Archive for September, 2012

Nearly 40 Percent of Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Involve Both Drugs and Alcohol

Addiction specialists and medical experts have often reminded us that mixing drugs and alcohol is never a good idea, but it seems that a significant number of individuals are not paying attention to this.

alcohol and drugs combinationA SAMHSA news release cited a recent report showing that 37.2 percent of admissions to drug treatment facilities involve dependency on or addiction to both substances. The document, entitled Nearly 40 percent of Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Report Alcohol-Drug Combinations, is based on SAMHSA’s Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) received during 2009 and up through Nov. 3, 2010. It says that 23.1 percent of all admissions reported the abuse of alcohol and one other drug, and 14.1 percent reported the abuse of alcohol and two or more drugs.

When alcohol is used with other drugs, it tends to be ingested in greater quantities than when used alone. Combining alcohol with other drugs can be dangerous. For example, taking benzodiazepines concurrently with alcohol increases the chances of serious injury or death.

“Even by themselves, alcohol and drug abuse can be devastating to one’s health and well-being, but a combination of drug and alcohol abuse increases one’s risk of serious, life-threatening consequences even more,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “If you or anyone you know has a problem with drugs and alcohol, together or by themselves please seek help immediately – it is available and it can help.”

Given the dangers associated with the dangerous usage pattern, SAMHSA stresses that treatment providers identify patients who use alcohol with other drugs in order to provide ample treatment approach.

Some of the drugs that create dangerous effects when combined with alcohol include sedatives, prescription drugs, cocaine, and opiate painkillers.

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Synthetic Drugs in Madisonville Kentucky Dropped

Madisonville Police Department (MPD) is seeing a positive outcome in Kentucky’s efforts to reduce synthetic drugs sale and use, according to

MPD officials noted that the passage of House Bill 481 earlier this year has been a crucial step in resolving the problem which mostly affects local high school students.

Synthetic DrugsLt. Josh Mitchell said, “It gave us some leverage in doing something. Before our hands were kind of tied. Gas stations were selling it, grocery stores. We knew it was bad, we knew what the research was.”

In April, House Bill 481, also known as Synthetic Drug Bill, was signed by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. It bans entire classifications of synthetic drugs and allows law enforcement to use the state’s forfeiture laws against retailers who sell synthetic drugs.

According to Mitchell, in only a matter of months since HB 481 was passed, synthetic drugs in Madisonville are no longer as prevalent. Two local stores busted for selling the drugs have since shut down.

Mitchell added that the bill has made people become more aware of the health risks associated with synthetic drug use.

“You never know what you’re going to get in a package of them, so if you use it four, five, six times in a couple months you might not have any effects and then that one package you’re in the emergency room in ICU,” Mitchell noted.

MPD officials affirm they will continue to fight the sale of synthetic drugs on the streets and said that tips coming from the public will be instrumental in curtailing such drug activity.

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SAMHSA-sponsored Survey Shows a Decline in Prescription Drug Abuse and Heavy Drinking

Federal and state crackdowns on prescription drug abusers are working and proof to that is highlighted in a survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

drug abuse preventionSAMHSA announced, during the 23rd annual national observance of National Recovery Month, that the number of 18 to 25 year olds who used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past month had dropped to 14 percent — from 2.0 million in 2010 to 1.7 million in 2011.

SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said, “These findings show that national efforts to address the problem of prescription drug misuse may be beginning to bear fruit and we must continue to apply this pressure to drive down this and other forms of substance use.”

The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a survey conducted annually by SAMHSA, also marked significant decline in the rates of binge and heavy drinking among underage people. Past month alcohol use among 12 to 20 year olds decreased from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 25.1 percent in 2011, while binge drinking, defined as consuming 5 or more drinks on a single occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days, declined from 19.3 percent in 2002 to 15.8 percent in 2011. Heavy drinking declined from 6.2 percent in 2002 to 4.4 percent in 2011.

Other positive improvements manifested by the survey, participated by approximately 70,000 people throughout the country, include reductions of 44 and 40 percent, respectively, in the number of past month users of cocaine and methamphetamine since 2006, and a 19 percent reduction in the number of past month users of hallucinogens between 2010 and 2011. Additionally, underage tobacco rate of past month use among 12 to 17 year olds continued to decline from 15.2 percent in 2002, to 10.7 percent in 2010 and 10.0 percent in 2011.

Meanwhile, marijuana is still the most widely abused illicit drug. According to the survey,  about 7 percent of Americans are current users of marijuana in 2011 — an increase from 5.8 percent in 2007. But despite the surge in marijuana use, officials are confident that the country can continue to abate the problem with the help of families, communities, and law enforcements.

