Testing It Up » September 2010

Monthly Archives: September 2010

Substance Abuse

Illegal Drug Use at Its Highest in Nearly a Decade

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An increase in the illegal use of marijuana, ecstasy and methamphetamine led to the highest rate in illegal drug use in nearly a decade, based on the annual report of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, released on Wednesday.

A report shared a 9 percent increase in drug use, something that Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was disappointed – but not surprised – about. Kerlikowske said: “I think all of the attention and the focus of calling marijuana medicine has sent the absolute wrong message to our young people.”

drugsThe report identified marijuana as the most commonly used drug.

The results of the survey, however, were viewed by Mike Meno, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, as proof that the war being waged by the government against marijuana is not working. Meno said: “It’s time we stop this charade and implement sensible laws that would tax and regulate marijuana the same way we do more harmful – but legal –  drugs like alcohol and tobacco.”

There was some good news in the report, though; it was shown that cocaine use has continued to decline. Cocaine use has reportedly dropped 32 percent from its peak in 2006.

The survey showed that about 21.8 million Americans, aged 12 and older, admitted to using illegal drugs in 2009. This is the highest rate of illegal drug use since the surveys began in the year 2002; the previous peak was in 2006, where over 20 million Americans admitted to illegal drug use.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Comedian Greg Giraldo Dies at 44

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The New York Times reported the death of Greg Giraldo, a comedian best known for insult humor. He was 44.

Greg Giraldo was born in New York in 1965 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia. He finished law at Harvard, and worked in a law firm before deciding to switch gears and shift to comedy. He toured the country as a stand-up comic, and went on to perform on radio and television. He had appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and was a radio regular on The Howard Stern Show.

Greg GiraldoGreg Giraldo was a mainstay on Comedy Central’s highly watched roast series, and ridiculed such celebrities as Pamela Anderson, William Shatner, and Chevy Chase. He also served as a judge on the NBC reality show Last Comic Standing.

Giraldo, however, had been a heavy drinker, although he has spoken of being sober in recent years. According to a report by The Home News Tribune of East Brunswick, New Jersey, Mr. Giraldo had suffered a drug overdose, based on reports from the New Brunswick police. He had been found unconscious in a hotel room in New Brunswick on Saturday and was brought to the hospital. He was scheduled to perform in a club that night.

The precise cause for Greg Giraldo’s death, however, has not been released. He died on Wednesday at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and a spokesman for the hospital said that the family has declined to release information regarding the cause of his death.

New York Health Screening

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Kids With Allergies Are Bullied!

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It is hard enough to deal with a condition that may potentially be fatal, but kids with allergies reportedly have something else to suffer through: being bullied. A feature on the Los Angeles Times shared a report published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma& Immunology that showed this fact.

school bullyingA survey conducted by researchers on more than 350 children and teens suffering from food allergies indicated that around a quarter of children – 24 percent – were bullied because of their condition. The participants had reported being harassed and teased. Of this group of children, 86 percent say that they have been harassed more than once, usually in school.

When the kids were asked for the reason why they were bullied, 79 percent said that it was because of their food allergies. The others said it was due to other things that are related to their allergies, such as having to carry medication, being separated during meal times and being given special treatment. One of the things that almost half of the children described having to suffer through is having the food that they were allergic to waved in their face. None of the participants, however, reported that they suffered an allergic reaction as a result of the bullying.

Another surprising fact is that while most of the bullies reported by the kids were their classmates, there were 18 participants who reported that even some of their teachers or members of the school staff teased them as well.

The kids understandably shared that the experience left them feeling embarrassed and depressed.

Los Angeles Health Screening

Early Disease Detection

Surviving Cancer: Jennifer Grey

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We shared the story of Patrick Swayze and his battle with pancreatic cancer in several previous posts, but this is the first time that we are doing one on his co-star in Dirty Dancing, one of the movies that made him an icon. Swayze starred in Dirty Dancing with Jennifer Grey, who, like Swayze, battled cancer.

Jennifer GreyGrey is part of this season’s line-up of celebrities in Dancing With the Stars, and she paid tribute to her late co-star by dancing to the song “These Arms of Mine,” a song from the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing. The performance and what it represented brought her to tears.

Grey has opened up about her own experience with cancer. In a feature on Access Hollywood, she shared that she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer while preparing to join the show. She shared that she went to get her neck checked, because it had been bothering her since figuring in a car accident in Ireland in 2007. Her doctor advised that her neck needed to be fused; but the operation found another problem. Her surgeon discovered a lump on her neck during the procedure to have her spine fused. Later, it was discovered that she had thyroid cancer.

