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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Missouri Eating Disorder Treatment Law

Eating disorders are quite difficult to treat and are considered to be one of the most insidious forms of addiction. Unlike other forms of addiction, everyone requires food to survive - too much or too little can result in serious health problems. Treating eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia is a process which usually requires several months of extended care treatment. Unfortunately, insurance companies will usually only cover 30 days in treatment - which experts have repeatedly stated is not enough time and discharging after a month in treatment often results in relapse.

This month, Missouri became the first state to pass a law which will dictate the types of eating disorder treatments that insurance companies must cover, STL Today reports. The bill, signed by Gov. Jay Nixon, will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage or cutting coverage short for the treatment of eating disorders. The measure will ensure that both the physical aspect and the underlying mental issues are covered - barring insurance companies from cutting off support based off of a patient's weight gain.

Missouri Eating Disorders Association board President, Annie Seals, says that the bill will fill in the gap between what insurance companies should pay for and what’s actually being covered, according to the article. Insurance companies will no longer be able to use a patient’s weight as indicator of treatment no longer being needed. Gaining or losing weight is only one element in the treatment of eating disorders, addressing the mental illness aspect of the disease is of the utmost importance - giving patients a real shot at a successful recovery.

The landmark measure may encourage others states to follow suit, according to Kerry Dolan, who leads the legislative advocacy program of the National Eating Disorders Association.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marijuana’s Effect On Weight Gain

With increased access to marijuana across the country, the effects of the drug are of greater concern. There has been an exponential increase of marijuana related research projects. Most people associate marijuana use with increased appetite, leading many doctors to recommend the drug to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Marijuana’s appetite stimulating properties begs the question: Does marijuana use affect weight gain?

New research suggests that while long-term marijuana use does influence weight gain, gender may play an important role, ScienceDaily reports. The researchers write that marijuana use leads to a temporary increase in appetite, but the drug's role in weight gain depends on a number of factors and the data available is sparse.

According to Didier Jutras-Aswad, University of Montreal professor and researcher at the CHUM Research Centre:

"It is known -- and often reported by users -- that cannabis causes temporary increase in appetite. As to whether it actually causes weight gain in the long term, the available data is limited. The question is all the more difficult to answer since many other factors can influence weight. For instance, cannabis use may be associated with cigarette smoking, which also alters appetite, and many effects of cannabis vary by gender and level of use. For this study, we wanted to better understand the association between cannabis and weight gain by paying particular attention to these factors. The main finding of our study shows that long-term cannabis use indeed influences weight gain. But above all, we noted that certain factors drastically modify this effect, including gender, level of use, and concomitant cigarette smoking."

The researchers, at this time, are unable to explain why marijuana use affects the weight gain of men and women differently, according to the article. However, they have some ideas.

"THC and nicotine do not affect the neurobiological circuits controlling hunger in the same way in men and women," explained Jutras-Aswad. "We also know that these targets in the brain are modified by hormonal factors that can fluctuate, in particular, during menstrual cycles. There are also possible psychological differences in men and women in their perception of and preoccupation with weight gain and diet, which could hypothetically explain why men seem specifically sensitive to the complex interaction between cannabis use, cigarette smoking, and weight gain."

The findings were published in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Recovery Born From Tragedy

Fame and fortune, the byproduct of a successful artistic career, are often fueled by drugs and alcohol. Sadly, a spark of genius can burn out as quickly as it ignites, leaving countless people lachrymose and in a state of malaise, asking the same question - over and over - how does this happen? While substance abuse can take everything from a person, including their life, it is possible for people lost in the darkness of addiction to flip the switch and recover from the insidious disease of addiction.

The iconic singer songwriter James Taylor was one of those people, after releasing, on June 15th, BEFORE THIS WORLD, his first album in 13 years (possibly his last ever), and says he is surprised that he made it this far, the Telegraph reports. As a teenager, Taylor became addicted to heroin and suffered from psychiatric problems - he would not find recovery until his mid-30’s.

In the interview, he talks about the worries John Belushi, his friend and fellow addict, expressed towards Taylor. Keep in mind that Belushi would succumb to the disease himself in 1982 - shortly after making the remark to Taylor. A death which Taylor said was a wake-up call, according to the article.

In 1985, Taylor wrote the song “That’s Why I’m Here,” which included the lyrics:

John's gone found dead he dies high he's brown bread
Later said to have drowned in his bed
After the laughter the wave of the dread
It hits us like a ton of lead

It seems "learn not to burn" means to turn on a dime
Walk on if you're walking even if it's an uphill climb
Try to remember that working's no crime
Just don't let 'em take and waste your time’

“A big part of my story is recovery from addiction,’ said Taylor. "One thing that addiction does is, it freezes you. You don’t develop, you don’t learn the skills by trial and error of having experiences and learning from them, and finding out what it is you want, and how to go about getting it, by relating with other people. You short-circuit all of that stuff and just go for the button that says this feels good over and over again. So you can wake up, as I did, at the age of 36, feeling like you’re still 17. One of the things you learn as you get older is that you’re just the same.”

It is often the case that recovery is born from tragedy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rural Areas Struggle with IV Drug Use

The Midwest and the Appalachian regions of the United States have been struggling with the prescription drug epidemic and heroin scourge. While overdose deaths are a common problem, health officials report that the rise in infectious disease transmission in some of the country’s most rural areas is unprecedented. Many of the areas affected most are ill equipped to dealing with the growing problem, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that between 2006 and 2012, Hepatitis C infections increased by 364 percent in: Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee. In the last five years, the rate of infection in Ohio has increased by 50 percent, according to the article. The spike in disease transmission underscores the need for greater access to clean needles.

“The cost of this epidemic is spectacular,” said University of Cincinnati doctor, Judith Feinberg. 

In many of the areas most affected, needle exchanges are not available, despite the recommendation of such services by the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Sadly, federal funding for needle exchange programs is banned, even though research suggests that such programs not only prevent the spread of disease but provide an avenue for drug counselors to talk to addicts about recovery.

IV drug users who do not have access to needle exchange programs are 3.35 times more likely to contract HIV. In Indiana, Governor Mike Pence declared a public health emergency as a result of an HIV outbreak linked to IV Opana ® use. In response, the governor authorized cities and counties to open needle exchanges wherever a state of emergency has been declared, the article reports.

The states in question have limited, to no needle exchange access available, including:
  • Ohio - 3 Programs
  • Kentucky - 1 Program
  • Indiana - 1 Program
  • West Virginia - 0 Programs
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Big Concerns About THC Dabbing

It is safe to say that there is no shortage in ways to get high from THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that causes euphoria. With more relaxed views about the drug emerging in states across the country, people are being exposed to a variety of new methods for getting high. One of those ways is known as “dabbing,” a waxy or solid marijuana concentrate that is much more potent than the traditional leafy material that users smoke. New research suggests that the production of dabs requires butane gas, which has resulted in number of fires and explosions, HealthDay reports.

"Given the amount of butane that can build up during this process, these individuals should be worried about any spark from any source," said study lead author John Stogner, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "There's a big danger of fire even if they aren't using some sort of heating device."

A number of people who have engaged in making dabs have suffered serious burns. Another concern regarding this method is the potency of the THC concentrate. The study authors found that the THC concentration of dabs can approach 80 percent, more than double the concentration of typical marijuana.

“We know that it is more potent than smoking marijuana,” Heather Senior, Parent Support Network Manager for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, told HealthDay. “You don’t know what concentrate you’re going to be getting. It’s going to be a much higher dose, and kids might not be used to that.”

The study findings were published in Pediatrics.