboratories using materials smuggled from China and Thailand. The labs are being operated by organized crime groups looking to increase their profits, the extremely addictive meth is cheap and easy to manufacture and is a huge money maker. All three countries in the region were producing Amphetamine-type drugs (ATS) back in 2009 and these types of drugs were in the top three drugs used. Ketamine has become a favorite as well, although it is not an ATS, but, typically is used in conjunction with drugs like methamphetamine and Ecstasy or as a cheap alternative to Ecstasy. In 2009, 6.9 tons of ketamine were seized in east and Southeast Asia, up from 6.3 tons the previous year and about 85 percent of the global total, said the report.

"The increased manufacture and use of ATS is a worrying trend and a growing health challenge for the region," UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov said. The growing problem will only get worse as ATS' travel further from the source, new labs will pop up all over the place just as they did in America, jails will quickly fill up to capacity with drug users. "While overall development levels in many countries are climbing, and the lives of millions are improving, the spread of ATS use is a sad -- and unnecessary -- situation and one which must be tackled with immediate urgency." Between 3.4 million and 20.7 million people in the region had used amphetamines in the past year, said the report, out of 14 million to 53 million global users.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thousands of Children Live With Parents Who Are Heavy Drinkers

The influences a child is exposed to when they are young can greatly impact the course their life takes; children are very impressionable and emotionally fragile, if a parent drinks or drugs heavily it is bound to affect their life. New research shows that more than 700,000 kids live in households with parents who have a problem with alcohol, according to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Substance abuse problems often develop with teens and young adults partly because of the exposure they received growing up. Parents set the example that children are supposed to live by, if their parents have a problem it quickly becomes the children's problem, often in the form of neglect or physical and emotional abuse. Stress is generally the underlying factor with many heavy drinkers, naturally, parents are under a lot of stress and that stress is alleviated by drinking - at first. "Families are often under pressure and stress, so it's not just the alcohol alone that's the cause of the problem," says the report's co-author, Dr Lucy Burns. "Often these children are exposed to situations where [there is] stress, sometimes violence, and of course that can have detrimental effects on a child if they're growing."

Parents need to work together, if there is a problem in the household it needs to be addressed before it gets anymore out of hand. One or both of the parents have drinking problem they should seek professional help, it is in the best interest for their lives and the lives of their children. Alcohol is often the underlying factor as to why there are problems in the household, the sooner a problem is addressed the better off one's children are, every child deserves a chance at a healthy, sober home life.

Dr Burns also wants to discuss raising the legal drinking age, but, she believes it may only offer a temporary solution for those children raised by problem drinkers. "There is a significant minority who do drink, who do drink excessively, and they do get into trouble," she said. "I think it's that particular group where we really need to harness our efforts and that involves things, not just campaigns to raise ages and just say no, but we really need to have appropriate treatment facilities for people who have these sorts of problems."


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Child Abuse Effects May Lead to Addiction in Women

The emotional scars that are left behind when a child is physically or sexually abused may drive some women to abuse alcohol. Often times abuse is never dealt with properly and the one who is abused ends up burying their past deep down inside; emotional trauma that is left unchecked will affect a child right on into adulthood, often times leading to addiction. Data from almost 3,700 women, who took part in the 2005 U.S. National Alcohol Survey, was analyzed by researchers. Women who reported that when they were children they were sexually abused were more likely to also report that they drank four or more alcoholic drinks daily; they were also more likely to be dependent on alcohol and to drink in a way that was unhealthy.

In a news release from the Center for Advancing Health, the lead author of the study, E. Anne Lown a scientist with the Alcohol Research Group in Emeryville, Calif., said that the findings show "a strong association between having a history of child abuse and problems with alcohol abuse". Children who are abused, especially those who are sexually abused, need to be treated at a young age so that they can learn healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with what happened to them. Without proper counseling, these children will enter adulthood with a number of problems; one of those problems may be addiction. "The take-home message is across a range of alcohol consumption patterns, child abuse is consistently associated with alcohol abuse. All of my measures found that association," she added.

"We, as a society, have to take responsibility for the healing of children and adults with a history of child abuse," Lown said. "We need to screen for abuse in all settings - not just screen for but have interventions in place that will address the long-term consequences of child abuse. Without screening, the problem will not be recognized."

The results of the study were released online Nov. 17 in advance of publication in the February print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

US News

Monday, November 22, 2010

Women At Greater Risk Than Men When It Comes To Alcohol

Alcohol is detrimental to the body no matter who you are, but, it turns out that women are much more susceptible to the effects of alcohol than men. There are a number of women who can hold their alcohol like men; however, heavy drinking can severely damage a woman's body, taking a higher toll on the liver, brain, and heart. Young women, in many cases, binge the same way that young men do without even realizing that their mind and body is affected greater. "We are very concerned about the fact that more young women are starting to drink in harmful ways, including binge drinking," said Dr. Deidra Roach of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The only age group whose binge drinking has increased in the last decade are women ages 21 to 23 according to a study on more than 500,000 people nationwide. There was a huge jump by 30 percent of women that binge when they drink between the years 1979 and 2006; this information was reported in the July 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Binge drinking occurs when someone drinks four or more alcoholic beverages in rapid succession. There are an estimated 17.6 million Americans who abuse alcohol, of those people; 5.3 million of them are female, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Men and women's bodies are much different, they process things differently and are affected for different lengths of time, according to the NIAAA. Women have more body fat and less water in their body, giving them less ability to metabolize alcohol than men; as well as lower levels of an enzyme important in the breakdown of alcohol, according to the NIAAA. Women who drink alcohol are affected by it much quicker than men and they stay inebriated for longer periods of time. "Because women are smaller than men . . . the same amount of alcohol will be more concentrated in a woman's body than a man's body," said Roach, a health scientist administrator in the NIAAA's Division of Treatment and Recovery Research. "This means when a man and a woman drink the same amount of alcohol, in general, the woman's internal organs will be exposed to more alcohol than the man's."


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Caffeine Energy Drinks Linked to Alcohol Abuse

Caffeinated alcohol infused energy drinks have become very popular amongst young adults, especially those attending college. Most people do not realize how strong the drinks are and the power they have to lead people towards addiction. A study published on Tuesday, led by University of Maryland researcher Amelia Arria, found that those who consume high-caffeine energy drinks can greatly increase one's risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. "The study of more than 1,000 students at a US university found that those who consumed caffeinated energy drinks on a weekly or daily basis drank alcohol more often and in greater quantities, and were more likely to become alcohol dependent than students who used energy drinks occasionally or not at all", according to Yahoo News.