“Drug use in this country creates too many obstacles to opportunity — especially for young people,” said Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy. “The good news is that we are not powerless against this problem. By emphasizing prevention and treatment, as well as smart law enforcement efforts that break the cycle of drug use, crime and incarceration, we know we can reduce drug use and its consequences in America.”

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New York-based Organization Launches “The Medicine Abuse Project” to Help Combat Prescription Drug Abuse in Teenagers

The Partnership at, formerly known as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA), launches a new initiative aimed at fighting prescription drug abuse.

The Partnership at Drugfree.orgCalled The Medicine Abuse Project, the campaign’s ultimate goal is to prevent half a million teens from abusing medicine within five years. It kicks off during the week of September 23-29, 2012, with Phase 1 asking parent/grandparent, health care providers, communities & law enforcement, and educators to take the Pledge to raise awareness about the issue.

Prescription drug abuse has been regarded the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. In 2010, approximately 7 million individuals were current users of psychotherapeutic drugs taken nonmedically (2.7 percent of the U.S. population). Further statistics show that the number of people who are abusing prescription medicines surpassed the number of those who use cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin combined.

One of the factors that drive the surging prevalence of prescription drug abuse is people’s misperceptions about them. Because they are prescribed by doctors, users, particularly teenagers, think that these prescription medicines are safe to take under any circumstances.

But according to a new research released from The Partnership at roughly one in five teens and parents say they know someone who has died due to medicine abuse. The research also reveals that the issue of teen medicine abuse is more widespread than parents think.

“Our new research reveals that Americans drastically underestimate the negative impact that the abuse of prescription drugs and over-the-counter cough medicine is having on teens today,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at, in a news release.

In light of this and the desire to address the alarmingly dangerous problem, The Medicine Abuse Project also aims to educate parents, teens and the public about the dangers of medicine abuse and unite parents, educators, health care providers, coaches, government officials, law enforcement officers and other partners to help save lives.

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Parents Getting Free Drug Testing Kits to Screen Marijuana Use in Their Kids

Drug Free Charlotte County launched a new campaign that will help fight drug abuse in its community. It’s called VerifyTruth.

marijuana drug testingThe movement encourages parents to drug test their kids at least five times a year to help them stay away from using marijuana. Parents can request for marijuana drug test kit, free of charge, which enables them to confirm whether or not their kids are telling the truth.

In a feature on, Drug Free Charlotte County Executive Director Amity Chandler says: “We’re not even saying to parents, do it, we’re saying pick up the test, talk to your teen about, and let them know the option of the test might come up if they’re breaking rules, when they start driving, when they get a job.”

Since June, VerifyTruth has already given 1,000 marijuana drug tests and most parents seem happy with the idea.

In its website, VerifyTruth laid out several reasons to use drug testing, one of them is, for parents to have the opportunity to intervene early if their teens begin experimenting on marijuana and other drugs.

According to a Teen Norms Survey done last year in Charlotte County, 39 percent of high school students said they experimented on marijuana at least once — a 4 percent increase since 2006. An increase in marijuana use was also observed for middle schoolers.

Chandler added that while Charlotte County kids are becoming more aware of the dangers of tobacco, the same cannot be said about marijuana. But through the new campaign, they are hoping to help parents guide their kids in avoiding peer pressure that could lead them to marijuana, as well as reduce the prevalence of drug use in the county.

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Addressing Teenage Drug Abuse by Teaching Adolescents Self-Regulation

Studies have shown that adolescents are at higher risk of taking alcohol and drugs, to the point of abuse. This has something to do with the fact that they are at the stage where they become more aware of their sexuality and peer-grouping. For many youth, being surrounded with friends or acquaintances that use drugs and alcohol keeps them under pressure to start experimenting on illegal substances, too.

Win over drug addiction!However, a feature on says that teaching adolescents self-regulation is one of the surest way for parents, educators, and doctors to address drug use and dependence among teenagers. MRI studies demonstrate that several development processed in the brain continue throughout adolescence. Therefore, educating teenagers about appropriate self-regulation skills can go a long way in keeping them off the use and dangers of drugs.

The report stressed that while brain maturation cannot be stopped by parents and youth-serving professionals, they can surely influence it. Always considering the possibility that some youth may make the potentially life-altering decision to become involved with drugs, including prescription drugs, one path for parents and treatment providers may be to teach important skills that may be a “weakness” for the adolescent brain. SAMHSA’s NREPP process lists these skills as impulse control; “second” thought processes; social decision-making; dealing with risk situations, and taking healthy risks.

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