Posts Tagged ‘substance abuse’

Doctors Say Alcoholic Energy Drinks Dangerous

November 9, 2010

Cleared2Drive four locoSome doctors say drinks that combining alcohol with caffeine should be banned because they’re dangerous, ABC News reported Oct. 20.

Marketed in large, colorful cans under names like Four Loko, Joose, and Torque, the drinks are popular among college students. The 23.5-ounce canned drinks can contain 12 percent alcohol and 156 milligrams of caffeine, and have encountered increasing criticism. Attorneys general in more than one state are concerned that they’re being marketed to minors, a New Jersey college banned them, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is deciding whether or not the drinks are legal.

Dr. Robert McNamara, who directs the emergency medicine department at Temple University, recently encountered his first-ever case of a healthy 19-year-old whose heart attack seemed to be linked to consuming alcoholic energy drinks. “This is a dangerous product from what we’ve seen,” McNamara said, who said other doctors had told him about similar cases. “It doesn’t have to be chronic use. I think it could happen to somebody on a first time use.”

“I’m mad as hell,” said Doctor Mary Claire O’Brien of Wake Forest University. “These drinks are not safe.”  O’Brien, who is a professor of emergency medicine and public health, recently completed a study that showed that consuming alcohol with caffeine was more harmful than drinking alcohol alone. Those who consumed both were at least two times as likely — compared to those drinking alcohol without caffeine — to be hurt, need medical attention, take sexual advantage of another, or accept a ride with someone who was inebriated.

“They can’t tell that they’re drunk,” O’Brien explained. “What this behavior gets is a wide awake drunk.”

The FDA has said that, under regulations governing food additives, caffeine can’t be mixed with alcohol. It is currently evaluating whether the drinks should remain legal, but no deadline has been set for a decision.  “FDA intends to evaluate the information submitted by the manufacturers and other available scientific evidence as soon as possible in order to determine whether caffeine can be safely and lawfully added to alcoholic beverages,” said Michael Herndon, a spokesman for the FDA.

Phusion Projects, which manufactures Four Loko, told ABC News, “No one is more upset than we are when our products are abused or used unlawfully. But Four Loko is neither the sole contributor to alcohol abuse, nor will additional restrictions on it solve the problem.”



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Is Anyone Surprised?

November 5, 2010

Is anyone surprised by the new research that found that adolescents who abused marijuana and alcohol scored lower on a battery of intellectual aptitude tests than their drug-free peers, HealthDay News reported Oct. 19?

University of New Mexico (UNM) investigators asked 48 teens aged 12 to 18 to undergo a battery of tests to assess the effects of chronic substance abuse on their intellectual function. The tests measured a range of neuropsychological skills, including verbal reasoning, executive function, visuospatial ability, memory, and processing speed. Nineteen of the participants had a diagnosis of substance abuse or dependence, 14 were abstinent but had a parent who abused alcohol, and 15 were abstinent controls with no family history of alcohol abuse.

The researchers found that teens reporting the highest substance use had lower test scores across the board. In particular, teens who abused alcohol scored substantially lower on the test measuring executive function, while teens who abused pot scored lower on measures of memory performance.

Interestingly, teens who were abstinent but had a parent who abused alcohol were also affected, scoring lower on the test for visuospatial ability.

This is one of the reasons the results should be interpreted with caution, noted Ramani Durvasula, PhD, associate professor of psychology at California State University in Los Angeles. According to Durvasula, the authors failed to take into account socioeconomic and educational factors that influence intellectual development or to assess for problems at home. “Kids who abuse drugs and alcohol are different from those who don’t,” she said. “Let’s face it, when kids are drinking 13 drinks a day (the study average), there’s not a lot of parental supervision going on.”

Robert Thoma, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at UNM and lead author of the study, agrees the results raise a “chicken and egg problem.”

“Which came first,” said Thoma. “The low executive function, which could lead to drinking more, or the heavy drinking, which leads to poor executive function?” Large longitudinal studies are needed to definitively answer to that question, he concluded.