It was just a month ago when nine students passed out, having to be hospitalized after drinking the same brand of caffeine-alcohol cocktail, Four Loko; in august a girl died from drinking the same drink after going into cardiac arrest, but, she had also been taking a weight loss pill on the same day. There are a number of young adults that believe the caffeine they are consuming is counteracting the alcohol, thus making them feel less drunk and have the ability to drink more. However, "They're under the misguided notion that they're not impaired when they are just as impaired as a person with the same blood-alcohol concentration. It's their subjective perception of drunkenness that is impaired," Arria told AFP.

Many students have gotten into the habit of mixing their own alcohol-infused energy drinks, so even if a ban is put on the sale of pre-mixed high-caffeine alcohol energy drinks people will just end up mixing their own. "We have the ability to regulate products that are premixed but not to regulate people's behavior," Arria said. State officials need to work together to help educate people on the dangers of mixing energy with alcohol, most young adults just don't even realize the lethal combination they are consuming. "When states and policymakers act to limit the availability of mixed energy-alcohol drinks, that should send an unequivocal message to consumers and the industry that mixing on your own is risky behavior," Arria told AFP.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Teen Brain More Susceptible to Damage from Drugs and Alcohol

The teenage brain is much more susceptible to the effects of drugs and alcohol in comparison to adults using the same substance. Teenagers' brains are still developing and any substance introduced to the neuro-chemistry taking place may change the way the brain functions, i.e. memory. "Brain development is actively transpiring even in the teen brain, and [if] you throw in a drug on top of that, you could change the trajectory of brain development." said Dr. Frances Jensen of Children's Hospital Boston. Most teens do not realize that their brain has more receptors for chemicals to bind to in turn keeping the drugs actively in one's system longer; the effect is that the drugs do more damage long term than that to an adult brain.

"A study led by Staci Ann Gruber of Harvard Medical School found that people who began using marijuana before age 16 and who used it the most performed the worst on a test of cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility means being able to change your response to something based on the context of the situation", reported CNN. Teenagers are barely aware of the damage that they are doing when consuming drugs, even the "less harmful" drugs like marijuana, but, science has shown us that the damage is being done. What's more, the teenage brain learns much faster than the adult brain, which means that picking up habits and, in many cases, the development of addiction forms easier. "The teen brain learns so handily; unfortunately it can get addicted a lot faster, stronger and longer," Jensen said.

Parents need to work hard to educate their children and be firm with them regarding drugs and alcohol. There are many parents who believe that smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol is just part of being a teenager; however, the science shows that these substances are harmful to the brain and may hinder their children in the long run. Addressing a problem as soon as it is discovered is so important, possibly being what ends up saving a life. "Parents need to stop saying, 'Oh, he’ll be fine,' Jensen said. "It's important that this information gets to teenagers, that they be made aware of their vulnerable and impressionable brain state."


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Economic Woes Spark Revival of Beer Sales at College Stadiums

College is the place where excessive drinking, as well as binge drinking, occurs quite frequently. It is a common theme amongst most college campuses for students to drink hard and fast which is the cause for high rates of alcohol poisoning with students. Students drink especially heavy around and on game day, where it is practically socially acceptable to drink like crazy. In the past there were number of college stadiums that did not sell alcohol on the premises forcing students to drink at home, in bars, and while sitting on the tail gate of a truck outside the stadium. However, as the economy continues to head in a downward spiral some college stadiums are turning to alcohol to raise their revenue.

Alcohol is big business in college towns, not only with alcohol sales, but, with advertising; you can go into just about any college town and see that Budweiser or Coors support the local team wholeheartedly, which is why the fans should support the beer companies by buying their products - seems fair. The NCAA has a ban on alcohol sales during championship games, but, for some reason has failed to stop alcohol sales during regular-season games. It is fair to say that students drink a lot regardless of whether their team is winning or losing and they will certainly drink whether or not the football stadium caters to their needs. Why would a college help their students get more intoxicated by serving at the games?

About one in four NCAA Division I schools allow alcohol sales in some areas of their stadiums, but, in September:

  • Fans of the University of Louisville at Lafayette were able to buy beer inside the stadium for the first time
  • Fans of University of Memphis were able to buy booze at the Liberty Bowl
  • Both the University of Akron and the University of Maryland began selling beer to their luxury-box patrons

Jack Sammons, chief administrative officer for the city of Memphis, said that while the city realizes "the university would prefer we not sell beer ... it's my job is to look under every rock these days for new revenue opportunities, so we've agreed to disagree". The city of Memphis, which owns the Liberty Bowl, expects to make $200,000 annually from beer sales.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Alcohol Tax to Combat Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is a major problem that exists on both sides of the Atlantic and there are many who feel that if the price of liquor was sharply increased binge drinking would occur much less. Binge drinking tends to occur much more with the younger generation typically those young adults who are in college where peer pressure is enormous. There have been a number of campaigns in the past to combat the problem with very little success, so with very few solutions at hand raising the price of alcohol dramatically may be the only answer. Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell is suggesting higher tax on alcohol would be heading in the right direction to combat this problem, which he says works well in other countries where binge drinking is not an issue.

The price of alcohol in most parts of the western world is fairly inexpensive, for everyone can acquire quite a bit of alcohol. According to Bell, the cost of alcohol needs to be raised higher than "pocket-money prices". Just yesterday the proposed new alcohol laws were given to parliament and could take as long as six months for everything to be figured out according to Justice Minister Simon Power.

The proposals include:
  • splitting the alcohol purchasing age to 18 for bars and 20 for off-licenses
  • limiting the alcohol content of Ready-to-drink's (RTDs)
  • banning particularly harmful products
  • reducing opening hours
  • new rules around the supply of liquor to minors
"This government sees overhauling our alcohol laws as a priority, particularly for addressing the drivers of crime because alcohol is a major lubricant for offending," Power said. The United States should follow suit, raising the price of alcohol would greatly reduce the ability for people to binge drink; in turn this will end up saving lives both on and off the road. The time to get serious about reform is upon us, people are dying and we have the power to change that.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Alcohol, Marijuana, and Smoking in the Polls

The polls have closed and as you may have gathered from the news there will be some changes in some states and no change in others. There were a lot of initiatives that dealt with smoking, alcohol, and marijuana:

There were a lot of people who thought that marijuana was going to be legalized in California, but, voters thought otherwise. Voters decided 46.3 percent to 53.7 percent, (with 98 percent of precincts reporting) against Prop. 19, which would have made it legal for adults to possess limited quantities of marijuana and let local governments regulate its production and distribution. NORML reported that "46+ percent (some 3.4 million Californians) voting ‘yes’ on Prop. 19 marks the greatest percentage of citizen support ever recorded on a statewide marijuana legalization effort". In Arizona, voters were attempting to start a medical marijuana program (Proposition 203), but, they did not succeed and neither did South Dakota. Oregon was voting on dispensaries and fell short as well: Measure 74 got only 42 percent in "yes" votes.

