Testing It Up

Prescription Drug Fatalities Drop In Medical Marijuana States

Is medical marijuana the key to addressing prescription drug abuse deaths? A study conducted by a professor from Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health seems to conclude so.

prescription drug overdoseDr. Colleen L. Barry, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Health Policy and Management, released a team study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine that links lower deaths due to prescription drug abuse in states that legalize medical marijuana. “As our awareness of the addiction and overdose risks associated with use of opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin grows, individuals with chronic pain and their medical providers may be opting to treat pain entirely or in part with medical marijuana, in states where this is legal,” Barry said in a news item.

The study revealed that states where medical pot has been legalized posted a 25 percent lower mortality rate due to prescription medication overdose. The research used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between the years 1999 and 2010, which showed that the rate of fatalities arising from opioid painkiller abuse shot up within that particular time frame.

Study lead author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber from the University of Pennsylvania shared the details of the research results. “In absolute terms, states with a medical marijuana law had about 1,700 fewer opioid painkiller overdose deaths in 2010 than would be expected based on trends before the laws were passed.”

Meanwhile, the study’s proponents urged for more studies related to this topic, noting that there is a need to determine the long-term effects of medical marijuana in “both overdose deaths and the health trajectories of individuals suffering from chronic pain.”

August 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm Comment (1)

Government Tightens Restrictions on Commonly Abused Prescription Drug

Ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31st, the federal government tightened restrictions on the prescribing of hydrocodone,  the most common form of painkiller in the country.prescription drug abuse

Hydrocodone, is the most widely prescribed painkiller in the United States and is an ingredient in drugs like Vicodin.

The rule places hydrocodone in a tougher, more restrictive category. Doctors will no longer be able to call in prescriptions by telephone, and patients will not be allowed to get refills on the same prescription, but will have to return to a health care professional to get a new prescription. The drug will have to be kept in special vaults in pharmacies.

The Drug Enforcement Administration published the rule on Thursday and it will take effect in 45 days.

“This is substantial,” said Dr. Nathaniel Katz, assistant professor of anesthesia at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. “It’s a sign of a shift toward more cautious opioid prescribing. This will be an inconvenience to some, but policy is a machete, not a scalpel, and you have to figure out where to use it. I think people will be more helped than harmed.”

Abuse of painkillers now claims the lives of more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined, according to federal data, and the number of Americans who die from prescription drug overdoses has more than tripled since the late 1990s.

August 27, 2014 at 10:22 am Comments (0)

Study: Cigarettes With Reduced Nicotine Don’t Lead To More Smoking

Amidst an early hypothesis that reducing the nicotine level in cigarettes could lead smokers to puff more sticks, a new study claims that it does not.

smokingAccording to a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, people who smoke reduced-nicotine cigarettes did not increase the number of sticks that they consume. Research co-author David Hammond said that the participants of the study did not change their smoking habits as a result of the lower nicotine amount. “Our study suggests that smokers are unable or unwilling to compensate when there is markedly less nicotine in the cigarette and when the experience of smoking is far less rewarding,” Hammond said in a news release.

More than 70 people took part in the study, which required participants to be between the ages of 18 and 65, smoke not less that 5 cigarettes daily, and who don’t intend to stop smoking anytime soon. While regular cigarettes produce a nicotine emission level of 1.2 milligrams using nicotine and tobacco testing kits, the reduced-nicotine cigarettes contained as low as 0.05 mg.

The study proponents believe that the study could help the government establish tobacco policies and improve existing smoking ordinances to reduce the nicotine intake of smokers. “Our study may help regulators anticipate the possible consequences of mandatory nicotine reductions in cigarettes,” Hammond added.

August 25, 2014 at 12:53 am Comments (0)

What do you think the most dangerous drug in the world is?

At TestCountry, we want to hear what you think the most dangerous drug is. You can vote on this list of 10 drugs or add any that you believe should be on the list.drugs and alcohol abuse

Share in the comments section what you think makes the drug you voted for the most dangerous.

 

Most Dangerous Drugs
August 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm Comments (0)

Substance abuse largely depends on friends’ usage

In one of the least surprising conclusions ever reported in a study, researchers found that the more friends ex-inmates have who abuse drugs, the more likely they are to abuse drugs. teen substance abuse

In the study, which was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Elizabeth Malouf and colleagues at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia studied the drug abuse patterns of 322 male and female inmates of a county jail, asking them to rate their self-control prior to being released, and to report on their own and their friends’ use of alcohol and illicit drugs in a followup visit one year later.

At the followup meeting one year after release:

  • three-fourths of the ex-inmates reported that they drank alcohol,
  • one-third reported using marijuana, and
  • 28 percent reported using cocaine;
  • 43 percent reported at least one symptom of substance dependence.

And the researchers found that the ex-inmates’ levels of substance use and dependence symptoms a year after their release correlated with the number of friends they had who used substances. Participants with few or no substance-using friends reported less use than they had engaged in before their incarceration, and those whose friends mostly or all used reported increased use.

Dr. Redonna Chandler, chief of NIDA’s Services Research Branch, said inmates might get a false sense of security when leaving prison because they are getting away from an environment that facilitates addiction.

“Dr. Malouf found that prisoners’ pre-release self-assessment of their ability to use self-control to avoid drug use had only an indirect relationship to their actual drug use a year later,” she said. “The finding highlights the fact that many prisoners develop a false sense of security about their ability to resist drugs. Imprisonment removes people from the environmental cues that trigger their cravings, which can lead them to think that they are cured of their addiction. However, when they get out and encounter the cues again, they may be just as susceptible as they were before they went in.”

