Latest News

Submitted by Livia Edegger

The most popular alcohol brands among US youth are the ones most often featured in advertisements in teenage magazines, according to a new study. Their ads are found to be five to nine times more likely to appear in those magazines. Leading researcher Craig Ross of Virtual Media Resources warns parents of the effects of alcohol ads on young adults, “Parents should take note that scientific evidence is growing that exposure to alcohol advertising promotes drinking initiation, and is likely to increase the frequency of consumption for kids already drinking”. Along with a group of researchers he called for developing standards that would limit alcohol advertising to magazines with less than 15% of young people among its readership.

Links:

Underage drinkers’ favourite alcohol brands are heavily advertised in magazines 

http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/underage-drinkers-favorite-alcohol…

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/us-teens-targeted-alcohol-advertising-magazines

16th July 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Latest News,Youth :

Submitted by Livia Edegger on – 15:38

A group of researchers has developed a test to predict fourteen year old teenagers’ future drinking behaviour. The test takes a wide variety of factors that might influence young adults’ susceptibility to binge drinking into consideration such as family background, personality traits, availability of alcohol as well as brain-related variables. “There is no one really big thing. It’s a bunch of little things adding up to give you this prediction,” says Dr Robert Whelan from the University College Dublin. As of today, the test is far from practical as it lacks accuracy and relies on expensive brain scans. A more simplified and cost-effective version of the test could help identify at-risk adolescents for interventions in the future. Hugh Perry, chairman of the Medical Research Council Neurosciences and Mental Health Board, said further research could “lead to breakthroughs in this field and provide compelling evidence to inform public health policy and lay the groundwork for the design of interventions”.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/researchers-create-tool-predict-teens%E2%80%99-drinking-behaviour

9th July 2014

Submitted by joanna

This month the Australian Drug Foundation published the latest issue of their Prevention Research journal which features alcohol and drug prevention programmes in communities across Australia. The issue provides guidelines for organisations, individuals, practitioners and others developing and running prevention programmes and activities in community settings. The issue highlights the importance of comprehensive community programmes involving families, schools and other community entities and offers guidelines to community-based organisations and groups working in the field of drug prevention.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/guide-implementing-community-drug-prevention-programmes

3rd July 2014

Submitted by Livia Edegger 

A new study carried out by the European Institute of Studies on Prevention (IREFREA) explores the role of parenting styles on drug use among teenagers. A group of researchers interviewed almost 8,000 students between 11 and 19 years of age across six European countries. The study analysed four parenting styles – authoritarian, authoritative, indulgent and neglectful. The first two parenting styles were characterised by strict rules and control. Authoritative parenting was marked by good communication, affection and flexibility from the parents’ side while the authoritarian style lacked those characteristics. The more lenient parenting styles – ‘indulgent’ and ‘neglectful’ – differed to the extent that in the former parents were affectionate and understanding, qualities that were absent in the latter. The ‘authoritative’ and ‘indulgent’ parenting styles, in which parents were affectionate and understanding, were the most effective in keeping children from using drugs.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/why-parenting-styles-matter-when-it-comes-drug-use-among-teens

17th June 2014

Submitted by Livia Edegger on  – 14:25

One of the most widely used school-based prevention programmes has proven to be effective in reducing drug use among adolescents in yet another country. After a team of researchers translated the programme known as Botvin LifeSkills Training into Italian, it was launched in around 180 schools in Lombardy, a region of Northern Italy. Within those schools the programme reached approximately 30,000 students and involved 1,800 teachers. The programme was found to reduce teenage smoking rates by 40% while boosting students’ self-esteem and equipping them with the relevant skills to deal with stressful situations. Following the success of the programme in Northern Italy, the Regional Observatory on Drug Addiction of Lombardy would like to see the programme implemented in schools across the country.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/another-success-story-italy-adapts-botvin-lifeskills-training

17th June 2014

Submitted by Livia Edegger 

A recent study examines the extent to which peers and parents can influence an adolescent’s attitude towards drinking by comparing teenage drinkers with non-drinkers. The group of teenagers that viewed drinking as a fun activity were not restricted by their parents in their drinking and found it difficult to handle peer pressure. In contrast, the adolescents that did not drink were given stringent rules regarding drinking by their parents and did not feel the need to drink to fit in.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/prevention-update/importance-parents-and-peers-young-people%E2%80%99s-attitude-towards-drinking

12th June 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Latest News,Youth :

Submitted by Livia Edegger

While the dangers of frequent binge drinking have been widely studied, the potentially harmful effects of a single alcohol binge have not yet been explored in detail. According to a new study, even a single binge can be harmful. Excessive drinking can lead to the release of toxins in the blood that can cause fever, inflammation or tissue damage. Research into how a single episode of binge drinking can affect the drinker’s health is still in its early stage and needs to develop further to determine its harms.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/prevention-update/single-alcohol-binge-may-be-harmful

3rd June 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Health,Latest News :

Submitted by Livia Edegger

A new study found that movies that present alcohol in a positive light can encourage drinking among young adults. As characters are often seen as role models their drinking habits can have an impact on teenagers’ views on drinking. Since young viewers tend to be more involved in movies and are mostly unaware of the hidden advertising messages, alcohol marketing in movies might actually be more effective than ads. ‘Participants were more transported into and had a more positive attitude toward movie clips with alcohol portrayals compared to the same movie clips with no alcohol portrayals’, says researcher Renske Koordeman. Research on the effects of alcohol marketing in films is of relevance as most movies include some kind of reference to alcohol brands or drinking and watching movies is among the top pastimes among adolescents.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/how-movies-may-affect-young-viewers%E2%80%99-attitude-towards-drinking

3rd June 2014

Filed under: Alcohol,Latest News,Youth :

Submitted by Livia Edegger 

This study, carried out in several Dutch schools, was administered to adolescents and parents simultaneously as well as separately. While simultaneous interventions held off the onset of regular drinking, separate interventions did not have an impact on teenage drinking. Combined prevention, targeting adolescents and their parents, was found to be the most effective among adolescents with low self-control and lenient parents. The study highlights the importance of addressing self-control among adolescents and parenting styles as part of comprehensive prevention programmes.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/prevention-update/dutch-prevention-programme-yields-promising-results

28th May 2014

Submitted by Livia Edegger

A new study found that children of smokers are not only more likely to take up smoking themselves, but are also at a higher risk of becoming addicted. The longer children are exposed to their parents’ smoking at home, the more likely they are to become nicotine-dependent themselves. Consistent with previous research, quitting smoking is not only crucial for the parents’ personal health, but also for their children’s well-being. Although the findings seem obvious, they do highlight the critical role parents play in preventing their children’s tobacco use.

Links:

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/prevention-update/parent-child-%E2%80%98vicious-cycle%E2%80%99-family-smoking

20th May 2014

Submitted by Andy Travis

This study found that youth with more substance users in their networks reported greater alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana consumption regardless of whether these network members provided tangible or emotional support. The homeless setting was more significant in consumption than meeting network members in other contexts. Numbers of adults and school attendees in networks reduced consumption.

Read more

Links:
• One in three parents do not talk to their children about the risks associated with drinking alcohol(link is external) Full statement ,with further links.
• Alcohol. It’s no joke. | Why Let Drink Decide(link is external) The video campaign.