On the alcohol side of the table there were propositions that would have required alcohol companies to pay for the harm caused by their products. California approved Prop. 26, possibly negating efforts to require the alcohol industry, among others, to pay for the harm caused by their products. Proposition 26 passed by about 54 percent of the votes, 26 was funded overwhelmingly by the alcohol industry, requiring "two-thirds instead of a simple majority to pass state or local "mitigation" fees that recoup some of the damage caused by products". In Washington, Initiative 1105, which would have privatized liquor distribution, removed liquor taxes, and forced retailers to purchase from distributors, was struck down with 63 percent rejecting I-1105.

South Dakota passed Referred Law 12 - with 65 percent of the votes - banning smoking in bars, restaurants and casinos which will go into effect on Nov. 10.

Join Together

Monday, November 1, 2010

Alcohol is more Harmful than Heroin or Crack

A new study, funded by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies in London, was recently published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, where a panel examined the problems caused by a variety of drugs; they determined that alcohol, heroin and crack were the most harmful to others while heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful to individual users, CNN reported. "Both in terms of the medical consequences as well as societal consequences, I agree that alcohol ranks very high in overall harmfulness," Dr. Petros Livados, director of the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, told the News. "Alcohol has tremendous repercussions in our society in terms of drunk driving and societal consequences.”

According to the Lancet, twenty drugs were scored on 16 criteria – nine had to do with the harms the drug being examined did to an individual and seven dealt with the harms a drug does to others. The drugs were scored out of 100 points and alcohol had the highest score, meaning it was the most harmful substance overall:

  • Alcohol - 72 points
  • Heroin - 55 points
  • Crack Cocaine - 54 points

It is easy to see drugs like heroin, crack, and methamphetamine being the most harmful because of the social stigmas associated with those drugs, but, alcohol is more dangerous and alcoholism remains a serious problem for millions of people. People think that the fact that alcohol is legal and access to it is always around the next corner that it is somehow less harmful to the mind and body. Oftentimes people who suffer from an alcohol problem will not consider what they have as a problem, but, almost 17.6 million adults in the United States either are alcoholics or have alcohol problems, according to the National Institutes of Health. "It is legal and socially sanctioned, so it does not carry the same stigma and issues that illegal drugs do," says Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, chair of the psychology department at Hunter College. "But the negative health consequences of alcohol are even greater than with many illegal drugs.”

NY Daily News

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Iraq Security Forces Using Drugs and Alcohol On Duty

As American forces prepare to depart from Iraq at the end of next year there are serious doubts about the Iraqi security force members readiness to handle it; there have been reports that in some regions of Iraq more than half of the security forces are using drugs and alcohol while on duty. Even high ranking officials are believed to be using drugs, so there is an actual possibility that the Iraqis are not mentally equipped to defend their country from insurgent groups. Interviews have been conducted with a number of: soldiers, police officers, political leaders, health officials, pharmacists and drug dealers around the country, what they have found is that in the last year drug and alcohol use among security forces has become increasingly common.

"The United States has spent more than $22 billion training and equipping Iraqi security forces since 2004, and the American military has repeatedly said Iraq’s Army and police are capable of fending off armed insurgent groups", reported the New York Times. Nevertheless, Iraq is a war torn country full of deadly insurgents and the injection of democracy has not made the transition all that easy for many citizens, using drugs and alcohol to cope with seeing people blown up by improvised explosive devices doesn't seem unlikely. “Pills are cheaper than cigarettes and they make you more comfortable and relaxed,” said Nazhan al-Jibouri, a police officer in Nineveh Province in northern Iraq. “They help us forget that we are hungry, and they make it easier to deal with people. They encourage us during moments when we are facing death.”

Iraq may be equipped with troops and weapons to ward off insurgents, but, medical care like mental health and substance abuse treatment is extremely rare. The country doesn't even have drug tests to determine who is taking drugs, so stopping the growing problem is extremely difficult. “The percentage of the addicted among the police and army has increased because there’s no medical staff to help and there are no drug tests,” said Col. Muthana Mohammed, an army officer in Babil Province, in southern Iraq. Three decades of war have exacerbated the drug problem throughout the country, apparently drugs can be acquired in: cafes, markets, on the street, and even elderly women who sell pills that the hide beneath their abayas. It is believed that insurgents smuggle drugs into the country to fund their terror.

Iraq has gone from a dictatorship to a drug smugglers mecca with heroin, marijuana, and hashish coming in from Afghanistan and Iran, fueling addiction throughout the country. Iraq is starting to resemble Afghanistan after the Soviets invaded the country in 1979 ultimately leading to the creation of the Taliban.

New York Times

Monday, October 25, 2010

Teens Lie About Drug Use and So Do Parents

It is no secret that most people who use or have used drugs in the past are not honest when asked about it, even when asked in anonymous surveys. Both parents and teenagers lie when asked about the substance use history which is a big problem for experts to gauge how many people are using drugs and what they may be using. Most parents have no idea what their teenagers are up to and if they do have an idea they typically pass it off as common teenage behavior which can be quite dangerous. Researchers published a new study in Pediatrics which had some interesting and alarming results.

432 African-American teenagers and their parents were asked to participate in an anonymous survey about their use of cocaine, opiates, and marijuana and that there would also be a drug test in conjunction with the survey:

  • Of the 211 teenagers whose hair was tested for cocaine, 2 said they used it, but 69, or 34 percent, tested positive.
  • Of the 244 parents tested, 15 said they had used cocaine, but 69, or 28 percent, tested positive.
  • Alcohol - 9.6 percent of the parents said their teenager drank, while 25 percent of the teenagers said they did.
  • Marijuana - 9.5 percent of parents said their teenager smoked, while 17 percent of the teens said they did.

"Researchers, at Wayne State University in Detroit, say that relying on anonymous surveys could lead researchers, parents, and pediatricians seriously astray in estimating the health risks teenagers face", according to US News. The younger a teenager starts experimenting with drugs, the greater the chance for addiction, parents should address problems as soon as they can and not pass off drug and alcohol use as typical teenage behavior. Parents should never be afraid to confront their children about drugs or alcohol; the more open parents are with children the better.

US News

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Emergency Department Visits Involving Accidental Ingestion for Drugs

It is probably fair to say that there is hardly a house in America that does not contain some form of pharmaceutical medications. There are more prescription drugs handed out today than ever before in history, just about every other commercial on television deals with medications that could improve one's quality of life. Parents who take prescription drugs should be aware that more accidental ingestion of drugs happen to children ages five and below; keeping track of medications is crucial, prescription medication should always be locked up and out of reach from young children. A new report recently published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), DAWN Report, had some startling statistics that any parent currently taking medications should be made aware.

