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Friday, December 30, 2011

Military Using Synthetic Marijuana

In the last year we have seen a rise in synthetic drugs sending people to the emergency room. Synthetic marijuana like Spice and bath salts like Ivory Wave contain chemicals that mimic other illegal drugs causing hallucinations that can go on for several days. Typically you hear of teenagers and college students abusing these substances; however, since it is difficult to drug test for synthetic drugs there has been a rise in use with the military.

Just two years ago there were only 29 Marines and sailors who were suspected of using such drugs, but this year the number jumped to over 700. This exponential jump has officials alarmed and concerned due to the fact that jobs in the military require that individuals be on point because lives are often at risk. An investigation has been launched on more than 1,100 suspected users.

Synthetic drugs are relatively easy to come by; the Internet is perhaps the most popular place to purchase them. You can also find them in smoke-shops and in some places even gas stations.

"You can just imagine the work that we do in a military environment," said Mark Ridley, deputy director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, adding, "You need to be in your right mind when you do a job. That's why the Navy has always taken a zero tolerance policy toward drugs."

Those found guilty of using Spice are kicked out, although the Navy does not track the overall number of dismissals. Fortunately, tests are being developed and chemicals used to make these drugs are fast becoming illegal to purchase.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Midnight Mission

“Giving support is just as therapeutic as getting it” - NBC’s Jane Pauley

Recovery finds addicts the same way addicts find recovery, as is the case for most people working a program of recovery. The process of getting back in touch with oneself is often a long hard road, there is no time limit on how long one will be in the grips of addiction, although, the longer one dances with fate the greater the chance that addiction will take one’s life or everything worth living for.

Recovery involves surrender, coming to terms with the fact that you cannot control everything, let alone addiction. Surrendering to oneself and to others is perhaps the most important aspect of recovery, which is something that Orlando Ward had to figure out the same way every other addict who has hit rock bottom did.

At the age of 51, after ten years at the Midnight Mission, a homeless center in Los Angeles, Ward has achieved the executive position. Alcohol took everything from Orlando, but, with the help of the Midnight Mission and a higher power Ward has managed to work a successful program of recovery for 12 years.

He is a sign of hope for all those who have are homeless and have hit rock bottom as a result of their battle with addiction. We encourage everyone to watch the short video clip below as we hope that everyone has happy holidays.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Friday, December 16, 2011

Smoking May Cause Skin Cancer

Cigarettes are perhaps the hardest drug to quit and users have a high potential for relapse. While tobacco may not be the worst drug one could consume it still happens to be extremely harmful to one’s health and very addictive. Every year, thousands of people lose their life to health conditions that are a result of prolonged tobacco usage. Every case is different, but in most cases cancer is the cause of death, typically lung cancer or mouth and throat cancer.

A new study was conducted and the results may tie smoking with a particular type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma in women. Women with squamous cell carcinoma were almost four times more likely than women without the cancer to have smoked for 20 or more years, according to a news release from Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, where the study was conducted.

The study included 383 patients with skin cancer and 315 people without the disease. They were asked:
  • How much they smoked
  • When they started
  • How many years in total they smoked

Smoking did not appear to significantly increase men’s risk of skin cancer. Lead author Dana Rollison said she did not know why they found a gender difference in smoking risk. The female hormone estrogen may affect the breakdown of nicotine in the body, and the body’s ability to repair damage to lung DNA that is caused by smoking.

The authors pointed out that while the study found a link between smoking and skin cancer risk, it did not prove smoking causes skin cancer.

The study appears in the journal Cancer Causes & Control.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Danae Miller Goes to Trial

Amine Britel

Last February in the affluent coastal community of Newport Beach, California, a bicyclist lost his life when a drunk driver was texting while on the road and veered into the rider. Orange County Superior Court Judge Derek G. Johnson ruled Thursday, December 1, 2011, that 23 year old Danae Miller will stand trial. If convicted she faces up to 10 years in prison for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The felony charge is the result of an accident on San Joaquin Hills Road that killed Amine Britel, a Moroccan athlete who came to the United States and ran a local business.

Initially, Miller told authorities that she had not been drinking before she got behind the wheel on that fateful day. She also claimed that she had not been using her cell phone either; however, phone records indicated that she had been exchanging text messages with friends in the minutes leading up to the crash. A blood test after the crash showed Miller had a blood alcohol concentration of .10, above the legal limit.

Danae Miller had a history of bad driving, to the point where it’s a wonder how she still had a driver’s license. According to court records, Miller had been cited a total of 16 times for alleged traffic violations. The Daily Pilot reports that Miller received six tickets for speeding or driving too fast for conditions each year between 2005 and 2009, a ticket in 2006 for driving the wrong way on a street, a failure to stop at a stop sign in 2007, and tickets in 2009 and 2010 for talking on her cell phone while speeding.

As sad as it is, Miller’s record clearly showed she was a hazard to herself and to others, yet, for some reason the DMV didn’t pull her license and something tragic occurred. Miller is out on $100,000 bail and is scheduled back in court on December 12th.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Medical Marijuana Lowers Traffic Deaths

Drunk driving and drugged driving have proven time and time again to be extremely hazardous, with thousands of accidents, sometimes fatal, every year. Whenever someone uses a mind altering substance it inhibits one’s ability to focus the same way they would sober which is why just about every state in the country has strict laws to deter such behavior. It turns out that medical marijuana may actually decrease the number of traffic deaths each year.

A new study has found that medical marijuana laws may be linked to a reduction in traffic deaths. Researchers believe that some people in “medical marijuana allowing states” use marijuana instead of alcohol. Pointing out that alcohol is more deadly than marijuana when combined with driving, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was reviewed before and after the legalization of medical marijuana laws in 16 states, the current number of states that allow medical marijuana programs. They found a nearly 9 percent decrease in overall traffic deaths.

In most states with medical marijuana laws, the researchers saw an increase in marijuana consumption in addition to prescription uses among people over 18, but not among minors. Those states also experienced a small drop in alcohol consumption. Seemingly, people are substituting marijuana for alcohol, which at the end of the day may be a good thing considering how caustic alcohol has proven to be to the human body.

Marijuana is typically consumed within the confines of one’s own home, whereas alcohol is usually drank in public settings where the potential for driving is that much greater. Researchers claim that when people are drunk they are less likely to think that they are too intoxicated to do a particular activity, which is contrary to marijuana users who can usually gauge better how high they actually are.

The researchers’ findings appear in a working paper for the Institute for the Study of Labor.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Emergency Rooms and Energy Drinks

While energy drinks may give people a second wind in their day, it is hardly a secret that they can be extremely unhealthy, especially when mixed with drugs or alcohol. Over the last decade we have seen more and more beverage companies releasing their own formula of liquid energy, as a result more people than ever are mixing drinks like Redbull and Rockstar with their alcohol which has lead to a rise in people going to the emergency room as a result of mixing the two.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that hospitalizations in the United States related to energy drinks have raised tenfold to 13,114 in 2009 from 1,128 visits in 2005. This is an unbelievable figure if you actually consider how big of a jump that really is. 44 percent of the visits involved people who had combined energy drinks with alcohol, pharmaceuticals or illicit drugs.

