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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ATOD & Advocacy Update - Week Ending August 23, 2013

New Survey: Hispanic Teen Drug Use Significantly Higher Than Other Ethnic Groups, Substance Abuse Becoming Normalized Behavior Among Latino Youth
The Partnership at released new research from the latest Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), a nationally projectable survey that tracks teen drug and alcohol use and parent attitudes toward substance abuse among teens. The research, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, shows that Hispanic teens are using drugs at alarmingly higher levels when compared to teens from other ethnic groups. It confirms that substance abuse has become a normalized behavior among Latino youth. Continue reading here.

Common genes may underlie alcohol dependence, eating disorders
People with alcohol dependence may be more genetically susceptible to certain types of eating disorders, and vice-versa, according to a study in the September issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. In a study of nearly 6,000 adult twins, researchers found that common genetic factors seemed to underlie both alcoholism and certain eating disorder symptoms—namely, binge eating and purging habits, such as self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse. Genes appeared to explain 38 percent to 53 percent of the risk of developing those disorders. Read the rest of this article here.

Federal Drug Agency Denies Marijuana Is Less Toxic Than Alcohol
The National Institute on Drug Abuse released an eyebrow-raising statement to PolitiFact on Monday, denying that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol. "Claiming that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol cannot be substantiated since each possess their own unique set of risks and consequences for a given individual," wrote the institute. NIDA, part of the National Institutes of Health, funds government-backed scientific research and has a stated mission "to lead the nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction." The statement was in response to a declaration by the pro-pot policy group Marijuana Policy Project that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol –- a claim that was the centerpiece of a controversial pro-marijuana commercial aired during a NASCAR race last month. Continue here.

Do the same genes cause alcohol dependence and eating disorders?
A new statistical analysis suggests that alcohol dependence and binging and purging behaviors, all believed to be influenced by genetic factors, may actually be influenced by the same genes. Writing in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Washington University School of Medicine postdoctoral researcher Melissa Munn-Chernoff and colleagues reported that genetic risk factors that make people susceptible to alcoholism also appear to influence risk for binge eating in both men and women and for “compensatory behaviors” such as starvation, laxative use and self-induced vomiting in women. More here.

Advice on Addiction in Boomers, Part 1
Readers have been sending questions about baby boomers and addiction to Dr. Barbara Krantz, an addiction expert at the Hanley Center, a nonprofit addiction recovery center in West Palm Beach, Fla. This is Part 1 of her answers; more will appear next Wednesday. Because of the volume of questions, not all of them may be answered. Keep reading here.

NIDA and Lightlake Therapeutics partner to expand access to medication to treat opioid overdose
NIDA and Lightlake Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing novel treatments for addictions and conducting clinical trials with intranasal naloxone for the treatment of binge eating disorder, have entered into a partnership to apply this technology towards the treatment of opioid overdose. Clinical trials are expected to begin fall 2013. Naloxone is an injectable medicine that can rapidly reverse the overdose of prescription and illicit opioids. An intranasal delivery system for naloxone could widely expand its availability and use in preventing opioid overdose deaths, a public health problem of epidemic proportion in the U.S. For more on the role of naloxone in preventing opioid overdose deaths, see: (PDF, 29KB) To learn more about NIDA’s medications development program, go to:

Full-Time College Students Less Likely to Use  Synthetic Cannabinoids or Cathinones Than Other Young Adults
Young adults not in college are more than twice as likely to report using synthetic cannabinoids or synthetic cathinones than those attending college full time, according to the most recent data from the national Monitoring the Future survey. Nearly one in ten high school graduates who were one to four years out of high school reported using synthetic cannabinoids, also known as spice or K2, in the past year, compared to 4.3% of full-time college students. Similarly, 3.5% of young adults not attending college reported using synthetic cathinones, also known as bath salts, compared to 0.2% of full-time college students. While there are currently 18 synthetic cannabinoids and 3 synthetic cathinones illegal at the federal level, these laws are often circumvented by the production, sale, and use of new synthetic cannabinoid and cathinone metabolites not covered by current legislation. SOURCE: Adapted by CESAR from Johnston, L.D., O’Malley, P.M., Bachman, J.G., and Schulenberg, J.E., Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975-2012, Volume 2: College Students and Adults Ages 19-50, 2013.

