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Monday, February 28, 2011

Botulism Cases On The Rise In California

When drug users are no longer feeling the effects of their drug of choice they often will turn to injections to achieve the high that they are looking for. The dangers that go along with intravenous drug use can be life threatening ranging from overdoses to viruses and diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV. Infections are very common amongst I.V. drug users from not using sanitary methods when using needles, abscesses from "staph" are extremely common. According to a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases examining why I.V. drugs users in California make up for 75 percent of reported wound Botulism cases in the United States. Botulism is a rare disease and for some reason reported cases of wound Botulism are on the rise in California.

17 injection drug users were spotted within the surveillance system of the California Department of Public Health between 1993 through 2006, for having recurrent wound botulism; 14 had one recurrence and three had two recurrent episodes. The symptoms ranged from acute paralysis to slurred speech to difficulty swallowing. What's interesting is that all of the patients reported heroin use, specifically black tar heroin with 88 percent reported use. "Recurrent cases suggest that exposure to botulism due to injection drug use does not result in protective immunity," according to the study's author Duc Vugia, MD, of the California Department of Public Health. "As a result, both clinicians and injection drug users should be aware of the potential for wound botulism to recur with continued injection drug use to allow for timely diagnosis and early administration of appropriate treatment."

It is often the case that addicts stepping into the realm of intravenous drug use don't understand what the inherent risks can be. We need to better educate addicts on the risks so that diseases like Botulism can be avoided.
Dr. Vugia stated, "If these near death experiences do not change behavior among these injection drug users and if severe disease from exposure to botulism does not confer immunity, recurrent wound botulism will continue to occur and add to the health care burden. Continued efforts to reduce injection drug use and educate current users on the infectious risks associated with illicit drug use are crucial to improving the health of the injection drug use population."

Medical News Today

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Antabuse Curing AIDS?

There are a number of prescription medications on the market to help alcoholics and drug addicts abstain from using, a number of them like Antabuse for alcohol and cocaine addiction, Buprenorphine and Suboxone for opiate addiction. Drugs like these are in no way cures for the disease of addiction but they have helped a number of chemically dependent people refrain from using long enough for individuals to get their feet back on the ground and actively involved with a program of recovery. It turns out that the drug Antabuse may have properties for possibly helping people infected with HIV and may be a step in the right direction in the quest for curing AIDS. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, the Human immunodeficiency virus, the pathogen that causes AIDS, infected 2.6 million people in 2009 and killed 1.8 million - the world’s biggest infectious killer.

A planned 20 HIV- infected people will be selected by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, and Johns Hopkins University; the infected patients will be given Antabuse. The study will focus on whether or not Antabuse can deplete the pool of residual virus that are not wiped away by regular AIDS drugs, according to details of the study on ClinicalTrials.gov, a registry of trials maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. If Antabuse works at depleting the latent reservoirs of HIV, essentially allowing patients to stop taking the HIV medications without the risk of the disease rebounding. Even if the drug fails at wiping away the latent virus, it will hopefully guide researchers towards another drug that will effectively cure AIDS saving millions of lives.

However, if the drug is successful this is how doctors claim it will work, since AIDS medications, antiretrovirals, can only wipe away the visible virus. Antabuse might block an enzyme called methyl transferase, or DNMT, which helps HIV go to sleep in cells, The Alfred Hospital’s Cameron said. Blocking DNMT would kick start replication, making the virus visible to antiretroviral drugs. Robert Siliciano, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. He said he doesn’t expect the drug to cure AIDS, and is looking for clues that will guide future research. They're still trying to determine which properties of Antabuse work at inhibiting methyl transferase. “The mechanism is unknown and likely to be complicated,” Siliciano said in a telephone interview. “We have some ideas but we’re still working on it. It’s possible that this drug will have no activity in patients.”


Monday, February 21, 2011

Tracking Prescription Drug Deaths

The United States of America is dealing with an epidemic of the greatest concern because our system of tracking pharmaceuticals is severely lacking in a number of areas. Prescription drug use is the number one offender when it comes to health problems like addiction and(or) overdoses. Every day in every state more and more people are losing their lives from abusing drugs which were legally prescribed. What's more, a number of people who are prescribed prescription narcotics are given so many that they can afford to sell them on the street to make extra cash and many times the patients' state funded insurance paid for the medication in the first place - total profit. The fact that some states are worse than others is irrelevant, there needs to be a nationwide unified system in place that tracks who is being prescribed narcotics and how many they are getting so that doctor shopping cannot be possible any more.

