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Friday, July 26, 2013

ATOD and Advocacy Update - Week-Ending July 26, 2013

Nearly One-Fifth of Underage Drinkers Report Current Use of Marijuana with Alcohol

Underage drinkers are more likely than alcohol users ages 21 or older to use illicit drugs within 2 hours of alcohol use, according to data from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. One in five (20.1%) underage drinkers reported using at least one illicit drug the last time they used alcohol, compared to 4.9% of those ages 21 or older. Marijuana was the most commonly reported illicit drug used in combination with alcohol by both underage (19.2%) and older (4.4%) drinkers. In contrast, illicit drugs other than alcohol, including cocaine, heroin, and prescription drugs used nonmedically, were used with alcohol by only 2.2% of underage drinkers and less than 1% of drinkers ages 21 and older. Future research will be needed to study if the co-occurring use of alcohol and marijuana changes among residents of Colorado and Washington, which have both recently enacted laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana by adults.

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.

The Mysterious History Of 'Marijuana'

Marijuana has been intertwined with race and ethnicity in America since well before the word "marijuana" was coined. The drug, , has a disturbing case of multiple personality disorder: It's a go-to pop culture punch line. It's the foundation of a growing recreational and medicinal industry. , it's also the reason for more than half of the drug arrests in the U.S. A deeply disproportionate number of marijuana arrests (the vast majority of which are for possession) befall African-Americans, despite similar rates of usage among whites and blacks, the ACLU says. Continue reading this article here.

When Relapse Turns Deadly: What You Need to Know About Drug Overdose

Friends and fans are reeling in the wake of Glee actor Cory Monteith's overdose on a mixture of heroin and alcohol. Suffering a similar fate as Kriss Kross rapper Chris Kelly and others who have passed this year, his lengthy battle with drugs ended tragically on July 13 in his hotel room. Could his story have ended differently? What can others learn from this tragedy? Monteith's passing highlights important lessons for anyone who struggles with addiction or cares aboutan addict (which, with 23 million people suffering from addiction, is most of us). While celebrity overdoses draw the public's attention, 100 people die from drug overdoses every day in the U.S. After increasing every year from 1999 to 2010, drug overdose is now the No. 1 cause of accidental death, surpassing car accidents. This increase is largely attributed to the epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned that more women are dying from prescription painkiller overdoses than ever before, a 400 percent increase in just the last decade. Continue here.

Commentary: My Prescription for the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic

I am an emergency physician. It is the best job in the world and I am proud to do it. However, recent media reports paint my colleagues and me as the source behind the recent dramatic rise in prescription drug abuse. We aren’t. Despite certain perceptions to the contrary, we actually account for a very low percentage of all narcotics prescribed. Rest of this commentary is here.

Life After 50: Think You Have a Drinking Problem? How To Know And What To Do

We've all read the studies: moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle for many people. Men who have two drinks a day and women who have one are less prone to heart disease, diabetes, gallstones, arthritis and even Alzheimer's. But sometimes too much Pinot Noir can be too much of a good thing. As daily consumption increases, the benefits are replaced by risks.

Drinking is on the rise in people over 50 and seems to climb as we get older. Some studies cite retirement, loss of job, divorce and death or declining health of a loved one as just a few of the reasons why. In 2010, 16 percent of people over 65 had a daily drink, compared to 10 percent of 45 to 64 year olds and 2 percent of 16 to 24 year olds. And gender is a factor: women between 45 and 64 drink more than any other age group. Continue here.

5 Ways to Avoid Addiction Relapse

If you or someone you love has attended a drug rehab program and successfully completed it, it is a huge accomplishment. While in treatment tools were provided to assist in staying clean and sober, relapse prevention plans were developed, and aftercare plans were made. Although successfully completing is a great feat, successfully completing treatment is just the beginning. Please click here to continue reading.