New SAMHSA report shows when times are tough, public funding for behavioral health treatment is even more critical
A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows the importance of public funding for mental health services and substance abuse during difficult economic times, when it helps those who might otherwise be unable to afford the help they need. Continue here.

Tackling Underage Binge Drinking in College [AUDIO] - NJ101.5
From Animal House to Old School, college and alcohol cultures have been intrinsically linked, however, when it comes to underage and binge drinking, advocates are trying to disassociate the two entities for the safety of many young adults. Steven Liga, President and CEO of the Middlesex County chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, says because of the cultural association of college and drinking, incoming freshmen often come in with the assumption that drinking heavily is expected of them. But, he points out as students age, they actually find out that’s not the case. Read/listen to the complete piece here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

ATOD & Advocacy Update - Week Ending August 16, 2013

Excessive Alcohol Use Costs $223.5 Billion Annually
Excessive alcohol use costs the United States $223.5 billion annually, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Binge drinking accounts for more than 70 percent of these costs. “It is striking to see most of the costs of excessive drinking in states and D.C. are due to binge drinking, which is reported by about 18 percent of U.S. adults,” report author Dr. Robert Brewer, alcohol program lead at CDC, said in a statement. CBS News reports the median state cost associated with excessive alcohol use was $2.9 billion; about $2 of every $5 was paid for by the government. Alcohol-related costs totaled almost $32 billion in California, compared with $420 million in North Dakota. The authors concluded costs due to excessive drinking largely came from losses in workplace productivity, healthcare expenses and costs resulting from criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crashes and property damage. The report found underage drinking accounted for $24.6 billion, or 11 percent, of the total excessive drinking costs. The findings are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. In 2012, the CDC released a report that found 38 million American adults are binge drinkers, and most of them are ages 18 to 34. Binge drinking is defined as men who have five or more drinks in one sitting, and women who have four or more drinks at one time. The CDC recommends a number of strategies to reduce alcohol-related costs, including increasing alcohol taxes, limiting the number of alcohol retailers in certain areas and holding retailers liable for selling alcohol to obviously intoxicated people or minors who cause death or injury to others.

Young Americans Turning Away From Beer, Embracing Liquor As Drink Of Choice: Gallup
Millennials are driving a decline in beer's lead as the most preferred type of alcohol, according to a recent Gallup poll. The percentage of adults under 30 who pick beer over wine or liquor has dropped from 71 percent in the early 1990's to just 41 percent today. While beer narrowly remains the most popular drink of choice when compared to wine and liquor, young Americans are shifting towards liquor increasingly. Twenty-eight percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they prefer liquor today, compared to 13 percent of that age group who said they preferred liquor in a 1992-1994 survey. Overall, Americans are about split between beer and wine as their preferred drink, 36 to 35 percent. But beer's dominance over wine dropped 20 points since 1992, Gallup noted. Read the rest of this article here.

Pharmacists and Doctors Squabble as Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic Rages
Pharmacists and doctors are at each other’s throats over a strongly worded resolution passed by the American Medical Association (AMA) that was meant to curb phone calls from pharmacists checking for additional information about pain medication prescriptions. The AMA House of Delegates passed the strongly-worded resolution in June and now pharmacists have come out against it, saying it is an affront to the mostly collegial relationship that the two professions have enjoyed thus far. Read more here.

Problem Behaviors Can Signal Risk in Prescribing Opioids to Teens
In the years 2007 to 2009, more than 1 in 5 high school seniors nationwide had used an opioid painkiller (e.g., Vicodin, OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Demerol, Dilaudid, morphine, or codeine) at least once in their lives. Roughly 1 in 8 had used these medications without a doctor instructing them to do so. Any history of such nonmedical opioid use should raise a red flag for a person’s potential engagement in multiple problematic substance-related behaviors. Click to read more.

