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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Drug Sniffing Dogs Unconstitutional

Long have law enforcement agencies relied on canines to assist them in their efforts of stopping criminals regarding a number of different offenses. Dogs are extensively trained using a number of different techniques to detect drugs, bombs, and cadavers. Although there are many who would argue that dogs are far from reliable and the use of them may even be unconstitutional. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police must first obtain a search warrant before bringing drug-sniffing police dogs onto a suspect’s property to look for evidence, the Associated Press reports.

In a 5 to 4 vote, the court ruled to uphold a Florida Supreme Court ruling that dismissed evidence seized based on a scent by a chocolate Lab named Franky. The dog’s ability to detect marijuana growing inside a home in Miami by sniffing outside the house was unconstitutional according to the court.

Throughout Franky’s career as a police dog with the Miami-Dade Police Department, he was responsible for the seizure of more than 2.5 tons of marijuana and $4.9 million in drug-contaminated money. After seven years of assisting the force, Franky was retired.

The U.S. Supreme court ruled police are not required to extensively document a drug-sniffing dog’s reliability to justify relying on the canine to search a vehicle. The US Supreme Court's ruling was responsible for overturning a Florida Supreme Court decision involving a German shepherd named Aldo. The canine detected drugs in a vehicle, officers then conducted a search and found 200 pseudoephedrine pills and 8,000 matches - both key ingredients for methamphetamine production. The Florida Supreme Court ruled police needed to compile detailed evidence of the dog’s reliability before probable cause was established to search the vehicle.
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Florida Bans More Synthetic Drug Chemicals

Government officials throughout the United States continue to make it harder for the companies distributing designer drugs such as Spice, synthetic marijuana. The task at hand is very difficult due to the drug manufacturers continually changing the ingredients. The Florida House Judiciary Committee passed a bill last week that would add 27 more substances to the list of controlled substances banned in the state. The bill will help to inhibit manufactures in making their products.

Anyone who sells, manufactures, or possesses the substances with intent to sell, can be charged with a third-degree felony. 

“This legislation is critical in addressing Florida’s synthetic drug problem, especially among the 12-29 year old age group who make up 75 percent of synthetic drug-related emergency room visits,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a press release.

Last March, Florida outlawed 142 chemicals used in designer drugs; then in December Bondi outlawed an additional 22 substances. The new substances outlawed are a number of different forms of bath salts and/or synthetic marijuana.

Synthetic drugs are dangerous and may result in:
  • psychotic episodes
  • hallucinations
  • seizures
  • paranoia
  • tremors
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Heroin Use On the Rise in SoCal

Fortunately, OxyContin abuse has decreased now that the painkiller has been reformulated to make it more difficult to misuse, according to a study published last year. In 2010, makers of OxyContin introduced a new version of the drug that is much more difficult to inhale or inject. However, the reformulation has caused a number of people, including teens and young adults in southern California, to start using heroin, according to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials.

“Heroin use has become a particular concern for the DEA because we’re seeing people using heroin at such a young age,” Agent Sarah Pullen told NBC Los Angeles. Counselors at high schools in Orange County are reporting a rise in heroin use, the article notes.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported initiations to heroin have increased by 80 percent among teens ages 12 to 17. The increase in heroin use is largely attributed to the drug’s low cost and easy availability in southern California due to its proximity to Mexico.

More than 2,500 people who were dependent on opioids took part in the study; participants were followed between July 2009 and March 2012. In that time frame there was a 17 percent decrease in OxyContin abuse.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Propofol Abuse On the Rise

Health care professionals have access to a number of powerful highly addictive medications that can be easily abused, if one chooses to do so. Having narcotics in one's reach can quickly become a slippery slope as is evident by the number of doctors and prescribing nurses who end up seeking addiction treatment for one or many different medications combined. The anesthesia drug propofol is on the rise for abuse among health care professionals, a new study suggests.

A number of health care professionals treated for abuse of the drug has increased steadily, the Star Tribune reports. Most began using propofol to get to sleep and became addicted over a short period of time according to the study.

Propofol is normally used for surgical procedures because it takes effect quickly and is known to have a fast recovery time with fewer side effects than other anesthetics, the article notes.

In a news release researchers stated that, “Propofol addiction is a virulent and debilitating form of substance dependence” with a “rapid downhill course.”

Data from an addiction center specializing in substance abuse among health care professionals was analyzed and researchers found 22 patients treated for propofol abuse between 1990 and 2010. Most of the doctors and all of the nurses were anesthesia providers. Most of those treated had depression, in addition to a history of childhood sexual or physical abuse. A number of patients had family members with schizophrenia.  

The study will appear in the April issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Addiction Mental Illness and Murder Report

The dark underworld that is associated with addiction has been publicized often in the media over the years. Portrayals of violence linked to the selling of drugs are in many many cases highly exaggerated. However, there are many real life cases of people being murdered due to one’s involvement with drugs and according to a new report people battling with addiction, as well as mental illness, are much more likely to lose their life from violence than those who are not.

