Testing It Up » May 2010

Monthly Archives: May 2010

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Ardi Rizal: 2 Years Old, Certified Smoker!

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When I heard about this now controversial video that is sparking an outrage on the web, I could hardly believe it was true. For a little more than a minute, the video shows two-year-old Ardi Rizal from Musi Bayuasin in Sumatra, Indonesia, huffing and puffing and spewing smoke like a pro. It is hard to fathom what kind of havoc this must be bringing into his young body.

According to his mother Diana, Ardi is “totally addicted. If he doesn’t get cigarettes, he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall. He tells me he feels dizzy and sick.” It is not exactly a surprising sensation to feel if you have gotten used to puffing 40 cigarettes a day, which is how much Ardi reportedly consumes; the thing is, you expect to hear such a complaint from an adult trying to kick the habit as opposed to a toddler.

His mother has tried to get him to quit smoking, but she has been unsuccessful so far. His father Mohammed said, though: “He looks pretty healthy to me. I don’t see the problem.”

It certainly is funny how this story came out in the days leading to World No Tobacco Day, which this year is focusing against marketing cigarettes to women. What about two-year-old kids?

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Does Zach Randolph Finance Drug Dealers?

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Zach Randolph, forward for the Memphis Grizzlies, has been implicated in a case involving marijuana in Indiana. According to a report by The Associated Press, a friend of Randolph’s was caught driving the NBA star’s SUV with a cooler containing bags of marijuana.

Zach RandolphAlthough the Indianapolis police has said that Randolph himself is not yet the target of an active investigation, it has been revealed that Randolph has been named as a “financier” to drug dealers, supplying them with marijuana, vehicles and a house in a probable cause affidavit filed in Marion County Superior Court. Investigators claim that the informant is “credible and reliable.”

Randolph’s friend, 32-year-old Arthur Boyd, was pulled over while driving Randolph’s 2008 Cadillac Escalade for a traffic violation. He was followed by officers from a home in Indianapolis which, according to informants, was being used as a distribution point for marijuana. The affidavit indicted that officers found the following in the SUV: 90 grams of marijuana divided into bags in a cooler placed behind the driver’s seat, an empty suitcase that smelled of marijuana, and ammunition in a hidden compartment.

Boyd and Randolph have been friends for years, as revealed by Randolph’s lawyer John Tompkins. Boyd runs errands for Randolph and takes care of his home in Indianapolis during the NBA season.

Boyd has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and was released on $5,000 bond. Randolph, for his part, has denied being involved in the drug activity. His lawyer, Tompkins, dismissed the fact that police were following up on informants’ tips by saying that informants are “notorious liars.”

Health & Wellness

Johnson & Johnson Not Fast Enough on Manufacturing Issues

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In a previous post, we shared with you the voluntary recall made by Johnson & Johnson on more than 40 over-the-counter (OTC) children’s medications, including children’s Tylenol, Benadryl, Motrin and Zyrtec.

While there were no reports of illnesses or fatalities associated with the medicines that were recalled in April, the story behind it has not exactly ended. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Johnson & Johnson did not improve its manufacturing practices as fast as they should have, according to a feature on the Los Angeles Times.

Johnson and Johnson recallApparently, the FDA has spoken to senior officials of Johnson & Johnson as early as February, urging them to improve their manufacturing processes and to address consumer concerns faster. Among the issues that Johnson & Johnson had, aside from the April recall, were having to pull off 8 million bottles of children’s medicines from the market in September 2009 due to a quality control issue as well as consumer complaints about a musty odor emanating from medicine bottles that made some consumers sick.

The FDA also revealed that Johnson & Johnson were not as forthcoming as they should be about consumer complaints. The company is required to inform the FDA about complaints within three days, but it took them a year to do that.

At this time, Johnson & Johnson is being investigated by the criminal division of the FDA to see whether any of their lapses will result in the need for prosecution, as revealed by FDA principal deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein.

Los Angeles Health Screening

Health & Wellness

Xtreme Eating Awards 2010: Take a Bite!

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The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has done it again, making known to America the “Xtreme” caloric contents of certain dishes found in restaurant chains. While some of these establishments have become the epitome of comfort food, CSPI serves to remind consumers that comfort food is as different as you can get from healthy food.

Around this time last year we brought to you the recipients of the Xtreme Eating Awards 2009 – and the time has come to see which of your fave hang-outs have dishes that made it to the latest list – one of ours did. Drum rolls please… we give you the awardees of the Xtreme Eating Awards 2010.

