Testing It Up » February 2012

Monthly Archives: February 2012

Substance Abuse

Students at Connecticut High School Show Positive Trend in Drug-Alcohol Surveys

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Students who were then freshmen in Lyme-Old Lyme High School were challenged by a local drug and alcohol coalition early last year to be the first class whose alcohol use will not increase once they reach the 10th grade.

The class, indeed, stayed true to their commitment, based on the results of a youth survey conducted in December 2011. The students, now sophomores, first took the survey as eighth graders in 2009.

The results of the 2011 survey indicated that there was no dramatic increase in alcohol use since the 2009 survey, according to Karen Fischer, a Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut prevention coordinator for the Youth Service Bureau in Lyme.

In addition, a comparison between the 2009 and 2011 surveys also indicated a decrease in lifetime and recent alcohol use across all grade levels that were surveyed. One change that was noted was that while the 2009 survey indicated that rates of alcohol use among 10th graders at Lyme-Old Lyme were higher than those of their peers in the region as well as the nation, this no longer held true for the 2009 survey.

The anonymous, online substance abuse survey was developed by the Southeastern Regional Action Council (SERAC), which conducts student surveys in various towns in the region. Fisher shared further that the survey is funded by a grant, and is issued every two years for the purpose of evaluating the challenges and successes of substance abuse prevention in the region.

Key findings from the survey will be presented by the Lyme-Old Lyme Community Action for Substance Free Youth (CASFY) at a community forum on Wednesday, February 29.

Drug Testing Substance Abuse

U.S. Navy Expands Drug Testing Program

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The United States Navy, known for its strict implementation of a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drug abuse, has announced that it was expanding its drug testing program to include additional prescription medications.

The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) announced on Thursday, February 23, that the Navy Drug Screening Laboratories (NDSLs) will start testing for more prescription drugs in May.

The three NDSLs that will start testing additional prescription medications by May 1st are located in Great Lakes, Jacksonville, and San Diego, according to a message released January 31st by the Department of Defense (DoD). The NDSLs operate under the oversight of the NMCPHC, which “provides leadership and expertise to ensure mission readiness through disease prevention and health promotion.”

Cheri Baird, deputy Navy drug testing program manager of the NMCPHC, shared: “The change is in response to an initiative from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in November 2010, which recommended expansion of drug testing to include the most common prescription drugs of abuse.”

Baird shared further: “We have a projected implementation date [May 1] for the expansion of our drug-testing panel at all DoD drug-testing laboratories to include hydrocodone and hydromorphone [both semi-synthetic opioids]. Testing for prescription medications is not new for our program. We currently test for codeine, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and amphetamines. We will now add two more compounds to our panel.”

Prescription drug abuse occurs when medication is used outside of its intended purpose, beyond the time period for which it was prescribed, in excess of the prescribed dosage, or when a service member uses medications prescribed for someone else.

Substance Abuse

Teen Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise

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A 2011 study conducted by the Los Angeles Times indicated that drug overdoses have overtaken traffic accidents as a cause of death, and that more people die from abusing such drugs as oxycontin, vicodin, and xanax, when compared against heroin and cocaine.

CBS47.com shared an unfortunate reality: prescription drug abuse usually starts among the young – and right in one’s own home.

In conversations with young adults who strayed from the straight and narrow into that of prescription drug abuse, CBS47’s Kathryn Herr learned that even good families, who come from the best neighborhoods and send their children to the best schools, find themselves in the midst of the horror that is teen prescription drug abuse.

Among those who shared their experiences is Lindsay Winter, a cheerleader and athlete at Bullard High School in Fresno. She shared: “I was a great student I was a hard worker and the anxiety and pressure from high school became too much and once i got that release, it was done from there on… I hid it pretty well for the first year; my parents didn’t know. I continued to go to school. I continued to go to work. But it just began to take my life over before I knew that it was.”

Lindsay was offered oxycontin by her boyfriend, and eventually followed the path that many addicts took. When simply taking the pill did not give her the high she wanted, she began crushing oxycontin and injecting herself with it. This eventually led to using heroin, which was much cheaper.

Lindsay eventually landed in prison, but she called that experience as “the change” that she needed. She now speaks to high school students, in an effort to spread awareness among teen prescription drug abuse at an early age.

Early Disease Detection

Heart Attacks in Women May Not Include Chest Pain

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Any heart attack dramatization on TV and in the movies usually involves chest pain, with the character shown as clutching his or her chest. In reality, however, heart attacks are not always preceded by chest pains, as indicated in a new study.