Women Tend to Seek Help for Alcohol Abuse Sooner Than Men; Females go for treatment after an average 10 years versus 15 years for males
Women with drinking problems seek treatment an average of four to five years earlier than men with drinking problems, a new study reveals. Researchers collected information from 274 men and 257 women in substance abuse treatment facilities and found that women sought treatment after about 10 years of having a drinking problem, compared with about 15 years for men.  In addition, the investigators found that women start drinking regularly around the same age as men -- average age was 19 for women and 18 for men -- and that self-reported drinking problems begin in the early 20s for both women and men. The findings were released online Aug. 9 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Historically, alcoholism has been considered a 'male disease' due to its markedly higher prevalence among men," study corresponding author Ben Lewis, a postdoctoral associate in the psychiatry department at the University of Florida, said in a journal news release. "More recently it has been recognized that while men may have a higher prevalence, women may be uniquely vulnerable to negative consequences of chronic drinking." While the study did not determine why women seek treatment sooner than men, the fact that they do so is important information for doctors and other health care providers, said Rosemary Fama, senior research scientist and senior research neuropsychologist at Stanford University School of Medicine and SRI International, in the news release. She was not involved in the study. Fama suggested that women may attach less social stigma to drinking problems than men and may be more willing to admit that they have a drinking problem and need professional help to deal with it.

In Teen Girls, Alcohol Habits Tend to Differ By Race
A new study reveals racial differences in the alcohol habits of high school females, with alcohol use more common among white girls than black girls. And among those who do drink, black girls tend to consume more liquor, whereas white girls generally drink both beer and liquor. Continue reading here.

CVS pharmacies to ID customers buying nail polish remover to prevent criminals from using it to make crystal meth
Nail polish remover can be used for dozens of things that have nothing to do with removing nail polish. For example, it can be used to remove permanent marker, dissolve superglue and rub paint off of windows.  It's also used to make crystal meth, which is why CVS pharmacies have implemented a policy requiring anyone buying nail polish remover to present photo identification. 'Our policy limits the sale of these products in conjunction with other methamphetamine precursors and is based on various regulations requiring retailers to record sales of acetone,' said CVS Public Relations Director Mike DeAngelis.  According to the pharmacy chain, when you purchase a bottle of nail polish remover, the clerk will scan your ID and keep track of how often you purchase products that contain acetone.  It's unclear how much acetone a person would need to buy in order to be denied purchase.  There currently are no state or federal laws limiting the amount of acetone products a person can buy in a single day. But CVS' new policy may be a preemptive move to avoid future lawsuits.

Number of Calls to U.S. Poison Control Centers About Exposure to Synthetic Marijuana and Synthetic Cathinones Stable at Lower Levels Than Recent Years
The number of calls to U.S. poison control centers about exposure to synthetic marijuana and synthetic cathinones remained relatively stable in the first six months of 2013, according to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). After peaking in July 2011 at 705 calls, the number of calls for synthetic marijuana, also known as spice or K2, began to decline in 2012, reaching 173 in January 2013. Since then the number of calls for exposure to synthetic marijuana have remained relatively stable at around 250 calls per month, with a slight decrease from May to June 2013 (from 272 calls to 221 calls). A similar pattern emerged for synthetic cathinones, also known as bath salts. After peaking in June 2011 at 744 calls, the number of poison center calls for synthetic cathinone exposure declined sharply during the rest of 2011, stabilized for the first part of 2012, then declined again after a brief rise. The number of calls for exposure to synthetic cathinones has remained around 90 calls per month since September 2012. The decreases in exposure calls for synthetic marijuana and bath salts since 2011 may be related to the heightened media exposure about the negative effects of these drugs as well as recent federal and state legal bans on the substances. SOURCE: Adapted by CESAR from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), Synthetic Marijuana Data June 30,2013, 2013.