“Combining energy drinks with substances of abuse raises the risk of serious, even life-threatening injury, as well as the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors such as driving under the influence," according to researchers.

Mixing the stimulants found in energy drinks with other mind altering substances can be fatal and people who partake in such behavior should use caution. Fortunately, real progress has been made in banning alcohol infused energy drinks due to how dangerous they were shown to be after a number of people went to the hospital after drinking Four Loko.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Four Loko Back In the News

Over the last year the alcohol infused energy drink Four Loko has made the news on numerous occasions. The best way to describe the drink is volatile and dangerous due to the fact that it has sent many people to the emergency room. One can of Four Loko is equivalent to about a six-pack of regular beer. Which is why, Attorneys General in 35 states and the San Francisco City Attorney have asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to limit the amount of alcohol sold in a single-serving can.

The move is aimed at reducing the amount of alcohol in Four Loko, the Des Moines Register reports. Four Loko is sold in 23.5-ounce cans, and contains about the same amount of alcohol as five beers, according to Tom Miller, Attorney General of Iowa.

The FTC had charged Phusion Project, which makes Four Loko, with violating federal law by making false or misleading claims that a can of the beverage can be safely consumed on a single occasion, and by not disclosing the number of alcohol servings per can.

In October, Phusion agreed to change the labels of the cans so that they state the drinks contain as much alcohol as four to five cans of beer. The company has not admitted to any wrongdoing, but says it will re-label the drinks to better inform its customers. Which may not be enough as far as the Attorneys General are concerned, who would like to see the number of servings per can reduced to two.

Four Loko used to contain high concentrations of caffeine and alcohol, and was known as “blackout in a can,” the article notes. Under pressure from state and federal authorities, Phusion removed caffeine from the drink and stopped marketing it as an energy drink.

Friday, November 11, 2011

People Who Want to Quit Cigarettes Rarely Succeed

Tobacco is considered one of the hardest substances to quit, despite the advent of patches, gums, and prescription drugs to help with cravings. Most smokers would like to quit but the habit is often so ingrained that quitting hardly seems to be a reality. A new government study finds almost 70 percent of American smokers want to quit, more than half attempted to quit last year, but only 6 percent actually accomplished the goal.

Most people who tried to quit smoking didn’t use any form of therapy or prescription drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to a report by the CDC, medications and counseling can double or triple success rates. Most people who desired to quit smoking did not even talk to a doctor about useful techniques.

Almost 76 percent of African-American smokers wanted to quit in 2010, according to The Wall Street Journal. While 59 percent tried, only 3 percent were successful, the lowest rate among different groups of people measured by the CDC.

Smokers who had a college degree had an 11 percent success rate, compared with just 3 percent with smokers with fewer than 12 years of education.

Despite the fact that smoking has been banned in public places in most states, which reduces exposure as well as temptation, people are still exposed to tobacco all the time which makes quitting a lot harder. Tobacco addiction is similar to alcohol in the fact that it is legal and can be purchased almost on every street corner. Quitting requires extra vigilance if success is ever going to be achieved.

If you or someone you know is looking to kick the habit it is highly advised that they seek counseling from a doctor or therapist, it could greatly increase one's chances.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Alcohol and Breast Cancer

Alcohol has been proven to have serious side effects that can be detrimental to one’s health, as science becomes more advanced researchers are finding out what else alcohol consumption may lead to. New research has shown that women who have three to six alcoholic drinks a week are at slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer compared with women who don’t drink at all.

More than 100,000 nurses were observed for almost 30 years, according to USA Today. Most previous studies on alcohol and breast cancer have found no increased risk for the disease among women who are light drinkers, according to the article.

Women who had three to six drinks a week had a 15 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer compared with nondrinkers, equating to about four additional cases of breast cancer per 1,000 women. A woman’s risk of the disease increased the more she drank, regardless of whether she drank:
  • wine
  • beer
  • liquor

In a news release, the study authors said that while the exact way in which alcohol may lead to breast cancer is not known, one probable explanation may involve alcohol’s effect on circulating estrogen levels. Either way, women should be aware of the potential for cancer due to heavy drinking, everybody is different and there is no telling how it may affect you.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Addiction Medicine Graduate Programs

Addiction medicine is a complex field, requiring doctors to understand the ends and outs of the disease. The majority of doctors have very little, if any, training in the field which is why colleges have begun offering graduate programs that will teach new doctors how to treat the disease as well as the many different variables associated with one patient to the next.

The National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) has given the University of Buffalo a $900,000 grant for the development of a graduate medical education programs in addiction medicine.

“There is a shortage of academically oriented addiction medicine physicians qualified to conduct clinical research on addictions, to translate this research into practice, and to teach medical students and a wide range of residents about addiction in academic medical centers,” said Dr. Richard Blondell, Director of Addictions Research at the university, in an NIAAA news release. “This grant will allow established leaders in addiction medicine to help bridge the gap between research and medical education on one hand and clinical practice on the other, and train a new cohort of leaders who will continue to advance the field.”

This will fund a council of leaders in the field of addiction who will have the ability to form programs that can be used across the country, the Associated Press reports.

“The purpose is to educate primary care doctors as well as emergency medicine physicians and, frankly, physicians in all the specialties on how to treat their patients who are already addicted, while also preventing non-addicted patients from developing addictions. Part of that education involves connecting the dots. If a person with an addiction is going into the hospital for orthopedic surgery, the surgeon needs to know about the addiction. Right now, there is no established infrastructure for disseminating that information.”

The grant was formulated to cover the whole spectrum of addictions, from alcohol to prescription drugs, according to Blondell in a University of Buffalo news release.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Babies Dependent on Opiates in Maine

It is well known that whatever a pregnant woman consumes, the baby also “consumes”. This is why people typically refrain from drinking and smoking while pregnant. However, as more and more people are being prescribed prescription opiates, more and more babies are being born with the drug in their system causing withdrawal symptoms that can be fatal in some cases. The state of Maine has seen a huge surge in the number of babies being born dependent upon opiates of one form or another.

More than 570 babies were born in Maine in 2010 to mothers who used prescription painkillers, according to The Portland Press Herald. Apparently that number has tripled over the last six years. Newborns whose mothers used opiates during pregnancy experience withdrawal symptoms, requiring weeks of hospital treatment, often with small doses of methadone or morphine administered daily. According to the article, the average cost to treat each baby is $25,000.

For those mothers who went through drug and alcohol treatment during the pregnancy and were given methadone or Suboxone, their babies often require much less medical help after birth and get to go home much sooner.

Women who use while they are pregnant are much more likely to miscarry, or to give birth prematurely to babies with higher birth defect rates, according to the article. Stopping “cold turkey” during pregnancy is extremely dangerous, the uterus can twitch and contract, putting the pregnancy in danger, notes Dr. Mark Brown, a neonatologist at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Prescription drug use and pregnancy do not mix; addicts who determine they are pregnant should seek help immediately in order to protect their child from a host of medical problems.