Source:

http://preventionhub.org/en/prevention-update/survey-uk-parents-suggests-parents-more-concerned-about-risks-drugs-alcohol-government-anno

11th January 2011

July 2017 Revised January 2018

Injury Prevention Centre: Who we are

The Injury Prevention Centre (IPC) is a provincial organization that focuses on reducing catastrophic injury and death in Alberta. We act as a catalyst for action by supporting communities and decision-makers with knowledge and tools. We raise awareness about preventable injuries as an important component of lifelong health and wellness. We are funded by an operating grant from Alberta Health and we are housed at the School of Public Health, University of Alberta.

Injury in Alberta

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Albertans aged 1 to 44 years. In 2014, injuries resulted in 2,118 deaths, 63,913 hospital admissions and 572,653 emergency department visits. Of all age groups, young adults, 20 to 24 years old had the highest percentage of injury deaths with 84.9%. Youth, 15 to 19 years of age had the second highest percentage of injury deaths with 76.4%.

1. Alberta is spending an estimated $4 billion annually on injury – that amounts to $1,083.00 for every Albertan.

2. Potential impact of cannabis legalization on injury in Alberta In 2018, the Government of Canada will legalize the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. In the United States, some jurisdictions have similarly legalized cannabis for recreational use and have collected data on the changes in injuries due to cannabis use. Jurisdictions that have legalized the use of recreational as well as medical cannabis have experienced increases in injuries due to burns (100%), pediatric ingestion of cannabis (48%), drivers testing positive for cannabis and/or alcohol and drugs (9%), drivers testing positive for THC (6%) and drivers testing positive for the metabolite caboxy-THC (12%) when comparing pre- and post-legalization numbers.

3. (pg. 149) Of greatest concern are the traffic outcomes. “Fatalities substantially increased after legislation in Colorado and Washington, from 49 (in 2010) to 94 (in 2015) in Colorado, and from 40 to 85 in Washington. These outcomes suggest that after legislation, more people are driving while impaired by cannabis.”

4. (pg.155) Alberta can expect to see similar changes in injuries when the new laws take effect. The objective of this document is to recommend policies for inclusion in the Alberta Cannabis Framework that will minimize negative impacts of cannabis legalization on injuries to Albertans. Our focus is on:

* Preventing Cannabis-Impaired Driving

* Preventing Poisoning of Children by Cannabis

* Preventing Burns due to Combustible Solvent Hash Oil Extraction

* Preventing Other Injuries due to Cannabis Impairment

* Developing Surveillance to Identify Trends in Cannabis-Related injury

* Implementing a Comprehensive Public Education Plan

Injuries due to cannabis impairment in Alberta can be expected to rise following the legalization of recreational cannabis use. To mitigate the negative effects of legalization on injuries in Alberta, the Injury Prevention Centre recommends the Government of Alberta take the following actions for:

Preventing Cannabis-Impaired Driving

Impose administrative sanctions at a lower limit than Criminal Code impairment

Mandate a lower per se levels for THC/alcohol co-use

Increase sanctions for co-use of alcohol and cannabis

Separate cannabis and alcohol outlets by the creation of a public retail system for the distribution of cannabis products

Support Research to Improve Enforcement Tools

Apply sufficient resources to training and enforcement

Conduct public education regarding cannabis-impaired driving .

Preventing Poisoning of Children by Cannabis

Uphold federal legislation regarding packaging

Support public education on cannabis poisoning’

Preventing Burns due to Combustible Solvent Hash Oil Extraction

Prohibit the production of cannabis products using combustible solvents if it fails to appear in federal Bill C45.

Implement public education regarding the dangers of producing cannabis products using combustible solvents

Preventing Other Injuries due to Cannabis-Impairment

Inform the public about the risks of other activities when impaired

Develop Surveillance to Identify Trends in Cannabis-Related injury

Collect and analyze emergency department, hospital admission and death data for injuries involving cannabis impairment

Develop and implement a comprehensive public education campaign about the safe use of cannabis

Source: https://injurypreventioncentre.ca/downloads/positions/IPC%20-%20Cannabis%20Legalization Jan. 2018

The Sun’s brief item describing a frightening new threat in Maryland’s drug addiction crisis (“Person who used synthetic marijuana suffers bleeding,” April 6) reveals the necessity of a renewed focus on substance abuse prevention and public education.

On April 4, the National Drug Early Warning System at the University of Maryland issued an alert about the detection of rat poison (brodifacoum) in synthetic marijuana in Illinois that resulted in two deaths and 81 emergencies. This drug, known on the street as spice or K2, causes severe bleeding, vomiting of blood, and other painful side effects. Two days later, as The Sun reports, this potentially-fatal fake weed arrived in Baltimore. The implication from this news calls for a renewed emphasis on prevention as part of Maryland’s overall response to the opioid crisis.

Specifically, while it’s essential that policymakers, health care and treatment providers, and related organizations stay steadfast in increasing the number of treatment beds, outpatient facilities, sober living houses, medication-assisted treatment and other evidence-based strategies, it also is vital to understand the treatment medications like Vivitrol, Suboxone, and Methadone are not effective in treating synthetic marijuana analogs like spice and K2.

This is another aspect of the tragedies and family horror stories caused by substance use disorder, the clinical term for drug addiction. Medications that are effective with one drug are ineffective with a different drug. This devastating dynamic requires that everyone in their respective communities work together to spread and reinforce prevention strategies and activities.

Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-rr-addiction

Filed under: Latest News,Synthetics :

The following video is long – 52 minutes, but it is essential viewing to help people understand some of the consequences of legalisation for both medicinal and recreational use of cannabis in the USA. Make yourself a cup of coffee and watch this in its entirety.

Subject: Marijuana X https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156320599628035&id=670743034&ref=content_filter

Public health officials say the nerve pain medication gabapentin is being found in an increasing number of overdose deaths, according to CBS News.

Gabapentin is a non-narcotic drug used to treat seizures and pain associated with shingles. Doctors have been prescribing it for a growing number of other conditions, as a way to offer pain relief without opioids. A study published last year found that for people who use heroin, the combination of opioids with gabapentin potentially increases the risk of overdose death.

“Unfortunately, we now need to worry about it because people are abusing it,” Dr. James Patrick Murphy, a pain and addiction specialist in Kentucky, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Alone, it’s not something that will stop your breathing or your heart,” he said. “But if you take it along with a drug like heroin or fentanyl, together it might be enough to make you stop breathing and put you over the edge.”

Source: https://drugfree.org/learn/drug-and-alcohol-news/nerve-pain-medication-gabapentin April 5th 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The objectives of this risk assessment were to:

· ascertain the state of the science in research into the potential health effects of low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids found in Cannabis sativa;

· identify key health hazards that may be associated with the presence of THC and other cannabinoids in consumer products made with industrial hemp (C. sativa cultivars with <0.3% (w/w) THC);

· assess the human health safety of the Canadian limit of 10 ug/g THC for raw materials and products made from industrial hemp; and

· to identify uncertainties and critical data gaps in the risk assessment.

Of the more than 60 cannabinoids identified in C. sativa, the toxicity of THC is the best characterized. Limited toxicity data have been reported for two other cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN), but there are no toxicity data on the remaining cannabinoids.