Chocolate Tower Truffle CakeAt the top of the list of what CSPI termed as “dis”- honorees is the Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes from Bob Evans. If one only makes food-related decisions based on one’s taste buds, there will certainly be nothing wrong about hotcakes stuffed with cinnamon chips and cream cheese-flavored filling and topped with cream sauce, whipped cream and powdered sugar. But when you factor in the 1,380 calories and 34 grams of saturated fat into the equation – and what a steady diet of that will mean to your body – then it may be best to steer clear of such a dish.

Other dishes that made it to the list are the Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak from California Pizza Kitchen, the Bacon Cheeseburger from Five Guys, the Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo from P.F. Chang’s, and the Pasta Carbonara with Chicken and Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake from our all-time favorite, The Cheesecake Factory.

We sure wish bad-for-you didn’t have to taste so good.

Alcohol Testing Celebrity Substance Abuse Drug Testing Substance Abuse

Lindsay Lohan to Wear Alcohol Monitoring Device

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Actress Lindsay Lohan finally made it to court on Monday, where Judge Marsha Revel ordered that she be fitted with an alcohol monitoring device and subjected to random drug and alcohol testing once a week. Photos of Ms. Lohan during the proceedings showed her in a rather somber mood.

Lindsay LohanIn a video from ABC News, Judge Revel rattled of a few things for Ms. Lohan to comply with in order to remain out on bond. Mentioned first was that she will be prohibited from taking any alcoholic beverage; that she will need to wear a SCRAM device, to be fitted within 24 hours after the proceedings; that she needs to undergo weekly random drug testing in Los Angeles; and that she needs to attend all her alcohol classes “as scheduled”.

Judge Revel specified that the only time that Ms. Lohan can reschedule an alcohol class is if it coincides with the conduct of a random drug test.

Lohan’s lawyer Shawn Chapman Holley spoke on behalf of the actress and explained to the court that her client had projects lined up – photoshoots and a movie were mentioned – that may be impacted by the fact that she had a scram device on and that she had to submit herself to random drug testing specifically in Los Angeles. Holley mentioned that the actress had intentions to travel to Texas to shoot her movie. Unfortunately, the judge did not seem too sympathetic to Ms. Lohan’s concerns and suggested that the actress may have to delay these projects, and insisted that the testing needs to be done in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Health Screening

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Floyd Landis Admits Doping – and Says He’s Not Alone

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Cyclist Floyd Landis was at one point on top of his game; one of his achievements was winning the 2006 Tour de France, a title that he was eventually stripped of after being accused of doping.

Floyd LandisFor quite some time, he has denied that he ever used performance-enhancing drugs, at least until recently when he sent e-mails to cycling officials where he admitted to doping, according to a report on The New York Times. In these e-mails he provided details about his doping practices; the thing is, he said that he is not the only one who is doing it – and then dropped some names.

According to Landis, he was able to witness other cyclists inject EPO, a blood booster, and undergo blood transfusions in order to increase endurance. He also said that they took steroids and the human growth hormone.

Landis implicated some of his close friends in his allegations. On the list are Lance Armstrong; United States road-racing champion George Hincapie; three-time Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer; and five-time United States time trial champion David Zabriskie. Landis wrote that he was laying everything out in the open as he wanted to “clear his conscience” and no longer wanted to be “part of the problem.” He, however, admitted that he had no tangible proof to support his claims other than a journal that he kept.

Lance Armstrong, who is cycling at the Tour of California which began on Sunday, said that Landis no longer had credibility: “He has no proof. It’s just our word against his, and we like our word. We like where we stand.”

New York Health Screening

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Processed Meats Can Lead to Increased Health Risk

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Be wary of that hotdog sandwich with everything on it and bacon-all-you-want meals on breakfast buffets, eating these processed meats regularly can be a one-way ticket to heart disease and diabetes. This is what a study conducted by Renata Micha of the Harvard School of Public Health and her colleagues revealed.

processed foodsOn the list are bacon, salami, sausages and hotdogs; basically, anything behind the deli counter that has undergone some sort of processing – smoking, curing, salting and the addition of chemical preservatives – are suspect, according to Micha. The researchers are pointing to salt and chemical preservatives contained in processed meats as the reason for the increased risk for the two previously-mentioned health conditions.

