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Friday, December 27, 2013

Attorneys General Urging FDA Mandate Drug Abuse-Deterrent Features

Food and Drug Administration logo
The prescription drug epidemic in the United States has been exacerbated by drug companies who fail to create products with abuse deterrents because of the costs associated with doing so. While a number of brand-name prescription opioid painkillers makers have incorporated abuse-deterrent features, there is a concern that companies who produce generics will not.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is being urged by Attorneys General from 42 U.S. states and territories to mandate prescription drug makers producing generic opioids to incorporate abuse-deterrent features. The attorneys general said they are concerned about generic versions of opioids lacking abuse-deterrent features because of the cost, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

The Attorneys General wrote a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, where they said, we “respectfully request that the FDA provide clear and fair regulatory standards for the incorporation of abuse-deterrent technologies into generic opioids.”

“Requiring abuse-deterrent formulations for generic opioids is a common sense improvement that provides us another important tool to help fight this epidemic,” Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said in a news release.

What’s more, the Attorneys General from 28 states would like the FDA to reassess its decision to approve a pure form of the painkiller hydrocodone - Zohydro ER (extended release). They said in a letter to Commissioner Hamburg, the attorneys general believe the approval of Zohydro ER “has the potential to exacerbate our nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic because this drug will be the first hydrocodone-only opioid narcotic that is reportedly five to ten times more potent than traditional hydrocodone products, and it has no abuse-deterrent properties.”
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Friday, December 20, 2013

More Drunk Driving On New Years Eve Than Christmas

christmas tree
Christmas and New Years Eve are on the horizon, once again it is imperative for drivers to be extra vigilant on the road due to the rise of drinking and driving. People who do not commonly drink a lot will be on the road, as well as people who drink more when around their families. Every year there are drunk driving related deaths around the holidays, turning what should be a time of joy into a time of hardship.

The National Safety Council (NSC) has found that more fatal car crashes caused by alcohol happen on New Year’s Eve rather than Christmas. 

Between 2007 and 2011, there were 93 alcohol-related deaths during the Christmas holiday, with 35 percent linked to alcohol. Over the New Year’s holiday there were an average of 108 traffic deaths and 42 percent could be linked to alcohol, according to Bloomberg.

This year, there will be an estimated 105 traffic deaths and 11,200 injuries requiring medical professionals during the Christmas holiday. The NSC estimates 156 traffic deaths and 16,700 injuries during New Year’s.

“The difference between the two holidays is that everybody on New Year’s Eve is going out to parties and at their parties, they’re having the alcohol,” Capt. Nancy Rasmussen, Chief of Public Affairs for the Florida Highway Patrol, told Bloomberg. Christmas is more of a “stay-in-the-house, do-the-family thing, so there’s less drinking,” she added.

Holidays are a bad time for driving altogether and the report showed that traffic deaths are more likely during the July 4, Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends than New Year’s, Thanksgiving or Christmas, the article notes. We wish you a safe and merry Christmas and New Years.

If you cannot avoid drinking be sure to have a plan for getting home that does not involve you driving.
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Female Drug Offenders Report Police Sexual Misconduct

An estimated 1.3 million American women were incarcerated or under correctional supervision in 2009, up from 600,000 in 1990, the MedicalXpress reports. In the St. Louis area, a study of surveys completed by female drug offenders, showed that one-quarter report experiencing police sexual misconduct.

The study included 318 women who were on probation or parole for a non-violent offense. One-quarter of women said they had a lifetime history of police sexual misconduct and 96 percent said they had sex with an officer who was on duty. Shockingly, 24 percent of the women claimed they had sex with an officer in the presence of the officer’s partner or another officer.

“It’s important that the police force acknowledges that sexual misconduct may exist among the force, so that it can be stopped and eventually prevented,” lead investigator Linda B. Cottler of the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, said in a news release.

What’s more, 54 percent of the women said the officer offered to throw out the arrest in exchange for sex, with 87 percent stating officers kept their promises. A third of the women viewed what the officers did as a form of rape.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Anesthesiology Residents Substance Abuse Study

A study into substance abuse rates among anesthesiology residents in the United States has found that slightly less than 1 percent (the overall rate was 0.86 percent) have a substance use disorder. 

