Archive for January, 2013

Poll Shows Less Parents Are Concerned About Children’s Misuse of Narcotic Pain Medicines

A new survey by the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital showed that many parents were not concerned about the misuse of narcotic pain medicines by children, even though the number of abuse and overdose deaths attributed to these medicine exceeded the overdose deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.

painkiller-abuseHealthDay reports that of the more than 1,300 parents surveyed, only 35 percent were very concerned about the misuse of narcotic pain medicines by children and teens in their communities, and only 19 percent were very concerned about the misuse of these medicines in their own families. Surprisingly, 38 percent of black parents and 26 percent of Hispanic parents were more likely to be very concerned about the misuse of narcotic pain medicines in their own families, compared to 13 percent of white parents.

The survey also revealed that not too many parents support some policies aimed at discouraging the youth in abusing narcotic pain medicines like Vicodin and Oxycontin. For example, only 41 percent were in favor of a policy that would require a doctor’s visit to obtain a refill on these medicines; 66 percent supported a policy requiring parents to show identification when picking up narcotic pain medicine for their children, and 57 percent supported policies blocking narcotic pain medicine prescriptions from more than one doctor.

“Recent estimates are that one in four high school seniors have ever used a narcotic pain medicine. However, parents may downplay the risks of narcotic pain medicine because they are prescribed by a doctor,” Sarah Clark, associate director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan and associate director of the National Poll on Children’s Health, said in a university news release.

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Substance Abuse in Older Adults

Elderly substance abuse doesn’t seem to sound as big a problem as substance abuse in younger people. But according to experts, the number of older people seeking treatment for substance abuse will grow as the massive baby boom generation ages.

seniors-prescription-drugsOne sad truth about substance abuse in old people is that it remains undiagnosed and underserved. That’s because family members are often not inclined to look at their grandparents or think that their aging parents are an addict.

Another factor that makes elderly substance abuse trickier is the fact that symptoms can be mistaken as signs of aging.  Debra Jay, addiction specialist and intervention consultant, enumerates these symptoms which include incontinence, shaky hands, insomnia, memory loss, hypertension, depression, self-neglect, fatigue, and isolation.

Ms. Jay describes addiction among older adults a “silent epidemic” that costs the U.S. healthcare billions of dollars. She said: “The American Medical Association reported that more older adults are admitted to hospitals for alcohol and drug related illnesses or injuries than for heart problems. But the full story isn’t told in statistics. The cost to families is measured in broken relationships, the burden of care giving, diminished grandparenting, and grief and loss.”

Unlike teenagers who turn to drugs because they are not getting enough attention at home or because of peer pressure, substance abuse in older adults can be intentional and unintentional.

A 60-year-old may begin abusing alcohol or other banned substances to deal with life changes, such as death in the family, retirement, reduced income, health concerns or sleep impairment. There are also instances when an elderly takes extra medications to reduce pains or alleviate symptoms of depression or anxiety. In other cases, prescription medications are unintentionally misused because of complicated scheduling.

Ms. Jay stressed the importance of public awareness campaigns in addressing elderly substance abuse. “As a society, we need to build awareness of the increased risk associated with drugs, alcohol and aging, and we must give people appropriate direction for finding help to diagnose and treat the problem,” she added.

To understand more about substance abuse in older people, please visit Exclusive Interview with Debra Jay.

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Nation’s Drug Czar Says Medical Marijuana and Legalization Send Kids the Wrong Message

President Obama’s drug czar expressed his concerns over the implications of legalizing marijuana and advocating the drug’s medicinal benefits.

medical marijuana“We are certainly not sending a very good message when we call it medicine and legalize it,” R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told The Oregonian in an exclusive interview.

Kerlikowske made a quick stop in Portland last week to meet privately with some community leaders to talk about Oregon’s prescription drug abuse problem. He said the issue about marijuana was also discussed, saying it “always comes up.”

The former Seattle police chief cited the result of a 2012 survey which found that more California drivers tested positive for marijuana use than for alcohol.

Kerlikowske stressed that his concerns about marijuana center on public health, and that efforts to legalize the drug send the wrong message to young people.

Although medical marijuana is legal in some states and recreational marijuana use has been recently approved in Washington state and Colorado, the drug remains illegal under federal law. In 2011, the the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a petition to reclassify marijuana’s federal status, saying the drug has “no accepted medical use.”