At the University of Maine, Marie Hayes is studying the effect of opioid withdrawal on babies’ brains.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Richard Dreyfuss Speaks On Sobriety

It has been almost 30 years since Richard Dreyfuss found sobriety, it is clearly still one of the most important days of his life, as it is with most who have, through hard work, achieved long term sobriety - Nov. 19, 1982.

“It's my daughter's birthday, and there's more magic attached to that sentence than I can possibly begin to tell you. But suffice to it say that one year ... before my daughter was born, I was upside down with my head on the pavement with a Mercedes Benz on top of me. And I was held in by a safety belt that I hadn't put on,” Dreyfuss explained to an Oklahoma City audience Tuesday night, October 11, 2011.

“I spent the next 10 days in absolute and complete denial. I am an expert on denial, and I did my level best to not see the inevitable consequence of my acts. Except I couldn't shake the image of this little girl that was in my mind's eye, and every day she got clearer and clearer until on the 19th I said, enough. And she disappeared and didn't reappear for one year. She was my daughter.”

Dreyfuss was the keynote speaker last Tuesday night at the Oklahoma Outreach Foundation's “An Evening of Courage & Inspiration”, a charity dinner held at the Skirvin Hotel. The event generated $212,000 for the nonprofit organization that helps treatment and recovery programs for state teens coping with dependency on alcohol and other drugs.

Dreyfuss explained he developed his drug habit for “many of the reasons that young people have been doing stupidly risky things forever.”

“I thought I couldn't be killed, I thought I was immortal, and I thought I would always be smarter and faster. ... And the other reason was, of course, that while I knew I was immortal, I also knew that I was a worthless piece of dog dung and I couldn't stand myself and I would do anything to not be me,” he said.

“Every once in awhile I would do something that if it had been just a millisecond different, I would not be here today. I would either be dead or be in prison.”

We encourage everyone to listen to and watch a short video of his keynote speech where in talking of the Serenity Prayer he says: “That is the first, most important, most clear spiritual revelation of my life. It changed me from one thing to another and made me better,” he said. “God has always fascinated me, as either fact or metaphor. God works.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Doctors Don't Ask Younger Patients About Alcohol

Alcohol misuse and abuse with young adults and teenagers is a major concern for health officials across America due to the fact that doctors often fail to ask their younger patients about their alcohol use, according to a new study. Despite alcohol's legality, it is extremely hard on the body and the potential for addiction is extremely high amongst people who consume it regularly. The findings come from a new study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

More than 4,000 adults ages 18 to 39 took part in the survey, of which two-thirds had seen a doctor in the past year. Of those subjects whose drinking was classified as excessive, only 49 percent said their doctor inquired about their drinking and only 14 percent were counseled about it.

According to NIAAA guidelines:
  • men should drink no more than four drinks per day
  • men should have no more than 14 drinks in a week
  • women should not have more than three drinks per day
  • women should have no more than seven drinks per week

The study found:
  • 16 percent of young adults were nondrinkers
  • 24 percent drank at or below the recommended limits
  • 47 percent drank more than the recommended daily or weekly limits
  • 13 percent exceeded both limits

“Physicians should routinely ask all adults about their drinking and offer advice about levels that pose health risk, particularly to young adults,” the researchers write in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Heroin Use On The Rise in Newport Beach

Newport Beach, California, is an affluent city in between San Diego and Los Angeles; a popular tourist attraction in the summer and beach haven for locals who surf “The Wedge”. A number of teenagers engage in risky behavior with certain drugs that would be unaffordable for most kids, but, most kids do not receive a Porsche upon their sixteenth birthday. In the past cocaine was the most popular drug after marijuana, there typically isn’t a party that doesn’t have a group of kids openly engaging in cocaine use. The times are changing thanks to the rise in prescription opiate use, which has prompted a number of young adults and teenagers, as young as fourteen or fifteen, to start using Mexican black tar heroin sold one city over in Santa Ana by Mexican gangs. Users are often attracted to black tar for the fact that it does not have to be injected; it can be both snorted and smoked on tin foil.

On Wednesday, the Newport Beach Police Department reported a dramatic rise in heroin-related arrests amongst young adults and teenagers. They noted that this demographic in the past was typically not associated with heroin. As the price of prescription opiates sold on the streets goes up, people look to heroin to supplement their habit, according to the Daily Pilot. Oxycontin is being sold for a dollar a milligram, so an 80 milligram pill goes for $80; heroin, on the other hand, is generally sold for no more than 50 dollars a gram making the choice to buy it that much easier.

“In speaking with many of these young heroin users, it seems they are being first exposed to heroin by friends who use the drug or while they are at social gatherings," said Newport Beach police Det. Elijah Hayward. "Some of the people we have talked to were first introduced to the drug when they were 14 or 15 years old."

Every year that passes authorities make more busts associated with the drug than the year before which has caused much concern.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Living Alone May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Can living alone be hazardous to one's health? It may be the case that living alone increases one's chance of dying from alcohol related disorders, according to a new study conducted in Finland. MSNBC reports that over a six year period in Finland, 18,200 people who died of alcohol-related causes, two-thirds lived alone. Either people are more likely to drink more when they live alone or people's alcohol problems were the cause of them having to live alone - it may very well be a combination of both. It is well known that people with substance abuse issues tend to be withdrawn from family, friends, and even society; it is not too surprising that the majority of people who lose their lives to substance abuse issues, lived their life alone free from the perceived judgement of their peers.

Researchers report that between 2000 and 2003:
  • Men living alone were 3.7 times more likely to die of liver disease than married men or men who lived with someone.
  • Women who lived alone were 1.7 times as likely to die of liver disease between 2000 and 2003.
Between 2004 and 2007:
  • Men were 4.9 times more likely to die of liver disease than married men or men who lived with someone.
  • Women who lived alone were 2.4 times as likely between 2004 and 2007, compared with women who lived with someone.

The increase of deaths with people who lived alone may have to do with the decrease of alcohol prices that started in 2004. The cheaper alcohol is the easier it is for people to acquire; people are more tempted to buy something especially when there has been a reduction in price. A number of countries, have begun raising the price of alcohol in order to help fight alcoholism; unfortunately, raising the price of alcohol may encourage indigent addicts to commit crimes to afford their habit.

It is no coincidence that people who find recovery are more successful when they live with other people and have a close knit social network of people fighting for the same cause. Recovering addicts who isolate are much more likely to drift back into addictive behavior patterns that typically lead to relapse and even death.

PLos Medicine

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rise in Prescription Drug Children Poisonings

There is hardly a house in America that doesn’t have a medicine cabinet full of prescription drugs. More and more people are turning to pharmaceuticals to deal with their mental health concerns as well the management of pain. Unfortunately, parents more times than not fail to keep their drugs locked up and as a result there is a growing number of children in the United States who are being accidentally poisoned when they swallow prescription drugs, according to a new study.

The report found that sedatives, opioids, and heart drugs are the most common cause of children’s poisonings, according to Reuters. There were 544,000 visits to emergency rooms in children age 5 and younger between 2001 and 2008. 454,000 involved a single medication. The visits resulted in 66 deaths according to researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio which reviewed all calls made to U.S. poison control centers from emergency rooms when children accidentally ingested a drug.

