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teenage wasteland

5/09/12 10:31am

Painkiller Epidemic Doesn't Spare Teens

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Many teens get the pills leftover from family
members. Photo via

As many as one in eight US teens has taken pain killers with out a prescription, and many abuse these drugs at a much younger age than previously thought, according to a new survey asking young people about their use of opioids (oxycontin, codeine, and other prescription painkillers). Of the 7,400 students surveyed, 13% admitted to using prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons: either self-prescribing for pain, or to get high. "The non-medical use of controlled medications in (teens) has surpassed almost all illicit drugs except for marijuana," said Dr. Robert Fortuna, pediatrician from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "It's just an alarming trend." Many teens surveyed had been prescribed pills for pain management in the past, and were misusing leftover pills for recreation. Others may have been given the pills by friends or family members who had been prescribed the drugs. Many teens who had misused opioids said they began as early as 16 or 17 years old, which is younger than previous research stated; this data indicates that anti-drug programs may need to target kids at younger ages—beginning freshman or sophomore years of high school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 14,800 Americans died from painkiller overdoses in 2008, a rate which has tripled within 10 years.

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

5/09/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: May 9th, 2012

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Beer-stealing and bar-cruising
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By Reina Berger

pain game

5/08/12 4:39pm

ER "Toothache" Pain 'Scripts Surge

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Doctors are caught between rock and a
hard place. Photo via

Dental patients in emergency rooms are fairly common, and with a new report from the National Institutes of Health showing that painkiller prescriptions for dental patients increased 26% in ER visits between 1997-2007, doctors now face a huge challenge: determining which dental patients complain of tooth pain as a ruse to get narcotics. According to a new analysis of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, painkillers were prescribed in three out of four visits to the emergency department for dental complaints during the survey period. “The overuse of narcotics is a huge problem, and when a patient presents, especially for dental pain, it’s difficult to make an objective assessment,” says Dr. Gail D'Onofrio, chairwoman of the emergency medicine department at Yale School of Medicine. “It puts the physician in a difficult situation to assess whether or not someone truly needs pain medications. We err on the side of treating pain, and it is a huge potential for abuse.” Doctors also say time pressures and heavy patient loads prevent them from using state drug monitoring programs to see whether a patient has recently received painkillers. But some states are looking into ways to crack down on this problem. Ohio Governor John Kasich announced guidelines on Monday to limit the number of pills ER doctors can prescribe—including no longer prescribing painkillers to patients seeking treatment for chronic pain, and limiting prescriptions to a three-day window.

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By McCarton Ackerman

monkey business

5/08/12 3:45pm

Manic Marmoset Leads Cops to Owner's Stash

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Too much monkey business. Photo via

A North Carolina man came home to find a surprise waiting for him: his tiny pet monkey had led the cops to his stash of drugs. His monkey—a squirrel-sized marmoset named Couscous—raised a ruckus after it escaped the house and bit three people in the neighborhood. Officers tracked the pesky primate back to the residence of its owner, 40-year-old Charles Winecoff; it was while cornering the animal that they discovered their haul: three pounds of marijuana, mushrooms, hashish, ecstasy and lots of paraphernalia. Winecoff has been charged with multiple drug-related charges, and his drugs, paraphernalia and monkey have been seized. Unfortunately, things look set to go even worse for Couscous: officials decided to "euthanize" the illegally-owned marmoset—a decision made because of the possibility of rabies and the lack of an effective vaccine, rather than to placate the three bitten individuals.

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By Bryan Le

social media addiction

5/08/12 2:30pm

Are You Addicted to Facebook?

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Status: addicted Photo via

Think you're a Facebook addict? Researchers from the University of Bergen have developed a method to determine whether your online behavior is normal or not. The study, headed by psychology professor Cecilie Schou Andreassen, examined the online habits of 227 female and 196 male students and found the indicators of Facebook addiction to be very similar to those of drug and alcohol abuse. They also found that the women were more at risk of developing a Facebook addiction than men. The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale test—similar to the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, developed by the same group last month—asks participants to answer "very rarely, rarely, sometimes, often, or very often" to six different statements. The scale draws on six core elements of addiction: salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict and relapse. 

How often do these statements apply to you?

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
  • You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
  • You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
  • You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
  • You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
  • You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.


If you answered "often" or "very often" on four or more of these questions, you may have a Facebook addiction, according to the researchers. And if you're dicing with a cocktail of social media, God help you.

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By Chrisanne Grise

questionable parenting

5/08/12 1:15pm

Parents Cuffed for Allowing Teen Drinking Party

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Breezy Point, Queens, where "anything goes."
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When a student of New York's prestigious Poly Prep Country Day School threw a raucous party at his home in Breezy Point, Queens, on Saturday, it was his parents who ended up getting hauled away in handcuffs. Cops arrived at the scene to find "numerous minors" drinking with adults; two teens were hospitalized for alcohol abuse, and Anthony and Claire E. Reyes—aged 56 and 46—were arrested and charged with 10 counts each of endangering a child under 17. The arrests have sent shockwaves through the tight-knit, affluent communities of Rockaway Peninsula, where letting teens drink under supervision is fairly common. “The way [parents] operate is, ‘I’d rather they drink in front of me,’” says Mike Schramm, editor of The Rockaway Point News. “It’s against the law, of course, but I have a 7-year-old daughter and I don’t know if when she’s 16, 17, I’d want her drinking out in the dark on the beach.” Some Breezy Point residents, preferring to remain anonymous, call this a “stupid mentality” that is “teaching kids the wrong lessons," and leaving kids' safety in the hands of the community's private security forces. Many parents in New York's private school community have also expressed support for the Reyes' arrests, hoping that they serve as a warning to parents who let their kids drink at home. But other local residents are surprised: one neighbor said the party "sounded like innocent fun," while another adds,"It was just a party. They’re wonderful people. The kids go to Poly Prep, a beautiful school.”

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By May Wilkerson

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