New Sign of Stimulants’ Toll on Young
The number of young adults who end up in the emergency room after taking Adderall, Ritalin or other such stimulants has quadrupled in recent years, federal health officials said Thursday, fresh evidence of the unexpected consequences that can result from the wide use of medicines for conditions like attention deficit disorder. The number of emergency room visits related to stimulants among people ages 18 to 34 increased to 23,000 in 2011, from 5,600 in 2005, according to national data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services. Peter J. Delany, the director of the office that oversees statistics for the administration, said the rise was particularly pronounced among 18- to 25-year-olds. He said it was part of a broader pattern of negative health effects from prescription drug abuse across American society. Continue reading here.

Drug Company Has List of MDs Who May Recklessly Prescribe Painkillers
Purdue Pharma, which makes the opioid painkiller OxyContin, has compiled a database of about 1,800 doctors it suspects may have recklessly prescribed the drug to people addicted to it, as well as to drug dealers, the Los Angeles Times reports. The company has kept most of the list private. The company has maintained the list over the last decade, according to the newspaper. It has only alerted law enforcement officials or medical authorities about a small percentage of doctors on the list. Many of the doctors in the database have continued to write prescriptions for the drug, the article notes. The list was discussed for the first time in public at a drug dependency conference in San Diego in June. The company has told law enforcement officials or medical regulators about 154, or 8 percent, of the doctors in the database, Abrams said. She noted the company would alert authorities in some situations, such as cases in which their sales representatives witness apparent drug deals in doctors’ parking lots, or observe doctors who appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

High-Potency Marijuana Can Lead to Dangerous Behavior, Doctors Say
Many marijuana growers are trying to increase the content of the drug’s active ingredient, THC, as high as it will go, CNN reports. High-potency marijuana can lead to dangerous behavior, such as intoxicated driving, several experts say. Generally, the most potent strains have a THC content of about 25 percent, the article notes. Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, who directs the lab at the University of Mississippi that tracks the potency of marijuana seized by federal law enforcement officers, says they have found marijuana with a potency of 37 percent. In 1972, the average THC potency was less than 1 percent. That rose to 3 to 4 percent in the 1990s, and is almost 13 percent today. Dr. Julie Holland, a New York psychiatrist, says certain behaviors, such as driving, can be deadly for a person who is acutely intoxicated from THC. “The risk is not that you’ll stop breathing or that you’ll die,” she says. “The risk is that you’ll become very altered and disoriented, and you can get anxious and panicky in that situation.” Dr. Stuart Gitlow, President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, notes, “If you look at marijuana, the intensity has changed. So I would expect it to have a somewhat higher addictive potential.” He added, “ Most people are going to be fine, but there still will be that 10 percent of people who are going to get as high as they possibly can.”

Moderate Drinkers May Gain Less Weight Than Heavier or Lighter Drinkers
Recent research suggests people who drink moderately—about two glasses a day for men, and one for women—may gain less weight than those who drink heavily or don’t drink at all, according to The Wall Street Journal. “People who gain the least weight are moderate drinkers, regardless of [alcoholic] beverage choice,” Erik Rimm, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard Medical School, told the newspaper. Rimm, who chaired the 2010 review of alcohol in the federal dietary guidelines, notes the difference in weight gain is modest. “Starting to drink is not a weight-loss diet,” he said. Rimm says after people drink alcohol, their heart rate increases, so they burn more calories in the subsequent hour. “It’s a modest amount,” he said. “But if you take an individual that eats 100 calories instead of a glass of wine, the person drinking the glass of wine will have a slight increase in the amount of calories burned.” Alcohol can influence a person’s food choices. Research suggests women who drink alcohol consume fewer sweet foods. This may be because alcohol stimulates the same pleasure center in the brain as sweets. A study published earlier this year found people consume more calories and fat on the days they drink alcohol. Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism studied 1,864 adults who answered a diet questionnaire on two days within a 10-day period. On one day, they drank alcohol, and on the second day, they did not. When they drank, they had an average of two to three alcoholic beverages at a time. On days they did not drink, men consumed an average of 2,400 calories, while women consumed about 1,700 calories. When they drank, men consumed about 400 more daily calories, and women took in about 300 more calories.