The study was published online Oct. 19 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

New Study Reveals Alcohol More Dangerous Than Drugs

November 3, 2010
alcohol more dangerous than drugs

New Study Reveals Alcohol More Dangerous Than Drugs

LONDON—According to a new study by Britain’s Centre for Crime and Justice and published in the medical journal, Lancet,  alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs like heroin and crack cocaine.  It is believed that the reason alcohol scored so high is because it is so widely used and has devastating consequences not only for drinkers but for those around them.

The study evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, ranking them based on both how destructive they are to the individual who takes them and to society as a whole.

Researchers analyzed how addictive a drug is and how it harms the human body, in addition to other criteria like environmental damage caused by the drug, its role in breaking up families and its economic costs, such as health care, social services, and prison.

Heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine, or crystal meth, were the most lethal to individuals. When considering their wider social effects, alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the considered the deadliest. However, alcohol outranked all other substances overall, followed by heroin and crack cocaine.  Scoring far lower were Marijuana, ecstasy and LSD.

When drunk in excess, alcohol damages nearly all organ systems. It is also connected to higher death rates and is involved in a greater percentage of crime than most other drugs, including heroin.   But experts said it would be impractical and incorrect to outlaw alcohol as history has already proven.

“Drugs that are legal cause at least as much damage, if not more, than drugs that are illicit,”  said Wim van den Brink, a professor of psychiatry and addiction at the University of Amsterdam. He was not linked to the study but co-authored a commentary in the Lancet.

Not Again. . .

November 2, 2010

Yesterday, when I got into the office and opened my email box, I discovered that once again it was flooded with Google alerts containing stories about people who should know better about the dangers of impaired driving, getting arrested for doing just that, and quite frankly I am appalled by the number of incidents lately. These are all smart, educated people charged with either protecting or treating us.  If talking, education, and literally seeing firsthand the destruction impaired driving causes hasn’t stopped them, do we really believe that more talk and more education will work for the general public?

Okay, I know I have been on this soap box before, but I have never before documented what constantly makes me so sick to my stomach, so, for the next 30 days I am going to keep a record of all the incidents, write about some of the most outrageous ones, and report back here in 30 days on what I discovered.   Honestly, I am terrified that for the next 30 days I am going to be really sick to my stomach.

Just in case you want a preview . . .

. . .  Dr. Raymond Dwight Cook accused of driving drunk at a high rate of speed and causing a collision that killed an aspiring ballerina is scheduled to be in Wake County Superior Court today for his trial.

. . . A Morristown police officer,  Jesse Dickerson, was charged with drunken driving after his car rear-ended a tractor-trailer on in the early hours of Saturday, Oct. 16.

. . . A week after his arrest for alleged drunken driving, 7th Circuit magistrate judge Mark Marshall’s calendar is being cleared of driving under the influence cases.

. . . A highly decorated United States Marine Col who risked his life thousands of times to protect the citizens of the United States, yet chose to risk the lives of  thousands by driving drunk and it cost him his career as he was removed from his post as Commander of Cherry High at Camp LeJune.

And for some more career busters . . .

. . . South Carolina’s House of Representative Candidate John Randolph Wolfe was arrested twice in less than 24 hours for drunk driving.

. . . The former Colorado State Patrol trooper arrested for being drunk while on duty in his patrol car says he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder following years on the state’s accident reconstruction team and his condition caused him to start drinking heavily.

Stay tuned.

Cherry Point Commander Relieved of Duty

November 1, 2010

Another, I can’t believe it . . .

Col. Denn a decorated officer who has risked his life thousands of times in order to protect the citizens of the of the United States and yet he choose to risk the lives of thousands by driving impaired.  We can continue to talk about the dangers of drunk driving and we can continue to education about the dangers of impaired driving, but until we actually put some teeth behind all our talk and education we will continue to bury and mourn the death of about 17,000 US citizens who die each year as a result of impaired driving which is 4x as many who died in each year of the Iraq war.


