A mix-up in the appointment of coroners could mean the inquest into the death of singer Amy Winehouse—which found she had died of alcohol poisoning—may be ruled invalid. It was revealed this morning that the coroner in charge, Suzanne Greenway, was unqualified for the role and resigned a month after the investigation. Greenway recorded that Winehouse died by "misadventure" at her London home on July 23, 2010, as an "unintended consequence" of drinking too much alcohol. But she was a solicitor in the UK Law Society for merely two-and-a-half years, it turns out, instead of the required five. She should also have served five years as a "qualified medical practitioner," but was only qualified as a nurse in her native Australia. How she got the job seems a mystery—until you learn that she was appointed to the role by her husband, London coroner Dr. Andrew Scott Reid. "In November, it became apparent that I'd made an error in the appointment process," says Reid. "While I am confident that all of the inquests handled were done so correctly, I apologize if this matter causes distress." The 30 inquests that Greenway worked on could be declared illegal if they are challenged by the UK High Court.
Gender may play an important role in determining treatment for cocaine addicts. Researchers from Yale School of Medicine studied 30 addicts and 36 non-addicted recreational drinkers as a control group. While conducting brain scans, the scientists gave the subjects verbal cues related to cocaine, alcohol and stressful situations. To no one's surprise, the coke addicts showed increased brain activation in certain brain areas compared to the non-addicts. But an unexpected discovery was the how the women’s brains responded more to stress cues; the men’s brains responded more to cocaine cues. The findings—published in the American Journal of Psychiatry—suggest that women who are addicted to cocaine may benefit more from therapy focusing on stress-reduction, while male addicts may benefit more from 12-step programs, or cognitive behavioral therapy. “There are differences in treatment outcomes for people with addictions who experience stress-induced drug cravings and those whose cravings are induced by drug cues,” says psychiatrist Dr. Marc Potenza, first author of the study. “It is important to understand the biologic mechanisms that underlie these cravings.”
- Pot Legalization Efforts Forge Ahead in Key States [Reuters]
- Increase in Liquor Sales Bodes Well for Economic Recovery [Time Moneyland]
- Addicts' Cravings Have Different Roots in Men and Women [Science Daily]
- Video: Cops Beat Bronx Teen During Drug Arrest [Gothamist]
- "Sexually Frustrated" Meth-Smoker Busted for Driving Naked [LAist.com]
- Singer Florence Welch Once Got So Drunk She Set Fire to Her Hotel Room [NME]
The growing problem of prescription-painkiller addiction has caused an alarming increase in babies born hooked to opioids and benzodiazepines. The American Academy of Pediatrics has published a report calling on health professionals to increase their efforts to identify and treat addicted newborns. The report, appearing in February's Pediatrics journal, also lists substances that have an adverse affect on babies in utero. It notes that it may take days for withdrawal symptoms to appear in drug-addicted newborns. In contrast, alcohol-addicted babies may begin to experience withdrawal within 12 hours of birth. Medical professionals can assess the possibility of drug dependency in babies by evaluating criteria including birth weight, type of cry, tremors and sleep patterns. Some newborns may need to receive medication to ease withdrawal symptoms. The report argues that a plan to screen for drug- and alcohol-addicted infants should be instituted at every hospital nursery—and that with the growing number of babies affected, more research is needed to determine how best to wean newborns off their mothers' drugs.
People who use hard drugs into their 50s are five times likelier to die early than those who don’t, according to new evidence. Researchers at the University of Alabama examined data from a long-term Coronary Artery Risk Development In Young Adults (CARDIA) study. The project involved 4,300 men and women from Birmingham, Chicago, Minneapolis and Oakland. All were aged between 18 and 30 in 1985, and were monitored until 2006. Fourteen percent of them reported using "hard drugs" at least once, with half of them continuing well into middle age. “Most of the drug users in our study...were dabblers who just used a few days a month,” says study leader Stefan Kertesz, MD. “What we found is that middle-age adults who continue to dabble in hard drugs represent a group that is at risk of bad outcomes—which could include death from trauma, heart disease or other causes that are not a direct result of their drug use—at a higher rate than people who stopped using drugs." According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.4% of Americans aged 50-59 reported using a drug other than marijuana sometime in the last year, compared with only 7% of adults aged 35-49.
Though troubled Demi Moore’s location remains unknown after she checked out of a Los Angeles hospital for what appears to have been a drug scare, sources say she's skipping rehab and instead opting for "spiritual counseling." Details of the recently jilted 49-year-old's treatment haven't been disclosed, but Moore has been known to practice Kabbalah. MSN WonderWall notes that she began to turn to Kabbalah as her marriage to actor Ashton Kutcher deteriorated. There's wild speculation over what landed Moore in the hospital to begin with—it might have been whippets, energy drinks, Salvia, or designer drugs like K2 and Spice—though Moore’s publicist stubbornly maintains that exhaustion is the culprit. Film director and close friend Patty Jenkins insists that Moore is doing well. "Demi is awesome and so strong. I also hate when people make it a bigger drama than what is going on. She's great.”