Increase in Drugged Driving Deaths Alarming

Increase in Drugged Driving Deaths Alarming
In just over a decade, the percentage of traffic deaths in which at least one driver tested positive for drugs has nearly doubled. This has raised alarms as five states are set to vote on legalization of marijuana. According to data released to USA Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been tracking an increase in the percentage of drivers testing positive for illegal drugs and prescription medications. The increase corresponds with a movement to legalize marijuana, troubling experts who readily acknowledge that the effects of pot use on drivers remain poorly understood. Recreational marijuana is outlawed on the federal level yet it is legal in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia. Five states including Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, are set to vote on legalization. In 2015, 21% of the 31,166 fatal crashes in the U.S. involved at least one driver who tested positive...
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Easy Access to Drugs or Alcohol in Teen Years May Increase Risk of Later Substance Use

Easy Access to Drugs or Alcohol in Teen Years May Increase Risk of Later Substance Use
Teens who have easy access to drugs or alcohol may be at increased risk of substance use in adulthood, a new study suggests. The effects are stronger for white people and males, UPI reports. Researchers from Michigan State University analyzed data from 15,000 teens and young adults. The study found teens with easy access began using drugs and alcohol at a younger age, and were more likely to be using one or both substances later in life. The findings appear in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse. “These findings provide evidence that the availability of illegal drugs and alcohol in the home while growing up is a critical factor in the later use of substances,” lead researcher Cliff Broman said in a news release.
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Traumatic Childhood Experiences Linked to Substance Abuse in Adulthood

Traumatic Childhood Experiences Linked to Substance Abuse in Adulthood
A new study suggests adults who were victims of sexual and/or physical abuse in childhood, or who witnessed chronic parental violence, are at greatly increased risk of substance use. Researchers from the University of Toronto found one in five drug-dependent adults and one in six alcohol-dependent adults had experienced childhood sexual abuse, compared with one in 19 in the general population of Canada, PsychCentral reports. One in seven adults who were dependent on drugs or alcohol had been exposed to chronic parental domestic violence, compared with one in 25 in the general population, the researchers report in Substance Use & Misuse. Parental violence was considered chronic if it occurred at least 11 times before the child turned 16, the article notes. “We were surprised that chronic parental domestic violence exposure remained significantly associated with both drug and alcohol dependence, even when we adjusted for childhood maltreatment, depression and most of the...
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12 Million Medicare Beneficiaries Received Commonly Abused Drugs

12 Million Medicare Beneficiaries Received Commonly Abused Drugs
Almost one-third of Medicare beneficiaries—nearly 12 million Americans—received a prescription for commonly abused opioids in 2015, according to a new report. Spending for these drugs exceeded $4 billion, according to the Associated Press. The high level of spending raises concerns about the misuse of these drugs, the report noted. The findings come from the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Opioid use can be appropriate in some cases,” the report states. “However, misuse of opioids not only has serious financial costs but also human costs, including deaths from overdoses. Moreover, these continuing high rates provide further evidence of this crisis facing our nation.” Medicare beneficiaries who got an opioid prescription received an average of five such prescriptions or refills. The most common opioids prescribed were OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, fentanyl or their generic equivalents, according to study author Miriam Anderson. “In fact, there were about...
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Program Providing Treatment, Not Jail, for Those Surrendering Drugs Shows Promise

Program Providing Treatment, Not Jail, for Those Surrendering Drugs Shows Promise
One year after it began, a program in Gloucester, Massachusetts that provides treatment instead of jail for those surrendering drugs is showing promise, according to WBUR. The program lets people come to the Gloucester police department for help getting into treatment. Since it began, more than 400 people have gone to the city’s police for help. More than 100 police departments nationwide are implementing similar programs. Last year, Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello posted on Facebook, “We will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. We will assign them an ‘angel’ who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot.” He said he started the program after witnessing a jump in overdose deaths and drug-related crimes, and seeing officers arresting the same people repeatedly. In the first five months of last year, there were five fatal drug overdoses in Gloucester, compared...
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Opioid Crisis Fueling Elder Abuse

