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Friday, October 25, 2013

Better Addiction Medicine Education for Doctors

Recognizing the signs of addiction should be a skill that all doctors are trained to do. A large number of addicts fuel their dependence through their primary care physician, playing a major role in the prescription drug epidemic plaguing America. In this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, experts are calling for better training for doctors in the field of substance abuse.

It has become common practice for doctors to fail in diagnosing and treating substance abuse, due to lack of education in addiction medicine, according to three experts.

Many diseases that are the result of substance abuse are left untreated. As a result hospitals have become “clogged” with suffering patients dealing with such illnesses, according to Dr. Evan Wood of the University of British Columbia, Dr. Jeffrey H. Samet, President of the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM), and Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Despite the availability of these evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies, only a small fraction of individuals receive prevention or treatment consistent with scientific knowledge about what works,” Dr. Samet said.

New therapies and behavioral interventions have been developed for a number of addictions, Newswise reports. The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) has accredited 18 addiction medicine fellowship programs. Physicians who finish one of these fellowships are eligible to sit for the ABAM exam for certification in addiction medicine.

“There is a remarkable gap between the science of addiction medicine and the care that patients actually receive,” Dr. Wood said. “Ultimately, this stems from the fact that investments in research have not been coupled with strategies to adequately train physicians to deliver evidence-based care.” He noted that only about 10 percent of people with an alcohol addiction receive recommended care. Most treatment for addiction in the United States and Canada is provided by laypersons, the article notes.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Crystal Meth Can Lead to IV Drug Use

English: Crystal methamphetamine
A Canadian study involving 395 young people living on the street in Vancouver found a link between methamphetamine and IV drug use. The new study found an increased risk of injecting drugs with crystal meth use.

Researchers observed people, ages 14 to 26, over a five year period; participants had used meth but had not injected. During the course of the study, 16 percent started injecting drugs for the first time. Crystal meth was most commonly used in the first injection, Health Day reports.

“Addressing the impact of crystal methamphetamine use in increasing the risk of injection initiation among injection-naive street-involved youth represents an urgent public health priority,” study co-author Dr. Evan Wood of the University of British Columbia said in a news release.

People begin using methamphetamine due to it similar properties to cocaine. However, meth lasts longer and is much more intense than cocaine. The drug is often made in crude laboratories with caustic chemicals that reside in the final product.

The use of crystal meth is known to cause erratic, violent behavior among its users.

The drug's effects can include:
  • Suppressed Appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Mood Swings
  • Unpredictability
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Irregular Heart Rate
  • Paranoia
  • Homicidal or Suicidal Thoughts
  • Anxiety
The findings are published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Krokodil Cases Spreading Across America

American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). This p...
Last month, health officials in Arizona reported two cases of people who used the drug “Krokodil” (desomorphine). These were the first reported cases of this extremely dangerous drug, a form of synthesized codeine, in the United States. With all things, word travels fast; now doctors at a hospital in the Chicago suburbs report having treated three people who have used the homemade, caustic, heroin-like drug called krokodil, CBS Chicago reports.

Health officials and addiction professionals have long feared that krokodil would find its way to America. It has been popular in Russia and in the former soviet block countries in the last decade. In Russia, krokodil cooks can acquire codeine (krokodil's base ingredient) tablets over the counter, much like meth cooks buying up the pseudoephedrine supplies at pharmacies in America before restrictions were put in place to limit purchases.

Krokodil makers use all kinds of caustic chemicals to alter the composition of the codeine tablets in order to create desomorphine. Addicts are drawn to krokodil because it costs about three times less than heroin, producing a similar effect, but the high is much shorter.

The scary thing about krokodil is how cooks make the drug, mixing the codeine with gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol or iodine; unfortunately, cooks hurry to produce the drug cutting the purification time to the minimal amount required, not allowing the caustic chemical to leech out before sale.

When the drug is injected, it quickly destroys tissue causing sores and abscesses to occur. When left untreated the skin will begin to fester, blood poisoning and gangrene set in, literally turning the skin scaly and green like a crocodile - hence the drug's name.

Sadly, the drug acts quickly to destroy its host, like a parasite attacking a cell. Documented cases show that krokodil can disable its users in less than a month. A former heroin user is a patient at Presence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois. A 25-year-old who had used heroin for 10 years, she started using krokodil a month ago and is in extremely critical condition, according to CBS Chicago.

Dr. Abhin Singla said, “When she came in, she had the destruction that occurs because of this drug, over 70 percent of her lower body.” He added, “It’s very frightening. It almost immediately starts to destroy blood cells and blood vessels, literally causes gangrene from the inside of the body coming out.” Singla noted the average life expectancy after the first use of the drug is two years in Russia.
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Friday, October 4, 2013

City Debates Safety of Electronic Dance Festivals

Future Music Festival 2013
Electronic music festivals are notorious for illegal drug use by minors and young adults. Festivals like these are extremely hard to police due to the high volume of drugs that make it through security at every event. Many participants experiment with certain drugs for the first time, with little if any knowledge of the drugs ingredients. Every year a number of people overdose and/or lose their lives to designer drugs like Molly (MDMA).

The two deaths at this year's Electric Zoo electronic dance music festival in New York have officials are considering whether to allow the event to return to a city park next year. The two deaths caused Mayor Michael Bloomberg to cancel the last day of the festival this year.

Assistant Parks Commissioner Betsy Smith said that the city will deliberate to see whether it can safely host the festival, according to the Wall Street Journal. “I don’t know what the final decision will be,” she said. “It’s clearly a tragedy that these young people died at these events. We don’t want to encourage that in any way.”

The Electric Zoo festival organizers say that this year they provided extra security, water and reminders not to use drugs; they said that they will apply for a permit to hold the event again.

A city review will be conducted of the festival that could take months, Smith added. 

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