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Friday, January 25, 2013

Operation Unite: Make An Impact! Our future is at stake

Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic of epic proportions and one that needs to be addressed by every citizen of this great nation. It is crucial that we work together as a nation to address this ever growing problem before it becomes any more out of control. We all have the power to make a difference in this world! The National RX Drug Abuse Summit is in Orlando, Florida April 2-4 2013.                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Take a moment to read the thoughts of the President/CEO of Operation Unite Karen Kelly: 

"Every month approximately 1,200 calls are received from individuals in southern and eastern Kentucky seeking help with an addiction issue. Multiply this by the hundreds of regions across America and it’s easy to understand why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider prescription drug abuse a public health “epidemic.” 

One accidental overdose death every 19 minutes; more than the number of deaths from car crashes. That’s a sobering statistic. 

Families and communities are being torn apart, and our children are not immune to addiction’s deadly consequences. 

In 2009, an estimated 28,068 visits to the emergency department misuse or abuse of drugs by children aged 12-14, according to a report by the Drug Abuse Warning Network. Half of these visits involved prescription and over-the-counter medications. 

As the tide of prescription drug abuse rolled across the country, communities found themselves unprepared for the impending flood of problems and now struggle to react against the tsunami of addiction. 

Recognizing that no single organization or agency could fend off this storm, UNITE launched the inaugural National Rx Drug Abuse Summit in 2012. Impacted parties came together for a holistic examination of what is being done to help solve the prescription drug problem, what could be done or done better, and to forge lasting partnerships and strategic alliances. 

“Operation UNITE’s inaugural National Summit on Rx Drug Abuse was one of the most professional and well organized conferences I have ever been to,” stated Carla Saunders, NNP-BC, advance practice coordinator with Pediatrix Medical Group at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. “Power packed with excellent keynote speakers, the Summit brought hope to our team that has treated more than 400 prescription drug-exposed newborns suffering from withdrawal in the past two years.” 

“We learned so much about the problem of prescription substance abuse and what can, and is, being done to combat the problem,” Saunders said. “We had incredible opportunities to ‘unite’ with others and see that there is hope. In hope there is strength, and in strength there is the power to make a difference.” 

Last year’s conference sparked many on-going collaborations among stakeholders in this on-going battle. Feedback from the more than 700 participants has been used to shape discussion at the second Summit, to be held April 2-4, 2013, at the Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate in Florida. Breakout and general session programs will focus on ways participants can “Make An Impact” in the fight against prescription drug abuse. 

With youth experimenting with drugs at an earlier and earlier age, it is incumbent on all stakeholders to identify and collaborate on successful educational strategies that will help change behaviors. 

No single entity or initiative can solve our nation’s problems alone. In addition to grassroots educational efforts, law enforcement strategies and providing appropriate treatment/recovery programs for addicts, we must look at long-term cures – and that involves effective legislation at local, state and federal levels. The Summit brought recognition to work of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse and collaboration continues on strong Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. 

“This may be the biggest challenge of our society, and the only way this destructive trend can be reversed is if everyone — I mean, everyone – gets involved,” stated U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (WV-3rd), a keynote speaker at the first Summit. “Our nation’s future – our children’s and grandchildren’s future – hangs in the balance.” 

We cannot let this problem go unchecked. Prescription drug abuse is growing out-of-control, draining limited resources and devastating families. Please join this important national conversation on April 2-4, 2013, and Make An Impact! Our future is at stake."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Not Everyone is Buying Marijuana

Not everyone is on board with marijuana legalization in this country. There are many who believe that the side effects outweigh the good.

Legalizing marijuana sends the wrong message to young people, R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), said this week. “We are certainly not sending a very good message when we call it medicine and legalize it,” he told The Oregonian.

ONDCP claims marijuana to be addictive and unsafe, especially for use by young people. Marijuana, which was recently legalized in Colorado and Washington, remains illegal under federal law. Kerlikowske pointed to a 2012 survey that found 7.4 percent of California drivers tested positive for marijuana use - more than for alcohol.

“It is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana”, wrote Kerlikowske in a recent ONDCP web post.
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Female Binge Drinking Major Concern

Alcohol use amongst America’s youth remains a constant problem in this country. What’s more, the way in which teenagers and young adults drink alcohol is quite hazardous and potentially fatal. Known as binge drinking, excessive use of alcohol in a short period of time takes thousands of lives every year in this country.

A new report conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that one in five high school girls take part in binge drinking. Almost 14 million women in the United States binge drink about three times a month, according to the report.

While males binge drink more than women, female use is not that far off, according to CNN. About 62 percent of high school senior girls said they engaged in binge drinking in 2011. For females, binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks on one occasion.

More than half of the 23,000 deaths attributed to excessive alcohol use among women and girls in 2011 involved binge drinking, the report found. Women are typically much smaller than men, making them much more susceptible to the effects of alcohol, according to the CNN article.

“It is alarming to see that binge drinking is so common among women and girls, and that women and girls are drinking so much when they do,” Robert Brewer, MD, MSPH, of the Alcohol Program at CDC, noted in a news release. “The good news is that the same scientifically proven strategies for communities and clinical settings that we know can prevent binge drinking in the overall population can also work to prevent binge drinking among women and girls.”
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Energy Drinks Have No Health Benefits

Sadly, most Americans consume things every day that happen to be harmful to our health. Energy drinks happen to fall under that umbrella, especially when they are mixed with substances likes drugs and alcohol. As a result, energy drinks are under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after reports of deaths and serious injuries related to consumption of such products, studies have time and time again shown that energy drinks offer little or no benefit to consumers, according to experts.

Energy drinks sales make companies fortunes every year with sales topping more than $10 billion in 2012 in the United States, according to The New York Times. Energy drink advertisements claim that their products provide a mental and physical edge, even though a cup of coffee has the same effect, experts told the newspaper.

“These are caffeine delivery systems,” Dr. Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University, who has studied energy drinks, told the newspaper. “They don’t want to say this is equivalent to a NoDoz because that is not a very sexy sales message.”

In 2011, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a report, showing a sharp rise in the number of emergency department visits related to the use of non-alcohol energy drinks, from 1,128 visits in 2005, to 13,114 in 2009.

Energy drinks are designed and marketed to appeal to our nation's youth, being consumed by up to half of children, teenagers and young adults. Furthermore, it is common practice to mix energy drinks with alcohol which heightens the risk of incident and in many cases results in fatalities.
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