Category Archives: Substance Abuse

Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

Marijuana Legalization in the U.S.

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While many people are aware of the dangers of marijuana for recreational purposes, many states are pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana. Several studies of cannabinoid compounds have revealed its medicinal qualities, which have further fueled the call for legalizing medical marijuana.

What is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana refers to the treatment of a disease or symptom using the whole unprocessed plant of marijuana or its basic extracts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet given its stamp of approval or recognition to the use of the marijuana plant as medicine.

However, scientific studies of marijuana chemicals called cannabinoids resulted to a couple of FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in the form of a pill. Because the marijuana plant contains chemicals useful for the treatment of a wide range of illnesses or symptoms, many people are calling for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. In some states, medical marijuana has already been legalized.

Health Benefits

Medical marijuana comes in a variety of forms. It can be smoked, vaporized, or taken as a pill. It may also be prepared as edible foods such as brownies, cookies, and chocolate bars.

The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and with no legitimate medical uses. However, the idea that marijuana may have therapeutic uses is based in solid science. The body has the natural ability to manufacture its own cannabinoids designed for modulating pain.

The main psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. It targets the CB1 receptor, a cannabinoid receptor located in the brain as well as in the nervous system, liver, kidney, and lungs. This receptor is activated to silence the body’s response to pain and noxious chemicals.

medical marijuana legalization

Medical marijuana: Is it the miracle cure that millions of patients are looking for?

In a placebo-controlled study published in the journal Neurology, Abrams and his colleagues discovered that marijuana is effective at lowering neuropathic pain caused by damaged nerves. Opiates, such as morphines, are not effective at treating neuropathic pain.

Another study revealed that marijuana, aside from opiates, caused dramatic levels of pain relief. Researchers at the American Academy of Neurology revealed that medical marijuana in the form of pills or oral sprays had the ability to reduce stiffness and muscle spasm.

In addition, the medications also reduced certain symptoms of pain associated with spasms, painful burning and numbness, as well as overactive bladder, according to another study.

One of the well-known effects of using marijuana is the “munchies,” which is used to stimulate appetite among HIV/AIDS patients and others with suppressed appetite after a medical condition or treatment. Medical marijuana is also frequently used for treatment of nausea induced by chemotherapy, although scientific studies of smoked marijuana are limited.

Two FDA-approved chemically altered forms of THC, namely dronabinol and nabilone, have been proven to lower reduce chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.

Medical marijuana may also be used for treating glaucoma, an elevated pressure in the eyeball that can result to blindness. The American Cancer Society revealed that while marijuana can decrease intra-ocular pressure, it must be taken several times during the day in order to produce the desired effect.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana that contains medicinal benefits. However, since it does not target the CB1 receptor, it does not leave people feeling stoned.

In a 2012 study published in the Journal Translational Psychiatry, it was revealed that cannabidiol can be effective as a treatment for schizophrenia. In a study conducted at the University of Cologne, 42 patients randomly received either cannabidiol or amisulpride, an effective drug used for treating schizophrenia for 28 days. When compared, clinical effects revealed “no relevant difference” between the two treatments.

Side Effects

The active compound in marijuana binds itself to cannabinoid receptors, located in the areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, and time perception. Its effects can disrupt attention, judgment, and balance.

Meanwhile, studies have produced different results on whether smoking marijuana can have a significant cancer risk.


When smoking marijuana, THC can quickly pass from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood transfers the chemical to the brain and other organs in the body. When eating or drinking it, the body absorbs THC more slowly with the user generally feeling the effects within 30 minutes to 1 hour.

THC acts on specific brain cell receptors that naturally respond to natural THC-like chemicals in the brain. These natural chemicals play a role in the normal functioning and development of the brain.

Marijuana over-activates that area of the brain that contains the biggest number of receptors. It is responsible for causing the “high” that marijuana users experience. It can bring about other effects such as:

  • impaired senses (for example, seeing brighter colors)
  • impaired sense of time
  • mood changes
  • impaired body movement
  • difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
  • impaired memory


Marijuana may have adverse effects on brain development. When used as early as teenage years, it can reduce thinking, memory, and learning functions and may affect how the brain connects between the areas needed for these functions. The effects on these areas of the brain can be long-term or even permanent.