In fact, people with mental illness who also have an addiction are nine times more likely than the general population to be murdered. People with mental disorders are almost five times as likely to be a murder victim, according to the report.

Swedish government data covering psychiatric diagnoses and causes of death were compiled by Stanford University researchers. Sweden’s 7.2 million adults from 2001 to 2008 were examined under the above criteria. In that time period there were 615 reported murders, of those murders, 141 of the victims had a mental disorder, according to the New York Times.

Individuals with personality disorders were found to be three times more likely to be murdered. Depressed people were 2.6 times more likely to be murdered, those with anxiety disorders were 2.2 times more likely, and schizophrenia cases were 1.8 times more likely.

Researchers point out that the issue of homicide by people with mental disorders has received much attention over the years; however, their risk of being homicide victims has hardly ever been examined.  

The study appears in the British Medical Journal.
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Prescription Drug Abuse Hits The West

Prescription drug abuse continues to be a major concern in the United States and now seems to be the worst in the western states; formerly the problem was centered in Eastern and Southern states, The Wall Street Journal reports. Unfortunately, law enforcement and public health authorities in the west have been caught unprepared, according to the article.

In the past the western United States was the epicenter for methamphetamine abuse. Now, officials are evaluating this new problem and are developing policies to counter it. Oregon, Colorado, Washington, and Idaho have the highest prescription drug abuse rates in the U.S., according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In a survey, SAMHSA found 6.5 percent of Oregon residents ages 12 and older abuse opioid painkillers, compared with 4.5 percent in Kentucky. Not too long ago Kentucky had one of the largest prescription drug abuse problems, but because of the efforts of a number of agencies that is no longer the case.

Southern and Appalachian states topped SAMHSA’s list for prescription painkiller abuse in 2007. Due to public education campaigns on the safe disposal of the drugs those states saw a reduction in the number of pills stolen from medicine cabinets. In conjunction with state laws there has been a decrease in the number of pills on the black market.

The western states need to follow suit if they are going to get the problem under control.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kentucky Changes Prescription Drug Law

The American prescription drug abuse epidemic has affected some states more than others; in turn, states have differed on how to combat the problem. There are a number of opinions floating around regarding the subject, some believe that shutting down "pill mills" and pain management clinics is all that is needed, while others believe that restricting doctors abilities to prescribe narcotics is the answer. Maybe both groups are right!

Last year legislation was passed in the state of Kentucky that was designed to make it harder for people to obtain opiate pain medication. The new rules were successful in a number of ways; however, there were some unforeseen consequences. In an effort to fix the problem, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear approved legislation this week altering the state’s new prescription drug law making it easier for patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice centers to receive painkillers.

The original law had the unintended consequence of making it very difficult for patients in institutional settings to obtain pain relief, the Associated Press reports.  


“House Bill 1, which passed last year, was a remarkable and comprehensive effort to create real and substantial changes to upend prescription drug abuse, and it’s working,” Governor Beshear said in a news release. “Unlicensed pain management clinics have closed up shop. Prescriptions for the most addictive drugs have dropped every month since implementation. However, we recognized that a few issues needed to be worked out for the comfort of the most pain-stricken patients and for the practical needs of physicians, particularly in in-patient and long-term care settings.”
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Monday, March 4, 2013

New Suboxone Formulation is Safer

Opiates are considered one of the hardest drugs to detox from due to the physical and mental withdrawals associated with long term use. In the past those who did not choose to detox cold turkey would turn to methadone, an opioid that is highly addictive and has its own problems when it comes time to stop taking the drug. Many people end up taking the drug for a number of years on what is called methadone maintenance. Essentially they traded one addictive drug for another somewhat cleaner drug with the same side-effects.

Today, many opiate addicts turn to Suboxone (buprenorphine) to detox from heroin or other opiate based drugs like oxycodone. Suboxone has a great track record and has proven to be more effective than methadone when it comes to working a program of recovery. However, while Suboxone is considered to be a better choice than methadone, it too has its own side-effects and can be dangerous if used improperly. Due to a number cases of child poisoning makers of the drug have reformulated the medicine so that is safer.

Accidental pediatric exposure with Suboxone tablets was 7.8 to 8.5 times greater than Suboxone film, according to the U.S. Poison Control Centers. 

Starting in March, Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone), will no longer be available in tablet form. It will now be available in a film version of the medication, which is put under the tongue sublingually.

At the recent New York Society of Addiction Medicine annual meeting, Dr. Edwin A. Salsitz, MD, the Medical Director of Office-Based Opioid Therapy at Beth Israel Medical Center, explained that the new formulation is less dangerous being more difficult for children to get into the film strip packages.

“I think this will be a useful product in terms of reducing the diversion/misuse problem with buprenorphine,” Dr. Salsitz said. “It’s very much needed.”

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