The Clash of Cultures Floating in a Drink - Lawrence Osborne’s Alcohol Quest in ‘The Wet and the Dry’

There are three reasons Lawrence Osborne’s new book, “The Wet and the Dry,” is instantly among the best nonfiction volumes about drinking that we have, and why, if you have a bar, it should be tucked into its corner, near the bitters. The first reason is that Mr. Osborne is a terrific writer, hardheaded and searching, and he’s getting better as he gets older. His novel from last year, “The Forgiven,” was a bite-size piece of poison candy — a persuasively creepy mix of Ian McEwan and Paul Bowles. “The Wet and the Dry” is a book in which cocktails are said to be “entered, like bodies of water or locales.” Thus a vodka martini with its bobbing olive, imbibed while in Beirut, is to the author “salty like cold seawater at the bottom of an oyster” and “sinister and cool and satisfying.” The author gets bonus points for not being a snob about vodka martinis. Rest of this story is here.

College culture? An alcohol-fueled frenzy of sexual harassment

'Hooking up' has been spun as sexual liberation for career-focused young women. It doesn't square with my campus life

It's freshman year. I'm at a new student orientation party at the University of Pennsylvania, wondering what exactly is in my cup. "Jungle juice", I'm told, as if that should explain things. I make out the words "everclear" and "blackout drunk" over the din of awful house music blasting from the expensive-looking speakers in some fraternity house. I have no idea what's going on, and neither do many of my fellow classmates, which doesn't stop them from passing out drunk. Continue reading here.

Indiana Poison Center Reports Dramatic Drop in Synthetic Drug Overdoses

The Indiana Poison Center reports major decreases in the number of reported overdoses from synthetic drugs such as bath salts and Spice, according to the Associated Press. The state passed its first synthetic drug ban in 2011. Since then, there has been an 86 percent decrease in reported overdoses of bath salts, and a 61 percent drop in overdoses of Spice, or synthetic marijuana. State Senator Jim Merritt, who sponsored the synthetic drug ban, said in a news release, “Synthetic drug use quickly became an epidemic in Indiana, with these products cropping up in convenience stores and gas stations across the state. These drugs provide absolutely no value to society, have dangerous and destructive side effects, and fuel a culture of casual drug use. I am energized to see Indiana’s rates dropping and I pledge to continue this fight.” People using bath salts have experienced side effects including paranoia and violent behavior; hallucinations; delusions; suicidal thoughts; seizures; panic attacks; increased blood pressure and heart rate; chest pain; and nausea and vomiting. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, health effects from synthetic marijuana can be life-threatening and can include severe agitation and anxiety; fast, racing heartbeat and higher blood pressure; nausea and vomiting; muscle spasms, seizures, and tremors; intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes; and suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions.

A Mother's Perspective on Her Son's Addiction

Anita Devlin didn't know.

Her son, Mike, was spiraling out of control at the University of Vermont, living a life that revolved around prescription painkillers, cocaine, heroin and drinking. When he needed more money for drugs – when his side jobs and the cocaine he was selling didn't cut it – he called home and said he needed cash for textbooks, or because the rear tire had popped on his car. Her son? Her son was a drug addict? When Devlin learned how dire the situation was, she was the one who texted Mike repeatedly when he disappeared to a Motel 6 to "polish off everything he had," as he later confessed. She was the one who sought help both for herself, as someone who loved an addict, and for her son, when he was ready for it. And now, she continues to support him as he marks two and a half years of sobriety. Please click here to continue reading.

Collaboration Needed to Address Prescription Drug Abuse and Access Issues | Commentary

Partisanship usually gets the blame when Washington fails to muster an appropriate governmental response to the nation’s challenges. But when it comes to confronting prescription drug abuse, the divide within the government is caused not by the culprit of partisan stripes but rather by departmental silos. That needs to change. Currently, when it comes to prescription drug abuse, there is the response of the enforcement agencies and there is the response of the health agencies. These approaches all too often remain separate and out of sync. As a result, stories of those ravaged by drug abuse are pitted against stories of those deprived of access to prescription medications they need for legitimate purposes. Both aspects of human suffering need to be figured into the solution. Please click here for more.

