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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

NFL Has Not Banned Synthetic Drugs

In the United States, the sale and use of synthetic drugs, such as bath salts and synthetic marijuana, is illegal. The banning comes in the wake of thousands of cases where the use of such drugs has led to bodily harm and, in some cases, the loss of life. The insidious drugs are highly unpredictable to the ever changing chemical formulations that cause intoxication. Every time the government bans a particular chemical, synthetic drug makers tweak the drug to side step the crackdowns. While law enforcement agencies have made some serious synthetic drug busts and it is harder to find the shiny packets contain herbs sprayed with chemicals in convenience stores, the reality is that synthetic drugs are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Despite the many dangerous side effects linked with synthetic drug use, the National Football League (NFL) has not added synthetic drugs to their list of banned substances, USA Today reports. What’s more, the league rarely will test the chemicals in synthetic drugs when they perform urinalysis. The lack of synthetic drug bans and the failure to test for the chemicals regularly comes as somewhat of a surprise considering that several players have been linked to synthetic drugs.

Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the NFL, said that because the substances are illegal, "synthetic marijuana falls within the purview of the policy.” McCarthy adds that, “Synthetic marijuana is not currently part of the basic testing panel, but the medical advisors have the discretion to add it to an individual’s testing panel as appropriate.”

While there are currently hundreds of variations of synthetic drugs, the most commonly used are known as synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic marijuana, is supposed to mimic the euphoric effects of traditional marijuana. However, the two drugs only share a common name, synthetic marijuana puts users at risk of severe side effects, including hallucinations, seizures and possibly death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study which found that synthetic marijuana was linked to 15 deaths in just over a five month period last year, the article reports.

“Referring to these drugs as synthetic marijuana gives people the false sense of safety,” said DEA spokesman Rusty Payne. “The use of these drugs can have disastrous consequences and it’s not just a problem here in the U.S. This is an issue around the globe.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tapering the American Opioid Epidemic

Efforts to better manage patient pain were arguably the leading cause of the crisis we face today with both prescription opioids and heroin. It goes without saying that people suffering from both acute and chronic pain need access to effective treatments, which at times requires the use of prescription opioids; however, past and current prescribing practices have been flagrantly irresponsible, and require alterations.

New research suggests that there a few things that could be done to mitigate the epidemic the United States faces, Medical Xpress reports. The findings were published in the journal Substance Abuse.

Researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon State University found that the amount of opioids prescribed and used could be drastically reduced through 'medical provider training, new clinic policies and efforts to "taper" opioid use for pain treatment.' Experts report that in the last 20 years, opioid prescribing rates have surged by 600 percent.

The research involved 514 patients currently prescribed opioids for long durations, according to the article. The researchers found that 37 percent of patients who were part of the group, whose physicians received an aggressive education program, were able to taper their dose to safe levels. What’s more, the patients who were taking smaller opioid doses did not report an increase in pain levels. Raising both doctor and patient awareness regarding the dangers of prolonged opioid use can cut prescribing rates and save lives, but will it be enough to curb the epidemic? It may not be!

"The approach used in this study showed progress, but not enough," said Dr. Melissa Weimer, an assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University in a news release. "We'd rather have a higher success rate. But in some cases we're dealing with a generation of patients who have been prescribed high-dose opioids for many years."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Eating Disorders Linked to Increased Risk of Suicide

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, are insidious mental illnesses that if left untreated can result in loss of life. What’s more, past research has indicated that people suffering from eating disorders were at an increased risk of suicide, but the studies were inconsistent and did not account for other forms of mental illness being at play, Medscape reports. A new study, the most in depth to date, adjusted the findings for co-occurring factors, and found that not only are people with eating disorders at an increased risk of suicide - their family members are too. The research was published online in JAMA Psychiatry.

The new study took place in Sweden and involved data from 2,268,786 individuals born between January 1979 and December 2001, and were observed beginning at six years of age, according to the article. Of the pool, there were 15,457 females (1.40% of all females) and 991 males (0.09% of males) that were found to have an eating disorder. 7,680 females and 453 males had anorexia nervosa, and 3,349 females and 61 males had bulimia.