Just over the course of the study, the number of children that went to the emergency room due to accidental poisoning increased by 30 percent. The increase is testament to the fact that there has been a rise in the number of prescription medications that people have in their home.

Parents need to be extra vigilant about keeping their prescription drugs in safe place and ideally locked up. There is very little room for error when it comes to children and prescription drugs tailored for adults. Disposing of old prescriptions that are no longer required is always a good practice, don’t just throw them away bring them to a safe place for disposal like the pharmacy or, in some cases, the local police stations.

The findings published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Friday, September 9, 2011

DEA Emergency Bath Salt Ban

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced Wednesday (09/07/2011) that the chemicals used in the making of legal “bath salts” are an "imminent hazard" to the public. The DEA will use its emergency authority to place a ban on such chemicals. The health risks associated with synthetic drugs, like “bath salts”, are clear to health officials who have seen a surge in emergency room visits related to these so called “legal highs.”

"This imminent action by the DEA demonstrates that there is no tolerance for those who manufacture, distribute, or sell these drugs anywhere in the country, and that those who do will be shut down, arrested, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a statement on the DEA website. "DEA has made it clear we will not hesitate to use our emergency scheduling authority to control these dangerous chemicals that pose a significant and growing threat to our nation."

The side effects associated with “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana are nothing short of frightening and can lead people to attempt suicide. "They're selling time bombs," Louisiana Poison Control Center Director Dr. Mark Ryan said in the course of the ABC News investigation. "We've had some people show up who are complaining of chest pains so severe that they think they're having a heart attack. They think they're dying... They have extreme paranoia. They're having hallucinations. They see things, they hear things, monsters, demons, aliens."

The emergency ban enacted by the DEA will begin in 30 days, making it a crime to possess or sell mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone -- all key ingredients for "bath salts", as well as or any other products concocted with those chemicals, for one year. In that year the DEA should have ample time, with the help of the Department of Health and Human Services, to "further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled."


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Friday, September 2, 2011

New Bath Salts Test

As snorting bath salts and smoking synthetic marijuana become more popular amongst teenagers and young adults, scientists and researchers have been working hard to develop new tests which would be able to determine whether or not someone has been abusing them. While very little is known about these drugs, the side-effects have reared their ugly heads in emergency rooms across the country. Side-effects include psychosis, suicidal thoughts, and hallucinations. These drugs are extremely dangerous and parents should be cautious about their presence in the house.

Bath salts and synthetic marijuana are among the topics being presented at this year’s 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) being held this week. Any drug marketed as “bath salts”, “incense”, and “plant food” have not yet been made illegal and are undetectable with current drug testing.

Scientists are developing tests that would be able to identify particular substances that are used in the making of such legally obtainable products. Oliver Sutcliffe, Ph.D., and his colleagues have been working on a method called isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) to determine who is making bath salts and which chemical companies provided the raw materials. "With the new method, we could work backwards and trace the substances back to the starting materials," said Sutcliffe.

Keep in mind, these aren’t the same bath salts you find in your neighborhood supermarket. These “salts” are sold on the Internet, on the street and stores that sell drug paraphernalia.

Sutcliffe has already developed a test that is able to identify mephedrone, the key ingredient used in bath salts. The test could be easily used in law enforcement labs. Sutcliffe and his team are developing a color-change test kit which they estimate will be available by the end of the year and would be able to test for mephedrone.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Four State Prescription Drug Task Force

As the battle against the prescription drug epidemic wages on some states are finding that they cannot fight this fight alone. There are simply too many variables to counter, because, let’s face it: a state can make it harder for people to get prescribed prescription drugs theoretically lowering the number of pills that hit the street, but, what will stop people from bringing in pills from the state next door? The answer to that question may be what four states have already decided to do; Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia created the Interstate Prescription Drug Task Force to fight the region’s prescription drug abuse problem.

30 experts from drug agencies and law enforcement make up the task force, according to The Courier-Journal. Fortunately, all four of the states have already set up electronic drug monitoring systems to collect information on who receives and prescribes certain medications, according to the article.

The task force’s success will depend in large part on sharing drug information through these programs, according to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. “Kentucky isn’t an island. We have to attack this problem on a nationwide basis and work with other states to share information if we hope to turn around the prescription drug problem,” he said in a news release.

The federal government is pushing for prescription drug databases in every state as part of their five year plan to cut prescription painkiller abuse by 15 percent in the next five years. The only way to lower abuse and keep more people out of the E.R. is if states start working together on this epidemic, every household in America should be cognizant of the danger that prescription drugs pose.

Friday, August 19, 2011

MADD Talking To Students

As we approach the new school year parents and teachers are preparing themselves for another year of aspiring young minds testing the limits of achievement. High school students and freshman at colleges across the country will also be preparing for another year of parties where drinking and drug use will take place. Naturally, parents and teachers will be working hard to combat peer pressure and binge drinking to the best of their ability. There is never any question about whether or not students will be drinking, the goal is to limit students' ability to binge drink and drive drunk.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has partnered with Pennsylvania State University’s Dr. Robert Turrisi on a program that is based on his handbook for parents of college freshman. The handbook has helped to reduce underage drinking behaviors, even in households with below average communication.

Here are a few practical tips for communicating with teens about underage drinking:

Talk before a problem starts.
  • Have the important discussions now, before there’s blame, anger or punishments.
  • Agree on a time to talk about the dangers of alcohol — preferably when they’re not tired, hungry or angry.

Discuss rules and consequences.
  • Explain expectations and tell them you don’t want him/her drinking.
  • Agree on consequences for broken rules.

Show you care.
  • Show affection and tell them that you care about them and want them to be healthy and safe.

Pay attention.
  • Even when life gets hectic, take time out to listen to them.
  • Know where they are and what they’re doing.

Give and get respect.
  • Listen and respond respectfully when they talk.
  • Insist that they treat you with respect too.

"Teen alcohol use kills 6,000 young people each year, more than all other illegal drugs combined. However, research shows that three out of four teens say their parents are the number one influence on their decisions about alcohol", according to MADD's president Jan Withers.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Transdermal Patches Child Danger

Modern medicine has improved the way in which drugs are administered, the level of sophistication that goes into the making of pharmaceuticals is beyond most peoples’ understanding. Just because drugs are becoming more and more advanced does not mean that there isn’t still a level of danger which everyone should be concerned about. In the last decade more and more drugs are being offered in a transdermal form. Nicotine patches are probably the most widely known and used, but there are transdermal patches that can administer nitroglycerin and strong painkillers like Fentanyl over an extended period of time which lessens the possibility for overdose or abuse.

If children happen to get their hands on one of their parents’ patches it can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. MSNBC reports of several cases where children have found unused or discarded patches in the trash can and sucked on them, by doing so it will cause the medication to get into the blood stream rapidly potentially causing an overdose. There are about 60 different types of transdermal patches and in the United States alone, 22 million of them were prescribed last year according to MSNBC; so it is clear that there are plenty of opportunities for kids to find such drugs around the house with relative ease.

