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Friday, November 30, 2012

ATOD Weekly Recap - Week-ending November 30th

Moderate alcohol intake can benefit health

The holiday season is nearly upon us, and with it comes extra opportunities for holiday cheer in the form of alcoholic drinks. Wines, holiday craft beers and festive sparkling beverages, as well as a wide variety of spiked concoctions, await us as we make our way through the season's gatherings.  Everyone knows the health risks of eating the buttery turkey and stuffing, potatoes, rolls and pies at Thanksgiving, followed by a steady, calorie-rich slide all the way through to the New Year, when we all revisit the annual fee payment for our gym memberships.  But what about the alcohol? Should we try to restrict our alcohol consumption along with watching our calories, especially during the holidays?

Most definitely, says Dr. James T. Willerson, president and medical director of the Texas Heart Institute and a practicing cardiologist and research scientist. Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can have a negative impact on health.

"It can actually cause heart-related problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heartbeats and cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle)," he said. "Also, remember that the average drink has 100 to 200 calories that often add body fat, which can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease."

A body of research exists, however, that suggests moderate alcohol consumption actually can lower the risk of stroke, especially in older people. Moreover, a number of studies conducted over the past 30 years suggest that those who consume moderate alcohol amounts have a lowered rate of cardiovascular disease, including lower instances of myocardial infarction (heart attacks).  The key seems to be in the HDL cholesterol. Coronary heart disease involves cholesterol plaque buildup in the arteries, inflammation and the formation of clots. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) can transport the cholesterol from the artery walls back to the liver so it can be recycled or eliminated out of the body. Some trial studies indicate that moderate alcohol intake increases HDL, which aids in lowering cholesterol buildup in the arteries, thus lowering the risk of coronary heart disease.  Also, alcohol is a natural blood thinner, says Dr. Alan Rubin, a neurologist with Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center. "In this sense, alcohol functions in the same way that aspirin, heparin, Coumadin and other such drugs function," Rubin says. "Blood thinners like this help prevent heart attack and stroke."  The key word is "moderate." Rubin points out that research indicates that one to two drinks for women and two to three drinks in men can be preventive for strokes and heart attacks. Any more than that becomes likely detrimental to health, including possible damage to the liver and other organs.

"Plus, it seems that the diets of people who drink a lot are not so good," Dr. Rubin says. "They tend to consume more salt, more cholesterol, less vitamins. These predispose a person to have a stroke. So, this becomes a lifestyle issue."

Viewpoint: Are Doctors to Blame for Prescription-Drug Abuse?
Prescription painkillers are creating a massive public-health crisis. Since 1990, deaths from unintentional drug overdoses in the U.S. have increased by over 500%. Most of this rise can be attributed to prescription painkillers, which now kill more people more than heroin or cocaine combined. Where are all these pills coming from? Not Mexico. Not all from those “Florida pill mills.” Much of those pills are coming from prescriptions generated by doctors like us who are seeking to help our patients with real pain. It’s true: conscientious and well-trained doctors are partially to blame for the rapidly rising death rate among thousands of Americans every year from prescription pills. Read more:

A Vaccine to Curb Addicts' Highs
I met Shirelle as she entered treatment for cocaine addiction at the height of the crack epidemic in the 1980s. An ancient-looking African-American woman who was in fact in her late 30s, she met my gaze with a look that I had seen all over the blighted neighborhoods of Detroit: a disturbing combination of twitchy facial movements and inert, vacant eyes. Feeling ashamed and suicidal about how her addiction was destroying her family, she had entered treatment—out of desperation, not with any confidence that it would help her. Shirelle had already been through rehab, counseling and 12-step meetings, to no avail. She spoke slowly because her lips were badly burned from her crack pipe, but her direct question was easily understood: "Isn't there anything else?" "Not really," I responded.  As an expert in addiction treatment, what depresses me is that a quarter-century later, I would still have to give her the same answer. But another possibility is now on the horizon: a vaccine for addiction to cocaine and other stimulant drugs. Read more here.

NJ Bans Health Care Facilities From Flushing Unused Prescription Drugs

A law signed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie bans health care facilities from improperly disposing of prescription medications, by discharging them into public sewer or septic systems. Before the law goes into effect, state officials must devise guidelines for the proper disposal of unused medications, and health care institutions must present compliance plans for approval. Penalties for facilities that violate the law will start at $1,000, CBS Philly reports. Each subsequent violation will bring a fine of $2,500. “The improper disposal of unused medications is a direct threat to human health and the environment,” bill sponsor State Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman said in a news release. “It poses long-term health consequences and the potential for rampant abuse of drugs, especially among teenagers. This law establishes, and makes health care workers accountable to, the safest disposal of unused drugs.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research has shown that pharmaceuticals—including prescription drugs—are present in water and may cause environmental harm. “Although there is no current evidence that these pharmaceuticals in the environment are responsible for any negative health effects in humans, keeping our water clean is an important public health goal,” the CDC notes.

One-Half of Buprenorphine-Related Emergency Department Visits for Nonmedical Use

Slightly more than one-half (52%) of the estimated 30,135 buprenorphine-related emergency department visits in the U.S. in 2010 were for nonmedical use of the drug, according to data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). Approximately one-fourth of these visits, in which buprenorphine was involved as either a direct cause or a contributing factor, were related to seeking detoxification and 13% were for adverse reactions. The estimated number of emergency department visits related to the nonmedical use of buprenorphine has more than tripled since 2006. SOURCE:  Adapted by CESAR from data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2010: Selected Tables of National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits.