CAMP LEJEUNE — The commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, who was arrested and charged with drunk driving Monday night in Newport, was relieved of command Wednesday by the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East.

Col. Douglas A. Denn, 47, was relieved by Maj Gen. Carl B. Jensen due to a “loss of confidence” in Col. Denn’s ability to command, according to a news release released by the major general.

The relief occurred as a result of an investigation into allegations of Col. Denn driving under the influence that eroded “good order and discipline,” according to the release. Col. Denn, who took command of the air station in August 2009, has been temporarily assigned to administrative duties at the air station.

Col Robert D. Clinton, executive officer, MCAS Cherry Point, has assumed command. A CH-46E helicopter pilot and graduate of the Naval War College, Col. Clinton has previously commanded Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 and served with U.S. Pacific Command, 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. Prior to his assignment at MCAS Cherry Point, Col. Clinton was the Officer In Charge of the II MEF Forward Command.

Court records in Beaufort show Newport Police Officer Justin Ferrell stopped Col. Denn at 11 p.m. on Highway 70 in Newport for speeding. He was then charged with driving while impaired as a result of blowing 0.14 in a blood alcohol test (legal limit is 0.08), speeding 67 mph in a 55 mph zone and possession of an open container in the passenger area of the vehicle.

Prior to arriving at Cherry Point, Col. Denn served in command at various duty stations. They included Marine Aircraft Group 31 and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 in Beaufort, South Carolina.  Col. Denn, a jet pilot, has more than 3,500 flight hours and has received numerous decorations, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Meritorious Service medal, Navy Commendation Medal with three gold stars and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

National Survey Reveals Increases in Substance Use from 2008 to 2009

October 25, 2010
Please correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t we going in the wrong direction . . .

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that marijuana use rises; prescription drug abuse and ecstasy use is also up.

The use of illicit drugs among Americans increased between 2008 and 2009 according to a national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows the overall rate of current illicit drug use in the United States rose from 8.0 percent of the population aged 12 and older in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009.  This rise in overall drug use was driven in large part by increases in marijuana use.

The annual NSDUH survey, released by SAMHSA at the kickoff of the 21st annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, also shows that the nonmedical use of prescription drugs rose from 2.5 percent of the population in 2008 to 2.8 percent in 2009. Additionally, the estimated number of past-month ecstasy users rose from 555,000 in 2008 to 760,000 in 2009, and the number of methamphetamine users rose from 314,000 to 502,000 during that period.

Flat or increasing trends of substance use were reported among youth (12 to 17-year-olds).  Although the rate of overall illicit drug use among young people in 2009 remained below 2002 levels, youth use was higher in 2009 compared to 2008 (10.0 percent of youth in 2009, versus 9.3 percent in 2008, versus 11.6 percent in 2002). The rate of marijuana use in this age group followed a similar pattern, declining from 8.2 percent of young people in 2002, to 6.7 percent in 2006, remaining level until 2008, and then increasing to 7.3 percent in 2009. Additionally, the level of youth perceiving great risk of harm associated with smoking marijuana once or twice a week dropped from 54.7 percent in 2007 to 49.3 percent in 2009, marking the first time since 2002 that less than half of young people perceived great harm in frequent marijuana use. The rate of current tobacco use or underage drinking among this group remained stable between 2008 and 2009.

Overall past-month illicit drug use among young adults aged 18-25 increased from 19.6 percent of young adults in 2008, to 21.2 percent in 2009.  This rise in use was also driven in large part by the use of marijuana.

“These results are a wake-up call to the nation,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “Our strategies of the past appear to have stalled out with generation ‘next.’ Parents and caregivers, teachers, coaches, faith and community leaders, must find credible new ways to communicate with our youth about the dangers of substance abuse.”

“Today’s findings are disappointing, but not surprising, because eroding attitudes and perceptions of harm about drug use over the past two years have served as warning signs for exactly what we see today.” said Director of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske. ”

As in previous years, the 2009 NSDUH shows a vast disparity between the number of people needing specialized treatment for a substance abuse problem and the number who actually receive it. According to the survey, 23.5 million Americans aged 12 or older (9.3 percent of this population) need specialized treatment for a substance abuse problem, but only 2.6 million (or roughly 11.2 percent of them) receive it.

