Drug and Alcohol News (JoinTogether.com)
Jails and prisons in America are overflowing with people who suffer from substance use disorders. In fact, more than three quarters of inmates have either been arrested for a drug- or alcohol-related crime, have been intoxicated at the time of their arrest, have a history of regular drug or alcohol use, or have previously received drug or alcohol treatment.
Despite what most people think, the association between drugs and criminal behavior is not solely due to people committing crimes to further their drug habit. Drug use is actually a factor in many crimes that have nothing to do with obtaining money for drugs. In fact, drug use is implicated in 50 percent of violent crimes, 50 percent of instances of domestic violence and 80 percent of child abuse and neglect cases. Historically, policies addressing substance abuse and crime have shifted back and forth between either using treatment or using criminal sanctions. But research indicates that a more balanced approach that incorporates both treatment and criminal justice supervision is more effective.
This is where drug courts come in. Drug courts are specialized courts that offer people arrested for drug-related crimes an opportunity to obtain community-based treatment coupled with close judicial supervision as a way of avoiding sentencing and potential incarceration. By successfully completing this voluntary program, individuals have the potential to avoid criminal penalties and even have the arrest erased from their permanent record. Drug courts represent a criminal justice approach that takes into account the need to ensure public safety through close supervision, and public health through the delivery of community-based treatment. They are among the most effective ways to address the problem of substance abuse and crime.
Drug courts improve people’s lives in a variety of ways. They have been shown to increase rates of employment, help people obtain stable living arrangements, improve mental and physical health, and enhance interpersonal relationships. The improvements to the individual, their community and society are almost too numerous to mention.
Perhaps one of the most important and far-reaching effects of a drug court, which is often overlooked, is the positive impact it has on families who have been negatively affected by their loved one’s addiction. These families often face poverty, strained or broken relationships and separation from spouses or parents. The positive healing and restorative effects of drug courts on the family are dramatic.
One need only talk to a drug court alumnus, go to a drug court graduation or attend an annual National Association of Drug Court Professionals conference to witness these effects. As a result of drug courts, mothers and fathers can regain custody of their children, provide for their families and become productive members of their community. The personal evolution that many drug court participants undergo is nothing short of astounding.
As we approach the end of National Drug Court Month, we should continue to recognize the important role that drug courts serve in helping individuals and families overcome the devastating effects of addiction.
David S. Festinger, PhD, is Director of Treatment Research Institute’s Section on Law & Ethics Dr. Festinger holds a PhD in clinical psychology, Masters Degrees in both counseling and clinical health psychology, and is a licensed clinical psychologist.
Karen Leggett Dugosh, PhD, is a Research Scientist for Treatment Research Institute’s Section on Law & Ethics. Dr. Dugosh holds MS and PhD degrees in Experimental Psychology.
Treatment Research Institute is a non-profit research and development organization focused on improving substance abuse programs and policies. TRI researchers have conducted seminal research around the efficacy of drug courts and have developed tools that support effective management of substance abusing offenders.
Eighty-one percent of American adults have smoke-free rules in their homes, and 74 percent ban smoking in their cars, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
HealthDay reports smokers are less likely than non-smokers to ban smoking at home or in the car. The CDC found 89 percent of non-smokers have a smoking ban at home, compared with 48 percent of smokers. Among non-smokers, 85 percent do not allow smoking in the car, compared with 27 percent of smokers.
The findings are published in Preventing Chronic Disease.
“We have made tremendous progress in the last 15 years protecting people in public spaces from secondhand smoke,” Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in a news release. “The good news is that people are applying the same protection in their homes and vehicles.”
The CDC found the highest prevalence of smoke-free rules in many states with comprehensive smoke-free laws and long-running tobacco control programs.
Dr. McAfee noted that almost 11 million non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke at home, and 17 million non-smokers are exposed in vehicles.
“While almost half of all U.S. residents are protected by 100 percent smoke-free policies in worksites, restaurants and bars, overall there are still an estimated 88 million non-smoking Americans over the age of 3 who are exposed to secondhand smoke,” said study lead author Brian King. “It’s important to educate people on the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure and how smoke-free homes and vehicles can reduce that exposure.”