Study Finds High Rate of Underage Drinking

One-quarter of 12-to-20-year-olds say they drank alcohol in the past month, according to a new government report. Almost 9 percent said they purchased their own alcohol the last time they drank. Buying and consuming alcohol is prohibited for anyone under age 21 in the United States. The new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found 26.6 percent of persons ages 12 to 20 drank alcohol in the past month. Rates of underage drinking were highest in Vermont (37 percent). Utah had the lowest rate, at 14.3 percent, HealthDay reports. “Underage drinking should not be a normal part of growing up. It’s a serious and persistent public health problem that puts our young people and our communities in danger,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde said in a news release. “Even though drinking is often glamorized, the truth is that underage drinking can lead to poor academic performance, sexual assault, injury and even death.” The report found New York had one of the highest rates of underage youth who illegally purchased alcohol (15 percent). That rate was 2.5 percent in New Mexico, and 2.6 percent in Oregon and Idaho.

New Jersey Makes Synthetic Marijuana Ban Permanent

New Jersey has made its temporary ban on synthetic marijuana permanent, state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced Monday. The state’s Division of Consumer Affairs banned the drug in February, for 270 days pending public input, The Star-Ledger reports. Synthetic marijuana was sold under brand names including K2, Spice and Kush, at convenience stores, gas stations and shops that sell smoking paraphernalia. The state has already permanently banned bath salts, another popular synthetic drug. Short term effects of synthetic marijuana include loss of control, lack of pain response, increased agitation, pale skin, seizures, vomiting, profuse sweating, uncontrolled or spastic body movements, elevated blood pressure, heart rate and palpitations. The drug can also cause severe paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and increased agitation. “These synthetic poisons, once offered as a so-called ‘legal high’ by shady retailers, are now permanently off the market in New Jersey – and the numbers indicate our ongoing ban has led to a decline in their reported use,” Attorney General Chiesa said in a news release. “These drugs have grown in popularity nationwide, despite their alarming and catastrophic side effects. Today they are permanently on record as being just as illegal as cocaine or heroin.” In July, President Obama signed legislation that bans synthetic drugs. The law bans harmful chemicals in synthetic drugs such as those used to make synthetic marijuana and bath salts.

As energy drinks grow in popularity, some are calling for more study
Caffeinated energy drinks, heavily marketed to young people, have exploded in popularity in recent years, with the market growing by triple digits and projected to reach $20 billion in sales next year.  But new questions are being raised about their safety, and the lack of government oversight of these popular beverages.  Reports released last week by the US Food and Drug Administration bring to 13 the number of deaths possibly connected to two popular brands of the drink, Monster Energy and 5-Hour Energy, since 2009. Federal officials had previously linked 7,000 emergency room visits to caffeinated energy drinks between 2004 and 2009. The reports do not mean that the drinks caused any deaths — just that people drank the beverages before falling ill — and it’s unclear at this point what might cause the drinks to be dangerous. But the reports have led critics, including two US senators, to call for federal regulators to take a closer look at the drinks. Click here to read the rest of the story.

20 percent of US adults experienced mental illness in the past year, report says
One in 5 American adults aged 18 or older, or 45.6 million people, had mental illness in the past year, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): Mental Health Findings report presents results pertaining to mental health from the 2011 NSDUH, the primary source of statistical information on the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco by the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States aged 12 years or older. Conducted by the federal government since 1971, the survey collects data through face-to-face interviews with approximately 65,750 people aged 12 years or older nationwide, at the respondent's place of residence.
The rate of mental illness was more than twice as high among those aged 18 to 25 (29.8 percent) than among those aged 50 and older (14.3 percent), the report said. Adult women also were more likely than men to have had mental illness in the past year (23.0 percent versus 15.9 percent), it said.  Mental illness among adults aged 18 or older is defined as having had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance use disorders) in the past year, based on criteria specified in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association.
The 2011 NSDUH also shows that 11.5 million adults (5 percent of the adult population) had serious mental illness in the past year. Serious mental illness is defined as mental illness that resulted in serious functional impairment, which substantially interfered with or limited one or more major life activities.  The rates of mental illness remained stable between 2010 and 2011.
“Although mental illness remains a serious public health issue, increasingly we know that people who experience it can be successfully treated and can live full, productive lives,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Like other medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, the key to recovery is identifying the problem and taking active measures to treat it as soon as possible.”
The report says that among adults with mental illness in the past year, about 4 in 10 adults (38.2 percent of adults with mental illness) received mental health services during that period. Among those who had serious mental illness in the past year the rate of treatment was notably higher (59.6 percent).  The report also notes that an estimated 8.5 million American adults (3.7 percent) had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year – among them 2.4 million (1.0 percent) made suicide plans and 1.1 million (0.5 percent) attempted suicide. Those in crisis or knowing someone they believe may be at immediate risk of attempting suicide are urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to http:/ The Suicide Prevention Lifeline network, funded by SAMHSA, provides immediate free and confidential crisis round-the-clock counseling to anyone in need throughout the country, everyday of the year.  According to the report, rates for substance dependence or abuse were far higher for those who had mental illness than for the adult population which did not have mental illness in the past year. Adults who had mental illness in the past year were more than three times as likely to have met the criteria for substance dependence or abuse in that period than those who had not experienced mental illness in the past year (17.5 percent versus 5.8 percent). Those who had serious mental illness in the past year were even more likely to have had substance dependence or abuse (22.6 percent).  The report also has important findings regarding mental health issues among those aged 12 to 17. According to the report 2.0 million youth aged 12 to 17 (8.2 percent of this population) had experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. A major depressive episode is defined as a period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had at least four of seven additional symptoms reflecting the criteria as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In addition, the report finds that young people aged 12 to 17 who experienced a major depressive episode in the past year have more than twice the rate of past year illicit drug use (36.0 percent) as their counterparts who had not experienced a major depressive episode during that period (17.4 percent).  The complete survey findings from this report are available on the SAMHSA Web site at

Obamacare Provides Significant Reform On Substance Abuse Treatment
Drug addiction and substance abuse have become increasingly significant issues in North America.  In certain situations, this is even considered to be an epidemic.  The American Psychological Association maintains that for a person to have an addiction, they must have dependence coupled with tolerance.  This dependence can be either psychological or physical, but the real danger lies with increased tolerance of a drug typically associated with addiction, because it forces the person to consume larger amounts of the drug to achieve the same effect. The Office of National Drug Control Policy also holds that prescription drug abuse is rapidly growing in the United States.  Because prescription drugs can be obtained legally, many people who take these drugs recreationally believe they are safer than illegal drugs.  However, this has caused a drastic spike in the amount of young people that begin to use drugs. The Center for Disease Control has categorized this type of abuse as an epidemic.  The Obama administration has included a specific prescription drug abuse prevention plan to the National Drug Control Strategy to help educate, monitor, and enforce policies to help deal with the growing popularity of prescription drug abuse. 
Click here to read the rest of this article.

