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Monday, February 25, 2013

ATOD and Advocacy Update - Week-Ending February 22, 2013

Prevention Programs in Middle School May Reduce Later Prescription Drug Use

Substance abuse prevention programs that begin in middle school may help deter prescription drug abuse in later years, new research suggests. Scientists analyzed findings from three studies of family- and school-based prevention programs designed for rural and small-town middle school students. They found students who went through substance abuse prevention programs were 20 percent to 65 percent less likely to abuse prescription drugs and opioids when they were between 17 and 25 years old, compared with students who did not participate in the programs. The programs focused on general risk and protective factors of substance abuse. “Brief universal interventions have potential for public health impact by reducing prescription drug misuse among adolescents and young adults,” the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Public Health. “The intervention effects were comparable or even stronger for participants who had started misusing substances prior to the middle school interventions, suggesting that these programs also can be successful in higher-risk groups,” lead author Richard Spoth, PhD, from the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State University in Ames, said in a news release. Nora Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, noted that prescription medications can be helpful when they are prescribed to treat pain, anxiety, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. “However, their abuse can have serious consequences. We are especially concerned about prescription drug abuse among teens, who are developmentally at an increased risk for addiction,” she said.

Drug Companies Work with Anti-Doping Agency to Prevent Illegal Use of Products

A growing number of drug companies are working with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to try to prevent illegal use of their products among athletes, according to The New York Times. Roche and GlaxoSmithKline have started to evaluate all new drug candidates for their potential to be abused by athletes. They have agreed to share information about the drugs with WADA, the article notes. Several other drug companies have given the agency information about specific drugs. This trend represents a shift in drug companies’ thinking, said David Howman, Director General of WADA. In the past, they “felt that any publicity in relation to antidoping control would be negative,” he told the newspaper. “But what they discovered is the opposite happened.” Last year, Glaxo sponsored testing laboratories for the Olympic Games in London. It was the first time an antidoping lab had a named corporate sponsor. In the past, the relationship between anti-doping officials and drug companies has been strained. The New York Times notes Amgen, maker of the blood-enhancing drug EPO, sponsored the Tour of California when abuse of the drug was widespread among cyclists. Last month, champion cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his career, and apologized for doing so during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. The winner of seven Tour de France victories, Armstrong strongly denied he used performance-enhancing drugs for many years.

Number of Deadly Drug Overdoses Rises for 11th Year
The number of deadly drug overdoses in the United States increased for the 11th consecutive year, according to new government data. More than 22,000 people died of overdoses involving prescription drugs in 2010, the Los Angeles Times reports. In total, 38,329 people died of drug overdoses that year. Of the 57 percent whose deaths involved prescription drugs, three-quarters were due to painkillers such as OxyContin and Percocet, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. They reported their findings this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. More than 74 percent of deaths due to prescription drugs were accidental, while 17 percent were suicides, the article notes. Opioids were found in 77 percent of overdoses involving benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax or Ativan. They were also involved in 65 percent of overdoses with antiepileptic or anti-Parkinsonian drugs, 47 percent of overdoses involving antidepressants, and 56 percent of overdoses with fever-reducing and anti-inflammatory medications.

Mapping Location of Alcohol Outlets, Drug Activity and Crime Could Aid Prevention

Mapping the location of alcohol outlets, drug activity and violent crimes could help police prevent violence, a new study suggests. Researchers at the University of Michigan studied the relationship between violent crimes in Boston drug markets, and the types and densities of alcohol outlets in those areas, MedicalXpress reports. They analyzed data on homicides and aggravated assault incidents, drug arrests and 911 calls, along with 2009 alcohol outlet data from the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverage Control Commission. They also examined census data. They found areas with the highest levels of violent crime were poorer and had greater numbers of alcohol outlets and higher drug arrest rates. “Identification of such ‘hot spots’ may help in identifying micro-environments: blocks or intersections whose characteristics facilitate violent behavior. Our study helps identify such micro-environments, an emerging area of criminology research, in Boston,” the authors wrote in the American Journal of Public Health.

