Archive for July, 2010

Prescription Drugs and Teens: Why Do They Do It?

In a previous post, we shared the existence of a guide regarding teenagers and prescription drug abuse, provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). One of the things discussed in the document is how teenagers abuse prescription drugs, and why they turn to it.

teen prescription drug abuseData from a 2007 study called Monitoring the Future revealed that seven out of 11 drugs that were used by 12th graders to get high were medicines. Among them are cough medicines, inhalants, sedatives and tranquilizers.

In another report from 2007 entitled “Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities,” given by the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, it was shown that the proportion of college students who abused prescription drugs increased between 1993 and 2005. The percentage of increase was rather significant: 450 percent for tranquilizers such as Xanax and Valium; 343 percent for opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin; 225 percent for sedatives such as Nembutal and Seconal; and 93 percent for stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Experts who weighed in on the reasons for prescription drug abuse among teenagers shared several insights. Teenagers reportedly turn to prescription drug abuse as a means of escape, or simply because they felt that they had nothing better to do. They may also turn to abuse of medicines as they try to achieve that “ideal” physical appearance.

There are several reasons that are disheartening, however, not the least of which is the fact that some students abuse drugs in order to be more competitive in school, and in order to handle the pressure of combining school work and extra-curricular activities.

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Prescription for Disaster: Parents’ Guide to Prescription Drug Abuse

Drug abuse has, over the years, taken various forms, and has involved various substances. One of the substances that have gained popularity among teenagers in recent years is prescription drugs, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration continues its efforts to combat it.

prescription for disasterA feature on Star Tribune shared one of the tools that the DEA hopes to use against prescription drug abuse among teenagers. A guide entitled “Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine,” provided by the DEA and downloadable online, provides a better understanding of prescription drug abuse among teenagers, including information that can help identify the prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are being abused by teens. Parents who would like to learn more about prescription drug abuse can certainly benefit from the document.

One of the things mentioned in the introductory pages of the document is that prescription and over-the-counter drugs have even edged out marijuana as the “gateway drug” among teens.

Also discussed is the role that the Internet plays in prescription drug abuse. Apart from the existence of certain prescription drugs in their own homes, some teenagers have turned to the Internet to acquire prescription drugs, or to get information about abusing prescription drugs. This includes information such as how much of a drug to use, the combinations of drugs that “work best,” as well as the sensations that the abuser can expect to feel.

The guide also warns against illegal pharmacies that operate on the Internet, where teenagers can get prescription drugs; it also provides suggestions regarding what parents can do.

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Role of Drug Abuse in Spread of HIV Discussed at AIDS Conference

There are various ways through which one can contract the AIDS virus, and one of them is through the sharing of needles by those who inject illegal drugs. At the 18th International AIDS Conference held in Vienna, Austria, drug abuse and its role in the spread of the HIV virus were among the frustrations and issues that were discussed, along with little successes.

drug abuseA feature on the Los Angeles Times by Evan Wood shared that the bi-annual meeting was attended by HIV experts that consist of thousands of scientists and physicians, as well as activists who are leading the fight against HIV and AIDS. Incidentally, the choice of host city – Vienna – is also rooted in the connection between HIV infection and drug use.

The city, according to the feature, is considered as the “gateway” to what was termed as one of the “most rapidly growing HIV epidemics” in the world. This epidemic is said to be happening among heroin users in Eastern Europe. Statistics that were mentioned by Wood indicate that injecting illegal drugs constitute about one out of three new HIV infections (outside of sub-Saharan Africa), while 70 percent of those who inject illegal drugs contract HIV (in certain areas of Eastern Europe and Central Asia).

Michel Sidibe, the executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), wrote on the medical journal Lancet: “The war on drugs has failed.”

The statement is in reference to the effect that the criminalization of drug abuse has, including the fact that addicts are driven further underground, which in turn leads to unsafe practices such as the sharing of needles.

