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Friday, June 21, 2013

ATOD and Advocacy Update - Week-Ending June 21, 2013

Whiskey Makers Court Jewish Market
For avid whiskey lovers, few events are more eagerly anticipated than WhiskyFest, an enormous tasting that
touches down in several American cities throughout the year. But when sponsors of the New York festival suddenly moved it last year from Tuesday to Friday and Saturday, many regulars were unable to attend.
 A "K" symbol used in Britain to indicate that a product is kosher.  An alternative arrived suddenly in the form of a new one-night event, held on the eve of WhiskyFest. Despite little time to advertise, it drew a crowd of 250 to its unlikely Manhattan location: the West Side Institutional Synagogue. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Survey: Many Teens Have Unsupervised Access to Their Prescription Medications
A survey of eighth and ninth graders prescribed medication finds 83.4 percent say they have unsupervised access to the drugs at home. This included 73.7 percent who took pain relief, anti-anxiety, stimulant and sedative medication that have the potential for abuse, Science Daily reports. The online survey and in-person interviews with 230 teens is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. “It was surprising to me that parents were not storing medications securely because I expected them to be locked up and for parents to administer the medications,” said lead researcher Paula Ross-Durow, PhD, of the University of Michigan. She said parents don’t think about their teens’ friends coming into their homes and stealing medications. In addition, teens may give their prescription drugs away, thinking they are helping a friend and not understanding the risk. They also may not realize their friends may sell the drugs. “It is critical that clinicians educate parents and patients about the importance of proper storage and disposal of medications, particularly those with abuse potential,” the researchers conclude.

Teenagers Getting Prescription Drugs Online
More teenagers are getting their hands on prescription drugs and deterring them isn't as easy as monitoring your own medicine cabinet anymore. Controlled medications can be just a few computer clicks away. Recently, a 15-year-old from Maryland turned to the Internet to buy prescription painkillers. In his first phone call, that you can hear in a video obtained by WUSA 9, the teen calls a hotline for an online pharmacy based overseas to place an order for Percocet. When asked if he has a prescription, the teen says, "No, I don't have a prescription." The operator then responds, "No problem. Sir, we can get that, because if you do not have a prescription, we provide the medication, no problem." Click here for more on this story.

Alcohol abuse is fueling military sexual assault
Lately it has been awkward to be both a soldier and a woman. Civilian friends gently inquire about my welfare, always after a kindly and meaningful pause. They’ve read about the military’s problems with sexual assault, they say, and they’d like to support me if I need it. Fortunately, I do not. To what should my luck be attributed? I am physically fit, friendly and attractive. I have deployed overseas and sometimes work alone late at night. I attend social events and occasionally enjoy a nice glass of pinot grigio. Continue reading here

NY Senator Schumer Wants Colleges To End 'Academic Doping'; Up To 35% Of College Students Use ADHD Meds
With increasing competition to get into college and even fiercer competition once in college, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug abuse is on the rise in so called "academic doping." Chuck Schumer, the senior senator from New York, has called on colleges in the state to regulate student access to drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin, medications which are often abused by students to help them study and cram for tests. Currently, they are only approved for use by patients with ADD and ADHD. Continue reading here.

Alcohol ads push underage girls to drink more, research finds
A woman in a tight T-shirt holds a cup in front of her chest as she pours a beer in a TV ad. Her face is cut out of the shot. In another beer commercial, there is a closeup on a woman’s torso from behind as she dances at a party. Next to a bottle of tequila, a man embraces a woman, lifting her up with a smile on his face. These images of sexually attractive, popular women associated with alcoholic beverages are not meant for women as young as 13. But underage girls see them, and the exposure to advertising is having an adverse effect on their health. That’s the argument made in an editorial published on the Canadian Medical Association Journal website on Monday by senior associate editor Dr. Ken Flegel. Rest of this story is here.

The Unlikely Force Driving Teen Prescription Drug Addiction: Parents?
So many issues in parenting are a matter of opinion. Work or stay home? Spank or don't spank? Parents argue passionately on both sides, but there will likely never be a clear resolution to these questions. Luckily, a few issues are (or should be) cut and dry. None of us want our children using drugs. Unfortunately, even on this point, not all parents agree on the gravity of the problem. A recent study by The Partnership at reveals that parents are taking a hands-off approach to prescription drugs even though we have clear evidence of the magnitude of the epidemic. Researchers found that one in four teens has misused prescription medication at some point in their young lives. At a time when most other types of substance abuse are stabilizing, prescription drug abuse is up 33 percent from 2008. Continue here.

Craft brewing renaissance hits college campuses
A boom in the craft beer industry combined with an increase in food science programs means that more students are graduating college with a different kind of alcohol education. Read more here.

Improper Use Of Prescription Drugs Costs $200 Billion A Year, Report Finds
The U.S. spends $200 billion each year — about 8 percent of the nation’s health care tab — on medical care stemming from improper or unnecessary use of prescription drugs, a new report out Wednesday says. Much of those costs result from unneeded hospitalizations or doctor visits, according to the study by the IMS Health’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics, which provides data and other consulting services to the health care industry. Medical costs are driven up by patients who don’t get the right medications or fail to take their drugs, the misuse of antibiotics, medication errors and inadequate oversight when patients take multiple drugs. Please click here for more.