Patients will go to as many doctors as they can and one doctor does know any better than the next as to whether or not the patient is already being prescribed a particular drug. Certain doctors will continue prescribing narcotics even if they spot an addiction problem which ultimately contributes to the possibility of an overdose. Florida and Nevada are two of the worst states, pill mills as they have become known as, but, Nevada is trying to crack down and make a better system for keeping track of who is dying from overdoses of prescription drugs as well as what's going where and whether or not the prescribed patient is actually taking their medication at the proper dose or at all which indicates that the patient is selling their drugs.

Nevada, unlike Florida, uses an online database of patients and prescriptions available to doctors and pharmacists, this makes it much more difficult for patients to get their hands on multiple prescriptions of painkillers by doctor shopping. Senate Bill 168, sponsored by Republican Sens. Joe Hardy and Don Gustavson, would help track deaths caused by prescription drug abuse by requiring that such deaths be reported and that the Board of Medical Examiners investigate to see if the conduct of the physician contributed. This would be a big step forward for a state suffering from a narcotic epidemic and other states would be able to model off of it.

Nevertheless, people will continue to perish if we do not do something quickly, action will be the only thing that curbs this epidemic. An estimated seven people a day die of prescription drug abuse in Florida, if that isn't enough cause, then what is?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Heavy Drinking In Adolescence Is A Real Danger Sign

Adolescents who partake in drugs and alcohol at a young age are likely to develop more and more severe problems as they get older. Using substances at a young age while children's minds are still developing can change one's chemical make-up which will increase the chances of a long road of addiction to come. A new study of the Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index (RAPI) has confirmed that not only is it an effective screening assessment, but that it may also - when administered in late adolescence - be predictive of alcohol diagnoses seven years later. Results will be published in the May 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

The Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index (RAPI) is widely used to assess adolescent drinking-related problems. However, the predictive power of RAPI scores has never been looked at on a longitudinal level. "RAPI is a self-report questionnaire on the frequency with which an adolescent has experienced 23 consequences of drinking
 alcohol, such as getting into a fight with a friend or family
 member, in the preceding 18 months," explained Richard J. Rose, Professor Emeritus in psychology and brain science at Indiana University, Bloomington. "This is the first study in which adolescent RAPI scores were used to
 predict later diagnoses of alcoholism. And it is the first study of 
pairs of twin brothers and sisters who differ in their RAPI scores to
 ask whether these co-twins later differ, as expected, in alcohol
 outcomes. They do."

"It might seem silly to even question the existence of a direct pathway from problem drinking to alcohol dependence in that alcohol dependence is clearly the culmination of an escalating pattern of heavy and problem drinking," noted Matt McGue, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Minnesota. "The issue here though is whether drinking in adolescence carries particular weight in the development of alcohol dependence in adulthood. That is, adolescents, because of social factors or because their brains are still developing, may be especially susceptible to the effects of heavy drinking."

The researchers studied 597 Finnish twins (300 male, 297 female) at age 18 with RAPI. They then interviewed the same group at age 25 with the "Semi-Structured Assessment of the Genetics of Alcoholism" in order to determine alcohol abuse and dependence diagnoses.

"The key finding was that the more drinking-related problems experienced
 by an adolescent at age 18, the greater the likelihood that adolescent would be diagnosed with alcoholism seven years later, at age 25," said Rose. "That predictive
 association was stronger in females than males, and was confirmed in
within-family comparisons of co-twins who differed in their age 18 RAPI
 scores. The analysis of co-twins ruled out factors such as parental
 drinking and household atmosphere as the source of the association, because twins jointly experience these."

"Certainly RAPI is predictive of later risk of alcohol dependence," said McGue. "This means that RAPI can be used to identify a group of late-adolescents who are at high risk for developing alcohol dependence."

Medical News Today

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ted Williams Leaves Rehab

Last Wednesday the "Golden Voice" Ted Williams spoke about his experience and his plans for the future on the "Early Show". You may remember that Williams made the choice to go to rehab after being on the Dr. Phil show, but, felt that it was all scripted and he didn't need rehab. He decided to move in to a sober living home, there he can be around clean and sober people working together to stay off drugs and alcohol; what's more is that the other residents at the sober living home in Los Angeles are also in the voice-over industry.

In a matter of days Williams went from the streets of Columbus, Ohio to instant stardom with a number of job offers from all over the country. Everything moved too quickly for Ted and it became overwhelming between the job offers and being reunited with his family. He wants to have all the good things in life and knows that it is all contingent upon his sobriety. There is no telling how successful he will be and historically speaking those who duck out from treatment prematurely end up having problems in the real world because they lack the necessary tools to stay clean and sober and live a productive life.

We encourage you to watch the short video below from the "Early Show":

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mexico Violence Not An Emergency?

