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Monday, January 31, 2011

Professional Athletes and Pain Medication

Professional athletes put their bodies under grueling conditions in order to be the best. There is no question regarding the heavy tolls placed on the human body to achieve success especially in full impact sports like football. Athletes, in many cases, have to play injured aided by cortisone shots and pain medication. After years of abuse and having damaged one's body from the rigors of the sport, it is very difficult for some players to stop taking pain medication. A new study commissioned by ESPN found that retired NFL players misuse painkillers at a rate of 4-to-1 compared to the general public.

Known by his teammates as the "King of Pain", Miami Dolphins tight end Dan Johnson suffered throughout his career from 1983 through 1987 from a number of injuries. After undergoing two back surgeries Johnson became addicted to his pain medication, his addiction has led him to contemplating suicide. "I was taking about 1,000 Vicodins a month," Johnson told ESPN. "People go, 'That's impossible. That's crazy.' No, it's exactly what I was taking. I mean, believe me, I'd love to be off medications. That's my worry every day, to make sure I have medication."

Dr. Linda Cottler and colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis managed the study of 644 ex-players:
  • More than half reported using prescription drugs during their time in the NFL
  • 71 percent admitted misusing the drugs during their time in the NFL

Prescription drugs
have fast become the largest addiction problem in the world, with more and more people being prescribed every day it is almost hard to believe how many people require pain medication. Just because something is prescribed does not mean that it is without side effects or consequences. "This is the most frightening epidemic I've seen probably since the methamphetamine epidemic in the beginning of the early '90s," Dr. Alex Stalcup said. "All the professional sports that involve physical combat create guys who need pain treatment."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spice Costing People Their Careers

"Spice", also known as K2, is a blend of herbs and spices that can give people a dangerous high, the mixture is usually sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, one of the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana; however, spice is much more dangerous than marijuana and in some cases has driven people to suicide. According to officials, seven midshipmen were expelled from the Naval Academy for using "spice" which violated the Navy's policies on drug use. The midshipmen were "separated from the Naval Academy" as of Thursday, said Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, spokesman for the academy.

"While we will not go into the details of individual cases, the violations of the Navy's substance abuse policies included use and possession," Carpenter said in a statement. "These cases involved 'spice,' which is considered a banned substance by the departments of Defense and Navy." The future of the Naval Academy's students is uncertain, but, they may be forced to pay back the cost of their education which under normal circumstances would be free of charge. The problem with a drug like spice is that it has not been outlawed in the United States at this time, despite the reports of how dangerous it can be; some European countries have outlawed the drug, but, the key ingredients of the drug are not regulated in the United States.

"K2 is commonly purchased in head shops, tobacco shops, various retail outlets and over the Internet," the DEA said. "It is often marketed as incense or 'fake weed.'" While the drug may have similar effects to marijuana it also has some other tricks that marijuana does not have. "Spice" has been known to cause severe depression and led people in to a form of psychosis, remember sometimes the final effect of the drug drives people to suicide.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Marines Battling With Alcohol Abuse

Substance abuse among people who serve in the armed forces is a major problem, especially since the current war era started in 2001. Soldiers are coming back from the war, in some cases, with problems like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and combat stress. Often those problems will lead people down a dark road, where alcohol and drugs become a typical option for coping. The director of Camp Pendleton’s Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center, retired Marine John Veneziano, said the staff saw about 2,100 clients last year for alcohol and substance abuse screenings, including about 36 a week who entered treatment. Fortunately, those 36 people a week are receiving help for their problems, but sadly, many soldiers lose their lives before a problem is recognized and help is sought.

Last Halloween at Camp Pendleton, a marine drank himself to death right before deploying back to Afghanistan. The night ended abruptly when Lance Cpl. Sean Conley, a 23-year-old helicopter mechanic, was helped to his room by friends after drinking too many liquor and energy drink "bombs". Conely was later found on a bench on the barracks' veranda, unconscious. Lives are cut short all the time by people abusing drugs and alcohol to the limit, despite the armed forces attempt at cracking down on the problem. Soldiers are great at helping their comrades in the fields of battle; however, stateside it is a different story.

The wave of heavy drinking in the last decade is a side-effect of the stress caused by constant combat deployments overseas, according to the sergeant major of the Marine Corps and top enlisted Marine, Carlton Kent. “Marines take care of one another on the battlefield, and we must ensure we’re doing the same in garrison. Alcohol abuse is a serious matter and is a great concern. In addition to involved leadership, education is key, so we must ensure our Marines understand the dangers and consequences of alcohol abuse,” Kent said.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Addiction Prevention Studies Program

Drug and alcohol abuse affect every state in a number of ways, addiction itself is costly for the addict, but, it is just as costly for the state - if not more. Billions of taxpayers' dollars goes to researching the complex nature of addiction in an attempt to better help those suffering get the help that they need. In Oklahoma, where the most recent governor’s task force determined that the heavy toll of drug and alcohol abuse cost the state as much as $4.38 billion in 2003 and that each year more than 6,500 students in Oklahoma schools of higher learning drop out because of problems with addiction.

