Friday, January 27, 2012
Doctor shopping is a major concern for officials trying to stop the prescription drug abuse epidemic crippling this country. Florida emergency rooms have become a frequent stop for addicts looking for pain killers. Doctor shopping typically involves a patient going to a number of different doctors to get prescriptions for the same drugs. Before the advent of databases such practices were considered easy, now it has become more difficult and patients have begun going to the emergency rooms looking for their “fix”. Some doctors are afraid to go to work due to a number of patients becoming violent.
Addicts go to hospital emergency rooms to get prescriptions for their habits, usually during off hours or on a Friday when it's more difficult to check with the patient's primary care physician. County leaders and doctors from Florida Hospital and Orlando Health announced a new plan last Wednesday to cut off people addicted to pain pills, WFTV learned. The announcement was made at the Orange County Administration building, where doctors claim the problem is so bad they're being threatened by the addicts.
Guidelines for doctors to consider before treating a patient have been formed for all Orlando Health and Florida Hospitals, officials said. Hospitals will start tapping into a regional health care database to keep track of repeat visitors, said officials.
"Have your doctors ever been threatened by people who they refuse to give the drugs to?" WFTV reporter Daralene Jones asked.
"Yes. At many different hospitals there have been threats to doctors, nursing staff, and we want to maintain the hospital as a safe place for people to come," said Josef Thundiyil of Orlando Health.
Doctors told WFTV they want lawmakers to stiffen penalties for people who assault the doctors who treat them.
"Addiction is best treated and pain is best treated if there is a single person treating it," said Thundiyil.
Officials with the Center for Drug Free Living said their centers are at capacity and the state wants to cut nearly $1 million next year, unfortunately, more money will be needed if this problem is to be combated.
"We have to turn people away every day," said Dr. Stacy Seikel of the Center for Drug Free Living.
Friday, January 20, 2012
In the past few months the federal government has begun cracking down on medical marijuana programs across the board. Dispensaries, people who lease office space to dispensary owners, and even patient growers are at risk of prosecution despite state law that gives such people permission to take part in the medical marijuana program. There are a number of individuals who have not taken the warnings from the federal government seriously who may find themselves in trouble if they do not heed the call.
In the last year, U.S. attorneys sent warning letters to several states regarding medical marijuana laws: Stating that people involved in the growing, dispensing, and regulating of medical marijuana have the potential to be prosecuted, despite following state laws. The letters were sent to officials in:
- Rhode Island
Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh, says that the 23 marijuana dispensaries located near schools in Colorado that received warning letters last week telling them they must shut down should take the warning seriously.
He told the Associated Press the letters informed the dispensaries owners and their landlords that they have until February 27 to shut down, move, or else face federal penalties. Owners of the dispensaries and the property on which they are located could lose their assets and property, and they may also be facing criminal prosecution.
“We haven’t been sitting by. We’ve been taking marijuana enforcement action,” disputing the claim that the federal government has backed Colorado’s marijuana industry by not increasing enforcement, Walsh told the AP.
Walsh claims that some surveys show that medical marijuana has increased drug use among teenagers.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Most people have a hard time understanding what drives people to drink or drug excessively. While we have a better understanding now than ever before in history, there are still many unanswered questions. New research is being conducted every day, shedding new light on this age old problem.
A new study provides clues about what is happening in the brain that drives people to abuse alcohol. The study found a link between how good people feel after they drink, and the amount of endorphins, proteins with opiate-like effects, released in their brain.
Findings like these have been seen in animal studies, but this is the first time they have been observed in humans, according to a news release by UCSF. The research was conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, one of the best medical schools in the country. “This is something that we’ve speculated about for 30 years, based on animal studies, but haven’t observed in humans until now,” said lead author Jennifer Mitchell, PhD. “It provides the first direct evidence of how alcohol makes people feel good.”
Researchers studied 25 volunteers; 13 were heavy social drinkers and 12 were not. Women were considered heavy social drinkers if they consumed 10 to 16 drinks a week, while men in that category had 14 to 20 drinks weekly, CNN reports. Women who were not heavy social drinkers had fewer than five drinks a week, while the men had fewer than seven drinks.
Brains were scanned using positron emission tomography (PET) to examine the distribution of chemicals produced in response to drinking. One drink led to the release of more endorphins in two brain regions that play a role in pleasure and reward for heavy drinkers. They perceived drinking as more pleasurable than the non-heavy drinkers. That feeling leads them to crave alcohol, the researchers said.
The findings appear in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Friday, January 6, 2012
Drug and alcohol abuse is a worldwide problem with far reaching effects on society. A new report conducted recently came back with some figures that are quite startling. The study found that there are an estimated 200 million people worldwide use illegal drugs, reports the LA Times.
Here are the numbers:
- 125 to 203 million people use marijuana
- 14 million to 56 million use amphetamines
- 12 million to 21 million use opioids
- 14 million to 21 million use cocaine
- 11 million to 21 million inject drugs
- An estimated 15 million to 39 million are considered problem drug users
Researchers found that illegal drug use is the worst in developed countries, with a number of people using more than one substance.
The figures on loss of life are not to pleasing, according to the World Health Organization, in 2004:
- Drugs caused 2.1 million years of life lost
- Alcohol caused a loss of 1.5 million years