Ad at NASCAR race says pot less harmful than alcohol

Fans attending a major NASCAR race this weekend will see a most unlikely video posted on a giant video screen shortly before entering the track: a pro-marijuana legalization ad. (You can watch the entire ad deeper in this story) Outside the NASCAR Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis, the same track that hosts the famed Indianapolis 500, Marijuana Policy Project, the nation's largest pro-marijuana legalization advocacy group, has purchased space to air - dozens of times over the weekend - a video that pushes the theme that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. It marks the first time a pro-marijuana legalization ad will appear so close to an entrance gate of a major sporting event. The Brickyard 400, in its 20th year, is regarded as one of NASCAR's biggest races. Click here for the story and the video.

Sleep Problems and Substance Use Disorders: An Often Overlooked Link

Sleep problems and substance use disorders often go together, according to a specialist who says many people continue to have insomnia even after they are able to successfully stop abusing drugs and alcohol. Doctors who treat sleep disorders and those who treat substance use disorders need to be aware of the possible connection between the two, particularly when prescribing sleep medications, according to Khurshid A. Khurshid, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

ATOD and Advocacy Update - Week-Ending July 19, 2013

Young Children’s Personality Traits Linked to Teen Alcohol Use
A child’s personality traits before age 5 may help predict whether they will use alcohol in adolescence, a new study suggests. The researchers followed about 12,600 children from the time they were born. Parents were asked about their children’s personalities in the first five years of life; after that, the researchers interviewed both the children and their parents, Fox News reports. By age 15 ½, 4,600 teens were still participating. The researchers were able to statistically extrapolate results from the teens who had dropped out of the study. They found the personality traits in toddlers most closely associated with teen alcohol use fell into two categories: emotional instability and relatively low sociability, and high sociability, which may lead to “sensation seeking” later in life. The findings appear in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. “This underscores the fact that drinking during adolescence is largely a social phenomenon,” study co-author Danielle Dick of Virginia Commonwealth University said in a journal news release. “However, this doesn’t mean it’s less problematic; we know from other studies that most adolescent drinking is high risk — for example, binge drinking — and can lead to numerous negative consequences.” She added, “People don’t enter adolescence as blank slates; they have a history of life experiences that they bring with them, dating back to early childhood. This is one of the most comprehensive attempts to understand very early childhood predictors of adolescent alcohol use in a large epidemiological cohort.” She noted the study indicates that troubled children are not the only ones who start to use alcohol. “It’s also the highly sociable kids as well. Parents should be aware of this.”

U.S. Government Announces Major Drop in Worldwide Cocaine Production
The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced there has been at 41 percent decrease in worldwide cocaine production since 2001, and a 10 percent drop from the previous year. The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found the number of Americans aged 12 or older who are current users of cocaine has dropped by 44 percent since 2006, The Christian Science Monitor reports. “I’ve never seen such a rapid decline for such an addictive drug,” Peter Reuter, a public policy professor and drug economy expert at the University of Maryland in College Park, told the newspaper. ONDCP says a U.S.-Columbian partnership has contributed to the drop in worldwide cocaine production. Interceptions by the Coast Guard and Defense Department along drug trafficking routes have also led to a decrease in the amount of cocaine entering the United States. The government survey on cocaine use found in 2011, an estimated 1.4 million Americans used cocaine, down from 2.4 million in 2006.  The number of people who first tried cocaine in the previous year decreased from 1 million in 2002, to 670,000 in 2011. In addition, the number of people who abused or were dependent on cocaine dropped from 1.7 million in 2006, to 0.8 million in 2011. The number of people who tested positive for cocaine in the workplace dropped 65 percent from 2006 to 2012, while there was a 44 percent decrease in cocaine-related overdose deaths from 2006 to 2010. Some experts say the drop in cocaine use in the United States is largely due to rising prices and shifts in the global cocaine market, with a greater share of the drug going to Europe and other parts of the world.