Study Links Smoking in Teens and Young Adults With Risk of Death Before 55

The risk of dying before age 55 is increased in teens and young adults who smoke, are obese and have high blood sugar levels, a new study suggests. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from 9,245 people ages 12 to 39. More than 30 percent were smokers, and more than 15 percent were obese; 298 died before reaching age 55. Those who had smoked between the ages of 12 and 39 were 86 percent more likely to die before 55, compared with nonsmokers. Being obese as a teen or young adult increased the risk of dying before age 55 by 39 percent, while having high blood sugar early in life tripled the risk of dying young. The study appears in the journal Pediatrics. “There is a need for more effective strategies to try and prevent obesity and smoking, and improve the overall health of the younger population,” lead researcher Sharon Saydah, a CDC senior scientist, told HealthDay. “Any time somebody dies before age 55, it has an overall societal impact.” A government report released in November 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.

Short Term Insurance Funding of Drug treatment May Have a Negative Impact on Treatment Outcomes
Insurance companies are to be thanked for their understanding of the need to fund drug treatment and recovery programs. It is also understandable that for financial reasons, these for-profit companies are committed to the minimal time frame for in-patient treatment. They often use the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) standard for minimum time in treatment as their guide for when to terminate treatment dollars. What this often means is that treatment funding for many insurance funded programs is short and therefor so is the treatment episode. To make matters worse for the addict needing help, most insurers will only fund a small number of treatment episodes per year. But according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a chronic recurring disease similar to diabetes or hypertension. That being the case, what impact does shorter and limited treatment, have on the recovery outcomes for chronic addicts? Read the rest of this blog here.

Opioids drive continued increase in drug overdose deaths  - Drug overdose deaths increase for 11th consecutive year
Drug overdose deaths increased for the 11th consecutive year in 2010, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings are published today in a research letter, “Pharmaceutical Overdose Deaths, United States, 2010,” in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  CDC’s analysis shows that 38,329 people died from a drug overdose in the United States in 2010, up from 37,004 deaths in 2009. This continues the steady rise in overdose deaths seen over the past 11 years, starting with 16,849 deaths in 1999. Overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics have shown a similar increase. Starting with 4,030 deaths in 1999, the number of deaths increased to 15,597 in 2009 and 16,651 in 2010. Click here to read the full CDC report.

You may also wish to read this CBS report titled “With drug overdose deaths on rise, experts push to recognize signs of addiction”. The report is available here.

“Essential Health Benefits” Rule Covers Drug Addiction and Alcohol Abuse Treatment
The federal government on Wednesday issued a final rule on “essential health benefits” that most health insurance plans must offer next year, including treatment of drug addiction and alcohol abuse. The New York Times reports the Obama administration says 32 million people will gain access to coverage of mental health care as a result of the new benefits. An additional 30 million people who already have some mental health coverage will see an improvement in their benefits, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said. She noted the new ruling will make it easier for consumers to compare health plans. In the past, nearly 20 percent of individuals purchasing insurance didn’t have access to mental health services, and nearly one-third had no coverage for substance use disorder services, according to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) news release. The new rule provides more Americans with access to quality health care that includes coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services, HHS states. Each state will set its own benchmark insurance plan that reflects coverage typically offered by employers, the article notes. More than 30 states are using a plan offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield as their benchmark.

Heroin Addiction on the Rise in New York State
A growing number of people are becoming addicted to heroin in New York state, according to drug treatment counselors and police. They say many people have switched to heroin from prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, the Associated Press reports. Police report the people they arrest for heroin often started on painkillers prescribed by a doctor, then started purchasing them on the street. They turned to heroin because it is less expensive. Many areas around the country are seeing a surge in heroin addiction that stems from prescription drug abuse. A study published in July 2012 in the New England Journal of Medicine found OxyContin abuse has decreased now that the painkiller has been reformulated to make it more difficult to misuse. Many people who abused the drug have switched to heroin. The study included more than 2,500 people who were dependent on opioids, who were followed between July 2009 and March 2012. During that time, there was a 17 percent decrease in OxyContin abuse. In 2010, the company that makes OxyContin introduced a new version of the drug that is more difficult to inhale or inject. During the same period, heroin abuse doubled.