Two key hazards of cannabinoid exposure are neuroendocrine disruption and neurological impairment. Neuroendocrine disruption by low levels of cannabinoids during developmental stages (perinatal, prepubertal, pubertal) leads to permanent adverse effects on brain and reproductive system development in animals. The lowest observed effect level (LOEL) for neuroendocrine disruption by THC was 1 ug/kg/d derived from a study in rats (no suitable human studies were available). Such effects could occur in humans. Similarities in the types of adverse effects, the cannabinoid receptor distribution in the brain, and the pharmacokinetics and metabolism of cannabinoids among humans and animal species support the extrapolation from animal data to humans for the purposes of risk assessment. Neurological impairment is manifested as deficits in performance with respect to cognitive and motor skills. The LOEL for neurological impairment by THC was 70 ug/kg based on data from a dose-response study in which human subjects who had a history of marihuana use received a single oral dose of THC, and cognitive and motor skills and perception of psychoactive effects were measured.

It was not deemed possible to develop a tolerable daily intake (TDI) due to the lack of a no observed effect level (NOEL), lack of data on chronic exposure and lack of data on the potential contribution of other cannabinoids to the adverse effects. Potential health risks of foods made with industrial hemp ingredients were characterized by estimating the amount of food from various food categories that would need to be eaten to reach a dose of THC equal to the LOELs for neurological impairment in humans and neuroendocrine effects in animals. Potential health risks from use of cosmetics and personal care products and nutraceuticals made with industrial hemp oil were characterized by comparing exposure to

THC through product use with the LOELs for neurological impairment in humans and neuroendocrine effects in animals. These exposure estimates were based on the assumption that the THC concentration in industrial hemp-based in ingredients was 10 ug/g, the current Canadian guideline.

The direct comparison of exposure results with the LOELs does not address:

· the bioaccumulative potential of THC with repeated dosing or consumer use;

· the lack of an identified NOELfor THC for neuroendocrine disruption or neurological impairment;

· the potential that some individuals may be more sensitive to THC than the adults with a history of marihuana use for which the LOEL of 70 ug/g for neurological impairment was observed;

· the possibility that humans could be more sensitive to THC than the rats in the study used to derive the LOEL of 1 ug/kg for neuroendocrine disruption; and,

· the potential for neuroendocrine disruption or neurological impairment by other cannabinoids (i.e. CBD, CBN and others) that would be present in industrial hemp-based products (concentrations of these have not been measured).

In consideration of the above uncertainties, the conclusions from the risk characterization were as follows:
Food: Risk of neuroendocrine disruption: Likely.

Risk of neurological impairment and psychoactivity: Likely, particularly for children.

With respect to neurological impairment, the amount of each food type that would need to be consumed to deliver a dose of THC equal to the LOEL exceeded the mean daily intake and "serving size" which may suggest an absence of risk. In the case of the child; however, some foods (dairy substitutes and candy) were identified that could be consumed in sufficient quantities on occasion in a single day or a single sitting to cause neurological impairment, or even psychoactive effects. For example 2.3 ice cream bars could deliver a dose of THC of 70 ug/kg (the LOEL for neurological impairment) and 4.6 ice cream bars could deliver a dose of 140 ug/kg (the LOEL for psychoactivity) for a 33.9 kg child.

Cosmetics: Risk of neuroendocrine disruption: Possible

Risk of neurological impairment: Unlikely

The risk of neurological impairment cannot be excluded entirely, particularly in the case of children without further information on the relative sensitivities of children vs adults, the relative sensitivities of marihuana users vs non users, the effects of repeated exposure over a long time period, the effects and concentrations of cannabinoids other than THC and the extent of dermal penetration and systemic exposure of topically applied cannabinoids under conditions of actual product use.

Nutraceuticals: Risk of neuroendocrine disruption: Likely

Risk of neurological impairment: Possible, particularly in children.

Major shortcomings related to key data gaps identified in the assessment that preclude the development of definitive conclusions regarding the degree of potential risk are:

· the inability to consider the potential contribution of cannabinoids other than THC (limited toxicity data for other cannabinoids indicate their ability to cause neuroendocrine disruption) to the overall health risks;

· the inability to consider the long term effects of bioaccumulation of THC over time from repeated low dose exposure due to lack of chronic low level toxicity studies and lack of data on the steady-state pharmacokinetics of THC;

· the inability to consider the effects of THC and other cannabinoids after multi-generation long term exposure;

· the inability to determine the degree of exposure to the developing fetus and nursing infant; and

· the lack of analytical data for THC and other cannabinoid concentrations, at detectable levels, in raw materials and finished products made from industrial hemp.

Abstract

Metabolic and behavioural effects of, and interactions between Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are influenced by dose and administration route.

Therefore we investigated, in Wistar rats, effects of pulmonary, oral and subcutaneous (sc.) THC, CBD and THC+CBD. Concentrations of THC, its metabolites 11-OH-THC and THC-COOH, and CBD in serum and brain were determined over 24h, locomotor activity (open field) and sensorimotor gating (prepulse inhibition, PPI) were also evaluated.

In line with recent knowledge we expected metabolic and behavioural interactions between THC and CBD. While cannabinoid serum and brain levels rapidly peaked and diminished after pulmonary administration, sc. and oral administration produced long-lasting levels of cannabinoids with oral reaching the highest brain levels.

Except pulmonary administration, CBD inhibited THC metabolism resulting in higher serum/brain levels of THC. Importantly, following sc. and oral CBD alone treatments, THC was also detected in serum and brain. S.c. cannabinoids caused hypolocomotion, oral treatments containing THC almost complete immobility.

In contrast, oral CBD produced mild hyperlocomotion. CBD disrupted, and THC tended to disrupt PPI, however their combination did not.

In conclusion, oral administration yielded the most pronounced behavioural effects which corresponded to the highest brain levels of cannabinoids. Even though CBD potently inhibited THC metabolism after oral and sc. administration, unexpectedly it had minimal impact on THC-induced behaviour.

Of central importance was the novel finding that THC can be detected in serum and brain after administration of CBD alone which, if confirmed in humans and given the increasing medical use of CBD-only products, might have important legal and forensic ramifications.

Source: Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017 Dec;27(12):1223-1237. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2017.10.037. Epub 2017 Nov 10.

A growing number of drug overdose deaths are due to cocaine laced with fentanyl, NPR reports. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. The image above shows two potentially fatal dosages of fentanyl and heroin

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 7 percent of cocaine seized in New England in 2017 included fentanyl, up from 4 percent the previous year. In Connecticut, the number of deaths involving fentanyl-laced cocaine has increased 420 percent in the last three years. Massachusetts officials say an increasing amount of fentanyl-laced cocaine is changing hands on the streets. The DEA, in its National Drug Threat Assessment, says people typically add fentanyl to cocaine for the purpose of “speedballing,” which combines the rush of cocaine with a drug that depresses the nervous system, such as heroin. Some experts told NPR fentanyl may be mixed with cocaine accidentally during packaging. Others say drug cartels are adding fentanyl to cocaine to expand the market of people who are addicted to opioids.

How Can I Protect My Child from Fentanyl? 5 Things Parents Need to Know

Deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids (not including methadone), rose a staggering 72 percent in just one year, from 2014 to 2015. Government agencies and officials of all types are rightly concerned by what some are describing as the third wave of our ongoing opioid epidemic.

As a concerned parent, whose top priority is keeping your child safe — and alive — the following are the most important things to understand about fentanyl.

1. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin or morphine. It is a schedule II prescription drug typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids. In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by such names as Actiq®, Duragesic® and Sublimaze®.

2. It is relatively cheap to produce, increasing its presence in illicit street drugs. Dealers use it to improve their bottom line. According to a report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, evidence suggests that fentanyl is being pressed into pills that resemble OxyContin, Xanax, hydrocodone and other sought-after drugs, as well as being cut into heroin and other street drugs. A loved one buying illicit drugs may think they know what they’re getting, but there’s a real risk of it containing fentanyl, which can prove deadly.