Aggression Caused by Family Violence May Lead to Substance Abuse, Study Suggests
Boys who are exposed to family violence become more aggressive toward their classmates, and this behavior is linked with greater levels of substance abuse over time, according to a new study. The study looked at the effects of family violence, including verbal and physical aggression between siblings, Medical Xpress reports. Most previous studies of family violence and its effects have focused on parents’ behavior, the article notes. The University of Illinois researchers studied more than 1,200 students at four middle schools, who completed questionnaires about their levels of substance abuse, and whether they engaged in fighting and bullying. They were asked about conflicts in their homes, including arguing, teasing and physical aggression between siblings. They found bullying and fighting are linked to family violence and substance abuse in boys. Girls exposed to family violence reported higher levels of substance abuse over time, which was not associated with bullying and fighting. The study appears in the Journal of Research on Adolescence. “There’s been a growing consensus that family violence is a training ground for peer aggression and associated risk behaviors such as substance abuse,” lead researcher Dorothy Espelage said in a news release. “However, awareness of the impact of sibling aggression on bullying has lagged behind other types of family violence. It is imperative that researchers investigating the family context of bullying and substance abuse examine not only violence involving parents but also that involving siblings.”

Samuel T. Wilkinson: Pot-Smoking And the Schizophrenia Connection

Medical research shows a clear link between marijuana use and mental illness.

Recent legislation has permitted the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state. Those who support legalization often tout the lack of serious medical consequences associated with the drug. Most of us know people who used marijuana in high school or college and seem to have suffered no significant medical consequences. As the medical and scientific literature continues to accumulate, however, it is becoming clearer that the claim that marijuana is medically harmless is false. Continue reading here.

“Doctor Shoppers” Bought 4.3 Million Prescriptions for Opioids in 2008

People who “doctor shop” bought an estimated 4.3 million prescriptions for opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin in 2008, a new study finds. Doctor shoppers, who visit multiple health care providers to obtain prescriptions, represented almost 1 percent of all buyers of addictive pain medications in the United States that year. The study, conducted by the think tank Abt Associates, is the first national estimate of doctor shopping in the country, the researchers said. “There’s a hole in our prescription control system in the United States,” study co-author Douglas McDonald told HealthDay. “Lacking a universal health record, doctors have to rely on what patients tell them about what they’ve been prescribed by other doctors.”  This means “doctor shoppers can get multiple prescriptions for the same drug if they lie to their physician,” he said. The researchers analyzed a national sample of more than 146 prescriptions for opioids dispensed in 2008. They found one out of every 143 patients who purchased the drugs received an unusually large number of prescriptions from multiple health care providers. These patients obtained an average of 32 prescriptions from 10 different doctors. The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE. Although many states have prescription drug monitoring programs designed to detect doctor shopping, some people are able to get around the system, McDonald said. “There are patients who have doctored MRI results, they go from doctor to doctor and show this falsified MRI record that shows they have a bone spur in their neck and they are in intense pain.” Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at, said because the monitoring programs function at the state level, doctor shoppers can avoid detection by crossing state lines. “I could have gotten a prescription in Portland yesterday, and then come to Connecticut and get another prescription,” he said.

Most Women Who Drink Before Pregnancy Continue While Pregnant

Most women who drink before becoming pregnant continue consuming alcohol throughout their pregnancy, Australian researchers have found. A study of 1,969 women found 82 percent consumed some alcohol during pregnancy, reports. Of these women, 77 percent consumed one or two drinks on the days they drank, and 90 percent drank no more than once or twice a week. Women who drank weekly before pregnancy were 50 percent more likely to continue drinking during pregnancy, compared with women who drank less than weekly. Those who reported binge drinking before becoming pregnant were more than twice as likely to continue to drink during pregnancy. Women who had fertility problems were 36 percent less likely to drink, compared with women who did not have difficulty becoming pregnant. The study appears in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. A study published last year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found almost 8 percent of pregnant women report alcohol use. The study analyzed data from almost 14,000 pregnant women and more than 330,000 non-pregnant women ages 18 to 44. About one in 13 pregnant women, or 7.6 percent, said they drank alcohol within the past month, compared with 51.5 percent of non-pregnant women. The researchers found 1.4 percent of pregnant women reported binge drinking. Among pregnant women who said they engaged in binge drinking, those with a high school education or less reported binge drinking an average of 3.4 times a month, and having 6.4 drinks per occasion. In contrast, college graduates reported binge drinking 2.5 times per month, with 5.4 drinks per occasion. Binge drinking was more common among unmarried women.