Researchers followed 45,000 anesthesiology residents who began training between 1975 and 2009, HealthDay reports. The research has shown that the rate of substance use has been increasing and relapse rates are higher. During the study period twenty-eight anesthesiology residents passed away as a result of their substance abuse.

Over the 30 year period, 43 percent had at least one relapse and 11 percent died from a substance use disorder. At the beginning of the study rates of substance abuse were higher, then decreased between 1996 and 2002 and rose again in 2003.

Most commonly abused substances were:
  • Intravenous Opioids
  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Anesthetics
  • Hypnotics
The Journal of the American Medical Association published the findings.
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Friday, November 29, 2013

Quitting Smoking Reduces Heart Disease Risk

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

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

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

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

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

Recession Plays A Part In Problem Drinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Survey Indicates Prescription Drug Failure

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

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

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

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

Source: DrugFree.org

Friday, November 8, 2013

Seventh National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

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

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

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

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

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

Military Approves Buprenorphine and Methadone Treatment

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

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

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

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

Hopefully, updated addiction treatment practices will help reduce the chances of relapse amongst those struggling with addiction. With the approval of buprenorphine and methadone in military, better patient monitoring will be required if the drugs are going to have the desired effect.
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Better Addiction Medicine Education for Doctors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 18, 2013

Crystal Meth Can Lead to IV Drug Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

Krokodil Cases Spreading Across America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

City Debates Safety of Electronic Dance Festivals

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

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

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

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

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

Related articles

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Krokodil Cases Reported in Arizona

Krokodil Zoo Rostock
Health officials have reason to be concerned about the arrival of a drug that can eat flesh right down to the bone; until now the drug was thought to only be present overseas. The drug, known as “Krokodil” (desomorphine), has surfaced in Arizona with two reported cases of use. Krokodil is a heroin-like drug that is made with caustic chemicals and codeine; the drug is less expensive and extremely dangerous, according to USA Today.

Russia has been battling with Krokodil use for about ten years, due to the fact that codeine can be purchased over-the-counter throughout the country. Krokodil has a similar high to heroin, but, is shorter acting and costs about three times less than heroin.

Krokodil gets it name because when the drug is injected it destroys tissue, turning the skin scaly and green, giving it a crocodile-like appearance. This phenomena occurs because makers of the drug mix codeine-based headache pills with gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol or iodine in order to synthesize the codeine into desomorphine. The impurities can cause blood poisoning, festering sores and abscesses.

“As far as I know, these are the first cases in the United States that are reported,” said Frank LoVecchio, the Co-Medical Director at the Banner Good Samaritan Poison & Drug Information Center. “So we’re extremely frightened.”

If the use of Krokodil spreads throughout the country it will surely give methamphetamine a run for its money when it comes to the “worlds most dangerous drug.”

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Drugs, Alcohol, and Nuclear Power Catastrophes

English: Internationally recognized symbol. De...
As hundreds of tons of nuclear radioactive contaminated water spills into the Pacific Ocean in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, there are many calling for a stoppage on nuclear power projects throughout the world and it’s not without merit; after the planet has seen what lack of oversight and control government agencies have regarding such projects. There is no question, the Fukushima accident was as they call it, “an act of God” incident, one where Mother Nature played her part in the facilities demise. However, how we decide what is a safe location for nuclear projects and how human beings respond to such calamities is of great question.

One would think that after Fukushima, people involved in the nuclear power industry would double their efforts to ensure that accidents be avoided at all costs. Such as only having facilities in areas where nature cannot wreak havoc and making sure that employees of such programs be vetted more than ever. Unfortunately, the latter is far from being accomplished, questions of competence and employee substance abuse appear to be rampant, according to a new report.

Employee violations regarding drugs and alcohol are on the rise at U.S. nuclear plants finds the non-profit group Fairewinds Energy Education. Incidents have increased from about one a month to almost one a week over the last five years.

Drug and alcohol violations occurred mostly in southeastern states; such as, drinking alcohol in a protected area and testing positive for marijuana and cocaine. 

Fitness For Duty, is a program that nuclear reactor owners are required to implement, in order to be sure that all personnel who have access to their power plants are drug and alcohol free and have no psychological issues. Shockingly, Fitness For Duty violations in the United States have more than doubled in the past five years. The report found that alcohol related events, have nearly quadrupled.

