Testing It Up » January 2011

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Celebrity Substance Abuse Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Charlie Sheen Speaks Out: “I’m Fine”

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In a previous post, we shared that actor Charlie Sheen has voluntarily sought help for his issues and checked into a rehab facility. In an exclusive report, RadarOnline.com, one of the first to break the news regarding Sheen’s decision to go into rehab, shared that the actor had sent a text message to RadarOnline Senior Executive Editor Dylan Howard, around the time that the announcement was made.

Charlie SheenSheen reportedly said the following in the message: “I’m fine… People don’t seem to get it… Guy can’t have a good time and do his job also?”

Reports of the actor’s decision to go into rehab came after news that he had landed in the hospital after a wild party with porn stars, where he reportedly spend days smoking and snorting cocaine. RadarOnline reported further that Sheen was anemic, had an elevated white cell blood count, and was dehydrated.

A friend of Sheen’s had insisted, however, that he had been taken by ambulance early on Thursday to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for a hernia. He was released from the hospital Thursday night, after receiving treatment for what doctors suspected was an ulceration, according to the report.

Sheen was said to have been convinced by his father, Martin, as well as CBS, his employer, to seek help. CBS had announced that Sheen’s hit TV show, Two and a Half Men, was going on a production hiatus while Sheen tries to work on his issues.

The text message sent by Sheen to Howard was received at 4:23 pm PT. It was unclear as to whether he had already checked into the undisclosed rehab facility at the time that Howard received the message.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Singer Bruno Mars to Plead Guilty on Cocaine Charge

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A media report released on Friday revealed that pop singer Bruno Mars (real name Peter Hernandez) will plead guilty to the cocaine possession charge that stemmed from his arrest in Las Vegas in September of last year, according to an article by Reuters.

Bruno Mars mugshotClark County District Attorney David Roger revealed to the Las Vegas Review Journal that the sentence for the 25-year old singer will include a year of probation, 200 hours of community service, drug counseling, and a $2,000 fine.

Bruno Mars was arrested after a bathroom attendant at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas saw him with “a baggy of white powder,” that was later confirmed to be cocaine, after testing. He is supposed to be due in court for a preliminary hearing on February 4, but has waived his appearance. A new court date will be scheduled, where he is expected to plead guilty.

If the singer can complete his sentencing without getting into any more trouble, he can choose to withdraw his plea, and the case against him will be dismissed, according to Roger. Such an arrangement was common, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, in minor, first -time, drug possession cases.

Not counting the September cocaine-related arrest, Bruno Mars had a successful year in 2010. His collaboration with rapper B.o.B, “Nothin’ on You,” rose to the top of the pop charts last year. He also co-wrote the Travie McCoy hit “Billionaire,” and collaborated with Grammy nominee Cee-Lo Green on the song “F*ck You.” He then came out with his own solo hit, “Just the Way You Are.”

Las Vegas Background Screening


A Diet That Allows You To Eat Carbs

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We have all heard of low-carb diets such as Atkins and South Beach, which have gained popularity among those who are trying to lose weight. The way these diets are set up would make carbs seem taboo for anyone who would like to shed those extra pounds.

skinny carbs dietThe Skinny Carbs Diet, however, takes a different approach, as shared in a feature on HealthNews. Author Susan Brady pointed out that like calories, there are carbs “that are better for you than others” when it comes to weight loss. The Skinny Carbs Diet works around this concept, and allows people to still eat carbs even when they are trying to lose weight. The condition is that one has to eat only specific carbs, at a reasonable amount.

The basis for the Skinny Carbs Diet are resistant starches. These starches resist being broken down in the digestive tract, and are not absorbed by the intestine. When compared against regular starches, resistant starches deliver fewer calories per gram, while increasing satisfaction after meals at the same time. They can also help improve blood-sugar control, lower cancer risk, and promote healthy digestion.

Since resistant starches are not broken down quickly, the starch stays in the system, making one feel fuller. According to the results of a study conducted at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center for Human Nutrition, starch-resistant foods help people “eat less, burn more calories, feel more energized and less stressed, and lower cholesterol.”

So what carbs can you eat with the Skinny Carbs Diet? The feature mentioned focusing on potatoes, bananas, legumes, and certain breads and grains.

Substance Abuse

Bath Salt as Fake Cocaine Raises Alarm

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In a previous post, we shared the concern expressed by authorities over the abuse of bath salts, and reported that lawmakers in Mississippi and Kentucky were getting ready to take action by banning the sale of these powders, and that it has been outlawed in the state of Louisiana.

bath saltsAnother report on the Los Angeles Times talks about the growing concern of authorities over these little packets of powder, as these synthetic stimulants are essentially legal in the United States. Despite the fact that they are, strictly speaking, being marketed as bath salts, they are actually destined for abusers who would like to experience the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine use – legally. And while these bath salts are able to achieve this, they also present the same risks to its users (and abusers) as its illegal counterparts.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers revealed that revealed that poison control centers across the country fielded 235 “bath salts”- related calls last year, and have seen 214 cases so far this year. While there were no statistics presented, there were reports of deaths due to overdose, drug-induced suicides, or accidents, which could be attributed to the abuse of bath salts.