New Muscle-Building Drugs at Risk of Being Abused
New drugs being tested as treatments for muscle-wasting diseases such as muscular dystrophy could be abused by athletes if they reach the market, experts tell NPR. Researchers are also studying the drugs, called myostatin inhibitors, as potential treatments for muscle wasting in other diseases, such as cancer and kidney disease. The drugs block a substance called myostatin, which the body normally produces to stop muscles from becoming too large. At least one myostatin inhibitor is likely to receive approval by the Food and Drug Administration in the next few years, the article notes.

Ten Percent of Americans Admit Taking Medication They Have Not Been Prescribed
A new poll finds 10 percent of Americans admit they have taken someone else’s prescription drugs. One-quarter of those people used the drugs to get high. The Reuters/Ipsos poll found about 60 percent of Americans who used someone else’s prescriptions were seeking pain relief, while 20 percent took them to sleep, or to manage anxiety and stress, Reuters reports. Two-thirds of those who said they used other people’s prescriptions said the drugs were given to them by a family member, friend or acquaintance. Some people use another person’s prescriptions to save on costs, the article notes. Dr. Wilson Compton, a Division Director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, warned against taking someone else’s prescription drugs. He noted doctors prescribe specific dosage levels according to a person’s individual needs. “Simply because it’s a medicine that comes from a pharmacy does not mean it is without risk,” he said. “There’s a reason they require a prescription.” The online poll included the responses of 6,438 American adults.

Teens With Half-Siblings More Likely to Use Drugs and Have Sex by Age 15
Having half-siblings increases the chance that a teenager will use drugs and have sex by age 15, according to a study presented at the American Sociological Association annual meeting. Researchers found that teens who have a half-sibling with a different father are about 65 percent more likely to have used drugs by age 15. They are also about two-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex by that age, HealthDay reports. “For children, [multi-partnered fertility] means having a half-sibling, but it also means, for first-born children, that they usually experienced their biological parents splitting up — if they were together at all, lived in a single mother household for some time, experienced their mother finding a new partner at least once and perhaps lived with a stepfather, and finally experienced their mother having a baby with a new partner,” researcher Karen Benjamin Guzzo of Bowling Green State University explained in a news release.

Advice on Addiction in Boomers
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, use of illegal substances is increasing in adults over 50. Abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs has also been on the rise. With the population of adults over 65 expected to grow to 73 million from 40 million between 2010 and 2030, the number of those needing treatment stands to overwhelm the country’s mental health care system, according to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine. Continue here.

What I Wish I Had Done Differently with My Addicted Son
A while back, I received an e-mail from a concerned mother. In it, she described her son’s addiction. She spoke about several experiences that were similar to my own. She told me about how she had done this and that trying to help. She was scared she was going to lose her son. Read the rest here.

Binge Drinking Remedy? Washington State University Imposes Early-Morning Friday Classes To Combat ‘Thirsty Thursday’
In response to a student who died from alcohol poisoning last school year, Washington State University (WSU) is taking precautionary measures to reduce the amount of drug use and binge drinking. Changes include more early-morning Friday classes, more alcohol-free floors in residence halls, and alcohol screening for at-risk students. “If something as simple as the timing of a student’s academic classes will help prevent excessive drinking behavior, then it’s a good science-based practice to implement,” said Dr. Bruce Wright, executive director of WSU’s Health and Wellness Services. That’s not all that the university has in store for its booze-loving incoming freshmen. Underage students are subject to parental notification if they are caught violating alcohol or drug policies. University officials are also considering the removal of fraternity freshman housing.  “We know from multiple national studies and local data that freshmen are more likely to experience alcohol-related harm than other students and that freshmen fraternity members are in the highest risk category,” Wright added. “The idea is to eventually have all freshmen living in the residence halls where trained personnel are on hand 24/7.” A recent study conducted by The Parternship at shows that teenagers getting ready to enter college aren't all that worried about the effects of binge drinking. In fact, 45 percent of the individuals between grades nine and 12 said that they didn’t know why binge drinking was such a big deal. Around 68 percent of respondents admitted to consuming alcohol, with their first drink at the average age of 14. Participants' explanations for why they drank included “because it is fun” and so that they won’t feel left out. "You're seeing this weakness in this generation of teens' attitudes around drug and alcohol use," said Steve Pasierb, president of The Parternship at "It's not like this generation of kids thinks they're more bulletproof than others, but they really don't see any harm in that heavy drinking."