3. Naloxone (Narcan) will work in case of overdose, but extra doses may be needed. Because fentanyl is far more powerful than other opioids, the standard 1-2 doses of naloxone may not be enough. Calling 911 is the first step in responding to any overdose, but in the case of a fentanyl-related overdose the help of emergency responders, who will have more naloxone, is critical. Learn more about naloxone and responding to opioid overdose >>

4. Even if someone could tell a product had been laced with fentanyl, it may not prevent their use. Some individuals claim they can tell the difference between product that has been laced with fentanyl and that which hasn’t, but overdose statistics would say otherwise. Some harm reduction programs are offering test strips to determine whether heroin has been cut with fentanyl, but that knowledge may not be much of a deterrent to a loved one who just spent their last dollar to get high.

5. Getting a loved one into treatment is more critical than ever. If you need help in determining a course of action, please reach out to one of our parent counselors on our free Parent Helpline. Learn more about all the ways you can connect with our free and confidential services and begin getting one-on-one help.

Source: https://drugfree.org/parent-blog April 2017

Abstract

Background

Marijuana is a widely used recreational substance. Few cases have been reported of acute myocardial infarction following marijuana use. To our knowledge, this is the first ever study analyzing the lifetime odds of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) with marijuana use and the outcomes in AMI patients with versus without marijuana use.

Methods

We queried the 2010-2014 National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database for 11-70-year-old AMI patients.

Pearson Chi-square test for categorical variables and Student T-test for continuous variables were used to compare the baseline demographic and hospital characteristics between two groups (without vs. with marijuana) of AMI patients. The univariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess and compare the clinical outcomes between two groups. We used Cochran–Armitage test to measure the trends. All statistical analyses were executed by IBM SPSS Statistics 22.0 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY). We used
weighted data to produce national estimates in our study.

Results

Out of 2,451,933 weighted hospitalized AMI patients, 35,771 patients with a history of marijuana and 2,416,162 patients without a history of marijuana use were identified. The AMI-marijuana group consisted more of younger, male, African American patients. The length of stay and mortality rate were lower in the AMI-marijuana group with more patients being discharged against medical advice.

Multivariable analysis showed that marijuana use was a significant risk factor for AMI development when adjusted for age, sex, race (adjusted OR 1.079, 95% CI 1.065-1.093, p<0.001); adjusted for age, female, race, smoking, cocaine abuse (adjusted OR 1.041, 95% CI 1.027-1.054, p<0.001); and also when adjusted for age, female, race, payer status, smoking, cocaine abuse, amphetamine abuse and alcohol abuse (adjusted OR: 1.031, 95% CI: 1.018-1.045, p<0.001). Complications such as respiratory failure (OR 18.9, CI 15.6-23.0, p<0.001), cerebrovascular disease (OR 9.0, CI 7.0-11.7, p<0.001), cardiogenic shock (OR 6.0, CI 4.9-7.4, p<0.001), septicemia (OR 1.8, CI 1.5–2.2, p<0.001), and dysrhythmia (OR 1.8, CI 1.5-2.1, p<0.001) were independent predictors of mortality in AMI-marijuana group.

Conclusion

The lifetime AMI odds were increased in recreational marijuana users. Overall odds of mortality were not increased significantly in AMI-marijuana group. However, marijuana users showed higher trends of AMI prevalence and related mortality from 2010-2014. It is crucial to assess cardiovascular effects related to marijuana overuse and educate patients for the same.

Source: Desai R, Patel U, Sharma S, et al. (November 03, 2017) Recreational Marijuana Use and Acute Myocardial Infarction: Insights from Nationwide Inpatient Sample in the United States . Cureus 9(11): e1816. DOI 10.7759/cureus.1816

While writing, I wondered what kind of details I should publish about the previous lives of people in the marijuana industry. Virgil Grant, one of the article’s subjects, told me stories about how he would sell marijuana from his family grocery store in Compton in the 1980s and 1990s by putting the weed in empty boxes of Lucky Charms. He mentioned, without much elaboration, that would-be competitors in Compton regretted going up against him.

It’s an awkward and confusing transition period in the marijuana industry. What was illegal yesterday in California may be legal today, but that’s of course not the way the federal government sees it. Mr. Grant has spent time in both federal and state prisons.

Since legalization of recreational sales came into effect in California in January, there have been stories about cities and counties that banned marijuana. But I had never seen reporting on the bigger picture. So I reached out to a company called Weedmaps, a website that hosts online reviews of cannabis businesses. When they added it up, the data surprised me: Only 14 percent of California’s cities and towns authorize the sale of recreational marijuana. By contrast, Proposition 64, the ballot measure that allowed marijuana legalization, passed with 57 percent voter approval in 2016, a seemingly solid majority.

The low acceptance of marijuana businesses strikes me as part of the liberal, not-in-my-backyard paradox in California. Yes, Californians want shelters for the homeless, but just not across the street. Yes, Californians want more housing built, but not if it changes the character of the neighborhood. A marijuana dispensary? Sure, preferably in the next town.

A New York Times reporter wanted to find out why California cities are taking such different approaches to legal pot. Previously, he covered a story about why California growers are so reluctant to leave the black market and seek a state license to become legitimate. He found that only about 10 percent have done so. The other 90 percent remain in black market. California is the nation’s biggest producer and consumer of marijuana. One estimate projects the state produces seven times the amount of pot it consumes and exports the surplus to non-legal states. Pursuing this story took the reporter to Compton, in Los Angeles County, where residents voted in January to ban marijuana businesses by a 3-to-1 margin. He compared this to Oakland, near San Francisco, which has embraced the marijuana industry. It’s as if the two cities had been asked the same question and come up with completely different answers, he opined. To get a bigger picture, he consulted Weedmaps to find out how common industry bans are. He was surprised to find that only 14 percent of California’s cities and towns authorize marijuana sales, even though legalization passed in 2016 with 57 percent voter approval.

It’s still early days — it’s been less than three months since legal sales started — but for now the trend is that larger cities like Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego are the hubs of the marijuana industry, while smaller cities and towns are ambivalent or outright hostile to the idea of opening marijuana dispensaries. Orange County, in Southern California, is a recreational marijuana desert, with only a handful of dispensaries allowed.

California has a reputation for very tolerant attitudes toward pot, and it’s the biggest consumer and producer of the drug in the United States by a wide margin. It is also the nation’s premier exporter to other states: By one estimate, the state produces seven times more than it consumes.

But the visit to Compton helped peel back another, more conservative set of attitudes toward marijuana.

At the Compton airport, Shawn Wildgoose, a former enlisted Marine who lives in Compton and works in the construction industry, told me he wanted to see the city focusing on its homeless problem and reducing crime, which is sharply down from previous decades.

Legal marijuana?

“Compton has other issues,” Mr. Wildgoose said. “We don’t need that distraction.”

Source: National Families in Action’s The Marijuana Report nfia@nationalfamilies.org 21st March 2018

Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Kode Sammarco released 2017 drug statistics Tuesday.

Last fall, the coroner said overdoses in Hamilton County had surpassed the total of last year, with 427 suspected deaths – and three months remaining in 2017, making the toll the worst since the heroin epidemic began. in the Tri-State.

Most overdose deaths have been due to fentanyl or chemically similar drugs, Sammarco said.

