Drug Abuse Among Unsuspecting Professionals

Addiction does not discriminate and our drug and alcohol programs here at Harmony reflect this fact well – with programs for young adults, men and women in all stages of life.The need for more addiction rehabs to focus on professionals in their programs has been highlighted in the news recently with professionals under fire for drug abuse. Last week, a high school IT teacher in England was sentenced to over 3 years in jail and permanently banned from teaching after being caught with more than 100 grams of cocaine in a narcotics lab in his home.His sentencing came after an investigation found that he was involved in high-level supply of cocaine leading to his arrest in 2012. At first the teacher denied being a distributor and said …

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The Escalating Debate Over E-Cigarettes

Follow the bouncing ping-pong ball. “E-cigarettes are likely to be gateway devices for nicotine addiction among youth, opening up a whole new market for tobacco.”—Lauren Dutra, postdoctoral fellow at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.“You’ve got two camps here: an abstinence-only camp that thinks anything related to tobacco should be outlawed, and those of us who say abstinence has failed, and that we have to take advantage of every opportunity with a reasonable prospect for harm reduction.”—Richard Carmona, former U.S. Surgeon General, now board member of e-cigarette maker NJOY.“Consumers are led to believe that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to cigarettes, despite the fact that they are addictive, and there is no regulatory oversight …

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The Dangerous Zohydro Hits the Market This Week

A few months ago, we wrote about Zohydro – the controversial painkiller approved by the FDA last October. Despite its controversy and attempts to block its release, the opiate hits the market this week. Health care and addiction recovery advocates are still pushing for an appeal, as they fear widespread abuse of the painkiller while opiate abuse has reached epidemic levels in the US.The controversy over Zohydro lies in the fact that it is a pure hydrocodone drug, without acetaminophen or other drugs added to it, making it 5 times stronger than other popularly abused opiates. In addition, it is crushable when most crushable painkillers were taken off the market a few years ago. Large scale efforts were made to remanufacture opiates like Percocet and OxyContin to …

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Hey, Wake Up, It’s Brain Awareness Week

Your brain doesn’t come with an instruction manual.The Dana Foundation’s annual Brain Awareness Week (BAW), March 10-16, seems particularly appropriate and useful this time around, after a year in which brain-based disease models of human behaviors came under fire from social scientists and neuroscientists alike.A recent analysis of the coverage of neuroscience in the popular press showed that the number of news articles using the terms “neuroscience” or “neuroscientist” had increased by a factor of 30 between 1985 and 2009. Moreover, the NIH’s massive Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, designed to speed up our understanding of the neural workings of the human brain in the years ahead, is in progress.Brain Awareness Week, which takes place each year during the third week of March, is …

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Six Writers Who Battled the Bottle

Book review.In The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking, author Olivia Laing’s stated goal is “to know why writers drink, and what effect this stew of spirits has had upon the body of literature itself.” To which I can only say, best of luck. The goal is impossibly ambitious; the book itself a bit digressive and loosely organized. But Laing has harvested a satisfying litany of literary anecdotes related to drinking, and throws out a few of her own.The writers she submits to scrutiny are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, John Berryman, and Raymond Carver—all of them unambiguously alcoholic and, for most of their lives, resolutely in denial. Only two of them—Carver and Cheever—attained some measure of sobriety …

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Still no Field Sobriety Test for Marijuana

Photo Credit How do police identify a stoned driver?The standard field sobriety test involves having a driver walk heel to toe, turn on one foot and walk back heel to toe and stand on one leg for 30 seconds. This is said to catch almost 90% of drunk drivers – but does it do the same for stoned drivers?According to an article published in the New York Times it does not. In fact, only 30% of stoned drivers with THC in their systems fail these motor skills and the rates are even lower for veteran stoners who are used to being high.Crafting a standard field sobriety test that works for marijuana is becoming increasingly important as states legalize its recreational and medical use. Still little…

