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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.

1 comment:

  1. Awsome tutorial, Im still a bit novice for this excersise but im going to work at it for the next couple days. Thanks alot for the post!