The county reported 403 overdose deaths in 2016 – up 30 percent, overdose deaths were totalled at 529 for 2017.

Sammarco described the increasing number of cases as “scary.” She said drug prevention efforts can only do so much without the help of the public.

“We can’t do this alone. Everybody here is busting their butt to try to get a handle on not just the supply, but to get help for the addicts and families. But we need the communities to step up, we need every neighborhood to keep an eye on their neighborhood. To try and help us get the dealers off the street, to try and get help to the addicts. You see something, say something.”

Sammarco noted the death toll was reduced by Narcan.

“The number of lives being saved is huge,” she said. “There’s no doubt they would’ve been double or triple what they were without Narcan.”

The coroner said 30,000 items were turned into the office’s drug section in 2017. Hfour drug analysts each processed well over 7,000 items, which 2.5 times higher than any other lab in Ohio.

Prevention First, a local non-profit aimed at reducing substance abuse released their findings from this year’s student drug-use survey.

They said of the more than 30,000 students grades 7 through 12 surveyed, nearly 14 percent have admitted to using alcohol in the past 30 days.

Tobacco use was only reported in five percent of students. Marijuana usage was slightly higher at more than eight percent.

Prescription drug abuse was reported in only 2.4 percent of students.

Commissioners said aside from marijuana use, the statistics have been trending downward since 2000.

“Hats off to Prevention First for leading the charge on that and for providing all of this really important information when it comes to prevention and what young people are doing in this community because this is the tip of the spear,” Commissioner Denise Driehaus said.

The survey, which is given every two years by Prevention First, was distributed to 80 public and private schools in six southwest Ohio counties.

To try to top overdoses before they happen, the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition is launching a Quick Response Teams early next month, on April 3.

The coalition is uniting with fire departments, law enforcement and social workers to create a team that follows up with overdose victims and offers them same-day addiction treatment. according to a prepared statement.

Modelled on an effort in Colerain Twp., the team will try to find overdose survivors using a database maintained by the Greater Cincinnati Fusion Center, a public safety data collecting agency.

Heroin Coalition commander and Norwood Police Lt. Tom Fallon told Hamilton County commissioners Monday the database would help locate overdose survivors who are otherwise hard to find.

The team will also use “predictive analysis” to track drug activity to target potential overdoses in with the help of University of Cincinnati’s Institute of Crime Science.

The effort is funded by a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice funded through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

Source: http://www.fox19.com/story/37764381/hamilton-county-coroner

The mechanism by which dopamine cells in the brain signal the passage of time has received some new light via a recent study from researchers at University of Texas at San Antonio. To make decisions about the salience of a potential reward is mediated by small group of neurons in the midbrain that release dopamine.

The amount of dopamine released can influence our decisions by telling us how good a reward will be in the future. For example, more dopamine is released in response to the smell of turkey baking relative to the smell of leftovers.

But does the length of time between the anticipatory release of dopamine and the actual reward mediate the release and volume of dopamine? To answer this question, investigators used voltammetry to record dopamine release in rodents trained by Pavlovian conditioning.

This novel experiment utilized different audible tones that predicted the delivery of food. One tone was presented only after a short wait time— while the other tone was presented only after a long wait time.

The data showed that more dopamine was released during the short wait tone compared to the long wait tone. These results show that imminent reward is associated with dopamine release in the midbrain.

This is not unlike telling a 6-year-old child that her next birthday party is tomorrow versus telling her it won’t occur for two months. The time differentiation will predict the amount of excitement the child experiences.

Why Does This Matter?

We established many years ago the power of simply showing a recovering cocaine addict a piece of their drug paraphernalia. The release of dopamine is triggered by this visual cue and is also related to the amount of abstinence and how soon a drug reward could be attained. Monitoring via drug testing is one way that addicts are able to think through their behavioral choices when craving is induced.

For persons in early recovery from substance use disorder, anticipatory cues trigger the release of dopamine, cause craving and increase the risk of relapse. Continuing care planning for recovering addicts must address the power of anticipatory reward and help each recovery person set up obstacles that deter and delay access to a mood altering substance and avoid environmental drug cues.

Source: Fonzi KM, Lefner MJ, Phillips PEM, Wanat MJ. Dopamine Encodes Retrospective Temporal Information in a Context-Independent Manner. Cell Rep. 2017 Aug 22;20(8):1765-1774. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.07.076.

All creatures great and small are being poisoned by the pesticides and rodenticides in the water they drink, and in the food they eat. This polluted water from northern California marijuana grows eventually flows to much of the State. The lawless pot industry is nothing less than purveyors of poison. The recent scientific study “Cultivating Disaster: The Effect of Cannabis Cultivation on the Environment of Calaveras County,” points out that the cultivation of the drug was allowed by the State without adequate understanding of the impact on the environment and public health, welfare and safety. The chemicals that flow from the grow sites to the watershed had never been approved for these crops.

California does not regulate marijuana as a medicine because it is a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance under Federal Law, rather it is classified as an agricultural product. However, pot growers do not have to meet the same stringent requirements for chemicals and fertilizers as do all other farmers. Though there is limited testing being conducted by local water providers to determine if dangerous chemicals are leaching into water supplies or waste treatment systems, independent water experts testing water samples in Calaveras County found two thirds of the samples contained chemicals proven to be deadly poison to humans, fish and animals.

Of particular concern is carbofuron, an extremely toxic, water soluble granular pesticide banned in the U.S. but used among Mexican cartels. It is reported that an eighth of a teaspoon would kill a 300 lb black bear. In 2017, UC Davis researchers found harmful bacteria and deadly mold and Aspergillus fungi on marijuana in grows and dispensaries. This critical threat from marijuana grows to our environment and the human population is just beginning to surface.

The damaging effects of marijuana (cannabis), often considered a hallucinogenic drug, have long been known. High level THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana, is being grown and sold today as a “medicine.” It is long acting and addictive, causing brain damage, loss of intellect, psychotic breaks, suicides, mental illness, and birth defects and leads to other social costs from higher crime rates, highway deaths, excessive high school dropouts, and increased ER admissions, among others.

This lawless Big Marijuana Industry follows the playbook of Big Tobacco: GET KIDS HOOKED – ADDICTION OFTEN FOLLOWS. Their advertisements include images of Santa Claus, kids’ movies and cartoons, and they sell “edibles,” pot infused candy, lollipops and gummy bears with THC levels 50-70%. Many products are advertised as being 94-95% THC. Now there is crystalline THC that is 99.99% THC, known as “the strongest weed in the world.” Unfortunately, the public perception of marijuana is based on marijuana of the past – with 1- 5% THC.

The Calaveras Study estimates 1200 grows sites in that county; U.S. Forest Service estimates a tag of 2 billion to reclaim these sites. An estimated 50,000 grow sites in California would cost 50 – 80 billion to reclaim. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says, “We are aware of the seriousness of the problem, but (we) do not know who is going to help clean it up.”

U.S. Attorney General Sessions has indicated his willingness to enforce our federal food and drug and environment laws when it comes to marijuana. Our California U.S. Attorneys must prosecute those who have broken federal, state, and county ordinances and explore funding to pay for cleanup of the land. This is not just a California issue, the U.S. Supreme Court

has ruled that federal marijuana laws preempt state laws and that marijuana control is a federal matter, not a states’ rights matter. There is no time to waste. Our future is at stake.

Source: Press Release Californians Against Legalisation of Marijuana Feb.6th 2018

BATON ROUGE — When a classmate died of a drug overdose, Symmes Culbertson bought a black suit for the funeral.

