Affordable Care Act Could Benefit Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders
As this country moves into a new era of how we approach the treatment, prevention and administration of illness, we must keep the rubric of co-occurring disorders at the forefront. One would be hard pressed to find a higher rate of co-occurring disorders than in the field of behavioral health, where more than 70 percent of those treated for substance abuse also have a mental health disorder. Please click here to read the rest of the commentary by Andrew D. Kessler, IC&RC’s Federal Policy Liaison and Founder of Slingshot Solutions, LLC.
'Good Samaritan' Laws Could Help Overdose Victims—If Only People Knew They Existed
In New York and other states, drug users are supposed to be granted immunity when they call 911 to save their friends' lives. But the police and the public have yet to get the message.
Read this great story in The Atlantic by clicking here.
Read this great story in The Atlantic by clicking here.
Substance abuse diagnoses increasing in U.S.(Reuters Health) - Possibly driven by a surge in painkiller abuse, the number of drug and alcohol problems diagnosed by U.S. doctors increased by 70 percent between 2001 and 2009, according to new research.
"We know that increases in prescription drug use are a big part of what's going on nationally. I also think - in our study - the availability of effective treatment is a big part of it as well and likely drawing people into care," said the study's lead author Dr. Joseph W. Frank, from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Those treatments include medications such as methadone, as well as talk therapy. The new study, which used information from two national surveys of doctors' visits, estimated that the number of those visits involving drug or alcohol abuse or addiction increased from 10.6 million between 2001 and 2003 to 18 million between 2007 and 2009. Over the same span, the number of visits including a diagnosis of opioid painkiller abuse, in particular, increased from 772,000 to 4.4 million - almost a six-fold increase.
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Men vs. Women: Does Gender Matter in Addiction Recovery?Not so long ago, addiction was seen as a “man’s problem.” In recent years, addiction research has broadened its focus to include the differential impact addiction has in the lives of both men and women. We know more than ever about the biological and psychosocial factors that affect how men and women experience addiction.
So in the battle of the sexes, who “wins” in addiction recovery? At first glance, men may appear to have the upper hand as women tend to progress more quickly into chemical dependency and face serious consequences faster than men. However, women are less likely to struggle with addiction than men and fare just as well in treatment. In the end, it’s a draw. Neither sex is better or worse off; they simply experience addiction and recovery in different ways.
Read the full article here.
Could Legalizing and Taxing Drugs Lower the Deficit?
More Than Two-Thirds of U.S. Residents Who First Started Using Drugs in the Past Year Began with Marijuana; 22% Started with Nonmedical Use of Prescription Drugs
An estimated 3.1 million persons ages 12 or older—an average of approximately 8,400 per day—used a drug other than alcohol for the first time in the past year, according to data from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. More than two-thirds (68%) of these new users reported that marijuana was the first drug they tried. Slightly more than one-fifth (22%) reported that prescription drugs used non-medically were the first drug they tried, including 14% with pain relievers, 4% with tranquilizers, 3% with stimulants, and 1% with sedatives. Less than 10% reported that their first use of drugs involved inhalants and hallucinogens, and very few initiates started using with cocaine or heroin. These findings suggest that drug use prevention efforts might focus on marijuana and the nonmedical use of prescription drugs, as these are the drugs that are most often used first
SOURCE: Adapted by CESAR from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables, 2012. Available online at http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2011SummNatFindDetTables/Index.aspx.
FDA Investigates Possible Link Between Monster Energy Drinks and Five DeathsThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating reports that five people have died since 2009 after they consumed Monster energy drinks, according to the Los Angeles Times. 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 article notes. The FDA can regulate caffeine levels in soft drinks, according to the newspaper. 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.
In a statement, the company said, “Monster does not believe that its products are in any way responsible for the death of Ms. Fournier and intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit.” According to the company, the drinks “generally contain approximately 10 milligrams of caffeine from all sources per ounce. By comparison, the leading brands of coffee house brewed coffee contain on average more than 20 milligrams of caffeine per ounce. An entire 24-ounce can of Monster Energy contains about 240 milligrams of caffeine from all sources, which is around 30 percent less than the average caffeine contained in a medium-sized, 16-ounce cup of coffee house brewed coffee.” 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. In April, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois called for an investigation into energy drinks, after learning of Fournier’s death from cardiac arrest after drinking two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks in a 24-hour period.
