Testing It Up

Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Emphasized Through Billboard Campaign

Prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs come next to marijuana and alcohol abuse in teens aged 14 and above in America.  These are commonly abused because of the wrong notion that it is safer than illicit drugs.

Image credit: 19 Action News

Cleveland city leaders recently launched a billboard campaign against prescription drug abuse.  The billboard aims to direct the community to an available hotline number for assistance, according to a news report.  It also plans to bring awareness to the general public through education, prevention programs, and tools to lessen and improve prescribing practices.

Most prescription pills that are abused are painkillers or opioids, depressants, morphines, stimulants and sleeping pills. Most of these drugs are in the tablet form and should be taken orally.  The abusers pound it and they either snort the substance or inject it directly to the bloodstream.

Prescription drug abuse has now become an epidemic.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is becoming a gateway to heroin addiction, which posts high risks to health issues.

The abuse may be done intentionally or unconsciously.  These are taken for reasons and amounts not allowed and intended by doctors. These have pleasurable effects and can be readily available. One can easily go doctor shopping to accumulate the pills.  It can cloud a person’s judgment and reasoning ability and may lead to unsafe sex, pregnancy, abortion, STDs and vehicular accidents.

Overdosing on painkillers now surpasses murders and car accidents in terms of death tolls.

April 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm Comments (0)

Study: E-Cigarettes Don’t Help People Quit Smoking

Do you believe the advertisements that say using e-cigarettes can help people stop smoking? Then you must be one of those who are grossly misinformed.

electroSmokeBNPS_468x348Research was done concerning the use of electronic cigarettes from the Center for Tobacco Control by the University of California. It disclosed that there is no factual basis for the efficiency of e-cigarettes to help people kick the habit.

According to Live Science, the study based on the survey conducted in 2011 involved close to a thousand respondents who were confirmed smokers. The respondents were followed up with a year later to determine the rate of participants who stopped smoking. The data shows a 13.8% reduction of smokers after one year for those who did not use electronic cigarettes compared to 10.2% of electronic cigarette users.

These results did not quantify that the use of electronic cigarettes really helped increase smoking cessation. The results of the study suggest that those who are using electronic cigarettes have no interest in quitting smoking. In fact, the use of e-cigarettes made it more difficult for them to quit.

An interview with Dr. Mitchell H. Katz, deputy editor of JAMA internal Medicine said that “the evidence on whether e-cigarettes help smokers to quit is contradictory and inconclusive” and that it has no proof of increasing the rates of cessation from smoking.

He also sees the need to regulate the use of electronic cigarettes citing the potential harm it could contribute to  minors due to the fact that there are no laws or restrictions for the use of electronic cigarettes.

He is also calling for the prohibition of e-cigarette advertisements that say these devices could help you quit smoking, until there is scientific evidence to support this claim.

April 2, 2014 at 12:00 am Comments (10)

Molly Package Intercepted By Virginia Police


ecstasyIn a recent news article, a 41-year-old man was arrested in Leesburg, Virginia for the possession of a package containing MDMA – short term for a synthetic drug known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine – intercepted by the police.  Allegedly, the US Postal Service was used as the delivery method to send 10 oxycodone pills and about 8-1/2 grams of MDMA otherwise known as “ecstasy” and “molly” to the address of a man named Thomas C. Watson.

According to Phil Erickson, Substance Abuse Program Manager for Loudoun Country, drugs like molly are precarious to the still-developing brains of teenagers.  This is highly addictive and one of the side effects for using it is long-term depression.

The use of molly in Virginia is very rampant.  Any high school and college students know about “molly” and it’s the cool thing to do now.  This party drug is often used in night clubs thus it is known as a “club drug”.  It makes a person free spirited, as if you are friends with everyone even though you are not. This is a very popular drug with a big supply.  Though this drug is illegal, it can be accessed and bought through the internet, with Mexico and China being the major sources of this substance.

March 26, 2014 at 9:44 pm Comments (0)

More Women Being Arrested for DUI in California

Significantly more women are being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in California, according to an analysis of Department of Motor Vehicles data performed by the KPCC public radio station. women alcohol drinker

Women accounted for about 11% of DUI arrests in 1989, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and that number increased to about 24% in 2011, which is the last year for which statistics are available.

