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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Methamphetamine Causes Death by Fungus

Methamphetamine has long been considered the worst drug due to the damage that it does to the human body on a number of different levels. The drug can be used in numerous ways, but the most common is to inhale the drug through a glass bubble when heat is applied. Using the drug can affect one's respiratory system which can increase the risk of dying from a fungal lung infection, a new study in mice suggests.

The fungus is known as Cryptococcus neoformans, in most cases the fungus is harmless, but that is assuming that the body is healthy, HealthDay reports. In unhealthy people, using Methamphetamine, gaps can form in the blood-brain barrier, giving access to the fungus, moving from the lungs to the brain. When this happens a deadly, deadly infection ensues.

Working with mice, researchers found that when they injected meth into mice infected with the fungus it dramatically increased the amount of the fungus in the lungs. This action caused the disease to progress rapidly and they died sooner, compared with mice infected with the fungus but were not given methamphetamine.

In just nine days after being infected with the fungus, all of the mice injected with meth had died.  

 The study is published in the journal mBio.
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Pregnant Women Using Drugs More Than Alcohol

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of pregnant women in drug and alcohol treatment programs for alcohol dropped, according to a new government report. However, the percentage of pregnant women being treated for drug abuse rose.

Over the decade, the proportion of women who were pregnant upon entering substance abuse treatment remained relatively stable, between 4 and 5 percent, Newswise reports.

Pregnant women reporting alcohol abuse, with or without drug use, fell from 46.6 percent in 2000, to 34.8 percent in 2010. Those reporting drug abuse, but not alcohol abuse, rose from 51.1 percent in 2000, to 63.8 percent in 2010, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“Any kind of substance use by pregnant women can result in miscarriage, premature birth or a variety of behavioral and cognitive problems in the children they carry,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “Pregnant women must have access to prevention, support, and recovery services that meet their specialized needs. These include community programs for both pregnant and postpartum women that can help ensure their full recovery and better lives for them and their children.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Police Saving Lives With Narcan

Narcan (naloxone) is a drug that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose and has been distributed free to opioid users and their families over the past few years in a number of states around the country. The results have shown that it has saved a number of lives that, in most cases, would have otherwise been lost to overdose.

In Quincy, Massachusetts, the police department is the first in the nation to require every officer to carry the opioid overdose antidote while on patrol. They report a 95 percent success rate with the treatment. Since 2010 officers have used Narcan 179 times, successfully reversing overdoses 170, CBS News reports.

In the nine other overdose cases, five people were found dead on arrival, and the four remaining cases other substances were a factor. Unfortunately, Narcan only reverses opioid overdoses at cost of $22 per dose.

Ryan Donnelly, a Quincy police officer, who has used Narcan to reverse eight overdoses, said, “They’re somebody’s daughter or son or father or brother or mother. That’s what clicks in your head.”

Around 200 officers are trained to use Narcan in Quincy. Narcotics detective Patrick Glynn oversees the Narcan program; he says the police have two doses in every cruiser. “We changed our philosophy,” Glynn said. “It’s just a simple change where we decided that we cannot arrest our way out of this epidemic.”
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Monday, July 22, 2013

16 Treatment Centers Under Investigation

An investigation of 16 substance abuse treatment centers in California covered by the states insurance plan Medi-Cal is underway. The treatment centers are suspected of fraud and hiring providers who have felonies on their records, according to the California Department of Health Care Services.

The centers are believed to have billed Medi-Cal for services that were not medically necessary and charged for services not offered, the Los Angeles Times reports. It is believed that the treatment centers also hired workers who had been convicted of neglecting and abusing patients at other health centers, according to the article.

For now, the treatment facilities will remain open, but will not receive funds from Medi-Cal during the investigation. Norman Williams, head of the communications office at the department, said one of the goals is “to minimize patient harm because it’s not just about the money, but the people, to make sure they’re getting adequate care. We want to make sure that people know that we’re monitoring this closely and ensuring the safety of our members.”

The California Department of Justice sanctions could temporarily suspend providers from submitting claims or permanently suspend them from participation in Medi-Cal, according to a news release.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Parents Want 21 Legal Age for Marijuana

It is clear that views about marijuana use in America are changing as more states approve medicinal use and some even legalizing recreational use outright. Even parents have more relaxed views, with a new survey showing that a number of parents favor either legalizing marijuana for recreational use and 70 percent support legalizing medical marijuana. However, like alcohol, most parents believe the legal age for marijuana use should be 21, USA Today reports.

The Partnership at Drugfree.org released the online survey filled out by 1,603 adults, of whom 1,200 are parents of children ages 10 to 19. Results showed that 35 percent of parents say they are in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, 46 percent say it should be decriminalized.

Around 90 percent of mothers and 94 percent of fathers are in favor of a legal age of 21 for marijuana use. 95 percent of mothers and 96 percent of fathers would like the use of the drug prohibited in public places where smoking is banned. 88 percent of mothers and 90 percent of fathers believe marijuana advertising should be banned.

“The reality is that marijuana is now legalized for recreational use in the states of Colorado and Washington and it’s clear that society’s views on marijuana are evolving dramatically,” Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, said in a news release. “This new research provides richer insight into what today’s parents believe about marijuana, their thoughts on legalization and the risks it may pose to adolescents. The data bring to life the fact that parents – including the large number who favor legalization – have serious expectations that legal marijuana will be regulated and restricted to protect kids and teens. Those expectations far exceed how legal marijuana is being implemented. So the fact remains, whether marijuana is legal or not, much more needs to be done to protect the health of our children.”