A few states have already taken action, by outlawing active ingredients present in the bath salts: methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and mephedrone, according to the LA Times. Aside from Louisiana, Florida, North Dakota, and Huntington, West Virginia, have outlawed the chemicals.

MDPV and mephedrone are listed as chemicals of concern by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and are legal at the federal level. Barbara Carreno, spokeswoman for the DEA, said: “At this point, we don’t have the numbers to justify scheduling them; we’re just looking at them.”

Florida Drug Screening

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Energy Drinks with High Caffeine Content = High Health Risks

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We have talked about alcoholic energy drinks, and the dangers that they pose, in a number of previous posts, and most of these discussions boiled down to the fact that caffeine and alcohol were not exactly a great combo. A feature on EmaxHealth, however, shared the results of a study which indicated that highly-caffeinated energy drinks – even in the absence of alcohol – can be dangerous as well.

energy drinksHealth risks that could be associated with non-alcoholic energy drinks were revealed by scientists from the University of Maryland School of Public Health and Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The researchers wrote, in part: “Energy drinks have become enmeshed in the subculture of partying… The practice of mixing energy drinks with alcohol – which is more widespread than generally recognized – has been linked consistently to drinking high volumes of alcohol per drinking session and subsequent serious alcohol-related consequences such as sexual assault and driving while intoxicated.”

Amelia Arria, a researcher at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, commented that people can – and do – mix highly-caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol on their own. Essentially, a ban on pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks may not have an impact, as people can simply put an energy drink and an alcoholic beverage together to create their own cocktail.

Arria said further: “It is also concerning that no regulation exists with regard to the level of caffeine that can be in an energy drink.”

The researchers recommended educating consumers, as well as encouraging consumers to proactively understand the health risks posed by energy drinks. They also recommended that healthcare professionals warn consumers about the dangers of mixing energy drinks with alcohol, and that manufacturers practice full disclosure regarding the caffeine content of their respective products.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Smoking Banned at CUNY

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The City University of New York (CUNY), the largest urban higher-education system in the country, followed in the footsteps of the University at Buffalo (UB) and Columbia University, after it voted in favor of banning smoking on all of its 23 campuses. UB had banned smoking in its three campuses last summer while Columbia approved a measure that prohibited smoking within 20 feet of buildings last month.

According to a report on The New York Times, the trustees of CUNY arrived at the decision on Monday. The move will impact all CUNY campuses, from the College of Staten Island to Lehman College in the Bronx.

no smokingMaking college campuses smoke-free is a trend that began five years ago, and it has gained momentum in recent months. According to the non-profit advocacy group American Non-smoker’s Rights Foundation, at least 466 college campuses across America have completely banned smoking, or have already passed resolutions that would implement a ban.

Advocates of instituting smoking bans at college campuses feel that anti-smoking rules impart to young people the importance of leading healthy lifestyles early on. Cynthia Hallett, the Berkeley, California-based Foundation’s executive director, shared: “It makes a lot of sense… My daughter is going off to college this year, and the campus is a student’s new home and work and play environment.”

The smoking ban, according to officials of CUNY, was prompted in part by the creation of the CUNY School of Public Health. While campuses will have until September 2012 to impose the new rules, they are not bound by that deadline and can forbid smoking earlier, should they wish to do so.

New York Health Screening

Substance Abuse

Unconventional Ways to Kick Your Smoking Habit

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We have mentioned quite often that smoking is one of the more difficult habits to get rid of, and there is no shortage of smokers who have tried to kick the habit, but failed. A feature on WebMD shared a few creative ways that other people have used to stop smoking, when everything else has failed.

quit smokingThe Workplace Challenge. Smoking cessation can be tied with competitive challenges based in the workplace, a method that worked for 34-year-old Melissa Gold of Washington, D.C. Having the boss’ support for the entire affair is an important factor; in the case of Melissa, the challenge in itself was the brainchild of her boss.

At the time of the six-month no-smoking challenge, Melissa worked for the Manhattan PR agency Bratskeir & Co. Smokers had $5 a day – the cost of a pack of cigarettes back then – taken out of their paychecks and placed in a quit-smoking fund for six months. This was matched by Bratskeir. The participating employees split the payment of anyone who faltered or got caught smoking.

Gold shared: “I think the final payoff came to around $2,000, plus he [the owner] took all of us out for a celebration dinner.”

