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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Alcohol Justice

Every year alcohol companies spend millions of dollars in an attempt to acquire more consumers, there are probably no lengths they will not go to in order to generate more revenue for their multibillion dollar industry. Fortunately, there are a number of organizations whose main goal is to make it harder for people to acquire alcohol - especially alcohol products directed at the younger markets.

One such organization, the Marin Institute, recently announced that they would be changing their name to Alcohol Justice in order to better represent their goal and mission. “Just as the term ‘environmental justice’ entails special harm to communities of color, Alcohol Justice hopes to expose the insidious harm to ethnic communities, women and even the LGBT community from the actions of alcohol corporations”, Alcohol Justice Executive Director/CEO Bruce Lee Livingston wrote.

Founded in 1987, the organization campaigns to have the price of alcohol raised. The removal of dangerous youth-oriented alcoholic drinks from the market is another priority they focus on, as well as the restriction of alcohol ads and promotions.

While the “Big Alcohol” companies are the biggest concern, the smaller alcohol companies like the makers of Four Loko, which sent a number of teenagers and college students to the hospital this year. There can never be too much counter marketing, we need to keep our youth informed as to the dangers and risks associated with alcohol. Hopefully, the Marin Institute’s new name will have more impact than the former.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Prescription Opioid and Intravenous Drug Use

Prescription drug abuse is now being linked to and even considered the gateway to intravenous drug use. Teenagers and young adults heading down the road of addiction typically will have their first opiate experience in the form of a prescription pain killer like oxycodone. According to a new study released, it is only a matter of time before someone who is abusing prescription narcotics either starts injecting their pills or switches over to heroin use. Just as with every type of drug, the longer one consumes a particular drug the more developed their tolerance becomes, thus making it harder to achieve the desired feeling; in turn, this causes addicts to experiment with different avenues of consumption which usually leads to I.V. drug use.

Researchers found four out of five injection drug users abused an opioid drug (prescriptions) before they injected heroin. Almost one out of four young injection drug users first injected a prescription opioid, which led them to injecting heroin, the Science Daily reports.

The study included 50 injection drug users between the ages of 16 to 25. All had misused a prescription drug at least three times in the past three months, with about three-fourths of the participants having had been prescribed an opioid, often for dental procedures or sports injuries.

“Participants were commonly raised in households where misuse of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol, was normalized,” lead researcher Dr. Stephen Lankenau, from Drexel University in Philadelphia, said in a news release. “Access to prescription medications – either from a participant’s own source, a family member, or a friend – was a key feature of initiation into prescription drug misuse.”

It cannot be overemphasized enough; parents need to safeguard their young ones from prescription narcotics. It is crucial that drugs that have the propensity for being abused should be locked up at all times.

The study, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mad Hatter Abuse in Ohio

As the federal government works to put bans on “legal high” drugs being sold as incense under the name of “Spice or K2”, manufacturers have already come up with new formulas being sold under different names. One such incense which is being abused in the state of Ohio is called “Mad Hatter”: A form of synthetic marijuana, which can cause hallucinations and increased heart rate.

Last week, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a law that makes synthetic marijuana and bath salts illegal to sell or possess. The law does not go into effect for 90 days, so in the mean time Mad Hatter is still legal in the state. Mad Hatter is sold in three-gram packages that are marked “not for human consumption.” They sell for about $25 each.

David Davis, Director of the Emergency Services and Trauma Unit for Genesis, a hospital in Zanesville, OH, told the newspaper that they had treated a number of patients who had abused these “legal highs”.

“Patients are coming in agitated, vomiting, in seizures, paranoid or having hallucinations. The reactions are similar to those when ingesting the bath salts that seem to be on the rise.”

The Ohio bill includes an amendment that would make it illegal to produce any substance that is similar to Spice or bath salts after the bill is signed. The amendment will keep manufacturers from skirting the new bill and just changing the formula a little. Hopefully in a few years drugs like these will be illegal all over the country and any attempt to skirt the laws put in place will be a punishable offense.

Lancaster Eagle Gazette

Monday, July 18, 2011

Extremely Dangerous Bath Salts

The controversial bath salt drugs have become more and more popular amongst teenagers and young adults, which is why the number of emergency room visits and poison control calls continues to rise. The American Association of Poison Control Centers says poison control centers received 3,470 calls about bath salts during the first six months of this year, a jump from 303 calls in all of 2010. Experts believe that the use of these “legal high” drugs may have longer lasting harmful effects than previously thought.

Bath salts can cause:
  • extreme paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • delusions
  • rapid heart rate
  • chest pain
  • suicidal thoughts

The New York Times reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration is considering whether to classify two chemicals in bath salts, MDPV and mephedrone, as Schedule I drugs. While at least 28 states have banned bath salts, a DEA ban may not be very effective, considering that chemists can change one molecule of the formulation and the bath salts will comply with the DEA classification of the chemicals. Bath salt companies need only stay one step ahead of the DEA in order to keep operations up and going.