A new large study found out that many patients who are taken to hospitals for heart attacks never experienced chest pain. As a result, they are not as likely to be given aggressive treatment.

The study, which involved 1.1 million people and was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, determined that the absence of chest pain associated with a heart attack may be especially risky for younger and middle-aged women, as 42 percent of women admitted to hospitals for a heart attack never experienced chest pain.

Women were also found to be more likely to succumb to a heart attack, with the mortality rate for women in the study determined to be nearly 15 percent, as opposed to only 10 percent for men.

Dr. John G. Canto, director of the chest pain center at Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Florida and one of the authors of the study, shared: “We think part of the reason is that women who are presenting with a heart attack might not have that classical presentation… so they may not be recognized as having a heart attack, and possibly some of these patients may present too late to receive lifesaving procedures.”

Substance Abuse

Tennessee Church Organizes Lockup Versus Teen Drug Abuse

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A church in Campbell County, Tennessee, has organized an 8-hour lockup for teens in an effort to spread awareness to local teens regarding the dangers of drug abuse.

Campbell County has had its fair share of the problem of drug abuse among teenagers. Based on TBI records, the number of arrests in Campbell County related to drugs and narcotics tripled between 2009 and 2010.

In order to address this community-wide concern, Lifepoint Church at Campbell County organized an 8-hour lockup for teens at Campbell County High School on Friday, February 24. The lockup served as a way for kids to learn about the dangers associated with drug abuse. It was attended by around 300 high school and middle school students from Campbell and Anderson County.

Kelly Jo Wright of the Lifepoint Church shared: “Campbell County has had such a black eye for the last 10 years… from the meth to the crime rate. One thing led to another and continued to escalate until finally somebody had to do something.”

The Lifepoint Lockup featured live music and entertainment, although the focus still remained to be the more serious topics of drug use, bullying, and other pressures experienced by teens.

Wright shared further that it was her desire to focus the battle against drugs on the younger generation, as a way to put an end to crimes related to drug use. She said: “It’s their families that’s (sic) affected. It’s their parents that are using (drugs), it’s their aunts and uncles that’s (sic) going to jail.”

Health & Wellness

Fattest States in America: Do You Live in One of Them?

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It is said that obesity is becoming an epidemic in America. The Fat 2011 report from the Trust for America’s Health indicated that Americans are fat – and getting fatter, with obesity rates increasing in 16 states over the last year.

Do you know where your state stands? WebMD shares the fattest states in America – see if yours is on the list.

Michigan. Michigan is among the 16 states that saw an increase in obesity rates over the past year, and ranks 10th in the fattest states in America countdown, with an obesity rate of 30.5%

Arkansas. While the obesity epidemic is nationwide, it is said to be more prevalent in the South, among blacks and Latinos. Arkansas is the first state that passed a law to deal with the obesity epidemic; Arkansas parents receive reports on the body mass index (BMI) by age of their children on an annual basis, as well as nutrition and activity tips. Despite these efforts, however, Arkansas still ranks 9th among the fattest states in America, with an adult obesity rate of 30.6%.

South Carolina. An adult obesity rate of 30.9% places the state of South Carolina as the 8th fattest state in America. The state was placed in the spotlight in 2009 after a mother was arrested for neglect, because her 14-year old son weighed 555 lbs. The state, however, is making an attempt to address the issue by promoting better food and fitness in schools.
Other states in the countdown are as follows:

7th – Oklahoma
6th – Kentucky
5th – Louisiana
4th – Tennessee
3rd – West Virginia
2nd – Alabama

And the fattest state in America is – Mississippi.

Drug Testing

Parents Test Their Kids for Drugs at Home

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A new program initiated and supported by the Missouri Police Chief’s Charitable Foundation is giving parents all the support they need to be able to drug test their kids within the privacy of their own homes. The program called ‘Test My Teen’ was launched last week at Wentzville with at least 45 law enforcement agencies joining across Missouri.

In the program, free testing kits will be made available after parents register online. Parents will have to shoulder shipping costs.

The kit works by filling the cup with urine and in just a few seconds, parents will be able to determine if their kid is into drugs as well as the type of drug their kid is hooked on. All the processes involved will be made inside their own homes.

Wentzville Police Chief Lisa Harrison said that through the program, parents are empowered especially when it comes to the issue of teen drug abuse. “Parents need to be aware. It seems like parents are always the last to know if the child is doing something wrong. This gives parents a tool to take control. To be proactive in helping their kids stay clean,” says the chief.

