Drivers Killed in Crashes More Likely to Have Used Drugs Than Alcohol

Drivers Killed in Crashes More Likely to Have Used Drugs Than Alcohol
For the first time, U.S. drivers killed in crashes in 2015 were more likely to have used drugs than alcohol, according to a new study. The study found 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, compared with 37 percent who showed alcohol levels above a legal limit, Reuters reports. Among drivers who died in crashes who tested positive for drugs, 36.5 percent had used marijuana, while 9.3 percent used amphetamines. The report was released by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a nonprofit funded by distillers. “People generally should get educated that drugs of all sorts can impair your driving ability,” said Jim Hedlund, a former official at the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, who wrote the report. “If you’re on a drug that does so, you shouldn’t be driving.”
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Drug Companies Seeking to Develop Less Addictive Pain Drugs

Drug Companies Seeking to Develop Less Addictive Pain Drugs
Pharmaceutical companies are working to develop less addictive pain drugs, according to the Associated Press . Companies are researching drugs that target specific pathways and types of pain, instead of acting broadly in the brain. One example of this type of drug is Enbrel, which treats a key feature of rheumatoid arthritis. Other drugs being tested would prevent the need for opioids. One numbs a wound for several days and reduces inflammation, thereby decreasing pain after surgery. The hope is these drugs will lessen the chance of developing chronic pain that might require opioids. Researchers are also looking for new sources for pain medicines, including drugs from silk, hot chili peppers and the venom of snakes and snails. They are also testing existing seizure and depression medicines for their ability to treat pain.
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Bleak Job Outlook for Less-Educated Whites Leads to Death by Drugs, Alcohol, Suicide

Bleak Job Outlook for Less-Educated Whites Leads to Death by Drugs, Alcohol, Suicide
A new study concludes a lack of steady, well-paying jobs for whites who don’t have college degrees has led to an increase in deaths by drugs, alcohol and suicide. The mortality rate for whites ages 45 to 54 without a college degree increased by a half-percent each year from 1999 to 2013, NPR reports. Whites with college degrees have not seen the same loss of life expectancy, Princeton University researchers report in Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Researcher Ann Case told NPR , “The rates of suicide are much higher among men [than women]. And drug overdoses and alcohol-related liver death are higher among men, too. But the [mortality] trends are identical for men and women with a high school degree or less. So we think of this as people, either quickly with a gun or slowly with drugs and alcohol, are killing themselves. Under that body count there’s a...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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