Alcohol Intake Depletes Dermal Antioxidants

Alcohol consumption significantly reduces the level of protective antioxidants in the skin, leading to faster sun burning. Simultaneously consuming antioxidant-rich food and drinks may help to mitigate this effect, according to a study.  Researchers at the Center of Experimental and Applied Cutaneous Physiology, University of Berlin, examined the effect of alcohol intake on carotenoid concentration in the skin and whether parallel consumption of a carotenoid-rich drink would counteract the effects of alcohol.

The researchers conducted a three-part experiment with six Caucasian male volunteers with a mean age of 34.5 years. The investigators recorded carotenoid concentration and basal minimal erythema dose (MED) for each volunteer at baseline and then before and after alcohol consumption and before and after consumption of alcohol plus orange juice.  Carotenoid concentration decreased after consumption of alcohol and alcohol plus orange juice; however, the decrease after alcohol alone was significantly greater. The concentration occurred about eight minutes after alcohol consumption alone and lasted about 70 minutes. The decrease following alcohol plus orange juice occurred about 45 minutes later and lasted about 90 minutes.

MED was significantly lower after alcohol consumption. It was lower after alcohol plust orange juice, but the difference was not significant. The researchers noted that the time span until redness occurred on the skin was significantly shorter (p<0 .05=".05" 101.7="101.7" 66.7="66.7" 96.7="96.7" after="after" alcohol="alcohol" average="average" br="br" combination="combination" consumption="consumption" drank="drank" in="in" juice="juice" men="men" minutes="minutes" no="no" on="on" or="or" orange="orange" than="than" the="the" when="when" with="with">
"A decrease in the antioxidant concentration in the skin after alcohol consumption can have far-reaching consequences concerning the self-protection mechanism of the skin," the authors wrote.

The findings were published Nov. 7 in the Journal of Pharmacological and Biophysical Research.

Number of NFL Players Testing Positive for Amphetamines Has Increased

The number of NFL players who are testing positive for amphetamines such as Adderall has increased, according to the Associated Press. More than 10 players suspended for failing drug tests since the start of last season have blamed Adderall. NFL Senior Vice President Adolpho Birch told the AP the number of positive tests for amphetamines has increased. The league does not identify what substance a player tested positive for when he is penalized, the article notes. This means players can blame Adderall even if they tested positive for steroids or another stimulant. Birch said that because many college students use Adderall as a study aid, players are used to relying on the pills as a stimulant. “It’s not a secret that it’s a societal trend,” he noted. “I think we’re starting to see some of the effects of that trend.” Football players who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can apply for an exemption that allows them to use Adderall. Several players who tested positive for the drug said they had a prescription, but did not receive an exemption. Adderall “would absolutely give you a competitive advantage. Fatigue, focus, concentration, maybe aggression,” said Dr. Michael Joyner, a sports physiologist and anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “And if they were using it during training, the ability to train harder, longer, the ability to have fewer bad days.”

Why Can’t I Hold My Alcohol Anymore?
If sometime Thursday afternoon you suddenly find your legs feeling like jelly (cranberry, of course) and your head feeling as if it is crammed with stuffing, you may be inclined to chalk it up to that 3rd helping of turkey or the 10th narrowly averted family argument. But it could also be that 2nd glass of wine. “Two glasses of wine make me drowsy?” some of you may be scoffing. “I can down half a bottle of Napa’s finest on a minor holiday and barely feel a thing. I once drank a six-pack on Groundhog Day and was still awake enough to see my shadow.” Not so fast, baby boomer. As people age, many believe that they feel the effects of alcohol more easily, and science bears this out. Read the rest of the story here.

Colorado and Washington Communities Vary in Approach to Marijuana Laws

Across Colorado and Washington state, communities are taking varying approaches to newly approved laws that legalize small amounts of recreational use of marijuana for adults. Police departments in many communities in Colorado have stopped charging adults 21 and older for possessing small amounts of marijuana, which will be soon be legal under the new law. In more conservative areas of the state, prosecutors say they will continue with existing marijuana cases, and are still citing people for possession, according to The New York Times. Several towns are voting to ban new, state-licensed marijuana stores from opening. “This thing is evolving so quickly that I don’t know what’s going to happen next,” said Daniel J. Oates, the police chief in Aurora, near Denver.

In Washington state, which passed a similar law, regulators are also looking for guidance, the newspaper notes. Under the new law, they must set up a system of licenses for the production, manufacturing, distribution and sale of the drug by December 1, 2013.

“Colorado has a more regulated market, so they will be a good guide,” Brian E. Smith, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, told the newspaper.

Washington state officials will face many questions in 2013, when marijuana possession will be legal, but the system for regulating it will not be set up. For instance, the law mandates “adequate access” to licensed marijuana, but prohibits marijuana businesses within 1,000 feet of a school, childcare center, park or playground. Officials in both states are also waiting for direction from the federal government, which treats the sale and growing of marijuana as a federal crime.