“It didn’t feel right to wear a blue sports jacket,” the 23-year-old political science major said.

What he didn’t count on was how many more funerals of classmates he would attend — six since he began attending Louisiana State University in 2013. “The number of people that I have known by name or in passing that have died from prescription drug overdoses, just in my college years, is well into the teens,” Culbertson said.

These kinds of events have become increasingly common at U.S. colleges, where many students view mixing pills and chasing them with alcohol as a rite of passage, rather than a dangerous and often deadly practice.

“It’s a dirty secret,” said April Rovero, whose son, Joey, a student at Arizona State University, overdosed in 2009 after taking prescription opioids, benzodiazepines and alcohol. (Dr. Lisa Tseng, who prescribed the drugs that led to the deaths of him and two other young men, is now serving a 30-years to life prison sentence for illegally prescribing the medication.)

In the year that followed, she said nine more students from there also died at the hands of drugs.

National addiction expert Dr. Drew Pinsky said one thing that is killing many students is mixing opioids with benzodiazepines, such as Xanax — something he says doctors should never prescribe together because it can be lethal.

Since 1999, drug overdose deaths of those 15 to 24 have quadrupled to 5,376 a year, far surpassing the number of those dying from alcohol-related accidents.

“These are perfectly healthy young people,” said Rovero, who founded the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse. “Every one of these deaths is avoidable.”

‘A Perfect Storm’

Ken Hale, associate director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery on the Ohio State University campus, said “a perfect storm” has hit college campuses and the nation, starting with “the drug-taking culture in which we live. We use more medication than any other country.”

In 2016, the nation filled more than 4.5 billion prescriptions, including antibiotics, cancer drugs and other drug treatment protocols — an average of more than 14 per person.

But Hale said many of those prescriptions are the powerful and often addictive opioids. Even though the U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it consumes 80 percent of opioids.

As a result, these drugs are easily available to students through family members or friends, he said.

With these prescription drugs come misperceptions about safety and legality, he said. Of those addicted to heroin, 80 percent started on prescription drugs.

“If I go to a party and someone says, ‘Here’s some heroin,’ flags go up, but if someone hands me a Vicodin (an opioid painkiller), they don’t,” he said.

College campuses have become incubators for the bigger problem, where students “may not hit the wall in college, but they start behaviors that led to the problem we have,” he said.

Hale noted that the No. 1 cause of death of those under 50 is drug overdose and that fact has contributed to the U.S. seeing life expectancy decline for two years in a row for the first time since the 1950s.

Ohio State is one of more than 100 colleges that have recovery centers, where students can live, Hale said. “College dormitories are not a good environment for someone trying to get sober.”

Funeral for a friend

Culbertson grew up in Greenville, a fast-growing small town in South Carolina. “In high school, the most hardcore thing was weed,” he said.

By 2014, pills had begun to seep into college life, no longer just for the weekend parties.

Students took Adderall, the stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, if they needed to study or take a test.

And students who didn’t have classes till the afternoon might visit the bar and get Xanax, sometimes chasing that tranquilizer with alcohol — what can be a deadly combination.

When 2015 came, so did news about a high school classmate, a former cross-country track star who became hooked on opioids after hurting his back and blowing out his ACL.

His sister, Callie, had helped him get sober, letting him live with her for six months.

Callie Culbertson, the older sister of Symmes Culbertson, graduated in December from LSU with a degree in animal science, history and psychology. She knows of eight young people from her hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, who have died of drug overdoses. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network)

Afterward, she kept in touch by telephone. One morning she learned on Facebook that he had overdosed — news that stunned her because she had just spoken to him the night before.

She and Culbertson attended the funeral, and she couldn’t believe that so many people attending were high, doing the same drugs that killed her friend.

Since that funeral, she knows of eight people from her hometown who have died of overdoses.

“Everybody knows somebody this has touched,” she said. “The problem is no one is changing.”

‘He only took five’

Culbertson returned to LSU, and the next funeral of someone he knew took place just a few months later.

The environment has become “so accepting of the drugs,” he said. “If you don’t enjoy them, then you’re the a–hole — at least if you speak up about it.”

More funerals followed, and last January, he got a call that a friend of his had just overdosed.

Culbertson had just seen his friend the night before, taking Xanax in a bar. “We were with him at midnight,” he said.

When it was obvious he needed help getting home, friends took him there. He never woke up.

Word came that he had died of fentanyl, a drug up to 50 times stronger than heroin, and that fentanyl may have been mixed with the Xanax pills.

After this death, Culbertson said some slowed down in their drug taking, but no one quit.

Months later, he heard of a classmate back home who had been hooked on opioids before secretly moving to heroin and overdosing.

On Oct. 14, hours after LSU defeated Auburn University in football, Culbertson and his friends met at a bar.

After midnight, a friend informed him that he had just stolen a bottle of liquor from the bar, and that he was going back to his place to celebrate with his girlfriend.

The next morning, a friend called him in tears, letting him know their friend was dead.

“That’s crazy,” Culbertson replied. “He only took five (Xanax) sticks last night.”

As soon as he hung up, he realized the insanity of his own words, nonchalantly saying that his friend had taken five Xanax bars.

“And I thought that was completely normal,” he said. “And that’s what has come to scare me — the culture here is so accepting of it that even me, who doesn’t do any of this stuff, it’s normalized to me. My thinking had gotten as distorted as anybody engaging in the culture.”

He wore the dark suit for his friend’s funeral in New Orleans and returned home to write out an idea for a short film, based on what he had experienced.

The next day, he pitched his idea to his film class. His movie proposal, “Only the Good,” resonated with his fellow students.

“I just wanted to tell the story about my peers that shows everybody thinks they’re having a good time, and while that’s true 90 percent of the time, there’s that 10 percent of the time where you not only do, you die from it, but it devastates the lives of the people that care about you.”

Turning a blind eye

Rovero would like to see learning about medicine safety start in kindergarten, saying schools and colleges need to do a better job of educating students.

“Colleges should be educating students about how addictive and dangerous these drugs can be, especially mixed with other drugs and alcohol, and about the risk factors and signs of addiction and overdose,” she said.

Students should be trained to aid those in trouble, she said. “Parents should work with their administrators to have resident assistants have a naloxone rescue kit on hand in dorm settings, just in case, and everyone with a kit needs to be trained to use it.”

All incoming LSU freshman receive orientation regarding alcohol, drug use and sexual violence prevention. University officials say they continue to work with students to identify and reduce high-risk drinking, providing addiction programs and services, including the Anxiety and Addictive Behaviors Clinic.

Culbertson praised LSU for its all of its efforts, including education, outreach and support groups.

But there is a huge hurdle, he said. “There’s not much a support group can do when people aren’t looking for support. Nobody feels like they have a problem.”

The problem is one of perception, he said. “Students don’t really identify themselves as drug addicts, and everybody else is turning a blind eye.”

Source: https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2018/02/05

New Hampshire’s Heroin Crisis Takes Toll with Record Overdose Deaths 2:24

LONDONDERRY, New Hampshire — Nearly a decade later, Susan Allen-Samuel still vividly remembers the moment that she first realized her son Joe was a heroin addict.

“It took my breath away,” Allen-Samuel told NBC News.

Allen-Samuel says that she began to notice all the metal spoons — typically used by users to melt down the heroin — in her kitchen were disappearing. She says she suspected heroin but admits that she couldn’t fully accept that Joe had been caught up in what she calls the “heroin epidemic” sweeping New Hampshire. “I was that person: ‘It’s not gonna happen, I’m a good mom,'” said Allen Samuel. “Wow, I got a wake-up call.”

