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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

$88 Million To Prevent Youth Substance Use

Adolescent and teen substance abuse is an ever growing concern as more kids have access to dangerous prescription medications than ever before. In an attempt to combat the growing problem, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), today announced $12.3 million in new Drug Free Communities Support Program (DFC) grants to 87 communities and 20 new DFC Mentoring grants across the country. These grants will be in addition to the nearly $76 million in Continuation grants simultaneously released to 607 currently funded DFC coalitions and twelve DFC Mentoring Continuation coalitions. The goal of the awarded grants is to help community organizations to educate our youth on the dangers of abuse and addiction, as well as help those already afflicted find adequate treatment programs.

"The most powerful tool we have to address our Nation's drug problem is preventing it before it even begins," said Director Kerlikowske. "Research shows that every dollar invested in drug education and prevention programs saves up to ten dollars in costs related to treatment for substance use. President Obama understands how the hard work of local community leaders, youth, parents, educators, healthcare professionals, faith-based leaders, law enforcement officials, and others can strengthen communities and save kids' lives."

The fight to keep kids off drugs is a never ending battle, as long as drugs are on the streets or in home medicine cabinets there will always be a risk of our youth getting their hands on them. Education programs need to always be available in order to keep kids informed about the dangers of prescription medications as well as hard drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin.

"The Drug-Free Communities Support Program is one of the key elements in our nation's efforts to prevent and reduce substance abuse," said Pamela S. Hyde, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "It is effective in large part because it focuses on community-based approaches to promoting safe and healthy environments where families can raise children free from the dangers and destruction of substance abuse."


Monday, August 29, 2011

FDA New Painkiller Approval

Just when one may have thought that there were enough addictive opioids on the market, the FDA has recently given Johnson & Johnson approval to produce another. The drug is called Nucynta and it has a high potential for abuse, where by users can become psychologically or physically dependent on the drug. The new approval is somewhat controversial considering that Nucynta was approved in 2008 in an immediate release format which was heavily abused, the new approval is for an extended release format which should make crushing up the drug to be snorted or injected more difficult.

Nucynta is a Schedule II narcotic, a category of drugs considered to have a strong potential for abuse or addiction but that have legitimate medical use. There is no question whether or not Schedule II drugs help patients with their severe pain; however, these drugs are prescribed far too regularly and to people who could manage on something not as strong and certainly less addictive. The United States is at the forefront of the prescription drug epidemic and more pain narcotics are designed and produced in this country. It is hard to imagine that there are not enough drugs already on the market to deal with the various levels of pain patients experience.

At some point it would be wise on the federal governments behalf to put a moratorium on strong addictive medications that have a high potential for abuse. While pharmaceutical companies continue to make millions of dollars from their medications, there are millions of people suffering from their dependence on those medications. Johnson & Johnson has an answer to pain, but hardly an answer to recovery from prescription drug addiction.

It is always best to search for alternatives forms of pain management, pills may be the quickest most effective form of pain management, but, they are also the most dangerous taking many lives every year. Don't let your doctor be quick and send you on your way with a prescription, it is always best to discuss alternatives.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Social Networking Peer Pressure

The world is getting smaller and less personal due to the World Wide Web; it seems everyone from children to older adults is somehow connected to the Internet and use it on a daily basis. Teenagers are probably online sharing their lives with their peers the most; and it may be that social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are a bad influence on teenagers when it comes to drinking and drug use according to a new survey conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York. Just about every time a party takes place there is always a group of people that posts pictures of people intoxicated, holding drinks, and passed out. Teenagers who see such photos are more inclined to want to drink or get high.

An estimated 70 percent of teens spend time on social networking sites in a typical day, the survey found. Compared with teens who do not use social networking sites, according to the survey those who visit them on a regular basis are:
  • five times as likely to use tobacco
  • three times as likely to drink alcohol
  • twice as likely to use marijuana

The problem is not just with teenagers; the survey found that about half of adolescents on social networking sites have seen photos of teens who are using alcohol or drugs, or who have passed out. Clearly, this fact should concern parents who allow their children to participate on social networking sites. Why there may be other factors that can contribute to underage drinking and drug use, peer influence is huge and should be monitored. A number of parents have befriended their children on such sites in order to keep an eye on what their children and their children's friends are up to.