One study revealed that people who were heavy marijuana smokers during their teens and currently has cannabis use disorder lost an average of eight IQ points between 13 and 38 years old. The lost mental skills did not completely return even after they stopped smoking marijuana as an adult. On the other hand, those who began smoking marijuana as adults did not show a notable decline in their IQ.

Medical Marijuana Legalization By States

As of April 2016, there are 24 U.S. states that have legalized medical marijuana: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

California was the very first state that legalized medical marijuana in 1996. From the list of 24 states above, Pennsylvania was the latest state that legalized medical marijuana. Meanwhile, New York legalized the vaporized form of medical marijuana in 2014.

As for recreational marijuana, only four states have so far legalized it: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. It is likely that 11 more states will also legalize recreational marijuana in the near future.

All the 24 states require the approval of a doctor. With the exception of Washington, all states require an identification card to be shown at the dispensary in a patient registry. In most of the states where medical marijuana is legal, there is an online application process.

In majority of the states, patients are required to fill up an application form, pay the necessary fee, and provide identification information. In order to receive an identification card, the patients are required to get a signed statement from a doctor who diagnosed the condition and proof that medical marijuana was the recommended form of treatment for the patient’s particular condition and situation.

In states where medical marijuana is legal, laws permit dispensaries and outline certain conditions for medical marijuana prescription. The restrictions on the format and amount of medical cannabis allowed for personal use in every visit may vary from one state to another.

marijuana legalization in the U.S.

Only time will tell if the entire U.S. legalizes marijuana for medical purposes.

In New York, medical marijuana is highly regulated and legalized for just a few medical conditions, such as epilepsy and cancer. In California, the law applies only for conditions such as arthritis, migraine, and other conditions for which marijuana can offer relief. As such, California legalizes medical marijuana for a wide range of conditions, ranging from insomnia to substance abuse.

In the District of Columbia, recreational marijuana has been decriminalized so residents are allowed to carry up to two ounces of cannabis and own six plants. However, it is still illegal to purchase pot in the District.

The expensive nature of incarceration is one factor that is stopping states from decriminalizing cannabis. In an interview with Vice News, President Obama said that it would require a huge amount of money.

“It costs a huge amount of money to states,” Obama said, speaking to Vice’s Shane Smith. “What I’m encouraged by is you’re starting to see not just liberal democrats but also some very conservative Republicans recognize that this doesn’t make sense, including the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. They see the money and how costly it is to incarcerate. At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, Congress may then reschedule marijuana.”

On the other hand, legalizing recreational marijuana has paved the way for a whole new economy involving the sale of cannabis, oils, lotions, edibles, and other paraphernalia. Efforts to promote new related businesses have started to emerge supporting these industries despite the regulations state by state. The states that have set the pace in the cannabis market are starting to reap the fruits in the form of tax revenues.

In Colorado, marijuana-specific tax revenue has reached $70 million during the last fiscal year. This was two times higher than what the state earned from alcohol tax revenues.

Throughout the U.S., sales of legal marijuana reached $2.7 billion in 2014, an increase from $1.5 billion the previous year, as reported by cannabis investment and research company ArcView Group. If all 50 states as well as District of Columbia were to legalize marijuana, the U.S. marijuana retail market could exceed the $35 billion plateau by 2020, based on estimates by independent research firm GreenWave Advisers.

The clamor for legalizing marijuana is growing, according to a new survey conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research published in The Washington Post. The study revealed that a record 61 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana. A similar survey conducted by Gallup reflected a 58 percent support for legalization.


Marijuana has risen in popularity amidst controversies and the tendency for abuse and addiction. As the road to marijuana legalization continues to be paved, only time will tell whether the entire U.S. and other countries will follow suit.

Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

NORML Recommends Framework for Marijuana Policy In The Workplace

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construction workplace drug policy

As the issue on substance abuse continues to haunt the workplace, more and more companies are now laying out their drug policies. The aim is not to reprimand erring employees who are found positive for drug use, but rather to protect the welfare of these employees and the whole workforce.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has devised a model for marijuana workplace policy. Based on its recommended framework, here are some of the highlights of the NORML policy:

  • The company shall promote its interests in guaranteeing a secure, healthy, and efficient working condition for its employees, co-employees, and the customers it serves. The use or possession of alcohol or other intoxicating drugs in the workplace poses a risk to everyone. For these reasons, a framework that contains conditions for employment and continuous employment with the company will be established.
  • Federal and state governments shall define controlled substances in order to describe them according to five levels of drugs. Schedule I drugs shall be the most restrictive and illegal to possess or use, while Schedule V drugs will be easily accessible at retail stores even with no prescription.
  • Employees will not be allowed to report for work while under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs that can have an impact on the employee’s ability to safely continue with their job duties.
  • The company will not engage in random and/or pre-accident drug testing of workers. Any problems with substance abuse will be determined using behavior and performance measures only.
  • The company is aware that there is a distinction between substance use and substance abuse and that the former is not tantamount to abuse. Employees can freely choose their own lifestyle choices when outside their workplace or otherwise with the company. However, such choices should not interfere in the performance of their jobs.
  • Employees shall be restricted from reporting for work or staying on duty while under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicants in their systems. Furthermore, they will not be allowed to consume alcohol or other intoxicants during office hours, as well as during their meal and break periods.
  • Failure to comply with these substance abuse policies will merit a disciplinary action, which could include discharge. For more details about the policy, you can get in touch with the immediate superior or the chief operating officer (COO).

This framework from NORML should serve as a base structure for companies to develop their own drug policies in the workplace.


Substance Abuse

Most Popular Synthetic Drugs Abused In The U.S.

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spice k2 synthetic marijuana

The U.S. continues to see a distressing escalation in synthetic drug abuse cases. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in its National Drug Threat Assessment Summary reported a substantial increase in the number of calls to poison control centers related to synthetic cathinones from 2010 (304 calls) to 2011 (6,136 calls).

The alarming rise in these cases may be attributed to the accessibility of these drugs and the lack of effective legislation to suppress their use and availability.

Here are some of the most commonly abused synthetic drugs in the country:

Synthetic Cathinones

These are sold as “bath salts”, which physically resemble fine powder intended for bath use but are contained in smaller packages and labelled as “not for human consumption.” Despite this caption, manufacturers of these so-called bath salts designed the product for ingestion and not bathing.

While most of the chemical components of bath salts are already banned, manufacturers have found creative ways of combining the same with other elements to confuse the authorities, and give the substance the guise of legality.

Synthetic Marijuana / Cannabinoids

These are usually sold as herbal incense, potpourri and e-cigarette fluids. The more popular brands include K2 and Spice, although the market has already seen newer brand varieties.

Synthetic marijuana is packaged as common potpourri used for aromatherapy. However, it is really intended to be smoked because the dried plant material has been sprayed with chemical compounds that imitate the effects of 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana.

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)

The popular street names for MDMA are “ecstasy” or “love drug”, which may come in tablet or capsule form and in different colors and designs.

MDMAs first emerged in the ‘80s during the height of disco culture. The use of MDMAs remains prevalent today among partygoers due its known effects of increased euphoria.


Although the U.S. Congress has intensified efforts to regulate and ban the chemicals used in the production of synthetic drugs following the passage of the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act in 2012, these enforcement strategies struggle to keep up with the ingenuity of manufacturers adept at escaping detection and punishment.


Substance Abuse

Employee Drug Abuse: Truth, Impact, and Response At The Workplace

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workplace drug abuse office

Drug abuse has become a rampant problem in society. In the workplace, it can become an even bigger problem as it can have a huge impact on any business. In this article, we will look at the prevalence and effect of drug abuse in the workplace.