“They were somewhat stable in the 1980s and then began to go up and just accelerated, particularly from 1999 to 2011,” said Steven Bloch, senior research associate with the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Young women were largely responsible for the increase in statewide DUI arrests in that time period. In Los Angeles County, DUI arrests of women ages 21 to 30 years old jumped by about 134% from 1999 to 2011.

Another group that stood out during the same period was women over the age of 50:

  • Arrests of women age 51 to 60 years old rose by 81%.
  • Arrests of female drivers age 61 to 70 climbed by 67%.
  • Women older than 70 saw a 76% increase in DUI arrests.

Conversely, overall DUI arrests for male drivers in L.A. County fell from 1999 to 2011, with the only age group seeing an increase being men between the age of 51 to 70 years old.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation found similar results in a survey of women arrested for driving under the influence in California, Michigan, Missouri, and New York.

“We don’t know if more women are drinking and driving,” Erin Holmes, who is with the foundation, said. “All we do know is that more women are being arrested.”

Researchers have yet to come up with a definitive reason to explain the rise. One explanation is that law enforcement has made it a priority to get impaired drivers off the roads.

March 24, 2014 at 6:31 am Comments (0)

Teens Who Use E-Cigarettes More Likely to Smoke Real Cigarettes

This is probably the least surprising thing you’ll read all day. electronic cigarettes

Teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke real cigarettes than teens who don’t use e-cigarettes, according to a new study.

They are also less likely to quit smoking altogether, the study finds.

“The use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among U.S. adolescents,” the researchers, led by Stanton Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco wrote in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

In a news release, Glantz said, “It looks to me like the wild west marketing of e-cigarettes is not only encouraging youth to smoke them, but also it is promoting regular cigarette smoking among youth.”

However, other experts called the study’s findings into question, saying it is possible young people who use e-cigarettes are heavier smokers to begin with, or would have become heavy smokers anyway and add that e-cigarettes may not be the cause of teens’ problems with quitting smoking.

It is still heavily debated whether e-cigarettes help people quit smoking regular cigarettes or act more as a gateway to smoking real cigarettes.

A large government survey published last year found many young people who use e-cigarettes also smoke real cigarettes. E-cigarette use among teens also doubled from 2011 to 2012, while use of regular cigarettes among this age group hit a record low of 9.6% in 2013.

March 21, 2014 at 7:12 am Comments (0)

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Linked To Impaired Oxytocin Development

Inadequate development of the “love hormone” called oxytocin during childhood might be the cause of drug and alcohol addiction in adult life, according to a new study.

drugs, alcohol, cigarettesDr. Femke Buisman-Pijlman led a team of researchers who investigated several studies in the past related to a potential relationship between addiction and oxytocin. The study proponents discovered that a child’s oxytocin system is fully developed upon reaching 3 years old, which shows that early development of the compound is very critical.

Scientists revealed that a properly developed oxytocin system lowers the pleasure that a person gets from alcohol and drugs, as well as reducing the effects of stress.

“A well-developed oxytocin system is in a position to directly and indirectly increase resilience, for example by reducing drug reward, increasing social reward, reducing anxiety, reducing stress response and immune stimulation,” according to the study as released in Medical News Today.

While oxytocin development is largely influenced by genetic predisposition, a person’s oxytocin systems may be altered in early ages by exposure to environmental factors such as stress, trauma, sickness, or exposure to addiction.

Oxytocin has long been known as a natural hormone in the human body, playing a key function in the maternal bond between the mother and the baby. This compound is released by the pituitary gland, and is linked to improving intimacy and social relationships, hence its monicker “love hormone”.

March 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm Comments (0)

Report to Congress on Underage Drinking Available

underage drinkingThe Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking 2013 is available for download to anyone who wants to look at it.

It reports on the prevalence and nature of underage drinking and the national efforts and best practices to address the problem and includes reports on state policies, enforcement activities, and prevention programs underway to address underage drinking.

You can download the report in PDF form on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.