Doctors’ Concerns Over Patient Ratings May Play Role in Opioid PrescriptionsDoctors’ concerns about receiving negative reviews on consumer ratings websites may influence their decision to write opioid prescriptions for patients who request them, according to an opinion piece in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine. Physicians are relying more on patients’ self-reports of pain than in the past, and the “treatment of pain is held up as the holy grail of compassionate medical care,” Anna Lembke, M.D., of Stanford University, wrote.
Lembke points out that the American attitude that “all suffering is avoidable” has increased demand for treatment, MedPageToday notes. She adds that treating pain can be profitable, while treating addiction is not. Counseling, a critical part of addiction treatment, is time-consuming, and is not adequately reimbursed. Lembke suggests that all doctors should be required to attend a continuing medical education course on addiction. She notes that all doctors have been mandated since 2001 to complete a course in pain treatment. She also recommends that doctors be required to check their state’s prescription drug monitoring programs before writing prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances. Some states have already made this a requirement. Doctors must be made aware of new billing codes that allow them to be reimbursed for addiction counseling, Lembke states.
She warned the “problem of doctors prescribing addictive analgesics to patients with known or suspected addiction will be solved only when the threat of public and legal censure for not treating addiction is equal to that for not treating pain, and when treating addiction is financially compensated on a par with care for other illnesses.”
The Truth Behind “Just Say No!”
From Rutgers’ Targum: Counselor charts rising use of opiates among studentsYoung adults who otherwise may never consider using heroin are being introduced to the drug through opiate painkillers, said Frank Greenagel Jr., recovery counselor at Counseling, ADAP & Psychiatric Services. While he saw some cases 10 years ago, the trend has been getting worse since 2005, said Greenagel, who oversees recovery housing at the University. Prescription drugs are combinations of chemicals manufactured by multinational corporations in laboratories, which makes them more socially acceptable, Greenagel said. The social acceptance of prescription drugs takes away its stigma, so people find it more acceptable to take painkillers than use heroin, he said. “They just don’t have the same stigma as traditional illegal drugs,” he said. The Recovery Housing program, a branch of the Alcohol & Other Drug Assistance Program, is a housing model that fosters active participation in recovery programs to build a community for recovering addicts, said Eric Arauz, vice chairman for the Governor’s Task Force on Opiate and Heroin Abuse alongside Greenagel. Please click here to read the full story.
Top 5 Energy Drinks: Convenient Pick-Me-Ups or Health Hazards?
Energy drinks, like Red Bull and Monster, have become as ubiquitous on the beverage aisles as Coke and Pepsi. Could our increasingly hectic lifestyles have led to this need for eye-popping amounts of caffeine and sugar? And do they really help us, as they claim? Find our here!
Scottish Brewery Launches World's Most Alcoholic Beer
On the heels of the news of the highly caffeinated Death Watch Coffee, a Scottish brewery has just produced Armageddon, the world's most potent beer. Brewmeister's ale contains 65 percent ABV, which is 10 percentage points higher than your average bottle of vodka. If you're wondering how it compares to your average beer, Brand Channel reports Budweiser has just 5.3 percent and Coors a mere 4.2 — Armageddon has 16 times more alcohol.
How does a beer reach that alcohol content? Owner John Mackenzie told Drinks Business it's all in the fermentation. The beer is actually frozen during the fermentation process — the water freezes, but the alcohol does not. The alcohol is then separated from the ice and what's left is a very powerful beer.
A higher alcohol content comes at a higher price. The Brand Channel reports that a 330 ml bottle retails in the UK for $189. Rather than downing that expensive bottle, Brewmeister recommends treating the slightly sweet, hoppy, malty beer like a brandy by drinking it in 35 ml measures. Owner Lewis Shand explained, "Lots of people drink half pints with a spirit, but now they can have our beer with their normal pint instead." However, he warns that the beer "delivers a supersonic charged explosion and conveys the taster to drunkville."
Brewmeister isn't the first brewery to add an extra punch to its ale. In 2010, a Dutch company produced "Start the Future" beer, which had an alcohol content of 60 percent. American company Brew Dog launched their Tactical Nuclear Penguin with 32 percent ABV three years ago.
Would you try Armageddon? Do you think beer should have that much alcohol?
Medical marijuana center in Montclair to open before new yearAfter an extended battle with New Jersey officials, the state’s first medical marijuana center has received its final permit to open and serve patients. The Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair can now sell medical marijuana legally, and is expected to open before the end of the year.