August 6, 2014 at 1:34 pm Comments (0)

Humor Article Exposes Dark Side of Addiction for Nurses

An article on the humor website Cracked.com sheds light on the terrifying reality of drug-addicted nurses.

Told from a first-person perspective by former registered nurse John Brooks from Monroe, LA, the article explains how it is surprisingly common for healthcare practitioners to be addicted to drugs and do them at work while they are responsible for the lives of patients.drug addiction in nurses

Brooks says in the article that nurses are surrounded by temptation everyday because they not only have access to drugs, but also clean paraphernalia for doing them. And since nurses know so much about the effects of the drugs they are taking, he says, they often believe that they can do them safely.

He talks about how he stole the drugs from patients and how the measures put in place to stop this from happening are undermined by the severe nursing shortage in the country.

It is a horrifying reminder that the temptation of drugs can be too difficult for even medical professionals to resist.

To read the article, click here.

July 21, 2014 at 7:49 am Comments (0)

New post gives parents much needed information on Spice

Synthetic marijuana has been a scourge for years now and a recently published post gives parents the definitive information they need to know about this dangerous drug.Spice

The information contained in the article includes the effects of the drug, several statistics about its usage and tips about how parents can protect their children from abusing the drug.

The tips include:

  • Communicate with your teen.
  • Make your position clear.
  • Check in frequently.
  • Look for signs of use.
  • If necessary, seek help.

To read the full Parent’s Guide to Spice, click here.

July 11, 2014 at 11:54 am Comments (0)

Study Shows 1 in 5 High School Seniors Have Tried Hookah

About 18% of high school seniors, or one in five, have tried smoking tobacco through a hookah pipe, a new study has found.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Clare on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Ryan Clare on Flickr

The study, performed by New York University researchers, involved data from the Monitoring the Future nationwide study, which follows teens’ behaviors, values, and attitudes. Of the almost 15,000 kids aged 18 involved in the study, 5,540 were questioned about their hookah use between 2010 and 2012.

Researchers also found that “students of higher socioeconomic status appear to be more  likely to use hookah,” said Dr. Joseph Palamar, assistant professor of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center, in a press release. “Surprisingly, students with more educated parents or higher personal income are at high risk for use. We also found that hookah use is more common in cities, especially big cities. So hookah use is much different from cigarette use, which is more common in non-urban areas.”

Traditionally from the Middle East, hookah involves smoking flavored tobacco from a large water pipe. It’s become increasingly popular in North America and other parts of the world, in part, because it’s believed to be less harmful to the body — the tobacco is considered to be milder. However, that’s not entirely the case because hookah smokers tend to take more puffs in one session, resulting in similar, if not worse effects than smoking.

In New York City, hookahs have become popular, appearing in clubs, increasingly numerous hookah bars, and pretty much wherever someone with a hookah pipe wants to bring it. Among the general population, hookah use has increased by as much as 123%, co-author of the study Dr. Michael Weitzman said. But although they come with similar health risks — respiratory illness, herpes, heart disease, and some cancers — consistent use isn’t such an issue.

“Use tends to be much different from traditional cigarette smoking,” Palamar said in the release. “Right now it appears that a lot of hookah use is more ritualistic, used occasionally — for example, in hookah bars, and not everyone inhales.”

However, the researchers warned that people who begin using hookah may eventually turn to vape pens or e-cigarettes, which also sport a wide range of flavors while remaining mysterious in terms of health effects. Educating the public, and especially the youth, about how smoking hookah isn’t completely harmless may be the experts’ best bet.

July 7, 2014 at 11:16 am Comments (0)

Bill Clinton Pushes for Marijuana “Laboratories of Democracy”

billclintonIn yet another controversial remark from one of the most influential people in recent history, former U.S. president Bill Clinton expressed his openness to studying marijuana within the confines of state law.

According to an NBC interview as published at Yahoo! News, Clinton wants the public to be informed about the whole pot debacle. “I think there’s a lot of evidence to argue for the medical marijuana thing,” said Clinton. He futher added that the issue on marijuana legalization should be dealt with at the state level, and not through federal law. “I think we should leave it to the states… If the state wants to try it, they can. And then they’ll be able to see what happens,” Clinton expressed.

His stance is based on the premise of creating “laboratories of democracy, because nobody really knows where [the issue on marijuana] is going.” Clinton wants the public to get clear answers to unresolved queries about pot.” Are there adequate quality controls? There’s pot and there’s pot; what’s in it? What’s going to happen? There are all these questions.”

It may be recalled that in 1992, the former president admitted to experimenting with the controversial substance, but adamantly denied having inhaled it.

June 29, 2014 at 11:52 pm Comments (2)

Pot-Related Health Issues Spreading In The U.S.

Although more Americans are now embracing the benefits of marijuana to human health, many studies and government agencies including the United Nations are warning the U.S. about a new imminent threat: marijuana-related illnesses.

marijuanaAccording to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the U.S. posted close to a 60 percent increase in emergency room cases due to marijuana use from 2006 to 2010. This is on top of the 14 percent rise in treatment admission cases due to cannabis.

Meanwhile, a study in 2013 revealed the potential adverse effects of cannabis on cardiovascular health. “The current wave of decriminalization may lead to more widespread use, and it is important that cardiologists be made aware of the potential for marijuana-associated adverse cardiovascular effects that may begin to occur in the population at a greater frequency,” the study stated.

The report by UNODC, according to a news item, further stressed the risks posed on young people exposed to marijuana: memory and cognitive problems, respiratory issues, and an inclination to depend heavily on the illicit substance.

June 27, 2014 at 1:53 am Comment (1)

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