“Even after they’re used, after 72 hours, there’s still a residual drug that can be left in the patch and can be dangerous for a child,” said Thomas Clemence, a registered pharmacist at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Parents who are prescribed transdermal medications need to be vigilant about where they store them around the house, as well as have a biohazard receptacle for disposing of used patches to protect curious children. Since 1997, at least four children have died and six have been hospitalized from exposure to opioid Fentanyl patches.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Underage Drinking and Marijuana Use

Underage drinking is a major concern from California all the way to Maine, a bi-coastal problem with implications more severe than most may even understand. It is a common misconception that marijuana is the "gateway drug"; the fact is that most addicts and alcoholics start the journey towards addiction with a drink from their parents’ liquor cabinet at a relatively young age. Children and parents alike share the belief that alcohol is not that big of deal, if it were, alcohol would not be legal let alone sold on almost every street corner in the United States.

Surprisingly, the state that leads the nation in underage drinking is one of the smallest, according to new statistics. A new federal report, made public recently, showed that Vermont has the highest rate of underage drinking in the nation and is second in youth marijuana use, the Burlington Free Press reported. Vermont had the highest estimated rate of adult marijuana use in the 18 to 25 age bracket (30.6 percent); what’s more, Vermont had the highest rate of adults who started using marijuana (11.9 percent), while Utah had the lowest rate (3.5 percent).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducted a state-by-state analysis of behavioral health issues. Their findings revealed that 36.6 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds in Vermont said they drank alcohol in the previous month; Utah had the lowest underage drinking rate, 14.2 percent.

Vermont's location may be a contributing factor in all of this considering that it is sandwiched between Montreal and Boston, according to Barbara Cimaglio, Deputy Commissioner for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs for the Vermont Department of Health. That part of the country is an area that sees a lot of drug trafficking and very little entertainment, there are no major sports teams or large concert halls. The citizens of Vermont also experience long cold winters that does not afford people the opportunity to go outside and be active; idleness can lead to depression that gets treated with substance abuse.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Chronic Pain Treated With Opioids May Lead to Addiction

While it may not come as much surprise, a large percentage of patients undergoing treatment for chronic pain with opioids meet the criteria for addiction under the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) new definition of addiction. Experts had hoped that the new definition would mean less patients meeting the criteria, one-third of patients undergoing long-term pain therapy with opioids are dealing with addiction, a new study finds. The findings come from a study of 705 patients currently receiving long-term opioid treatment for pain not related to cancer, reports Medical News Today. The researchers conducting the study contrasted the APA’s old and new criteria for addiction, and surprisingly found that the percentage of patients with addiction to opioids was congruent.

The old and new criteria were not too dissimilar, opioid addiction was associated with:
  • being younger than 65
  • having a history of opioid abuse and substance abuse treatment
  • higher opioid withdrawal symptoms
Overall, researchers found that:
  • about 35 percent of patients met the criteria for opioid addiction
  • 21.7 percent of the patients met the criteria for moderate opioid-use disorder
  • 13.2 percent had severe opioid-use disorder

Prescription drugs, even if taken as prescribed, are highly addictive and should be used after all other forms of pain treatment have been exhausted. Going to the doctor when suffering with chronic pain, only to go home suffering from chronic pain and, now, addiction is never a good deal. There are many alternative forms of pain management available to those who are willing to try them, the problem is that most people want the quickest fix to their problems without realizing the new, potentially worse, problems that may arise as a result of consuming such medications. If opioids can be avoided, then avoid them at all costs.

The findings are published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Smokeless Tobacco Debate

As we move towards the future, working hard to live healthier lives, the science available to us has shown plenty of proof to support the fact that smoking cigarettes is hazardous to our health. Doctors work hard every day to try and convince their patients that smoking will kill them, a number of people have quit smoking in the last decade in response to our doctors’ efforts on the matter. Cigarette companies have caught wind of this trend which is why they have invested millions in creating smokeless tobacco products that will give consumers the buzz they are looking for without a number of additives that can be cancerous.

Obviously, no one can argue that fewer smokers is a good thing, but, the question is about which market these new products are meant to appeal to? R.J. Reynolds is test-marketing Camel Orbs, which are a dissolvable tobacco lozenge, in Denver, CO and Charlotte, NC, the Los Angeles Times reports. However, public health officials believe these products, with packaging and flavoring that appeals to children are directed at attracting teens, who can easily use the products in secret. The article points out the lack of research that has been conducted on the possible health risks of dissolvable tobacco.

These products come in packaging with bright colors and unique artwork which may catch the eyes of teenagers who want to hide their habit. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet this week in order to determine the nature and impact of dissolvable tobacco products on the public health, the impact on children being of main concern.

It is a safe bet to assume that any product containing chemicals and tobacco from big tobacco companies is probably harmful to one’s health even if they are slightly less harmful than tobacco.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Intravenous Drug Use Requires More

Every case of addiction varies from case to case, there is no one right way to find recovery; what works for one may not work for the next. However, there are some forms of recovery that have, statistically speaking, shown to be more effective than others. When addicts make the choice to surrender and start down the road to recovery, every individual is at a different point of their addiction. That is not to say that just because you do a drug one way, you are somehow worse off than the next, but, it does mean that you might require more intensive initial recovery program.

According to a new study, addicts who have moved into the realm of I.V. drug use have higher rates of abuse and dependence and have a greater need for substance abuse treatment when compared to those who do not use drug intravenously. Medical News Today, reported that the study used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 70,000 teenagers and adults in the United States took part in the new survey. Typically injection drug users tend to be 35 and older living in rural area, unemployed, and have less than a high school education.

“By learning more about how routes of administration are related to user characteristics, we could improve our ability to tailor substance abuse treatment and prevention strategies to individual users,” said Scott Novak, PhD, lead researcher at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, NC, in a news release. “Because injection drug users are disproportionately engaged in the criminal justice system, criminal justice diversion programs, such as Drug Courts, and treatment for incarcerated offenders should also consider the unique needs of injection drug users.”

The study, published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases

Friday, July 8, 2011

Oklahoma Prescription Drug Database

There is hardly a state in the Union that does not have a prescription drug problem that has gone out of control. Individual states are working hard to take measures to curb the ever growing problem; requiring more from prescribing doctors as well as pharmacies by having to report to the state who is prescribing what and where they are acquiring the drugs. Oklahoma is one such state that has had an uphill battle with prescription drug abuse which is why a prescription drug database has been created which has shown promise. It was launched five years ago and since then Oklahoma’s Prescription Monitoring Program is now being used by three-fourths of the state’s doctors. Sadly, while the program is a step in the right direction it has not been proven to have saved lives while an estimated 100,000 state residents are still addicted to prescription drugs, according to The Oklahoman.

On top of that the state medical examiner has shown that the program has not reduced drug overdose deaths, which increased from 309 in 2006 to 356 in 2009. It used to be the case that doctors only had to report Schedule II controlled substances, such as oxycodone and morphine. The program, which began in July 2006, started requiring doctors to also report Schedules II-V, which includes drugs like Xanax and Valium.