According to SAMHSA, 68.9 percent of an estimated 100,340 emergency room visits for accidental drug consumption were children age five and younger. The majority was actually three years or younger: 14.4 percent were three-year-olds; about 42.3 percent were two-year-olds; and 29.5 percent were one-year-olds. Only about one percent of the ER visits were children who had ingested illegal drugs, most of the prescription drugs consumed were ones that acted on the central nervous system:

Central Nervous System Drugs 28,186 40.8%
Pain Relievers 14,572 21.1%
Acetaminophen Products 7,008 10.1%
Ibuprofen Products 4,581 6.6%
Narcotic Pain Relievers 2,679 3.9%
Drugs for Anxiety or Insomnia 8,035 11.6%
Benzodiazepines 5,325 7.7%
Central Nervous System Stimulant Medications 1,859 2.7%
Cardiovascular System Medications 10,883 15.7%
Respiratory System Medications 7,111 10.3%
Psychotherapeutic Drugs 5,969 8.6%
Antidepressants 4,286 6.2%
Antipsychotics 2,034 2.9%
Topical Medications 5,964 8.6%
Drugs for Metabolic Disorders 3,444 5.0%

There is no excuse for being lackadaisical with prescription medication and parents need to be vigilant about keeping them out of their children's hands. Visitors to the household, babysitters, and even grandparents need to be informed as well. Fortunately, most the children admitted to the emergency room, about 85 percent, were treated and released; nearly 9 percent had to be admitted as inpatients, the rest of the children had to be referred to another location.


Monday, October 18, 2010

DUIs Involving Prescription Drugs Are Difficult To Prove

The road is a dangerous place for all drivers, accidents happen all the time and there are people out there who are intoxicated that share the roads with us. Traditionally, a DUI was given to people who drove under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. Today, with illegal drug use as well as legal prescription drug use, more and more DUIs have to do with drugs in one way or the other. It is very difficult for police officers to determine whether or not someone on prescription medications is too impaired to drive, there is not a nationally accepted test that can quantify how much of a particular drug is in someone's system nor a level that has been set that, if crossed, would result in a DUI. A number of states do not even require a test to quantify the amount of drugs in a person's body in a DUI case, thus impairment is hard to prove. If a person is suspected of being impaired by prescription drugs and chooses to go to court and fight it, the jury is faced with a conundrum; how can a jury prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone had too much of a particular drug to drive safely?

"What we and other states have run into historically is that there is a well-developed system to quantify the amount of alcohol in the human body, however, when you have oxycodone or an opiate, we do not have a well-developed way to quantify the amount of drugs so that a jury can then compare that value to a standard established as an unlawful when operating an automobile", stated Rob Parker, a Brevard County, Fla., prosecutor. In 2007, a man was charged with four counts of DUI after a crash. Police observed that the 33-year-old driver looked intoxicated with bloodshot eyes, droopy eyelids, and he had difficulty speaking. A blood sample was taken from the driver which tested positive for prescription medication. The driver was acquitted by the jury on the DUI chargers in August, "the jury heard all of that and could not conclude that he was DUI with drugs beyond reasonable doubt," Parker said. There is no doubt that the driver is back on the road putting more peoples' lives at risk.

States need to employ Drug Recognition Experts, (DREs), to go to the scene of a crime to run tests on drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs in order to determine whether or not the driver is actually impaired. DRE's are police officers who have completed specialized training in detecting impairment due to drugs and it can take three to six months for an officer to become a DRE. Even if a quantitative test is developed, we know that everyone is different and how much of a certain drug it would take to impair one person may be different than another.

USA Today

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FDA Approves Injectable Drug To Treat Opioid-Dependent Patients

Opioid addiction is one of the more difficult drugs to kick, addicts usually experience terrible: pain, nausea, shaking, and cold sweats. Once an addict has braved their way through detox there are still strong cravings for the drug, as the opioid receptors in the brain scream for their medicine because the brain can no longer produce opiates on their own. Naltrexone is a drug that was originally used to treat alcoholics, it was found to have the ability to block the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the effects of drugs like morphine, heroin, and other opiates which will help addicts refrain from using those types of drugs because they will no longer work. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a drug called Vivitrol to treat and prevent relapse after patients have detoxed completely.

Vivitrol is an extended-release formulation of Naltrexone administered by intramuscular injection once a month. Vivitrol was studied for six months to make sure that it was safe and effective in preventing opiate addicts from relapsing. The study compared Vivitrol treatment to a placebo treatment with detoxed patients who no longer experienced physical dependence. It was found that those patients that were given Vivitrol were more likely to stay and continue drug treatment and stay away from using opiates. Thirty-six percent of the Vivitrol-treated patients were able to stay in treatment for the full six months without using drugs, compared with 23 percent in the placebo group.

If an addict taking Vivitrol decides he cannot handle it and decides to use one of the various types of opiates available they will have withdrawal symptoms relatively quickly. People who take drugs like Naltrexone become hypersensitive to opiates while taking the drug and if they miss their monthly dose of it and decided to start using drugs again they will be more susceptible to an overdose.

Patients who decide to take part in a Vivitrol regimen once a month will receive an intramuscular injection administered only by a physician. Vivitrol requires a special administration needle that comes with the product; Vivitrol should not be injected using any other needle. Recovering addicts should be aware that Vivitrol is not without side effects including: nausea, tiredness, headache, dizziness, vomiting, decreased appetite, painful joints, and muscle cramps. There are also more serious side effects that may be severe enough to convince one to stay away from Vivitrol altogether; reactions at the site of the injection severe enough to require surgery, also: liver damage, allergic reactions, rashes, swelling of the face, pneumonia, depressed mood, suicide, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal behavior.

"Addiction is a serious problem in this country, and can have devastating effects on individuals who are drug-dependent, and on their family members and society," said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "This drug approval represents a significant advancement in addiction treatment."

It is always best to go through treatment relying more on the program of recovery than on drugs of any kind, sometimes drugs like Vivitrol (Naltrexone) are necessary for people who simply cannot fight off their cravings and need an extra push, but, they are not required for success. Recovery comes from the inside, only you have the power to make the choice to stay clean and sober; preventative drugs like Vivitrol for opiates or Antabuse for alcohol can only do so much.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Monday, October 11, 2010

SAMHSA Awards Grants to Children Whose Families Use Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine has torn a hole through a number of communities in the United Sates, countless children are affected by their parents use of the drug and in many cases children will to start to use meth themselves. In an attempt to help children whose parents use methamphetamine the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will give up to $16.8 million over a four year period in grants to make services more effective in order to help provide better support to children whose families use methamphetamine. The children the program will focus on are those whose parents have enrolled in Family Treatment Drug Court (FTDC) for methamphetamine; the goal is to provide exposed newborns with medical care as early as possible, on top of mental health, medical and dental care to children ages 0-17.

