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prescription drug abuse

6/15/12 10:50am

Stressed Students Abuse Painkillers to Cope

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Stress can make self-medication tempting.
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Painkiller abuse on campus is increasingly linked with depression and suicide risk among college students, a new study reveals. Western Illinois University Department of Health Sciences Assistant Professor Amanda Divin and her colleague Keith Zullig surveyed 26,600 randomly-selected college students from 40 US campuses. They found that 13% of the students who used non-medical prescription drugs also had feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts, and that female students were particularly vulnerable. The study—which will be published in the Addictive Behaviors journal in August—suggests that students may be self-medicating distress caused by study pressures or new-found independence with painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin. “I first got into taking painkillers after I got depressed when I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with my life and felt like I had no direction,” one female college student tells The Fix. “Those pills were the only thing that got me through some hard times, and they were very easy to find.”

“I saw many of my friends taking painkillers like me, and I’ll be honest, those were some dark times,” she continues. “I think that if depression and things like that were more openly talked about, it could help students seek help instead of taking drugs.” Many college campuses do offer counseling for depression, and some are even starting to offer rehabilitation and “sober houses” for addicts. But despite such resources, many students continue to self-medicate."Considering how common prescription sharing is on college campuses and the prevalence of mental health issues during the college years, more investigation in this area is definitely warranted," says Divin. "Our study is just one of the many first steps in exploring the relationship between non-medical prescription drug use and mental health." Our student source is now in better shape: “I’m glad I’m not taking Vicodin every day to deal with my depression like I used to,” she says. “Now, I’m on antidepressants...but I know many other students that aren’t that should be.”

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

6/15/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: June 15, 2012

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Have arrests like these led to a drop in
violence? Photo via

By Bryan Le

drug life

6/14/12 5:52pm

Cat Marnell Quits Job to Pursue Drugs

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Marnell in her new full-time position.
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No cubicle can contain free spirit/drug addict/beauty blogger and part-time vampire Cat Marnell. The health and beauty columnist for the website xoJane.com and self-professed drug addict has left her job, reportedly over her refusal to get clean. Marnell has written openly about her drug use in her blog for the magazine, while garnering a community of loyal followers who relish her unique mix of confessional ramblings and beauty tips. She was recently profiled by New York Magazine, defending her druggy lifestyle the day before her employers ordered her to rehab. According to sources, Marnell has continued to take drugs—even showing up to work high. “I’m always on drugs,” she tells the NY Post in an email. “Look, I couldn’t spend another summer meeting deadlines behind a computer at night when I could be on the rooftop of Le Bain looking for shooting stars and smoking angel dust with my friends and writing a book, which is what I’m doing next." Marnell seems optimistic and unflagging about her career change, claiming nine-to-fives are no place for junkies. "Drug addicts undeniably bring editorial black magic to the table like nobody else, but obviously we make the worst staffers. [...] We can fake it [for a time] ...before we turn into coddled emotional vampire nightmares.”

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By May Wilkerson

drug legalization

6/14/12 4:48pm

Canadian Health Chief Condones "Safe" Ecstasy Use

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Ecstasy: safe for adults? Photo via

British Columbia’s top health official claims there's no agony in a little ecstasy—as long as you use it responsibly. According to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall, the risks of MDMA—the pure form of the street drug ecstasy—are largely exaggerated. Kendall even advocates that MDMA be legalized and sold through licensed, government-run stores for those who use the drug for non-recreational purposes. He calls the issue a "political, perceptual one," pointing out that “we accept the fact that alcohol, which is inherently dangerous, is a product over a certain age that anybody can access." However, Kendall doesn't back the drug as sold on the street, and cautions: "Unless you are getting [MDMA] from a psychiatrist in a legitimate clinical trial, you can't guarantee what's in it, how much of it there is, or its safety—don't take it.” Not all officials are willing to condone "safe" ecstasy use. Sargent Duncan Pound says "We would view ecstasy as extremely dangerous," and says that law enforcement doesn't distinguish between MDMA and street ecstasy, "not only given the fact that it's very hard to determine what might be in any given tablet, but the fact that there's such an individual reaction to those tablets." According to Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, even small doses of MDMA can have side-effects which include sweating, teeth grinding, anxiety, nausea and convulsions—but most deaths from ecstasy are the result of dehydration and overheating among young people who take the drug at nightclubs. Pound says that nearly 20 British Columbians who consume street ecstasy die each year.

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By Gabrielle Wuhl

Shopping Addiction

6/14/12 3:41pm

Confessions of a Shopaholic Bank Robber

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Neilly: Breaking bad, looking good. Photo via

A serial bank robber has confessed to stealing money in order to subsidize his shopping addiction—as evidenced by the sleek Burberry ensemble he was wearing during his most recent heist. Cornell Neilly, 21, began his spree in April, relieving a Midtown Sovereign Bank of $2,320 while clad in a humbler outfit of baseball cap, jeans and a leather jacket. But by the end of May, the shopaholic was sticking up in style, copping cash from a few more banks in a new $250 shirt. “He used the money to buy expensive clothes, $400 sneakers, a Burberry shirt,” says a source. By the time he was caught on Tuesday, Neilly was practically a career criminal—he'd robbed 14 banks and made away with more than $7,100 in cash over the course of four months, before police finally nabbed him in late May. He was picked out of a lineup by 12 witnesses and police found his fingerprints at the crime scenes; he was held last night in place of $500,000 bail. Although his attire was casual at the time of his arrest, his robbery regalia reportedly left a lasting impression on those involved in the case. “It looks like a fashion story Burberry dreamed up to go viral,” says Paper magazine’s editorial director, Mickey Boardman. “He’s not as chic as Patty Hearst—the chicest wanted felon in history. But he’s in second place.” Neilly has previously served time in prison for selling drugs.

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By Bryan Le

Ask Jane

6/14/12 2:45pm

Video: Jane Velez-Mitchell Talks Charlie Sheen

Q: Charlie Sheen has come out and suggested he regrets his past excesses. Do you think he might benefit from doing the 12 Steps?

[Jane is now exclusively answering your questions about addiction, recovery and the like. Send your questions to janevelezmitchell@thefix.com.]

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By Jane Velez-Mitchell

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