Facts about Drugs in the Workplace

Drug abuse in the workplace can be an expensive problem for businesses and industries. It carries with it a wide range of issues such as lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, low employee morale, and others.

Figures from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) revealed that drug abuse in the workplace has cost employees approximately $81 billion a year. Likewise, 7 out of 10 of the 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are employed, as reported in EHS Today. In addition, employees who have three or more jobs are two times as likely to be current or previous illegal drugs users who have had less than two jobs.

Impact of Drug Abuse in the Workplace

Now more than ever, there is a need for employers to consider substance issues among their employees. In today’s workplace, employees need to be alert, accurate, and should have quick reflexes. Absence of these qualities can have serious impact on the accuracy and efficiency of work.

Some of the effects that drug abuse can have on employees include:

  • Tardiness or sleeping on the job
  • Poor job performance and productivity
  • Poor decision making
  • Tendency to commit theft
  • Loss or reduction of morale
  • Loss of attention and concentration
  • Illegal activities at work
  • Increased incidence of disciplinary action
  • Health-related issues

office drug abuse

The Role of the Workplace in Drug Abuse

Employers can play a huge role in putting an end to drug abuse in the workplace. Most employees have a problem addressing alcoholism and drug abuse issues and this can have an effect on their job performance. By establishing employee assistance programs (EAPs), employers can improve productivity and efficiency of their employees. From short-term counseling of employees with alcohol and drug abuse problems to intervention in personal problems, employers can look forward to reducing drug abuse prevalence in their workplace, and in the process lowering their expenses.

Another way that employers can lower drug abuse among their employees is to implement a drug-free workplace, as well as offer health benefits that include coverage for substance use disorders, including after care and counseling.

Implementing an employee assistance program can have long term effects on the workplace. Treating alcohol and drug abuse among employees can result to reduced healthcare costs. A successful employee assistance program also contributes to increasing morale and productivity while reducing absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, and theft.

Creating an Effective Employee Assistance Program

As an employer, you would always strive to make your employees happy and satisfied with their jobs. Like members of the family, you need to care for their health and well-being. Any sign of addiction among your employees can have a devastating impact on your company. It translates to increased healthcare costs, loss in productivity, reduced employee morale, and even fatalities.

This is where having an employee assistance program can come in. The aim of EAP is to help employees maintain a healthy work and life balance. The program is generally offered to the employees for free. It is paid for by an employer through a health insurance provider or through another third party administrator.

Most workers deal with various issues such as personal problems, mental and emotional health, and general well-being. Some issues that these programs focus on include:

  • Financial problems
  • Legal issues
  • Family problems
  • Major life-changing events
  • Relationship issues
  • Drug and alcohol abuse and dependence
  • Work-related issues
  • Psychological disorders

However, you should bear in mind that an EAP does not necessarily solve these issues. For instance, it is not designed to get an employee out of a financial problem. Instead, the program aims to assist employees in finding a way to cope with these issues in a healthy and productive manner.

EAPs are offered to workers in a variety of ways. It is dependent upon how a particular program is administered. The usual manner is that the employee can avail of assistance by getting in touch with a counselor over the phone or through a face-to-face encounter. There are no restrictions on the number of phone calls that an employee can make.

However, in the case of face-to-face meetings, there are limits to the number of sessions for every employee. The good news is that they can access a variety of online resources that help them learn more about their problems and how to cope with their difficulties.

One important aspect of an EAP that every employee should bear in mind is that all information is confidential. Even if the employee pays for the program, the information is held in extreme confidentiality. Employees may avail of the service without their employers knowing about it or having any knowledge about the issues. Employers can refer any of their employees to the program as long as they feel that their workers need assistance and will benefit greatly from the program.

Benefits of Employee Assistance Programs

Studies have shown that an employee assistance program offers a wide range of benefits to the workplace. These programs can help reduce the costs of medical care by addressing mental and substance abuse issues. Aside from that, EAPs can also reduce employee turnover.

In addition, EAPs help lower absenteeism among employees. With reduced absenteeism comes an increase in productivity. This is because the employees are happier, healthier, and more balanced.