Starting in January doctors will be asked to report prescriptions as they write them, instead of within a 24-hour period, according to the report. More action than that will be required if Oklahoma wants to reduce prescription drug overdoses which has shown to be a growing problem despite the steps already taken. The fact of the matter is that people simply do not understand just how dangerous drugs like oxycodone can be, especially if the drug is mixed with other drugs, legal or not.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Doctors Call On Congress to Help

With the growing number of prescription drug abuse related suicides the Federal government is saying, enough is enough. The fact of the matter is that many doctors prescribing potential lethal drugs do not fully grasp what is going on with their patients and are unable to identify signs of addiction. As one might imagine, there are many doctors who prescribed drugs that people overdosed on and never had a clue that their patient was an addict. Nearly 30,000 Americans overdosed last year, half of all those overdoses were the result of legal prescription drugs. Health care professionals need to be better educated on this subject so that they will have a shot at realizing that a particular patient is in trouble and shouldn't be prescribed narcotics.

This week more than 125 physicians went to Capitol Hill to demand that the government act on this growing problem. "In most cases, doctors contribute innocently because they haven't been trained properly on how to prescribe in a responsible way, how to identify a drug addict and help them," said Dr. David Kloth, a pain management physician from Connecticut and spokesman for the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. According to Kloth, 80 to 90 percent of physicians in the United States have no training whatsoever when it comes to chemical dependence.

Doctors from ASIPP and the North American Neuromodulation Society, which are two leading associations for pain physicians would like lawmakers to support a bill by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., requiring all physicians to participate in prescription drug abuse training and to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration before prescribing certain medications. A mandate like this, aided by electronic prescription records to make sure doctor shopping and pill farms do not operate, is a step in the right direction when it comes to saving lives.

Friday, June 24, 2011

New Report: Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is never a good idea, in a blink of an eye entire families lives can be changed by one bad decision. There is not an adult in this country that does not know the risks involved in getting behind the wheel intoxicated; yet, every year so many people lose their lives or end up in jail for taking someone else's life operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. A new study found that one-quarter of drivers who died in single-vehicle crashes between 1999 and 2009 tested positive for drugs, with 37 percent having had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit of .08.

Researchers studied data of more than 44,000 drivers gathered from a government database of traffic deaths. Finding 58 percent of drivers did not have any alcohol in their systems, according to the report published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Of those drivers who tested positive for drugs:

  • 22 percent were positive for marijuana
  • 22 percent for stimulants
  • 9 percent for narcotics

Surprisingly, only 19 states have laws that forbid any presence of a prohibited substance or drug in the driver’s body while in control of the vehicle, according to the Governors' Highway Safety Association. Obviously it should be forbidden in every state simply because we know the fact that even if something is condoned, it is still may be very dangerous. There is simply not a good reason to ever get behind the wheel, even if the drug you are taking has been prescribed to you and the drug is taken as the doctors prescribed. There are too many variables on the road to consider when one is completely sober, throwing drugs and alcohol into the mix is never a good choice.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Prescription Drug Overdose Suicides

Prescription drug
related suicides are on the rise according to a new study, which found a 55 percent jump in emergency room visits for drug-related suicide attempts in men ages 21 to 34 between 2005 and 2009. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was responsible for the study, finding suicide attempts involving antidepressants rose by 155 percent and suicides involving anti-anxiety and insomnia medications increased by a staggering 93 percent.

“I think a lot of these people don’t see these drugs as dangerous because it’s a nice, clean little pill,” Peter Delany, Director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at SAMHSA, told USA Today. This is the case for many Americans who take prescription non-narcotics; they simply don't realize the potential for suicidal thoughts when taking psychotropic drugs. Emergency room visits for suicide attempts among males aged 35 to 49 involving narcotic pain relievers almost doubled from 2005 to 2009, and rose almost triple among men 50 and older, according to the new study.

In 2009:
  • 77,971 emergency room visits for drug-related suicide attempts among males of all ages
  • 29,407 such visits by men ages 21 to 34
“While we have learned much about how to prevent suicide, it continues to be a leading cause of death among people who abuse alcohol and drugs,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said in a news release. “The misuse of prescription drugs is clearly helping to fuel the problem. Greater awareness about the warning signs and risk factors for suicide, including abuse of alcohol and drugs, can help people take action and save lives.”

The most important thing someone can do when being prescribed drugs that have the potential for suicidal thoughts is to have an open direct line of communication with your physician. If suicidal thoughts arise, the doctor will have time to adjust your medication, hopefully finding something better suited for your brain chemistry. The worst thing anyone can do is ignore such thoughts.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Can Preschool Prevent Alcohol Addiction?

It is hard to believe that participation in preschool may reduce the risk of addiction according to a new study. It has long been clear that our early years are ever so important, we are like blank slates just waiting for impressions and influences to steer us in the right direction. Unfortunately, many young children are exposed to things that have the potential to give the wrong idea about drugs and alcohol. The study of more than 1,500 children concluded those who had gone to preschool were 28 percent less likely to develop substance abuse problems.

The study followed the children from age 3-4 to age 28. The children in the study lived in low-income neighborhoods in Chicago and most were African American. Those who attended preschool were less likely to develop alcohol and drug problems or to end up in jail or prison, the researchers found. Preschool attendance makes it 24 percent more likely that they will attend a four-year college, and their incomes were higher, the researchers wrote in Science. The families of the children enrolled in preschool were actively involved in the program.

Preschool had the biggest positive effect for boys and for children with the least educated parents. Children need to be constantly surrounded by good influences, people and activities that will lead them in the right direction on the road of life. Idle time for children can be like a poison, giving children the opportunity to get into trouble. If you have young children you should consider preschool, it will do more good than harm. It is well worth a try!

Friday, June 3, 2011

New Mental Illness and Addiction Study

Severe cases of addiction often are coupled with mental illness of one kind or another, this not only contributes to the gravity of the disease but it also makes getting sober much more difficult. You can take all the drugs and alcohol out of one's system by choosing abstinence, however, there is no way to wish away mental affliction especially since most cases go without being diagnosed. If problems like depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress go untreated, the reality of finding sobriety is slim to none. A new government survey backs up the former information, finding that alcohol dependence is four times more likely among adults with mental illness, compared with those without mental illness.

The survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found the rate of alcohol dependence in adults with mental illness was 9.6 percent, compared with 2.2 percent for those without mental illness. Not surprising, the rate of alcohol dependence increases along with the severity of mental illness, according to a report by Medical News Today.

  • 7.9 percent of adults with mild mental illness were alcohol dependent
  • 10 percent for those with moderate mental illness
  • 13.2 percent for those with serious mental illness

“Mental and substance use disorders often go hand in hand. This SAMHSA study adds to the evidence of this connection,” SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said in a news release. “Co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders are to be expected, not considered the exception. Unfortunately, signs and symptoms of these behavioral health conditions are often missed by individuals, their friends and family members and unnoticed by health professionals. The results can be devastating and costly to our society.”

