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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Whip-Its On the Rise

Over the past couple decades inhalants have claimed a number of lives and yet continue to be popular amongst teenagers and young adults. A new report has found that the tiny little canisters of nitrous oxide, known as Whip-Its, are once again extremely popular, according to ABC News.

Whip-Its have become the most popular inhalant among young adults, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Whip-Its are easy to obtain at almost any age and nitrous oxide can be found in many forms.

“What makes them really popular is they’re easily accessible,” William Oswald, founder of a drug treatment center, told ABC News. “You can get them at a head shop, you can get it out of a whipped cream bottle.”

People who buy Whip-Its on the Internet are typically not asked their date of birth or what the product is intended for, they are usually not used for making whipped cream which is their intended use.

Whip-Its can be deadly according to Dr. Westley Clark, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at SAMHSA. He stated that inhaling nitrous oxide cuts off oxygen to the brain which causes severe damage to the heart, nervous system, and other organs.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Emmotional Support from Middle School Teachers

The pre-teenage years can be very difficult for a lot of people due to the vast changes going on in the mind and body. A new report has shown that middle school students who receive emotional support from the teachers will be less likely to engage in early use of drugs and alcohol.

521 middle school students in Seattle took part in the new study. Teacher support could be anything from feeling close to a teacher, or just being able to talk about their problems. Middle school students who had higher levels of separation anxiety from their parents were also less likely to start using alcohol early, the study found.

“Our results were surprising,” lead researcher Dr. Carolyn McCarty, of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, said in a news release. “We have known that middle school teachers are important in the lives of young people, but this is the first data-driven study which shows that teacher support is associated with lower levels of early alcohol use.”

Dr. McCarty believes that students who have separation anxiety may be less susceptible to negative influences from their peers, which could drive them to engage with drugs and alcohol.

“We need to be aware of and monitor early adolescent stress levels, and parents, teachers and adults need to tune into kids’ mental health,” Dr. McCarty said. “We know that youth who initiate substance abuse before age 14 are at a high risk of long-term substance abuse problems and myriad health complications.”

The study appears in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tobacco Kills 50 Million People

American Cancer SocietyAmerican Cancer Society (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Tobacco continues to be one of the world’s leading causes of death with fifty million people worldwide having died from tobacco-related causes over the past decade, according to a new report by the World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society.

The WLF and the ACF estimates that if things continue the way they have been going a billion people will die from tobacco use and exposure in this century.

Fortunately, smoking in the developed world is on the decline, but sadly, rates are climbing in the third-world, according to The Tobacco Atlas. Worldwide, 6 million people died from tobacco related illness' last year, almost 80 percent occurring in low and middle-income countries.

In China, tobacco kills more people than anything else, with 1.2 million deaths per year, according to The Tobacco Atlas. It is expected that by 2030, 3.5 million people will lose their life a year, Reuters reports.

Unbelievably, the world’s six biggest tobacco companies made $35.1 billion in profits in 2010, an amount equal to the combined earnings of Coca-Cola, Microsoft and McDonald’s.

“The tobacco industry thrives on ignorance of the true harms of tobacco use and using misinformation to subvert health policies that could save millions,” Peter Baldini, Chief Executive Officer of the World Lung Foundation, said in a news release.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Addiction is Addiction

Every year thousands of people seek help for their addiction to one substance or another. Unfortunately, the substance one is addicted to can dictate how long one will be covered by their insurance company for treatment.

People who are addicted to opioids may be denied coverage for treatment all together, according to an Oklahoma addiction specialist Dr. Charles Shaw.

Shaw finds it difficult to get insurance companies to cover extended stays in substance abuse treatment programs. Sadly, the longer one stays in residential treatment the better. “There’s no question—the longer you stay the better,” he told NewsOK.com.

When it comes to alcohol addiction insurance companies are more likely to cover it than opioid treatment. If they do decide to cover opioid treatment it is usually only for several days - which is not enough according to Shaw.

Nicole Amend, a spokeswoman with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, the state’s largest health insurance company, said it covers extended stays in drug treatment centers “when medically necessary.” In a statement, Amend said, “When seeking treatment for an addiction, behavioral health coverage is not dependent on either the member’s age or the type of substance addiction. However, the type of substance and the member’s age may impact the appropriate treatment option available.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Judge Backs DEA Against CVS

The fight continues against prescription drug abuse and misuse in Florida. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) acted correctly when they suspended the controlled-substances licenses of two CVS stores in Florida. The DEA believed that the stores had inadequately monitored oxycodone sales. Judge Reggie Walton delayed his ruling until this morning so that CVS would have ample time to appeal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This case stems from extremely high volumes of oxycodone sales at the two CVS stores, leading the DEA to suspend their licenses in February. Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson, of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., gave CVS a temporary restraining order which allowed the company to continue to fill controlled prescription drugs at the two pharmacies.