This fall at Oklahoma City University, a five-year addiction prevention studies program will start. With the help of a $500,000 donation from Jack Turner, who is on the board for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service, as well as worked on two governor’s task forces regarding addiction. The program will be taught in OCU’s Petree College of Arts and Sciences and the Dean hopes to make this a permanent program. People need to be made aware of the far reaching effects addiction has on society, without programs like these we will never get ahead of the problem.

Hopefully the five year program can be made permanent and it will help shed some light on addiction. States need to work educating their citizens about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as let them know that there is help even if someone cannot afford it. Maybe if people who didn't suffer from addiction were more informed on how addiction adversely affects the state’s economy they would feel the need to reach out to help - studies like these should help facilitate that goal. Oklahoma is just one small state that is a part of a global problem.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Everyone Deserves A Second Chance: Continued

It is fair to say that most people have, by now, heard of the homeless man in Columbus, Ohio who was given the gift of a good voice. Videos of Ted Williams went viral overnight, nobody could believe that the voice we heard came out of his mouth - but it did. After Williams' discovery everyone wanted a piece of him, job offers and even a chance to get a home that was completely paid for. In Williams' initial interview he had mentioned that drugs and alcohol had taken everything from him, but, he claimed to have two years clean despite being homeless. Williams, like many addicts who are still in the grips of their disease, was not completely honest about his sobriety and the truth of the matter is that was still struggling with alcohol.

On January 10th, Williams was in L.A. to appear on the Dr. Phil show in an attempt to be reunited with his family, but, he was detained in a hotel after an argument with one of his children who claimed that Ted was still drinking. In many ways it is not that surprising; Williams went from holding signs alongside the freeway to being the guest star on a number of talk shows. Fame has a way of bringing people down before they ever had a chance to get up. In no way was Williams equipped to handle the pressures of stardom without a support network or healthy tools for coping with stress and anxiety. "People in rehab," he told "ET," "we're fragile. ... You jump out of this car, there's a camera there; you roll down your window just to flip a cigarette out the window, and there's somebody that points at you. ... Remember, I, a week ago, was holding a sign where people wouldn't give me the time of day."

"It's almost choking me," he told the Dispatch.

Now, Williams really does have a second chance, not at being a famous radio or TV voice, he now has the chance to learn how to live a healthy fulfilling life. Williams checked into a recovery center in South Texas around 10:00 PM last Thursday night. Dr. Phil is not paying for the treatment, but, all the expenses have been paid for.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Four Loko Becomes Ethanol Gasoline!

We have been following the Four Loko story ever since the incident in Central Washington where several students were sent to the emergency room after consuming the product. There were cries to have the product banned, because of how dangerous it is to be drunk and wide awake. Last week, federal authorities told manufacturers that beverages like Four Loko were dangerous and caused users to become "wide-awake drunk". Now, several states have begun taking Four Loko off the shelves and sending the drink by the truckload to MXI Environmental Services in Virginia; MXI will recycle Four Loko and products like it into ethanol and other products. Vice president of operations at MXI's facility in Abingdon, Va., Brian Potter, said about a couple of hundred truckloads of the drinks would be coming to the plant, with each truck holding 2,000 cases of the 23.5-ounce cans.

"We're equipped to process four truckloads a day, and we're at full capacity," he said. "There are about 30 different products involved, and we've only seen a couple of them at this point. It could go on for several months". MXI distills the alcohol from the drinks which will then be sold and mixed into gasoline, Potter said. The aluminum cans will be sold to a recycler. Potter believes it takes "30 days until it's back on the shelf as another beer can." MXI will also recycle the drinks' water, cardboard packaging and shipping pallets. Four companies have been targeted by the FDA's sweep to keep product with caffeine and alcohol of the shelf:
  • Phusion Projects
  • Charge Beverages Corp.
  • New Century Brewing Co.
  • United Brands Company Inc.
Warning letters were sent out by the FDA to the four companies stating that their products were unsafe for consumption. The decision was made by the four companies to pull their beverages from stores or reformulate them to remove caffeine or other stimulants after the FDA's ruling.


Monday, January 10, 2011

You Can Gamble Anywhere!