Six groups were chosen by the New Jersey Department of Health in 2011 to grow and sell marijuana, but have had problems finding acceptance in towns, according to an Associated Press report in the Huffington Post. The Greenleaf group agreed to meet patients in Montclair and grow its plants in an undisclosed city.
Marijuana has been said to ease symptoms from a range of conditions and diseases including multiple sclerosis, migraines, cancer, and AIDS.
Only New Jersey residents are eligible for the program, and patients are not allowed to grow their own. According to The Latest Word, marijuana will be sold in three potencies, low, medium and high strength. In New Jersey, the maximum legal level of its primary active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, is 10 percent.
The effort to open medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey was slow due to the strict regulations outlined in the law, passed in January 2010 by then Governor Jon Corzine. But patients and caregivers will soon be receiving identification cards. About 320 patients have already begun registration, and more than 175 physicians have been signed. 17 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing medical marijuana. Just five other medical marijuana dispensaries, to be known as "alternative treatment centers," are permitted to open in New Jersey. Centers are being planned in Egg Harbor Township and Woodbridge. The three other locations have not yet been announced.
Study Finds Some Energy Drink Labels List Incorrect Caffeine AmountMany energy drinks incorrectly list the amount of caffeine in their product, or do not list the amount at all, according to Consumer Reports. The magazine tested 27 popular energy drinks and shots, and calculated the amount of caffeine in one serving, based on the manufacturer’s serving size, according to CBS News. Of those products, 16 listed specific caffeine amounts. Five products—Arizona Energy, Clif Shot Turbo Energy Gel, Nestle Jamba, Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy and Venom Energy—had 20 percent more caffeine per serving than stated on the label. Archer Farms Energy Drink had 70 percent less caffeine than indicated on the label. The caffeine levels of the remaining products fell within 20 percent of the amount stated on the label.
Monster Beverage Corp. told CBS News its company does not list caffeine amounts because “there is no legal or commercial business requirement to do so, and also because our products are completely safe, and the actual numbers are not meaningful to most consumers.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is 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.
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.
Physician Addiction Treatment Programs Have Too Little OversightPrograms designed to treat physicians’ substance use disorders have too little oversight and no clear standards, according to two experts from Harvard Medical School. They say the programs help a large majority of doctors to become abstinent and return to work, but they also have the potential for abuse.
“The physicians who are referred to these programs are often so compromised professionally by the time they get to them that, even if they feel that their treatment is not ethically sound, they’re often not in a position to voice them,” Dr. J. Wesley Boyd told The Boston Globe. He and Dr. John R. Knight published a review of the programs this month in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.
The programs may be prone to conflicts of interest, the Harvard doctors note. Physician treatment programs often refer patients for evaluation to specialty centers that pay for conferences for the field. The specialty centers, which rely on state referrals for funding, may tend to recommend treatment, which often lasts 90 days, much longer than inpatient programs for the general population. Boyd and Knight call for addiction medicine groups to start talking about establishing standards for such programs. They also recommend the creation of a national licensing program.
United States' Habits Prompt Study On Daily Versus Binge DrinkingThe pattern of knocking back a few drinks every few days, followed by days of no drinking, can cause more brain damage in rats than drinking moderately every day, say scientists from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. And the damage caused to the prefrontal cortex sets up a cycle of craving more and more alcohol during the dry periods, so over-drinking occurs when finally given the opportunity to drink. This is, in part, the result of damage that disrupts the processes that normally inhibit reckless behavior. Click here to read the rest of the blog.
Addictions counselor: Co-dependents also need ongoing recovery supportCo-dependency is a condition often experienced by the family members of those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. It is characterized by an unhealthy, nearly unrelenting obsession with the addict in their lives. It often involves a pattern of behavior known as enabling, in which the family member interferes with the natural and painful consequences of addiction. This includes some of the following behaviors:
• Calling in sick for the addict when they are hung over
• Paying their bills for them because they have blown their money on alcohol or drugs
• Hiring lawyers or ineffective therapists when they get in trouble with the law or at school
• Blaming others for their addict's problemsThe problem with enabling, of course, is that it doesn't work. However well-intended it may be, enabling always makes the problem worse because it delays the "day of reckoning" that most addicts need to get themselves into treatment and recovery.
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