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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Legal Bath Salts Problem: Continued

Last week we covered the topic of legal bath salts which has fast become a nationwide problem on a number of fronts. We think this topic is important so we thought you would like to see additional clips from NBC's DATELINE May 22, 2011, The Hansen's Files - Bath Salts Part 2:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New York Banned Fake Bath Salts

Fortunately, strong action is being taken nationwide in response to the abuse of bath salts which have sent hoards of people to the E.R. or on the phone with poison control. At first glance by the user the bath salts seem pretty harmless, but after consuming the products the users experience sensations that are far from benign - leading some individuals to take their own life. New York is the latest state to ban bath salts. The Associated Press reports that New York State’s Health Commissioner has banned the sale of bath salts, effective immediately.

It is almost hard to believe but not all that surprising that a product like this slipped passed the FDA and has manage to wreak so much havoc on peoples' lives. Fake bath salts are crystallized chemicals that can be snorted, swallowed, and/or smoked. There are two active ingredients that are powerful stimulants that mimic cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamine. Just in the first three months of 2011, poison control centers received more than 1,400 calls for bath salts, compared with 301 in all of 2010. The increase in calls shows clearly the need for serious action to be taken or more lives will certainly be at risk.

The fact of the matter is that, drugs like fake bath salts have had very little research conducted on them which means we know very little. However, what we do know is that drugs like these are not to be even experimented with due to the high risk of hospitalization, as it is clear by the hundreds of individuals nationwide who have had to be admitted. Fake bath salts are typically dispensed at convenient stores as well as head shops and you could probably find them at gas stations as well. What's clear is that products like these can be acquired with relative ease, which means that teenagers can come upon them just as easy. If you know anyone experimenting with such products, it would be best to encourage them to seek help or you should seek help for them.

Symptoms include:
  • paranoia
  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • chest pains
  • increased blood pressure
  • suicidal behavior
  • violence

Here is a video from NBC's DATELINE May 22, 2011, The Hansen's Files - Bath Salts Part 1

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, May 23, 2011

Derek Boogaard Accidental Overdose

(Matt Slocum/AP)

Once again a young life filled with promise is taken because of a lethal mixture of alcohol and prescription medications. Derek Boogaard, 28, of the New York Rangers accidentally overdosed and died from a mixture of oxycodone and alcohol. Oxycodone is a painkiller that is highly addictive and extremely dangerous if mixed with other medications or substances, mixing any form of oxycodone with alcohol can increase the risk of something bad happening. An enforcer for the Rangers, Boogaard, was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment by family members on May 13.

In a statement released Friday, Boogaard’s family claimed that he had been playing in pain for years, acknowledging that Boogaard was battling addiction at the time of his death. “We are deeply saddened by this unimaginable loss, but we are grateful for the expression of support that has given us strength as we go through this tragic time,” the family said in a statement released through the N.H.L. Players’ Association. “Earlier today, we received the results of Derek’s toxicology report at the time of his accidental death,” the statement continued. “After repeated courageous attempts at rehabilitation and with the full support of the New York Rangers, the N.H.L.P.A., and the N.H.L., Derek had been showing tremendous improvement but was ultimately unable to beat this opponent.”

It is quite common for people suffering from pain to become dependent upon their medication, addiction is a reality when it comes to prescription medications. Individuals suffering from pain that require narcotics for relief should communicate with their physician if they feel that addiction is ensuing. Do not let your medication get the upper hand on you, there are many different channels that can provide help if you need it.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Boogaard's family in their time of sadness.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Synthetic Marijuana Causes Psychosis

Understanding all the effects caused from ingesting new illicit drugs generally takes doctors and researchers some time. Recently, a new habit has been picked up by a number of people from all different age groups, that can be potentially life threatening and scientists have now determined that it may cause long term psychosis. The drug has been classified as a synthetic marijuana, known as Spice or K2, although there is nothing about the drug that is anything like marijuana. According to a report at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, drugs like Spice and K2 can cause long lasting psychosis. Such cases were observed by doctors at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, where 10 men were hospitalized for psychosis caused by Spice with symptoms lasting for days to months.

