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Friday, March 28, 2014

Employers and Legislators Must Rule On E-Cigarettes

Blu Cigs Electronic Cigarette
Its seems like everywhere you turn someone is smoking an e-cigarette, but by and large legislators have said little about them. People puff on their e-cigarettes inside and out, just about anywhere, including movie theaters, restaurants, and bars. In the United States, e-cigarette sales are expected to triple this year; and they are expected to double annually through 2018. Overall sales of e-cigarettes could surpass regular cigarettes by 2028.

Health experts are calling on employers and legislators to decide whether to include e-cigarettes in smoking bans, according to NPR.

While some states and cities have included e-cigarettes in the smoke-free laws, the federal government has not yet regulated e-cigarettes. Some of the hesitation to ban e-cigarettes may be due to a lack of research regarding the effects of e-cigarettes.

The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health, Tim McAfee, commented on the lack of research, saying that it is difficult to study e-cigarette health effects because there are many different types. “We just don’t know what’s in them, and we don’t know how much of what’s in them would get out into the environment — but the assumption would be that it would,” he told NPR.

Every company seems to be handling e-cigarettes differently:
  • CVS Caremark and Lowe’s have a ban on e-cigarettes.
  • Exxon Mobil and General Motors allow e-cigarettes in designated smoking areas.
  • Both Kraft and Walgreens allow their local managers to determine rules.
  • Levi Strauss makes their employees go outside.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Relapse Prevention Techniques are Key to Long Term Sobriety

Relapse prevention techniques are key to long term sobriety; treatment programs that focus on such techniques have much lower recidivism rates, according to a new study. Rather than traditional techniques, researchers have found that incorporating mindfulness meditation is a more effective approach in the long run, reports Reuters Health.

Researchers looked at addicts and alcoholics a year after they received treatment for their disease. Patients who were taught mindfulness meditation techniques had a higher success rate than those who did not. Researchers found that typical relapse prevention tools and the 12-steps alone were, often times, not enough in preventing relapse.

"Addiction is really a tough one," says Sarah Bowen from the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors at the University of Washington. "The relapse rates remain really high even after decades of work by the best scientists out there. We need to keep looking at more options."

"We need to keep looking at innovative approaches of addiction treatment," said Bowen. "I don't want to say mindfulness is better for everyone, but it's another option." 

Bowen and her colleagues, who led the new research, found that about 11 percent of people in the U.S. with substance abuse problems seek treatment every year. However, around 40 to 60 percent of those who receive treatment end up relapsing. The research shows that using atypical techniques, like meditation, can be what’s needed to stop the cycle of relapse.

The research was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Prescription Stimulant Use Rise Amongst Adults

English: Ritalin (Australian packaging)
One aspect of the prescription drug epidemic that is often overlooked is the rise in stimulant use among adults. Drugs that were typically used amongst adolescents for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), have nearly doubled from 2008 to 2012 amongst adults, the New York Times reports.

The data comes from Express Scripts, the largest prescription drug manager in the United States. Express Scripts handles the medication of 90 million Americans, their numbers show that nearly one in 10 adolescent boys is prescribed and ADHD medication. The most common prescription stimulants used are Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. It is not uncommon for adults to use stimulant medications for the completion of everyday tasks.

The Partnership at Drugfree.org released a study which found that one in eight teens reporting they had taken Ritalin or Adderall without a prescription. What’s more alarming is that almost one-third of parents believed prescription stimulants can improve academic performance, even if ADHD is not present.

Despite many government reports that are against prescribing such medications to children, doctors will go ahead with prescribing amphetamines to children if a parent deems it necessary. While these drugs may help children and even adults focus on certain tasks, the long term effects of taking these types of drugs is far from good.

“It’s hard to dismiss the data in this report,” said Brooke Molina, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “There are limitations with every study, but it’s hard to do anything here but conclude that we have a continually forward-marching increase.”

Teenagers and young adults who use prescription stimulants, with or without a prescription, have a higher risk of experimenting with drugs like methamphetamine. As with all drugs that are habit forming, a tolerance develops, which often leads to seeking out something stronger despite the consequences. Many young adults end up seeking treatment for prescription stimulant abuse, even those who had their own prescription for the drugs.  
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Friday, March 7, 2014

Citizens’ Commission to Protect the Truth Fights Menthol CIgarettes

English: Djarum Menthol

The use of tobacco in any form can be hazardous to one’s health, but despite mass amounts of research people continue to smoke and chew, often times leading to serious health issues and even death. 

Big tobacco companies are being urged to stop selling menthol cigarettes by the Citizens’ Commission to Protect the Truth. The group is comprised of former top health officials consisting of former U.S. Secretaries of Health, Surgeons General, and Directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The group believes that banning menthol cigarettes is “imperative to avoid encouraging children and teens to start and continue smoking and to avoid the devastating impact of menthol cigarettes on the African-American community,” says former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph A. Califano, Jr. and former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Louis W. Sullivan, MD.

American’s are heavily targeted by big tobacco companies' menthol cigarette marketing campaigns, over time it has contributed to smoking related deaths throughout the community. Menthol masks the undesirable taste of tobacco, in turn making it harder to quit, according to the group.

In a letter to the FDA, the attorneys general of 24 states said “there are numerous law enforcement tools that can be used to combat production or importation of unlawful tobacco products. Moreover, the quantity of menthol cigarettes that could be made available on the black market would be far less than the quantity that will be available if menthol remains legal. Therefore, a ban on menthol would dramatically decrease public access to menthol cigarettes.”

Drug Free.org 

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