Testing It Up » July 2011

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Substance Abuse

Death Toll Rises on Prescription Drug Abuse

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The abuse of such illicit substances as cocaine and heroin may prove to be fatal, but just as these substances may take away the life of a person, so can the abuse of prescription drugs.

According to a feature on GBP News, the deaths that can be attributed to the abuse of prescription drugs in the state of Georgia has been on the rise, as more and more people turn to them. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released the results of an analysis of autopsy data, which indicated a 10 percent increase in deaths due to prescription drug abuse.

Cassandra Price, executive director of the Division of Addictive Diseases in the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities , shared: “When I’ve treated people who are addicted to, let’s say Xanax or oxycodone, it’s all about, well, I’m in pain and my doctor gave me this… There’s this level of justification and a level of denial that’s very, very hard for people to come to grips with and admit that there’s actually an addiction.”

Price shared further that the results of a recent national study reflect the same trends as that observed in Georgia, in as far as the occurrence of deaths due to prescription drug abuse is concerned: “[The study found] a 400 percent increase in the number of people seeking treatment, age 12 and above, for prescription pain relievers.”

The feature shared that more than 700 people had died due to overdose in 2010, three-quarters of which were due to abuse of prescription drugs, which are mostly narcotic pain killers.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Four Major Types of Antidepressants

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A person suffering from severe depression may find relief in taking antidepressant medications under the supervision of a mental health professional. Antidepressants act to stabilize the levels of natural chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters.

The four primary antidepressants prescribed for depression, according to a feature in HelpGuide.org, are:

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) work on the brain chemical called serotonin. They are the commonly prescribed medications over the four types since, they have less adverse side effects. Effects include increase in suicidal thoughts, hostility, and anxiety. Increase in the risk of bone loss and fractures are common for patients 65 and older.  SSRIs are available as Prozac, Luvox, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa.

Atypical Antidepressants target other neurotransmitters either alone or in addition to serotonin. Wellbutrin blocks the reabsorption of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Trazodone, Cymbalta, Effexor, and Remeron affect both norepinephrine and serotonin (which is why they are sometimes called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs). Side effects may vary such as nausea, dry mouth and blurred vision.

Tricyclic antidepressants work by inhibiting the brain’s reuptake or serotonin and norepinephrine. They also partially inhibit the reabsorption of dopamine. Because the tricyclics have such a broad mechanism of action, they tend to cause more side effects than the other classes of antidepressants. They may cause irregular heart rhythyms. These drugs include Elavil, Anafranil, Norpramin, Sinequan, Tofranil, Pamelor, Aventyl, Vivactil, and Surmontil.

MAOIs (Monoamine oxidase inhibitors) are the oldest class of antidepressants. Mixed with food and medicines containing tyramine can cause abrupt rise in blood pressure, which may lead to stroke. MAOIs include Nardil, Parnate, Marplan, and Emsam.

Early Disease Detection Pregnancy & Fertility

Understanding Post-Partum Depression

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Mothers who just gave birth usually go through an emotional rollercoaster ride – mood swings, lack of appetite, sleeping problems, and more. This is a normal experience for all mothers and usually last for a few weeks. This is often referred to as the baby blues.

However, if the baby blues go on for months and already affect the ability to take care of oneself and the baby, this may be Post-Partum Depression.

According to a feature on HelpGuide.org, the symptoms of post-partum depression include mood swings, crying jags, sadness, insomnia and irritability.

Anxiety is prominent in post-partum depression. One excessively worries about the baby’s health and welfare. One may be troubled with disturbing thoughts of injuring the baby. There is lack of concentration, motivation, energy and pleasure. There are repeating feelings of death or suicide, lack of worth and guilt.

Post-partum depression usually starts soon after childbirth and builds up steadily over a period of several months. There is also a possibility of delayed onset; so a depressive episode within six months of childbirth should also be considered.

Women with a history of depression or experienced severe PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) or pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder have an increased risk of developing post-partum depression. Stressful incidents during and after pregnancy such as pre-natal problems, difficult delivery, premature or even still birth, can also elevate one’s risk factor. Finally, marital problems or lack of social support may also lead to greater risk of having post-partum depression.

