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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Prescription Drug Abuse Is A Growing Concern

The American College of Emergency Physicians has issued a warning to parents regarding the dangers that accompany prescription drug abuse. Prescription drug abuse is a growing concern because they are now the second most abused drugs, right behind marijuana. Dr. Angela Gardner, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said that, "Often when you hear that someone has overdosed on drugs you think of illegal substances, such as cocaine or heroin. But parents need to know that many young people are taking prescription drugs from the medicine cabinets. Many of the kids wrongly believe the drugs are not addictive, and they don't realize they can be lethal". Dr. Gardner is absolutely correct, many people who come into contact with prescription medicine are not aware of what the drug is capable of; this naivety plays a huge part in the number of overdoses each year.

In 2006, nearly three-quarters of a million people (741,425) needed emergency care as a result of prescription drug abuse. The drugs abused the most are pain killers, opiates like Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin are the most commonly prescribed, but, they are many other pain killers that could be inside a parent's medicine cabinet. On top of pain killers, there are tranquilizers which are dangerous by themselves; mixing tranquilizers like Valium, Xanax, and Ativan with alcohol can be and often is a lethal combination. One could disagree with Dr. Gardner's statement that prescription drugs are only safe for the person they are prescribed for, only if they take the medicine as prescribed. Let's face it, you can take a medicine as prescribed and still wind up becoming dependent, it may take a little bit longer, but, sooner or later continued use will bring addiction. There are people who were prescribed morphine for 15 years, took the medicine as prescribed, and ended up having serious withdrawal symptoms when they stopped taking it. It doesn't matter how strong a narcotic is or whether you take the medicine as prescribed - narcotics are addictive.

Here are some warning signs that your child may be abusing prescription medications:
  • Sudden changes in mood or personality
  • Defensiveness
  • Change in daily habits and appearance
  • Usage increase
  • Memory loss

Monday, March 29, 2010

Teens Do Not Fear The Problems That Come With Alcohol

teen alcohol problems

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 27.6 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds in the U.S. consumed alcohol in the past month. The report showed that New England and the upper Midwest are areas of the country where underage drinking is extremely high. Underage drinking has had a hand in the deaths of many teenagers every year form drunk driving accidents. Naively, teens do not fear the problems that come with alcohol like they do the problems associated with drugs; this misconception is a large reason why teen continue to drink. The research is out there, we now know the serious health problems that accompany alcohol; yet, today's youth does not seem to heed the warnings for one reason or another.

Another major concern with underage drinking is the development of alcoholism at a young age. Countless people come into this world with a predisposition to drink alcohol that they inherited from someone in their family tree. The younger a person is when problems like these come to the surface, the harder it will be to quit when the time comes. There is no age limit to being an alcoholic; the disease of alcoholism does not discriminate. Alcoholism at a young age can be very difficult to discern, for some parents, the idea that their child could have an alcohol problem is unfathomable. Parents need to be vigilant and keep tabs on their children's activity so that if there is a problem it can be dealt with sooner rather than later. Ask Questions!

Federal Data:

  • underage drinking rates were highest in North Dakota (40.6 percent) and Vermont (40.4 percent)
  • underage drinking rates were lowest in Utah (13.7 percent)
  • 8.6 percent of underage drinkers were able to purchase their own alcohol, 18.8 percent in Louisiana and the District of Columbia
  • Underage drinkers in Alaska (3.1 percent) and New Mexico (3.7 percent) were the least likely to report buying their own booze.

The best thing a parent can do is talk to their kids about the dangers of alcohol, find news stories to provide examples that children can understand. There is no question, parents are the first line of defense against underage drinking; kids will look for guidance and they certainly model what they witness at home. Take a Stand!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

UCLA Study: Babies Exposed to Methamphetamine and Alcohol

UCLA Study Babies Methamphetamine Alcohol

Every year countless babies are born with defects or disorders as a result of the mothers actions during pregnancy. The substances a mother consumes, just like the food she eats, eventually finds its way to the fetus greatly increasing the chances of the baby having health problems. Extensive research has been done in the way of studies and experiments that prove that the effects of drugs and alcohol are monumental.

HealthDay News reported that a study done by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that babies exposed to methamphetamine and alcohol before birth have smaller caudate nucleus regions in the brain than non-exposed children or children exposed to alcohol only in the womb. What are caudate nucleus regions?

The caudate nucleus helps with:

  • learning
  • memory
  • motor control
  • motivation

Researchers who worked on the study compared and contrasted brain scans of 13 children exposed to alcohol in the womb, 21 children exposed to both methamphetamine and alcohol, and 27 children whose mothers did not use anything. "We know that alcohol exposure is toxic to the developing fetus and can result in lifelong brain, cognitive and behavioral problems," said researcher Elizabeth Sowell of the University of California at Los Angeles. "In this study, we show that the effects of prenatal meth exposure, or the combination of meth and alcohol exposure, may actually be worse. Our findings stress the importance of drug abuse treatment for pregnant women."

