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binge eating

5/02/13 4:00pm

Are Women Wired to Binge Eat?

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A biological urge? Photo via

A new study on lab rats finds that female rats are more likely to binge eat than males, suggesting that females may be biologically predisposed to eating disorders. The Michigan State University study is the first to suggest that biology is a factor in binge eating behavior, which "is one of the core symptoms of most eating disorders" including bulimia nervosa. Women and girls are four to 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder, although the condition is often overlooked and misdiagnosed in men. "Most theories of why eating disorders are so much more prevalent in females than males focus on the increased cultural and psychological pressure that girls and women face," says Kelly Klump, lead author of the experiment. "But this study suggests that biological factors likely contribute as well, since female rats do not experience the psychosocial pressures that humans do, such as pressures to be thin." In the study, researchers periodically replaced the rodents' food pellets with vanilla frosting, and found that females' were up to six times more prone to binge eating than the males. They are now investigating whether female brains are more sensitive and/or responsive to rewarding stimuli such as foods that are high in fat or sugar, and the chemicals that trigger reward behavior. Says Klump: "This research suggests there is probably a biological difference between males and females that we need to explore to understand risk factors and mechanisms."

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By Victoria Kim

good samaritan laws

5/02/13 3:12pm

New Jersey's 911 Good Samaritan Law Goes Live

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The signing is a victory for harm reduction
advocates. Photo via

New Jersey's governor Chris Christie today signed into law a combined bill of the 911 Good Samaritan bill and the Overdose Prevention Act. It protects people who make emergency calls about overdoses from arrest or parole revocations, and allows access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse opioid ODs. It's a victory for the Drug Policy Alliance, which helped get the naloxone bill to the governor’s desk, allowing for the language of the Good Samaritan bill to be added. Support from the treatment and recovery community—like the New Jersey affiliate of the National Council for Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD-NJ)—helped breathe new life into the conditionally vetoed, postponed-for-18-months, bipartisan bill. The NJ Legislature and the governor reached a compromise on Monday: to specify that drug traffickers won't be covered by the new law. “This is a triumph of good public health policy," Roseanne Scotti, state director of the New Jersey Drug Policy Alliance, tells The Fix. "This legislation will save lives and we are grateful to Governor Christie and all the legislators who worked so hard to reach this agreement.” New York's version of this bill recently saved Jon Bon Jovi’s daughter from drug possession charges after a heroin overdose, and Bon Jovi attended the signing of the bill this afternoon at Turning Point, a treatment facility in Paterson. 

Linda Surks and Patty DiRenzo, NCADD-NJ advocacy leaders who each lost their son to overdose, were both at Monday’s crucial state house meeting in Trenton. “It is thrilling, very exciting to witness the vote, as it’s something we’ve worked on for so long," said Surks. "I feel strongly that this bill will save lives. Other families won’t have to experience the pain I felt 10 years ago when my son died at 19 of an overdose of prescription drugs.” DiRenzo, whose 911 Facebook page has been "blowing up" with articles on this legislation, is glad to see “how much publicity this has received. It is bittersweet for me because April is Alcohol Awareness Month and it my son Sal's birthday month.”

Devin Fox, executive director of Young People in Recovery of New Jersey, tells us, "We applaud our representatives, along with Governor Christie, in their continued dedication to treating addiction as the chronic brain disease that it is. Now is not the time to stop, however. Now is the time to continue organizing and strategically taking action to ensure that the community we are representing is heard by those very people that we have elected into office." 

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By Elizabeth Santeramo

med school

5/02/13 2:14pm

Should All Doctors Check Out AA?

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Sure. Just go to a meeting first. Photo via

If you’ve ever gone to a doctor who didn’t seem to have a clue about addiction, recovery or 12-step programs, you’re not alone, according to Marc Galanter, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at NYU Langone Medical Center. He says many physicians don’t have enough understanding of how 12-step programs work, or the benefits they can provide. “Any doctor treating addicted people should go to at least a few AA meetings, so they can discuss it with patients in a knowledgeable way,” he argues. “It’s very experiential, and doctors should have a sense of it. They should also learn the steps of AA.” Many AA meetings are designated as "open," meaning anyone can attend. And other support groups could benefit doctors as well. Practical Recovery President Tom Horvath, PhD, tells The Fix that most meetings of SMART Recovery (which he helped found) are open to anyone, and no one is required to participate in the discussion—they can just sit and listen. "It would be ideal if someone who works in addiction treatment sampled one or several meetings of each type ... in their locality," says Horvath.