Will the Feds Crack Down on Pot or Look the Other Way?
A week after voters in Washington State and Colorado approved Election Day ballot measures legalizing recreational marijuana, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire got on a plane to D.C. A Democrat, Gregoire wanted to know if the new law would put her state at odds with President Obama, whose administration has raided hundreds of marijuana dispensaries in California, where medical pot has been legal under state law since 1996.  Gregoire met with U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who oversees enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, the 42-year-old federal law that designates cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, the same category as heroin and LSD. If her state’s liquor control board began issuing permits to aspiring pot entrepreneurs, Gregoire wanted to know, would federal agents soon head her way? Cole didn’t have the answers she wanted. “They are ‘looking at the issue.’ That was about the only reaction we got,” says Gregoire’s spokesman, Cory Curtis. Cole, who declined to be interviewed, wasn’t merely stonewalling. He likely couldn’t answer the question because the Department of Justice has yet to spell out a consistent policy for dealing with the growing number of states legalizing pot to some degree, in violation of federal law.

Graduate of veterans drug court finds new hope
In 2010, after decades in and out of the legal system because of alcohol and substance abuse problems, Leon Castillas was back in jail and facing a return to prison. In that regard, he wasn't any different from the hundreds of others caught up in the criminal justice system because of their drug or alcohol abuse. However, Castillas had a few things going for him: a burning desire not to go back to prison; the advice of a no-nonsense staff member at his substance abuse treatment center; and his years of service in the Army. Castillas said he was in the Army when he began to drink more heavily and also when he lost the foster brother, who had been his best friend and mentor — a loss that dug deeper a hole he sought to fill with intoxicants. Thirty years later, however, his time in the Army qualified him to be one of the first participants in Vanderburgh County's Veterans Treatment Court. Read more:

ATOD Weekly Recap - Week-ending November 23rd

NIH Announces It Will Not Create Single Institute Devoted to Addiction
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced it will not pursue the proposed creation of a single institute devoted to substance use, abuse and addictions. The proposal would have dissolved the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and replaced it with a single body, according to the Nature News Blog. NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement that instead of dissolving the two institutes, he will seek their “functional integration,” along with related research in the NIH’s other institutes. NIDA has an annual budget of $1 billion, while NIAAA’s budget is $459 million, the article notes. Citing budget uncertainties, Collins noted, “The time, energy, and resources required for a major structural reorganization are not warranted, especially given that functional integration promises to achieve equivalent scientific and public health objectives.” In June, Collins told his committee of external advisers that leaders in the alcoholic beverage industry were concerned about the new single institute. According to the article, the industry’s opposition suggested it was not comfortable with a single body that would more closely align the public’s perception of alcohol consumption and abuse with drug addiction.

FDA Releases Reports on Injuries Possibly Involving Red Bull Energy Drink
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday released reports of injuries that cited the possible involvement of the nation’s top-selling energy drink, Red Bull. The reports follow the release of similar reports for other energy drinks, The New York Times reports. Red Bull’s manufacturer said it was unaware of cases of potential injuries involving their product, the article notes. The FDA posted 21 reports filed since 2004 that mentioned Red Bull, including ones that involved hospitalization for heart problems and vomiting. The newspaper notes the mention of a product in a report of an injury or death does not mean it caused or contributed to it. The FDA also recently reported filings involving Monster Energy, 5-Hour Energy and Rockstar. The FDA is investigating reports that five people have died since 2009 after they consumed Monster energy drinks. The FDA also received reports of 13 deaths over the last four years that may have involved the highly caffeinated drink 5-Hour Energy. Last year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued a report that found a sharp rise in the number of emergency department visits linked with the use of non-alcohol energy drinks, from 1,128 visits in 2005, to 13,114 in 2009. The report noted that energy drinks are marketed to appeal to youth, and are consumed by up to half of children, teenagers and young adults.

U.S. Teens Smoking Less, New Report Shows
American teenagers are smoking less, according to a new government report. The report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found current cigarette smoking among teenagers declined significantly between 2002 and 2010 in 41 states. Nationwide, teen cigarette use fell from 12.6 percent to 8.7 percent, UPI reports. “Although this report shows that considerable progress has been made in lowering adolescent cigarette smoking, the sad, unacceptable fact remains that in many states about one in 10 adolescents smoked cigarettes in the past month,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “The report also shows that we must collectively redouble our efforts to better educate adolescents about the risks of tobacco, and continue to work with every state and community to promote effective tobacco use prevention and recovery programs.” The report found Wyoming had the highest teen smoking rate—13.5 percent—more than double Utah’s rate of 5.9 percent. Teens’ perception of great risk from smoking a pack a day or more increased overall, from 63.7 percent to 65.4 percent.
Alcohol Reported as Primary Substance of Abuse in 62% of Veterans’ Treatment Admissions
There were nearly 58,000 admissions of veterans to substance abuse treatment facilities in 2010, according to the most recent data from the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS). TEDS, a database of treatment admissions to primarily publicly-funded substance abuse treatment facilities, excludes admissions to Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. Therefore, the veteran admissions in TEDS represent veterans who chose to seek substance abuse treatment in a non-VA facility.* While alcohol was most likely to be reported as the primary substance of abuse among veterans and nonveterans alike, veterans were much more likely than nonveterans to report alcohol as their primary substance of abuse (62% vs. 42%). Veterans were less likely than nonveterans to report marijuana (7% vs. 15%) or heroin (8% vs. 16%) as their primary substance of abuse. No other substance besides alcohol was reported by more than 10% of veterans as a primary substance of abuse, suggesting that use prevention, intervention, and treatment programs for military personnel and veterans should focus their resources on alcohol.
SOURCES:  Adapted by CESAR from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA), online analysis of the concatenated1992-2010 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), based on data received through 10/10/11, conducted 11/14/12