This information is not all that surprising, if alcohol is bad for a baby, then alcohol and meth would be terrible. Drugs and alcohol rob a child of their chances for success, babies need pollutant free environments to develop in; otherwise Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and, or, a sleuth of other health problems will result. There are many drug and alcohol treatment facilities that specialize in the recovery of pregnant addicts; any pregnant women that wants assistance getting clean, have the opportunity to give their baby a chance at life.

The findings were published March 17, 2010 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Original Manuscript Of The Book Alcoholics Anonymous Sold

If someone asked you the question, "What are the most influential works of writing in history?", you might think of something different than me. There are countless books that have sparked revolutions on a global scale; religious, scientific, and philosophical books all have made an everlasting impression on society. In attempt to protect the existence of original manuscripts, collectors will keep these historical treasures locked away out of the public's eye. Private collectors with large bank rolls have the ability to purchase pieces of history.

Recently I came across an interesting blog post from a few years ago that raised some provocative questions, questions I thought to be a worthy topic for today's post. The post discussed a Sotheby's auction from 2007 where The “Master Copy” of the Original Manuscript of the book of Alcoholics Anonymous sold in New York City for the hammer price of $850,000. Sotheby's obtained the 1938 document from an A.A. member, Joseph B. He said his aunt, an A.A. member who knew Bill Wilson (A.A's co-founder), gave him the manuscript. Joseph B. claimed that he attempted to find interest for the manuscript within A.A., but "ran into a lot of brick walls, a lot of dead ends." My first thought or rather, question was, why isn't this going into a museum to be studied and visible to the public? Who would be the individual that would have the honor of owning what has been considered perhaps the most profound and influential work of writing from the twentieth century; and finally, what would the person who purchased the manuscript do with it?

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous coupled with 70 years of fine tuning aided by many expansionary writings has been the keystone in the recovery of countless alcoholics. Hundreds of 12-Step programs were modeled after the principals of A.A., principals which can be adopted free of charge. In June of 2007, Ken R, a wealthy commodities teacher who retired in 2006, purchased what he calls “the ultimate commodity: There’s only one of Bill Wilson’s original working manuscript!" When he referred to the manuscript as a commodity I thought surely he would hide this away in his vault, but, I was wrong; Ken R created a website dedicated to the original manuscript, which he has dubbed "the holy grail". “This is one of the most significant manuscripts of all time! It’s divinely inspired, has helped millions of people, and I’m surely not one to hide this light under a bushel! No, this is not something to lock away in a vault somewhere . . . .”

The fact of the matter is, after two years there does not seem to be much that has been made available by Ken R regarding the manuscript. There are a couple sneak peak pictures of the writing with editing from A.A.'s original members on the sides, but, really not a whole lot. This is testament to why one of the most influential writings of all time belongs in a museum not in private hands. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Violent Crimes Associated With Medical Marijuana

The late Jimmy Wheeler, a medical marijuana patient in Washington, created this artwork. Now a proposed patient protection bill will be named in his honor..

There is an idea floating around that Marijuana is a harmless drug that escapes the violent world that is associated with other drugs. When people think of Marijuana, they hardly think of guns, murder, and robbery; sadly, those three things all play a part in the billion dollar marijuana industry. Washington's medical marijuana advocates and law officials are claiming that the violent crimes associated with medical marijuana in the last week are unprecedented. Marijuana is a valuable commodity that people will try and exploit if they see an opportunity to score. Marijuana lives in a gray area within state laws, people think that growers will not call the police if they get robbed even though they are producing an illegal substance. That being the case, growers will fight to the death to protect their crop as is seen in the case of a man in Orting, Wash., near Tacoma, who "died after he reportedly was beaten while confronting people trying to steal marijuana plants from his property", according to the New York Times. On Monday, a man was shot while trying to rob a prominent medical-marijuana activist near Seattle. People are starting to wonder if this kind of violence will only get worse.

Steve Sarich, who runs a group called CannaCare out of his house in the Seattle area, shot one of the five individuals who attempted to rob his home on Monday while also being peppered himself by shotgun fire himself. Police arrested the five the very next day on robbery charges in connection with the shooting. The New York Times reports that, "In both cases, the victims appear to have been chosen because they were known to have relatively large amounts of marijuana in their homes. They say the crimes underscore conflicts in state policy that have become evident since Washington legalized medical marijuana in 1998". Sarich has been demanding that law officials protect the legal growers of medical marijuana; however, many growers are not following the law and growing much more than the allotted amount. Sarich himself had 385 plants in his house after the shooting on Monday; they were authorized to have 50 plants.