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Impacts Brain Development Throughout Childhood and Adolescence Not Just at Birth
Medical researchers at the University of Alberta recently published findings showing that brain development is delayed throughout childhood and adolescence for people born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Christian Beaulieu and Carmen Rasmussen, the two primary investigators in the research study, recently published the results of their work in the peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Neuroscience. Their team scanned 17 people with FASD, and 27 people without the disorder, who were between 5 and 15 years old. Each participant underwent two to three scans, with each scan taking place two to four years apart. This is the first research study involving multiple scans of the same FASD study participants. Researchers used an advanced MRI method that examines white matter in the brain. White matter forms connections between various regions of the brain and usually develops significantly during childhood and adolescence. Those who took part in the study were imaged multiple times, to see what kinds of changes occurred in brain development as the participants aged. Those without the disorder had marked increases in brain volume and white matter -- growth that was lacking in those with FASD. However, the advanced MRI method revealed greater changes in the brain wiring of white matter in the FASD group, which the authors suggest may reflect compensation for delays in development earlier in childhood. "These findings may suggest that significant brain changes happened earlier in the study participants who didn't have FASD," says the study's first author, Sarah Treit, who is a student in the Centre for Neuroscience at the U of A. "This study suggests alcohol-induced injury with FASD isn't static -- those with FASD have altered brain development, they aren't developing at the same rate as those without the disorder. And our research showed those with FASD consistently scored lower on all cognitive measures in the study." Treit said the research team also made other important observations. Children with FASD who demonstrated the greatest changes in white matter development also made the greatest gains in reading ability -- "so the connection seems relevant." And those with the most severe FASD showed the greatest changes in white matter brain wiring. Scans also confirmed those with FASD have less overall brain volume -- this issue neither rectified itself nor worsened throughout the course of the study. Beaulieu is a researcher in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, while Rasmussen works in the Department of Pediatrics. Their research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The team is continuing their research in this area, in hopes of finding a biomarker for FASD, and to examine how the brain changes from adolescence into adulthood in those with the disorder. The advanced MRI imaging the team used can pinpoint brain damage present in those with FASD, and could one day guide medical interventions for those with the disorder, which affects one in every 100 Canadians.

 Alcohol Abuse Important Risk Factor in Early-Onset Dementia, Researchers Find
A study of risk factors for early-onset dementia finds alcohol abuse tops the list, HealthDay reports. In contrast, the influence of hereditary factors is small, according to the researchers. They define early-onset dementia as occurring before age 65. The researchers studied 488,484 men drafted at about age 18 into the Swedish military over a 10-year period. They were followed for approximately 37 years. During that time, 487 men developed early-onset dementia, at an average age of 54. Besides alcohol intoxication, other risk factors included drug abuse, the use of antipsychotic drugs, stroke, depression, having a father with dementia, poor mental functioning as a teen, being short and having high blood pressure. Men who had at least two of these risk factors, and were in the lowest third of overall mental ability, had a 20-fold increased risk. “These risk factors were multiplicative, most were potentially modifiable, and most could be traced to adolescence, suggesting excellent opportunities for early prevention,” the researchers wrote in JAMA Internal Medicine.