At the time, Joe was just a teenager. He had recently switched from abusing opiates in pill form— primarily pain killers like OxyContin – to using heroin. The reason, he says, was purely financial. One OxyContin pill can cost as much as $80 on the black market. Joe says he was spending roughly $400 a day on his addiction. “They [the pills] were so expensive,” said Joe, 26. “You can’t afford a habit.”

At just $10-15 a bag, heroin was cheaper and more readily available. A short-drive to nearby Lawrence, Massachusetts — just across the state border — and he and his friends could purchase the drug on just about every street corner. Three overdoses and two arrests later, Joe’s life was forever altered by the deadly drug known as the “Big H.”

A State at the Center of a Heroin Crisis

The lush, rolling hills and idyllic red barns here can transform you to another time. Every town’s main street sprinkled with mom-and-pop shops and glistening white church steeples provide a backdrop to the scene of a Norman Rockwell painting, the personification of New England nostalgia.

In 2016, however, New Hampshire finds itself on the front lines of a heroin crisis that, critics warn, is unravelling the state’s social fabric. The numbers, alone, are daunting.

Last year, there were roughly 400 drug-overdose related deaths in New Hampshire — the most in the state’s history. With a population of roughly 1.4 million, the Granite State has one of the highest per-capita rates of addiction in the country.

As the problem has worsened over the last decade, however, access to substance abuse treatment has not improved. According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the state is second to last — ahead of only Texas — in access to treatment programs. New Hampshire does not fund any methadone treatment programs and relies on a network of privately-run for-profit clinics to treat the thousands of addicts across the state. “There’s a stigma out there for users,” said Diane St. Onge, director of the Manchester Comprehensive Health Center — one of only eight clinics in the state that provides methadone treatment for heroin addiction. “We need more treatment options. People’s lives are at stake.”

In 2013, St. Onge’s clinic had 250 patients. Today, it has 540 patients and a two-week long waiting list. On a recent weekday, the clinic’s waiting room was teeming with weary

patients, most appearing middle-aged, and young children whose parents were there to receive their daily dose of methadone, the drug that reduces the withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other narcotic drugs.

Outside, amid the political paraphernalia and live-shots being set up by crews ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, patients sat on benches waiting to go inside. The juxtaposition was striking.

A Town under Siege

Situated along the I-93 interstate between the state’s two largest cities of Manchester and Nashua, the small town of Londonderry is at the center of a drug-trafficking route where heroin cuts across socio-economic and political lines.

Ed Daniels has worked with the Londonderry Fire Department for 11 years. For most of that time, he says, he saw one or two overdose cases a year. He says he now sees at least one every shift. He says the victims he treats come from all demographics. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” said Daniels.

Daniels says the numbers began to spike last summer and have continued to rise, unabated. He blames the increase on fentanyl — an extremely potent pain killer drug that is now commonly cut with heroin to produce a more intense high — and feels, at times, that there is little long-term that he can do for his patients. “They can leave the hospital,” said Daniels. “[But] once they have the addiction, where can they go for help?”

For Londonderry Fire Department Chief Darren O’Brien, who has lived his entire life in Londonderry, “it’s hard to see what’s going on in a community you grew up in.” O’Brien noted that there were 82 reported overdoses last year — nearly three times the 31 reported cases in 2014. “I’m hoping we can get a handle on it,” he said.

Joe’s heroin addiction lasted nearly a decade, a time that Allen-Samuel says she was fearful to come home to confront her son. “It’s a hell of a ride, it’s devastating,” she said. Allen-Samuel tried everything to help Joe. On one occasion, after he had been placed in jail for a minor offense, she had officers keep him there for months knowing that he’d likely not have access to any drugs inside. Meanwhile, she says, Joe’s childhood friends were dying one-by-one from overdose.

Joe says he had periods of sobriety but ultimately relapsed. It was not until his second stint in jail, he says, where he vowed to fight back. “That was probably my lowest point,” he said. He sought treatment and, ultimately, got clean.

He says losing his closest friends was motivation for him to be there for his girlfriend and young children. He has been sober for more than two years. “I’m just thankful,” said Joe. “[Before] I wasn’t able to be a dad. I’m glad I’m able to be here and experience it now.”

For Allen-Samuel, the unfolding crisis in New Hampshire should be an impetus for reform. Heroin addiction, she says, is a disease that should be dealt with the same way society treats cancer or any other deadly illness. “Our families are dying,” said Allen-Samuel. “What’s going on in our community is a war.” Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/our-families-are-dying-new-hampshire-s-heroin-crisis-n510661?cid=sm_fb Feb.2016

Marijuana has always been seen as the laid-back drug. It might make you crave ice cream and chocolate cake or induce you to fall asleep, but it certainly wasn’t dangerous.

Yet, as governments in Britain and Canada consider decriminalizing the drug, medical researchers are warning that smoking cannabis increases the risk of lung disease and, more disturbingly, that its use can exacerbate psychosis and that it is linked with the onset of schizophrenia in adolescents.

“We have the evidence of cannabis and its dangers,” said Dr. Richard Russell, a respiratory specialist and a spokesman for the British Lung Foundation, which published a report this week on the dangers of cannabis.

“What we really want to avoid is the situation we had in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s with cigarettes, where doctors were recommending tobacco as being good for you.”

In its report, the lung foundation warns that cannabis is more harmful to the lungs than tobacco. It says smoking three joints a day can cause the same damage as 20 cigarettes, and tar from marijuana contains 50 per cent more carcinogens than that from tobacco.

Persistent users are risking lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses, it says.

One of the major problems is posed by the way users smoke marijuana and hashish: They take puffs that are almost twice as large as those tobacco smokers take and hold the smoke in four times as long. “This means that there is a greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and smoke particulates such as tar than when smoking a similar quantity of tobacco.”

The foundation also noted that in the 1960s, the average marijuana joint contained about 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which accounts for the drug’s psychoactive properties. Because of sophisticated cultivation techniques, the average joint today has 150 mg of THC, a 15-fold increase.

Dr. Russell, the respiratory specialist, worries that young people think cannabis is a “cool drug” that is risk-free. A survey carried out this year showed that 79 per cent of British children believe cannabis is safe.

The Canadian government indicated in its Speech from the Throne last month that it is considering the decriminalization of marijuana possession.

Already, it gives exemptions to drug laws to allow sick people to have marijuana. On the other hand, pot grown for medicinal purposes in an abandoned Manitoba mine with Ottawa’s sanction sits in storage.

In Britain, under a proposal due to become law next year, simple possession of a small amount of cannabis will no longer result in an automatic arrest although police will still be able to go after users in “aggravated” circumstances, such as smoking in the presence of children. Cannabis trafficking will also continue to bring a prison sentence.

Meanwhile, clinical studies on the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes are under way with HIV patients in Canada and with people suffering from multiple sclerosis in Britain.

The British Lung Foundation says it is not trying to get involved in the debate over whether cannabis should be legalized, leaving that to politicians. “Our report is not about the moral rights and wrongs of cannabis, but simply making sure everyone is completely clear about the respiratory health risks involved,” said Dr. Mark Britton, chairman of the foundation.

Dr. Russell says he recently saw a 40-year-old patient in his clinic with “severe end-stage emphysema” and has about 18 months to live. The patient has been smoking three joints a day for the past 25 years, the equivalent of smoking 60 cigarettes a day from the age of 15, he says.