Earlier this month, Kerlikowske slammed medical marijuana during a speaking engagement in San Francisco, the San Francisco Examiner reports. He said: “Medicinal marijuana has never been through the FDA process. We have the world’s most renowned process to decide what is medicine and what should go in peoples’ bodies. And marijuana has never been through that process.”

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10 Over-the-Counter Drugs Commonly Abused by Teenagers

Given the increased efforts against prescription drugs, more teens are now turning their attention to over-the-counter medicines. Just because OTC drugs are sold directly to consumers without a doctor’s prescription, many teens think they are safer than narcotic painkillers — but the opposite is actually true.

painkillers and over-the-counter drugsSome of the symptoms of OTC drug abuse include dizziness, anxiety, confusion, nausea, inability to think clear, poor memory, poor coordination, hallucinations, and sleep disturbances.

But while you can’t police pharmacies who sell OTC medicines, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to keep your teen/s from abusing these drugs. After all, prescription drug abuse prevention still starts at home. That includes proper storage of prescription pills and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines in your household, and disposing those that are no longer being used or already expired.

Here are 10 OTC drugs that are commonly abused by kids today. The more you know about them, the better you can keep them out of the hands of your children.

  1. Dextromethorphan
  2. Pain relievers (like acetaminophen and ibuprofen)
  3. Caffeine medicines and energy drinks (OTC caffeine pills like NoDoz or energy drinks like 5 Hour Energy)
  4. Diet pills
  5. Laxatives and herbal diuretics
  6. Motion sickness pills
  7. Sexual performance medicines
  8. Pseudoephedrine
  9. Herbal ecstasy
  10. Other herbals

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New Florida Survey Shows Teen Drug Use Declined Since 2010

The fight against substance abuse in Florida is bearing good results as more teens are keeping their hands off illegal substances, according to the 2012 Youth Substance Abuse Survey.

teen drug abuseAlthough alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are still among the most widely abused substances in the state, the survey shows lesser teens are using them compared to the previous years.

In Indian River County, alcohol use among teens went down from 33 percent in 2010 to 26 percent in 2012. Cigarette smoking dropped from 12 percent to 8 percent in the same period, while marijuana use declined from 15 percent to 13 percent, the WPTV reports.

In St. Lucie County, alcohol use dropped from 30 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2012. Marijuana use dropped from 13 percent to 11 percent in the last two years.

In Orange County, a notable decline was also observed. The number of middle and high school students in the area who reported lifetime use of alcohol decreased from 49.5 percent in 2010 to 46.8 percent in 2012. Past 30-day underage drinking also declined from 26.5 percent in 2010 to 23.1. percent in 2012, as reported in the Orange County Government news release.

Underage drinking is a major concern in Orange County and we are glad to see the numbers trending in the right direction,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.  “We will continue to support our schools, drug free coalition members and community efforts to further reduce substance use in our community.”

Past 30-day cigarette use by Orange County students also went down from 7.8 percent in 2010 to 5 percent in 2012, though past 30-day marijuana use remained steady from 11.9 percent in 2010 to 12.1 percent in 2012.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said they won’t slow down in their efforts in preventing substance abuse among youth. “The Orange County Sheriff’s Office and our community partners will continue to focus prevention efforts on the harms of marijuana use, synthetic marijuana use and the non-medical use of prescription drugs among our youth,” Demings added.

The 2012 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey also showed significant decline in substance abuse in Baker County, Duval County, Nassau County, Martin County, and St. Johns County.

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New Anti-Marijuana Group Launched!

Two months after Washington and Colorado voters say yes to recreational marijuana use, a new group was launched on Jan. 10 to halt legalization movement.

marijuanaCalled Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), the organization is chaired by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. Other board members include Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser and an outspoken opponent of legalizing marijuana; and David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

“Our country is about to go down the wrong road, in the opposite direction of sound mental health policy,” Kennedy told the Associated Press. “It’s just shocking as a public health issue that we seem to be looking the other way as this legalization of marijuana becomes really glamorous.”

Also member of the board is Sharon Levy, chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on substance abuse, who said  she joined the organization because “we’re losing the public health battle” and policy is being made by legalization advocates who might be misinformed about marijuana’s dangers.

The group argues that the U.S. can tackle issues, such as racial disparities in arrest rates and the lifelong stigma that can come with a marijuana conviction, without legalizing pot.

Project SAM hopes to raise money to oppose legalization messages around the country, shape the legalization laws taking effect in Washington and Colorado, promote alternatives to jail time for pot users, and speed up scientific research on the effects of marijuana, the article notes.

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