Category Archives: Real Drug Stories

Addiction Real Drug Stories

SAMHSA Launches Opioid Recovery Mobile App Challenge

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The world is now on the offensive when it comes to drug addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. In the U.S., the federal government continues to fund programs and create initiatives towards this goal.

One exciting and recent initiative involves the use of technology to help in opioid addiction recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) plans to develop a mobile application that aims to “provide opioid recovery support for patients receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.” While the Opioid Recovery Support app is still not available, the organization is tapping onto the skills of mobile app developers by launching an app-making contest.

SAMHSA believes that mobile technology can have a significant impact on the lives of opioid addicts who are currently in recovery. The benefits of mobile apps on other diseases may also be translated to aid in addiction recovery measures. “Just as there are apps to help people with diabetes manage their disease, people in recovery from opioid use disorder could benefit from an app that provides features and information that support their recovery,” said SAMHSA in a statement.

The project is looking into five areas where a mobile app could be of effective use:

  1. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), specifically on checking for dosages and side effects of recovery drugs such as methadone and naltrexone.
  2. How to live through MAT, such as parenting and family involvement
  3. Prevention of relapse through habit formation, engagement in healthy activities, or involvement in recovery support meetings.
  4. Motivational tools to support relapse prevention, such as calendar alerts, access to family and hobby photos, and link to motivational videos and online resources
  5. Management tools to help manage doctor’s appointments, treatment times, and work-life schedules

Legal residents in the U.S. 18 years old and above may take part in the competition. Entries may be developed by individuals, teams, or organizations of up to 100 employees.

The contest will run until May 28, 2016. Prizes available are as follows:

  • First prize: $15,000, and a complimentary entry to the 2016 AATOD conference in October to present the app
  • Second prize: $7,500
  • Third prize: $5,000
  • Honorable mention: $1,000 for each of the five areas / insights

For more information, visit the Hackathon page and read the contest rules.


Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Bath Salts Compound Contaminates Ecstasy Pills in Music Festivals

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If you think the illicit drug ecstasy is already a dangerous substance by itself, this bit of news might take you by surprise.

A recent study conducted by researchers from New York University discovered that variants of ecstasy — also known as MDMA or Molly — have been found to be mixed with equally harmful substances, including bath salts. “Ecstasy wasn’t always a dangerous drug, but now people are taking garbage without realizing it,” said study co-author Joseph Palamar via a news item.

The research team based their findings on hair drug testing conducted on volunteers who came from electronic dance music (EDM) festivals and ravers in famous New York clubs. The study respondents admitted to have ingested ecstasy but said that they didn’t have exposure to bath salts. According to the hair drug test results, close to half of the people were tested to have butylone, which is commonly found in bath salts.

These results have shaken the very people who are exposed to this kind of substance. “If you look at the major DJ websites, they’re always circulating stories warning about specific batches of MDMA/Molly/ecstasy that are known to be dangerous and tainted…. But hearing about bath salts in MDMA is alarming,” said WKDU-FM EDM director Chris Burrell.

The research team believes that their study could be a good reference for people who enjoy music festivals and other public gatherings. “Kids are going to do what they’re going to do. You’re not going to stop them… But if they feel that they have to use drugs, the kids have to do it safely and they need as much information as possible,” Palamar added.

The study and its findings were published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal.


Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Cleveland Latest Municipality to Raise Tobacco Buying Age

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Cleveland City Council passed legislation recently to raise the minimum age for those who can buy tobacco, smoking products and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21. It is the latest in a long list of localities to raise the legal tobacco purchasing age.

Under the new legislation, a first offense would be a fourth-degree misdemeanor for the vendor, punishable by 30 days in jail or a $250 fine. Offenses after that would be second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by 90 days in jail.

The penalties apply only to vendors.

About 3,800 people under 18 try smoking for the first time each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A report published earlier this year by the Institute of Medicine found that raising the minimum age for tobacco products would “delay initiation of tobacco use by adolescents and young adults.”


Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Concerns Raised Over Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine in Canada

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Cocaine laced with respiratory depressant Fentanyl has sparked concerns after it caused people to accidentally overdose recently in the province of British Columbia.

Police in the Vancouver suburb of Delta say two people were hospitalized recently after ingesting cocaine laced with fentanyl, which cannot be seen, smelled or tasted when it is used to cut other drugs.

“There’s certainly been a couple of overdoses over the last year or so,” said Acting Sgt. Sarah Swallow. “Again none of them were fatal but certainly a couple of overdoses that can possibly be linked to fentanyl in some way.”

“But this is the first time that we’ve seen two in such a short period of time with both people saying they’ve taken the same drug.”

It’s not yet known where the cocaine was obtained.

Early symptoms of a fentanyl overdose can include severe sleepiness, slow heartbeat, trouble breathing, cold, clammy skin and trouble walking or talking.


Medical Marijuana Real Drug Stories

Legalizing Marijuana May Help Combat Obesity

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Legalizing marijuana — at least medically — may have a positive effect on people’s waists, a new study has found.

Researchers at Cornell University and San Diego State University pored over 12 years of data and found that states that legalized marijuana for medical purposes had a 2% to 6% drop in the probability of obesity.