Opioid Crisis Fueling Elder Abuse
The opioid crisis is fueling the problem of elder abuse, as adult children who are addicted to drugs exploit parents and other relatives, experts tell The Boston Globe. In Massachusetts, reports of suspected elder abuse have increased 37 percent in the past five years. More adult children addicted to opioids are moving home with their elderly parents, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan. These parents receive monthly Social Security checks. Some also receive pension checks. They can become targets of financial, physical and emotional abuse, the article notes. Ryan said in the past month, her office has handled about 10 cases that involved grandchildren who allegedly stole money, silver and jewelry from their grandparents. The items often were pawned to buy drugs. Ryan has begun advising first responders—police, firefighters and emergency medical service crews—to look for unusual bruising on the wrists and forearms of elderly people. These marks can...
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United Nations Affirms Support for International Drug Control Conventions

United Nations Affirms Support for International Drug Control Conventions
Historic global meeting emphasizes commitment to preventing and reducing drug use around the world The UN General Assembly convened in New York City to reaffirm the global commitment to the international drug conventions. These conventions, whose goal is to prevent and reduce drug use worldwide, remain the cornerstone of global drug policy. "We congratulate countries for recognizing that drug use is a public health and public safety problem around the world," said Kevin Sabet, a former White House advisor on drug policy and founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). "Speaking as one of over 300 non-governmental organizations that joined together at the UN to show commitment to drug prevention, 'Prevent. Don't Promote.' this event marks a real step forward in advancing those goals. Now the real challenge is implementation." "Prevent. Don't Promote." is a campaign sponsored by numerous organizations that support the UN international drug conventions and want to see...
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People Who Become Addicted to Drugs Later in Life More Likely to Relapse

People Who Become Addicted to Drugs Later in Life More Likely to Relapse
A new study finds people who become addicted to drugs later in life are more likely to relapse during treatment, compared with those whose addictions started earlier. For every year increase in the age of starting to abuse opioids, there is a 10 percent increase in relapse, according to Science Daily. The study of people being treated with methadone for their opioid use disorder found those who injected drugs were more than twice as likely to relapse by using opioids while on treatment, compared with those who did not inject drugs. Use of benzodiazepines also increased the risk of relapse, the study found. For every day of benzodiazepine use in the previous month, the researchers found a 7 percent increase in relapse. The older the patient is when in treatment, the less likely they are to relapse, the researchers report in Substance Abuse Research and Treatment. The study included 250 adults...
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Senate Committee Requests Help for Elderly American Tricked into Drug Smuggling

Senate Committee Requests Help for Elderly American Tricked into Drug Smuggling
Members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging are seeking help for a retired pastor from Maine who is imprisoned in Spain for smuggling drugs. The New York Times reports the pastor was tricked into carrying contraband. Recently, nine senators called on Secretary of State John Kerry or James Costos, the American ambassador to Spain, to raise the case of J. Bryon Martin directly with the Spanish government. Martin, 77, is serving six years in prison for smuggling drugs. “We find it terribly unfair that an older American who by all indications is a victim and did not understand that he was being used to transport illegal drugs remains incarcerated abroad while the criminals who masterminded this scheme remain free,” the senators wrote in the letter. The senators also called on the State Department to take similar steps on behalf of other American citizens being held by foreign governments. Dozens of...
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Doctors Still Overprescribing Addictive Drugs Despite Warnings

Doctors Still Overprescribing Addictive Drugs Despite Warnings
Doctors who write many more prescriptions than their peers for potentially addictive drugs, such as opioids or stimulants, are not likely to reduce the number they write after they receive a warning from the government, a new study finds. The study looked at prescribers who were writing many more prescriptions for potentially addictive drugs than prescribers in similar specialties who practiced nearby, Reuters reports. “Even though we weren’t able to show that the letters were effective, this information is still useful for policymakers,” lead researcher Adam Sacarny of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University said in a news release. “Based on these results, we’re now experimenting with different letter designs and making other changes to see if another approach can yield reductions in overprescribing.” Sacarny told Reuters that previous research has found sending letters to doctors comparing them to their peers can encourage them to vaccinate their patients....
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