Why would the police protect the rights of people who are breaking the law? Sure, there is no reason why people should be robbed, but, how can growers expect to be protected if they break the law - a law that is murky to say the least.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Maryland Automobile Ignition Interlocks

The state of Maryland is making big steps to bring automobile ignition interlocks into effect. Three bills are being considered in Maryland that would require that first time DUI offenders as well as those charged with drunken driving who receive probation before judgment use ignition interlocks. Ignition interlocks are devices that attach to the ignition of a vehicle, before the car will start the driver must blow into a tube that reads their blood alcohol level; even if theirs is even a .01 BAC the vehicle will not start. The driver will be alerted when driving around to pull over and breathe into the tube periodically, in an attempt to keep drivers from drinking after they start their vehicle.

Interlocks have been used in California for quite a few years and they have been relatively effective in deterring drunk driving. As July 1, 2009 the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) required that any driver convicted of driving with a suspended license due to a prior alcohol-related suspension to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle (owned or operated) by the offender for one to three years. It would seem that this law would keep anyone from driving drunk, but, sadly there are still thousands of DUI offenders every year in California.

Maryland's House of Delegates three proposed bills provided by the Washington Post:

  • HB 515, sponsored by Del. Tanya Thornton Shewell(R-Carroll), would require use for one year without exception.
  • HB 630, sponsored by Del. Luiz Simmons (D-Montgomery), would require use up to three years, although a judge is permitted to rule otherwise after considering whether the violation involved personal injury or property damage; whether the driver willingly submitted to an alcohol test; whether an interlock would be a hardship on the driver or the driver's family; whether the driver has received treatment for alcohol abuse; whether the driver poses a danger; whether the driver is likely to drive drunk again; and whether there are "any other factors bearing on the interests of the defendant or the public."
  • HB 743, sponsored by Del. Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Montgomery), requires use for at least six months without exception.

It appears that all three bills will have a strong effect on the drunk drivers in Maryland, but it is hard to say which would be the most effective. What are your thoughts on ignition interlocks?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Haim Battled Drug and Alcohol Addiction


"But one led to two, two led to four, four led to eight, until at the end it was about 85 a day".

The teen movie icon from the 80's, Corey Haim, may have finally succumbed to his addiction. Haim battled drug and alcohol addiction over the years going in and out of drug treatment facilities, as well as dealing with a number of medical issues. No one is entirely sure the exact cause of his death, but everyone has their suspicions. In 2007, Haim is reported saying to Larry King in an interview on "Larry King Live", that he would be a "chronic relapser for the rest of my life". While the actor was filming "The Lost Boys" he started doing drugs, this was the beginning of the end for the star who would never have another hit movie staying out of the spotlight for the most part over the last 20 years.

"I was working on 'Lost Boy's when I smoked my first joint," he told the British tabloid, The Sun, in a 2004 interview, "I did cocaine for about a year and a half, then it led to crack". Haim stated in the interview that while in rehab for the first time he was exposed to prescription medications like Valium and other strong sedatives. It did not come as a big surprise when four (4) different prescription medication bottles were found in the actor's apartment which he shared with his mother. The contents of the bottles have not been released as of yet, but, it is more than likely that what was in those bottles played a part in the actor's death. "I started on the downers which were a hell of a lot better than the uppers because I was a nervous wreck", The Sun reported. "But one led to two, two led to four, four led to eight, until at the end it was about 85 a day."

In the last few years Haim was trying to make a big comeback in Hollywood, letting people know that he was hungry for work. In 2007, Haim and teen star friend Corey Feldman, costarred in an A&E reality show called "The Two Coreys". It was cancelled after two seasons but it was a good start for the actor who has been out of the business for many years. In 2009, he appeared with Jason Statham in "Crank: High Voltage" and he had movies in line for 2010.

LA County Coroner's Office Assistant Chief said to reporters that Haim stumbled out of bed around 1am this morning and collapsed right in front of his mother. She called 911 and an ambulance rushed Corey to the hospital - Haim was pronounced dead at 2:15am.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Crazy Heart" Attempts to Model the Life of an Addict

Jeff Bridges plays an alcoholic, Maggie Gyllenhaal costars. (Lorey Sebastian / Fox Searchlight)

Over the years there have been many films that have attempted to tackle the subject of alcoholism. Certain films inject an alcoholic into the script without ever elaborating on the disease of alcoholism and what operates behind it; what happens is that the public develops inaccurate opinions of addicts and what kind of people they are. There have been movies, like "28 Days", that have attempted to model life inside a treatment facility; it paints a fairly accurate picture of what it is like being thrown into a group of people you have never met and are asked to share your deepest darkest secrets with them. "Leaving Las Vegas" chronicles the life of an alcoholic who is hell bent on drinking himself to death. The power of film is in its ability to shape the way we interpret things we encounter in our own lives, the more accurate the portrayal the more accurate the opinion that is developed.