It is important for sufferers to seek professional treatment. Psychotherapy can be very effective. It does away with concerns of taking medications while breastfeeding. Estrogen replacement therapy, used in combination with an antidepressant, may help. If marital problems or feeling of inadequate support is experienced, marriage counseling may be of great benefit.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Amy Winehouse: Another Musician Dead at 27

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There seems something tragic about musicians, so full of talent and of promise, dying at such a young age. British singer Amy Winehouse was recently found dead in her home in north London, at the age of 27; but she was not the first talented musician to have lost their her life at that same age.

A feature on the International Business Times shared the sad end to the lives of some of these stars – who are Forever 27.

Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix is touted as “the greatest electric guitarist in musical history.” On September 18, 1970, he was found dead in London, allegedly after taking Vesparax sleeping pills that were prescribed to his girlfriend at that time, Monika Dannemann. The autopsy report revealed that he had asphyxiated on his own vomit, due to a combination of sleeping pills and wine. He was 27.

Janis Joplin. Janis Joplin’s death followed a mere sixteen days after that of another music legend, Jimi Hendrix, on October 4, 1970. Joplin was considered as a pioneer in what was then a male-dominated music genre: rock. Joplin died of a heroin overdose that may have been coupled with the effects of alcohol. Her will provided $2,500 to throw a party in the event of her demise, and one was thrown on October 26; on the menu was brownies laced with hashish. She was 27.

Kurt Cobain. Kurt Cobain rose to fame as the lead singer and guitarist of the band Nirvana. He had struggled with heroin addiction and depression, and began using drugs at an early age. On April 8, 1994, his body was discovered in his home in Lake Washington, although it was estimated that he had been dead since April 5. He had a shotgun wound in his head, and a high concentration of heroin, as well as traces of Valium, was found in his body. He was 27.

Health & Wellness

Xtreme Eating Awardees 2011 Revealed!

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The Center for Science in the Public Interest reveals yet again this year’s awardees for the Xtreme Eating Awards.

This year’s awardees seem to be centered on meat and dairy – and anything and everything that will definitely tickle you palate. It certainly is too bad that these wonderful things to eat can be anything but good for you.

Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake (Cheesecake Factory). We start off with one of our favorite chains – Cheesecake Factory, and their yummy cheesecakes. Cheesecake in itself is already a decadent dessert (or snack, however which way you want to take it), but this dish certainly goes for the Xtreme. Each sky-high slice of heavenly goodness consists of two wedges of red velvet cake, alternating with cheesecake, and topped with cream cheese frosting, white chocolate shavings, and whipped cream.

All told, each serving packs in 1,540 calories, and three days’ worth, or 59 grams, of saturated fat.

Monster Bacon ‘N Beef Cheeseburger (IHoP). At the International House of Pancakes, there is certainly more to chow down on, beyond, well, pancakes. The Monster Bacon ‘N Beef Cheeseburger is one such example. The dish is described as follows: “two thick, juicy, Bacon ’N Beef burger patties smothered with American and Provolone cheeses on a Romano-Parmesan bun.” While this description is definitely drool-worthy, the associated calorie counts may make you have second thoughts: each serving contains 1,250 calories and 42 grams of saturated fat, plus 1,590 mg of sodium.

Other dishes that made it to this year’s CSPI list are the Fried Cheese Melt (Denny’s), Farmhouse Cheeseburger (Cheesecake Factory),  Gotta Have It PB&C Shake (Cold Stone Creamery), and Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs with Fettuccine (Applebee’s).

Substance Abuse

Colorado Among Top States for Drug Use in the United States

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A federal survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Organization (SAMHSA) placed marijuana, cocaine and alcohol use in the state of Colorado as among the highest in the country.

A feature on The Huffington Post shared details regarding the report associated with the survey, which revealed that the number of young adults in Colorado who admitted to using marijuana was 38 percent, a number which is 9 percentage points higher than the national average of 29 percent.

In addition, use of illicit drugs in the state was three percentage points higher than the national average of 8 percent, at 11 percent.

The report, State Estimates of Substance Use and Mental Disorders from the 2008-2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, was prepared by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), RTI Inernational, and SAMHSA.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health collected information on the use of the following illicit drugs: marijuana or hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and the abuse of prescription drugs such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives, for non-medical purposes.

Specifically, for the 12 years old and older age group, 8.4 percent admitted to using illicit drugs in the past month, in 2008-2009; this is higher than the figure for 2007-2008, which was pegged at 8 percent.

