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Prescription drug ODs

7/05/12 10:18am

One Third of Painkiller Deaths Involve Methadone

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Use with (great) care. Photo via

One third of prescription painkiller deaths in the US involve the drug methadone, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Methadone is best know for its use as a prescribed treatment for heroin addicts. But it's also prescribed to treat pain—and most of the deaths it causes are among these pain patients, rather than addicts in recovery programs. The figures are startling: although methadone represents only 2% of US painkiller prescriptions, it accounts for over 30% of prescription painkiller OD deaths. The report also shows that methadone deaths have been rising: six times as many people died from ODs in 2009 than in 1999—although better news is that the death rate seems to have peaked in 2007. "There are many safer alternatives to methadone for chronic non-cancer pain." says CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. According his agency, one problem is that methadone is often prescribed incorrectly by doctors who aren't skilled in the area of pain management. The CDC suggests that insurance companies should stop listing methadone as a preferred pain drug, and that doctors should start screening patents for substance abuse problems before they prescribe it.

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

7/05/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: July 5, 2012

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Under fire: Dr. Drew Pinsky
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By Chrisanne Grise

Celebrity Tokers

7/03/12 4:52pm

Oliver Stone Says Marijuana "Humanized" Him

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Oliver stoned in Vietnam?
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Filmmaker Oliver Stone is taking yet another potentially controversial stance, this time in full support of marijuana. On the eve of his latest flick Savages being released, the two-time Oscar winning director and producer graced the cover of the most recent issue of High Times magazine—and in an interview, speaks about his own marijuana use and how it helped him through serving in the Vietnam War, where he was twice wounded. "When I was in Vietnam, [pot] made the difference between being human and being a beast," he said in an interview with CBS This Morning. "There were a lot of guys who were drinking and doing a lot of the killing that was so unnecessary and raping. The guys who did dope were much more conscious of the value of life." His film Savages—featuring a star-studded cast including Salma Hayek and John Travolta—tells the story of two marijuana growers who share a friend that is kidnapped, forcing them to confront a Mexican drug cartel in order to rescue her. Stone even headed to Mexico to do research for the film where he says he met a few prominent figures in the drug underworld. "Benicio (Del Toro) and I hung out with some pretty heavy people on the other side of the border," he says. "Don Winslow knows that world because he's written other books about the subject." Stone has been known to raise some eyebrows—he directed a sympathetic Fidel Castro in the 2003 movie Comandante and portrayed a far less-sympathetic former President George W. Bush in W.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Eating Disorders

7/03/12 3:12pm

Kids Battle Eating Disorders Ever-Younger

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Already looking to slim down.
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Parents may want to consider throwing out the bathroom scale, because the number of children suffering from unhealthy body image and eating disorders seems to be increasing. Approximately 80% of all 10-year-old girls have dieted at least once, says shocking new data released by the Keep It Real Campaign, an alliance of groups looking to improve body image issues in young adults. The "Eating Disorders Today—Not Just a Girl Thing" study also found that 53% of 13-year-old girls have issues with how their bodies look, compared to 78% of 17-year-old girls. Between 40 to 60% of children ages 6 to 12 are worried about their weight, and 70% would like to lose some pounds. “It’s bad out there, it’s brutal, it’s hard…[and] we’re seeing it younger and younger,” says Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eat Disorders Association (NEDA). “I’ve seen a girl as young as eight years old on a feeding tube. It’s a serious problem.” In the US, as many as 10 million women and one million men are struggling with an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia—and millions more are struggling with a binge eating disorder, claims research by NEDA. “It starts in the home. Magazines are lying around family’s houses…and at newsstands and check-out counters,” says Amy Zucchero, campaign director for Miss Representation. “You can’t go to the grocery store without seeing an altered picture of a woman.” In order to combat these statistics, the Keep It Real Campaign is asking beauty magazines to include at least one unretouched photo in their issues each month. But most importantly, parents should be involved with their children. "Parents need...to encourage healthy relationships with food, and make eating together a time of sharing, not a time of talking about grams or calories," says Grefe. "We come in different shapes and sizes."

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By Chrisanne Grise

Latin America

7/03/12 2:13pm

Colombia Decriminalizes Cocaine and Pot

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Under 20 grams means treatment, not jail.
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Colombia's Constitutional Court has approved the government's plan to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cocaine and marijuana for personal use. Anyone caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana or one gram of cocaine may receive physical or psychological treatment, but cannot be detained or prosecuted. The decision represents a shift in direction for Colombian drug policy—and the national perception of drug users—under President Juan Manuel Santos. The ruling also represents the growing trend of a Latin American rejection of US-back drug war. The government in Uruguay is seeking to regulate and sell pot while numerous Central American leaders, including Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, also support the decriminalization of all drugs. Portugal, which decriminalized drug possession in 2001, still stands out as the model for the implementation of such policies.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Corporal Punishment

7/03/12 1:11pm

Can Spanking Lead to Addiction?

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A future addict? Photo via

Spanking, slapping or hitting your kids may increase their risk of developing substance dependence or abuse and other mental disorders in adulthood, according to a recent study from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Researchers noted that the relationship between child abuse and mental disorders in adulthood has been well-established, but the effects of milder forms of punishments—like spanking—have long been disputed. This study, led by Dr. Tracie Afifi, was adjusted so as to exclude any victims of full-blown abuse or neglect—ultimately narrowing down to a pool of 20,607 random participants from a range of backgrounds. Participants were asked: "as a child how often were you ever pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped or hit by your parents or any adult living in your house?" Of the study participants, 5.9% reported physical punishment—they were dispropotionately likely to be black males with a history of family disfunction. The findings revealed that those who had been spanked as a child were at a 59% higher risk of alcohol abuse or dependence, and a 53% higher risk of drug abuse or dependence; they were also at a greater risk for major depression, mania and anxiety and mood disorders. According to Afifi and colleagues, the findings "prove evidence that harsh physical punishment independent of child maltreatment is related to mental disorders."

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By Gabrielle Wuhl

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