"Children of substance abusing parents are likely to experience guilt, anxiety, embarrassment, inability to have close relationships, confusion, and anger," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "This program offers children help early on which is important in preventing more serious problems for the child later in life, including substance abuse and mental disorders. The key is helping children understand they are not responsible for the problems of their parents."

There will be 12 grants which will be administered by SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment; using approximately $4.2 million per year, the awardees will be eligible for up to $370,000 per year for up to four years.

The awardees and the first year amounts of their grants are:
  • Superior Court of California, Riverdale, Calif. $370,000
  • Clark County, Vancouver, Wash. $370,000
  • Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara, Calif. $370,000
  • Colorado Judicial Department, Denver, Colo. $369,090
  • Oklahoma Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse, Oklahoma City, Okla. $370,000
  • Administrative Office of the Courts/Nebraska Supreme Court, Lincoln, Nebraska $369,856
  • County of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif. $370,000
  • San Luis Obispo County Behavioral Health - Drug & Alcohol Services San Luis
    Obispo, Calif. $370,000
  • Dunklin County, Kennett, Mo. $119,082
  • Butte County, Chino, Calif. $370,000
  • Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services, Sacramento, Calif. $370,000
  • Pima County Juvenile Court, Tucson, Ariz. $369,993
Hopefully, the new program will be able to spare many children from a life of addiction to methamphetamine by providing them with the education, medical, and therapeutic services that children whose parents are meth addicts desperately need.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Alcohol Abuse After a Disaster is Pre-Existing

Disasters happen every day around the world in one way or another, acts of God and acts of man can greatly affect and amplify one's problems. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, and economic recessions are happening all the time, there are many who respond to these events by trying to dull themselves with drugs or alcohol which has led people to think that the disasters are the cause of certain individuals substance abuse problems. However, scientists analysis of ten recent U.S. disasters has determined that most substance use problems following a disaster represent preexisting problems rather than new disorders, the disasters themselves exacerbate the problem because alcohol and drugs are some peoples only outlet for a mental reprieve from their real life problems.

According to findings published on Oct. 4 in Archives of General Psychiatry, Dr. Carol S. North, of the VA North Texas Health Care System, and her associates studied a large database of survivors of 10 different disasters to determine the link between pre- and post-disaster prevalence of alcohol problems. "Of 811 participants in the index sample, 697 (86%) provided complete pre- and post-disaster alcohol data. Of the respondents, most were white (92%), and more than half (57%) were female. Mean age at the time of the disaster was 46 years, with 28% of patients between ages 18 and 35. More than one-third of subjects (38%) were injured during the disaster, with 20% diagnosed with a disaster-related post-traumatic stress disorder", (Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 2010 Oct. 4 [doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.131]).

The prevalence of an alcohol use disorder (alcohol abuse/dependence) was 25% before the disaster and 19% afterward, wrote Dr. North, also of the University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, and her colleagues.

Out of the 567 individuals who did not have post-disaster alcohol abuse/dependence at the start of the study:

  • 3% (20) developed an alcohol use disorder during the follow-up period.
  • Twelve of these were new cases, for a 2% incidence.
  • The rate of onset of new alcohol use disorders over the next 2 years (0.08 new cases per month) was the same as the post-disaster rate.
  • Those with a pre-disaster alcohol use disorder, 83% consumed alcohol after the disaster.
  • 22% coped with their emotions by drinking.

“Despite evidence from other studies that alcohol use may increase after disasters, the findings from this study suggest that this increase in use may not regularly translate into new onset of post-disaster alcohol use disorders,” according to Dr. North and her colleagues. “The distinction between alcoholic relapse and continuing or new alcohol problems is important, because people who are in recovery from alcoholism when a disaster strikes may be especially vulnerable to relapse when exposed to highly stressful events, thus constituting a population deserving of particular attention in the post-disaster period".

Internal Medicine News

Monday, October 4, 2010

Painkillers In The Workplace Can Be Dangerous

Most people do not handle pain or discomfort all that well, if there is a quick fix for their suffering people generally will jump on it. Prescription medications are so powerful that it is amazing that people are able to function as much as they do while taking them; people go to work and parent their children all while on prescription narcotics - as more people are prescribed these drugs the greater potential for addictions to form, jeopardizing their lives and the lives of the people around them. People who fear losing their jobs because of pain medication will not let their employers know that they are taking drugs which can bring an element of danger into the work place. According to MSNBC, "The use of painkillers, specifically opiates, by employees has exploded over the past few years, and a growing number of employers are starting to test workers for legal, prescription drugs. It’s generally illegal to fire or demote a worker who is taking a prescribed medication, according to labor experts, but using that medication could still impact your career, not to mention your safety and the safety of others on the job".

There has been a huge increase in the number of employees taking prescription opiates, like Oxycontin and Morphine, in the last month according to Quest Diagnostics which does employee drug screenings for companies. The Quest data was culled from 5.5 million worker urine tests and found:

  • An 18 percent jump in opiate positives in the general U.S. work force in 2009 compared to the previous year.
  • A more than 40 percent climb in opiate positives from 2005 to 2009.

People who have an accident on the job and are drug tested are usually not held liable as long as the can prove that they have been legally prescribed a drug. Prescription drugs are certainly playing a part in accidents in the workplace, Quest showed that post-accident drug tests can back positive for opiates up to four times more often than pre-employment tests: 3.7 percent in post-accident compared with 0.78 percent in pre-employment tests. “We believe that workers taking opiates — regardless of the amount — need to take into consideration the consequences of long-term use, including gradual progression of intake, emotional numbness, delayed reaction/responses and decreased performance,” said Clare Kavin, administrative director of an opiate dependency treatment center.

Prescription drugs are abused more than any other drug, both legal and illegal and the problem is getting worse. Most people do not understand the risk of taking strong prescription pain narcotics. Workers need to know their rights in the work place but they should also be considerate of lives around them and how their drug use could put them in harm's way. It is well known that a number of people that are prescribed opiates do not necessitate them, which means they are taking the drugs purely for the high.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recovery Month Coming to an End

The month of September is Recovery month, it may be coming to end, but, there is still plenty of recovery related events that addicts can involve themselves with. There are always events taking place in your local community that you can easily find out about by using the "Events by State" tracker on the Recovery Month website. Recovery has to do with community and the better connected one is with their community the greater chance for long term recovery.