Grey shared: “He said, ‘That doesn’t look right to me… you need to get that out… So a month after my fusion, I went and got half of my thyroid out and they said it’s probably fine and then four days later they called and they said [you’ve] got cancer. So they took the other half out at Christmas Eve.”

She has since undergone two surgeries, and is described as a cancer survivor.

Early Disease Detection

Gloria Stuart, Titanic’s Older Rose, Passes Away

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I will have to admit it, I watched the movie Titanic more times than I would dare count, and I still have not gotten tired of it. One of the more pivotal scenes in the movie involves lovers Jack and Rose, holding on to each other, with Jack assuring Rose that she will not “die like this” and live to be an old lady.

Gloria StuartThat is exactly what actress Gloria Stuart, who played the older Rose to Kate Winslet’s young Rose, lived to be – an old lady who has lived her life to the fullest.

Hollywood lost yet another star after Titanic actress Gloria Stuart passed away of a respiratory failure in her home in Los Angeles on Sunday night. This was confirmed by her daughter, Sylvia Thompson, according to a report by The Associated Press. She was 100 years old.

Gloria Stuart was a breast cancer survivor, and was diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago.

Her daughter, Sylvia, said the following of her mother: “She did not believe in illness. She paid no attention to it, and it served her well.” She went on to share: “She had a great life. I’m not sad. I’m happy for her.”

Gloria Stuart was an actress in Hollywood in the 1930s, retired in the 1940s, and resumed her career in the 1970s. She starred in such movies as “Poor Little Rich Girl” and “My Favorite Year.” The younger generation, however, best remembers her for playing the 101-year-old Rose Calvert in Titanic, a role that earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

Los Angeles Health Screening

Alcohol Testing Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Driver in DUI Crash that Killed Pitcher Nick Adenhart Convicted

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Back in April, we shared with you the sad news of Los Angeles Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart’s death. The 22-year-old had just pitched six scoreless innings and gave a great performance in a game against the Oakland A’s, but figured in a car crash involving a drunk driver.

Nick AdenhartA news report on the Silicon Valley Mercury News gave an update on the case, and shared that Andrew Gallo, the driver of the mini-van that ran a red light and struck the vehicle that Adenhart was riding in, was convicted on three counts of second-degree murder, and single counts of drunken driving, hit-and-run driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol and causing great bodily injury.

This is Gallo’s second DUI conviction, and he may face 50 years to life in a state prison. His sentencing has been set for December 10.

Nigel Pearson, the father of Henry Pearson, one of the three fatalities in the accident that also killed Nick Adenhart, shared: “What this case has shown is that the accelerator, the gas pedal on an automobile in the wrong hands is as dangerous as the trigger on a gun, and in the wrong hands, it can devastate the lives of many, many people.”

During the trial, prosecutors strived to show that Gallo had intentionally driven while drunk, without regard for human life, because he knew all too well that he can kill someone by doing that.

Gallo’s lawyer, Jacqueline Goodman, has announced that they will file an appeal, and said: “I think it’s tragic… I think there’s been a miscarriage of justice.”

Los Angeles Health Screening

Early Disease Detection

Canadian Teen Leads Efforts for Breast Cancer Awareness

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It is truly inspiring to hear about young people who are working in support of worthy causes. One such teenager is 17-year old Katie O’Connell, from Halifax, Nova Scotia. A feature on CBC News shares her story.

breast cancerKatie lost her mother and an aunt to breast cancer. Her aunt Eileen O’Connell died of breast cancer 10 years ago, while her mother, Mary Jane White, died of the same disease five years ago. It is therefore unsurprising that she is leading efforts towards raising awareness about the disease, and funds for breast cancer research.

The teenager shared the following sentiments with CBC News: “I want people to know what it’s like when someone you love is experiencing that, because it’s not only the person that has cancer but it’s almost as if [it’s] the entire family… So, I want people to do as much as they can and raise as much money as they can.”

She currently serves as the minister of volunteerism for the student government at Halifax West High School. In order to inspire her fellow students to join a fundraising effort called Run for the Cure, O’Connell wrote, directed and produced an inspirational video. It is hoped that the video will raise money for the annual fundraiser, which has been scheduled for October 3.