The DEA claims that the two pharmacies were “filling prescriptions far in excess of the legitimate needs of its customers”. A CVS spokesperson stated that the company had taken steps, with the DEA’s knowledge, to stop filling prescriptions from physicians thought to be prescribing controlled narcotics improperly.

The average pharmacy in the United States in 2011 ordered approximately 69,000 oxycodone dosage units, these two pharmacies, together ordered more than three million dosage units during the same year, according to the DEA. Unbelievably, the two CVS pharmacies in question are located only 5.5 miles apart.

Monday, March 12, 2012

LSD for Alcoholism

There are a number of drugs in this country that we do not fully understand because they have been deemed either hazardous or not beneficial for medical purposes. Hallucinogens were studied in the past, but were never fully analyzed; any beneficial properties they might have were never fully explored. Studies originally conducted in the 1960s are being analyzed again for the first time and their findings suggest that LSD may help people with alcoholism quit or reduce their drinking.

Test results from six trials were combined, where 536 people with alcoholism took a single dose of LSD. 59 percent of those who took the drug either quit or significantly reduced their drinking, compared to 38 percent of participants who took a smaller dose or used another treatment to prevent drinking, according to Time. There were only eight cases where test subjects experienced adverse effects from the drug but only for the duration of the high.

However, the positive effect of LSD on drinking only lasted about six months, after a year the effects were no longer apparent.

Currently, research is being conducted with a number of illegal drugs to see if they might be possible treatments for conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, addiction, and depression.

“LSD had a significant beneficial effect on alcohol misuse at the first reported follow-up assessment,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. “The effectiveness of a single dose of LSD compares well with the effectiveness of daily naltrexone [reVia, Vivitrol] acamprosate [Campral], or disulfiram [Antabuse].” Those drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat alcoholism.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Opioids and Mental Illness

There is no doubt that combat changes people mentally and physically. A number of soldiers who come back from foreign battles experience post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. Hopefully those individuals receive the treatment they require and don’t have to resort to self-medicating in order to cope. Unfortunately, some veterans are being treated with drugs that make treating psychiatric problems much more difficult.

A study was conducted which found that U.S. veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric disorders are twice as likely receive prescription opioids for pain than those who don’t.

“Veterans using these narcotic painkillers had worse clinical outcomes,” lead researcher Dr. Karen Seal of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center told HealthDay. “Those outcomes were wounds and injuries, alcohol and drug overdoses, opioid overdoses, violent injuries and even suicide. This was particularly true in the group with PTSD.”

141,029 veterans who received at least one non-cancer-related pain diagnosis within a year of entering the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system were included in the study. A total of 15,676 veterans were prescribed opioids within one year of their initial pain diagnosis.
  • 17.8 percent of veterans with PTSD received opioids for pain.
  • 11.7 percent of veterans with other mental health diagnoses received opioids for pain.
Compared to:
  • 6.5 percent of veterans without mental health disorders received opioids for pain.

Of those who were prescribed pain medication, 22.7 percent of veterans with PTSD received higher-dose opioids, compared with 15.9 percent of those without mental health disorders. Veterans with PTSD were also more likely to receive two or more opioids together, as well as obtain early opioid refills.

“Returning combat veterans are presenting to primary care in large numbers and are seeking relief from physical and psychological pain. Extra care should be taken when prescribing opioids to relieve their distress,” the researchers note in a news release.

“Integrated treatments that target both mental health disorders and pain simultaneously are effective for both problems and may decrease harms resulting from opioid therapy.”

The results appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Synthetic Drugs Cause Kidney Failure

Synthetic drugs have been in the headlines several times over the last year as more and more communities have become affected by them. As time passes new side effects caused by such drugs are being discovered. According to a new report by health officials “Spice” caused kidney failure in three young people, and vomiting and back pain in a number of other people in Wyoming.

“At this point, we are viewing use of this drug as a potentially life-threatening situation,” State Epidemiologist Tracy Murphy said in a statement. Young adults and teenagers do not realize the dangers associated with synthetic drugs until it is too late which has sparked a health crisis across the country.

“Based on our information from the doctors, the three people with kidney failure are in pretty serious shape; they’re very sick,” said Bob Herrington, Director of the Casper-Natrona County Health Department. The chemicals used to make drugs like Spice and K2 are now classified as Schedule I substances, having “a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use for treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.”

The DEA temporarily banned five chemicals whose effects are similar to marijuana in March of last year. Last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a statement that it is extending its ban on synthetic drugs such as Spice and “K2” for another six months.

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