Spending on Tobacco Prevention: New Jersey

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that New Jersey spend $119.8 million a year to have an effective, comprehensive tobacco prevention program.  New Jersey does not currently allocate anything for tobacco prevention and cessation and as a result it ranks 50th among the states in the funding of tobacco prevention programs.  New Jersey collects an estimated $997 million in tobacco-generated revenue each year from settlement payments and tobacco taxes. Click here to read the full report.

Hazing, Alcohol Issues Prompt Fla. University To Halt Greek Activities
Another Florida university has suspended many fraternity and sorority activities after alcohol and hazing issues came up.  In an announcement Wednesday, the administration at the University of Central Florida said recent events indicate the school's Greek community needs a change in culture when it comes to alcohol use and hazing. No information on anything specific was released.  Hazing has been a topic of discussion and debate in Florida since the November 2011 death of Robert Champion. The Florida A&M University drum major died after a brutal hazing ritual aboard a bus.  UCF officials said they will develop a comprehensive plan to address alcohol and hazing issues.  More than 3,100 students participate in 48 recognized Greek organizations at UCF.  A school news release says fraternities and sororities will be permitted to hold organizational business meetings but little else. UCF news release:

NIH Warns Of Major Drawbacks With Sequester

The looming sequester may dramatically slow medical research.  Officials at the National Institutes of Health warn the budget cuts they face if the sequester is implemented will be devastating to new research.  NIH faces a possible 1.5 billion dollar cut, which would mean a 5 percent cut across the board for every program.  National Institutes of Health Director, Dr. Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. says, "Cuts will spell slower progress against our most common diseases, such as alzheimer's, cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and heart disease."  Dr. Collins says cuts may also mean a delay in creating the next vaccine for influenza.  Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) toured NIH Wednesday afternoon. She warns of the direct impact the research cuts may have in her home state.  Sen. Mikulski says, "It will be an impact on 15-thousand Marylanders, who work either at NIH or who benefit from the research funding at other Maryland institutions, whether it is Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland and nearby institutes."  The Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee warns if action is not taken soon, we will be hurting ourselves as a nation.  Sen. Mikulski says, "We talk a lot about threats to the United States, we fear foreign predators and terrorism. We fear foreign competition, 'oh, what are the chinese doing?', but what we are about to inflict upon us is a self-inflicted wound."  The deadline to end the federal fiscal standoff to avoid the sequester cuts is March 1st.

Children More Likely to Accept Drug Use if Parents Admit Past Substance Use

Middle school students are less likely to think using drugs is bad if their parents told them about their own past substance use, a new study finds. Children whose parents warned them not to use drugs were more likely to avoid them, ABC News reports. The study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign included 561 middle school students. They were less likely to accept drug use if their parents set rules against drugs, and told them about people who have gotten into trouble because of drugs. “Parents should really hit on what are the bad things that can happen, health-wise, from using drugs,” researcher Jennifer Kam told ABC News. ”They should really clearly tell kids that they disapprove of them using drugs. Also, give them strategies to avoid use or decline use in a way that makes them look cool.” She advised parents against lying. “I wouldn’t volunteer the information, but if a child asks, and a parent lies, it could impact the relationship later on,” she noted. The study appears in the journal Human Communication Research.

Friday, February 15, 2013

ATOD and Advocacy Update - Week-Ending February 15, 2013

App helps students measure alcohol content in containers
In an effort to make responsible drinking easier, two University students and an alumnus developed an iPhone app called “Shots iGot.” Shots iGot features the top 40 most popularly used nontraditional liquid containers, such as water bottles, solo cups and Gatorade bottles, said Josh Rosenheck, creator of the app. The user chooses a bottle and slides his or her finger to virtually fill the bottle to see the number of shots at any given level, said Rosenheck, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. Read the rest of the story here .