March 19, 2014 at 8:57 am Comments (0)

Manufacturer of OxyContin Tests Tamper-Proof Hydrocodone

OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma has revealed that results from tests of its tamper-resistant opiate drug hydrocodone are promising. study drugs

This comes on the heels of controversy over the Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to approve Zohydro, which is a pure form of hydrocodone that is not tamper-resistant, meaning it can easily be crushed up into powder for injection or snorting. Zohydro is not made by Purdue Pharma.

Purdue Pharma already made its flagship drug Oxycontin tamper-resistant back in 2010.

The new study from the company on its hydrocodone drug allegedly showed that a majority of patients with chronic lower back pain treated once daily with the drug experienced at least a 30% improvement in pain intensity, compared with a placebo, while almost half achieved a 50% improvement.

“This is another step forward in our efforts to develop therapeutic options for use by chronic pain patients that are designed to be unattractive to drug seekers,” Gary L. Stiles, the company’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development, said in a statement.

Last week, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin called on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to overrule the FDA decision to approve Zohydro ER, while in December, the attorneys general from 28 states asked the FDA to reassess its decision to approve Zohydro.

March 19, 2014 at 8:51 am Comments (0)

Effectiveness of Prescription Monitoring Databases Varies by State

opioid prescription
Prescription drug monitoring programs, designed to reduce “doctor shopping” for prescription opioids, have shown large discrepancies in their effectiveness between states, according to a new study by Columbia University researchers.

The researchers used data from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) about prescriptions for the seven most commonly prescribed opioid painkillers:

  • fentanyl,
  • hydrocodone,
  • hydromorphone,
  • meperidine,
  • methadone,
  • morphine, and
  • oxycodone.

The researchers found that from 1991 to 2010, the number of prescriptions for opioids basically tripled in the United States, from about 76 million to almost 210 million. The researchers calculated the average dose of opioids prescribed to each person using  morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs), and found that number increase fivefold from 1999 to 2008.

The study, which appears in Public Health Reports, found:

  • 9 states recorded significantly fewer MMEs dispensed after the implementation of prescription monitoring databases;
  • 14 states reported no significant change; and
  • 8 states experienced significant increases in MMEs dispensed after implementing prescription monitoring databases.

Colorado experienced the biggest drop in MMEs associated with their prescription monitoring database, followed by Texas and Wyoming. The largest increase was in Connecticut.

Lead author Guohua Li said prescription monitoring databases administered by state health departments were more effective than databases administered by other government agencies, such as the Board of Pharmacy or the Bureau of Narcotics. Seven states with monitoring programs run by a state health department dispensed almost 18% fewer MMEs, compared with states without the program.

March 14, 2014 at 12:16 pm Comments (0)

Opioid Prescriptions Down, But Not as Much as Expected

Doctors and healthcare providers wrote approximately 11 million fewer prescriptions for narcotic painkillers in 2013 than in 2012. nursing students drug test

They wrote about 230 million prescriptions for opioids such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet in 2013 according to data from IMS Health, a drug market research firm. That’s down about 5% from 2012, when about 241 million prescriptions were written.

“It’s certainly a good thing, but I’m surprised the numbers haven’t dropped more dramatically,” said Lewis Nelson, an emergency physician at the New York University Langone Medical Center. “Especially since there are many more regulatory efforts in place.”

Over the last decade, the use of prescription painkillers has skyrocketed, with many officials calling it an epidemic of addiction to these drugs.

Back in 2010, there were 16,651 overdose deaths attributed to prescription opioids — more than four times as many as the 4,030 deaths in 1999, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those deaths, 30% involved the use of a benzodiazepine, a class of drugs that has seen usage rise similar to opioids.

Despite calls to strengthen controls on opioids, in October the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — acting against the recommendation of its own advisory panel — approved the new hydrocodone-only opioid, Zohydro. It will come in six doses starting at 10 mg and going up to 50 mg.

Last week, a coalition of more than 40 groups and individuals called on FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to revoke the agency’s approval of Zohydro.

“In the midst of a severe drug epidemic fueled by overprescribing of opioids, the very last thing this country needs is a new dangerous, high-dose opioid,” they wrote.

March 4, 2014 at 7:32 am Comments (0)

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