The study focused solely on heart disease and diabetes; it did not look at high blood pressure or cancer, conditions that are also linked to meat consumption. The study of Micha and her colleagues is called a meta-analysis, the term used to refer to an analysis of other researches.

Intake of unprocessed meat – whether it is beef, pork or lamb – did not seem to lead to an increase in risk for heart attack and diabetes, the researchers found.

The recommended diet normally calls for reduced meat intake. Based on the findings of the study, those who eat one serving or less of processed meats per week have less risk. Those who ate only unprocessed red meat did not have higher heart attack or diabetes risk.

Drug Testing Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Drug Addiction Signs As Observed by Paul and Cheryl Vanacore

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We featured Lancaster couple Paul and Cheryl Vanacore in a previous post. They made the unusual decision to share their experience with their son Joshua – who is serving a prison sentence for drug-related robberies – in order to help other families. These experiences included the warning signs they noticed before they learned about their son’s addiction.

The Vanacores noticed that Joshua was unable to pay his car loan on time. He then confessed to experimenting with painkillers and heroin, but their family doctor said that Joshua did not seem to be addicted.

heroin injectionBut more signs started to come out, among them money missing from the house. Paul Vanacore turned to an over-the-counter drug test, which revealed that Joshua was “clean”. The reason, however, was not what they thought; drugs have already cleared his system at the time he took the test.

Paul Vanacore shared: “He said, ‘I swear to God.’ That phrase will resonate in my head forever… ‘I swear to God, I’m not doing anything. I swear to God I didn’t take any money.’” The clean test made them hopeful and they believed their son. One day, though, they noticed that Joshua was wearing a hoodie on a hot day; they asked him to roll up his sleeves – and found needle marks on his arm.

His father got him into a 5-day rehab program, but he went back to heroin after it was over. He got into trouble with his dealers when he couldn’t pay; initially, his father bailed him out. Soon, though, Paul Vanacore  stopped giving him money – so he resorted to robbery.

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Parents Share Experience with Drug Addicted Son

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A post on Drug Free Homes shared a rather unusual story. While celebrities may do everything in their power to hide instances related to drug use, a couple from Lancaster decided to do the exact opposite.

Paul and Cheryl Vanacore of Lancaster described learning about their then 20-year-old son Joshua’s drug addiction as “living in a nightmare.” A nightmare is not exactly something one would want to share, but when they read about an attempted suicide by a man and a woman in their 20s who were addicted to heroin on The Buffalo News, they decided to share their story.

VanacoresA feature on The Buffalo News shares the Vanacores’ experience with their eldest son Joshua, who is now serving a ten-year sentence for robberies that he committed in order to get money to pay for his heroin habit.

Joshua Vanacore is not the kind of kid that you would imagine would end up having a heroin problem. He moved with his parents and younger brother to Lancaster from California when he was in the third grade. He played soccer as a kid and graduated from Lancaster Central High School in 2003. His mother Cheryl remembers: “He was a good boy. He came home every night for dinner, he came home every night for curfew. We never had any issue like that — never, ever in his whole life. I just can’t even believe what happened.”

Joshua started experimenting with painkillers Lortab and OxyContin after finishing high school. He was introduced to heroin by a friend, who presented it as a cheaper alternative to popping pills – something that he needs more of to get high.

Health & Wellness

High Cost of Food Allergy (Part 2)

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Aside from the additional costs that families dealing with food allergies have to incur, another financial challenge comes in the form of opportunity loss. More often than not, half of what would ordinarily be a two-income household will have to give up his or her career in order to closely monitor a child suffering from dangerous allergies – or at the very least cut back on working hours. Dr. Tamara Perry, a researcher at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, shares: “The loss of income and the additional costs associated with food allergies can have a significant financial impact.” food allergyWhile it may not be easy to manage all these challenges, there are steps that can be done. First, there needs to be a clear diagnosis on the allergy, in order to do away with unnecessary or unplanned expenses. While this in itself is a challenge and can be rather costly, it may have benefits in the long term. Parents are encouraged to get in touch with such advocacy groups as the Food Allergy Initiative and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network for information on research into food allergies and food intolerances. Once a clear diagnosis has been made then it will be easier to plan one’s grocery list. Since specialty foods for people with allergies are usually more expensive, comparing prices and buying in bulk can lead to savings here and there. The website Kids With Food Allergies provides tips on where to find cheaper specialty foods as well as allergy-free recipes.