Archive for category Drug Abuse Prevention
Drug abuse remains one of the country’s worst social and health issues, and this new report from a non-profit health organization confirms the already worsening scenario.
According to Trust for America’s Health, deaths linked to drug overdose rose to more than twice in young Americans over more than a decade. From 3.1 deaths per 100,000 individuals aged 12 to 25 in 1999-2001, the figure has since ballooned to 7.3 in 2011-2013. More than half of the reason was due to prescription drug abuse, while a portion was due to the use of heroin.
Trust for America’s Health executive director Jeffrey Levi shared in a news report more about the increase in the number of drug overdose deaths. “These twin epidemics have contributed to the recent tragic rise in overdose deaths,” he said.
Overdose rates vary by state, based on the report’s findings. For instance, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, Montana, and Wyoming registered more than fourfold increase in drug overdose rates. Meanwhile, 12 states have more than tripled their original numbers, and 18 states registered more than twice the previous death toll.
In a more startling discovery, people aged 19 to 25 have the highest risk of fatality due to drug overdose, at 12.7 deaths per 100,000. In contrast, teenagers between 12 to 18 years old registered only 1.6 fatalities per 100,000. “We have a huge opportunity in kids when they are in school, in their early teen years, so that when they reach this older age they will be less likely to be using,” Levi added.
Despite the efforts of the U.S. government to address one of the worst issues to face the world, the latest report from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) paints a bad picture.
According to a team of researchers at the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Rockville, MD, 3.9 percent of U.S. residents were diagnosed with a drug use disorder (DUD) within a 12-month span. This translates to roughly 9.1 million Americans who are engaged in drug abuse. On top of this disturbing statistic, 9.1 percent of Americans were diagnosed with a lifetime DUD.
The figures were based on the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III) in 2012-2013, which contained drug use data on more than 36,000 U.S. adults. This particular study fixed its focus on a handful of illicit and often-abused drugs, as reported in a news item: “amphetamine, cannabis, club drug, cocaine, hallucinogen, heroin, nonheroin opioid, sedative/tranquilizer or solvent/inhalant use disorders.” The DUDs identified in the study by Dr. Bridget F. Grant and her team of researchers were based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5).
Sectors of society most affected by DUDs include the following: male, white or native American, young adults, those with low income and education, and living in the western part of the U.S. What’s worse is that only 13.5 percent of the 12-month DUD-diagnosed patients are able to receive treatment.
The study authors noted that part of the reason behind this lingering issue on drug abuse is the growing public acceptance of drugs. “DSM-5 DUD is prevalent among US adults. The public is increasingly less likely to disapprove of specific types of drug use (e.g., marijuana) or to see it as risky, and consistent with these attitudes, laws governing drug use are becoming more permissive,” the authors said. “Findings also indicate an urgent need to destigmatize DUD and educate the public, clinicians, and policymakers about its treatment to encourage affected individuals to obtain help.”
As kids and parents prepare for Halloween, law enforcement authorities are warning the public about an imminent danger that might lure your children to ingest illicit drugs without their knowledge.
According to a news article, a Florida police department recently shared a picture of a seemingly innocent-looking candy that is actually ecstasy in disguise. Manufacturers of this illegal drug have resorted to creating different variants to attract potential users, and shaping them like colorful candies is one such practice.
The police department in the Town of Menasha, Wisconsin is warning parents to be alert in checking what their children are eating. Community liaison officer Jason Weber confirmed that illegal drugs in the market may be misconstrued as regular candy by untrained eyes. However, he was quick to mention that the likelihood of candy-like drugs getting mixed with regular candy during trick or treat is very slim. In fact, the police department hasn’t had any cases of candy poisoning during Halloween for the past 25 years.
Weber advised parents to accompany their kids when they go trick or treat, and always check the candy before letting them eat it. You can always decide to throw the candy away if you suspect that it’s laced with illegal drugs.
During adolescence, the brain is actively undergoing development, with much of the formative brain functioning and cognitive skills being established. Unfortunately, the teenage brain is also susceptible to wrong choices, and this includes drug use that may inhibit or impair proper brain development.
This is the reason behind the recent initiative of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to spearhead a comprehensive study on the effect of certain substances on the adolescent brain. Some of the substances identified to be part of the study include marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco.
In this light, NIH has handpicked researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder to join the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. This series of studies aims to look into how drugs can affect the development of teenage brains. The university plans to do this by using the resources of the Intermountain Neuroimaging Consortium, in collaboration with the Institute for Behavioral Genetics and the Institute of Cognitive Science.
CU-Boulder professor and Institute of Cognitive Science director Marie Banich said that the breakthrough study could provide answers to some of the most essential questions surrounding teen health and drug use. “Adolescence is a time when the brain is quite sensitive to environmental influences, and the way the brain gets wired during this developmental period has lifelong implications,” Banich said via a news item.
The study will be financially supported by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), and its results may change future policies on health and education.
If you are afraid that your children might pick up the habit of drug and alcohol abuse, you might find some hope in this bit of news.
Locals of Hancock County recently announced in a news article that they have come up with a concrete solution to discourage teenagers from using illegal drugs: “marijuana goggles“. The pair of spectacles gives a first-person simulation of the view of someone who smokes marijuana, even if the wearer does not smoke it.
A handful of teenagers, who were members of the Hancock County Youth Council, tried the goggles on themselves, and were surprised with the results. In a clear show of the device’s capability, the teenagers were able to finish a simple maze within 12 seconds, but took them four times the amount of time when they wore the goggles. They also tried a driving simulation, which they found difficult to do, considering that marijuana users have a hard time discerning the color red — which is the color of the stop sign in a traffic light.
The device was brought into the county by Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse (NASA) member Tim Retherford, who let the youth council try the goggles. “Anytime you can do an activity — something that’s interactive with them, or something that provides education, that’s great. These actually simulate the loss of some of your cognitive functions,” Retherford said.
Blair Viehweg, a senior who lives in Mount Vernon, said that the wearing the goggles provokes the thoughts of the teenagers who wear the device. “I think it impacts them a lot because they can see how real it is,” Viehweg added.
Music festivals may sound fun, but these events may be exposing your teenagers to drugs of all sorts. A recent drug overdose survivor recently shared his experience and released a photo to discourage teenagers to engage in substance abuse.
Jordan Blackburn, 20, spent three days at Cumberland Infirmary in the U.K. — and was in a medically-induced coma for some time — after taking unknown drugs at the Kendal Calling Music Festival on July 31. He recalled that he was able to take more than three kinds of drugs during the event together with his friends, including 18-year-old Christian Pay who was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
The photo above was released by Blackburn as a warning for teenagers to be vigilant when it comes to substance abuse in events like this. “I think at festivals especially, teenagers just want to have a good time with all their friends and they initially forget the dangers they can put themselves in by doing something stupid like we did,” Blackburn shared via BBC. “I don’t have much recollection, I think because it was such a traumatic event. It was really awful” he added.
Blackburn has already realized his mistake, and is now ready to pick up the pieces. “You never realise until it’s too late. You never think at that moment it is ever going to happen to you, but unfortunately you learn the hard way… You can never change the past, but you can always change the future. It’s just trying to make a positive thing out of something really really negative,” Blackburn expressed.
Alison Turnbull, the young man’s mother, said that Blackburn may have physically survived the ordeal, but he feels some sense of guilt over what happened. “Physically he’s fine. He’s still really tired; his body has been through quite a trauma. Mentally he’s coping OK, but I think he’s got what I would term as survivor’s guilt,” Turnbull said.