O’Connell’s video shows students who are holding up signs with names of loved ones that they lost to cancer, and sharing their reasons for participating in the event. O’Connell said: “It’s the one day that cancer doesn’t tear anybody apart. It’s just this huge group of people that are all there for one reason and it’s literally the best feeling.”

Alcohol Testing Celebrity Substance Abuse Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Next Stop for Lindsay Lohan: Rehab (Again)

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In a previous post, we shared with you the latest in the saga that is Lindsay Lohan, who was ordered to spend another 30 days in jail by Judge Elden Fox. Fortunately for her, that order was overruled by the supervising judge, and she ended up spending only 15 hours in jail and was allowed to post a $300,000 bond.

Lindsay LohanWe wondered about what will be next for Ms. Lohan in the rehab department; the question of alcohol consumption was addressed by an order to have her wear an alcohol monitoring device and to steer clear of establishments that mainly sell alcohol.

Another feature on People.com shared what was reportedly the actress’ next stop: rehab. Apparently, Ms. Lohan intends to voluntarily check herself into a rehab facility soon – despite the fact that she was released early from her court-mandated stay in the UCLA rehab, because the doctors felt that she no longer needed to be there. It now seems that was not exactly the best decision at that point, although we do not claim to have any medical expertise whatsoever and are just giving our two cents.

People shared the following statement, given to them by an unnamed source, who is described only as someone who is close to Ms. Lohan: “She will step up her treatment and do more than what she was previously ordered to do.” The source said that, this time around, the actress is serious about her recovery – although we will have to say that we have heard that before. Could this really be the point where Lindsay will turn her life around?

Early Disease Detection

September 27 Is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, gave a statement about the observance of National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on September 27, 2010 on the NIH website.

AIDS ribbonNational Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD) is observed in order to reflect on how HIV/AIDS has affected gay and bisexual men. At the same time, it serves as a time to recognize the invaluable contribution of gay and bisexual men to the development and the implementation of programs towards the prevention and treatment of the disease.

Fauci goes on to share that HIV/AIDS is still taking a “terrible toll” on gay and bisexual men. Since AIDS was first recognized in 1981, more than half a million from this group have been diagnosed with the disease, with more than 300,000 succumbing to it. Despite the fact that sexually-active gay and bisexual men made up a small percentage of the male population in the United States aged 13 years old and older, sexually-transmitted HIV among their group made up more than half of new diagnoses of HIV in 37 states in 2008.

Prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS among gay and bisexual men, however, has been challenging, mainly due to the fact that prejudice and discrimination make it difficult for them to have open access to prevention, treatment and care. Still, their contribution to HIV/AIDS research through participation in research efforts and clinical trials has been invaluable. Dr. Fauci expressed gratitude to gay and bisexual men “for their leadership in advancing HIV/AIDS research and their participation in studies aimed at controlling and ultimately ending the pandemic.”

NGMHAAD was launched by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) in 2008.

Substance Abuse

National Take Back Day Collects 1.5 Tons of Medicines

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September 25 was National Take Back Day, and it looks like the DEA was able to gather quite a load-ful of prescription drugs – all of 1½ tons, according to a feature by Houston Chronicle’s Cindy George.

prescription drugsThat’s a whole lot of drugs kept out of homes, and finally disposed of properly – instead of just sitting on shelves, being flushed down the toilet – or abused.

The feature showed a photo of a collection site in Pasadena, where Stephanie Eguia and Sanjay Gupta were shown receiving a bag of prescription drugs from 57-year-old Debbie Styron, who didn’t even need to get down from her car.

At the Spring Branch campus of the Houston Community College, officers wearing surgical gloves received the unwanted drugs. Robin Green had two 13-gallon bags full of pills and creams, something that would have meant trouble for him on any other day, as pointed out by George. On this day, however, having that many drugs on you is okay. Green, an engineer, shared where the huge stash of drugs was from: “This is from my house and mostly from my mother’s house… From her house, it’s probably at least 10 years’ worth. My mother’s 86, so she keeps a lot of stuff.”

Not everyone seemed to be impressed with the effort, though; one reader, carrying the name Oaxaca, commented: “What a waste of taxpayer money. You can flush your unused pills folks.” But that is just one opinion, and reader aurum79 applauded the effort by writing that aside from preventing prescription drug abuse, the effort is also a great contribution towards saving the environment: “Kudos to government, which protects all of us. I urge more funds for these kind of programs.”

Houston Health Screening