The symptoms experienced by the 10 men included:

  • Paranoid Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal Thoughts

While most of the men recovered fairly quickly, some individuals had trouble for as long as three months, which if left unsupervised some of the men would have found the means to commit suicide. There are probably a number of people out there who are wondering what appeal drugs like these could have to someone. The answer boils down to one's desire to pass a traditional drug test and be able to let loose at the same time. The trend of synthetic drugs being used by members of the military has become a growing problem. As a response to the problem all four branches of the military have quickly banned the use of synthetic drugs.

Synthetic drugs like Spice are not to be toyed around with and have been proven to cause serious problems for those who indulge. If you come across "legal" synthetic drugs do not be fooled by the packaging, they are extremely dangerous and are being called a number of different names to fool buyers. The most popular names include: Spice, K2, Blaze, and Red X Dawn. Scientists are still researching these drugs and they are not approved by the FDA and little is known about their safety, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Florida Babies Born On Prescription Drugs

People who struggle with prescription drug abuse often do not fully comprehend the toxic effects of drugs like pain narcotics and sedatives. A number of female addicts who are uneducated as to the serious harm posed by such drugs will make the choice to head down the road to childbirth. They will continue taking the drugs through the duration of the pregnancy, failing to realize that when the child is born their brain and body will crave the drugs the mother was consuming. Across the country babies are being born everyday with a dependency to one drug or another and sometimes a whole cocktail. Last year in Florida an estimated 1,300 babies were treated for drug withdrawal in Florida, up by 30 percent from the year before. Florida officials are now scrambling to find a solution to the problem at hand, for fear that the trend will continue.

Florida's Attorney General, Pam Bondi, stated that many pregnant women do not realize the dangers that drugs such as oxycodone and Xanax pose to their unborn babies, The Miami Herald reports. The Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Bondi met with officials from BayCare Health System to identify the problem and find a way to fix it. Bondi plans to team up with the St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital in Tampa with the goal of starting a national task force which would work to educate women about the dangers of prescription drugs. Some women addicted to prescription drugs have been prescribed methadone during pregnancy in an attempt to keep them from doing other drugs by reducing the cravings, according to the report.

Babies exposed to narcotics in utero typically experience these symptoms:

  • stiff limbs
  • tremors
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

30 days in a neonatal intensive care unit is the typical stay for babies born dependent to prescription drugs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Minnesota Cuts Drug and Alcohol Counseling for Schools

The most important time to talk to people about drug and alcohol abuse is during their teen years. High school is a boiling pot of peer pressure that can drive kids to make choices that can dramatically affect the course of one's life. While parents are typically responsible for talking to their kids about the dangers of alcohol, the burden also falls on trained professionals hired by the states to talk to kids in public schools about substance abuse as well as aid those already suffering. The role of drug and alcohol counselors is crucial in the quest to do all that we can to prevent teenage substance abuse. Unfortunately, not everyone sees the importance of such a role, hence the severe funding cuts that have been happening nationwide.

One such state that has seen financial slashing in the field of counseling is Minnesota and according to The St. Paul Pioneer Press, some school administrators view drug and alcohol programs as luxuries that they can no longer afford. It was pointed out by Martha Harding, of a well renowned drug and alcohol treatment organization, to the newspaper that alcohol and drug counselors hired by Minnesota schools in the mid-1990s played a big part in lowering rates of teen alcohol and drug use. If grant funding continues to be slashed, she says she is concerned that as school programs disappear, some of the progress made over the last fifteen years will be lost.

While public funding goes down the drain there has been an increase in private drug and alcohol counselors, the article reports. The Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy says there are about 2,280 licensed alcohol and drug counselors in the state, an increase of more than 50 percent from five years ago. Roy Kammer, Coordinator of Alcohol and Drug Studies at Minnesota State University-Mankato, told the newspaper that treatment centers are a more appealing option than schools, which offer less pay and stability.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hepatitis C On The Rise

Intravenous drug use often goes hand in hand with addiction along with a number of other terrible things. When addicts are under the influence sound decision making is usually not present, leading addicts to make poor judgment calls about sharing needles and having unprotected sex, two activities that spread diseases like Hepatitis C and AIDS. Hepatitis C infections have been rising rapidly among young white people in Massachusetts, a direct result of increased use of heroin and other drugs that can administered intravenously, according to researchers.

