Camera phones have been used in a recent experiment to check up on the prescribed pill-popping of meth-addicts. Researchers for the American Society of Addiction Medicine provided 20 patients with camera-equipped cell-phones. The participants were asked to snap themselves with modafinil capsule in hand every time they were about to take a dose of the drug, which is used to treat meth-dependence. They then had to email the photo to the research center. The results of this approach were compared with two other patient compliance methods: Medication Event Monitoring Systems (MEMS)—a system that detects when a pill bottle is opened using an attached electronic recording device—and the simple practice of counting pills at each health visit. At fist glance, the results suggest that technology doesn't always mean "advanced": pill-counting showed a 95% compliance rate, MEMS showed 94%, and camera phones just 77%. But of course, there are always factors in play that can skew such outcomes. The researchers believe the cell phone approach underestimates adherence, while the MEMS method inflates its score compliance rate: "MEMS overestimation could be explained by subjects opening the bottle without taking a pill, while the photograph underestimation could be explained by subjects failing to send a photograph.” It's not exactly rocket-science, but overall the study, due to appear in September's Journal of Addiction Medicine, deems the new approach successful: “Camera-equipped cell phones provide a useful and cost-effective approach for monitoring compliance with recommended treatment.” Just as long as users don't join the growing ranks of cell phone addicts reported elsewhere.
Outstanding cornerback Cliff Harris of the Oregon Ducks college team was caught driving at 118 mph at 4:30 am in a car that stank of marijuana back in June—but star-struck state troopers told the 20-year-old that he "nailed" the impairment test. The vehicle also contained quarterback Darron Thomas and two other men. Dashboard footage just released by state police shows an officer approaching the vehicle and asking a series of questions, as the fug within hits his nostrils. "Who's got the marijuana in the car?" receives the unpromising answer, "We smoked it all." "I don't know if I believe that," the cop retorts. He later says to one of the vehicle's four occupants, "I can tell you've been smoking," and "I smelled the marijuana strong." At 5:30 on the video Harris gets out of the car, which was rented by his girlfriend. He admits smoking pot, but only "a long time ago," and is required to follow a pen with his eyes before executing an elaborate small-step routine. "You're very athletic," says the approving officer, who acknowledges that he got the moves "spot-on." Since the car also didn't appear out of control, Harris escaped with just a speeding ticket—and a $1600 fine, which his family later paid. But he'll also have to sit out his team's first game of the new season as a result of the incident. "There's no more marijuana in this car?" inquires the trooper at the end of the tape. "So if I search it I'm not going to find anything?" He seems satisfied with the answer, "No."
- Oxycodone Toll in Florida Spotlights Prescription Drug Dangers [CBS News]
- Cigarette Companies File 2nd Suit Over Warnings [New York Times]
- Treatment for Addiction is Bringing Drug Use Down, Not Pushing It Up [The Guardian]
- 54% of Users "Addicted" to Social Networks [TechCrunch.com]
- Woman Faces 10 Years for Stealing $1.50 Can of Beer [Newser]
- Man, Woman Charged with Trying to Smuggle Drugs in Bible [Washington Post]
- Boulder DA Dropping Animal Cruelty Charges After No Trace of Heroin Found in Cat [Daily Camera]
Not surprisingly, many underage New York City kids drink, reveals a new study, but oddly they drink less than their counterparts because apparently, the range of urban activities on offer in Manhattan reduces the rate. One third of the city's 14 to 20-year-olds currently consume alcohol—defined as having at least one drink in the last 30 days. And 44% of these young drinkers admitted to binging—five or more drinks at one sitting—within that time-frame, according to the Orwellian-sounding NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Cause for concern, perhaps, but it may surprise some that the rate of underage drinking in NYC is well below that of the US as a whole: 42% of the nation's youth are on the booze compared with 32% in the Big Apple. So why is this? Yesterday's New York Post reported: “Research demonstrates that the diverse, vibrant environments (arts, sports, other cultural activities) of urban landscapes such as NYC appear to reduce the likelihood of youth initiation to or use of psychoactive substances, such as alcohol and drugs.” The study also supported alcohol's credentials as a "gateway drug." Of the adolescents who 'fessed up to drinking, 35% also reported smoking marijuana, while just 5% of their sober counterparts admitted to using pot. Additionally, 9% of current drinkers have taken cocaine, 11% have tried ecstasy, and 6% have used methamphetamine. Fewer than 1% of non-drinkers have used those “harder” substances.
A police force in prime hillbilly-heroin country is asking its community for clues on how prescription drugs get into the hands of non-legitimate users, it was reported yesterday. In response to increasing numbers of deaths from prescription drug abuse—including that of a 13-year-old this year—a Surry County, North Carolina, task force has designed an online survey, with the chance to win a $25 gift card for those who participate. It asks locals how they dispose of extra prescription drugs, whether they would notice drugs missing from their homes, and whether they know how to help people who are abusing prescription drugs. Police in Mt. Airy, NC, decided to spearhead the task force after the amount of prescription drugs they seized in arrests more than doubled—officers seized 2,055 dosage units last year, compared to 908 in 2009. They especially want to know how three classes of drugs come to be abused: Opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin, hydrocodone, Percocet and methadone; benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium; and stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin. “We’ve got a lot of statistics about the magnitude of the problem,” said city police Lt. Jim Armbrister, “but where does the public stand?” The task force includes the county EMS, the county hospital and elected officials, as well as other law enforcement groups in the area.
The title of Britain's Biggest Boozer takes some winning in a nation well-known for its love-affair with the bottle. But beer-swilling Dawn Marsden has become tabloid-fodder for her sterling efforts. The 31-year-old mother from northern England "spends all day drinking cheap lager at home," but sidelines as a persistent shoplifter on her rare forays into the outside world. She admitted last week to stealing ten packs of bacon in order to sell them at £1 each to support her alcohol habit. The befuddled Brit, who "should be dead," according to experts cited by The Sun, downs enough booze in a single day—up to 28 pints of beer—to hit the UK government's recommended limit for women for an entire month. "You may have noticed my client has a drink problem," defense counsel John Relton deadpanned to a court in Hartlepool—a town that has recently tried to fight alcohol sales to under-18s with an innovative system of placing stickers on drinks in liquor stores. He continued, "She tells me on occasion she will drink up to 16 liters a day. She has a longstanding appetite for alcohol. It is something she is seeking advice upon and getting help." Marsden was so drunk during her hearing that she had to ask reporters afterwards to confirm her sentence—after somehow pleading guilty, she received a six-month conditional discharge, which she promptly denounced as a "sham." Her two-year-old daughter had already been taken into foster care. British addiction counselor Dr. Robert Lefever warned that Marsden is at risk of dying from withdrawal if she stops too suddenly: "The reason she isn't [dead] is that she has trained her body by drinking every day." The inebriated bacon-thief has looked to the future and declared on Sunday, "I'm going to detox next month."