Just because a product is sold over the counter at a convenience store or over the internet hardly means it is safe for consumption. It seems like despite the heavy attention the press is giving these substances people are still ignoring the warning signs. There is no telling how one’s mind will react to such chemicals considering there has been little testing on them up until recently. Some people just hallucinate, while others contemplate suicide; again, there is just no telling how one will be affected by bath salts. The best thing anyone can do is avoid them altogether for mental health reasons alone.

If you know anyone experimenting with these substances, please caution them about the severe danger associated with the chemicals contained inside those little packets of bath crystals.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Never Afraid to Speak the Truth

As the country mourns the loss of great American, Betty Ford, we cannot help but think of how she helped the country become the great nation that we see today. Ford fought to make equal rights for women a reality while still defending the role of the housewife. She spoke openly about topics formerly considered taboo, such as the nature of addiction. Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady and friend of Ford, said she "was never afraid to speak the truth including about her own struggle with alcohol and pain killers.” "Her honesty gave help to others every day."

The nation owes Betty Ford a debt a debt of gratitude and our upmost respect. Please take a few moments to watch Rosalynn Carter’s touching eulogy.

Visit msnbc.comfor breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 National Drug Control Strategy

As cocaine and heroin abuse continue to drop across the board, the same cannot be said about prescription drug abuse as it affects more and more lives every year. It is for that reason that prescription drug abuse and binge drinking will be the main focus of the 2011 National Drug Control Strategy, according to the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske. While some demographics have been affected more severely by the abuse of prescription narcotics, there are several that will be the targets of the new strategy including:

  • active duty military
  • veterans
  • college students
  • women and their families
  • those in the criminal justice system

An estimated 375,000 veterans were diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder in 2007, the administration’s drug control policy will work towards supporting special courts for veterans with substance abuse issues and mental illness, Bloomberg reports. The new plan will help communities to educate their citizens as to the dangers associated with prescription narcotics and especially those who get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

There is a $26 billion federal budget for dealing with drug abuse; with about half of the funding going towards enforcement, with the rest of the funding for prevention and treatment, Kerlikowske told Bloomberg.

Ongoing budget discussions could affect the budget for drug control strategy, Kerlikowske noted.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Prescription Drugs Account for Three-Quarters of Overdose Deaths

In the past few months we have been following Florida’s prescription drug epidemic and the steps the Florida government has been taking to work on the problem. A new study has shown that when it comes to drug overdose deaths in Florida between 2003 and 2009, prescription medications were involved in 76 percent of all cases and 34 percent of overdose deaths involved illegal drugs. Clearly, prescription drug have become a more serious problem and without drastic measures this problem will only grow.

Prescription drug death rates increased by 84.2 percent between 2003 and 2009. The three drugs that have been abused the greatest during that time period were oxycodone, followed by alprazolam (Xanax), and methadone. By 2009, the number of deaths involving prescription drugs was four times the number involving illicit drugs, the researchers reported in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In response to the findings, the CDC believes that there is need to strengthen interventions aimed at reducing overdose deaths from prescription drugs in Florida. Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law a bill which aims to stop “pill-mills” across the state as well as a prescription-drug monitoring database to reduce doctor-shopping. The new bill also imposes new penalties for physicians who are in the practice of overprescribing medication and imposes stricter rules for operating pharmacies. Pain management clinics have until Monday to dispose of their stockpiles of particular medications as they are not allowed to deal them out anymore, failure to comply will result in strict punishment.

People in other states have seen the dysfunction in Florida prompting them to cross state lines to get prescriptions in order to sell them in their own state. Federal authorities estimate that 85 percent of oxycodone is sold in Florida.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Please rate your pain on a scale from one to ten, one being the least and ten being the most severe pain. This scale is about the only way doctors can gauge the level of pain a patient is experiencing and the doctor needs to take the patient’s word on it. Unfortunately, anyone can exaggerate their level of pain in order to get particular drugs like oxycodone and no one can tell the patient that they are not experiencing the pain they claim to be. Clearly, the pain management field has some serious issues and is partly to blame for the serious epidemic this country is witnessing as a result of prescription drug abuse.

Joel Saper, Director of the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, told the Wall Street Journal, “We don’t have a pain-o-meter.” Saper believes that between 15 to 20 percent of patients looking for pain relief, either don’t have pain or have less pain than they claim.

An estimated 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, with lower back pain being the most common type of pain, in 28 percent of the population. Knee pain is second, affecting 20 percent, according to a new report by the Institute of Medicine called Relieving Pain in America.

There needs to be some way that doctors can more adequately gauge a person’s pain so that they are not prescribed drugs needlessly, which promotes the chance that the drug will be used improperly or sold. This country has let pain management spin out of control, too many prescriptions and too many options to choose from; people are being prescribed drugs that are much more powerful than the pain they may or may not be experiencing.

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