Addiction to Food Viewed Less Negatively Than Addiction to Alcohol or Tobacco
People view addiction to food in a less negative light than addiction to alcohol or tobacco, according to a study by researchers at Yale University. The researchers asked more than 1,200 adults about their feelings toward people with various types of addictions. People with an addiction to food were seen as more likeable, easier to relate to, and were viewed with less anger and disgust, compared with people with an alcohol or tobacco addiction. HealthDay reports people with a food addiction were less likely to be blamed for their problem than people with a tobacco or alcohol addiction. Participants said they were more irritated, angry and disgusted about food addiction if the person was obese, the study found. The findings appear in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology.

Picking Addiction Help

"Treatment is not a prerequisite to surviving addiction." This bold statement opens the treatment chapter in a helpful new book, "Now What? An Insider's Guide to Addiction and Recovery," by William Cope Moyers, a man who nonetheless needed "four intense treatment experiences over five years" before he broke free of alcohol and drugs. As the son of Judith and Bill Moyers, successful parents who watched helplessly during a 15-year pursuit of oblivion through alcohol and drugs, William Moyers said his near-fatal battle with addiction demonstrates that this "illness of the mind, body and spirit" has no respect for status or opportunity. Click here to link to the rest of the story.

Underage youth drinking concentrated among small number of brands
A relatively small number of alcohol brands dominate underage youth alcohol consumption, according to a new report from researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health and the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The report, published online by Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, is the first U.S. national study to identify the alcohol brands consumed by underage youth, and has important implications for alcohol research and policy. Read the rest here.

Lower legal age may lead to adult binge drinking
People who came of age in a state where the legal drinking age was under 21 may have a higher risk of binge drinking through adulthood. Researchers tracked the long-term drinking behavior of more than 39,000 people who began consuming alcohol in the 1970s, when some states had legal drinking ages as low as 18. Read the rest here.

Accidental Poisonings from Prescription Drugs on the Rise in Pets
A growing number of pets are being accidentally poisoned, and prescription medicines are largely to blame, The Wall Street Journal reports. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports it received more than 180,000 calls about poisonous substances last year, up 7 percent from 2011. Since many pet owners rush poisoned pets to their veterinarian instead of calling a hotline, the number of accidental poisonings may be higher, the article notes. Prescription medications for humans have accounted for the majority of calls about accidental poisonings for the past five years, increasing 2 percent last year to more than 25,200 calls. Pet owners made almost 18,500 calls about over-the-counter medications and supplements, up 2.8 percent from the previous year. While insecticides and rodenticides are the most deadly household items for pets, common human medicines can also be fatal, depending on the pet’s weight, how much the pet consumes, and the strength of the medicine. “One acetaminophen will kill a cat,” Kevin T. Fitzgerald, a veterinarian with VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver, told the newspaper. Last year, calls about prescription painkillers increased 63 percent, while calls about antidepressants rose 47.5 percent. “More and more people are on these drugs, and dogs find them on the nightstand,” Dr. Fitzgerald said. The fatality rate among pets from accidental poisoning appears to be low, at 0.2 percent of cases, according to Tina Wismer, Director of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. She notes the center does not know the outcome of each call, so the rate might be higher. Dogs are more likely than cats to be accidentally poisoned. Labrador Retrievers accounted for almost 14,000 calls to the center. To limit pets’ access to dangerous substances, keep medications in a secure location such as a medicine cabinet, and take the medication when the pet isn’t nearby.

For Problem Drinkers, Depression Often the Result of Heavy Drinking
Depressive symptoms in problem drinkers often are the result of heavy alcohol intake, a new study suggests. The 30-year study included nearly 400 men, about half of whom were at increased risk for drinking problems because their fathers were alcoholics, MedicalXpress reports. Over the course of the study, about 41 percent of the men with alcoholic fathers developed alcohol abuse or dependence. Almost 20 percent suffered at least one bout of major depression, the article notes. Among men with alcohol problems, almost one-third of major depressive episodes appeared only when the men were drinking heavily. The study appears in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. “I don’t know that the average person realizes that heavy drinking can induce mood problems,” lead researcher Marc A. Schuckit, MD, of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, said in a news release. Dr. Schuckit noted that depression caused by heavy drinking is treated differently from major depressive episodes with other causes. He said the symptoms of depression caused by heavy drinking can be the same as those seen in people who are not heavy drinkers. However, if the symptoms develop in the context of heavy drinking, they are likely to disappear within several weeks to a month after the person stops drinking, and rarely requires antidepressants. Doctors should consider alcohol use disorders as a potential cause of depression, Dr. Schuckit said. He found no evidence that people with a history of major depression were at increased risk for developing alcohol problems. “If you’re an alcoholic, you’re going to have a lot of mood problems,” he said. “And you may be tempted to say, ‘Well, I drink a lot because I’m depressed.’ You may be right, but it’s even more likely that you’re depressed because you drink heavily.”