In the last few years we have watched the violence escalate to epic proportions and we have also seen that nobody has any kind of a solution. As the drug war wages on, the White House does not believe that the problem in Mexico doesn’t rank as an “emergency” under federal rules, officials tell NBC News. How can that be with so much life being lost just across the border as well as here in the United States? This decision has held back a new controversial law that would require gun stores in the four border states to report to officials multiple sales of semiautomatic assault rifles and other long guns. Mexico moves thousands of pounds of drugs into the United States every day and they do not go back to Mexico with just money, they bring American guns back with them to help continue the war against other cartels. A law that would require gun stores to alert the authorities of large gun sales would certainly help curb the violence even to a small degree - even one life saved would be worth it.

"It is certainly disappointing that politics trumps sound policy," said Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan in an email to NBC about the White House decision. "We can’t keep on fiddling while the issue of arms trafficking to Mexico continues to burn." Semi-automatic rifles have fast become the weapon of choice among the cartels because of a loophole in the our federal gun law which currently requires federally licensed gun store to report to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) whenever an individual buys two or more handguns within a five day period, but, no such requirement applies to semiautomatic assault rifles.

Since the White House has not deemed the problem in Mexico an emergency, the ATF was not able to expedite the new law as quickly as they would have liked which put the new law on the back burner for at least two more months. The White House said over the weekend, the rule was delayed because of the president’s recent executive order calling for a more thorough review of all federal regulations. As the President asks for more paperwork and red tape the war in Mexico wages on and more lives will be lost. The battle in Mexico for cartel supremacy is a real problem, one that crosses our border and puts Americans at risk just the same as Mexicans; how long before we open our eyes to the catastrophe taking place in our own back yard?


Monday, February 7, 2011

Heroin And Pain Killers Were Found In The Crash

Photo Credit: Andrew Mills/ The Star-Ledger

Three New Jersey young adults' lives were lost when their car slammed into the wall of an elementary school. Both heroin and pain killers like Oxycodone were found inside the vehicle by authorities, but, the drugs are not thought to be the cause of the accident considering the car left no evidence that the driver hit the brakes. Killed were Matthew Budesa, 20, of Pine Beach; Kimberly Van Gorden, 20, of Beachwood; and Matthew Witzgall, 21, of Toms River. Matthew Budesa attended the same elementary school as a child; his car left a six-by-six foot hole in the wall, so if this was intentional then there is definitely some symbolism to the scene of the crash. It will be a few weeks before the toxicology reports are completed on the three victims and there are hundreds of people who have questions that may never be answered.

The accident looks more and more like a planned suicide when considering that the collision Thursday morning happened at high speed, no skid marks, and not one of them were wearing a seat belt. However, at the moment the crash is being ruled an accident until more about the incident is understood. "Everything is on the table. We’re looking at everything. All avenues are being explored," Deputy Chief Mohel said. Friends and family of the victims have mixed feeling about the cause of the crash with some believing it was a suicide and others thinking that it was not possible.

"It’s all just a bad, tragic accident," said Witzgall’s uncle, Dan Boyle of Brick. "They were all just friends." Witzgall’s girlfriend, Heather Hiis of Beachwood, said she wasn’t sure it was an accident; the three victims didn't talk about ending their lives, Hiis said, in the past they all had kidded about suicide. "They were all going through some very hard stuff at the time," said Hiis.

Even kidding about suicide should not be taken lightly, if you know someone struggling and hear them joke about suicide it is best to reach out and help them.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bath Salts Cause Suicides

Bath salts with names like "White China" and "Euphoria" have become extremely popular amongst drug users. This legal drug is to blame for a number of suicides due to the symptoms that it causes which usually is severe depression. It has been outlawed in three states already. We have been following this drug since 21 year old Dickie Sanders took his life after using the drug. The drug is nearly undetectable and there are no tests yet that can reveal whether or not people have been using the drug. These so called bath salts are nothing but synthetic designer drugs sold all over the place and can be found with ease. People are snorting, eating, and smoking the bath salts without even knowing the actual ingredients inside the white powder.

The government needs to move faster to ban bath salts altogether so that more lives are not lost. Teenagers who are trying to fit in with the crowd may be pressured into using the drug without any idea of the consequences that they may have. It is almost hard to believe that bath salts have been sold legally as long as they have. Now, in Florida anyone caught selling bath salts will being facing felony charges and hopefully other states will step up to the plate and take care of this new epidemic. If you know of anyone experimenting with bath salts, then there is reason for concern. Just this month nationwide there have been 246 emergency calls regarding overdoses on bath salts, which is ten more than all the emergency calls last year.

Please watch the short video below from the Today Show about the subject:

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