Category Archives: Substance Abuse

Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Boston University Publishes Alcohol Stats to Curb Student Binge Drinking

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alcohol misuseIn a bid to cut down on student binge drinking, Boston University’s online newspaper is publishing weekly statistics about how many students had been hospitalized for alcohol-related issues the previous week.

BU Today displays the numbers on its first page, with bold graphics, including:

  • students transported to the hospital,
  • students who received citations from campus police for alcohol related infractions,
  • students placed in protective custody.

Publishing the numbers is part of a program to raise awareness about the effects of alcohol abuse and to decrease this type of behavior. This initiative began in 2011 when approximately 250 students were hospitalized for alcohol related problems at the university and alcohol abuse caused multiple problems at other Boston area schools.

“The reality,” says Leah Barison, a Wellness & Prevention Services counselor at Student Health Services (SHS), “is that one in three BU students chooses not to drink. And among those who do drink, two out of three do so responsibly. For the most part, people are not massively overdoing it, but they tend to think that others are doing it more.”

Each year an estimated 1,825 college students die from alcohol related causes. An estimated 97,000 are victims of alcohol related assault or date rape. More than 100,000 students have reported they were too intoxicated to recall if they consented to a sexual encounter. 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.


Addiction Substance Abuse

E-Cigarettes Better Than Tobacco Products In Terms Of Toxicity and Addiction

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The issue on electronic cigarettes has always been controversial, especially on the point of these products being touted as smoking cessation aids. This time, a new study has revealed a new angle on the benefit of e-cigarettes.

e-cigaretteAccording to a research team from the Pennsylvania State University – College of Medicine’s public health sciences and psychiatry, e-cigarettes trigger less addictions compared to conventional tobacco cigarettes. However, people who use e-cigarettes for longer periods of time or with higher concentration of nicotine in the e-cigarette liquid have a greater risk of being addicted to the product.

“We don’t have long-term health data of e-cigarette use yet, but any common sense analysis says that e-cigarettes are much less toxic. And our paper shows that they appear to be much less addictive, as well. So in both measures they seem to have advantages when you’re concerned about health,” Prof. Jonathan Foulds, study co-author, said in a news item.

The study surveyed more than 3,600 individuals who have quit smoking tobacco products in favor of e-cigarettes.

The research team recommends more in-depth studies on e-cigarettes. They also issued a warning on the wide variety of electronic cigarettes available in the market, many of which are not under the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Potential Presidential Candidate Rand Paul Hints at Marijuana Use in His Youth

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The 2016 elections may still be far away, but the press is starting to grill potential presidential candidates about their illicit past.

rand paulKentucky Senator Rand Paul was recently asked by WHAS, a television station in Louisville, if he smoked marijuana when he was younger. His response did not directly answer the question, prompting speculation about his past. “Let’s just say I wasn’t a choir boy when I was in college and that I can recognize that kids make mistakes, and I can say that I made mistakes when I was a kid,” Paul said in an AP news article.

Paul is seeking re-election as senator in the 2016 race, but is reported to be seriously considering the presidential slot. For now, the senator said his main agenda is to mitigate penalties for drug-related crimes that are non-violent. He added that many of the violators come from minority groups or the poverty sector. “I have a great deal of personal sympathy for people who have made mistakes as a young person,” Paul expressed.

Despite his plans on drug laws, he emphasized that he is not advocating drug use. “I think drugs, marijuana included, aren’t good for you… I don’t want to be someone who is seen as being this person advocating for drug use. I think they’re not a good idea,” the senator added.

Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

“Replacement” Addictions May be a Myth

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cocaine addictionPeople overcoming one addiction only to replace it with another one is a common stereotype about addiction, but new research suggests that that may be a myth. In fact, the research, from Columbia University, suggests that people who overcome a substance use disorder have less than half the risk of those who do not overcome it of developing a new addiction.

“The results are surprising, they cut against conventional clinical lore, which holds that people who stop one addiction are at increased risk of picking up a new one,” Senior Author Dr. Mark Olfson said. “The results challenge the old stereotype that people switch or substitute addictions, but never truly overcome them.”

The researchers examined data from surveys taken in 2001 and 2004, which included almost 35,000 adults, and compared the occurrence of a new substance use disorder among adults who already had at least one such disorder.