The wishes of parents may be hard to fulfill considering the fact that it is not illegal to advertise alcoholic products. If marijuana is held to the same standards as alcohol, the drug will need to be treated in the same light.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Child Personality Traits May Lead to Drinking

The way in which a child acts before age 5 may be an indication as to whether or not they will use alcohol in adolescence, a new study suggests. 

12,600 children were followed from the time they were born by researchers in a new study. The children’s parents were asked about their personalities in the first five years of life; then researchers interviewed both the children and their parents, Fox News reports. By age 15 ½, 4,600 teens were still participating in the study.

They found that emotional instability and relatively low sociability, and high sociability, may lead to “sensation seeking” later in life. 

 “This underscores the fact that drinking during adolescence is largely a social phenomenon,” study co-author Danielle Dick of Virginia Commonwealth University said in a journal news release. “However, this doesn’t mean it’s less problematic; we know from other studies that most adolescent drinking is high risk — for example, binge drinking — and can lead to numerous negative consequences.”

The author goes on to say, “People don’t enter adolescence as blank slates; they have a history of life experiences that they bring with them, dating back to early childhood. This is one of the most comprehensive attempts to understand very early childhood predictors of adolescent alcohol use in a large epidemiological cohort.” She noted the study indicates that troubled children are not the only ones who start to use alcohol. “It’s also the highly sociable kids as well. Parents should be aware of this.”

The study can be found in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Guns, Violence and Substance Abuse

It has long been said that drugs and violence often go hand in hand. A new study has made a link between teens and young adults that seek treatment in the emergency room for injury from an assault. Those who own or carry a gun were found to be more likely to have problems with substance abuse than those without guns, according to researchers from the University of Michigan Injury Center.

689 teens and young adults who were treated in an emergency room for injuries from an assault were looked at in the study. Researchers found that 23 percent reported they owned or carried a gun in the past six months, teens with guns were more likely than those without them to use illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs, the report showed. They were more likely to have been in a serious fight in recent months and were more likely to engage in retaliation after an injury, PsychCentral reports.

“This study zeroes in on a high-risk population of assault injured youth that has not been studied in this way previously,” lead author Patrick Carter, M.D., said in a news release. “The high rates of substance use, fighting and attitudes favoring retaliation, combined with the fact that so many of these youth had firearms, increases their risk for future firearm violence, as well as injury or death. But, our findings also provide an opportunity for public health interventions that could decrease their future firearm violence risk.”  

The report was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Monday, July 8, 2013

FDA Shutdown Thousands of Online Pharmacies

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The Internet has made it possible for people to acquire medications without prescriptions for a long time and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now taking steps to shut down illegal online pharmacies.

On Thursday, the FDA announced it has shut down 1,677 illegal online pharmacies, CNN reports. Counterfeit or substandard medications have been sold without appropriate safeguards through international websites.

Over $41 million worth of illegal medicines were seized and 58 people were arrested, according to the report. Many of the websites were using names that were similar to legitimate pharmacies. The FDA closed Walgreens-Store.com which was not associated with the pharmacy chain Walgreens.

More than 100 countries cooperated with the FDA’s mass shutdown of the online pharmacies.

“These products can have none of the active ingredient that people need for the treatment of their disease,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “They can have too much or too little (of the ingredient); they can have toxic ingredients, and they can prevent patients from getting the actual medications that they badly need to treat their disease.”

The recent move to combat illegal online pharmacies is a huge step in the right direction in the fight against improper medication distribution.

“Illegal online pharmacies put American consumers’ health at risk by selling potentially dangerous products. This is an ongoing battle in the United States and abroad, and the FDA will continue its criminal law enforcement and regulatory efforts,” John Roth, Director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, said in a news release.
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Prenatal Smoke May Cause Hearing Loss

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The side effects associated with children exposed to cigarette smoke by their mothers prenatally continues to increase. New research has found that teens may be at increased risk of hearing loss if their mother smoked during while pregnant.

964 teens ages 12 to 15 took part in the study which found that 16 percent had been exposed to tobacco smoke prenatally. The teens exposed to smoke were almost three times as likely as those not exposed to smoke prenatally to have one-sided, low-frequency hearing loss, HealthDay reports.

Prenatal smoke exposure led to an average of less than three decibels of hearing impairment, according to the study's lead researcher Dr. Michael Weitzman of the NYU School of Medicine. Weitzman added that this was relatively modest. “[However], an almost three-fold increased odds of unilateral hearing loss in adolescents with prenatal smoke exposure is worrisome,” he wrote in JAMA Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery.

In 2011, a study suggested exposure to secondhand smoke might cause hearing loss in teenagers and many times they do not realize they have hearing difficulties. Mothers should avoid smoking while pregnant at all costs.
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Monday, July 1, 2013

Former Smokers Start Up After 9/11

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...
The events of September 11, 2001, affected countless people across the globe. Thousands lost their lives and many more family members lost loved ones on that fateful day. Today, twelve years later, we are still seeing the effect 9/11 had on people on an emotional and a mental level.

New research has found that an estimated one million former smokers started up again after the 9/11 attacks. The start-up is being attributed to the stress of the events of that day, the researchers report.

In the two years following 9/11, smoking increased 2.3 percent among adults who had formerly smoked, according to researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. Between 950,000 and 1.3 million adult former smokers became smokers again due to terrorism, Health Canal reports. Interestingly, by comparison, researchers found no increase in smoking following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

“This study provides the first unbiased estimate of the effect of stress on smoking, and the finding that there was such a big increase in smoking nationwide, seemingly due to one event, is extraordinary, and surprising,” study author Dr. Michael F. Pesko said in a news release. “It sheds light on a hidden cost of terrorism.”

The results are published in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy.
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