Addiction to drugs, alcohol and tobacco are the most common mental health problems in teenagers, a new government report concludes. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed problem overall in youth ages 3 to 17, NBC News reports.
The findings, from a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found almost 7 percent of children under 18 are diagnosed with ADHD, while 3.5 percent have behavioral problems and 1.1 percent have autism.
An estimated one million teenagers abuse drugs or alcohol, and more than 695,000 are addicted to tobacco, the CDC found. The agency found during 2010-2011, a total of 4.2 percent of teens were dependent on or abused alcohol in the past year. An estimated 4.7 percent of teens had an illicit drug use disorder in the past year.
Use of illicit drugs during the past month varied by age. Among teens ages 12 to 13, 1.3 percent used marijuana, compared with 6.7 percent of 14- to 15-year-olds and 15.1 percent of 16- to 17-year-olds.
“This first report of its kind documents that millions of children are living with depression, substance use disorders, ADHD and other mental health conditions,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “No parent, grandparent, teacher or friend wants to see a child struggle with these issues. It concerns us all. We are working to both increase our understanding of these disorders and help scale up programs and strategies to prevent mental illness so that our children grow to lead productive, healthy lives.”
Law enforcement officials in West Virginia say they have seized 200 methamphetamine labs so far in 2013, and are on track to shatter last year’s record of 288 meth lab seizures.
Authorities predict they will seize about 570 meth labs this year, the Saturday Gazette-Mail reports.”It’s a true public health emergency, and the problem now appears to be more widespread across the state,” said Dr. Dan Foster, a former state senator who sponsored a measure designed to reduce the number of meth labs.
The average size of the seized labs has decreased, noted Mike Goff, a state Board of Pharmacy administrator and former State Police trooper. “A lot of it is the ‘shake and bake,’ or ‘one-pot’ method,” he said. “You used to have one guy cooking for 20 people. Now 10 of those people are cooking it for themselves.”
He noted smaller meth labs can be just as dangerous as larger ones, because meth makers use plastic soda bottles to make the drug. “With the plastic bottles, they’re more of a fire hazard,” Goff said. “It’s a much simpler and quick process, but it’s equally dangerous.”
Last year, the state passed a bill that requires statewide electronic tracking of pseudoephedrine, a cold medicine used in making meth. The law also limits pseudoephedrine purchases to three boxes per month, and 20 per year. Dr. Foster says meth makers pay people to buy pseudoephedrine, in order to get around monthly and yearly limits. “They just get different people or fake IDs,” he said.
In January, all pharmacies in West Virginia began reporting to a state tracking system, which allows law enforcement officials to see who is buying pseudoephedrine.
Georgia launched a campaign this week, “Generation Rx,” aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse in teens and young adults.
The campaign is funded through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, according to the Associated Press. It is focused on 12- to 25-year-olds. The campaign includes education and awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, and promotes Georgia’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. It also features education about how to properly dispose of unused and expired medications, and collaboration with law enforcement to eliminate improper prescribing practices.
In a statement, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Frank Berry said, “The abuse of prescription drugs by youth in Georgia and across the country has grown substantially since the 1990s. Every day, 2,500 youth aged 12 to 17 abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time, and nearly 20 percent of teens report abusing medications that were not prescribed to them.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says the new recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that states lower allowable blood-alcohol levels for drivers is not the most effective way to eliminate drunk driving, The Christian Science Monitor reports.
While the group does not oppose lowering the legal blood-alcohol limit, president Jan Withers says doing so “will take a lot of effort for a potential result that is many, many years down the line.” MADD says the government needs to focus on enforcing existing laws aimed at stopping drunk driving.
In a statement, the group says it is committed to implementing its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. The campaign focuses on increased high-visibility law enforcement, state laws requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted offenders, and research toward developing advanced technology to prevent a drunk driver from operating a vehicle.
The NTSB is urging states to lower the legal limit for blood-alcohol levels from 0.08 to 0.05. The agency says thousands of people are killed or injured each year by drivers who are not legally drunk, but who are still impaired. Currently about 10,000 people die in alcohol-related car crashes each year.