While there are criticisms about these programs, the negative comments about them can be prevented by letting an outside party manage the program. When the company itself is running the program, there could be issues like bullying or targeting employees that can arise.

While employee assistance programs focus on a wide range of issues, it can be especially helpful when addiction is a problem in more than one employee. Substance abuse in the workplace can be a huge issue because addicted workers have the tendency to lose focus, have little care about the quality of their work, and will most likely miss time on the job.

Another advantage of employee assistance program is that it can extend to the family members of employees. If workers have family members who are suffering from drug or alcohol dependence, this may affect their performance at work. The said family member can enjoy the EAP benefits.

construction workers drug abuse

Choosing the Right Employee Assistance Program

The characteristics and provisions of EAPs may vary considerably, and so employers must carefully study each program before deciding. Here are some factors to consider when comparing programs:

  1. Are the staff who will run the program qualified?

Make sure that the people who will run the program are professionally qualified and licensed. They should have established connections with local health groups and national self-help agencies.  Likewise, they should be taking a continuous education program. You can always check their affiliations and experience in running EAPs.

  1. Are their fees affordable?

The cost of EAPs may be different from one program to another depending on the structure of operation, type and extent of services provided, and method of computing charges. Experts recommend that the base fee should include the materials and administration costs that will be incurred by the providers. National services tend to provide more affordable programs than local companies but this is not the case all the time.

  1. What is included in their services?

Employee assistance programs offer a variety of scope and subject matter. Comprehensive programs will usually provide managers with help in dealing with troubled employees, developing wellness policies, and setting up seminars on health issues.

  1. Is the facility accessible? Can they be easily reached?

One important aspect of choosing an employee assistance program is the accessibility of the facility. The training facility should be conveniently reached by employees who may want to visit before, during, or after work.

Likewise, the company should have a toll-free line that should be reachable round the clock in case the employee encounters difficulties while working. Response time is an important consideration when choosing a company to handle your EAP.

  1. Do they constantly communicate with members?

When choosing a company who will handle your employee assistance program, you should choose one that constantly communicates with you and other members. They should also have a record of their effectiveness in helping customers reach their productivity goals or implement safety programs.

Signs of a Defective Employee Assistance Program

Employee assistance programs have often been recognized for the roles they play in cost management. However, if the implementation or design is defective, then the expected cost savings goal of the program will not be achieved.

Employers should consider the following signs that the program may need some polishing:

  • Employees were generally dissatisfied with the program
  • Only a small percentage (i.e. less than 5 percent) of qualified employees use the program
  • Issues raised were not addressed within a reasonable amount of time
  • The program reflected an unwarranted bias towards a particular method of treatment
  • Employees indicated distrust to the program viewing it as a potential management tool for getting rid of punishment or justifying termination
  • There is conflict of interest on the part of the personnel running the program. For example, they have financial ties with a provider where they are referring employees.

While these warning signs can be easily addressed, it is important for employers to first have sufficient research regarding the needs and desires of their employees before trying to change the program. In similar fashion, when the company decides to revise their employee assistance program, they need to take all the necessary precautions to make sure that the employees who benefitted from the previous program will not be left behind.

Employers play an important role in getting rid of drug abuse in the workplace. While it may only be true to a handful of employees, sooner or later it can have a snowball effect on other employees as they may tend to decrease their morale and confidence in the company.

Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

Excessive Marijuana Use May Impair Brain’s Dopamine System

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Dopamine is a chemical produced by the brain, and it serves as a neurotransmitter of signals to the brain and other significant areas of the human body. It is responsible for several processes in the brain related to motor activities, cognitive reasoning, mood swings, memory, behavior, sleep, learning, and attention.

Abnormal levels of dopamine in the brain may cause brain diseases like Parkinson’s disease, dopa-responsive dystonia, schizophrenia, ADHD and even drug addiction. In addition, this chemical affects the compulsive reaction of the brain towards drug use. Recreational drugs like marijuana or cannabis can trigger our brain to release dopamine, which stimulates pleasure.

