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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.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Drunk Text Driving Kills Bicyclist

Towards the end of last month a Newport Beach man was hit while riding his bicycle up San Joaquin Hills Road in Newport Beach. The driver Danae Miller, 22, was allegedly drunk and was text messaging when the fatal accident took place and has been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated for the Feb. 21 crash that killed Amine Britel - a Morocco native who operated a Newport Beach travel agency. It is one thing to be driving drunk but it's another thing altogether to be text messaging while driving drunk. Text messaging has been the cause of a number of car wrecks and deaths across the country, toss alcohol into the picture and it is certainly a lethal combination.

According to police reports, Miller was drinking at her work before getting into her car to drive home at about 6 p.m. The crash happened only a few streets away from her home; Britel was struck as he rode his bike eastbound on San Joaquin Hills Road - Amine died at the scene. Prosecutors assert, Miller was not only drunk, but she was also text messaging when her car veered into the bike lane striking Britel from behind. Miller had a blood alcohol level of .10 nearly two hours after the crash, over the legal limit of .08.

If Miller is convicted, she is looking at up to 10 years in prison. Miller is scheduled to be arraigned April 4 and is out on $100,000 bail. It is hard not to think about Miller's driving past that led up to that fatal day in February, her record screamed problem driver and yet she continued to hold onto her license. Hopefully, while Miller is out on bail she will not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle, let alone drink alcohol.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Paying Addicts for Sterilization?

One of the hardest things to witness in the world of addiction is when the lives of children are put in jeopardy as well as babies being born into it. There are no laws that can keep addicted women from procreating, nor could there ever be, but it is sad to think of all the children who are born with no one to look to for guidance. In order to combat this problem there have been charities who are working to help women addicted to drugs and alcohol obtain contraceptives. Project Prevention, based out of North Carolina, talked of plans to help women addicted to drugs in the United Kingdom (U.K.). The program was launched in October, offering to pay women addicted to drugs 200 pounds if they would agree to be sterilized. According to the BBC the program was put on hold because it failed to gain the approval of the British Medical Association.

The program decided to take a different route by, offering cash to females who are dealing with addiction who will agree to be fitted with contraceptive coils or implants. Thus far, according to Project Prevention 26 women have been paid. Barbara Harris founded this somewhat revolutionizing charity in 1997 after having adopted four children who born to a mother addicted to crack cocaine. She believes that money is a good incentive for women who are already struggling with addiction, having their children taken away at birth would be a lot harder to deal with. "If these women get on birth control, it's one less thing they have to worry about in their lives," she said. "These women don't want to conceive children that are just going to get taken away from them."

Not everyone shares Harris' opinion on the subject, the charity's approach was called "morally reprehensible and irrelevant" by Simon Antrobus, the CEO of a London substance abuse treatment agency. "Sex education and contraceptive advice is part of drug treatment work in this country. Women who use drugs can access all types of contraception for free on the National Health Service, including a number of long-term options."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Primary Care Physicians Monitoring Patient Drug Use

Doctors have a huge responsibility to care for people who cannot take care of themselves. Primary care physicians prescribe medications that can be addictive, so it is up to them to monitor their patients and make sure that they are not becoming dependent on their medications. According to a new study conducted by the Albert Einstein School of Medicine of Yeshiva University, primary care physicians are doing an inadequate job of monitoring their patients' use of prescription narcotics. The study, published in the March 2 online edition of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, determined that overall doctors have been quite lax, even with patients who have a high risk of addiction and/ or struggled with addiction in the past. Prescription drug abuse now ranks second (after marijuana) among illicitly used drugs, with approximately 2.2 million Americans using pain relievers non-medically for the first time in 2009, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

"Our study highlights a missed opportunity for identifying and reducing misuse of prescribed opioids in primary care settings," said lead author Joanna Starrels, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine at Einstein. "The finding that physicians did not increase precautions for patients at highest risk for opioid misuse should be a call for a standardized approach to monitoring." Researchers studied the medical records of more than 1,600 primary care patients who were receiving prescription opioids for chronic pain for an average of two years, placing emphasis on whether patients received urine drug testing, were seen regularly in the office, or received multiple early opioid refills. 8 percent of patients had urine drug testing and the rate of testing among those high-risk patients was still low at 24 percent, one-quarter (23 percent) of all patients received two or more early opioid refills.

Alarmingly, only half of patients were seen regularly in the office and patients at higher risk of opioid misuse were not seen more than patients at lower risk. "We were disturbed to find that patients with a drug use disorder were seen less frequently in the office and were prescribed more early refills than patients without these disorders," said Dr. Starrels. "We hope that these findings will call attention to this important safety concern."
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