Study Links Marijuana Psychosis With Genetic Variation
A new study suggests a specific genetic variation may increase the risk of developing marijuana-related psychosis. Researchers found people with the variation were twice as likely to develop a psychotic disorder when using marijuana. The risk increased up to sevenfold if they used marijuana daily, HealthDay reports. The findings could help lead to new treatments for marijuana-induced psychosis, the researchers say.
In the journal Biological Psychiatry, they note evidence is increasing that marijuana use during the teenage years may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. Their study of more than 700 people found marijuana-related psychosis was linked with a variation in the AKT1 gene. The gene is involved in the regulation of the brain chemical dopamine, which plays an important role in mental health, the article notes.
“Our findings help to explain why one cannabis user develops psychosis while his friends continue smoking without problems,” the researchers from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry note in a news release.
A study published last year suggested marijuana may accelerate the onset of psychotic disorders in some young users. Researchers conducted a review of the literature examining the effects of marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs on the onset of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. They found patients with psychotic disorders who smoked marijuana at an early age developed symptoms almost three years sooner than those who did not. The link was strongest among those who started smoking at ages 12 to 15 or younger.
Many Teen Hookah Smokers Don’t Recognize Health Risk
Many teenage hookah smokers do not recognize that the practice carries serious health risks, suggests a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An estimated 18.5 percent of 12th graders said they used a hookah in the previous year.
More needs to be done to decrease the number of teens who smoke flavored tobacco from hookahs, the CDC states in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease. The report notes hookah smoke contains many of the same toxins as cigarettes. It has been associated with lung cancer and respiratory illness, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The researchers conclude the same interventions used in reducing cigarette smoking can be successfully used to reduce hookah smoking. These include raising the price of flavored tobacco smoked from hookahs, called shisha. They point out the price for a pound of hookah pipe tobacco is $22 lower than that for cigarette tobacco.
The CDC also calls for graphic labels on hookah tobacco products to warn smokers about health dangers, as well as removing sweet flavorings from shisha. Hookah bars should no longer be exempt from smoke-free laws, the researchers argue.
Ecstasy May Help Treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A new study suggests Ecstasy may help treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to The New York Times.
Researchers in South Carolina found Ecstasy combined with psychotherapy helped 15 of 21 patients recover from severe post-traumatic stress. Most of the patients in the study were rape victims.
It is unknown whether the treatment is effective in war-related PTSD, the article notes. The researchers are beginning to test the drug in veterans. “We’ve had more than 250 vets call us,” researcher Michael Mithoefer told the newspaper. “There’s a long waiting list, we wish we could enroll them all.” He and his wife, Ann, will work with other scientists to test the treatment in no more than 24 veterans, in order to comply with Food and Drug Administration rules for testing an experimental drug. Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is not approved for any medical uses. Previous studies of the drug suggest it induces release of the hormone oxytocin, which increases sensations of trust and affection. The drug also appears to reduce activity in the brain that increases during fearful, threatening situations.
The study appears in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Five Percent of Teens Use Steroids to Increase Muscle
About one in 20 teenagers have used steroids to increase their muscle mass, a new study suggests. In addition, more than one-third of boys and one-fifth of girls said they had used protein shakes or powders to increase their muscles, while between five and 10 percent used non-steroid substances to bulk up. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, included almost 2,800 students in middle and high schools in Minnesota. Most of the students had engaged in at least one muscle-building activity in the previous year. Up to one-third used what researchers considered unhealthy ways to increase their muscle mass, such as taking steroids or other muscle-building substances, or drinking too many protein shakes or engaging in excessive weight-lifting.
The study found steroid use was equally common among students who were athletes and those who were not.
“Really the pressure to start using (steroids) is in high school,” Dr. Linn Goldberg of the Oregon Health & Science University, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters. “You get the influence of older teens in high school, so when you’re a 14-year-old that comes in, you have 17-year-olds who are the seniors, and they can have great influence as you progress into the next stage of your athletic career.”

ATOD Weekly Recap - Week-ending November 16th

Study Links Stress-Related Impulsivity in College Women and Alcohol Dependence

College women who act impulsively when they are in distress are at higher risk for alcohol dependence, a new study suggests. Researchers at the University of Georgia studied 319 women in their first semester of college, an important time in students’ development of drinking habits, Science Daily reports. Of these women, 235 were drinkers. All participants took a screening test that asked about drinking behavior and alcohol use disorder symptoms. The study found women who tended to act rashly when they experience negative emotions were more likely to have an increase in alcohol dependence during their first semester. Those who acted rashly under stress and said they wanted to drink to change emotional experiences had the biggest increases in symptoms.

The study appears in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

“College women should learn to plan ahead when they go drinking, in order to reduce their risk for problems,” Gregory Smith of the University of Kentucky, commented in a news release. “Women who tend to get impulsive when distressed should seek training from mental health professionals on effective ways to avoid impulsive actions that prove harmful. Parents and college administrators should not underestimate the risks associated with heavy drinking during the college years.” Lead researcher Monika Kardacz Stojek added, “It seems that women who know that they tend to act without thinking when they are upset should be aware that they might be more at risk for negative consequences from drinking if they impulsively drink while in that negative mood.”

Impulsive College Women at Risk for Alcohol Problems

A negative element associated with gender equality is the observation that during the last three decades, young women have been drinking more. The increased emphasis of heavy drinking among young women increases the risk of developing alcohol use disorders (AUDs) as well as other negative consequences such as sexual assault and physical injuries. Prior research has shown that college students drink more than their non-college peers.

A new study of the influence of impulsivity-related traits and drinking motives has found that an impulsivity trait called “negative urgency” predicted increases in AD symptoms among college women. Study results are found online and will be published in the February 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The rest of the article is available here.

Good or bad for kids? D.A.R.E removes pot from curriculum
The drug education program D.A.R.E. has made some changes and has removed marijuana from its curriculum. The decision has spurred strong opinions from both sides of the marijuana debate. Some people say D.A.R.E. was making children think marijuana was as bad as other drugs when they don't think it is. Others say it's a gateway drug that still has dangerous effects, especially on children. Read the rest of the story here.

Legal drugs, deadly outcomes
Prescription overdoses kill more people than heroin and cocaine. An L.A. Times review of coroners’ records finds that drugs prescribed by a small number of doctors caused or contributed to a disproportionate number of deaths. To read this expose in the LA Times, click here.