A person with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent is 38 percent more likely to be involved in a crash, compared with someone who has not been drinking, according to the NTSB. A person with a 0.08 blood-alcohol level is 169 percent more likely to be involved in an accident.
The board made a number of other recommendations, such as requiring everyone convicted of drunk driving to put an ignition interlock device in their car.
Groups including The Gun Truth Project, MomsRising and CREDO Action say these deals encourage shooting and drinking, which threatens public safety.
CREDO Action notes in a statement, “LivingSocial continues to offer deals that encourage buyers to engage in a dangerous mix of alcohol and guns. In some cases, customers are even sold packages combining the shooting of assault weapons like the ones used in the Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colorado massacres, and a night of drinking beer or bourbon.”
According to the group, 86 percent of gun murders are committed by people who were drinking before they started shooting.They say competitor websites, such as Groupon, no longer offer gun and alcohol packages.
In a report, CREDO Action and The Gun Truth Project describe some of the deals that have been offered on the website. These include a $69 package offered in Philadelphia called “Shootin’ + Drinking’: AK-47s, Rifles and Beer.” The report also describes packages offered in Atlanta and Chicago.
The groups say the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut should cause LivingSocial to reconsider its policies. Offering these deals “is not only tone-deaf to the anguished politics of the moment, it is also monstrously, irresponsibly dangerous,” the report states.
LivingSocial spokesman Andrew Weinstein said the company takes gun safety very seriously, and requires customers to sign a form that certifies they have not consumed any alcohol or illegal drugs before participating. “Our staff has also [been] instructed to turn away any participant who appears to have consumed alcohol or drugs prior to the event,” he said.
“We offer similar social activities involving alcohol after other sporting events, like whitewater rafting, once the activity is complete,” Weinstein told The Hill.
The number of babies born to mothers addicted to opioids or anti-anxiety medication in Tennessee is soaring, according to the Associated Press. These babies suffer the effects of neonatal abstinence syndrome, such as tremors, abdominal pain, incessant crying and rapid breathing. In extreme cases, they also experience seizures.
East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville treated 33 babies for drug dependence in 2008. That number is expected to jump to 320 this year, the AP notes. In most cases, mothers of the babies abused prescription drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, Valium and Xanax.
Tennessee is believed to be the first state that requires all health care facilities to report all cases of babies born dependent on drugs, officials say. They estimate almost 1,200 babies were born dependent on drugs in the state in 2010 and 2011.
Every hour, a baby is born in the United States with symptoms of opioid withdrawal, according to a study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study found the number of pregnant women who are addicted to opioids, and the number of infants born with opioid withdrawal symptoms, has jumped in the past decade. An estimated 13,500 babies are born with withdrawal symptoms each year in the United States. Many babies who experience these symptoms must be hospitalized for weeks.
Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner is a member of a group advocating for the Food and Drug Administration to add a warning on prescription drug bottles about the dangers of taking drugs during pregnancy.
Felons, including sex offenders, are allowed to work as substance abuse counselors in California because of lax rules, according to a new report.
The state Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes found California does not require criminal background checks for drug and alcohol counselors. Applicants are not required to report their criminal histories, the Los Angeles Times reports.
At least 23 sex offenders have been allowed to work as substance abuse counselors since 2005, the report found. “Almost all other large states want to know about serious convictions before credentialing drug and alcohol counselors, even if the disclosure doesn’t automatically disqualify them,” the report notes.
There are an estimated 36,000 registered or certified substance abuse counselors in California, and that number is expected to grow as more people gain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Although counselors must be registered with or certified by one of seven private organizations in the state, they can continue working even if they have their registration or certification revoked, by signing up with a different organization, the report found.
The report recommends the state be put in charge of credentialing counselors. An alternative would be to require certifying organizations to perform background checks.
David Peters, a spokesperson for the California Association of Addiction Recovery Resources, one of the certifying organizations, said his group supports background checks. He noted many people become counselors while in recovery from addiction, and cautioned against disqualifying someone simply because they have a criminal history that includes drug use.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Tuesday recommended states lower allowable blood-alcohol levels for drivers, from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.