Many people in recovery agree with Galanter's claim that doctors can be ill-informed. “I was surpised when I realized that my GP really had no experience with and little information about addiction as I experienced it, and even less about recovery options,” Sean, from Brooklyn, tells us. “My first GP prescribed me antidepressants ‘because when people like you quit drinking you get depressed,’ and also prescribed Xanax, advising that, ‘When the urge comes, you just kick back with one of these.’” Wilmington, NC, resident Christopher says his doctor recommended AA over NA, because "he could never give up smoking pot." Christopher says he was "shocked by his response and definitely, from that point forward, didn’t trust him to take my disease or recovery seriously."

Yet despite such medical misapprehensions about sobriety in a 12-step program, not everyone agrees it would benefit docs to hit a few meetings. Fix contributor John Gordon says most of the doctors that he's met over the years have known "at least a little" about AA. But, “their medical opinions about the nature of alcoholism tend to run counter to what's written in the Big Book [of Alcoholics Anonymous], specifically the Doctor's Opinion. I think that is a good thing, seeing how the Doctor's Opinion is decades old and, scientifically speaking, utterly irrelevant.” Gordon also wonders whether attending 12-step meetings could actually create harmful biases. “Doctors are, hopefully, scientists,” he says. “They should be looking at efficacy statistics and so forth. I think, in terms of helping their patients, it's best to have a fully academic and dispassionate understanding of what AA is.”

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By Hunter R. Slaton

secret drinking

5/02/13 12:37pm

Chinese Officials "Hide Booze in Water Bottles"

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Maotai, preferred poison of China's elite
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With new Chinese President and Communist Party boss Xi Jinping cracking down on government corruption and lavish spending, many officials have reportedly taken their activities "underground," holding secret galas and hiding liquor in water bottles. Xingping has repeatedly admonished officials for wasting public funds, saying the problem is so severe it could threaten the party's survival. But many are disregarding his commands. "In some places the use of public money for eating and drinking has switched from high-end hotels to private venues and places of business... which has become known as 'low-key luxury,'" Chinese newspaper People's Daily reports. There have been reported incidents of maotai, an expensive spirit traditionally drunk at banquets, "being put in mineral water bottles" to disguise consumption. "These ways of pulling the wool over people's eyes is typical of not following instructions and not stopping what is banned," said the paper. Jinping has also been unsuccessful in getting officials to disclose their assets and no senior officials have been fired or prosecuted for corruption since the beginning of his presidency last March. Since becoming Communist Party boss last November, the party has given no indication it will allow the establishment of a fully independent judicial body to tackle corruption.

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By McCarton Ackerman

overdose

5/02/13 11:44am

Kris Kross Rapper Dies From Alleged Overdose

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Kelly had an "extensive drug use history."
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Drugs are suspected to have played a role in the death of rapper Chris Kelly, one half of '90s rap group Kris Kross, who died yesterday at 34 years old. Kelly's mother, Donna Kelly Pratt, called police yesterday afternoon to report finding him on the couch of his Atlanta home with "no life signs." Authorities unsuccessfully tried to revive Kelly before rushing him to a nearby hospital, and pronounced him dead just a few hours later. Pratt told police that he had taken a mixture of heroin and cocaine known as a "speedball" the night before his medical emergency. After personally taking him home to recover from his drug use, which she had done before on several occasions, she reported that he had felt nauseous all morning before passing out. Kelly's mother and uncle also told police that he had an "extensive history of drug use." Kris Kross' 1992 album Totally Krossed Out reached No. 1 on the US charts and featured the single "Jump," which stayed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks. Last February, Kris Kross reunited for a one-off show at hip-hop label So So Def's 20th anniversary concert.

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By McCarton Ackerman

prescription drug abuse

5/02/13 10:58am

Is Urban Outfitters Promoting Rx Drug Abuse?

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An "ironic" flask. Photo via

Urban Outfitters, the popular clothing store for the young-and-hip, has once again created a stir for "making light of" substance abuse. The company, which sparked outrage in the past with pro-drinking and pro-ana t-shirts, has now come out with a line of pint glasses, flasks and shot glasses made to look like prescription pill bottles. The Partnership at Drugfree.org has started a campaign to have the line removed, asking supporters to sign a petition and stating that the products "make light of prescription drug misuse and abuse, a dangerous behavior that is responsible for more deaths in the United States each year than heroin and cocaine combined." The nationwide epidemic has increased 33% in the past five years, and is particularly on the rise among teens, with one in four admitting to having misused or abused a prescription drug. "Combined with alcohol, the misuse and abuse of prescription medications can be especially dangerous, making the Urban Outfitter Rx pint and shot glasses and flasks even more disturbing," says the Partnership. "Tongue-in-cheek products that normalize and promote prescription drug abuse only serve to reinforce the misperception about the dangers associated with abusing medicine and put more teens at risk." The organization has posted the email of the CEO/President of Urban Outfitters, Richard A. Hayneon its website, urging people to ask him "to remove these products from their stores and website immediately."

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By Sarah Beller

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