Novus Medical Detox Warns Public of 3 New Street Drugs—More Dangerous Than People Believe
While the rampant use of street drugs has been disturbing the lives of Americans for decades, Novus is warning people about the latest lethal combinations of synthetic drugs to hit the streets. A new wave of synthetic drugs is making its way into the hands of Americans, who are dying after abusing chemicals that nobody has ever heard of, stated Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson Rusty Payne (1). Novus Medical Detox, a drug detoxification facility with a 90% completion rate, is warning the public against the latest production of street drugs. Kent Runyon, Novus’ Executive Director, said that education of parents and in schools needs to be increased regarding street drugs in order to deter abuse, dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and even death. Rest of the story is available here.

Synthetic Marijuana Use Linked to Kidney Damage
Synthetic marijuana products, also known as Spice or K2, are potentially very dangerous for the kidneys, new research suggests. Case studies analyzed by doctors from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that this designer drug, which mimics the effects of marijuana, has been directly linked to serious kidney damage. The researchers suggested that doctors should suspect the use of synthetic marijuana when patients, particularly young adults, have unexplained acute kidney damage. They pointed out these man-made drugs can't be detected in routine drug screenings. Rest of the story is available here.

Four Loko Maker to Put “Alcohol Facts Panel” on Can
The maker of the sweet alcoholic drink Four Loko will put an “alcohol facts panel” on the back of cans containing more than two servings of alcohol, to settle the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) charges of deceptive marketing. The panel will be similar to the nutritional facts label found on foods, the Associated Press reports. It will disclose the alcohol by volume, and the number of servings in the can. According to a FTC news release, the drink’s maker, Phusion Projects, must redesign cans with more than two-and-a-half servings of alcohol so they can be resealed. This new design will encourage drinkers not to consume the entire can in one sitting. The agency noted it does not have the jurisdiction to ban Four Loko, or to force the company to limit its size or alcohol content. The FTC had said Four Loko ads implied the 23.5-ounce can was equal to one or two regular 12-ounce beers, but is really more like four or five beers, the article notes. The cans contain up to 12 percent alcohol. The commission had wanted to require Phusion to put new labels on drinks with more than two-and-a-half servings of alcohol, but changed the requirement to cans with more than two servings of alcohol, based on public comments about the dangers of supersized drinks. The FTC also wanted to require a label on the front of the can that compared the amount of alcohol in Four Loko to a regular beer. It dropped that recommendation after some critics said it could lead to binge drinking, by suggesting the drink was a fast, inexpensive way to get drunk. Four Loko originally contained caffeine and alcohol. Following warnings by the Food and Drug Administration, Phusion Projects removed caffeine from the drink.

Researchers Develop Patch to Deliver Psychoactive Ingredient of Marijuana
Researchers at the University of Mississippi have developed a patch to deliver THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. They say it could be used to treat pain, glaucoma, and the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, Mississippi News Now reports. The patch is designed to be used in the mouth, above the gum line. The patch has been tested in rabbits and pigs, the article notes. “I’m expecting even better results in humans,” researcher Michael A. Repka said in a news release. The researchers said the patch may be more effective than THC pills. “The main issue with oral THC delivery is that the drug gets metabolized before it reaches the bloodstream, resulting in a lot of variability in the dosage patients receive,” Repka said. “That has been a longtime problem. Delivering through the oral mucosa gives better absorption with minimal variability. When it goes into the mucosa, it bypasses liver metabolism, allowing for a lower dosage of the drug than when delivered orally.” Researcher Mahmoud A. ElSohly noted that the patch avoids some of the potential problems with smoking marijuana.”The problem with smoking marijuana is that when you smoke [the drug], you take even a single puff, you absorb so much all at once, which rushes into the brain and causes side effects of smoking marijuana,” he said. “If the high is too high, then you actually end up with the opposite activity of the high, which is the paranoia, the dysphoria, and the problems associated with that.”