The NTSB said thousands of people are killed or injured each year by drivers who are not legally drunk, but who are still impaired, The New York Times reports. Currently about 10,000 people die in alcohol-related car crashes each year.
A person with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent is 38 percent more likely to be involved in a crash, compared with someone who has not been drinking, according to the NTSB. A person with a 0.08 blood-alcohol level is 169 percent more likely to be involved in an accident.
The board made a number of other recommendations, such as requiring everyone convicted of drunk driving to put a Breathalyzer interlock device in their car.
A person’s blood-alcohol level depends on factors including their weight, gender, and the contents of their stomach. An 180-pound man usually can have four beers or glasses of wine in 90 minutes without reaching the 0.08 percent limit. It would take three drinks for him to reach the 0.05 percent limit. For a 130-pound woman, the average number of drinks needed to reach the limit would be lowered from three to two under the proposed change.
The American Beverage Institute opposes lowering the blood-alcohol limit. “Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior,” Managing Director Sarah Longwell told the newspaper. “Further restriction of moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hard-core drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.”
Most industrialized countries have a 0.05 percent limit, the article notes.
“The research clearly shows that drivers with a BAC [blood-alcohol concentration] above 0.05 are impaired and at a significantly greater risk of being involved in a crash where someone is killed or injured,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a news release.Take Our Poll
Teens’ use of smokeless tobacco products has held steady since 2000, at about 5 percent, a new study finds.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health compared data from the 2000 and 2011 U.S. National Youth Tobacco Survey, according to HealthDay. The 2000 survey included almost 36,000 students, while the 2011 survey included about 19,000. They were asked if they used smokeless tobacco products such as chewing or dipping tobacco or snuff for at least one day within the past month.
The study found a decrease in use of smokeless tobacco among 9- to 14-year-olds, but an increase among those ages 15 to 17, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers noted the relatively low cost of smokeless tobacco, compared with cigarettes, might make the products more attractive to young people. “The use of modified traditional smokeless tobacco products, such as moist snuff, coupled with lower taxes on smokeless tobacco products [vs. cigarettes] may have contributed to the stable prevalence of smokeless tobacco” at the same time that cigarette smoking has decreased among teens, they wrote.
Under the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act, signed into law in 2009, smokeless tobacco product packages and ads must contain one of four required warnings: the product can cause mouth cancer, the product can cause gum disease and tooth loss, the product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco is addictive.
A new study finds a connection between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the number of cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These receptors, called CB1, are activated when a person uses marijuana.
Researchers at New York University Langone Medical Center used brain imaging techniques to find the connection, Fox News reports. They say their findings could lead the way to new treatments for PTSD.
“There’s not a single pharmacological treatment out there that has been developed specifically for PTSD,” lead author Dr. Alexander Neumeister said in a news release. “That’s a problem. There’s a consensus among clinicians that existing pharmaceutical treatments such as an antidepressant simply do not work.”
The researchers decided to study CB1 receptors because many PTSD patients use marijuana in an attempt to relieve their symptoms, Dr. Neumeister said. Many say marijuana works better for them than legal medications.
The study included 60 participants who had a PET scan. Some had PTSD, some had a history of trauma but not PTSD, and some had neither. All participants were injected with a radioactive tracer, which traveled to CB1 receptors in the brain, and illuminated them for the scan.
The researchers found people with PTSD had higher levels of CB1 receptors in the parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety, compared with participants without PTSD. They also had lower levels of a brain chemical that binds to CB1. When a person has lower levels of this chemical, anandamide, the brain compensates by increasing the number of CB1 receptors.
Dr. Neumeister said a new PTSD treatment based on their research should not destroy CB1 receptors, because this could lead to depression. Instead, he is working on a treatment that would restore a normal balance of the endocannibinoids in the brains of people with PTSD. Endocannabinoids are substances that activate cannabinoid receptors. He said this compound does not cause health problems seen in people who are chronic marijuana users. He hopes to start clinical trials of the medication soon.
The findings are published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
Florida officials say heroin is making a comeback, now that the state has had success in shutting down “pill mills” selling prescription painkillers.
Heroin is appearing in urban areas and smaller communities, according to Jim Hall of Nova Southeastern University’s Center for Applied Research on Substance Abuse and Health Disparities. “Young adults, 18 to 30, white, prescription opioid addicts are making the transition to heroin,” he told The Miami Herald.
