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Friday, March 29, 2013

Welfare Recipients Required Drug Testing

People receiving welfare or other government assistance benefits who have a drug problem may find it harder to continue to use if they want to continue receiving such aid. States across the country are pushing for stricter rules, requiring government aid recipients to take a drug tests. This week, both Texas and Kansas are moving forward with bills that would require drug testing for welfare applicants.

A bill that would have resulted in Texas children permanently losing benefits based on a third failed drug test by a parent was amended. The author of the bill agreed on the changes, ensuring that children would continue to receive benefits while their parents take part in drug treatment programs, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

The state’s Health and Human Services Committee voted to approve the bill due to the new changes.

Applicants with previous felony drug convictions, or a prior positive drug test, also would be required to undergo drug testing. Those applicants who tested positive would lose their benefits for a year, but could reapply in six months, after they passed another drug test. Children would receive benefits regardless of their parents’ drug test results.

In Kansas, the House approved a bill that would require drug testing of applicants for welfare or unemployment if suspected of drug abuse, according to The Wichita Eagle.

Under the new bill, Kansas applicants who fail their drug tests would be required to take part in drug treatment and job skills training that is funded by the state and federal government. If they applied and failed again, they too would lose their benefits for a year. Anyone convicted of a drug felony would be barred from receiving welfare for five years and a second conviction would lead to a lifetime ban, the article notes.

The Kansas Senate has already approved the measure.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Child Accidental Poisoning Cases

Prescription medications are dangerous even when they are taken as prescribed. Prescription narcotics are the cause of thousands of overdoses every year, in most cases prescription drug overdoses are accidents that, in many cases, result in fatalities.

Unfortunately, small children sometimes get their hands on prescription medications that end up resulting in them presenting in the emergency room from accidental poisonings. In most cases the medications came from a mother’s purse or the floor rather than from the medicine cabinet, according to a new report. The nonprofit group Safe Kids Worldwide released the report which also found that children find pills in other unlikely places, such as sofa cushions and counter tops, USA Today reports.

2,315 emergency department cases regarding children up to the age 4 were researched. Their findings showed that approximately 67,000 young children ended up in the emergency room after being accidentally exposed to medication in 2011. Young children who experienced accidental poisonings rose 30 percent in a single decade, according to researchers.

Accidental poisonings amongst children could be accounted by:
  • 27 percent on the floor or misplaced
  • 20 percent from a purse, bag, or wallet
  • 20 percent left on: counters, tables, nightstands, or dressers
  • 15 percent in a pill box or bag of pills
  • 6 percent in a drawer or cabinet
  • 12 percent from other places

86 percent of cases of accidental poisonings the medications belonged to adults. Mothers accounted for 31 percent and grandparents accounted for 38 percent. 

“You have some grandparents who have their whole pharmacy on the kitchen counter or the bathroom counter, and it is there for the taking,” Salvador Baeza, a pharmacist who directs the West Texas Regional Poison Center in El Paso, told the newspaper.
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Traumatic Brain Injury and Addiction

People who experience brain injuries can have a number of different side-effects. In severe cases people lose motor functions or cognitive abilities. People with minor cases, known as mild TBI’s (traumatic brain injuries), may experience problems that cannot be detected easily. A new report recently conducted suggests that mild TBI’s may increase the risk of addiction.

Researchers studied military personnel, finding that mild TBI was linked with an increased risk for alcohol dependence up to 180 days after the injury took place. Researchers also saw an increased risk for non-dependent abuse of drugs, alcohol, and nicotine dependence in the month after the airmen sustained the injury, News-Medical.net reports.

5,065 active-duty airmen who suffered a mild TBI that resulted in temporary confusion or disorientation, memory loss, and/or a brief loss of consciousness were involved in the study. The test cases were compared with a group of 44,733 airmen who suffered other forms of injury.

The study showed an increased risk of alcohol dependence with airmen with a mild TBI shortly after the injury, compared with those in the other test group. Fortunately, the risk decreased over time.


“Screening for addiction-related disorders should be considered as part of routine care for mild TBI and might best capture the first 30 days post-mild TBI, with repeat alcohol screening thereafter for at least 6 months following the injury.” 


The study appears in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
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Friday, March 8, 2013

Testing Middle School Students for Drugs and Alcohol

Preventing drug and alcohol use and abuse amongst teenagers is of the utmost importance. One of the most challenging aspects of teenage drug abuse is that no parent wants to believe that their child may be engaging in risky behavior; in turn, teenagers often go unchecked throughout their formative years. A new study conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and Fairleigh Dickinson University has found that random drug testing of middle-school students may help prevent substance abuse.

Those students who were randomly tested for drugs were found to be less likely to use them later on in life, according to the study.

Only about 1 percent of 8th graders say they have ever used illicit drugs, and only about 14 percent said that they have ever had alcohol, other than times when it was permitted by family members, such as religious ceremonies. Among those tested for drugs and alcohol, 6 percent said they had ever consumed alcohol.

Dan Cassino, the lead researcher in the study, said that when middle-school students are tested for drugs, they realize drug use can get them in trouble. “We still see a spike around the junior year of high school,” Cassino said.

“Once the kids get a car and get a job, all bets are off, and the rates of drug and alcohol use go through the roof; but that spike is much smaller among students who actually were randomly drug tested at some point.”

“These results show that student drug testing changes the environment of the school community and show they serve as an effective prevention strategy for the abuse of drugs and alcohol in their future,” Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, said in a news release. “This study proves random drug testing in New Jersey middle schools helps prevent substance abuse.”
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Friday, March 1, 2013

Affordable Care Act Will Save Millions

Addiction affects millions of Americans and countless family members as well as loved ones. In the past two decades substance abuse treatment has made huge strides, but unfortunately it is not enough. There are many people who simply do not receive the care they require to battle their disease - make no mistake about it; addiction is a disease that cannot be cured. However, treatment can provide individuals with the tools to maintain a program of recovery that allows them to live a healthy and meaningful life.

Due to the efforts of doctors, scientists, and counselors there is a hope for the future and people who were unable to receive treatment will now be able to do so. A. Thomas McLellan, PhD, CEO and co-founder of the Treatment Research Institute as well as former Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, believes that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will revolutionize the field of substance abuse treatment.

“It will have more far-reaching positive consequences for substance abuse treatment than anything in my lifetime, including the discovery of methadone,” he said at the recent annual meeting of the New York Society of Addiction Medicine. “It will integrate substance abuse treatment into the rest of health care.”

In the United States only 2.3 million people receive any type of substance abuse treatment, less than one percent of the total population of people who are affected by the disease of addiction, said Dr. McLellan.

“If diabetes were treated like substance abuse, only people in the most advanced stages of illness would be covered, such as those who had already lost their vision or had severe kidney damage,” he said.

A staggering 23 million American adults battle with some form of substance abuse or dependence, that is about the same number of adults who have diabetes, according to Dr. McLellan. What’s more, there are 60 million people engaging in “medically harmful” substance use, for example - a woman whose two daily glasses of wine aids in the growth of her breast cancer.

The ACA will enable millions more people to receive the treatment they desperately require, as well as those in the beginning stages of substance abuse.

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