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Addicts and Disease

Commentary.Former National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) director Alan Leshner has been vilified by many for referring to addiction as a chronic, relapsing “brain disease.” What often goes unmentioned is Leshner’s far more interesting characterization of addiction as the “quintessential biobehavioral disorder.”Multifactorial illnesses present special challenges to our way of thinking about disease. Addiction and other biopsychosocial disorders often show symptoms at odds with disease, as people generally understand it. For patients and medical professionals alike, questions about the disease aspect of addiction tie into larger fears about the medicalization of human behavior.These confusions are mostly understandable. Everybody knows what cancer is—a disease of the cells. Schizophrenia? Some kind of brain illness. But addiction? Addiction strikes many people as too much a part …

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Acamprosate For Alcohol: Why the Research Might Be Wrong

Calcium may be curbing the urge to drink.“Occasionally,” reads the opening sentence of a commentary published online last month in Neuropsychopharmacology, “a paper comes along that fundamentally challenges what we thought we knew about a drug mechanism.” The drug in question is acamprosate, and the mechanism of action under scrutiny is the drug’s ability to promote abstinence in alcoholics. The author of the unusual commentary is Markus Heilig, Chief of the Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).Acamprosate, in use worldwide and currently the most widely prescribed medication for alcohol dependence in the U.S., may work by an entirely different mechanism than scientists have believed on the basis of hundreds of studies over …

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Addiction Treatment After Naloxone

Photo Credit California is now following the footsteps of Colorado and other states that allows the use of naloxone or Narcan, an FDA approved, non-addictive drug that prevents heroin overdose.California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 635 into law, which took effect on January 1st of this year permitting the use of naloxone by non-medical professionals across the state. Just this week, Gil Kerlikowske the White House Director of National Drug Control Policy highlighted the effectiveness of naloxone as one of many attempts to limit the rise of heroin abuse and overdose in the US. Currently, more than 100 overdose deaths occur from heroin abuse in the US each day. The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman last week was one of an estimated 700 that occurred that…

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Narco-Deforestation Accelerates Loss of Biodiversity

In Central America, drug policies become conservation policies. The Central American isthmus exploded into prominence as a drug trafficking corridor in 2006, when pressure on Mexican cartels pushed smuggling operations to the south and into the remote forest frontiers of Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Since then, vigorous interdiction programs have pushed traffickers into ever more remote zones, back and forth from country to country, bringing money, manpower, and greater opportunities for deforestation.Kendra McSweeney of the Department of Geography at Ohio State University and co-workers dug into the recent comprehensive report by the Organization of American States (OAS), titled The Drug Problem in the Americas, and wrote up their findings in a recent contribution to Science’s Policy Forum. They found that “mounting evidence suggests that the trafficking …

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Philip Seymour Hoffman: The Disease of Addiction Doing Pushups

For many recovering addicts, the tragedy of Philip Seymour Hoffman was a humbling reminder that no matter how many years someone has sober, the disease is still there – doing proverbial “pushups” and that relapse is never off the table.The disease of addiction progresses even when addicts are not using, which is hard for addicts and others to wrap their minds around until they hear real life tales of how this happens. Hoffman’s story is a very real life example of this: police reported to several news agencies they found 5 empty bags and 65 additional bags full of heroin in his apartment the night he died. He got sober in his early 20s, remained sober for 23 years and just a few years later overdosed with heroin in …

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The Anthropology of Addiction

Can we ever integrate neuroscience and social science?Bielefeld, Germany—The last in a series of posts about a recent conference, Neuroplasticity in Substance Addiction and Recovery: From Genes to Culture and Back Again. The conference, held at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) at Bielefeld University, drew neuroscientists, historians, psychologists, philosophers, and even a freelance science journalist or two, coming in from Germany, the U.S., The Netherlands, the UK, Finland, France, Italy, Australia, and elsewhere. The organizing idea was to focus on how changes in the brain impact addiction and recovery, and what that says about the interaction of genes and culture. The conference co-organizers were Jason Clark and Saskia Nagel of the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück, Germany. Part One …

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Illicit Behavior and Super Bowl Sunday

Photo Via Today is Super Bowl Sunday when many parties abound that lead to overindulgence in eating, drinking and other self-defeating behaviors.Many who are newly sober find this day difficult because beer and watching football are portrayed by the media to go perfectly hand in hand. In fact, beer manufacturers like Budweiser spend millions on their commercials leading up to and on Super Bowl Sunday.Given that the game is in New York City this weekend, scandals and stories related to Super Bowl weekend partying were inevitable. On Thursday New York City police arrested 18 people for selling “party packs” and high end prostitutes to wealthy clients in town for the festivities.The arrests came after a nearly year long investigation organized by DHS, NYPD and…

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Do Addicts Benefit From Chronic Care Management?

