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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.
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