Dual diagnosis patients, otherwise known as people with co-occurring disorders need the assistance of doctors who can properly handle medication in order to give the patient a fighting chance at sobriety.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Financial Toll of American Addiction

Addiction is a worldwide issue that affects nearly every household in one way or another, one would be hard pressed to say that that they are not at least acquainted with someone suffering from an addiction. A recent study conducted by the Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) found some alarming costs associated with addiction and how it affects our country on a national level. The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society was produced on behalf of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and was the first of its kind in almost a decade; according to their estimates illicit drug use cost the United States $193 billion in 2007.

The statistics were compiled based off of the economic costs in the three following areas:
  • crime
  • health
  • productivity
Bloomberg News compared the cost of illegal drug use to that of diabetes, which a 2008 government study found costs more than $174 billion annually. “This study shows the economic cost of illicit drug use is significant,” NDIC Director, Michael F. Walther, said in a press release. “The study’s finding that the economic cost of illicit drug abuse totaled $193 billion reveals that this nation’s drug problem is on par with other health problems.”

While these finding may seem staggering, there is much that should be considered when assessing this information. Obviously, there isn't any doubt that illicit drug use affects America, costing tax payers billions of dollars every year. However, when looking at these statistics one should keep in mind that the majority of the money spent dealing with illicit drug use goes to imprisoning non-violent offenders for possession or probation violations. The United States' draconian drug laws end up costing taxpayers a fortune and locking people up for their addiction does not help the addict nor America. Addicts need counseling and/or treatment if they are ever going to be shown that is a better way to live, imprisonment only exacerbates the problem.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Drug Related Suicide Attempts

Prescription medications are sending more and more people to the E.R., not for overdoses but for suicide attempts. A number of drugs, especially anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills have a propensity to cause severe depression with the onset of suicidal thoughts which some people are putting in to practice. Suicide attempts rose 49 percent among women ages 50 and older from 2005 to 2009, according to a new federal report prepared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). They found that 16,757 women 50 and older had a drug-related suicide attempt in 2009, compared with 11,235 in 2005.

Emergency room visits for suicide attempts among women of all ages involving:

  • drugs to treat anxiety and insomnia increased 56 percent during this period, from 32,426 in 2005 to 50,548 in 2009
  • pain relievers rose more than 30 percent, from 36,563 in 2005 to 47,838 in 2009
  • cases where hydrocodone was involved rose 67 percent, from 4,613 to 7,715, and cases involving oxycodone rose 210 percent, from 1,895 in 2005 to 5,875 in 2009

A former President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, Dr. Elizabeth F. Howell, told ABC News that she is not shocked by the findings, doctors are relying more on medications to treat both physical and psychological problems while spending less time with their patients. Patients need to be fully informed about the drugs that they are being prescribed, especially when drugs are known to cause suicidal tendencies. Do not let your doctor just write you a "script" and send you out the door to fend for yourself. If you are experiencing abnormal thoughts we encourage you to call a professional for guidance.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prescription Pain Drug Misuse Jumps 40 Percent

It is almost hard to comprehend the exponential increase in prescription drug use over the last decade, fast becoming the number one offender in substance abuse across America. In just about every state the numbers are absolutely staggering, highlighting the fact that our youth are in the most jeopardy. One such state that has witnessed skyrocketing rates of prescription opiate misuse is New York, which according to the city’s Health Department the rate of misuse of prescription pain medications has jumped 40 percent in New York City from 2002 to 2009. What's worse, the trend does not seem to be getting any better, which means it's only getting worse as the years pass by.

Four percent of New Yorkers age 12 and older admitted misuse of prescription pain medicines in 2008 and 2009, The New York Times reports. With one out of 10 students in grades 7 through 12 claiming they had used a prescription opioid for non-medicinal use at least once. The report goes on, finding that 25 percent of the city’s accidental drug overdose deaths in 2009 were related to prescription opioids and the rate of opioid-related emergency room visits doubled between 2004 and 2009 in New York City, from 4,466 to 9,254.

The only way we will ever see a decrease in prescription drug misuse is if doctors stop over prescribing patients as well as providing patients narcotics for routine procedures with limited pain. The burden falls on health care providers. The fact that so many teenagers have access to potentially fatal drugs is frightening and in most cases they are not buying the drugs on the streets, rather they are coming by the drugs in their parents medicine cabinets. Parents need to be extra vigilante in keeping their medications away from their children, under lock and key is the only way opioids should be stored in households with children.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rob Lowe Sobriety Memoirs

A number of celebrities struggle with the pressure and heavy demand of the spotlight, always having to be somewhere and act a certain way can wear down a person often leading them towards drugs. This is especially true for teen pop icons who started in the acting business at a young age, being exposed to older successful actors who are not always the best influence. One such icon is Rob Lowe, in his new memoir, "Stories I Only Tell My Friends", Lowe writes that sobriety and his wife Sheryl Berkoff made him the man he is today: an actor who has not only reinvented himself on television but a man who puts family first.

Addiction affects so many different people from all walks of life, no matter one's status or social standing. Lowe was a member of the so called Brat Pack, a group of up and coming celebrities who were born for fame. While Lowe wasn't the only one who struggled with addiction, he does have an interesting outlook on his years of stardom and celebrity status.

"I say in the book when I was a young punk and you would have asked me what the best thing that ever could have happened to me, I would have said getting a Martin Scorsese movie," Lowe said of Berkoff, 49. "But God had other plans. He gave me Sheryl. And she is the best thing that ever happened to me."

You can learn more viewing ABC News' Robin Roberts' interview with Rob Lowe. He celebrates 21 years of sobriety this week.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Entertainment Productions Honored by PRISM Awards

Hollywood has the power to educate and enlighten people about the effects of drug and alcohol abuse in the family. They also have the ability to lead people astray about the subject, portraying drugs in a glamorized manner. Entertainment productions that have an accurate take on drugs and alcohol are often recognized by the PRISM Awards bringing Attention to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues.

Media is an intricate part to how humans absorb and interpret information, especially to the younger generations who have had TV and computers their entire lives. Television shows and major motion pictures have the ability to point out the symptoms of problem drinking and drug abuse.

The awards are produced by the Entertainment Industries Council in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and FX.

Awards included:

Black Swan – Feature Film – Mental Health

The Fighter – Feature Film – Substance Use

Mad Men – Drama Series Episode – Substance Use

Grey’s Anatomy – Drama Series Episode – Mental Health

Nurse Jackie and Rescue Me – Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline – Substance Use

Parenthood – Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline – Mental Health

Drop Dead Diva – Comedy Series Episode

Friday, April 22, 2011

Danae Miller Pleads Not Guilty

When facing a lengthy stay in prison it is fairly typical for the accused to plead not guilty, as was the case for Danae Miller last Friday. The Newport Coast resident was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, after striking a bicyclist on her way home from work on Feb. 21. We have been following this story from the beginning, when we found out that on top of being intoxicated on that fateful day, Miller had received 16 traffic citations since 2005. It was hard to believe that Miller was still allowed to operate a motor vehicle or even be inside one for that matter. Nevertheless, Miller's actions last February cost someone their life and a love one for a family; it appears that Miller will not get off this time like the 16 times before with just a slap on the wrist.