A recent study revealed that prolonged use of marijuana may impair the dopaminergic system, which may lead to slow learning and absorption, as well as behavioral changes. Another effect is that it disrupts the user’s memory.

“We don’t know whether decreased dopamine was a preexisting condition or the result of heavy cannabis use,” said study lead author Anissa Abi-Dargham in a news release.

A team of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) conducted the study, which investigated cannabis-dependent adults and their dopamine levels through positron emission tomography (PET).

Cannabis may have many therapeutic advantages, but the results of the study seemed to point out that marijuana is not suitable for people with psychological disorders.

The research team believes that more studies should focus on the impact of marijuana use on brain functioning. “In light of the more widespread acceptance and use of marijuana, especially by young people, we believe it is important to look more closely at the potentially addictive effects of cannabis on key regions of the brain,” Abi-Dargham added.


Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

People with Rheumatoid Arthritis Experience More Health Concerns When Smoking

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smoking cigarette

Tobacco consumption has long been known to cause destruction of the immune system, leading to several illnesses and disorders to develop. It is also one of the major causes of early death for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and a new study recommends quitting smoking to cut the risk of early death.

According to a team researchers led by Deborah Symmons (professor of rheumatology and musculoskeletal epidemiology at the University of Manchester in England), the study offers essential proof that there is a remarkable drop in the statistics of early deaths in patients who stopped smoking and carry on year after year. Furthermore, the threat to the health of patients with RA who used to smoke is similar to those who have never puffed a cigarette in their lives. The only advantage if a person stops smoking is to increase life span a little and avoid further complications.

The analysis of Symmons and associates was based on the evaluated data of rheumatoid arthritis patients from the U.K., as reported in a news item. The researchers are hoping that their data could save more lives by raising awareness to patients and encouraging them to quit smoking.

People diagnosed with RA also face a high fatal risk due to accompanying complications like hypertension, cancer, heart diseases, lung diseases and different infections that easily attach to the patient.

Previous studies even points out that smoking plays a vital role in the expansion of rheumatoid arthritis, though this condition is not yet fully understood. The abnormal response of the immune system affected by factors like genes, hormones and environmental factor like smoking can lead to inflammation.

As it is, rheumatoid arthritis is both a painful and devastating condition, and smoking increases the risk of death in patients.


Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Marijuana Use While Pregnant Increases Health Risks in Child

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Pregnancy is a condition that should not be taken lightly. In fact, a recent study pointed out that the use of marijuana during childbirth posts a high risk on the baby’s health.

There are already various studies conducted regarding this issue, some of which have been evaluated to further reiterate the connection of the use of marijuana during pregnancy to low birth weight of newborn babies. In addition, according to research these babies are placed in the intensive care unit due to their delicate condition.

The breakthrough on the effectiveness of cannabis in the medical world has pushed many states and countries to work on its legalization. Study author Jayleen Gunn, who works as assistant research scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said in a news release that the public should understand the effect of cannabis to fetal health.

Moreover, the research of Gunn and her associates showed that there is a 77 percent probability of the newborn being underweight if the fetus is exposed to marijuana compared to infants born of parents who did not use marijuana during pregnancy.

Data gathered by scientists are confined in the context of the relationship concerning the use of marijuana during pregnancy and the health issues faced by the newborn. It does not directly single out marijuana as the cause of the problem.

Further studies need to be conducted regarding the link between cannabis and pregnancy to better understand its effect on the pregnant women and their newborns. There are many aspects not yet explored, such as the form and amount of marijuana taken, as well as the unhealthy practices of the mother while pregnant. Just like other regulated substances, the use of cannabis should be regulated and prohibited if it posts danger to one’s health.


Substance Abuse

Risk of Teen Drinking Increased By Alcohol-Related Merchandise

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If you find your teenage child wearing clothes with alcohol brand logos on them, you might want to encourage your kid to rethink about their apparel choices.