Studies of heavy cannabis smoking among Rastafarians in the Caribbean have also pointed to increased danger of early lung cancer, Dr. Russell says.

Les Iversen, a professor of pharmacology at King’s College in London and an expert on cannabis, agrees that smoking marijuana poses dangers, but he says the report’s findings are exaggerated.

There is no specific evidence linking cannabis smoking with lung cancer, Prof. Iversen says.

He says it’s absurd to say smoking three joints is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes because joints come in different sizes and strengths as do commercial cigarettes.

Although he adds, “I don’t think any drug is safe.”

Psychiatrists have also linked cannabis use to schizophrenia.

“People with schizophrenia do not take more alcohol, heroin or ecstasy than the rest of us, but they are twice as likely to smoke cannabis regularly,” says Dr. Robin Murray, a professor of psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

Dr. Murray says cannabis, along with cocaine and amphetamines, encourage the release of dopamine in the brain, which in turn leads to increased hallucinations.

He notes that the incidence of schizophrenia in south London has doubled in the past 40 years, and he says increased use of both cannabis and cocaine could be at fault.

Dr. Murray cites a study that interviewed 50,000 conscripts to the Swedish Army about their drug use and followed up later. Heavy users of cannabis at the age of 18 were six times as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia by the time they were 33 than those who kept away from the drug.

Another study, this one in the Netherlands, interviewed 7,500 people about their consumption of drugs and looked at their behaviour over the next three years. Regular users of cannabis were more likely to develop psychosis than those who did not use the drug.

“Any public debate on cannabis needs to take account of the risks as well as the pleasure,” Dr. Murray says. “Pro-marijuana campaigners claim, extrapolating from their Saturday-night joint, that cannabis is totally safe. Yet they would be unlikely to claim that a bottle of vodka a day is healthy on the basis of sharing a bottle of Chablis over dinner.

“No drugs that alter brain chemistry are totally safe,” he says. “Just as some who drink heavily become alcoholic, so a minority of those who smoke cannabis daily go psychotic.”

A major study on the links between cannabis and schizophrenia is due to be published in the British Medical Journal next week by Louise Arsenault, a biomedical researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry who was trained at the University of Montreal.

Research made public last year by Dr. Arsenault showed that young men who regularly smoke cannabis are five times more likely to be violent than those who avoid the drug. Using data from a study of 961 young adults in Dunedin, New Zealand, she discovered that one-third of those with a cannabis habit had a court conviction for violence by the time they hit 21 or had displayed violent behaviour. That was three times the level of those who drank excessive amounts of alcohol.

The warnings about marijuana have not deterred members of Britain’s Legalize Cannabis Alliance, who say the report is merely a selective study of existing medical literature, which ignores studies that discount the health threats posed by the drug.

“I’ve used it for 30 years and it doesn’t seem to have affected my health,” says Alun Buffry, the alliance’s national co-ordinator.

“I stopped tobacco three or four years ago and I have noticed that since then my health has improved. My general level of energy has improved and I get more of a high from cannabis than the sleepiness I used to get, which I think had to do with tobacco.”

Mr. Buffry argues that it would be best to legalize cannabis to control the quality of what is sold and eliminate “dirty supplies” that may include potentially harmful glues, fillers and colouring agents.

“I would argue that it would be far more dangerous illegal than it would be legalized,” he says. “Even if cannabis were the most dangerous substance in the world, it is still consumed by millions of people.”

Alan Freeman is The Globe and Mail’s European correspondent.

Source:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/incoming/theres-a-reason-they-call-it-getting-wasted/article1028091/  Mar. 21 2009

SIXTY people have died in the UK in the past eight months, in circumstances believed to be linked to a drug more potent than heroin, it has been revealed.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), which is investigating the use of the potentially deadly fentanyl and its variants, warned the toll could rise as they await further toxicology results.

Tests on heroin seized by police since November found traces of the synthetic drug, with more than 70 further deaths pending toxicology reports, the NCA.

The toxic synthetic opioid is being mixed with heroin and in some cases proving fatal, the agency said, as it accused dealers of playing “Russian roulette” with users’ lives.

The NCA’s deputy director Ian Crouton said recent investigations have uncovered that fentanyl and its chemical derivatives are being both supplied in and exported from the UK.

He said: ”We believe the illicit supply from Chinese manufacturers and distributors constitutes a prime source for both synthetic opioids and the pre-cursor chemicals used to manufacture them.”

Fentanyl, which can be legally prescribed as a painkiller sometimes in the form of a patch or nasal spray, is around 50 times more potent than heroin, according to America’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

A variant known as carfentanyl – which is often used to anaesthetise large animals like elephants – can be up to 10,000 times stronger than street heroin.

The potency means investigating officers often have to wear protective clothing to handle the substance.

Health officials and police have warned drug users to be “extra careful” as heroin and other class A drugs were being laced with synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

The 60 victims, whose post mortem examination results indicated their drug-related deaths were known to be linked to fentanyl or one of its chemical variants, were predominantly men and a range of ages, although no person was younger than 18.

Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “People are playing Russian roulette with their lives by taking this stuff, that’s why we would strongly recommend to the drug-using community to stay away from it.

“The business is not done under lab conditions, it’s not done by scientists, it’s done in a very uncontrolled way by people seeking out profit – this is why we’re concerned when you’re dealing with such toxic chemicals.”

Following links between fentanyl and deaths this year in the north of England, Public Health England (PHE) said it began an urgent investigation.

Pete Burkinshaw, the organisation’s alcohol and drug treatment and recovery lead, said the “sharp increase” in overdoses that had been feared did not appear to have materialised.

He said: “We have been working with drug testing labs and local drug services to get more information on confirmed and suspected cases.

“We do not have a full picture, but the deaths in Yorkshire do appear to have peaked earlier in the year and fallen since our national alert and, encouragingly, our investigations in other parts of the country suggest we are not seeing the feared sharp increase in overdoses.

“Investigations are ongoing and plans are in place for a scaled-up response if necessary.”

PHE is working with the Local Government Association to increase the availability of naloxone, an overdose antidote, to drug users and at hostels and outreach centres.

A raid at a drug-mixing facility in Morley, Leeds, in April resulted in three people being charged with conspiracy to supply and export class A drugs.

The NCA said it had identified 443 customers of that “criminal enterprise” – 271 overseas, and 172 within the UK.

A fourth man was charged on Monday night, following a separate investigation in May, after police said they identified him using the so-called dark web to buy fentanyl or synthetic opioids.

Kyle Enos, of Maindee Parade in Gwent, is accused of importing, supplying and exporting class A drugs.

The 25-year-old, who is in custody, is due at Cardiff Crown Court for a hearing on August 29.

The death of US pop star Prince was linked to an overdose of fentanyl in 2016.

The opioid was first made in 1960 by Belgian doctor Paul Janssen and introduced in hospitals as an intravenous anaesthetic.

Last November, 18-year-old Briton Robert Fraser died after unintentionally overdosing on the drug.

Robert’s mother Michelle said: “It shouldn’t be on the streets, this sort of stuff.

“These days there is too much and its too easily accessible for teenagers especially as we have mobile phones and the internet.

“It’s kids giving it to kids a lot of the time – they don’t know what they are giving.”

Source:

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/835794/Fentanyl-heroin-painkiller-overdose-60-dead-NCA-PHE-carfentanyl

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