Veterans with PTSD Often Prescribed Drugs Not Supported by Guidelines
Veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) are often prescribed medications not supported by existing government guidelines, according to a new study. Most of these prescriptions are written by mental health care providers, according to UPI. Researchers analyzed electronic pharmacy data from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for 356,958 veterans with PTSD, who received medications from VHA prescribers. The researchers from the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System found among veterans with PTSD who had continuous VHA medication use, 65.7 percent were prescribed elective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRI/SNRIs). Second-generation anti-psychotics were prescribed for 25.6 percent of the veterans, while benzodiazepines were prescribed for 37 percent. The findings appear in the journal Psychiatric Services.

Here are two new drug trends thought you should be aware of:

·         Trend #1 - A new way of consuming alcohol? The Vaportini

·         Trend #2 - Cashing in on the Medical Marijuana industry? Check out this "medicinal soda", Keef

Racial Differences Found in Opioid Treatment for Pain
A new study finds racial differences in opioid prescribing, monitoring and follow-up treatment practices. Black patients are less likely than white patients to have their pain levels documented, and to be referred to a pain specialist. They are more likely to be referred for substance abuse assessment after being prescribed opioids, MedicalXpress reports. Among patients given at least one urine drug test, black patients were given more tests, especially if they were on higher opioid doses, the study found. The study included data from 1,646 white and 253 black patients who filled opioid prescriptions for noncancer pain for more than 90 days. Black and white patients were equally likely to have a history of substance abuse, the article notes. The findings appear in the journal Pain. “The emerging picture is that black patients who are able to overcome the barriers to securing a prescription for opioid medications may still be subjected to differential monitoring and follow-up treatment practices that could impact the effectiveness of their pain management,” researcher Leslie R.M. Dr. Hausmann, PhD, of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, said in a news release.

Generic Drug Distributor Sues Suboxone Maker for Monopolizing Treatment Market
The generic drug distributor Rochester Drug Co-Operative Inc. has sued the maker of the opioid addiction treatment Suboxone for allegedly monopolizing the opioid treatment market, Bloomberg reports. The maker of Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone), Reckitt Benckiser Group, developed a film version of Suboxone that is placed under the tongue, to replace the tablet form of the drug. According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, this prevented competition, because pharmacists cannot substitute the cheaper generic version. “Reckitt concocted a multifaceted anticompetitive scheme, executed over the course of several years, to maintain and extend its monopoly power,” Rochester Drug stated in its complaint. The article notes Suboxone is used to help control opioid withdrawal symptoms. In September, 2012, Reckitt notified the Food and Drug Administration it was voluntarily discontinuing the supply of Suboxone tablets in the United States, due to increasing concerns with children’s exposure and risk for accidental poisonings. The U.S. Poison Control Centers found consistently and significantly higher rates of accidental unsupervised pediatric exposure with Suboxone tablets, compared with the film.

ADHD Drugs Not Effective in Many Young Children, Study Concludes
Treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) does not appear to help many young children, a new study concludes. The study followed 186 children, ages 3 to 5, who had moderate to severe ADHD. Six years after their diagnosis, about 90 percent still showed symptoms such as over-activity, impulse control or inattentiveness, according to Bloomberg. Two-thirds of the children were on medication. These children did not show significant differences in ADHD severity, compared with those who were not taking drugs. Almost two-thirds of treated children had significant hyperactivity and impulsivity, compared with 58 percent of those not taking medication. “ADHD in preschoolers is a chronic and rather persistent condition, one that requires better long-term behavioral and pharmacological treatments than we currently have,” study author Mark Riddle of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, said in a news release. The study appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adult Psychiatry.

