August 12, 2015

More Than 4 Million Americans Admit to Driving While Intoxicated in Past Month

More than 4 million Americans admit they have driven while intoxicated at least once in the past month, a new government study finds. The typical drunk driver is a young male with a history of binge drinking.

About 4.2 million people—close to 2 percent of American adults—admitted to driving drunk in the prior month, HealthDay reports. Alcohol-impaired driving crashes account for about one-third of all U.S. crash deaths in the past two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There are an estimated 121 million episodes of drunk driving annually, the CDC noted in its report.

The study found people in the Midwest consistently report higher alcohol-impaired driving rates than those living in other regions. Men ages 21 to 34 accounted for one-third of drunk driving episodes. Overall, men accounted for 80 percent of impaired drivers, the article notes.

The CDC researchers found 4 percent of adults are binge drinkers—men who have five or more drinks on one occasion, or women who have four or more drinks on one occasion. Binge drinkers account for nearly two-thirds of all drunk driving incidents.

People who say they sometimes do not wear a seatbelt were three times more likely to drive drunk, compared with adults who generally buckle up.

The researchers said states and communities can take steps to reduce drunk driving. These include expanding the use of publicized sobriety checkpoints; enforcing breath alcohol laws and minimum legal drinking age laws; and increasing alcohol taxes. The CDC also recommends requiring ignition interlocks, which are breath-test devices connected to a vehicle’s ignition. They require a driver to exhale into the device, and prevent the engine from being started if the analyzed result exceeds a preprogrammed level for anyone convicted of alcohol-impaired driving.

August 3, 2015

Past Month Alcohol Use Among U.S. 8th, 10th, and 12th Graders Continues to Decline; Approaching Levels of Marijuana Use

Alcohol use among middle and high school students continues to decline to record lows, according to data from the 2014 national Monitoring the Future survey. The percentage of 12th graders reporting past month alcohol use decreased from highs above 70% in the late 1970's to 37% in 2014, the lowest rate since data collection began in 1975. Use among 8th and 10th graders has also declined, reaching record lows in 2014. 

While alcohol continues to be the substance most frequently reported by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, the recent declines have narrowed the gap between those reporting alcohol use and those reporting marijuana use. For example, in 1991, 25.1% of 8th graders reported using alcohol in the past month, compared to 3.2% who reported past month marijuana use. In 2014, 9.0% of 8th graders reported using alcohol in the past month, compared to 6.5% reporting marijuana use.

Percentage of U.S. 8th, 10th, and 12th Grade Students 
Reporting Past Month Alcohol and/or Marijuana Use, 1975-2014
SOURCE: Adapted by CESAR from Institute of Social Research, University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975–2014: Volume I, Secondary School Students, 2015. Available online at http://www.monitoringthefuture.org. 

July 27, 2015

45% of painkiller users do not know they are taking opioids

Forty-five percent of Americans who use opioid prescription painkillers do not realize they are taking an opioid, or that the drug is just as addictive as heroin, according to a National Safety Councilsurvey. In fact, opioid painkillers and heroin have nearly identical chemical makeups and produce the same effects.
Drug overdoses, largely from opioid painkillers, are a leading cause of unintentional injury death for American adults. The epidemic is a primary focus of National Safety Month, observed each June.
“Americans should not be fooled: an opioid painkiller is the equivalent of legal heroin,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “The drugs in our medicine cabinets can be just as addictive as illicit ones.”
Other Council survey findings exposed additional disconnects in education and behaviors around opioid painkiller use. The survey found nearly 9 in 10 opioid painkiller users are not concerned about addiction, despite 67 percent saying they believe the drugs are more addictive than other types of prescriptions.
The survey also showed many people are not familiar with formulary names. Just 29 percent of survey respondents said they had taken an opioid painkiller, but that increased to 42 percent when they saw common opioid brand names such as Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycontin.
For more information about opioid painkiller abuse, visit nsc.org/rxpainkillers.

July 21, 2015

Sports Illustrated– How painkillers are turning young athletes into heroin addicts

A few weeks ago Sports Illustrated had a compelling piece on prescription drug abuse and the jump to heroin addiction.
Roman Montano had barely learned cursive when he was asked to sign his first baseball. Parents of teammates had watched him dominate game after game in Albuquerque’s Little League during the summer of 2000, mowing down batters and belting home runs. The autograph requests were mostly facetious, but what they signified was clear: The kid was going somewhere.
The next few years only confirmed that notion. Roman grew to 6’6″ and 250 pounds. He made a mockery of the weight room at Eldorado High and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.9. As a sophomore defensive lineman he was honorable mention all-state in Class 5A. He also joined the basketball team his senior year, giving in to the pleadings of the coach, and was instantly the Eagles’ best player. And after high school, when he trained with the legion of MMA fighters based in Albuquerque, they encouraged him to compete as a heavyweight.
Baseball, though, was always his favorite sport—”the most funnest,” as he had put it to the Albuquerque Tribune when he was 12. He once struck out all 18 batters in a Thunderbird League game. The towering righty was Eldorado High’s ace, his fastball reaching the 90s. The second starter? Ken Giles, now a flame-throwing Phillies reliever. “You’re talking about a guy with a ton of potential: size, natural ability, attitude,” Giles says. “Everyone wanted to be him, but everyone wanted to be around him, too. The first word I would use to describe Roman is lovable.”

July 8, 2015

Shocking News-- Advertising influences youth on marijuana!

Viewing ads for medical marijuana may influence middle school students to use the drug, a new study suggests. Students in sixth through eighth grades who saw ads for medical marijuana were twice as likely as others to have used the drug or to say they intended to use it in the future, the study found.

The study included more than 8,200 middle school students in Southern California, HealthDay reports. In the first year of the study, 22 percent of the students said they had seen at least one medical marijuana ad in the past three months. The following year, the number rose to 30 percent.
The findings are published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. 

“As prohibitions on marijuana ease and sales of marijuana become more visible, it’s important to think about how we need to change the way we talk to young people about the risks posed by the drug,” study author Elizabeth D’Amico of the nonprofit research organization RAND said in a news release. “The lessons we have learned from alcohol — a substance that is legal, but not necessarily safe — may provide guidance about approaches we need to take toward marijuana.” 

Teens can see ads for medical marijuana on billboards, in newspapers and on television, and on dispensary storefronts, the researchers noted. 

“Given that advertising typically tells only one side of the story, prevention efforts must begin to better educate youth about how medical marijuana is used, while also emphasizing the negative effects that marijuana can have on the brain and performance,” D’Amico said. 

The researchers said their findings do not prove that seeing ads cause marijuana use. “However, the study does raise questions about whether there is a need to revise prevention programming for youth as the availability, visibility and legalization surrounding marijuana changes,” they noted.

July 6, 2015

Mislabeling is a problem with medical marijuana!

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says 75 edible medical cannabis products purchased (under 47 different brands) in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, 17 percent were accurately labeled, 23 percent were under-labeled, and 60 percent were over-labeled with respect to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. Over-labeled products were most common in Los Angeles; under-labeled products were common in Seattle. Non–THC content was generally low. Forty-four products (59 percent) had detectable levels of cannabidiol (CBD), but only 13 had labeled CBD content. Four products were over-labeled for CBD, and 9 were under-labeled. The median THC:CBD ratio of products with detectable CBD was 36:1; 7 had ratios of less than 10:1; and only 1 had a 1:1 ratio.
Read more:
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2338239