Are Parents Powerless when Teens Abuse Rx Drugs?
Plenty of parents are clueless about the temptations, risks and pressure teens face when it comes to experimenting with the illicit use of prescription drugs -- but when we get up to speed, are we still powerless? As I interviewed people on the front lines of this epidemic for our just-concluded prescription drug abuse series for Health Kids,  I asked this question over and over again. The real experts -- parents and former teens who’ve been through it -- say parents can make a difference. As the parent of a young teen, that makes me feel better. But readers of the blog have been divided over just how much parents can do to deter it. Rest of the story is available here.

Laws to Crack Down on Serving Intoxicated People in Bars Largely Ignored
Laws prohibiting bars and restaurants from serving intoxicated people can be an effective way to reduce alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and violence, but the provisions in most states are poorly drafted and rarely enforced, according to two experts on alcohol policy. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Majority of Smoking Parents Expose Kids to Tobacco Smoke in Car
A new study finds a majority of parents who smoke expose their children to tobacco smoke in their cars. Many of these parents have smoke-free policies at home, CBS News reports. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. In children, secondhand smoke causes many health problems, including severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. The study included 795 parents who were smokers. More than 70 percent said someone had smoked in their car in the previous three months. Of the 562 parents who allowed smoking in their car, 48 percent said they smoked in the car when their children were present. The researchers found while most parents strictly enforced a smoke-free policy at home, only 24 percent had a similar policy for their cars.

“Workplaces, restaurants, homes and even bars are mostly smoke-free, but cars have been forgotten,” lead researcher Emara Nabi-Burza of Massachusetts General Hospital said in a news release. “Smoking in cars is not safe for motorists and nonsmokers – especially children, who have no way to avoid tobacco smoke exposure in their parent’s car. Now that we know the magnitude of the problem, pediatricians and the public can act to help these children.”

The study appears in the journal Pediatrics.

Baby boomers: The hooked generation?

More people in their 50s and 60s are abusing illegal and prescription drugs, prompting a federal agency to post its first consumer alert on its website aimed at seniors.

Call him Albert. As a teenager he was drunk a lot. During military service he was doing hard drugs. And by middle age he’d wake up every morning and “use whatever I could get my hands on.” In the process, he lost his construction business and his marriage barely survived.  “The more money I made, the more I used,” he recalls.
Albert, a 66-year-old Fort Lauderdale man, who asked that his real name not be used, is the new face of addiction: a baby boomer long past the typical youthful phase of experimentation. He’s clean now, but as a member of Narcotics Anonymous, he says he meets plenty of older recovering addicts just like him.  Local and national figures show that more people in their 50s and 60s are abusing illegal and prescription drugs. While the use of illicit drugs remains relatively uncommon among people 65 and older, the number of illicit drug users 50 to 59 years old tripled between 2002 and 2011, from 900,000 to 2.7 million, according to the National Institutes of Health. The increase even prompted the NIH to post its first consumer alert on its website, NIHSeniorHealth. Read more here.

60% of High School Students  Report Drugs Are Used, Kept, or Sold in Their Schools

For the sixth year in a row, 60% or more of high school students report that drugs are used, kept, or sold on their school grounds, according to a telephone survey of U.S. youth ages 12 to 17. While the percentage of students reporting that there are drugs in their school has decreased from the high of 66% in 2010 to 60% in 2012, the current percentage remains higher than a decade ago (44%). The survey also found that 36% of high school students believe that it is fairly or very easy for students to smoke, drink or use drugs during the day at their school without getting caught and more than half (52%) say that there is a place on school grounds or near their school where students go to smoke, drink, or use drugs during the school day.
SOURCE:  Adapted by CESAR from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens, 2012. Available online at

Graphic Cigarette Labels Can Influence Smokers Who Know Less About Health
Cigarette labels that display graphic images of the consequences of smoking have a greater impact on smokers who are less educated about health issues, compared with text-only labels, a new study suggests. The researchers from the University of South Carolina wanted to focus on less educated smokers, because previous studies found people in lower socioeconomic groups with lower education levels are among the heaviest smokers, and have the highest rates of tobacco-related disease.
They recruited almost 1,000 adult smokers, and asked them about their education, smoking habits and salary level. Participants were asked to interpret a nutrition label, in order to assess their health literacy. They were then divided into two groups. One group was shown four text-only cigarette warnings, which are currently used on cigarette packs. The other group was shown nine cigarette packs that displayed text and pictures showing the negative consequences of smoking. These included a graphic picture of a diseased chest of a deceased person, as well as more abstract images that warned of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Smokers rated the pictures more highly in terms of personal relevance and effectiveness, compared with warnings that simply included words. Smokers with low health literacy found the warning labels and pictures to be more credible than the text-only labels.

“Research on cigarette warnings in the United States and other countries has repeatedly shown that pictures work better than text,” study author Dr. James Thrasher told HealthDay. “Our research supports this finding while also showing what tobacco researchers have assumed for a while — that warnings with pictures work particularly well among smokers with low levels of literacy.”

The study appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The Food and Drug Administration wants to require tobacco companies to add graphic warning labels to cigarette packages. The labels include graphic images of the consequences of smoking, including diseased lungs and rotting teeth. The warning label requirement has been tied up in court. Tobacco companies have argued that the labels violate the right to free speech.

21-year-old dies after one drop of new synthetic drug at Voodoo Fest
The best friends had traveled together to music festivals all over the country. Sometimes, they would take drugs. But they had one rule: Never accept drugs from strangers.  But on Saturday, after a night drinking vodka-Red Bulls at Voodoo Festival at City Park, 21-year-old Clayton Otwell, of Little Rock, Ark., apparently forgot his rule, said Mandie Newell, his best friend and companion at the festival.
The rest of the story can be read here.