A team from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported that cases of the Hepatitis C infection have been dropping across the general population, but in the 15 to 24 age group infection rates steadily rose between 2002 and 2006, which continued on through 2009. "Of cases with available risk data, injection drug use was the most common risk factor for HCV transmission," the team wrote in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly report on death and disease. "The increase in case reports appears to represent an epidemic of HCV infection related to IDU (injected drug use) among new populations of adolescents and young adults in Massachusetts".

Hepatitis C and other viruses that can be passed though bodily fluid are serious problems worldwide that need to be addressed. In recent years efforts have been made to provide addicts with clean needles that can be safely disposed of by professionals after the needles have been contaminated. Unfortunately, a number of IV drug users, despite being offered healthy avenues for obtaining clean needles, will reach their hand inside a bio-hazard sharps box to fish out a syringe with little or no concern for the risk of blood born infections. Efforts need to be made to ensure addicts cannot even have the option of obtaining a dirty needle from any medical facility.

According to the CDC, 3.2 million Americans are infected.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Colleges Join Together Against Binge Drinking

A number of college students will be graduating after four long years of studious activities. With graduation comes celebration throughout the entire family, college these days is a joint effort between mother, father, and child so there is cause for jubilee on every front. The number one concern during this time of the year is that upon the years end the majority of students will be partaking in partying with alcohol and in some cases drugs. It is up to the universities to work extra hard to limit the amount of drunk driving that occurs during this time of the year.

Drinking is heavily ingrained into college life; it is an activity that most students will join in the fun. Sadly, a number of students will also do some binge drinking which more times than not will cause a blackout which can take an individual's night in any direction - usually a bad one. Fourteen colleges and universities announced their plans this week to band together to fight binge drinking. Dartmouth, Cornell, Duke, Boston University, Northwestern, Princeton, and Stanford, plan to work in conjunction to share methods that have proved sound and exchange test data to measure the effectiveness from one college to the next.

The new collective of colleges are calling the plan the Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking, will start this summer. Dartmouth President, Jim Yong Kim, says he hopes at least 20 colleges will be a part of the collaborative by then, The Washington Post reports. The less binge drinking that occurs, the more lives will be saved from alcohol poisoning and fatal car crashes as a result of driving while blacked-out.

Curbing binge drinking is not solely up to colleges and universities, parents have a huge role to play in this problem. Parents need to guide the children down a path where they understand the dangers associated with one bad decision related to drinking. A few words of advice may be all it takes to save someone's life.

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Technology Hinders Smuggling

International drug trafficking is heavily frowned upon and millions of dollars are spent every year in an attempt to combat the illegal smuggling of drugs across state and international borders. It has long been understood by officials that it is impossible to stop the flow completely; there will always be drugs that find their way across borders but it is a possible to severely limit the amount that makes it. Technology has allowed officials to see inside places they never could before, human beings and drug dogs can only do so much; with the help of computers and high powered imaging devices authorities have an edge against smugglers.

One new study shows how advanced CT with 3D scanning can assist radiologists better identify ingested or hidden contraband with more accuracy. Newer techniques for wrapping drug packets make them harder to detect on conventional x-rays. "When abdominal radiographs are negative for contraband, but a strong suspicion for drug trafficking remains, our goal is to encourage law officers and medical workers to use CT with 3D scanning as part of their game plan", according to Dr. Barry Daly, lead researcher for the study. Authorities have been using X-Ray technology for quite some time but with limited accuracy, "with drug traffickers becoming more sophisticated and learning to hide contraband items more efficiently, it's hard to identify these items on an ordinary x-ray," Dr. Daly said. "By using CT with 3D scanning, we can go from 90% to 100% accuracy. Although CT scanning is more expensive, it is much more sensitive."

Advanced CT with 3D scanning can also aid health care professionals save peoples' lives. "Drug smugglers can die very quickly if large amounts of pure cocaine or heroin are released and absorbed from a leaking drug packet," Dr. Daly says. "Health care workers, especially in ERs, need to be aware of how to properly use CT scanning to prevent potentially hazardous internal problems for drug smugglers."

The presentation on this study will be delivered by Dr. Daly and his colleagues on Monday, May 2, 2011 at the 2011 ARRS Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

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