The Recovery Month website has created a specialized kit that can help you with hosting your own recovery event any time of year; they also have: podcasts, research studies, stories of recovery, and customizable public service announcements for television. Obviously, some recovering addicts live in places that Recovery Month events are not being held and traveling to the events is unaffordable. Fortunately, there is a host of recovery related social networks that one can participate in, like Rally for Recovery! Online, whose visitors currently celebrating over 10,000 years of recovery; make Twitter updates, share your story, scan photos and videos from events that you have attended.

Everyone who has struggled with addiction in the past is obligated to give back to the community which helped save their life - you can never do too much. The new tools that are available have the power to aid one's recovery and help everyone stay connected no matter where they are in the world. Help yourself by helping other people.... Paying it forward is how the program of recovery has had continued success since 1935 and how it will continual to save lives in the future.

Rally for Recovery! Online is sponsored by Faces & Voices of Recovery, on Sept. 16 they released a DVD, "Our Stories Have Power", watch the preview below:

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Policy: Addictive Substance Advertisment Bans

Television these days is chock-full of advertisements that try to entice you to ingest substances that may be harmful to your health. One ad right after the other has to do with a prescription medication that might change your life or an alcoholic beverage which would be best for quenching one's thirst. Repeated exposure can convince children that they should try out the things that they see; some kids start drinking at very young age in part because of the heavy exposure to alcohol ads which depict people having a great time while consuming alcohol.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for a ban on all tobacco advertising that can be seen easily by children as well as alcohol ads and other prescription drug ads on television in a new policy statement. “It’s time to eliminate all tobacco advertising and decrease greatly the depiction of smoking in mainstream media”, write researcher Victor C. Strasburger, MD, and colleagues in Pediatrics. “Although parents, schools, and the federal government are trying to get children and teenagers to ‘just say no’ to drugs, more than $25 billion worth of cigarette, alcohol, and prescription drug advertising is effectively working to get them to ‘just say yes’ to smoking, drinking, and other drugs”. More money is spent on figuring out how to get people to drink and drug than is spent on prevention and treatment for those who become addicted.

The entertainment industry is also to blame for mixed messages to children about the effects of drugs and alcohol which is why the Academy is asking Hollywood to restrict tobacco and drug use in television and films that are directed at younger audiences. “Unlike traditional advertising, media depictions of legal drugs are generally positive and invite no criticism, because they are not viewed as advertising,” the Academy claims. Society needs to work together on smoking, drug, and alcohol prevention; kids that start experimenting with those substances are much more prone to addiction.Ban

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quick Cheap Drug Test for Parents To Check If Their Kids Are Using Drugs

Both addiction and recovery begin in the household, the environment children grow up in can influence teenagers to start experimenting with drugs and alcohol and usually it is the parents who discover that their child is using. Learning that there is a problem isn't the easiest thing, without a drug test it easy for teenagers to talk their way out of accusations. Most parents are hesitant to drug test their children, there are many cases where parents would rather not know the truth; the catch is that knowing the truth could ultimately end up being what saves a child's life.

A British company created an affordable hand-held drug testing device that uses a saliva sample, in 5 minutes parents can know if their children are using drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine or other illegal substances. Universal Sensors Ltd, of Ickleton, Cambridgeshire, said their Vantix biosensor technology could also be used by the police to carry out roadside tests on drivers suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs. Kevin Auton, the company's Commercial Director, told the press that they realize the availability of such a device poses ''huge implications for society", reports the UK's Daily Mail.

The test will be inexpensive and they will be able to produce 30 billion tests a year, "It's as simple to use as a pregnancy test." He added that the company was "very focused on getting the test out of the laboratory and onto other platforms". A test like this will be very useful and the most important aspect is the price, a lot of parents won't drug test their children because traditional drug tests are very expensive. Now parents will have no excuse for not testing their kids and problems can be dealt with before they get any more out of hand.

Monday, September 20, 2010

No Prescriptions for Cough Medicine

There many teenagers that abuse cough medicine to achieve some kind of hallucination; it has been dubbed "robo-trippin" because of the cough medicine Robitussin which has Dextromethorphan (DXM) as an active ingredient. Another common cold medicine that is abused quite frequently has been called "Triple Cs" which is derived from the Coricidin brand name of cough & cold medicine; the pills have three C's printed on them. DXM exists in almost all cough suppressants, in low doses there are not hallucinogenic properties which is why it has continued to be sold over the counter without a prescription. Unfortunately, there have been a lot kids abusing these medicines and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had requested that the FDA consider requiring prescriptions for Dextromethorphan. Requiring a prescription would really reduce the risk of people getting hurt from the drug, DXM by itself is not that dangerous, but, problems arise when people mix DXM with other drugs from acetaminophen all the way to amphetamines.

The DEA said that it was concerned about abuse among teens and the steady increase of emergency room visits due to overdoses, DXM can be very harmful to the body when used in conjunction with other substances. Fever, kidney failure, high blood pressure, and even death can occur if the drug is used inappropriately. Sadly, Associated Press reported Sept. 14 that a panel of experts advising the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that cough medicine continue to be sold without a prescription. The panel's vote was 15-9 against requiring a prescription for these drugs, because of the burden it would put on doctors and pharmacies. "For me there was no data to show us that scheduling this product would decrease abuse," said panelist Janet Engle, a professor at the University of Illinois.

It seems like private interests were in mind with the voting process which is why nothing has changed, cough medicine companies would lose millions if people needed a prescription for drugs containing DXM. The FDA has not made a final decision, but, the administration usually sides with the recommendations of its advisory panels.

A video from ABC News covers this story and more that parents can watch for:


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

DEA National Take Back Day

Prescription medications have become a major problem on a global scale, more people are abusing prescription drugs than any other drugs. There isn't a household in America that does not have a medicine cabinet full of prescription drugs. With pain medication, people take it until their pain subsides and they put the medication in the cabinet and forget about it. It is at that point teenagers have the ability to get their hands on the drugs and abuse them. Accidental overdoses and poisonings happen all the time when kids scavenge through their parent's medicine cabinets which is why the DEA is asking people to turn in their unused pharmaceuticals.

"The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and state and local law enforcement officials are organizing collection sites nationwide to take-back “unused, unwanted or expired” over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs". Unused drugs are a major problem and they aid in the pharmaceutical epidemic that is crippling America. Many teenagers discover that they're addicts inside their parents' bathroom; Oxycontin, Vicodin, valium, and Xanax can be teenagers' first exposure to narcotics. Teenagers become addicted to drugs every day right under their parent's noses, by the time the problem is discovered it's often too late and recovery is very difficult.

"Leftover prescription and OTC drugs present a public health hazard given the potential for accidental poisoning, abuse, and overdose. They can also pose environmental hazards from unsafe disposal. The DEA has an easy-to-use online tool to locate a collection site near you. The collection is anonymous. See the DEA website for details on what is (and isn’t) accepted".

