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Friday, November 29, 2013

Quitting Smoking Reduces Heart Disease Risk

Tobacco products are harmful to one's health; quitting smoking could foster a healthier life sooner than previously thought, according to new research.

Research presented at the American Heart Association scientific meeting, showed that some smokers over the age of 65, may be able to cut their risk of dying from heart-related problems. Researchers previously believed that it took 15-years to reduce the risk, but new research has shown that the risk could be reduced in just eight years.

“The new finding is if you smoke less than 32 pack years (3.2 packs a day for 10 years), you might become like never-smokers much sooner than 15 years,” lead researcher Dr. Ali Ahmed of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine told Reuters. He found many smokers decreased their risk of dying from heart failure, heart attacks or strokes to the same level as people who never smoked in almost half the time as previous research suggested. “For half of them, it was eight years after cessation,” Ahmed said.

“Even for the heavier smokers, who smoked more than 32 pack years, compared to current smokers, they will significantly reduce the risk of total mortality by 35 percent (by quitting), so there’s a positive message for everybody,” he added.

It should be pointed out that people who quit smoking, may still be at risk of lung-related diseases, Ahmed noted. Lung cancer and COPD (emphysema) are disorders that can arise from long term tobacco use.
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Recession Plays A Part In Problem Drinking

The recession of 2008-2009 devastated families across the board with loss of jobs and home foreclosures. In a matter of months individuals and families found that they were without the means to support themselves, let alone keep a roof over their heads. It goes without saying that a number of people lacked healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the fallout of the economic explosion that rocked America; as a result, during that time period there were higher rates of problem drinking, according to a new study.

The study, which included 5,000 adults, found that those who were laid-off or lost their home were three times more likely to report symptoms of alcohol dependence, including getting into fights or accidents, and experiencing health problems or being arrested. The findings showed that the highest risk cases were in their 30s and 40s, most likely being a male, HealthDay reports.

The research is not indicative of economic hardship leading people to problem drinking. However, Nina Mulia, of the Alcohol Research Group and lead researcher of the study, pointed out that people drink to relax or to cope with stress and tension. “And so it wouldn’t be surprising if people who are dealing with severe stress — who were actually affected by job or housing loss — would turn to alcohol.”

Some younger adults, who lost their job or housing, moved back in with their families, so they received some support, according to Mulia. Middle-aged adults rarely had the option to turn to their family, due to having much higher expenses and their own families to support.

Hardship of any kind can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms amongst people from all walks of life. Grieving the loss of any thing in life, whether it be loved ones or employment, has driven even the strongest individuals to turn to vice. 

“When people lose jobs or housing, or have their hours/salaries cut, visiting the doctor might not be a priority, especially if they have lost their health insurance,” Mulia said in a news release. “So we need ways to reach the people who have been most impacted by economic loss and link them with alcohol screening and brief interventions, as well as other health education and prevention efforts. This might mean that health programs should partner with unemployment offices, housing and social services, etc.”

The study will appear in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

New Survey Indicates Prescription Drug Failure

The fight against prescription drug abuse has not been successful and a new telephonic survey shows that the public feels the same way. The Pew Research Center interviewed a national sample of 2,003 adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The results of the survey showed that only 16 percent of Americans think progress is being made on prescription drug abuse. On top of that, only 19 percent see progress with mental illness. Only 17 percent see improvement with alcohol abuse.

The survey asked other questions as well, many Americans believe we are losing the fight:
  • 35 percent with mental illness.
  • 37 percent with prescription drug abuse.
  • 23 percent with alcohol.
  • 13 percent with tobacco.
However, 45 percent of adults see progress with tobacco. 54 percent say the nation is making progress on cancer. 58 percent say the alcohol problem is staying about the same.

The battle against substance abuse and mental illness has always been an uphill battle, to say the least. The number from the aforementioned survey, make it clear, that we are not doing enough to combat problems that take thousands of lives every year.

Source: DrugFree.org

Friday, November 8, 2013

Seventh National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Every year the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) holds events for the safe disposal of unused or unwanted prescription drugs. Last month’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, collected 647,211 pounds, or 324 tons, of unwanted medications.

Every state had a role in the recent Take-Back Day, with a total 5,683 take-back sites, according to the DEA. This was the seventh Take-Back day since the program was instituted and this was the second-largest collection of medications.

Take-Back days are an opportunity for people to dispose of the prescription drugs so they do not end up in the wrong hands or in the nation’s water supply. More than 3.4 million pounds of medication have been collected as a result of the seven national Take-Back’s.

“The American people have once again responded to the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day event, and we thank them for participating in this effort to battle prescription drug abuse,” DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a news release.

“These take-back events highlight the problems related to prescription drug abuse and provide a unique and meaningful service to our citizens. While we continue to finalize a uniform system for prescription drug disposal, we will continue to sponsor these take-back opportunities and give Americans the opportunity to contribute to the solution.”
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Friday, November 1, 2013

Military Approves Buprenorphine and Methadone Treatment

Logo of TRICARE, the health care plan for the ...
Addiction is not a new problem for the military, yet the treatment techniques for substance abuse is antiquated. Years of fighting in foreign conflicts has left thousands of service men and women mentally and physically unstable, prompting many to turn to drugs and alcohol for relief. Prescription drug abuse has been on the rise for some time now, although in the past the Defense Department’s healthcare plan wouldn’t cover the opioid addiction medications buprenorphine and methadone.

Fortunately, starting next month, the Defense Department will cover such medications, according to the Air Force Times. In the past, the military health plan, Tricare, would only approve medications for short-term, detoxification, and pain management, the article notes.

“Medication-assisted treatment, to include drug maintenance involving substitution of a therapeutic drug with addiction potential, for a drug of addiction, is now generally accepted … and thus appropriate for inclusion as a component in the Tricare-authorized substance use disorder treatment,” according to the Federal Register.

The Institute of Medicine gave cause for the Pentagon to change its restrictions on opioid addiction treatment after a report last year. The report pointed out that substance abuse in the U.S. military has become a public health crisis.

Hopefully, updated addiction treatment practices will help reduce the chances of relapse amongst those struggling with addiction. With the approval of buprenorphine and methadone in military, better patient monitoring will be required if the drugs are going to have the desired effect.
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