Of those who had a substance use disorder in 2001, about 20 percent had one by 2004.

The researchers found 13% of those who were in recovery from their original substance use disorder developed a new one, compared with 27% of those who still struggled with their original addiction.

Those most likely to develop a new substance use disorder during the study were young, unmarried men who had mental health problems in addition to substance abuse.

The survey participants were asked about a wide range of substances, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, tobacco, painkillers, sedatives and tranquilizers.

The findings appear in JAMA Psychiatry.


Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

AI Proposed to Help Cut Down on Opiate Drug Addiction

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A clinical trial to test whether monitoring from artificial intelligence can help reduce opiate dependency is about to get underway. smartphone health

Getting over addiction to opiates often requires addicts to adhere to medication therapy, but patients sometimes don’t take their medication or take it incorrectly or, worst of all, they sell it to others. This means, obviously, that recovering addicts don’t benefit from this medication therapy as much as they should.

That’s where AiCure comes in.

The company has created an app using advanced facial recognition and motion-sensing technology that can detect, in real time, whether a person is taking their medication as prescribed without the need for human supervision. Patients who take incorrect doses or do not use the software are automatically flagged for immediate follow-up.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has provided $1 million in funding to assess whether patients using the AiCure platform are more adherent to their medication therapy and whether adoption of the system can improve treatment duration and reduce the risk of relapse.

The trial is being carried out with the Cincinnati Addiction Research Center (CinARC) at the University of Cincinnati and includes a total of 130 participants over the course of 12 months.

Preliminary results of the trial are expected to be published in August 2015.


Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Ontario Moves to Treat E-Cigarettes the Same as Traditional Cigarettes

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The Canadian province of Ontario is making moves that would essentially make e-cigarettes the same as traditional tobacco cigarettes.e-cigarette

The province wants to:

  • regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes,
  • make it illegal to sell them to youth,
  • make it illegal to use them in restaurants and public buildings,
  • outlaw vapor lounges, where people use vaporizers similar to e-cigarettes to smoke nicotine vapor, and
  • ban all flavoured tobacco products, including menthol.

In another health-related measure, the government wants to mandate calorie counts on restaurant menus.

The Liberal government says it will also reintroduce legislation to ban all flavoured tobacco products, many of which are designed to appeal to teens, and will expand the prohibition to include menthol cigarettes.

The industry will have up to two years to phase out the menthol smokes, which the government claims are favored by young people, which is why the long-time flavor is under the gun.

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

New Survey Finds Stimulant Abuse “Normal” for College Kids

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A new survey entitled Under Pressure: College Students and the Abuse of Rx Stimulants and released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids confirms that the abuse of prescription stimulants is becoming normalized among current college students and other young adults.drug abuse among students

It found that 1 in 5 college students (20%) report abusing prescription stimulants at least once in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 7 non-students (15%).

Among young adults between the ages of 18 to 25, 1 in 6 (17%) has abused a prescription stimulant at least once in their lifetime. Young adults are most likely to abuse the prescribed stimulants Adderall (60%), Ritalin (20%) and Vyvanse (14%), which are all prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The reasons college students and other young adults cite for abusing these Rx medications are for functional reasons:

  • 50% report abusing Rx stimulants to study or improve academic performance
  • 41% say they misuse or abuse them to stay awake
  • 24% misuse or abuse Rx stimulants to improve work performance at a job

Among current college students specifically:

  • 44% say they abuse Rx stimulants in order to study and improve academic performance
  • 31% say they abuse in order to stay awake
  • 21% report abusing Rx stimulants in order to improve work performance at their jobs
  • 27% who report abuse of Rx stimulants also hold full-time jobs, in addition to attending school compared to just 12% of those who do not abuse Rx stimulants

Perhaps most worrying of all, the research shows college students perceive tangible rewards after they’ve abused Rx stimulants. 64% who report abusing Rx stimulants indicate that doing so helped them obtain a higher grade, improve work performance or gain a competitive edge.

