Archive for June, 2011
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at the Columbia University in New York recently shared alarming statistics on teens under substance abuse. According to the report, almost 50% of the American teen population is now into drinking, smoking or drug abuse, and many of them become addicts before they reach the age of 18.
The report also cited alcohol as the most common drug of choice by high school students, followed by cigarettes and marijuana. Of the ten million high school students in the country, 75% of them have already experimented with alcohol, marijuana, and even cocaine, with one out of every five qualifying in the criteria of being an addict.
CASA vice president and director of research Susan E. Foster says that their study sends out the message to parents that it’s time to intervene and prevent addictions of their teens. “Do everything you can to get young people through their teen years without using drugs or alcohol,” she says. “Every year they don’t use drugs or alcohol reduces their risk of negative consequences, such as addiction.”
Teen substance abuse has become a very big problem. But Dr. Stephen Grcevich, a child psychologist from the Family Center in Ohio, says that the problem can be avoided with parents guiding their children at the earliest stage. There is a need for parents to influence their kids even in their early years so that by the time they reach teenage years, they would be able to handle the pressure and eventually say no to drugs and alcohol.
People who drink only by age 21 are 40% less likely to become addicts later on in life than those who start drinking even before they reach 15 years old. The human brain is still developing between the ages of 15 and 22, and the process could be negatively affected by drinking, smoking or drug use.
Some menthol cigarette companies are spending extravagantly on marketing ads and maintaining low prices of their products to be able to attract the African-American youth population, a new study says.
In the latest issue of the Nicotine & Tobacco Research journal, researchers at the Stanford University have uncovered that menthol cigarette manufacturers have their eyes set on the youth market. In California high schools, rampant marketing ads can be found near these institutions and cigarettes sold in areas have lower prices, giving students more reasons to try smoking.
In the study conducted, proponents randomly visited convenience stores and food shops near high schools. They have observed that in places where more black kids study, some cigarette brands are priced lower and more enticing advertisements are scattered all over the place.
As an example, the study focused on one of the popular brands of menthol cigarettes, Newport. They recorded that for every 10% increase in the proportion of African-American students in nearby schools, their product is priced twelve cents lower. This system of marketing though was not observed for non-menthol brands like Marlboro.
Senior researcher Lisa Henriksen from the Stanford Prevention Research Center says that lower prices would naturally result to more cigarettes being bought and consumed. “We think our study, which shows the predatory marketing in school neighborhoods with higher concentrations of youth and African-American students, fits a broad definition of harm.”
In this study, researchers were able to show that most teens prefer mentholated cigarettes. On students aged 12 to 17 years old, menthol cigarettes were preferred by 71.9% African-Americans, 47% of Hispanics, and 41% of whites.
For the longest time, authorities have warned parents and their children about the dangerous effects of illegal substances like cocaine. Aside from being addictive, cocaine can cause problems in the brain that could lead to death.
But today, the illicit drug just got more dangerous. According to reports from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, about 82% of the amounts of cocaine that they have seized are all mixed with another drug that can literally rot the skin on user’s noses, cheeks and ears. Drug dealers are adding what is known as levamisole, a veterinary drug, to the cocaine shipments that they distribute around America.
In the illegal drugs industry, fillers are used on products to gain more profit. This is probably how levamisole ends up in cocaine. Cheap cocaine is usually composed of up to 90% filler, and dealers before would usually use baking soda for this purpose. Dr. Noah Craft from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute says that the problem brought about by this low-grade cocaine in the market can be very big.
Levamisole is now the choice of most drug dealers to act as fillers since it has the same effect on brain receptors like cocaine has. This will make cheap cocaine perform a lot closer to high-end grades, thus sellers will be able to have a big margin of profit.
In a feature on The Week, wounds brought about by using tainted cocaine appear a day after contact with the substance. The skin’s blood vessels are damaged, and the skin is starved with oxygen resulting to skin turning purple and eventually dies and rots.