The National Take-Back Day is Saturday, Sept. 25, between 10 am - 2 pm.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rally for Recovery! Online

Social Networking is a huge part of the recovery process, many aspects of recovery deal with connecting with the community. It has long been said that recovering from drugs and alcohol cannot be done alone; so many elements of 12 step programs have do with interpersonal communication. Being open and honest with your peers about what is happening in one's life is crucial to the recovery process; making connections with other addicts helps guide you through the process - one addict helping another. Wherever there are two or more people there can be a meeting where addicts can talk about their past, present, and future; often times, running an idea by another addict can be what keeps you sober.

Sometimes you are away from your support and need to chat with someone and there is not a meeting available for you to go to. The explosion of social networking websites online has allowed addicts to connect with each other from all over the globe. Mainstream social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have provided the perfect platform for people in recovery to network. In the past two years that have been a few recovery specific social networking sites that have popped up and they became pretty popular; last year we wrote a post about some of them. Just recently, Faces & Voices of Recovery, the national organization for people in recovery from addiction, launched a new web-based resource, Rally for Recovery! Online, where people can register the number of years they have been in recovery from addiction and find out about National Recovery Month events and rallies nationwide.

Rally for Recovery will allow people to find out what is going on in the community allowing addicts to connect with each other with ease. “Faces & Voices is pleased that PRO-ACT’s (Pennsylvania Recovery Organization - Achieving Community Together) Philadelphia 2010 Recovery Walks! will be the national ‘hub’ on September 25,” said Faces & Voices board chair Steve Gumbley. The goal of Rally for Recovery is to speak out for "improved local, state and federal policies and to demonstrate the reality of recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs".

“We are rallying for recovery to help make change happen at all levels,” said Gumbley.

Note: September is National Recovery Month!

Source: Faces & Voices of Recovery

Friday, September 10, 2010

Diane Schuler Private Investigation Revealed

The case of the wrong-way Taconic Parkway driver Diane Schuler may finally be able to be put to rest, all the facts that could be accounted for have been. A private investigator hired by Diane Schuler's husband determined that there are no discrepancies with the toxicology report on Schuler and the autopsy is clear; Diane Schuler had consumed as much as ten shots of vodka and smoked marijuana before getting behind the wheel that day. "Absent any other investigative knowledge or medical determination there is nothing to counteract the Westchester medical examiner's findings," investigator Tom Ruskin said Wednesday.

Tom Ruskin, of CMP Group Investigations, has worked for over a year on this case, he said has not been in contact with Daniel Schuler or his lawyer, Dominic Barbara; they will not return his phone calls and they are going a different direction with this case - they are not ready to put the matter to rest. Daniel Schuler cannot accept the findings of the autopsy and toxicology report and apparently decided to take part in an HBO documentary that would exhume Diane's body. It is almost hard to believe that he would refute the scientific evidence of the car accident and what the causes were. The state of New York knows it, Tom Ruskin knows it, and the families of all the other victims know that Diane Schuler was heavily intoxicated and ended the lives of seven innocent people back in July of 2009.

"We were never consulted," Ruskin said. "It came as a surprise to me and my firm and my investigators that this was being done." Why Schuler made the decisions she made on that day know one will ever know, but, it happened no matter how many autopsies are done. We can only hope that people will take something from this tragedy so that we can help prevent it from happening again.

"You want the answer to these things. The public wants the answer. Why does a mother do this with her kids present? That why may never be answered," he said. "This is a story that has kept me up, kept my investigators up, it has eaten at everyone involved in it," he said.

New York Daily News

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stars are Treated Differently than Citizens

Drug use among "stars" is more common these days as can be seen in the headlines, it seems like every week there are stars who get arrested with drugs ostensibly without very much punishment. Celebrities have an above the law mentality and when you bring drugs into the picture things can become messy. Paris Hilton is one of those stars that appears to dance around the authorities with her drug use. Just last summer, Hilton was detained in South Africa for allegedly smoking marijuana at the World Cup. Her publicist called the July 2 incident "a complete misunderstanding," and the case was dropped. There are many people who do not believe that to be a big deal, a little marijuana; but, it is still illegal in a number of places around the world.

Last weekend, Hilton was riding in a black Cadillac Escalade which was pulled over in front of the Wynn Hotel on the Vegas strip. Police detected the smell of marijuana coming from the SUV, Lt. Wayne Holman told CNN. The driver, Cy Waits, a Las Vegas nightclub mogul and the rumored boyfriend of Hilton was arrested for driving under the influence and Hilton was arrested for cocaine possession. Paris Hilton was released from a Las Vegas, Nevada, jail Saturday morning.

"This matter will be dealt with in the courts, not in the media, and I encourage people not to rush to judgment until all of the facts have been dealt with in a court of law," Hilton's attorney, David Chesnoff, said in a statement. Not much of a surprise there; and Hilton will, more likely than not, skirt this case - pay a small fine and continue living her life. The average addict arrested with cocaine is looking at doing time for sure, almost a guarantee; celebrities in most cases get a hundred "get out of jail free cards" before a judge gets fed up and decides to inconvenience a celebrity's life. It sends a poor message to the public when stars are treated differently than regular citizens.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nicotine Tied to Alzheimer's Risk

Alzheimer's plagues millions of Americans as they reach old age; it is the most common form of dementia that develops in the human brain. Science has yet to make a medical breakthrough in curing or preventing the disease from happening. Studies done in the past suggested that low amount of nicotine may help prevent the proteins associated with Alzheimer's from forming in the brain. However, a new lab experiment in which rats with brain protein plaques developed further symptoms of Alzheimer's when given nicotine.

"Yan-Jiang Wang's team at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China, injected amyloid plaques into the brains of healthy rats and gave some the equivalent of a smoker's daily dose of nicotine for two weeks, while others received nothing", reported the New Scientist. The rats showed early signs of tau tangles and had difficulty navigating a maze; the rats that were given nicotine did much worse navigating the maze than those who didn't receive a dose. It may be the case the nicotine will speed up the development of dementia in the brain.

According to the latest (2010) projections released by the national Alzheimer's Association:

  • Alzheimer's is the most frequent cause of dementia, accounting for 70 percent of all cases of dementia in Americans aged 71 and older.
  • By 2030, all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old. That year, the number of people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer's is expected to reach 7.7 million, more than a 50 percent increase from the 5.1 million age 65 order older currently (2009) affected.
  • By 2050, that number is expected to reach between 11 and 16 million unless medical breakthroughs identify ways to prevent or more effectively treat the disease. Barring such developments, by 2050 more than 60 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease will be aged 85 or older.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Michael Lohan to Open Drug Treatment Facility

Lindsay Lohan's dramatic addicted lifestyle has been a hot topic in the news lately between probation violations, jail, and finally rehab at UCLA. Now, Michael Lohan, Lindsay's father, is apparently moving to California to open a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Lindsay was released last week from her court-ordered stay in rehab at the UCLA Medical Center; she has been to treatment before for her substance abuse problems, so it comes as no surprise that her father might have a vested interest in recovery programs. “Yes, it’s, true, I’ll be running it,” Lohan told Radar Online.com in an exclusive interview. “I think it’s time that Dina and I both step out of the media for a while, and for me that means getting back to what I know best–helping people with addiction.”

