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pregnant smokers

5/10/12 12:40pm

SAMHSA Tracks Pregnant Smoking by Race

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The dangers are colorblind. Photo via

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) tracks smoking and substance use by pregnant women of different racial backgrounds. But why? “Pregnant women of different races and ethnicities may have diverse patterns of substance abuse," says SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. "It is essential that we use the findings from this report to develop better ways of getting this key message out to every segment of our community so that no woman or child is endangered by substance use and abuse.” The resulting report found that one in five white women smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days of their pregnancy: 21.8% of pregnant white women reported smoking cigarettes, far higher than the levels among pregnant black women (14.8%) and pregnant hispanic women (6.5%). However, the data suggested that illicit drug use among pregnant black women was significantly higher (7.7%) than in pregnant white women (4.4%) and pregnant hispanic women (3.1%). And while pregnant black and white women reported roughly the same amount of alcohol use during their pregnancy (12.8% and 12.2%), both those figures were significantly higher than those reported by pregnant hispanic women (7.4%). The findings came from the analysis of data from SAMHSA's 2002-2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health—an annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country who are over the age of 12.

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By McCarton Ackerman

big pharma

5/10/12 11:45am

Senate Investigates Rx Drug Conspiracy

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The less people know, the more they sell.
Photo via

Some big pharma companies might be in cahoots with "non-profit" medical groups that advocate increased prescription opioid use, and a US Senate panel is determined to sniff it out. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus believe that allied groups and drug makers may be behind a suspicious marketing ploy that might be responsible for a large increase in deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses. "These painkillers have an important role in health care when prescribed and used properly,” Baucus says. “But pushing misinformation on consumers to boost profits is not only wrong, it's dangerous." Grassley and Baucus have sent letters to the drug makers—Johnson & Johnson, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma—and seven medical groups, asking for financial record documents. Investigators hope to find if, and which, medical groups have been receiving financial support from manufacturers for promoting misleading information about opioids. "There is growing evidence pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and market opioids may be responsible, at least in part, for this evidence by promoting misleading information," Baucus and Grassley write in their letters. One of the groups under investigation, the American Pain Foundation, was found to have printed guides for patients, policymakers and journalists that falsely advertised the benefits and downplayed the dangers of opioid painkillers.

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By Valerie Tejeda

celebrity rehab

5/10/12 10:57am

Rihanna Hospitalized for "Exhaustion"

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Does Rihanna need R&R? Or rehab?
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Most people don't go to the hospital for being really, really tired—and yet many celebrities end up in the ER for "exhaustion." Pop super-star Rihanna is the latest to suffer this all-too-familiar plague (past sufferers have included Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore and Amy Winehouse). The singer's erratic behavior, and most recent hospitalization for "exhaustion" have added to speculation that she may be struggling with a substance abuse problem. On Monday night, she was rushed to a hospital in New York after allegedly partying a little too hard at the Met Gala. After tweeting a photo of herself receiving IV fluids, she claimed she was being treated for dehydration and the flu, but sources close to the star are claiming that the only illness she is suffering from is addiction. “Rihanna loves to party but this past month she's gotten really out of control,” an insider told Star Magazine. “She's been drinking almost everyday and talking about smoking weed a lot too.” The singer has been fairly open and unapologetic about her wild side, and has been known to tweet photos of herself drinking, smoking pot, and visiting strip clubs. “Everyone is telling her to slow down and think about therapy, or even rehab,” said the anonymous source. This past weekend, Rihanna's behavior rankled Saturday Night Live producers when she failed to show up for dress rehearsal claiming she was sick, and then showed up for the taping in seemingly good health. This isn’t the first time Rihanna has need an IV due to exhaustion and dehydration; back in October of 2011, the singer tweeted another of picture of herself hooked up to an IV in Sweden. Famed celebrity addiction specialist Dr. Drew recently came down hard on the media and "spin doctors" for using the "exhaustion" and "dehydration" excuse to cover up the reality of addiction

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

5/10/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: May 10, 2012

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All MMJ dispensaries within 1000 feet of
schools were shut down. Photo via

By Bryan Le

Drug War

5/09/12 4:36pm

Drug War Claims Lives of Mexican Journalists, Too

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The May 5th vigil in Mexico City was both a
memorial and a protest. Photo via

A ceremony has been held in Mexico City to commemorate the Mexican journalists who have lost their lives while covering their country's drug war—and to protest violence against the press. The crowd chanted, "He shouldn't have died" as each name was called. Four more reporters and photographers were killed last week in Veracruz—a violence-riddled region in Eastern Mexico—and at least 45 journalists have died or gone missing since 2006, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. In latest round of killings, Regina Martinez, a respected investigative reporter, was found murdered in her home. "[Martinez] gave voice to the vulnerable, to indigenous people and to the oppressed" says a Veracruz-based reporter who asked to remain anonymous. He says that fear of cartel retaliation limits many journalists from reporting truthfully: "The situation of journalism in Veracruz has reached very high levels of fear. Perhaps it's safer for reporters to become like speaker cabinets that only say what others tell us. And we never investigate." Mexico did create a special prosecutor to protect journalists, but journalism advocate Rogelio Hernandez claims it is under-funded and futile: "They have demonstrated total inefficiency, ineffectiveness and ignorance." Last week, Mexican Congress approved a bill to protect journalists and human rights defenders by using rapid response teams to move threatened journalists to safety, among other actions. Over 50,000 Mexican lives have been reportedly lost to organized crime since 2006—according to journalists.

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By May Wilkerson

Drunk driving

5/09/12 2:39pm

Ex-Miss USA Gets Probation for DUI

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A sobering court appearance for Rima Fakih
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Two years after being crowned the first Arab-American Miss USA, 26-year-old Rima Fakih has been sentenced to 20 hours of community service, six months’ probation, and $600 in fines for drunk driving. She was able to get out of jail time by pleading no contest to driving while under the influence in the suburbs of Detroit back in December. That night, she was driving 60 mph in a 30 mph zone, and swerving through traffic, before being pulled over in Highland Park. Officers found an opened Champagne bottle inside of her 2011 Jaguar. The former Miss Michigan claimed on the night of her arrest that she hadn't been drinking. But breathalyzer tests put her blood alcohol level at 0.19—more than double the legal limit. Her lawyer, W. Otis Culpepper, accurately predicted her probation sentence, which she'll be permitted to serve in California while looking for jobs in the entertainment industry. He says that Fakih will then “get back to California and get on with being a Hollywood kind of person”.

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By Reina Berger

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