NSDUH is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. Because of its statistical power, it is the nation’s premier source of statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse behavioral health issues affecting the nation.

The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA web site at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/nsduhLatest.htm.

Workers sick of drinking sessions after office hours

October 21, 2010

I found the following article interesting in that it depicts that drinking to excess is part of the business culture throughout the entire world not just  in the US or Europe.   I also found it extremely interesting that the writer believed that the culture “can be changed overnight” even though the study clearly states that 12.5% of the men responding to the study stated that they would need “help” in order to quit drinking.     Read for yourself . . .

As Reported in the JoongAng Daily

By Jung Seung-hyun [seungjung@joongang.co.kr]

Three out of 10 Korean workers are dependent on alcohol, according to a recent survey by Incruit, an online job portal. The survey of 684 workers threw a spotlight on a problem that Koreans don’t normally like to discuss. But few believe the drinking culture can be changed overnight since it is deeply embedded in the corporate culture. It has been a fact of Korean life that after-work drinking sessions are meant to promote social bonds within companies. But it also has its downside.

In the survey, 27 percent of respondents said they are dependent on alcohol, including 32 percent of men and 22 percent of women. It reflected the fact that 46 percent of respondents said they go out to drink up to three nights a week, with 77 saying they become drunk 10 percent to 20 percent of the time. The survey revealed that 9 percent feel they need to get counseling or attend an addiction clinic, with 12.5 percent of men saying it is necessary for them to seek help versus 5.4 percent of women. Nearly 4 percent of respondents admitted to suffering from alcohol-related illnesses or having to take medication, with 7.1 percent of men and 0.6 percent of women saying this was the case.

“Older workers and bosses still think that drinking together until everyone becomes drunk is the solution to everything and that people get closer on such occasions,” said a banker, surnamed Kim. “However, the younger generation prefers more personal time after work and they see these events as a burden.” About 90 percent of those questioned said that the drinking culture needs to be changed because they fear they will not be given job promotions and will be considered antisocial if they do not participate.

“The biggest problem is that drinking does not stop at one location. Workers are forced to go to two or three places a night,” said a salaried employee surnamed  Bae.

Um, I wonder how they are getting from location to location?  I guess Korea needs Cleared2Drive too.


Guilt-Based Anti-Alcohol Ads Can Backfire, Study Finds

October 18, 2010

Researchers are now saying that using shame or guilt to try to prevent over consumption of alcohol can actually cause people to drink more.  Go figure!  Shouldn’t we have realized that years ago?   How many of us understand that addicts are mentally trying to escape?  Do we really think that piling on the guilt is going to make an addict stop?

Researcher Adam Duhachek of the Indiana Kelley School of Business and colleagues said that ads that link alcohol abuse to negative consequences like blackouts and automobile crashes in order to elicit feelings of shame or guilt can trigger a defensive coping mechanism. This can lead viewers to believe that bad things related to drinking can only happen to others and can actually increase irresponsible drinking, researchers said.

“The public health and marketing communities expend considerable effort and capital on these campaigns but have long suspected they were less effective than hoped,” said Duhachek. “But the situation is worse than wasted money or effort. These ads ultimately may do more harm than good because they have the potential to spur more of the behavior they’re trying to prevent.”

A better approach might be to educate the public about the negatives associated with drinking but link that message to one of empowerment, said Duhachek. “If you’re going to communicate a frightening scenario, temper it with the idea that it’s avoidable,” he said.

Please don’t get me wrong, I believe educating people about the danger of impaired driving is extremely important, but education alone is never going to eradicate impaired driving.  Lets face it, we have been educating everyone about the dangers of impaired driving for more than 3 decades now (my 31 year old son was taught it in the Safety School program he attended prior to his first day of kindergarten),  yet we have not seen a decrease in impaired driving deaths in the past 15 years.  Until we get serious and accept that it is going to take some type of safety technology  installed in every vehicle, this problem is not going to go away.   Isn’t that the same reason that seat belts and air bags were made mandatory for every vehicle?