Officials are responding in a number of ways, including a public education campaign about the risks of heroin and needle injection, and increasing awareness of a Good Samaritan law designed to prevent drug overdoses.
Between July 2010 to June 2011, there were 45 heroin-related deaths in Florida, compared with 77 in the same time period a year later.
In Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, addiction treatment centers report an 87 percent increase in admissions among people using heroin last year, from 169 to 316. Miami-Dade County reported an increase from 227 heroin admissions to 308 in the first half of last year.
A study published in July 2012 found OxyContin abuse has decreased now that the painkiller has been reformulated to make it more difficult to misuse. Many people who abused the drug have switched to heroin, the researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. In 2010, the company that makes OxyContin introduced a new version of the drug that is more difficult to inhale or inject.
Florida has taken a number of measures in the past several years designed to reduce prescription drug abuse. In June 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse by controlling pill mills in the state. The law authorized the creation of a prescription-drug monitoring database to reduce doctor-shopping by people looking to collect multiple painkiller prescriptions. The legislation also imposed new penalties for physicians who overprescribe medication and imposes stricter rules for operating pharmacies.
When I took office in 2011, Florida was in the midst of a public safety crisis of epic proportions – prescription drug abuse. Because of weak regulatory oversight of pain management practices, limited oversight of physician dispensing habits, and no statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), drug dealers in white coats were running rogue pain management clinics or “pill mills.” They were carelessly doling out highly addictive pain killers on street corners and in strip malls throughout Florida. In 2010, 98 of the top 100 dispensing physicians of oxycodone nationwide resided in Florida, and more than seven Floridians a day were dying from prescription drug abuse. Sadly, this problem was not just affecting adults. The prescription drug abuse epidemic was affecting increasing numbers of pregnant women throughout the state, which fueled an explosion in cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), babies being born exposed to prescription drugs.
Babies born suffering from NAS experience symptoms such as tremors, abdominal pain, incessant crying, rapid breathing, and in extreme cases, they also experience seizures. In 2011, there were nearly 1,600 newborns diagnosed with drug exposure in Florida, a three-fold increase since 2007 – and this issue is still believed to be a widely unreported problem. It was evident that the prescription drug abuse epidemic was having a heartbreaking and destructive impact on our state, and I made it a top priority to stop this deadly problem.
I worked with the Florida Legislature during the 2011 legislative session on laws that provided a comprehensive plan to close “pill mills” and arrest unscrupulous doctors who over-prescribe prescription narcotics. The legislation enhanced criminal and administrative penalties against doctors and clinics engaged in prescription drug trafficking; established standards of care for doctors prescribing narcotics; required registration with the Florida Department of Health; and banned doctors from dispensing the most-abused narcotics. The legislation also toughened oversight of pharmacies and wholesale distributors and strengthened Florida’s PDMP by speeding up the time data must be entered from 15 days to seven days. We worked with law enforcement throughout Florida to prosecute “pill mill” doctors, and these new tools greatly assist in protecting Floridians. Because of these comprehensive efforts, Florida’s prescription drug-related deaths are down by nearly 30 percent, and none of the top 100 dispensing physicians of oxycodone now reside in Florida.
Additionally, I worked with the Legislature to create the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns to address the growing problem of NAS. I chaired the 15-member task force which examined the scope of the problem; the costs associated with caring for babies with neonatal withdrawal syndrome; the long-term effects of the syndrome; and strategies for preventing prescription drug abuse by expectant mothers.
In less than one year of establishing the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns, we are already implementing strategies for preventing babies from being born exposed to prescription drugs. Last month, we worked with the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Health, both are task force members, to launch an educational website and a helpline as part of a statewide initiative to raise awareness about babies being born exposed to prescription drugs. BornDrugFreeFL.com and the helpline at 1-877-233-5656 are intended to educate expectant mothers about the importance of discussing prescription drug use with their doctors, as well as to offer assistance to the women. The first of many billboards with the website and helpline is now up, and it reads “Your baby’s life shouldn’t begin with detox.”