Even after the researchers adjusted for co-occurring disorders, drug and alcohol addiction or depression, people with eating disorders were at an increased risk of suicide, the article reports. What’s more, the siblings of people with eating disorders were found to be at an increased risk of suicide as well, suggesting that genetic factors play a part.

"Clinicians and family members should remain vigilant for signs of suicidality in all individuals with eating disorders, regardless of the presence of other psychiatric disorders,” said study lead Shuyang Yao, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “Risk for suicide was increased in both anorexia and bulimia nervosa, encouraging vigilance in both disorders.”

If you or a loved one have a co-occurring eating disorder, please contact Whiteside Manor.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Naloxone Free for High Schools

While the use of highly addictive opioid narcotics is primarily a concern regarding adults, sadly drugs like OxyContin and/or heroin find a way to teenagers as well. The nation’s continued battle with the opioid epidemic has called for drastic measure to be taken, some of which would have been scoffed at just a decade ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 44 people lose their life from opioid overdoses everyday in America. Granted, opioid overdoses are relatively rare among adolescents, they do still occur, which requires that we as a nation be prepared for such an eventuality.

If you have been following the news about the epidemic, then there is a good chance you are familiar with the opioid-overdose reversal drug naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan. The drug has the power to counter the symptoms of an overdose and save lives. Recently, the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the form of a nasal spray kit, allowing medical lay people to administer the miracle antidote. The nasal spray version of the drug is made by the drug company Adapt Pharma.

As we enter the sixteenth year of the opioid epidemic, it is clear that the more availability and access people have to naloxone - the more lives that will be saved. On Monday, at a Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Initiative summit, Adapt Pharma announced that they would provide naloxone free to high schools across the country, according to U.S. News & World report.

Unfortunately, states differ from one to the other regarding liability when it come to administering such drugs; this could present obstacles regarding the program's reach. However, the National Association of School Nurses supports having naloxone in schools, and the Department of Health and Human Services is willing to help pay for both the drug and the training required, according to the article.

“It’s a fair point,” says Rain Henderson, CEO of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative. “We are pressed for human resources, but we have to start somewhere.”

Thursday, January 21, 2016

E-Cigarettes Don't Help Smokers Quit

There has been a lot of debate over whether or not e-cigarettes are an effective smoking cessation therapy, as many people have turned to the devices to either cut back or quit. A number of people in recovery are now using e-cigs, which many believe are a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco products. While there have been reports of people actually giving up cigarettes in favor of vaping, there is little evidence to support the method.

Smoking cessation research is especially important for people in recovery because addiction studies indicate that people who smoke are at an increased risk of relapse. It turns out that e-cigarettes may not be the way to go for people working a program, new research indicates that e-cigarettes don’t help smokers quit, CBS News reports. People who used e-cigarettes were found to be 28 percent less likely to stop smoking cigarettes.

“E-cigarettes should not be recommended as effective smoking cessation aids until there is evidence that, as promoted and used, they assist smoking cessation,” said lead researcher Dr. Sara Kalkhoran.

The researchers analyzed 38 studies looking for an association between the use of e-cigarettes and smoking cessation among adult smokers, according to the article. The findings indicated that most adults don’t actually quit smoking but use both delivery systems in conjunction with each other.

"The irony is that quitting smoking is one of the main reasons both adults and kids use e-cigarettes, but the overall effect is less, not more, quitting," co-author Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. "While there is no question that a puff on an e-cigarette is less dangerous than a puff on a conventional cigarette, the most dangerous thing about e-cigarettes is that they keep people smoking conventional cigarettes."

If you are in recovery, and smoke cigarettes, then the new research should make you wary of e-cigarettes. You may find that you are using both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes in conjunction with each, meaning you may actually be exposed to more nicotine on daily basis than from using just one or the other. The best thing you can do is talk to your doctor, and rely on currently accepted forms of smoking cessation.

The findings were published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.