“The data unequivocally demonstrates that workforce personnel and licensed reactor operators are under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs while on-duty, despite the knowledge that such actions when caught can end careers, and that programs are in place that have been designed to identify those who are under the influence, indicating serious addictive issues not occasional social consumption of alcohol and drugs,” the report states.

“Not only are workers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs while on the job, they are also bringing that same contraband into work with them, in some cases with documented evidence to determine there was intent to distribute.”

No matter the causes that lead up to a nuclear catastrophe, it is more than clear, historically speaking that human error is either the initial cause or a mitigating factor in just how bad the failure becomes. It is fair to say that employees of nuclear power facilities should be held to a higher standard than perhaps any other industry, especially when it comes to drugs and alcohol use.

Friday, September 13, 2013

More Teens Driving High Than Drinking

The United States is taking a more relaxed approach to marijuana and the punishments associated with the drug. With legalization in two states and medical marijuana programs in many more, it is not surprising that the federal government is stepping back. However, the concern of those driving under the influence of marijuana is ever present, for the fact that there has been an increase in marijuana use among teen drivers throughout the country.

In fact, there is a higher percentage of high school seniors that say they have driven after using marijuana more than they have driven after having five or more alcoholic drinks, according to a new study.

Research showed that 12 percent of seniors that had driven after using marijuana in 2011, compared with 10 percent in 2008. The study determined that 28 percent of high school seniors said they had ridden in a car in the previous two weeks with a driver who had used drugs or alcohol, or had driven after having used drugs or alcohol themselves, NBC News reports.

The Monitoring the Future project conducted the study; they survey approximately 17,000 high school seniors every year.

“It’s a big deal… the sheer numbers,” University of Michigan researcher Patrick O’Malley told NBC News. “It has been increasing steadily and looking down the road, it seems likely to get worse. We are concerned.”

It is not known how much marijuana impairs a person’s driving, according to researchers. “We don’t have any good degree of impairment,” O’Malley said. “It’s almost impossible to say what the level of marijuana in your system is.”

The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health.
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Friday, September 6, 2013

Marijuana Advocacy Group Posting Billboards

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft.
It seems like it is no longer a question of “if” and has become more of question of “when”, regarding the national stance on the legitimacy of marijuana legalization in this country. With two states already on board with legalization and the federal government announcing that it will no longer meddle with state affairs regarding the drug in states that deem it legal to use recreationally.

Now, marijuana advocacy groups are pitted up against alcohol, posting a billboard ad across from Denver’s football stadium, USA Today reports. 

The Marijuana Policy Project’s ad would like the National Football League (NFL) to “Stop Driving Players to Drink.” Regarding Colorado’s marijuana legalization law, noting, “A safer choice is now legal (here).”

The group posted a pro-marijuana video ad outside an entrance to a NASCAR event this summer at the Indiana Motor Speedway. Several hours after the ad began running it was pulled.

Professional sports have always been a huge target group for the big alcohol companies, it is no surprise that marijuana advocates would go after the same audience in the same way alcohol has for so many years. The billboard is 48 feet by 14 feet, with a picture of a football leaning against a foaming glass of beer.

The advocacy group is also petitioning the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the league’s marijuana policy.

“For years, the NFL has been punishing players for using marijuana despite the fact that it is far less harmful than alcohol, a substance widely embraced by the league,” Mason Tvert, Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “The league would never punish a player simply for having a couple beers, so why does it penalize them for using a substance that is less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to contribute to violence?”
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Friday, August 30, 2013

Alcohol In Music Influences Our Youth

English: The logo for the Billboard magazine.

It is no big secret that music influences our youth, sometimes positively and other times negatively. It is quite common for artists to mention drugs and alcohol in ways that send the wrong message to teenagers - advocating the use of particular substances. Just as experts believe that movies and video-games incite violence, experts also hold that teenagers who hear artists glorify the use of various brands of alcohol are tempted.