Tough Love. Call it the quit-smoking boot-camp approach, if you will. This method based smoking-cessation programs on boot-camp strategies. Robert Brown, director of the How Quit website, shared: “I’ve found that quitting smoking is less difficult when you believe you can do it.  As a former Marine, I had the belief in myself and knew that I could do it on my own. But there are thousands, maybe millions of smokers who aren’t ex-military or highly disciplined and need help to quit.”

Other alternative quit-smoking methods included getting a new hobby, and using candies and mantras.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Soda Pot: Medical Marijuana in Soft Drinks

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Here’s what medical marijuana patients may look forward to: $12 sodas with a touch of THC.

Soon, patients who have been prescribed medical marijuana can take their medicines in the form of soft drinks that carry such brand names as Canna Cola, Doc Weed, and Orange Kush, according to a feature on Medical News Today.

Canna ColaCanna Cola is being marketed by Diavolo Brands. Its founder, Scott Riddell, revealed that THC dosage in the beverage will be “somewhere between 35 to 65 milligrams.” Riddell added further that the THC levels in their soft drink line are lower than those of other drinks in the market, and likened their products to that of “light beer,” when compared with other high-proof alcoholic beverages.

The cannabis-laced soft drink line is being developed by Clay Butler. Serving as the flagship product is Canna Cola. The other products are Doc Weed, which is similar to Dr. Pepper; lemon-lime flavored Sour Diesel; grape-flavored Grape Ape; and orange-flavored Orange Kush.

Butler said, however: “I don’t do drugs. Even though, personally, I’m not interested and I don’t think it’s right for me, I’m a firm believer that adults have an inalienable right to think, eat, smoke, drink, ingest, decorate, dress any way they choose to do so. It’s your life; it’s your body.”

The United States is among the countries where the use of marijuana for medical purposes has been legalized, although this does not hold true for all its states. Other countries that allow the use of medical marijuana include Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal, among others.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Which Substances Are Most Difficult to Quit?

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A feature on Science Control listed the seven hardest addictions to get rid of, and while the addictions on the top two spots on the list are not considered illegal, the others involved substances that are abused behind closed doors.

drugs, alcohol, cigarettesThe top two addictions that are hard to give up are Love and Potato Chips, in that order. While these two may seem rather harmless on the surface, anything done in excess can have adverse effects; in the case of these two, the feature mentioned disastrous consequences that ranged from putting on a few pounds to suicide.

The rest of the addictions on the list are like a litany of sorts for everything that is not good for the body, especially when they are abused: cigarettes, heroin, Valium, alcohol, and cocaine.

According to the feature, even heroin and ethanol addicts voted cigarettes as one of the more difficult habits to kick, and this has been proven true all too often, with the number of smokers who continue to try to quit – but fail. Among women, pregnancy is one major motivating factor for giving up the habit; some of them are able to give it up for good, but there are those who successfully stay off the cigarettes until they give birth, then find themselves smoking again.

Alcohol, as well as the other substances on the list, is abused by a number of people – with disastrous, and sometimes fatal – consequences.

We would like to get your opinion as well – which of the following substances are hardest to quit? Is it alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, steroids, or prescription drugs? Let us know by casting your vote in this Poll.

Substance Abuse

Commonly Abused Prescription and OTC Drugs: Pain Relievers

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Pain relievers are an example of how medicines that are ideally developed to help people can instead bring them harm, because of abuse. A feature on WebMD shared helpful information regarding pain relievers that are usually abused, along with photos of these medicines.

pain relieversCodeine and morphine. Morphine is a medicine that is usually prescribed to alleviate severe pain, while codeine is prescribed to treat milder pain. On the streets, these medicines are more commonly known through their “aliases,” which include “Captain Cody” and “Cody” for codeine, and “M” and “Miss Emma” for morphine. The medicines Oramorph and Aviniza both have morphine.

Oxycontin , Percocet and Percodan. These medicines share a common active ingredient: the opioid pain reliever oxycodone. Despite having a common ingredient, however, the medicines are not identical; they all should not, however, be taken without the supervision of a doctor. They should also not be taken along with alcohol, barbiturates, antihistamines or benzodiazepines. These combinations can be lethal and life-threatening. Many spam e-mails advertise selling these medicines online.

Oxycontin is referred to as “oxy,” “O.C.,” or “oxycotton” on the streets, while Percocet or Percodan are also called “percs”.

Vicodin, Lortab and Lorcet. Vicodin is yet another medicine that is usually the subject of advertising through spam e-mails, by shady online drug stores. They contain the opioid hydrocodone and acetaminophen; Vicodin is also known by the street names “vike” and “Watson-387.”

Opioids are known to cause drowsiness and constipation. According to NIDA, it can also depress breathing, depending on the amount taken. They are to be taken only by patients who have been prescribed the drug.