Jeff Bridges recently starred in the movie "Crazy Heart" which attempts to model the life of an alcoholic. Bridges' character, Otis "Bad" Blake is a 57-year-old country singer and songwriter whose life has begun to spiral out of control. He is a chain smoking alcoholic who can't go more than a couple hours without whiskey and suffers from blackouts and excessive vomiting. While working in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Bridges' character becomes involved with a newspaper reporter who has a four year old son. The movie works to show how unmanageable the addict's life can be, car accidents and broken bones are common events in the alcoholic's life. While in the hospital doctors tell him that if he doesn't stop drinking and smoking he'll end up with emphysema, heart failure, cancer or a stroke. Naturally, the addict is not easily convinced and he continues drinking until his life becomes even more dysfunctional and he checks himself into a detox rehab program where he is given antabuse (a drug that makes you sick if you consume alcohol wile on it) and he admits that he is an alcoholic.

Last evening Jeff Bridges won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in "Crazy Heart". Knowing this, what are your thoughts, do you feel like this film is accurate in portraying the life of an alcoholic/addict? Let us know what you thought of the movie.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Alcohol And Marijuana Use Among Teens Is On The Rise

Parents may have a reason to be concerned about the results of a recent study sponsored by the MetLife Foundation. After a decade of reports showing decline, the study released Tuesday found alcohol and marijuana use among teens is on the rise. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America conducted a study with teens in grades 9 through 12, where 3,287 teens were surveyed by researchers. Data was collected from teens who filled out questionnaires anonymously from March to June 2009.

Up until last year pot and alcohol use had been steadily declining since 1998, but, now 50 percent of teens reported drinking in the last month and 27 percent used marijuana. Today, for whatever reason, teenagers are not as worried about the long term effects of using drugs and alcohol. Marijuana has certainly become more acceptable in households around the country as a result of medical marijuana - but alcohol is any one's guess. The study showed that teens are more accepting of their friends using drugs and alcohol even if they, themselves, do not.

The annual survey found:

  • Teens in grades 9 through 12 who reported drinking alcohol in the last month rose 11 percent last year - about 6.5 million teens reporting alcohol use. Up from 35 percent in 2008.
  • 25 percent of teens reported smoking marijuana in the last month, up from 19 percent.
  • Six percent of teens said they used Ecstasy in the past month, up from 4 percent.
  • About 1 in 7 teens reported abusing a prescription pain medication in the last year.
  • About 8 percent of the teens questioned reported over-the-counter cough medicine abuse in the past year.
  • Teen steroid and heroin use remained low at 5 percent for lifetime use.

If you believe that your child might be abusing drugs or alcohol it is crucial for you to step in. Early detection of addiction can be so important for getting your child the help they need; the longer the problem is left unchecked the harder it will be to intervene. Fortunately, with the rising numbers of reported use there are plenty of options available to seek out for guidance. Sean Clarkin, director of strategy at The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, said, "Monitor them more closely, talk with them about drugs, set rules and consult outside help, like a counselor, doctor, clergy or other resource".

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Longer People Use Cannabis or Marijuana the More Mental Problems

Marijuana is a topic on the minds of many people around the world. More studies involving the drug are taking place than ever have before. With medical marijuana sweeping across the United States and whispers of legalization in the streets, people want to know the facts about this drug/medicine. Marijuana is not just a topic for a America, it is a topic that the entire world is dealing with; the Unites States has been the spearhead in the creation of no tolerance drug policies that have traveled half-way around the world. The University of Queensland in Australia (a country that has modeled America's zero-tolerance policies) recently conducted a study regarding the long term effects of marijuana use. The results of this recent study are shocking as much as they are surprising, and as most studies do, will leave you with more questions than answers.

The new study indicates that the longer people use cannabis or marijuana the more mental problems they may encounter, including hallucinations, delusions, and can even suffer from psychosis. The study, lead by John McGrath, observed that individuals age 15 or younger that used marijuana had were twice as likely to develop a "non-affective psychosis", such as schizophrenia than individuals who refrained from using the drug. "Among all the participants, a longer duration since the first time they used cannabis was associated with multiple psychosis-related outcomes," the study said.

According to General Psychiatry, the study which is not the first of its kind, included 3,801 twenty-year old individuals; 17.7 percent of the test group said they had been using marijuana for three or fewer years, 16.2 percent for four to five years, and 14.3 percent for six or more. The study asserts that sixty-five individuals were diagnosed with "non-affective psychosis", i.e. schizophrenia and another 233 people had in their life experienced at least one hallucination. Past studies had come up with similar results, but, concerns were raised about the research not properly accounting for particular variables. One interesting point, according to the study: people who were more likely to have a psychotic episode, were more likely to use more marijuana, thus increasing one's chances of developing a full blown psychotic disorder.

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