Residents Across NJ Turn-Out to Dispose of their Unused, Unwanted, Expired Medicine
The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) and Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey (SANJ) held the third annual The American Medicine Chest Challenge–New Jersey  (AMCC) --- a public health initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, throughout New Jersey, on Saturday, November 10, 2012.  Over a ton of medicine was collected throughout New Jersey during the event which was designed to bring to light the dangers of prescription drug abuse and the easy accessibility within the home by generating unprecedented media attention on the issue of prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse and creating a way for adults to anonymously, legally, and safely dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine.

The initiative encourages families to take the five-step American Medicine Chest Challenge which includes taking inventory of medicine in the home, securing the medicine chest, disposing of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine, taking medicine exactly as prescribed, and talking to children about the dangers of prescription drug-abuse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled prescription drug abuse an epidemic, reporting that the death toll from overdoses of prescription painkillers has more than tripled in the past decade and more than 40 people die every day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives, and, there has been a 400% increase in substance abuse treatment admissions for people abusing prescription drugs.  The statewide event was coordinated by PDFNJ, SANJ, the New Jersey National Guard, and Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey, with the support of the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA), New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS), The New Jersey Broadcasters Association, and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.  AMCC is sponsored by PhRMA, Generic Pharmaceutical Association and is supported by The Partnership at, American College of Emergency Physicians, Covanta Energy, and Healthcare Distribution Management Association.

Pregnant women: Just don't drink, study suggests

After years of confusing and contradictory advice about alcohol consumption during pregnancy, a new study may have the final word: Just don't drink. The study, published Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE, reveals that even a few drinks a week by an expectant mother can lead to reductions in a child's IQ if the child has certain genetic variations impairing their ability to break down alcohol.  Research into the effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy has generally focused on heavy drinking, and the resulting incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome. Meanwhile, observational studies of moderate drinking have shown little negative effect. As a result, many physicians advise their expectant patients that a drink every now and then is fine, so long as the drinking never becomes heavy.

The new report specifically looked at mothers who consumed between one and six drinks a week. As an added layer, the researchers also analyzed the DNA of the children to look for differences in the parts of the genetic code responsible for breaking down alcohol - an important consideration that can drastically change the effect of a drink on the body.

By using a biological variable to ask whether small doses of alcohol have the potential to cause harm, the researchers eliminated concerns about sociological or socioeconomic differences between abstainers and drinkers.  The study identified four unique genetic variations in the ADH gene -- which produces an enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol -- that had a harmful effect on a child's IQ: For each variation a child had, their IQ was roughly two points lower.  The effect was seen only among mothers who drank, and was present even when mothers drank very little (the study excluded mothers who drank heavily).  The results suggest that children with an impaired ability to break down alcohol can be harmed by relatively small amounts of it while in the womb.

On the one hand, the results show that children who lack the genetic variants uncovered in the study may not suffer from their mother's moderate drinking.  But the study also underscores why one might want to use the precautionary principle during pregnancy: In the right situation, even an occasional glass of wine appears to carry with it the risk of a drop in IQ.

Booze v Soda: Adults get nearly as many empty calories from alcohol as sugary drinks

Americans get too many calories from soda. But what about alcohol? It turns out adults get almost as many empty calories from booze as from soft drinks, a government study found. Soda and other sweetened drinks - the focus of obesity-fighting public health
campaigns - are the source of about 6 percent of the calories adults consume, on average. Alcoholic beverages account for about 5 percent, the new study found.

"We've been focusing on sugar-sweetened beverages. This is something new," said Cynthia Ogden, one of the study's authors. She's an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which released its findings Thursday.

The government researchers say the findings deserve attention because, like soda, alcohol contains few nutrients but plenty of calories.  The study is based on interviews with more than 11,000 U.S. adults from 2007 through 2010. Participants were asked extensive questions about what they ate and drank over the previous 24 hours. The study found:

-On any given day, about one-third of men and one-fifth of women consumed calories from beer, wine or liquor.

-Averaged out to all adults, the average guy drinks 150 calories from alcohol each day, or the equivalent of a can of Budweiser.

-The average woman drinks about 50 calories, or roughly half a glass of wine.

-Men drink mostly beer. For women, there was no clear favorite among alcoholic beverages.

-There was no racial or ethnic difference in average calories consumed from alcoholic beverages. But there was an age difference, with younger adults putting more of it away.

For reference, a 12-ounce can of regular Coca-Cola has 140 calories, slightly less than a same-sized can of regular Bud. A 5-ounce glass of wine is around 100 calories.

In September, New York City approved an unprecedented measure cracking down on giant sodas, those bigger than 16 ounces, or half a liter. It will take effect in March and bans sales of drinks that large at restaurants, cafeterias and concession stands.  Should New York officials now start cracking down on tall-boy beers and monster margaritas?  There are no plans for that, city health department officials said, adding in a statement that while studies show that sugary drinks are "a key driver of the obesity epidemic," alcohol is not.  Health officials should think about enacting policies to limit alcoholic intake, but New York's focus on sodas is appropriate, said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a public health advocacy group.

Soda and sweetened beverages are the bigger problem, especially when it comes to kids - the No. 1 source of calories in the U.S. diet, she said.  "In New York City, it was smart to start with sugary drinks. Let's see how it goes and then think about next steps," she said.  However, she lamented that the Obama administration is planning to exempt alcoholic beverages from proposed federal regulations requiring calorie labeling on restaurant menus.

It could set up a confusing scenario in which, say, a raspberry iced tea may have a calorie count listed, while an alcohol-laden Long Island Iced Tea - with more than four times as many calories - doesn't. "It could give people the wrong idea," she said.