Controversial JAMA study questions orthodox addiction treatment.What is the best way to treat addiction? The conventional wisdom has been to treat it with chronic care management (CCM), the same approach used for various medical and mental illnesses. But a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) purports to demonstrate that “persons with alcohol and other drug dependence who received chronic care management (CCM)” were no more likely to become abstinent that those who received nothing beyond a timely appointment with a primary care physician, and a list of addiction treatment resources.563 patients were divided into a chronic care management group and a primary care group. The chronic care management group received extended care under a primary care physician, plus“motivational enhancement therapy; relapse prevention …

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Could Anti-Balding Drug Help Alcoholics Fight Cravings in Recovery?

Could Anti-Balding Drug Help Alcoholics Fight Cravings in Recovery? – Rehab Info Rehab InfoThe Most Trusted Rehab Referrals. Home»Blog›Could Anti-Balding Drug Help Alcoholics Fight Cravings in Recovery?Could Anti-Balding Drug Help Alcoholics Fight Cravings in Recovery?September 24th 2013 | By: Staff | Posted In: Drugs and Alcohol, Studies and ResearchA recent study completed by the researchers at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences discovered that 65 percent of male participants who took the drug Finasteride for baldness also reported that they drank less alcohol while on the drug. Finasteride disrupts particular hormones in the brain that are reportedly linked to the brain’s reaction to alcohol. This intriguing piece of information will likely lead to other studies that will investigate the success of Finasteride …

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Why Lindsay Lohan is Right

Lindsay Lohan on Oprah, photo via When anything on Lindsay Lohan is written in newspapers or tabloids people’s eyes have grown accustomed to skimming or glossing over – because it is often the same story with slightly varied details about jails, rehabs, arrests, accidents and so forth.However, in her interview this week on Oprah’s Next Chapter, Lohan sings a different tune, a tune that is actually right on the mark with regard to recovery – that others in early recovery from addiction can resonate with.The following excerpts are from Oprah’s 1st of many scheduled interviews with Lohan that aired this week :Lohan: “I need to shut up and listen”Why it is right: This self deprecating phrases is often considered essential for newcomers in 12 step meetings. It…

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Dr. David Nutt on Alcohol

Rebutting industry myths.A couple of years ago, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, known as EuroCare, put together a brochure addressing the common messages the liquor industry attempts to drive home through its heavy spending on advertising. The messages are not just designed to sell product, but also to influence alcohol policy at the political level. According to EuroCare, the “industry”—the alcohol and tobacco companies—“has traditionally worked closely together, sharing information and concerns about regulation. They have used similar arguments to defend their products in order to prevent or delay restrictions being placed on them.”I wrote a blog post on EuroCare’s list of alcohol untruths called “7 Myths the Alcohol Industry Wants You to Believe.” Here they are:Message 1: Consuming alcohol is normal, common, healthy, …

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New Harm Reduction Measure: Medication to Fight HIV Transmission in IDUs

New Harm Reduction Measure: Medication to Fight HIV Transmission in IDUsOctober 2nd 2013 | By: Staff | Posted In: Drugs and Alcohol, Recent NewsA treatment called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has proven to be a significant assistance in protecting those individuals who use needles to inject drugs, also known as intravenous drug users, or IDUs. Addicts who utilize needles are at continual risk for a myriad of diseases, including HIV.A study conducted with 2,400 drug users in Bangkok, Thailand concluded that those individuals who ingested tenofovir pills or the PrEP treatment on a daily basis decreased their chance of acquiring the HIV virus by 74 percent. The exciting findings from this study will likely lead to other studies on the safety and validity of the PrEP treatment in acting …

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