Prescription Drugs: 7 Out Of 10 Americans Take At Least One, Study Finds
A new study from Mayo Clinic researchers reveals how many Americans are on prescription drugs -- and it's a lot of us. The study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, shows that seven out of 10 Americans take at least one prescription drug. The most commonly prescribed drug is antibiotics -- taken by 17 percent of Americans -- followed by antidepressants and opioids -- each taken by 13 percent of Americans. Rest of the story is here.

Wiser Prescription Drug Use Could Cut Health Costs By Billions: Study
If doctors and patients used prescription drugs more wisely, they could save the U.S. health care system at least $213 billion a year, by reducing medication overuse, underuse and other flaws in care that cause complications and longer, more-expensive treatments, researchers conclude. The new findings by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics improve on numerous prior efforts to quantify the dollars wasted on health care. More is available here.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Autism May Share Similarities: Rodent Study
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and autism spectrum disorder may share some molecular similarities, a new study of rats suggests. The findings could help researchers trying to develop new treatments for both disorders, Fox News reports. Researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago exposed pregnant rats to alcohol, and found their offspring showed symptoms of social impairment and changed levels of genes that have been linked to autism in humans. Rats exposed to alcohol when pregnant who were given low doses of the thyroid hormone thyroxin showed reductions in some effects of alcohol damage, and a reversal in the production of autism-related genes in their offspring, the article notes. “The novel finding here is that these two disorders share molecular vulnerabilities, and if we understand those, we are closer to finding treatments,” said senior author Eva Redei. Both disorders have symptoms of social impairment, and begin during brain development in the womb, HealthCanal reports. The study appears in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Minorities Less Likely to Complete Substance Abuse Treatment in Many States
A state-by-state analysis of substance abuse treatment programs finds that in many states, minorities are less likely than whites to successfully complete substance abuse programs. The analysis found significant disparities among states with regard to racial and ethnic differences. Overall, 46.25 percent of whites, 45.6 percent of Latinos, and 37.5 percent of African-Americans completed substance abuse treatment programs, Newswise reports. In Tennessee, African-American clients were 35 percent less likely to complete treatment programs, compared with whites. In Vermont, Latinos were almost 22 percent less likely than whites to complete treatment programs. While Latinos and African-Americans had lower completion rates in many states, there were some exceptions, the University of Iowa researchers found. In Hawaii, Utah and Mississippi, African-American clients were slightly more likely than whites to complete programs. Latinos were more likely than whites to complete programs in 17 states, including Texas, Florida, Oregon and Kansas. “Our findings suggest that for most states there’s something amiss,” researcher Stephan Arndt, PhD, said in a news release. “There are strong racial and ethnic disparities for people in being able to complete substance abuse treatment programs successfully, and those disparities are something we need to set as targets to remove.” Arndt added, “On the positive side, the study clearly shows that some states have been able to eliminate disparities. We need to examine the states that are being successful and compare what they are doing with those states that are not doing so well – what can we learn from successful states?” The study appears in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. It included data from 940,058 participants in outpatient substance abuse treatment centers.

Tide Detergent Stolen, Traded for Drugs, Law Enforcement and Retail Officials Say
Law enforcement and retail officials say Tide detergent is being stolen and traded for drugs. Liquid Tide or Tide Pods are also being sold at open swap meets and secret meetings, according to The Press-Enterprise. Detergent is fairly easy to steal and difficult to trace, law enforcement officials say. Stealing detergent is relatively low in risk, compared with other types of crime, they add. Unlike cold medicines, which are frequently stolen to make methamphetamine, Tide is not being broken down to make drugs, the article notes. A 150-ounce bottle of Tide that sells for about $18 can be exchanged for $5 in cash, or $10 worth of marijuana or crack cocaine, according to New York Magazine. Riverside, California Police Lieutenant Dan Hoxmeier said the thefts often involve three people: someone to identify the product, a second person to make sure no one is watching and loads the cart, and a third who pushes the cart out of the store. Richard Mellor, Vice President of Loss Prevention for the National Retail Federation, says some merchants are shrink-wrapping extra inventory on shelves, or making the detergent difficult to reach. Others are attaching electronic devices to the products, which will activate if they are not removed at the checkout counter. Stores are also comparing surveillance photos, and forwarding the information to law enforcement.

The Friends You Keep: Non-Medical Use Of Prescription Drugs
As I look back through my writing — particularly on highly-caffeinated drinks and synthetic marijuana or other previously-legal highs — I’m reminded of the need to put societal drug use risks in proper perspective. For example, we’ve discussed the implication of 5-Hour Energy Shots in cardiac events and deaths in heavy users. But these events occurred in a dozen or two people out of millions of users. And while high-dose caffeine is know to precipitate such adverse events, the FDA has yet to establish causality in these specific cases. Continue reading here.

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