Category Archives: Substance Abuse

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Middle-Aged Drinkers At Higher Risk of Stroke Than Diabetes

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alcohol skin flush

A new study is suggesting that excessive drinking may lead middle-aged adults to a higher risk of stroke.

Heavy alcohol consumption has long been linked to increased likelihood of developing diabetes, but this recent study from a team of researchers from Czech Republic’s St. Anne’s University Hospital revealed that the risk of getting a stroke is much higher. The study looked into the health profiles of close to 12,000 twins of the same sex registered in the Swedish Twin Registry from 1967 to 1970, and followed them up until 2010 to reevaluate their health.

After the 43-year follow-up, about 30 percent of the respondents experienced a stroke. Of this group, the researchers separated them into three categories according to their level of daily drinking: half a glass of alcoholic beverage (light drinker), up to two glasses (moderate drinker), or more than two (heavy drinker). Results showed that those who drunk alcohol heavily were 34 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than those who drank light. Meanwhile, those who continued to drink above 50 years of age had an increased risk of stroke roughly five years earlier than the people who drank up to half a glass daily.

Study lead author Pavla Kadlecová, who works as statistician for the hospital’s International Clinical Research Center, highlighted the impact of their discovery on the prevention of stroke. “We now have a clearer picture about these risk factors, how they change with age and how the influence of drinking alcohol shifts as we get older. For mid-aged adults, avoiding more than two drinks a day could be a way to prevent stroke in later productive age (about 60s),” Kadlecová said in a news report.

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Substance Abuse

Majority of U.S. Fatal Car Crashes Caused By Marijuana Or Alcohol

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If the flood of news items about deaths due to driving under the influence does not make an impact, perhaps this new study will.

car crash driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuanaData obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the duration 1999-2011 revealed that 50.3 percent of car crashes that result in death of young adults and teenagers were caused by driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol. Dr. Katherine Keyes led the investigative study to use the information as a springboard for drafting policies to combat substance abuse.

The study amassed data involving drivers 16-25 years old who figured in fatal car crashes across nine states: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington State and West Virginia. The study revealed that 36.8 percent of the cases found the victims under the influence of alcohol, 5.9 percent under marijuana, and 7.6 percent under both substances, as published in a news article.

Keyes, who works at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, said that the information on deadly vehicular accidents should be able to prompt improved implementing rules to curb substance abuse. “Given the rapid changes currently underway in marijuana availability and permissibility in the US, understanding the effects of drug control policies on substance use behaviour and adverse health outcomes, such as fatal motor vehicle crashes, has never been more important,” Keyes said.

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

E-Joints Marry E-Cigarettes and Marijuana

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Photo courtesy of JuJu Joints

You knew this one had to be coming: e-joints.

A device called a JuJu Joint, marries the vaporizing ability of an e-cigarette, or vaporizer, and cannabis oil, which contains the psychoactive ingredient THC, to create an e-joint. But, JuJu Joints also have their own twist. Rather than being reusable, they are disposable. You just take it out of the package and take a hit from it and that’s it. There is no smell or smoke. They come loaded with 150 hits preinstalled and when they’re used up, you just toss it in the trash.

Since their introduction in April, 75,000 JuJu Joints have been sold in Washington State, where marijuana is recreationally and medically legal. The maker says another 500,000 will be sold in 2015 and there are plans to expand to Colorado and Oregon, where recreational use is legal, and to Nevada, where it is decriminalized.

“I wanted to eliminate every hassle that has to do with smoking marijuana,” inventor and co-founder of JuJu Joints, Rick Stevens, said. Stevens, 62, co-founded the company with Marcus Charles, a Seattle entrepreneur. “I wanted it to be discreet and easy for people to handle. There’s no odor, matches or mess.”

However, many addiction researchers fear that e-cigarettes will pave the way to reliance on actual cigarettes, especially in teenagers. Added to that is how some studies have found that THC adversely affects the developing brain and you can see how e-joints could have some people really worried.

Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

New Study Finds Most Frequent Reason for Calling Poison Centers are Prescription Drugs

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emergency room visits due to synthetic marijuanaPoisonings from prescription drugs are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, according to National Poison Control Center data from 2012.

Also topping the list was poisonings from “bath salts,” synthetic marijuana and laundry detergent pods. The paper was published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

“The poison center system can provide real-time advice and collect data regarding a variety of poisonings, including those that may be new or unfamiliar to emergency physicians,” said lead study author Richard Dart, MD, PhD, of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, CO. “Emergency physicians are continually challenged by the emergence of new types of poisonings, which lately include illicit street drugs as well as laundry detergent pods. The National Poison Data System (NPDS) plays an integral role in helping EMS and emergency departments respond to these dangerous substances.”

In 2012, poison centers nationwide recorded 2.2 million human poison exposures. Eighty-three percent of poisonings that ended in death in 2012 were linked to a pharmaceutical product, most commonly opioid painkillers. The total number of prescription opioid exposures by children more than doubled between 2002 and 2012 from 2,591 to 5,541.

The family of designer drugs such as “bath salts” (a type of amphetamine), “plant food,” synthetic marijuana and others continue to poison users severely enough that they require emergency medical treatment. Although bath salts exposures peaked in 2011, new illicit drugs sold to consumers continue to be monitored by poison control centers.

“Poisoning continues to be a significant cause of injury and death in the United States,” said Dr. Dart. “The near real-time responsiveness of NPDS helps emergency physicians respond to new poisoning threats, while also assisting patients who call for help to know when they need the ER and when they can manage things safely at home.”

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.