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teenage wasteland

8/22/12 2:20pm

Teen Drinking and Smoking May Predict Rx Abuse

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Future pill poppers? Photo via

New research highlights a link between smoking and drinking in your teens, and painkiller abuse in adulthood. The Yale University study, to be published in the upcoming issue of Journal of Adolescent Health, collected data from 18-25 years olds, using the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2006-2008. Of the young adults surveyed, 12% said they were currently abusing prescription opioids—and of this group, 57% said they had abused alcohol as teens, 56% had smoked cigarettes, and 34% had used marijuana. “About 3.5 million young adults abuse prescription opioids, and this number is growing," says study lead author Dr. Lynn Fiellin, associate professor of medicine at Yale. Researchers also found that these correlative behaviors were different between genders: among women, only marijuana was linked to abusing prescription drugs later in life, whereas among men, cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana contributed to an increased risk of Rx abuse. The researchers note that the study shows a correlation—rather than proving a cause-and-effect relationship—between teen substance abuse and prescription drug abuse. 

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By Valerie Tejeda

chocoholism

8/22/12 1:13pm

Nancy Pelosi Is Powerless Over Chocolate

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For Pelosi, one is never enough. Photo via

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a chocoholic—calling herself "madly" obsessed—and her compulsion for cocoa is nothing to scoff at. "I don't know what it is. But some call it dedication, some call it an addiction, others call it an affliction," Pelosi says. She even describes eating chocolate ice cream while exercising—saying, "If you can't eat ice cream while you're doing it, why would you do it?"—and recalls downing an entire pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk while her driver waited to take her to a political event. She admits to often eating chocolate right before bed and waking up at 3 am with a sugar high, but the Democratic congresswoman seems far from willing to give up her vice—claiming that she relies on it to get through difficult career challenges. During a major 2009 debate—on health care, of all things—Pelosi admits to keeping Ghirardelli squares stashed in her office during pivotal meetings with Democratic lawmakers. After the bill passed in March 2010 and Pelosi was asked how she made it through the ordeal, she replied: "Chocolate. Very, very dark chocolate." And no one is pressuring her to quit anytime soon; in fact, Pelosi is surrounded by enablers on Capitol Hill, including POTUS himself—for her birthday two years ago, Obama gifted her with a box of dark chocolate with sea salt.

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By May Wilkerson

Sports

8/22/12 12:00pm

NASCAR Driver Returns After Heroin Recovery

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Will Fike race again? Photo via

NASCAR reinstated driver Aaron Fike yesterday, now that he's completed his recovery program for a heroin addiction. Fike was arrested in July 2007, while he was injecting himself in an amusement park parking lot. He avoided jail time by delivering anti-drug speeches at schools and race tracks, while also participating in NASCAR's Road to Recovery program. While NASCAR never actually caught Fike using drugs, he admitted in 2008 that he'd been a heroin user for eight months, and a painkiller addict for six years before that. In the weeks before his arrest, he was using heroin every day. His habits hadn't yet deprived him of professional success however: at the time, he was eighth in the Camping World Truck series standings. Fike's confession likely influenced NASCAR's decision to instate a random drug-testing policy in 2009—before that, drug tests were only conducted based on "reasonable suspicion." “I was able to race with it in my system, so [that policy] didn't work with me,” Fike said in an April 2008 interview. Now, the 29-year-old driver is eligible to race again, but he doesn't appear to have any sponsors yet. And he's not the only NASCAR driver in trouble for using drugs—A.J. Allmendinger is also in the recovery program after a drug test found amphetamine in his system this year. Three other drivers have been suspended since the random testing began, and none of them have returned to race.

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By Chrisanne Grise

teenage drug use

8/22/12 10:36am

Survey Shows Drug-Infested US High Schools

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Wishful thinking Photo via

American high school students say that around 17% of their peers use drugs, alcohol or cigarettes during the school day—a total of around 2.8 million teens—according to the 17th annual back-to-school teen drug-use survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substances Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia). Eighty-six percent of the high-schoolers surveyed confirm that this happens. And almost half of them know where to buy drugs at school. As for what's on offer, 91% of kids surveyed report cannabis for sale on school property, and 24% prescription drugs. Private high schools are also rapidly catching up with public ones: 54% of such students now say drugs are rampant at their schools—that's shot up from just 36% in 2011. 

Significantly, three-quarters of the 12-17-year-olds surveyed said coming across photos of other kids drinking or smoking on Facebook and other social networking sites encourages them to want to get high—and almost half the teens say they see photos of kids passed out or using drugs. Compared to kids who haven’t seen pictures like these, kids who have are four times likelier to have smoked cannabis, more than three times likelier to have drunk booze, and almost three times as likely to be cigarette smokers.

Those who conducted the survey say the lesson for parents is that they have to show their kids they clearly disapprove of drug-use and drinking, which counters one strain of conventional parental wisdom: “I can’t believe how many parents of our teens say they always thought that, if their kids were drinking at home, it was OK because it was under their own roof,” says Nicole Kurash, program director for inpatient adolescent programs at Gateway Rehabilitation. Emily Feinstein, CASA’s senior policy analyst and the report’s director, tells The Fix, “Parents need to say they don’t want their kids to drink because it’s illegal and bad for them. They need to start talking to their children early—by the time they’re 7 or 8—about what’s going on in their lives.” Feinstein emphasizes that teenage brains are more vulnerable than adults’ to the effects of drugs and alcohol.

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By Jennifer Matesa

Headlines

8/22/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: August 22, 2012

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The Florida teen likely wishes he could have
transformed into someone more sober.
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By Bryan Le

college Drinking

8/21/12 5:01pm

WVU Earns "Top Party School" Title

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WVU students celebrating their win.
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West Virginia University has been crowned the number one party school of 2013 by The Princeton Review—claiming the title for a third time after taking top "honors" in 1997 and 2007—and WVU administrators are not enthused. “If you look at the schools on this list, they are mostly large, public universities with strong academic and research profiles, as well as highly successful athletic programs. But in the big picture, clearly this list has no real credibility,” says WVU spokeswoman Becky Lofstead. “As always, we focus on celebrating and supporting WVU’s long history of academic achievements. Our students, faculty, alumni, parents and friends have made it clear that is their focus as well.” Whatever the focus really is, the students have demonstrated a laser-like determination to party judging by the laundry list of police citations issued during move-in weekend alone: 100 underage drinking violations, 39 open container violations, 11 “nuisance parties,” seven citations of disorderly conduct, five citations of obstructing an officer, two citations of battery of an officer and three citations for drunk driving. And all of these went down between Friday and Sunday before classes began on Monday. The city of Morgantown also reports it responded to 115 WVU fires last semester alone. Although its ranking may enhance WVU's appeal to graduating high school freshman with a penchant for booze and pyromania, parents may be pushing their kids towards Utah's Brigham Young University, which has earned the title of Top Stone-Cold Sober School for the fifteenth year in a row.

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By Bryan Le

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