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Delays on Hydrocodone Restrictions

In the last ten years the United States has seen more prescription drug abuse than ever before, especially when it comes to prescription pain killers like hydrocodone and oxycodone. While E.R. visit records continue to pile up, government officials continue to delay regulations that would tighten up the control of such drugs. In 2009, more than 86,000 ER visits were related to the non-medical use of hydrocodone. There is hardly a household in America that does not have hydrocodone in their medicine cabinet due to over prescribing and lax laws pertaining to Schedule III drugs which can be refilled up to 6 times before one is required to go back to the doctor in order to get more. Whereas Schedule II narcotics must be locked up at pharmacies and physicians can only prescribe one bottle at a time and patients must have an original prescription in order to obtain the medication. Since 1999 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has juggled with the idea of changing Vicodin's (hydrocodone) classification from Schedule III to Schedule II but the decision continues to be pushed back.

Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opiate in the United States, with more than 139 million prescriptions for hydrocodone-containing products dispensed in 2010 and more than 36 million in the first quarter of 2011, according to the DEA. A review of police drug labs showed that seizures of pills containing hydrocodone are second only to those of oxycodone, with almost 45,000 pills containing hydrocodone being seized in the U.S last year.

A bill was introduced in Congress in March that would tighten controls on hydrocodone, bypassing the FDA and DEA rulemaking process. Hopefully, the new bill will take effect, it will be much harder for people to obtain the drug, and surely we will see a decline in E.R. visits.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cell Phones and Medication Compliance

Methamphetamine addiction is extremely difficult to deal with on a number of levels, which is why treating it is equally hard. Every drug affects addicts differently and every addiction has a different drug to help treat it. However, not everyone who goes down the road to recovery is in an inpatient treatment facility which makes monitoring patients and their compliance with taking certain medications a challenge. A new study finds asking patients to use a cell phone to snap a picture of medication for methamphetamine dependence treatment before they take it, and emailing it to their doctor, may be a simple and effective way of monitoring treatment compliance, Medical News Today reports.

Cell phones are devices that everyone these days is familiar with which researchers believe makes using them to aid professionals in treating patients a sound method. Researchers reported that they provided cell phones with cameras to 20 patients who had been prescribed modafinil to treat methamphetamine dependence. Patients take a picture of their medication in their hand before they swallowed it, and then email the photo to the researchers, according to the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

The cell phone method showed to be more effective than two other methods used: medication event monitoring system is a pill bottle that electronically records every time the bottle is opened and the second approach is counting the patient’s supply of pills at each clinic visit.

The cell phone technique gave a more accurate time measure and more frequent assessment of compliance than the other two methods. “Given the ubiquity of cellular telephone use, and the relative ease of this adherence measurement method, we believe it is a useful and cost-effective approach,” the researchers wrote.

Monday, August 15, 2011

AlcoholEdu New College Alcohol Program

As we move closer to the beginning of the fall semester, new students, meaning freshman are preparing to enter a completely new environment and will have all new experiences. Naturally, drugs and alcohol abuse are major concerns for college officials, which is why they are working hard to implement programs that will help educate their students regarding the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Binge drinking and sexual assault occurs every weekend on college campuses across the country. A new program that was just developed will be implemented at a number of campuses this year; aimed at demonstrating the consequences of excessive drinking.

The program, called AlcoholEdu for College, is an online course for college freshman, designed to help students imagine themselves in real-life situations; questions will be asked regarding what a student would do if they saw a friend who drinks too much and goes wild.

A study of 30 campuses, half of which implemented the program, found AlcoholEdu also reduced the risk of students getting into trouble with authorities, according to the Boston Globe. Up to 40 percent of college students in the United States participate in binge drinking, and that statistic has not changed for decades. Almost 2,000 college students in the U.S. die each year from alcohol-related injuries. An estimated 600,000 students are injured while under the influence, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The goal is to teach students that they do not have to fall into the pressures from their peers, as well as teach them that if they do have a problem that there is nothing to be embarrassed about and there is help out there. Students should not be afraid about coming forward for a friend that needs help and does not know how to ask for it. Everyday friends save their friends lives just by having the skills to know what to do if there is a problem.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Betty Ford Helping People Recover


Betty Ford was known for many things, some of which are: activism, First Lady of the United States of America, and alcoholic. While the latter may sound unappealing to a number of people, for those whose lives were touched and in some cases saved by Betty, it is a big deal. She was one of the first people in the public spotlight and political arena to speak openly about her affliction and after finding recovery herself she made it her personal mission to help those in need find it, too. Even in death Betty Ford is still helping people in recovery, Mary Pattiz, chairwoman of the board at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, said Wednesday $400,000 was a direct bequest to the center, as well as another $100,000 from a foundation set up by Ford and her late husband, President Gerald Ford, according to The Desert Sun of Palm Springs.

"Mrs. Ford was, and always will be, the heart and soul of this place of healing," Pattiz said. "It means so much to us that after all she had given over the past 30 years, the center was still front and center in her mind during her final days."