It is rare to hear a “hip hop” song that does not mention the four alcohol brands:
  • Patron Tequila
  • Hennessy Cognac
  • Grey Goose Vodka
  • Jack Daniel's Whiskey
The aforementioned brands accounted for more than half of alcohol brand mentions in the songs that talk about alcohol use in Billboard's most popular song lists in 2009, 2010 and 2011, according to a new study.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health and the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

This was the first report to focus on the context of specific brand mentions. Researchers found that alcohol use was portrayed as overwhelmingly positive, while negative consequences are hardly ever mentioned - clearly sending the wrong message.

720 songs were examined by researchers; there were 167 songs (23.2%) that mentioned alcohol, with 46 (6.4%) glorifying specific alcohol brands. The major four brands accounted for more than half (51.6%) of all alcohol brand mentions. The most common songs to mention alcohol were urban (rap, hip-hop and R&B - 37.7% of songs mentioned alcohol), followed by country (21.8%) and pop (14.9%).  

The study, published online by Substance Use & Misuse.
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Heavy Drinking Costs America

The high cost of alcohol abuse in America is staggering. Every year billions of dollars are spent to account for the heavy cost, most of which is due to binge drinking. Excessive drinking costs the United States $223.5 billion annually, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Binge drinking is responsible for more than 70 percent of these costs. Underage drinking accounted for $24.6 billion, or 11 percent, of the total heavy drinking costs.

“It is striking to see most of the costs of excessive drinking in states and D.C. are due to binge drinking, which is reported by about 18 percent of U.S. adults,” report author Dr. Robert Brewer, alcohol program lead at CDC, said in a statement.

The median state cost of excessive alcohol use was $2.9 billion; about $2 of every $5 was paid for by the government. Alcohol-related costs totaled almost $32 billion in California, compared with $420 million in North Dakota, according to CBS News.

Costs due to excessive drinking came from:
  • Losses in workplace productivity
  • Healthcare
  • Criminal justice
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Property damage
The findings are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Myostatin Inhibitors Could Be Abused By Athletes

Image is important to countless people across the globe, it often becomes the number one priority that people have. Some people go too far, abusing drugs like human growth hormones and steroids to achieve the desired look. A report has shown that new drugs being tested as treatments for muscle diseases, like muscular dystrophy, could be abused by athletes, according to NPR.

Known as myostatin inhibitors, these drugs are potential treatments for muscle wasting and other diseases like cancer and kidney disease. These drugs block a substance called myostatin, a chemical produced by the body to stop muscles from becoming too large.

“When the myostatin inhibitors come along, they’ll be abused,” Carlon Colker, a physician and bodybuilder, told NPR. “There’s no question in my mind.” Leo Sweeney, who studies muscle diseases at the University of Pennsylvania, first warned about the potential abuse of myostatin in sports nearly a decade ago. He says the drugs will probably not leave any trace once someone stops taking them, making them difficult to detect.

Sweeney fears that if myostatin inhibitors become known by athletes, doctors could refuse to prescribe them for legitimate purposes because they may get into the wrong hands. “The sort of unmet need in all these diseases far outweighs whether somebody wins a bicycle race or a sprinting event because they cheated,” he says.

At least one myostatin inhibitor will probably receive approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the next few years, the article notes.  

The World Anti-Doping Agency banned substances that inhibit myostatin in 2008.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rise In Stimulant Abuse Emergency Room Visits

English: Adderall
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is often treated at an early age with stimulant medications. Unfortunately, stimulant medications like Adderall and Ritalin, which are amphetamine based, are easily abused by patients as well as their friends.

There was a 300 percent rise in emergency room visits related to stimulant abuse among young adults from 2005 to 2011. 23,000 people, ages 18 to 34, went to the ER in 2011 after taking Adderall and Ritalin, according to The New York Times. When stimulants are not taken as prescribed and/or mixed with other drugs like alcohol (about one-third of the ER visits involved alcohol), it can be extremely dangerous.

The findings did not include illegal stimulants like methamphetamine. 

The report was conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Their findings showed a steep rise in emergency room visits for the use of stimulant among young adults ages 18 to 25.

When alcohol and amphetamines are used in conjunction individuals have the false feeling that they are less intoxicated than they actually are. When amphetamines are combined with alcohol, it can change one’s perception of how intoxicated they are, increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related injuries.