According to an Australian study published in the journal Pediatrics, teenagers who own alcohol-related merchandise have a higher likelihood of engaging in drinking. “It is possible that owning the merchandise makes young people more likely to drink, or that young people who drink are more likely to want to own the merchandise, or a combination of these effects,” said Sandra Jones, who leads the research team and works at the Australian Catholic University’s Centre for Health and Social Research.

The findings were based on literature review of 13 earlier studies on alcohol brand labels and teenage drinking, going through more than 26,000 teens. One of the breakthrough discoveries in the review was that teens who own alcohol-related items (such as shirts, caps, bags, wallets, lighters, and other retail products) have a higher tendency to start their alcohol use within one year.

Researchers inferred that part of the reason behind this association was the fact that teenage years involve the creation of their individual identities based on things that influence them. “The things that they wear, carry, and consume help to create and convey their desired identity. There is increasing evidence that brands facilitate this by allowing the young person to take on and project the desirable characteristics that are associated with that brand. These characteristics and brands then become a part of their sense of self, as well as the way that others see them,” Jones said via a news report.

Worse, parents are not conscious about the impact of these things on their kids. “Many of these items are given away for free at promotional events or as gifts with purchase, and parents may hand them on to their children — or allow others to do so — without processing the fact that they are providing their child with extended exposure to an advertisement for an alcohol brand,” the study leader expressed.


Substance Abuse

Study: U.S. Laws Bring Down Underage Drinking Death Rates

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underage teen drinking alcohol consumption

Strict regulations and the existence of laws have been successful in curbing the number of cases associated with underage drinking. This was revealed by a study on the effectiveness of laws concerning drinking age.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), looked into 20 expanded laws involving underage drinking implemented in some U.S. states. The research team sifted through the strong and weak points of each law, particularly in terms of enforcement, coverage, and sanctions for violators.

According to the study, only nine of the 20 expanded laws were effective in bringing down the number of fatalities caused by drinking below the minimum legal age. These nine laws have the ability to save more than 1,100 persons from death on a yearly basis. Sadly, not all U.S. states have all of these laws implemented or even approved. “We were surprised to find that half of the states have adopted 13 or fewer laws, that only five can be found in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and that just one state, Utah, has adopted all 20,” said study lead author James Fell in a news item.

Some of the nine identified laws were associated with significant decreases in underage drinking-related deaths:

  • Presentation of fake ID to retailers: 11.9 percent decrease
  • License revocation in DUI cases: 7.9 percent
  • Alcohol possession: 7.7 percent decrease
  • Purchase of alcohol: 4.2 percent
  • Underage bartender: 4.1 percent

The study was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.


Substance Abuse

Obama Unveils Federal Government Plans For Drug Abuse Treatment During National RX Summit

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president barack obama at 5th national rx drug abuse and heroin summit in atlanta

The federal government is serious in its drive against substance abuse, as it forwarded a proposal last February to significantly increase allocation for the enhancement of treatment programs for prescription drug abuse.

At the 5th National RX Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta last March 29, President Barack Obama revealed a number of plans and initiatives that the federal government is planning to unfold as part of the nationwide campaign against drug abuse. In his statement reported via a news release, Obama mentioned that opioid overdose has surpassed vehicular accidents in terms of the number of fatalities. “We’ve spent a lot of time and resources to reduce traffic fatalities. It’s been successful. We have to take a systematic look at the data and science and develop strategies,” Obama said.

The National RX Summit became an opportunity for the U.S. president to sit down with event organizer Operation UNITE, a non-profit organization that “leads education, treatment and law enforcement initiatives in 32 counties in southern and eastern Kentucky.”

Some of the government initiatives in line with this vision include the following:

  • Creation of a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder Parity Task Force
  • Integration of a disorder parity in Medicaid
  • Provision of $11 million in several U.S. states to prevent opioid overdose fatalities
  • Improvement of coordination between medical professionals and law enforcement agencies through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas initiative by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

In response to and support of Obama’s statement, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy reminded medical professionals about their role in fighting drug abuse. “Those of us who practice medicine can lead the way in ending the epidemic of prescription drug overdoses,” Murthy said.

[Image from RX Summit Facebook Page]