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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.

Source:
Newsweek

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.

Source:
MSNBC

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.

Source:
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."

Source:
AARP

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.

Source:
MSNBC

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."



Source:
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.

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