The identities of parents who ask for drug test kits will be kept confidential that even police officials won’t get any information about where the kits go.

During the Town Hall meeting where the program was discussed, it gained a number of positive feedbacks from parents and the whole community.

The ‘Test My Teen’ program comes after the St. Charles County was able to tally 138 drug-related deaths in the last five years.  Organizers say that this is the best opportunity for parents to safeguard their kids from the deadly habit of experimenting with drugs.

Early Disease Detection

Taylor Swift Asks Cancer Patient to be Her Date to ACM Awards

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Taylor Swift will have an extra-special date to this year’s Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards: a young man battling cancer.

Kevin McGuire, an 18-year-old varsity football player from New Jersey, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 13. He had been in remission since 2010, but recently suffered a relapse. His big sister, Tori, came up with the idea of asking Taylor to go to the Sterling High School prom in Somerdale, New Jersey, and started the Facebook page “Taylor Swift Take Kevin McGuire To Prom!” to make that happen.

Tori wrote: “Kevin is the kindest, most noble 18 year old a person could even fathom meeting, and throughout his ups and downs Kevin never even questioned ” why me?” Nothing, and I mean nothing brightens Kevin’s day more than Taylor Swift. Kevin deserves more than anyone a special event in his life.. and the one thing he wants is to go to prom with Taylor Swift!”

Tori also mentioned that, incidentally, the prom falls on Kevin’s birthday.

Unfortunately, Taylor was unavailable for Kevin’s prom in June – but boy, did she come up with a wonderful alternative! Taylor wrote the following on Facebook: “Kevin, I’m so sorry but I won’t be able to make it to your prom… But I was wondering, the ACM Awards are coming up. Would you be my date? Love, Taylor.”

To that invitation, Kevin responded by saying: “I don’t know what else to say, I was just trying not to throw up! I have cancer. Cancer doesn’t have me. Taylor, I would love to go with you.”

Kevin is currently undergoing treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The ACM Awards is set for April 1st.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Gerald Butler Home From Rehab

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A spokesperson representing actor Gerald Butler revealed that the star has just completed a stint in rehab.

Butler’s rep gave the following statement: “Gerard has completed a successful course of treatment and has returned home in good health… We will not be making any further comment at this time.”

The 42-year-old star of 300 had checked into the Betty Ford clinic three weeks ago, after realizing that he was becoming reliant on prescription drugs to manage pain associated with injuries he sustained after figuring in a surfing accident in December.

It was said that he wanted to seek help and enter rehab even before developing a full-blown addiction to drugs.

The actor’s problems reportedly began in 2006, when he struggled with managing pain during the shooting of the physically demanding movie 300. Gerald Butler also “developed issues” with cocaine, but for this particular rehab stint, Butler allegedly focused on dealing with issues related to pain management and physical injuries.

The Scottish actor had also been open about having problems with alcohol abuse in the past. In an interview with Red Bulletin, Butler shared: “I used to drink until I couldn’t remember anything… I was just mad for it and on a death wish. It was madness.” He was also quoted as saying: “One or two drinks was never enough for me. I was a foot-on-the-floor-all-the-way- drinker, so it had to go. I don’t miss it. Now it’s as if I never had a drink in my life.”

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Citrus Fruits May Lower Stroke Risk in Women

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A compound found in such citrus fruits as oranges and grapefruits has been associated with lower stroke risk in women. A new study was able to identify flavanoids in citrus fruits, known as flavanones, which seem to provide the most protection against strokes. Flavanoids are antioxidant compounds that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors; they are also present in chocolate and red wine.

The study found that women whose diets included the most amount of flavanones had 19 percent lower risk of suffering from a blood-clot-related stroke, when compared against women who had the lowest intake of the compound.

Researcher Kathryn M. Rexrode, MD, MPH, of the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, shared: “Our study supports the conclusion that flavanones are associated with a modest reduction in stroke risk.”

Rexrode and her colleagues at Harvard worked with researchers from Norwich Medical School in the United Kingdom in an attempt to achieve a better understanding of the impact of six specific sub-types of flavonoids on stroke risk. Their efforts consisted of performing an analysis on 14 years’ worth of follow-up data on nearly 70,000 female nurses, who participated in a nationwide study on women’s health.

The participants were asked to fill out questionnaires detailing the foods they ate, upon enrollment into the study and every four years after.

Rexrode clarifies, however, that there is a need for further research in order to confirm their findings. “I would certainly not recommend that anyone take flavanone supplements based on this research,” he said.