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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.
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