“Students need help in learning how to manage their busy lifestyles effectively,” said Dr. Josh Hersh, Staff Psychiatrist at Miami University. “Learning time management strategies such as ‘block scheduling’ and ‘syllabus tracking’ can help prevent ‘cramming’ – the main reason people look to stimulants at whatever the price. In addition, teaching students with ADHD who are prescribed stimulants about how to properly care for their medication will help address misuse and prevent these drugs from getting into the hands of students who might abuse the meds.”

Substance Abuse

Prescribed Medication Not Taken By Patients, Intervention Necessary

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A new study recently shed light into the truth that prescriptions do not guarantee better health outcomes of the patients receiving them.

take prescription medicineAccording to a study by a team of researchers at Canada’s McMaster University, patients do not take the medications prescribed to them based on the intended dosage. Amidst widespread news about prescription drug abuse and how some people are circumventing medical laws to procure prescription medicines, the study suggests that some patients are not even taking the medicine issued to them.

Study lead author Robby Nieuwlaat said that previous studies have delved into this issue but interventions and recommendations are few and far between. “The studies varied so much in terms of their design and their results that it would have been misleading to try to come up with general conclusions,” said Nieuwlaat in a news item.

The study looked into more than 180 trials from past researches to check if the approaches to ensure correct administration of prescription drugs was followed by patients. The team’s results showed that while previous studies had the best of intentions, it was difficult to determine the effectiveness of each. Many of them were deemed “unreliable and inconsistent” in terms of proof of effectiveness. The studies covered a wide range of diseases and were “measured using wide-range methods”, which complicated the data review even more.

“We need more advanced methods for researching ways to improve medicine adherence, including better interventions, better ways of measuring adherence and studies that include sufficient patients to draw conclusions on clinically important effects,” the research team said. All in all, less than 10 percent of the 182 trials produced high-quality approaches.

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Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Health Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Intake Require Specific Genotype

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We’ve all heard the belief that one glass of wine a day can pump up our cardiovascular health, but a new study indicates that this benefit is enjoyed by only a fraction of the population.

drinking alcoholA team of researchers from Sweden’s Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg studied the advantage of moderate alcohol consumption on decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease. Results of their study showed that in order for the benefits of alcohol to take effect, the person needs to possess CETP TaqIB (rs708272) polymorphism, a specific genotype of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein.

The study involved more than 600 patients below 75 years of age and diagnosed with myocardial infarction. The respondents were asked about their drinking habits, particularly the amount and frequency of alcohol intake over a variety of different alcoholic beverages. They were also tested for the presence of the CETP TaqIB genotype and whether they possessed the genotype’s B1 or B2 allele.

Results revealed that people with the B2 allele of the genotype exhibited a lower risk of coronary heart disease, and the result was more significant on people who enjoyed moderate alcohol consumption. However, the researchers said that not everyone has this B2 genotype. Academy Professor Emeritus Prof. Dag Thelle said in a news item that “moderate drinking has a protective effect among only 15% of the general population.” He added that further research must be conducted to strengthen the results of the study. “Assuming that we are able to describe these mechanisms, it may be a simple matter one day to perform genetic testing and determine whether someone belongs to the lucky 15%.”

Addiction Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Massachusetts Town Could be First to Ban All Tobacco Sales

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Massachusetts town Westminster is contemplating banning the sale of all tobacco products. tobacco taxes

A draft of the proposed ban has been posted on the town’s website and would prohibit sales of products containing tobacco or nicotine, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes.

Tobacco use is already prohibited in all Massachusetts workplaces, including restaurants and bars. It is illegal to sell tobacco products to minors in the state, and some communities have gone as far as banning smoking in public parks.

Westminster has a population of about 7,400 and sits about 25 miles north of Worcester.

“This sends a clear message to residents that this is a bad product,” said D.J. Wilson, director of the municipal association’s tobacco control program. He pointed out that a ban may not stop adults from driving to another town to buy cigarettes, but may be effective in curbing smoking in younger people, who are unable to drive.

But owners of the seven stores licensed to sell tobacco in the community said it is unfair to ban sales of a legal product and they worry that their financial losses will be considerable.

“Where do you draw the line, a candy ban because it causes diabetes? Are we going to ban bacon because it causes [high] cholesterol? It seems like a slippery slope,” said Brian Vincent, owner of Vincent’s Country Store.

What do you think about banning the sale of all tobacco products? Is this good or bad?