The drug treatment facility that Ford co-founded has help over 100,000 people start the road to recovery. It was designed to open the door of treatment for addicts and then would help patients find a suitable extended care facility after 30 days. With the skills patients gained in the first thirty in their tool box, it made what was required to live and prosper in recovery a reality down the road. The entire addiction community owes Betty Ford their gratitude and admiration.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

College Recovery Programs

College is often a high stress environment for a number of people and every student deals with stress differently. Developing healthy coping skills for dealing with stress can be hard for people which is why many turn to drugs and alcohol to help manage the pressure. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol give students a false sense of control that can lead students down the road to addiction. A number of colleges have begun offering services for those individuals who may be abusing substances and/or are addicted to them.

College peers may not have the tools to help their fellow students find recovery and those students who are suffering from addiction will often be too embarrassed to seek help for their problem. This summer, a group of colleges formed the Association for Recovery in Higher Education to promote recovery related initiatives.

Texas Tech has lead the charge n programs related to recovery by offering:
  • 12-step courses
  • classes on relapse prevention
  • opportunities for academic scholarships
  • a serenity center for students who wish to meditate

New recovery programs will be starting this fall at the University of Michigan and Penn State University.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that from 1999 to 2009, the number of students age 18 to 24 seeking treatment for substance abuse more than doubled. The rate of heavy alcohol use—having five or more drinks on five or more occasions in the previous month—is highest among 20- to 22-year-olds; college students are the heaviest drinkers in that group, SAMHSA says.

A well renowned treatment provider will be offering a residence hall for college students in recovery in New York City, which will be open to students going to college in Manhattan such as NYU and Columbia.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Smoking Cigarettes Brain Damage

It is no secret that smoking cigarettes or smoking any kind of tobacco product can be hazardous to one’s health. Smoking has been linked to a number of forms of cancers: lung cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, and in some cases even heart disease. Researchers across the world have worked tirelessly to fully understand the possible physical damage associated with tobacco products. New research has shown that that smoking cigarettes in later years of one’s life may cause brain damage, i.e. brain shrinkage and, or memory loss.

The study found that dangerous changes in the brain that could lead to a decline in mental functioning as soon as 10 years later could occur from four different variables:
  • smoking
  • high blood pressure

  • diabetes
  • excess weight

Study author Charles DeCarli, M.D., of the University of California at Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, said in a journal news release, “Our findings provide evidence that identifying these risk factors early in people of middle age could be useful in screening people for at-risk dementia and encouraging people to make changes to their lifestyle before it’s too late.”

The brain is not an organ that should be tampered with, being more important than any other single organ. Damage to the brain is irreversible at this point and it does not look promising for there ever to be a way to reverse such damage. People actively addicted to cigarettes should have reason to be concerned and should try and look for ways to cut cigarettes and tobacco out of their life all together.

Quitting cigarettes is no easy chore, but, there is help out there if one desires it.

The study appears in the journal Neurology.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Drunk Driving Laws

Drunk driving in America is a problem that has a huge impact on peoples’ lives, both drunk drivers and the victims of drunk drivers. People often have a hard time when they are intoxicated gauging their abilities. It is easy for people to think that they are not really that drunk despite drinking as much as they have, which is why so many people get behind the wheel when they have been drinking. It's fair to say that everyone who has ever been pulled over for driving intoxicated at one time or another said, "I will never get a DUI" or "Just because my friend got a DUI doesn't mean I will". The reality is, if you drive drunk enough times, risking your life and the lives of others, you will eventually get a DUI; hopefully, the DUI is the worst thing that happens on that night and no one is killed.

In most states across the country, officials work hard to make the penalties for drunk driving as severe as possible in an attempt to dissuade people from making bad decisions. Fines are severe, loss of license, and in some cases jail time even for first offense, but, despite all that, people will continue to get behind the wheel. With every year that passes the penalties become more severe, especially for those people who have more than one DUI.

There are some states that require mandatory jail time for first offenders:
  • Alaska
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia

No jail time is required for first offenders in:
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Indiana

First time offenders in Wisconsin are merely issued a ticket, clearly not much of a deterrent. In some parts of Michigan a first time DUI can land you in jail for 20 days, while the next county over requires no jail time at all. Drunk driving is not a joke and people who get one DUI are exponentially more likely to get another. DUI's are life changing and for most people unaffordable, yet people simply do not take it in to account; in many cases addiction plays a huge part in why some people are chronic offenders, they may not get caught all the time but sooner or later something bad will happen.

Why take the risk?

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