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Minor League Players Face Suspension over Performance Enhancing Drugs

Six Minor League players were given suspensions due to violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The announcement was made by the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball on Monday, according to a report on The Biz of Baseball.

steroidsThe players were suspended after testing positive for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. One of them is Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League outfielder Prentice Redman, who was suspended for 100 days. Redman tested positive for an amphetamine, and the 100-day suspension will go into effect after he completes his current 50-game suspension. Redman is with the Triple-A Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League.

Three Minor League players of the Milwaukee Brewers were suspended for 50 games, effective immediately: third baseman Allixon Cequea, outfielder Erickson Salaya, and pitcher Leonard Lorenzo. All the aforementioned players belong to the Dominican Summer League team. The report said that Cequea and Salaya tested positive for metabolites of Nandrolone; Lorenzo, on the other hand, tested positive for a metabolite of Boldenone.

Two other players belonging to the roster of the Dominican Summer League Team were suspended for 50 games each, effective immediately. These are Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Jose Valdez, and Oakland Athletics’ pitcher Leudis Benzant. Valdez, like Lorenzo, tested positive for a metabolite of Boldenone, while Benzant tested positive for metabolites of Stanozolol.

According to the report, sixteen minor league players were suspended due to violations of its drug policy over the last week alone. A total of 60 minor league players faced suspensions that collectively added up to 3,100 games.

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FDA on Reducing Use of Prescription Painkillers

The proposal of the Food and Drug Administration that aims to reduce the abuse and misuse of pain medication such as OxyContin has been rejected by an advisory committee, according to a feature on The New York Times.

prescription pillsThe committee voted 25 to 10 against the plan. This advisory panel included doctors and pain experts, and one of the reasons for the rejection was that the panel felt that the plan lacked a stipulation requiring doctors to undergo training on the appropriate use of prescription narcotics. This rendered the plan as weak in terms of controlling the use of such drugs.

Drugs such as OxyContin, fentanyl and methadone are considered as important in pain management; however, these are the same drugs involved prescription drug abuse, and have also been linked to deaths due to overdose. It is for this reason that the FDA, as well as the drug industry, worked together to draw up a plan to reduce the misuse and abuse of these medications.

Dr. John K. Jenkins, director of the office of new drugs at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA, shared that the concern of the advisory panel lay in the “voluntary nature of the training requirements” for doctors.

It was said that the FDA had initially planned on stipulating mandatory training for those who intend to prescribe the drugs. The agency, however, was concerned about the fact that they only had the authority to require drug manufacturers to provide training. Another concern for the agency was that some doctors may choose to simply stop prescribing the drugs if they find mandatory trainings too tedious, thereby limiting the options of patients who may need them.

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Is Slipping Kids ‘Chill Pills’ Child Abuse?

We may have heard some harassed parents joke about it – slipping the kids cough syrup to quiet them down after a rough day at work or when going on a long haul flight. A study published recently in the Journal of Pediatrics, however, says that the practice may be considered as child abuse.

child pillsPediatrician Dr. Shan Yin gave the following comment to CNN.com: “Anytime you’re giving a medication for any other purpose other than for what it’s explicitly prescribed for, you run the risk of harming your child.” A New York Daily News report mentioned the story of a mom from Massachusetts who was sentenced to life in prison for giving her daughter a lethal dose of sedative, so that the child will go to sleep.

According to the researchers, there are 160 cases of “maliciously administered” drugs annually, although Dr. Yin indicated that there may be even more cases that are not reported. The study used data from the National Poison Data System. Among the substances that are said to be commonly used in such cases are as follows: painkillers, stimulants & street drugs, sedatives, hypnotics, antipsychotics and cough & cold medicines.

James Hmurovich, the president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, shared, however, that it may be difficult to come up with a generalization of the practice and considering it as “child abuse”. This is due to the fact that parents may medicate their children for a variety of reasons as well as doses.

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