The drop in obesity rates is likely because fewer young people are drinking alcohol since marijuana is legally accessible to them, the researchers say. They also point out that older patients may experience increased mobility because marijuana helps them deal with aches and pains and this increased mobility helps to combat obesity.

“These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that medical marijuana laws may be more likely to induce marijuana use for health-related reasons among older individuals, and cause substitution toward lower-calorie recreational ‘highs’ among younger individuals,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

“The enforcement of MMLs (medical marijuana laws) is associated with a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity. Our estimates suggest that MMLs induce a $58 to $115 per-person annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs.”


Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Could Changing Dry Counties to Wet Counties Cut Down on Meth Labs?

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Counties that ban the sale of alcohol (dry counties) tend to have higher numbers of meth labs, a new study by a group of economists from the University of Louisville suggests.

Kentucky in particular attracted the attention of the economists, as the state has a lot of dry counties, and also has a rising number of meth labs. A White House report says that the number of “meth lab incidents” jumped from 297 in 2007 to 696 in 2009.

Researcher Jose Fernandez and his colleagues discovered when they looked at the data that “dry” counties, where alcohol sales are banned, had twice as many meth-lab seizures (when accounted for population) when compared to “wet” counties, which allow alcohol sales.

Based on this analysis, the research team estimated that if all dry or “moist” counties (where only limited areas within a county are allowed to sell alcohol) were converted to wet counties, the number of meth labs in those areas could fall by more than a third.

Although the economists only draw a correlation between dry counties and meth labs, the team speculated why this correlation exists and came up with the following reasoning:

  1. Bans on alcohol sales makes booze relatively expensive and makes meth a more affordable alternative.
  2. Drinkers who get alcohol from illegal sources are more likely to hear about other illicit products, like meth, than they would if they bought alcohol legally from a supermarket or other alcohol retailer.
  3. In dry counties, the punishment for getting caught with drugs is not that much more severe than getting caught with illegal alcohol.

While the data is limited to Kentucky, previous studies show that the spread of meth labs appears similar in other states with dry countries.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility Real Drug Stories

Use of HIV Drug by Pregnant Women Linked to Lower Bone Mass in Newborns

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A drug used to reduce the transmission of HIV between a mother and fetus may have caused babies to develop lower bone mineral content than babies whose mothers used different drugs to treat their HIV and prevent it from transferring to their unborn children, according to a National Institutes of Health study.

After testing 143 babies, researchers found that pregnant women who received the drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate in their third trimester of pregnancy gave birth to babies whose bone mineral content was 12% lower than that of babies who were not exposed to the drug in the uterus.

This is significant because proper mineral content helps strengthen normal bones.

“At this point, we can say that those who care for pregnant women with HIV and their children should be aware that prescribing tenofovir to pregnant women could be a concern for their infants’ bones,” said George K. Siberry, M.D., the first author of the study and medical officer with NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Although the study authors described the results as concerning, they did not recommend drastic changes for pregnant women using tenofovir, as the drug has proved successful as part of drug regimens that treat HIV in pregnant women, and often is used to prevent HIV transmission to babies. The researchers say their is a need for additional studies to understand bone health and development among children born to women who took tenofovir during their pregnancies.

“Families should keep in close touch with their physicians to monitor their child’s bone development,” Siberry added.

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Real Drug Stories

Scientists Push to Study Psychedelic Drugs for Possible Medicinal Benefits

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Drugs such as LSD, ecstasy or magic mushrooms could have potential medicinal benefits for people suffering from mental disorders, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction, a new report claims.

Specifically, ecstasy (MDA) could be used to treat PTSD,  magic mushrooms (psilocybin) could reduce addiction, and LSD or peyote might be used treat an entire list of anxieties.

Dr. Evan Wood, who authored the new report, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, stated that renewed scientific research “is generating new knowledge” about a class of potential medicine that could be used to benefit patients for a few choice conditions, if conducted in a safe, strictly controlled and professional way.


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Real Drug Stories

Company Wants to Make it More Difficult to Counterfeit Pills

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A three-dimensional barcode that cannot be seen or touched by people could be the answer to stopping counterfeit medication.

Developed by Sofmat, a United Kingdom company, and engineers at the University of Bradford, the process would imprint each tablet with a series of minuscule pinpricks, which could later be read using a scanner to ensure it is real medication and it matches the correct batch and type of pill prescribed to the patient.

This could prove highly significant, as the World Health Organization estimates that up to 10% of medicines globally could be counterfeit, with two-thirds of pills bought online being either fake or sub-standard.

Dr Phil Harrison, the managing director of Sofmat, said the company is in talks with firms in Switzerland and China.

“It allows more complexity than existing anti-counterfeit systems,” Harrison said. “Using a four-pin array we can have more than 1.7m configurations.” Using more pins, and taking into account the recycling of barcodes as batches are used up, the system could allow for “20bn to 30bn variations” so each pill has its own unique barcode.

The scanning device at the prescribing end of the chain is expected to be completed by November 2016, said Harrison.

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Students More Likely to Try New Drugs in Specific Months

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Students tend to try different drugs at certain times of the year, a new analysis has found.

College students tend to try stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin for the first time in the months of November, December and April. The reason these months stand out could possibly have to do with college kids believing these drugs will help them with their examinations, even though there is no medical data to back up the belief.

The data comes from an analysis of 12 years of government survey data.

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