Prescription drug abuse is a national problem, and I encourage everyone to do their part in ending this crisis. Awareness is a key component in stopping this abuse and saving lives. I urge everyone to educate themselves on the dangers of prescription drug abuse. There are multiple ways to get involved. National Drug Take-Back Days are an excellent way to participate in stopping this epidemic. The Medicine Abuse Project is doing outstanding work in raising awareness and preventing medicine abuse in teens. I encourage those who haven’t taken the first step in protecting teens from medicine abuse to sign the pledge at www.drugfree.org/MedicineAbuseProject today. Additionally, pregnant mothers, talk to your doctors about NAS and the dangers of taking opiates while pregnant. With everyone’s involvement, we will save lives.
We have made great strides in stopping the prescription drug abuse epidemic, but we aren’t finished. I promise to remain dedicated to ending this public safety crisis, and I encourage you all to join me.
Florida Attorney General
Primary care physicians should ask their adult patients about their drinking habits, and counsel those whose alcohol use is risky, according to a new report.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force made their recommendation based on a review of studies. They found there is sufficient evidence to conclude screening can accurately detect alcohol misuse, and counseling can reduce heavy drinking in adults, Reuters reports. The task force is an independent panel of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine.
“When people misuse alcohol, there can be serious consequences for themselves, their families, and their communities,” Task Force member Sue Curry, PhD, noted in a statement. “Alcohol misuse is the cause of tens of thousands of deaths per year in the United States—deaths that could have been prevented. The good news is that primary care professionals can identify adults who engage in risky or hazardous drinking and through brief counseling, help them drink more responsibly.”
She added, “Unfortunately, risky and hazardous drinking is also a serious problem among adolescents, but we don’t know how to identify teens who may be engaging in risky or hazardous drinking, and we don’t know if brief counseling is effective in helping them to stop. We recognize the critical need for more research on what primary care teams can do to help keep teens safe and sober.”
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines risky drinking as having more than four drinks in one day or 14 drinks in one week for men, and more than three drinks daily or seven per week for women. About one-third of adults misuse alcohol in the United States, according to the article.
Parents should start talking with their children about the dangers of drinking as early as age 9, according to a new government campaign. Children start to think more positively about alcohol between ages 9 and 13, research shows.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which launched the campaign, says about 10 percent of 12-year-olds have tried alcohol, and half of 15-year-olds have done so.
Many teens listen to their parents’ advice on drinking. In one study, 80 percent of teens said their parents were the largest influence on their decision whether or not to drink, NPR reports.
The “Talk. They Hear You” campaign includes a toolkit with templates for a parent-child pledge, and scripts for talking with children about sensitive subjects, such as why it’s permissible for parents to drink. Parents are provided with suggested texts they can send, such as, “Have fun tonight. Remember, alcohol can lead you 2 say things and do things u wish u hadn’t.”
The campaign gives parents advice on topics including never serving alcohol to teens at home, and telling teens they shouldn’t drink at parties or get in a car with a driver who has been drinking.
“These young people are our future leaders—our future teachers, mayors, doctors, parents, and entertainers,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “As our youth and young adults face challenges, we as a community, need to effectively communicate with them in every way possible about the risks of underage drinking so that they have the necessary tools to make healthy and informed choices.”
In hotels that allow smoking in some rooms, nicotine residue ends up in all rooms, even those labeled “non-smoking,” a new study finds. Partial bans do not protect occupants of non-smoking rooms from tobacco pollution exposure, the researchers report in the journal Tobacco Control.
Smoke-free hotels are becoming more common, USA Today reports. Marriott, Westin and Comfort Inn are among the chains that are now smoke free.
Researchers at San Diego State University found smoke residue on surfaces and in the air of both smoking and non-smoking rooms in a study of 10 California hotels with smoking bans and 30 with partial bans. Non-smoking study participants who spent the night in the hotels provided urine and finger wipe samples, so the researchers could assess their exposure to nicotine.
In hotels operating partial smoking bans, surface nicotine levels and air 3EP (pollution) levels were higher in both non-smoking and smoking rooms, compared with hotels with total smoking bans. Surface nicotine levels were more than twice as high in non-smoking rooms of hotels with partial bans, compared with hotels with total bans. Air levels of 3EP were more than seven times as high.
