Archive for June, 2012

Community Discuss Growing Problem of Heroin Addiction

A community meeting organized by the Families and Individuals Sharing Hope (FISH) held at the St. Mark’s Catholic Church brought together social workers, chaplains, police officers, and undercover drug agents to warn the community about the growing problem of heroin addiction.

heroinHeroin cannot be considered a new drug as it has become famous in the 70’s, but today, it’s fast becoming an alternative to prescription painkillers for drug users especially in Scott County where obtaining prescribed medications has been made more complicated.

The Southwest Metro Drug Task Force explains that drug addicts are turning to heroin because the substance is much cheaper than prescribed medicines and it is more potent.

An undercover drug agent shared that even kids as young as 14 years old can be hooked on the illicit drug.  “It’s in the high school, it’s everywhere. It’s very easy to get,” the agent said. He added that parents should keep an eye on their children and check on their “cell phones, Facebook accounts, room, trash.”

Heroin can be smoked or injected, and its initial effects to a user include a relaxing feeling but it makes the pupils restricted, making it hard to, for instance, drive a vehicle.

To address the problem of heroin addiction, the Scott County Meth Task Force together with the Climb Theater is bringing their heroin lecture in schools to inform kids and the whole community about the dangers of the drug.

FISH says that alcohol and marijuana are the precursors for kids to get into heroin habit. The problem is that heroin drives a user to commit serious offenses to feed their addiction. Most burglaries are often related to heroin use as addicts become desperate to find financial resources to support their habit.

It has been observed that after six to eight hours, heroin users will again clamor for the drug or else they get flu-like symptoms and physical movement becomes difficult.

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New Test Detects Synthetic Marijuana

If fake or synthetic marijuana users think that they can get away with their drug habits, they now have a reason to think things over more seriously.

A new lab-based test that can detect the presence of synthetic marijuana such as JWH-018, JWH-019, JWH-073, and JWH-250 in urine samples has been developed by Norchem. The new test could be the much-awaited solution of detecting fake marijuana in a person’s system, especially during probation and parole checks, as well as drug court and treatment centers’ confirmatory procedures.

synthetic marijuanaWith the advent of the latest trend in drug testing, detecting the different forms of synthetic marijuana, also popularly known as K2 or Spice, will now be possible.

There are now about more than a dozen types of new drugs based on synthetic marijuana which can all be more potent than the real thing. This makes them more dangerous and fatal, with users manifesting symptoms like anxiety, increased heart rates, and seizures.

Norchem CEO Bill Gibbs said they have successfully identified the presence of fake marijuana in previous samples which tested negative for the drugs. “We’ve re-tested several hundred randomly pulled specimens from our laboratory and found that over 60% detected the presence of synthetic cannabinoids. These specimens had previously tested negative for drugs of abuse. We consider this significant abuse, three to four times the rate of other illegal compounds that we routinely test.”

Gibbs continued by sharing that when they were working on their project, teens and college students were the top priority and inspiration in coming up with the new test. Synthetic marijuana has had a growing number of users as they can avoid legal consequences and there was no clear confirmatory procedure for these types of drugs.

In the United States, there are areas where fake pot is still legally sold. Consumers have been warned by the Drug Enforcement Agency by classifying such substances as “drugs and chemicals of concern.”

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Addiction Strikes in 40 Million Americans While Lack of Treatment Soars

A new research finds that 40 million Americans aged 12 years old and above are addicted to drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol; yet treatment is not accessible to everyone who needs it.

Drug-Addiction-in-AmericaThe study, released this week by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York City, reveals that only 1 in 10 substance abusers who require treatment is actually getting the services. According to the university news release, the lack of treatment is partly attributed to the fact that treatment for addiction is “disconnected from mainstream medicine.” A great number of health care providers are not fully equipped to diagnose or treat addiction, which explains why only 6% of the referrals to treatment facilities for substance abuse come from health professionals.

As Drew Altman, chairman of the report’s National Advisory Commission, puts it “This report shows that misperceptions about the disease of addiction are undermining medical care.” He explains that while most doctors commonly check a variety of health conditions, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol level, the same cannot be said with substance abuse. Instead, they treat the outcomes of the addiction, such as injuries, unintended pregnancies, heart disease and cancers.

It also doesn’t help that many of the addiction-treatment providers are employing counselors that have little or no medical credentials. In fact, 14 states do not require licensing or certification of addiction counselors, while 6 other states do not require stringent education qualifications on counselors.