There are some people who believe that this is also a business move for Michael Lohan, private treatment in most cases is not inexpensive and there is a chance that one could make a lot of money opening a treatment facility in the right area. 12 Step programs are free, anyone who believes that they have a problem is welcome no matter how padded your bank account is; but, treatment facilities are safe havens separated from the outside world with trained professionals in house to help guide the recovery process.

One can only speculate as to Michael Lohan's motives for his decision to make this move - is he giving back or taking from? Where the money to start the facility is coming from has not been released and we don't know the location yet either. More likely than not, the rehab will be in the LA area, but there are many prime locations in the Southern California area. “I believe spirituality and holistic methods can cure anything,” he said. “God will be a major element in recovery.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Babysitter Sent to Detox for Extremely High BAC

Another babysitter has been arrested for being drunk in public while caring for two young children between the ages of 6 and 10. Witnesses of the event called the police when they noticed the babysitter was intoxicated and the two children were swimming in the water off the beach of Lake Phalen. "Kathryn S. Wegwerth, 20, was arrested about 2:25 p.m. at 1400 Phalen Boulevard for drinking in public and for underage consumption", according to the Star Tribune. Wegwerth blew a .35 BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration), extremely high for anyone let alone someone babysitting two children. Police Officers who arrived at the scene discovered a 1.75 liter bottle of spiced rum in her purse. How much alcohol the sitter actually consumed at the beach is not certain, but based on her BAC and the fact that three quarters of the bottle was gone - a lot of it.

No one is quite sure how Wegwerth and the children got to the lake that day or how they were planning to get home, but officers claimed that Wegwerth said she was just getting ready to take the kids home. St. Paul police spokesman Andy Skoogman told reporters that at one point Wegwerth became "verbally abusive" to officers, who "believed she needed to be taken to detox for her own safety, which is what they did". There was no better place than detox for a 20 year old, who more than likely, is going down the road to alcoholism. Either way there will be specialists who can talk with her about what is going on.

A BAC of .35 is a pretty good indicator that a problem exists and treatment may be the most appropriate choice of action. Parents should talk to their babysitters about drugs and alcohol and also watch for signs indicating a problem. Addictions can lead to tragedies; sometimes harm innocent bystanders along the way. Hopefully problems are addressed early on so that there is less chance for incidents like Diane Schuler's. Thankfully Wegwerth was stopped before she had the opportunity to get behind the wheel.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why Isn't Liquor Considered a Gateway Drug in Kentucky?

The term "Gateway Drug" is somewhat ambiguous and is rather misleading and now it has become a hot topic issue in the state of Kentucky. The question is, whether alcohol or marijuana should be labeled a "Gateway Drug"? Kentucky is a state that is well known for whiskey production, home to the finest bourbon distilleries in the country and tobacco companies. Teenagers and young adults are much more likely to have drunk alcohol and smoked cigarettes first than smoke pot; yet, marijuana is the drug that has been labeled the drug that opens the doors to addiction.

Rand Paul and Jack Conway are in a race for the Senate and they both have different views on drugs and alcohol. Paul believes that the state should be in control of drug policy, it's a local issue. He's against the federal drug war. Conway, conversely, thinks that marijuana in any way, shape, or form - even growing hemp - would be a dangerous gateway drug and should be illegal. Conway is asking the Federal government for more funding to help Kentucky fight illegal drugs. What's interesting is the fact that Conway has a vested interest in leaving alcohol and tobacco alone. According to Reason Staff, "Bourbon is how Jack's wife makes her money and pads close to half of Jack's family income. How hypocritical is it for a man, who makes money off a liquid drug that has only one purpose to get you drunk, to turn around and put the label of "gateway drug" on a plant that can do so much more than get you high? While all this time his own wife is part of the people who produce alcohol as part of the Brown-Foreman Public relations team."

Clearly, alcohol has had more to do with getting people on the path to alcoholism and drug addiction than marijuana. Marijuana certainly has its side-effects, but, it does not seem right that marijuana has been branded the "Gateway Drug" and not alcohol, when it is alcohol, especially in a state like Kentucky, that kids generally start experimenting with first. Our policy makers are driven by money and their ability to make more of it, giving alcohol the Gateway brand would certainly be bad for the multi-billion dollar business that alcohol has become. Let's call a spade a spade for a change and then we might have a better chance at making a real change. The legality of marijuana has become a shield for the alcohol and tobacco industry.

Is it time to stop ignoring the realities of alcohol, according to the CDC:

64% of Americans drink alcohol, with 50% ‘regular drinkers’.

22,073 alcohol caused deaths a year (2006), deaths unrelated to accidents, suicides or homicides

About half of these deaths are from liver disease from alcoholism

What are your thoughts on the subject...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Drug Addict Doctor Reinstated

There are a number of doctors who have lost the right to practice medicine because of addiction. Prescription drugs are highly addictive, often times, doctors will become addicted to the pain killers and sedatives that they are prescribing. Striking deals with patients to help get themselves the drugs they desire without writing prescriptions for themselves; another common practice is to give injections of water to patients so that the doctor can use the medication. Once a doctor loses the right to practice it is usually very difficult to become reinstated and sometimes doctors who lose their licence never get it back.

In Canada, an investigation by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba found that Dr. Anthony Hlynka was addicted to the drugs he had been prescribing his patients. "Hlynka wrote OxyContin prescriptions for some patients he knew well and arranged for them to provide him with some or all of their painkillers for his own use", according to the CBC. Now, less than six months since his license was revoked, Hlynka is back practicing medicine; this time he will be watched very closely and drug tested regularly, Hlynka is no longer allowed to prescribe narcotics.

"The risks are minimal and even less likely given the strict terms and conditions on it," said College registrar Dr. Bill Pope. "For example, it would be almost unheard of for him to be allowed to practice independently in these situations". Hlynka was ordered to complete a drug treatment program and if he would like to continue being a doctor he will have to comply with everything he was asked to do. Hlynka is one of many doctors who have partook in this type of activity, there are some doctors who, after sobering up, have fought for years to be reinstated. As we understand the nature of addiction better, the possibility for doctors in recovery to practice medicine is real.

Hlynka was required to pay all of the $30,000 spent on the investigation into his case.

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