Gambling is a serious addiction, a disease that can strip people of everything. While gambling may not be as physically damaging as a serious heroin or alcohol habit, it has the same addictive attributes, and all consuming habit that will cause people to make the choice to steal or embezzle in order to stay in the game. There has been a lot of research done on the subject and the more that is understood about gambling addiction; the more we can see just how dangerous the gambling game is. People addicted to gambling will continue to gamble until they have lost everything. States that allow gambling are making a fortune while individuals are using their paycheck to feed their addiction.

We encourage you to watch a 60 Minutes special on Gambling:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Everybody Deserves A Second Chance

Alcoholism and drug addiction can strip people of their lives, but, before it does that it usually smashes their dreams. Addiction is a powerful adversary, one that is almost impossible to understand by those who are not affected by it. Great men and women have lost everything to drugs and alcohol, left with one of two choices: continue using and live a life full of misery or find an outlet towards recovery and slowly one's dreams can be realized once again and even achieved. It is said that miracles can be witnessed everyday in the realm of recovering addicts, from being reunited with one's family to getting back an old job, if one works hard enough there isn't anything that cannot be attained.

On the streets of Cleveland, Ohio a miracle is happening to a homeless man who lost everything to his addiction. Ted Williams became a national phenomenon overnight due to a street interview video with photographer Doral Chenoweth who works for the Columbus Dispatch. Chenoweth found Williams standing on the side of the road with a sign that read, "I have a God given gift of a great voice". The video was uploaded to the Internet and went viral overnight and during an interview on Columbus radio station 97.9 Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman from the Cavs called in and made him the offer. "We’d like to offer you full time work with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as Quicken Loans Arena,” spokeswoman Tracy Marek said. “On top of it, because we know you’re a person trying to get up and on your feet, Quicken Loans is actually offering to pay a mortgage on a home.”

Since the interview, Williams has received several offers for work from all over the country, but, Williams said regarding the Cav's offer, “That’s the best deal ever!” It is almost hard to believe that a homeless recovering alcoholic and drug addict with two years sober is being offered a chance that hardly anyone could turn down. Once you hear Williams' voice you will see and hear proof that addiction can take it all away and recovery can bring it all back. There is HOPE for everyone struggling with addiction, let Ted Williams' story be inspiration to everyone.

Enjoy the Associated Press Video:


Monday, January 3, 2011

The 40 Drunkest Cities in America

Alcoholism is a problem for millions of people around the country. Alcohol is a debilitating drug and is a contributing factor to health problems, marital differences, and loss of life; but, it seems like it is worse in some cities than it is others. New Years and the holiday season are a period of time when drinking rates skyrocket because this time of year is hard for many people emotionally for a number of reasons. It seems like the colder parts of the country experience more alcohol consumption than the warmer areas, this is because the cold effects people not just physically, but, also mentally and there is also less work for people to do when there is snow on the ground; less money coming into the household can be hard on families often resulting in more drinking.

The city with the most reported drinking this year was Milwaukee, followed by Fargo, San Francisco, Austin and Reno according to The Daily Beast. It is easy to see why Milwaukee came out on top with the average adult consuming, "12.76 alcoholic drinks each month, 7% of all its people aged over 18 years are alcoholic, while 21.9% are binge drinkers. 3.9 people per 100,000 in Milwaukee die from alcoholic liver disease". Compiling "The 40 Drunkest Cities in America", was based on the average monthly alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and where sizable percentages of people suffered serious health complications.

The 40 Drunkest Cities in America are:

1. Milwaukee, WI
2. Fargo, ND
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Austin, TX
5. Reno, NV
6. Burlington, VT
7. Omaha, NE
8. Boston, MA
9. Anchorage, AK
10. San Diego, CA
11. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
12. Denver, CO
13. Providence, RI
14. Sioux City, IA
15. Toledo, OH
16. Hartford, CT
17. Tampa, FL
18. Portland, ME
19. San Antonio, TX
20. Philadelphia, PA
21. Spokane, WA
22. Cleveland, OH
23. Sacramento, CA
24. St. Louis, MO
25. New Orleans, LA
26. Tucson, AZ
27. Buffalo, NY
28. Tallahassee, FL
29. Chicago
30. Seattle-Tacoma
31. Springfield-Holyoke, MA
32. Portland, OR
33. Davenport, IA
34. Phoenix, AZ
35. Cincinnati, OH
36. Las Vegas, NV
37. Baltimore, MD
38. Cedar Rapids, IA
39. Casper, WY
40. Jacksonville, FL

The Daily Beast

We hope everyone had a safe and happy new year!

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