Category Archives: Real Drug Stories

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.


Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Survey Shows Troubling Trend Among Connecticut Youth

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Photo courtesy of Grenco Science

Photo courtesy of Grenco Science

A new survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Tobacco Products reveals that some youths who haven’t tried regular cigarettes have already tried e-cigarettes or plan to try them.

The survey was conducted in four Connecticut high schools and two middle schools and it found that one in four high school students and 3.5% of middle school students have tried an e-cigarette. Among the students who said they had not used e-cigarettes, 26% of these youths said they might try them in the future.

The study was published Dec. 9 in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

“We were surprised so many kids were using these products,” study lead author Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, said. Krishnan-Sarin is an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University. “The other thing which both surprised and worried me is that adolescents who have never smoked cigarettes are initiating use of e-cigarettes.”

Real Drug Stories

Uruguay’s Marijuana Policy Dodges Bullet to Stay on Track

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marijuana legalization alaska oregon district of columbiaA presidential run-off election in Uruguay on Sunday threatened to derail the country’s progressive marijuana policy. But, Frente Amplio candidate Tabaré Vázquez beat opposition candidate Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou by 53.6% to 41.1%.

Vázquez has promised to continue implementing marijuana regulation that sees the drug legalized, regulated and taxed by the federal government. Lacalle Pou, on the other hand, had said that if he were to become president, he would repeal major parts of the law, including government-regulated sales to adults.

“Sunday’s presidential election result safeguards Uruguay’s historic marijuana legalization” said Hannah Hetzer, Policy Manager of the Americas at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The Uruguayan people determinedly chose the presidential candidate who will continue the country’s progressive policies, including the roll out of the world’s first national legally regulated marijuana market.”

On December 10, 2013, the Uruguayan parliament approved legislation making their country the first in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults.

Since then, the government has been rolling out the implementation of the law, which allows for domestic cultivation of six plants per household, cannabis social clubs, and licensed sales to adult residents in pharmacies.

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.

Addiction Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Eating More Hummus Can Help Cut Down on Smoking

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Eating hummus, the spread and dip made from chick peas, can help cut down on smoking … just not how you think.cigarettes

Since tobacco farming is becoming less and less lucrative thanks to fewer people smoking, tobacco farmers are now switching to chick peas, as chick pea sales continue to rise thanks to more and more people eating hummus.

The anti-smoking group truth, has produced a video encouraging people to keep eating hummus in the hopes that more tobacco farmers will make the switch.

Tobacco smoking is still the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S.

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.”

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?

Real Drug Stories

Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC Say “Yes” to Legal Marijuana

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Marijuana’s march toward acceptance by the general public took another big step Nov. 4, as Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC voters decided to make it legal for recreational use in those regions. marijuana legalization alaska oregon district of columbia

The Oregon and Alaska measures would legalize recreational pot use and allow for retail pot shops similar to those already operating in Washington state and Colorado, the two states that voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use back in 2012.

The District of Columbia, on the other hand, will not see any retail outlets opening, but will allow adults 21 and older to possess up to two ounces (57 grams) of cannabis and grow up to six plants. The D.C. measure had been strongly favored to pass but could still be halted during a review by the U.S. Congress, which has constitutional oversight over the capital.

More pot referendums are expected during 2016 presidential elections.

“In 2016 we’re going to push the ball forward in several states until we end prohibition,” Leland Berger, a Portland attorney who helped write the state’s new law, said.