“Nonmedical use of any drug, even an over-the-counter drug, can be dangerous, but these [central nervous system] stimulants can potentially cause significant and lasting harm, including heart problems and addiction,” SAMHSA Chief Medical Officer Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, said in a news release. “We must raise awareness of this public health risk and do everything possible to prevent it."
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Friday, August 2, 2013

Monteith's Death Sign of Increased Heroin Use

The dangers of heroin use were highlighted once again by the death of another celebrity. “Glee” star Cory Monteith died from a heroin overdose last month, reinforcing concerns of the growing usage of the highly addictive, potentially lethal drug, ABC News reports.

Heroin has become a major concern of affluent families living in the suburbs, according to law enforcement officials. The days of the drug being an inner-city issue alone are long gone.

There were 28 heroin overdoses last year; most victims were younger than 22, Lieutenant Thomas Dombroski of the Bergen County, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office, told ABC News. Young people swap pills for heroin after becoming addicted, due to the cost difference. Heroin, at $4 a bag, is much less expensive than oxycodone, which sells for $30 for one 30-milligram pill, according to Dombroski.

Monteith, like many other heroin overdose victims, had recently come back from rehab, he said. “They get high for the first time since rehab and that high is what kills them,” he noted. Many addicts who relapse after treatment forget that their tolerance is not the same as it was a month, or three months before - causing an overdose.

The number of people who were past-year heroin users in 2011 (620,000) was higher than the number in 2007 (373,000), according to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kentucky's Fight Against Prescription Drug Abuse

Last year, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed a new law designed to fight prescription drug abuse; this new law has lowered the number of doses of opioid painkillers that were prescribed in the state. The new law requires that pain clinics be licensed, set requirements for ownership and employment, pushing the Kentucky’s licensure board to develop regulations for pain clinics.

20 pain management clinics not owned by physicians have closed, according to the Associated Press. Now, thousands of medical providers have registered with the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

The number of hydrocodone doses decreased by 9.5 percent, and oxycodone doses dropped by 10.5 percent, the governor points out. For the first time in a decade deaths have decreased; those caused by prescription or illicit drugs decreased from 1,023 in 2011, to 1,004 in 2012.

“The impact of this bill can’t be measured just in the numbers of pills we’ve kept off the streets,” Governor Beshear said in a news release. “This bill, I believe, has literally saved lives in Kentucky.”

Kentucky has long been considered one of the worst states regarding prescription drug abuse, it is great to see some reductions in the number of drugs prescribed as well as overdose deaths.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Addiction Public Health Policy

Addiction affects millions of people across the globe in countless ways. The way in which we view and treat addiction is certainly better than it was in the past. Fortunately, addiction is now viewed as a disease of the mind and is no longer considered a moral failure.

On Thursday, the National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske told the attendees of a conference on prescription drug abuse that addiction should be treated as a public health issue.

Every year, drug overdoses take the lives of more Americans than traffic crashes or gunshot wounds, Kerlikowske told the group. He is a big supporter of prescription drug take-back events which keep drugs from falling into the hands of young people, the Associated Press reports.

At the conference, Kerlikowske talked about a number of issues, such as medical marijuana, cocaine use and heroin use. He believes that medical marijuana sends the wrong message to young people, but he pointed out that there has been a 40 percent drop in cocaine use since 2006.

While there has been a decrease in prescription drug abuse from 7 million in 2010, to 6.1 million in 2011, Kerlikowske is concerned about the rise in heroin use.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Women Use Lighter Words to Describe Intoxication

College is often a time of mass consumption of alcohol due to the social nature of the drug in conjunction with the high level of stress during the collegiate years. However, women tend to describe intoxication with a gentler vocabulary, using words like “tipsy” or “buzzed”. On the other hand, men tend to use stronger words such as “hammered” or “wasted,” according to a new study.

A study of 145 college students, who read vignettes that described people who had been drinking, USA Today reports. 

“Results supported previous research by showing that moderate intoxication terms such as ‘tipsy’ were applied to female vignette characters more than male characters, even when female characters were heavily intoxicated,” said study author Ash Levitt of the Research Institute on Addictions at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York. “Female participants applied these terms more than male participants.”

Women may downplay intoxication in order to lower expectations of how much they should drink, while men may overestimate how much they are expected to drink, as well as how much their male friends consume, according to Levitt. Make no mistake about it; drunk is drunk no matter what word is used to describe the feeling. 

The study is published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
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