The states with the highest drug use for those aged 12 and older included Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Lady Gaga Describes Cocaine as “The Devil”

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Anyone having a conversation with Howard Stern is expected to say some pretty interesting things (to say the least), and when Lady Gaga graced Stern’s radio show on Monday, listeners were able to hear just that.

Billboard.com shared the audio for the entire interview, which lasted for about an hour. Stern and Lady Gaga touched on a number of things, ranging from sex, drugs, and money. Yet again, Lady Gaga admitted to having a drug habit in the past, but shared how much she regretted doing cocaine, calling the substance simply as “the devil.”

A feature on NME.com also shared the following excerpt from the interview, where the singer declared herself as strong enough to not need these substances: “I think that I was lonely and there was something about the drug that made me feel like I had a friend… I regret every line [of cocaine] I ever did. Don’t ever touch it. It’s the devil.”

She also admitted to doing ecstasy.

When asked about what serves as her inspiration, now that she is no longer on mind-altering substances, she remarked: “Whatever my v–ina whispers to me, I say ‘yes’… inspiration, it doesn’t come all the time.”

Her talent and her fame as certainly taken her places, but when asked about the money associated with all that success, the singer responded by saying “I really don’t give a f—k about money at all.” She then went on to share that life for her hasn’t really changed that much: “I just came from my apartment in Brooklyn that’s smaller than this studio.”

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Treatment Drug for Heroin Addiction Also Being Abused!

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A pill that is meant to help heroin addicts get rid of their habit is now providing the exact opposite: it is apparently being used by people to mimic that heroin-induced high.

A report on KOB.com shared information provided by an unidentified source, who revealed that the drug Suboxone, which should be used to help heroin addicts with their substance abuse issues, is being used as an alternative to heroin instead. He explained: “Suboxone, from we understand, is giving addicts the same feeling the same high (as heroin).”

The trafficking of Suboxone is turning into big business on the streets, with prices going as much as $15 to $25 per pill.

Alcohol Testing Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

California Teen Dies After Sleepover; Girls Reportedly Drinking Vodka

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A 14-year-old girl from Santa Rosa was found dead in her bedroom on July 10, following a weekend sleepover where she and three friends were said to have consumed vodka mixed with soda.

A CBS News report identified the girl as Takeimi Rao. Lt. Dennis O’Leary of the Sonoma County sheriff’s office revealed that Rao had hosted a sleepover on Saturday night; she had apparently taken a bottle of vodka from the kitchen, and may have poured it into an empty plastic water bottle.

While it has not been proven as a certainty, O’Leary believes that the girls may have been mixing vodka and soda, saying “We believe they were drinking alcohol… Right now we are investigating the death as suspicious, but we think it may be accidental.”

Rao’s mother recounted that early on Sunday morning she found two of the girls throwing up. The girls told her that they had food poisoning from the dinner that they had; Rao’s mother helped clean them up, and then put them to bed. After about an hour, however, Rao and the other girl also began vomiting, and the parents of two of the girls eventually picked them up.

The authorities told the girls’ parents to take them to the hospital as a precaution.

The girls told investigators that Rao had passed around a strange-tasting soda, but they did not know exactly what was in it.

An autopsy was performed Monday, and it may be two weeks before the results of the autopsy, as well as toxicology tests, will be available.

Alcohol Testing Substance Abuse

Drinking Can Affect Memory of Teens

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Parents always worry about the effects of alcohol and drugs on their teens. In a recent study, it is revealed that teen girls may be facing a major risk of affecting their memory due to binge drinking. This is due to the fact that girls’ brains develop earlier than boys, thus making their brains more vulnerable to the dangers of binge drinking.

A feature on BBC News shared that the study involved 27 male and 13 female participants who engaged in binge drinking. They were asked to take neurophsychological tests and “spatial working memory;” the same tests were also given to 31 males and 24 females who do not binge drink.

The results were compared using MRI scans. The study team found that teenage girls who binge drink had less brain activity in several brain regions compared to non-drinking teenage girls, who also took the same brain tests.

Binge drinking among young women is defined as consuming more than three pints of beer, or drink more than four glasses of wine, while men who binge drink consume four pints of beer or a bottle of wine. Despite this difference, men who binge drink were not affected to the same extent as the women.

Dr. Susan Tapert, professor of psychiatry at the University of California and lead author of the study, “Male binge drinkers showed some, but less, abnormality as compared to male non-drinkers. This suggests that female teens may be particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of heavy alcohol use.”

The study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.