The Problems with the U.S. Addiction Treatment System
Did you know that most addiction treatment specialists have little formal education or training in addiction? Fourteen states require only a high school diploma or a GED to become an addiction counselor; 10 require only an associate’s degree. But it gets worse — fully 20 states in the U.S. don’t require any degree, or don’t even require addictions counselors to be certified or licensed in any way. Is it any wonder then that many addiction or rehab programs still rely on an outdated model that’s directly dependent upon how long companies are typically reimbursed for treatment — 30 days? Or that many programs still use treatment methods largely unchanged from the 1950s — not research-backed, modern approaches to treatment? The story continues here.

12th Grade Dropouts Have Higher Rates of Cigarette, Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use

Youth in the 12th grade age range who have dropped out of school prior to graduating are more likely than their counterparts to be current users of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and other illicit drugs, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  The report considers those who reported use in the past month to be current users. For example, dropouts in this age group are more than twice as likely to be current smokers as youth continuing with their education (56.8 percent versus 22.4 percent).  The report also shows significant differences between the levels of illicit drug use between dropouts and those remaining in school. Overall current illicit drug use among dropouts was considerably higher than for those in school (31.4 percent versus 18.2 percent). Dropouts were more likely to be current marijuana users than those in school (27.3 percent versus 15.3 percent), and more likely to be current non-medical users of prescription drugs (9.5 percent versus 5.1 percent). Read the rest of the story here. The study, Substance Use Among 12th Grade Aged Youths by Dropout Status, was based on data drawn from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The full report can be viewed at

Prevention Efforts Focused on Youth Reduce Prescription Abuse into Adulthood
Middle school students from small towns and rural communities who received any of three community-based prevention programs were less likely to abuse prescription medications in late adolescence and young adulthood. The research, published today in the American Journal of Public Health, was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute of Mental Health, all components of the National Institutes of Health.  Read the rest of the story here.

Prescription drug bills reintroduced in Congress
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Congressman Nick Rahall have reintroduced bills to fight prescription drug abuse. The West Virginia Democrats announced Thursday the legislation would establish new training requirements before health care professionals can be licensed to prescribe prescription drugs. It also would promote physician and patient education, create a uniform reporting system for painkiller-related deaths, and increase funding for state drug monitoring programs. Rockefeller says prescription drug abuse or misuse is responsible for nine out of 10 drug-related deaths in the state. Sen. Joe Manchin is a co-sponsor of Rockefeller's Senate bill. A similar bill introduced in 2011 never came up for a vote in the Senate.

Alcohol Blamed for 1 in Every 30 Cancer Deaths

For anyone who still thinks that drinking does not contribute to cancer, a new report finds that alcohol is to blame for one in every 30 cancer deaths each year in the United States. The connection is even more pronounced with breast cancer, with 15 percent of those deaths related to alcohol consumption, the researchers added. And don't think that drinking in moderation will help, because 30 percent of all alcohol-related cancer deaths are linked to drinking 1.5 drinks or less a day, the report found. Alcohol is a cancer-causing agent that's in "plain sight," but people just don't see it, said study author Dr. David Nelson, director of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Find the rest of this article here.

Toward a Smarter Drug Policy
In Los Angeles not long ago, a man named Michael Banyard ran afoul of California's "three strikes" law. After bouts of homelessness, unemployment, suicidal thoughts, and a criminal record driven by an underlying substance use disorder, Michael faced a mandatory 25-year prison sentence. Fortunately for Michael, Federal District Court Judge Spencer Letts was put in charge of his final sentence appeal. Judge Letts saw Michael not as a hopeless, drug-using criminal, but as an individual with a disease in need of help. The judge then did something highly unusual. He not only reversed Michael's sentence, he invited him into his chambers to talk. Here were two men who could not be more different - a white, Yale- and Harvard-educated judge and former corporate vice president, and a shy African American who had spent most of his adult life in prison. And yet, the men found they had more in common than either could have imagined. Judge Letts knew that repeatedly incarcerating Michael wasn't accomplishing much. Click here to read the rest of the story.