In Canada, suspected users of cheap cocaine have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and anemia. Here in the U.S., more doctors are seeing gruesome wounds due to the use of cocaine. Authorities have warned that tainted cocaine is not only distributed in New York or L.A. but in the whole country as well.
Here’s something that K2 or Spice consumers should know about — exposure to synthetic cannabis can lead to serious psychological problems.
Professor John Huffman, originally an organic chemist from the Clemson University who created the JWH 018 – the stimulant that has the same effects as the active ingredient in cannabis called THC – says that products containing “fake pot” are dangerous. They can cause psychological problems which may all be irreversible.
“Do not use these products,” says Professor Huffman who resides in South California, according to a feature on NZ Herald. Though he is the inventor of the popular substance, he only has one advice to people who are fond of using it, and that is to stop now before everything is too late.
In the US, products such as K2 and Spice have become a lucrative business for producers who are into large scale manufacturing of the substances. They have been warned about the dangers of their merchandise, yet they do not listen at all for as long as they are making a lot of money at the expense of cannabis users.
A toxicologist from the Dunedin-based National Poisons Center, Dr. Leo Schep, supports Professor Huffman’s warnings, and says if there is anyone in the world who knows fake pot best, it’s Huffman.
In most emergency cases related to cannabinoids, immediate symptoms of patients include anxiety, increased blood pressure levels and heart rates, and even seizures. Long-term effects are currently being established, but as early as now, they are pointing towards the road to self-destruction.
There is another reason for men to quit smoking — it can increase risk of death due to prostate cancer by 61%.
In a study made at the Harvard University, data showed that men who smoke up their chances of dying of prostate cancer and recurrence of prostate cancer. In a feature from the Voice of America, researcher Stacy Kenfield said “We looked at the amounts that current smokers were smoking, and we did see an increase in prostate cancer mortality if you smoked more cigarettes.”
Every year, there are 900,000 prostate cancer cases all over the world, and about a quarter of this figure eventually die of the disease.
The study also relates prostate cancer and former smokers. Those who quit for at least ten years before they were diagnosed to have the illness were performing as people who never smoked did.
Kenfield suggests the probable reasons why smokers are more likely to die of this type of cancer. She says the cancer-causing chemicals in cigarettes are to blame as well as hormones that are disrupted by smoking. “Studies have found an association between current smoking and increased testosterone, which is known to stimulate prostate cancer growth. And other studies have shown that nicotine induces angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels.”
It was also observed that smokers have a more dangerous form of prostate cancer than those who do not smoke.
Pregnant women who take antidepressants may increase the risk of birth defects on their children. Mothers who take fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil) are more likely to give birth to babies with heart problems, according to a study based on national data from Finland.
According to Dr. Heli Malm who headed the research, the small risks are not enough to conclude that these drugs are not safe for pregnant women. He noted that the possibilities are way too small, with only 105 out of 10,000 babies affected by fluoxetine and 31 out of 10,000 affected by paroxetine, to totally prohibit the use of these drugs specifically on pregnant women.
Yet these antidepressants, also known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, should be used only when they are strongly advised by doctors and with corresponding clear indications on how to use them to avoid any unwanted side effects on unborn babies.
Data gathered by the researchers showed that the inborn problem related to fluoxetine is the isolated ventricular septal defect where a hole on either the left or right sides of the heart occur. Paroxetine brought about a right ventricular outflow tract defect which means that the flow of blood from the heart’s right chambers is abnormal.
But there are cases where women who suffer from depression are much safer when they have medications while they are pregnant. At the Teratology Information Service in the Hospital District of Helsinki, Finland, some doctors take greater consideration on mother’s health and well-being rather than in the very small possibility of babies being born with cardiac malformations.
Women who are under medication with antidepressants who plan to have children should consult health care providers on how they can continue taking these drugs while pregnant. There should be a way to both protect the unborn child from the side effects of antidepressants and the mothers who depend on these medications for their mental health and well-being.