Epilepsy Drug May Help Curb Cocaine and Alcohol Addiction

A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania tested the effects of topiramate on a group of individuals struggling with both cocaine and alcohol addiction. Past studies have shown that topiramate could be used to curb cocaine as well as alcohol dependency, but this is the first time it's been used to treat people who struggle with both cocaine and alcohol addictions at the same time. Because cocaine and alcohol addiction frequently comes hand in hand, in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy, treatments "targeting both may be the best strategy to treat individuals," the study states. Please click here to continue reading.

Alcohol deaths in young women show 'worrying rise', warns study

The number of deaths of women born in the 1970s has "disproportionately increased" since the middle of the last decade.  Cheap drink has led to a “worrying” increase in alcohol-related deaths among young women in England and Scotland, according to a new study. Since the mid-2000s, there has been an overall fall in alcohol-related deaths across all sexes and age groups except women born in the 1970s, according to the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The researchers urged health officials use the figures as a "warning signal". Click here to continue reading.

Commentary: Getting Past the Stigma and Treating Addiction as a Chronic Disease

I recently received a call from a very senior level executive at a prestigious medical school, asking for advice on how to help his 26-year-old son who has a serious heroin addiction. The son had been through five residential treatment programs over the past several years, at a cost to the family of over $150,000. The troubling thing about this call was the reason this man reached out to me. He called me because I have been public about my own son’s drug overdose – he was calling me as another affected father and had no idea that I had any familiarity with the field other than my family experience. Let’s just stop there. Consider if this high-level executive’s son had been suffering from a rare tropical disease, he would have unhesitatingly sought and received guidance from a leading medical expert – not a father who had lost his child to that disease. In this case, he was literally too ashamed to contact one of his own organization’s physicians. This extraordinary degree of stigma and sense of isolation that families still experience is unjustified and incapacitating. Continue reading here.

History of Severe Childhood Abuse May Increase Drug Users’ Risk of Suicide Attempts

Drug users who have been victims of severe childhood abuse are at increased risk for suicide attempts, a new study concludes. Less severe abuse, or physical or emotional neglect, does not appear to increase the risk. HealthDay reports the Canadian study included 1,600 people who used drugs. They found extreme childhood abuse, especially emotional or sexual abuse, was associated with a significantly increased risk of attempting suicide. During the course of the study, 80 participants reported a total of 97 suicide attempts—a rate that is five times higher than in the general population, the article notes. Participants who suffered severe to extreme emotional abuse were 2.9 to 3.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than those who did not suffer such abuse. Those who suffered extreme sexual abuse were 2.5 to 2.8 times more likely to attempt suicide, while such attempts were 1.6 to 2 times more likely in those who had suffered extreme physical abuse. The findings appear in the American Journal of Public Health. They show “how detrimental childhood trauma can be,” lead author Brandon Marshall of the Brown University School of Public Health, said in a university news release. “We saw extremely strong associations, which suggest that abuse has lasting mental health impacts well into adulthood.”  He advised care providers to screen for these types of abuse and intervene whenever they see a situation of severe abuse, regardless of what type it was.

Myths About Addiction: “They Could Stop If They Wanted To”

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have our own ideas of what an addict looks like. We have our beliefs about why they engage in the behaviors they engage in and why they just won’t quit. This is also true for addicts themselves. Often it is difficult to overcome addiction because of the perception of what addiction really is. But the truth of addiction is sometimes hidden behind common, long-standing myths. So here are some of those common myths — and the real truth — about addicts and addiction. Please click here to read the rest of the story.