I also think these signs serve a better purpose than trying to lay a guilt trip on someone and that is to reminds us how fortune we are that we have never had to live that pain.  My heart and prayers go out to the family every time I see one of these.

Grandmother Introduces Technology to Prevent Impaired Driving

February 18, 2009

An Ohio grandmother of two has introduced a technology in the fight against impaired driving. Elaine Futrell has patented a formula that uses complex computer algorithms to detect when a person is impaired from prescription, illegal, or over-the-counter drugs and/or alcohol by measuring the amount of time it takes that person to complete a sequence of tasks. Cleared2Drive instantly compares a person’s current data to their historical data and if the two sets don’t match, the system won’t permit the vehicle to be started. Futrell’s has spent the last several years perfecting the technology, including hiring outside companies to test the accuracy of her computer algorithms. They confirmed what scientists have known for years; when a person is impaired their reaction time is diminished.

Futrell states, “Initially I envisioned this technology being used after a DUI arrest, but from day one, we have received calls from individuals whose loved one is an addict. When we started receiving these calls almost daily, I knew we needed to make this technology available to everyone.”

According to Futrell, discretion plays a bigger role in a person’s decision to buy than price. “No one likes to be embarrassed when they need to start their vehicle, but unfortunately, that is what a breathalyzer does. With the Cleared2Drive System, passengers don’t even realize that anything out of the ordinary is being done. The driver only has to perform 6 simple tasks and they are on their way – usually in about 10 seconds. It’s just that simple.”

Even though the Cleared2Drive System appears very simple to use, it is highly effective in detecting impairment.
The Cleared2Drive System first requires the driver to identify themselves via their fingerprint then they must perform an assigned sequence of tasks. The system develops a distinctive algorithm for each individual based upon their normal reaction time in completing the sequence. Each time the driver is successful in starting their vehicle, the system’s patented technology analyzes the information and records it in each person’s data base. When a person either varies from their “normal” reaction time or doesn’t complete their assigned sequence in the correct order, it sends a signal to the Cleared2Drive System that something is wrong and prevents the vehicle from being started.

The Cleared2Drive system allows each driver 3 opportunities to get the sequence correct before locking them out for 2 hours. However, just because that individual is locked out doesn’t mean the vehicle can’t be driven by another driver already installed in the system.

The word is spreading.
Futrell reports, “We are now getting calls from parents whose child is going away for college or has a newly licensed teenager who is concerned that their child might make the fatal mistake of driving under the influence. I empathize with them because we all know that it only takes one mistake to permanently damage a young person’s life. Sometimes under age drivers don’t want their parents to find out they have been illegally “partying”, so instead of calling home or spending the night, they will risk driving impaired. Unfortunately, what they don’t realize but we as parents know, just how big of a risk that can be.”

Futrell is the first to acknowledge, people don’t come to her looking for technology.
“Our customers aren’t looking for technology; they are desperately seeking peace of mind. Any person, who has ever stayed up worrying about the safety of their loved one, knows exactly what I am talking about. We understand their worries, and appreciate their concerns,” said Futrell. Cleared2Drive was created to ease worries and allow families to start rebuilding lives and relationships.

About Cleared2Drive
Unlike humiliating breathalyzers, the Cleared2Drive System is a discreet ignition interlock system that uses sophisticated computer algorithms to detect when a person is impaired from prescription, illegal, over-the-counter drugs, and/or alcohol. Cleared2Drive does this by measuring the amount of time it takes that person to complete a sequence of tasks and comparing that information to the individual’s stored historical data. If the two sets of information don’t match it won’t permit the vehicle to be started. Cleared2Drive’s goal is to provide peace of mind to individuals who’s loved one is suffering from a substance abuse problem, while at the same provide a certain level of freedom to the addict.

Complete information is available at http://www.cleared2drive.com.