College drinking: No fear, all reward raises risk
Brain scans show that stressed out college students are more likely to abuse alcohol when they have both a strong desire for reward and little fear of the dangers. “Imagine the push and pull of opposing drives when a mouse confronts a hunk of cheese in a trap. Too much drive for the cheese and too little fear of the trap leads to one dead mouse,” says senior author Ahmad Hariri, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and director of its Laboratory of NeuroGenetics. Hariri and lead author Yuliya S. Nikolova, a Duke graduate student, analyzed fMRI brain scan data to measure individual differences in the functioning of reward and threat circuits in the brains of the students. Read the original study
The students’ self-reporting spanned the previous 12 months and included questions regarding their experience of stressful life events as well as their use of alcohol and any problems associated with this use. In addition, a subset of students provided reports of their drinking three months after they were scanned, allowing Nikolova and Hariri to map differences in brain function onto later problem drinking. The authors found that problem drinking related to stress emerged only in students who had both a highly reactive reward circuitry in the ventral striatum region of the brain and a hypo-reactive threat circuitry in the amygdala. “The work further highlights a novel protective role for the amygdala, which has been historically the focus of risk for and pathophysiology of mood and anxiety disorders,” Hariri says. The findings may help with identifying individuals who are particularly high-risk for abusing alcohol because of stress, including biomarkers and interventions, Nikolova notes.

The authors says an important caveat to consider when interpreting their findings is that participants may have experienced more stressful life events partially as a result of their increased drinking, rather than the other way around. “This interpretation would be consistent with a heightened drive to pursue immediate rewards, coupled with a reduced ability to recognize and avoid threat in those individuals,” they write in the study published in the open-access journal Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Source: Duke University

"Pre-gaming" may lead heavier drinking, blackouts
College students might "pre-game" to save a few bucks during a night out, but a new study says that could come at added costs to their health. A Swiss study has revealed that college-aged people who pre-drink before they go out tend to drink twice as much and have more negative consequences than those who only drink at event they attend. Pre-drinking -- also known as pre-gaming and pre-partying  -- is the act of consuming alcoholic beverages before heading out to another venue where there will be drinking, such as a sporting event, bar or club. Addiction specialists believe that 65 to 75 percent of young adults drink before they go out, according to the Los Angeles Times.  Click here to read the rest of the story

FDA Received Reports of 13 Deaths Possibly Connected With Energy Drink

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received reports of 13 deaths over the last four years that may have involved the highly caffeinated drink 5-Hour Energy, The New York Times reports. Last month, the FDA said it was investigating reports that five people have died since 2009 after they consumed Monster energy drinks. The investigation was announced after parents of 14-year-old Anais Fournier sued the company in connection with their daughter’s death. The FDA said it has not established a connection between the drinks and the deaths. The FDA can regulate caffeine levels in soft drinks. The limit in a 12-ounce soda is about 71 milligrams. The caffeine levels in most energy drinks exceed that level, because they are labeled dietary supplements.

According to the newspaper, since 2009, the FDA has received incident reports of more than 30 cases of serious or life-threatening injuries such as heart attacks and convulsions, which mentioned 5-Hour Energy. These reports do not prove the product was responsible for a death or injury, or contributed in any way to it, the article notes.

While Monster Energy, Red Bull and other energy drinks that come in a can, 5-Hour Energy is sold in a two-ounce bottle called a shot. According to an analysis by Consumer Reports, the product contains about 215 milligrams of caffeine. An eight-ounce cup of coffee generally contains between 100 to 150 milligrams. Last year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued a report that found a sharp rise in the number of emergency department visits linked with the use of non-alcohol energy drinks, from 1,128 visits in 2005, to 13,114 in 2009. The report noted that energy drinks are marketed to appeal to youth, and are consumed by up to half of children, teenagers and young adults.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta ran a report on Thursday, November 15th titled “Prescription drug deaths: Two stories”. If you’re interested in reading the report, click here.

60 percent of America's biggest cities are now smoke-free
Comprehensive smoke-free laws cover 30 of 50 largest U.S. cities, up from just one in 2000
Thirty of America’s 50 largest cities are now covered by laws that prohibit smoking in all indoor areas of private workplaces, restaurants, and bars, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By late 2000, only one of the 50 largest U.S. cities—San Jose, Calif.—was covered by such a law. As of Oct. 5, 2012, 16 of the 50 largest cities were covered by local comprehensive smoke-free laws, and 14 more were covered by state comprehensive smoke-free laws.  Today, almost half of Americans are protected by state or local laws of this kind, compared to less than three percent in 2000. Scientific studies have found that smoke-free laws reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, reduce smoking, and improve health, including reducing heart attacks. While new local comprehensive smoke-free laws continue to be adopted in a number of cities and counties, last week North Dakota voters approved the first statewide comprehensive smoke-free law adopted since 2010.
The study, "Comprehensive Smoke-Free Laws—50 Largest U.S. Cities, 2000 and 2012," published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, reported that 10 of the 20 cities without comprehensive smoke-free laws are located in the south. Additionally, 10 of the 20 cities without such laws are located in states that prohibit local smoking restrictions from being stronger than or different from state law.
"Hundreds of cities and counties have passed their own smoke-free laws, including many communities in the south," said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. "If we continue to progress as we have since 2000, all Americans could be protected from secondhand smoke exposure in workplaces and public places by 2020."
The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and is a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS, respiratory problems, ear infections, and asthma attacks in infants and children. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger acute cardiac events, such as heart attack. Cigarette use kills an estimated 443,000 Americans each year, including 46,000 by heart disease and 3,400 by lung cancer among nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. For an online version of this MMWR report, visit

Alcohol Taxes Can Reduce Young People’s Drinking
Raising alcohol excise taxes can help deter young people from drinking, according to a leading expert on preventing drinking in youth. n a report prepared as part of the campaign to advocate for the Maryland excise tax, CAMY estimated that a dime a drink increase in Maryland’s alcohol excise taxes would reduce alcohol consumption by 4.8 percent, raise $214.4 million in new revenue for the state and result in a savings of an additional $249 million in costs incurred in the state as a result of alcohol consumption. CAMY said that such an increase would prevent almost 15,000 cases of alcohol dependence annually. “The impact could be even larger among youth, since they are less likely to be addicted to alcohol than older drinkers, and also have less disposable income—both factors that make them more sensitive to increases in the cost of alcohol,” the report states.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.