The study also finds that another 80 million Americans are placed under the category of “risky substance abusers” which is defined as using substances in a way that is threatening to the health and safety.

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Substance Abuse Treatment in Maryland Improving

Marylanders have something to be happy about these days: the state is expanding its substance abuse counseling and treatment programs to accommodate the growing help needed by residents with drug addiction problems.

substance abuse treatmentGov. Martin O’Malley expressed the importance of extending the necessary assistance to break off the destructive cycle of substance abuse. He said “… we are moving closer to meeting our goal in Maryland to expand access to substance abuse services by 25 percent by the end of 2012. Together, we can create a safer, healthier state for our children.”

Last year, Gov. O’Malley signed into law Maryland’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to combat the use of prescription drugs which is one of the fastest growing drug problem in the state. The recent move solidify Maryland’s fight against drug addiction to strengthen public safety.

The Allegany County Health Department’s Primary Adult Care (PAC) program which provides treatment services to individuals and families affected by chemical dependency and chemical abuse receive heavy use from individuals seeking help. They provide a wide range of substance abuse treatment services, including substance abuse evaluation, group and individual counseling, medication assistance, and visits to a family doctor (otherwise known primary care provider).

The Massie Unit alone, a residential program for people 18 years old and above, has provided treatment to 74 different PAC patients which equates to about 2,040 days of service.  Meanwhile, the Behavioral Health Unit, the outpatient addictions clinic and outpatient mental health center, has provided 1,096 services to 101 PAC patients over the last year.

From 63,834 in 2009, the number of Marylanders receiving outpatient substance abuse treatment services through the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) funded programs under Medicaid and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration has increased steadily to a projected 84,429 in fiscal year 2012.

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Secondhand Smoke Exposure May Increase Diabetes, Obesity Risks

A new study suggests that secondhand smoke may increase risks for type 2 diabetes and obesity for adults.

cigarette smokeThe results came from the data gathered by the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2006 wherein more than 6,300 adults participated. After analysis of their answers, it was noted that compared to non-smokers, people exposed to secondhand smoke had increased rates of type 2 diabetes and had higher figures for their body mass index (BMI).

It was also uncovered by the researchers that the same group exposed to secondhand smoke had higher resistance for insulin and registered increased levels of fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c readings. A higher resistance measure for insulin is a factor that could trigger type 2 diabetes.

While diabetes statistics were the same for the smokers and the secondhand-exposed individuals, they noticeably had higher A1c readings (measurement of blood sugar control for three consecutive months) compared to non-smokers. Body mass indexes differed too as smokers had lower numbers than non-smokers.

Chairman of the internal medicine department at the Charles R. Drew University Dr. Theodore Friedman who co-authored the study, also shared “The association between secondhand smoke and type 2 diabetes was not due to obesity.”

Dr. Friedman recommends further studies of the same to determine the extent of secondhand smoke to one’s health. He adds that while secondhand smoke is yet to be proven to be a factor for diabetes, the urgency to control the exposure of individuals to secondhand smoke stands.

Complete results of the study were discussed during the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.

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How to Help Your Kids Stay Away from Drugs

Dad helping son with bike helmet.With the skyrocketing cases of drug addiction in teenagers, parents have become more creative in keeping their kids off drugs. Unfortunately, for some parents, the task can be daunting and overwhelming. Though it can take a little more effort on your part, drug addiction in your own kids is preventable. Here are some steps you can take to help your children just say no to drugs.

Know what they do and their interests. As children get older, they engage in more activities at school and with friends. While you cannot keep an eye on your kids 24/7, staying involved with your their life is one better way to know them and understand what they are going through. Even if your children are legally old enough to be home alone, resist the temptation of leaving them by themselves at home for hours; otherwise, you’re just giving them the opportunity to experiment with drugs or alcohol. In addition, knowing their interest gives you the chance to build a health relationship with them. Once you have established a solid bond with your kids, educating them about the importance of staying away from drugs would be easier.

Build their self-esteem. Be generous in giving encouragement, appreciation, and praise to your children. Show them that you love and care for them by being more interested in their life, such as their passions and interests. Find something they are good at and let them know that they have your support all the way. Making your kids feel loved will make them more confident in leading a life without drugs and alcohol.

Be your children’s good role model. Kids tend to look up to their parents especially during the early years of their life. If you’re an alcoholic yourself or drug abuser, chances are, your kids will emulate the kind of lifestyle and habits you’re having. So let them see you taking care of your body and following healthy practices.

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