Police claim Miller was consuming alcohol at the restaurant she worked at before jumping in the car to head home. It is believed by prosecutors that Miller had been text messaging about the time she veered into the bicycle lane on San Joaquin Hills Road hitting Amine Britel from behind. Britel received massive injuries from the hit and died at the scene. A mere two hours after the crash, Miller's blood alcohol level was 0.10, which is more than California's legal limit of 0.08.

The road is a dangerous place to begin with, high speed motor vehicles moving past each other and everyone is in a hurry. Alcohol and driving never mix as is testament to the events on Feb. 21, add text messaging to the equation and something bad is guaranteed to happen. There is no excuse for drunk driving, there is always an alternative available for you - the choice is yours.

Miller’s pretrial is set for May 19.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oral Health and Drug Addicts

Drugs and alcohol pay a heavy toll on the human body in a number of ways that are less than to be desired. Mental deterioration over years of abuse is the major side effect of addiction, but, there are other areas of the body that begin to suffer as well. Oral health is an area that can spiral out of control if left unchecked and reports show that addicts have very poor oral hygiene. Most people associate poor oral heath health and methamphetamine due to the Faces of Meth ad that have been shown across the country, but, researchers have found that they are not alone when it comes to addiction and poor oral health.

Public health, dental medicine and internal medicine faculty from Boston University examined the toll taken of different substances on oral health among a selected group of addicts. Alcohol, cocaine, meth, opioid and marijuana users were included in the study. The candidates were asked to report on their oral health status on a five-point scale ranging from poor to excellent. Interestingly, the statistical analysis of the patients' reports showed no strong connections between the types of substances used and oral health status. However, 60 percent of all subjects reported fair or poor oral health, with Opioid users in the sample showing worse oral health compared to one year ago.

"We found that the majority of our sample reported fair or poor oral health," said Meredith D'Amore, MPH, a researcher in the Health/care Disparities Research Program at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center. "Thus, oral health should be considered a significant health problem among individuals with substance dependence and providers should be aware of potential oral health issues." The Boston University research team hopes that their research will be the platform for other studies on oral health and addiction. Talking to addicts about their oral health may be a gateway to talking to them about other health concerns with addiction.

Medical News Today
Boston University Medical Center

Friday, April 8, 2011

Teen Drug Use On The Rise

Drug and alcohol use among teenagers had been on a decline for a number of years, but, according to new research that trend is changing with more teenagers from ages 12 and up using drugs and alcohol. In the last three years ecstasy use among teenagers has risen 67 percent with one in 10 teens now using it, with marijuana use up 22 percent and four in 10 teens now smoking pot, according to The Partnership at Drugfree.org. Drugs are not taboo like they once were, more teens are being exposed to certain drugs in a way that presents them as less dangerous which makes trying them that much easier. "People look down upon someone who smokes cigarettes more than they look down upon weed," said high school senior Samantha Gerson.

When it came to alcohol, 71 percent of teens have a drink before they leave high school, with kids on average starting at just 14 years old and twenty-five percent of them have had a drink by age 12. So why the sudden increase in drug and alcohol use among teens? One reason for the rise has to do with the government, as well as parents, becoming more complacent about drugs and the dangers associated with them. "Over this last decade there has been less of a message getting out if you will," said Steve Pasierb, president of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "A lot of the programs that used to exist have been cut, through successive rounds of budget cuts."

Teens are not just partying on weekends and special occasions, some teens are drinking and smoking weed all week long. "There's people who do it after school, during school, on the weekends," said high school senior Rafe Aksad. "You come and relax after the party by getting high and drinking," said Gerson. "It's never ending."

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Snoop Dog Backs Fruity Alcoholic Beverage

It seems that mega-star rapper Snoop Doggy-Dog did not get the memo about the danger of putting high octane alcohol with fruity flavors in colorful cans. According to Reuters, Snoop is backing a new beverage called Blast by Colt 45, which is being manufactured by Pabst Brewing Company, with a planned release date of April 5, 2011. It is somewhat surprising that PBR is going forward with the product considering all the controversy occurring over alcohol infused energy drinks like Four Loko. Nevertheless, despite the danger of attracting minors to their product, not only does Blast come in grape, raspberry watermelon, strawberry lemonade and blueberry pomegranate flavors it also has 12 percent alcohol and comes in a 23.5 can. The good news is you can see Snoop Dog in a promotional video with scantily dressed young women at a photo shoot.

"You look at this product, and you think it's a fruit drink," said John Challis, senior vice president of a treatment facility. "They (breweries) are creating a demand, and then offering the supply." Fortunately, there are already talks of banning the product before it even hits the shelves with New York City Councilman Robert Jackson recently calling for a ban in New York. "Blast, along with similar drinks, is specifically targeted to younger people," said Jackson's aide, Martin Collins. "In the short term, a drink like this masks and shrouds the effects of alcohol. That's dangerous for our young people."

A comforting comment from Jon Sayer, the chief marketing officer of Pabst, said: "Blast is only meant to be consumed by those above legal drinking age and does not contain caffeine." Over at Pabst they are clearly ignoring the potential of their labeling the fact that the alcohol content is as high as it is because the drink has one purpose: to get drunk as fast as possible. Blast will probably make it to the shelves due to the fact that there are a number of fruity flavored alcoholic beverages being sold across the country despite the danger drinks like these pose.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Gene Variation

Fetal alcohol syndrome affects countless people whose mothers consumed alcohol while pregnant, but, according to new research it does not affect everyone whose mothers drank when they were pregnant. A new study done by Northwestern Medicine may have found out why some babies are affected and some are not. It has to do with a gene variation passed on by the mother to her son; the gene variation contributes to a fetus' vulnerability to even the slightest amount of alcohol, by upsetting the balance of thyroid hormones in the brain. The findings open up the possibility of using dietary supplements that have the potential to reverse or fix the dosage of the thyroid hormones in the brain to correct the problems caused by the alcohol exposure," said Eva E. Redei, senior author of the study and the David Lawrence Stein Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

"In the not-too-distant future we could identify a woman's vulnerability to alcohol if she is pregnant and target this enzyme imbalance with drugs, a supplement or another method that will increase the production of this enzyme in the hippocampus, which is where it's needed," Redei said. This study has powerful implications and may be able to rid our planet of the terrible disorder known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Science may one day have the power to counter a mother's neglect and disregard for the fetus growing inside of her.

Educating women about the >dangers of drinking while pregnant has done very little to stop FASD which is why it is so crucial that scientists figure out a way to give a fetus a fighting chance at living a normal life, one free of defects caused by alcohol in the womb. The Northwestern Medicine study with rats is the first time researchers have been able to identify a direct genetic mechanism of behavioral deficits caused by fetal alcohol exposure. "The identification of this novel mechanism will stimulate more research on other genes that also influence alcohol-related disorders, especially in females," said Laura Sittig, the lead author of the study and a graduate student in Redei's lab.

The study is published today in the FASEB Journal.
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