Air nicotine levels were 40 percent higher in non-smoking rooms of hotels with partial bans, compared with those in hotels with total smoking bans. Non-smokers staying in hotels with partial bans had higher levels of nicotine on their fingers and in urine, compared with non-smoking guests staying in hotels with total bans.
“Our findings demonstrate that some non-smoking guest rooms in smoking hotels are as polluted with [third hand smoke] as are some smoking rooms,” the authors note in a news release. “Moreover, non-smoking guests staying in smoking rooms may be exposed to tobacco smoke pollutants at levels found among non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke.”
The first medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington, D.C., are expected to open later this month, ABC News reports. One will be located eight blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
One dispensary, the Metropolitan Wellness Center, will offer different varieties of marijuana, along with paraphernalia and marijuana-infused products such as brownies and beverages. The store will be protected by a high-tech security system. No one will be allowed to use marijuana inside, and users will be required to go directly home after they buy marijuana.
Once marijuana sales begin, only employees and patients registered with the District of Columbia Department of Health will be allowed to enter the dispensary. Patients must have one of a few qualifying diseases, such as AIDS, multiple sclerosis or glaucoma. A doctor must make a formal recommendation that the patient use marijuana, which must be certified by the Department of Health. Patients submit an application and pay a license fee, the article notes.
The dispensaries in D.C. will be illegal under federal law. Marijuana continues to be a Schedule I substance, meaning that it has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday denied a request from the maker of the painkiller Opana ER to block generic forms of the drug. The decision came as a surprise, Reuters reports.
The drug’s manufacturer, Endo Health Solutions, argued its newer tamper-resistant formula was more difficult to abuse than the original version of the drug, and asked that the agency not approve generic forms of the earlier version. The FDA decided that since the original Opana had not been withdrawn for reasons of safety or effectiveness, generic forms of the painkiller could continue to be approved and marketed.
The FDA also said the newer Opana ER could still be abused, and might be more easily injected than the original formulation.
“We are extremely disappointed and disagree with today’s decision, and believe that the approval of non-abuse deterrent formulations of long acting opioids will contribute to a significant increase in prescription drug abuse,” Rajiv De Silva, President and Chief Executive Officer of Endo Health Solutions, said in a news release.
Last month, the FDA announced it will not approve any generic versions of the original form of OxyContin. The move is aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse. The original version of OxyContin could be crushed and then snorted or injected. The FDA also approved new labeling for a reformulated version of the drug, which will indicate it is more difficult to crush, and thus harder to abuse than the original version. OxyContin’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, introduced the tamper-resistant formula in 2010.
Because of the FDA’s decision about generic versions of OxyContin, many experts thought the agency would make a similar ruling about Opana ER, the article notes.
An experimental anti-cocaine vaccine blocks the drug from reaching the brain, according to a study of non-human primates. Scientists at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York say human trials of the vaccine may begin within a year, Voice of America reports.
The researchers used a radiological tracking technique to show the vaccine stopped cocaine molecules from reaching the brain and triggering a high induced by the brain chemical dopamine. The findings are published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
“The vaccine eats up the cocaine in the blood like a little Pac-man before it can reach the brain,” lead researcher Dr. Ronald G. Crystal said in a news release. “We believe this strategy is a win-win for those individuals, among the estimated 1.4 million cocaine users in the United States, who are committed to breaking their addiction to the drug. Even if a person who receives the anti-cocaine vaccine falls off the wagon, cocaine will have no effect.”
An earlier study found the vaccine was effective in mice. The vaccine includes pieces of a cold virus and a molecule that mimics cocaine’s chemical structure, the article notes. The body senses the vaccine as an invader and triggers a response, leading the immune system to produce antibodies to destroy cocaine whenever it enters the body.
One vaccine shot lasted 13 weeks in mice, and seven weeks in non-human primates. “An anti-cocaine vaccination will require booster shots in humans, but we don’t know yet how often these booster shots will be needed,” Dr. Crystal said. “I believe that for those people who desperately want to break their addiction, a series of vaccinations will help.”
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