The first reported case of internet addiction disorder has been treated, according to a new study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
The patient’s addiction to Google Glass surfaced when the man, a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman, checked into the Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Program (SARP) for alcoholism treatment in September 2013. It was noted that he “exhibited significant frustration and irritability related to not being able to use his Google Glass.” The Navy's 35-day residential treatment requires patients to avoid addictive behaviors including consuming alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. Electronic devices are also not allowed.
Withdrawing from using the device was more difficult for the patient than abstaining from alcohol, according to Dr. Andrew Doan, head of addictions and resilience research with SARP and co-author of the paper on the patient. “He said the Google Glass withdrawal was greater than the alcohol withdrawal he was experiencing,” Doan said.
In the beginning of his treatment, the patient suffered from “involuntary movements to the temple area and short-term memory problems.” In the two months since he bought the device, he had also begun experiencing dreams as if viewed through the device’s small window. Doctors noticed the patient repeatedly tapping his right temple with his index finger, an involuntary mimic of the motion used to switch on the device. The man had been using the device for around 18 hours a day, removing it only to sleep and wash.
Internet addiction disorder is not recognized as a clinical diagnosis in the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the official reference guide to the field. But Doan believes internet addiction is real, and it is only a matter of time before research and treatment catch up.
“People used to believe alcoholism wasn’t a problem—they blamed the person or the people around them,” he said. “It’s just going to take a while for us to realize that this is real.”
According to the study, the patient “has a history of a mood disorder most consistent with a substance induced hypomania overlaying a depressive disorder, anxiety disorder with characteristics of social phobia and obsessive compulsive disorder, and severe alcohol and tobacco use disorders.”
After the patient’s residential treatment, he noticed a reduction in irritability and the involuntary movements to his temple, as well as improvements in his short-term memory and clarity of thought processes. However, the dreams about looking through the device’s lens continued. He was released and referred to a 12-step program for his alcohol abuse issues.
“There’s nothing inherently bad about Google Glass,” Doan told The Guardian, describing the danger of being so exposed to the neurological reward of using the device. “It’s just that there is very little time between these rushes. So for an individual who’s looking to escape, for an individual who has underlying mental dysregulation, for people with a predisposition for addiction, technology provides a very convenient way to access these rushes.”
“[T]he danger with wearable technology is that you're allowed to be almost constantly in the closet, while appearing like you’re present in the moment,” he added.
While habitual drug offenders typically find themselves in and out of jail cells, Portland’s “re-entry court” program provides a path to sobriety and freedom to those inmates willing to work for it.
Through court supervision and support, Portland’s re-entry program helps convicted drug and alcohol abusers change their harmful behaviors and reintegrate into society. The program has found great success and nearly 105 participants have successfully graduated since its inception nine years ago.
The demands on the participants are rigorous. Those in the program are required to submit to drug tests whenever the court orders them and failing to comply results in an automatic positive. Participants must also attend sobriety meetings, find a job, and perform community service. But those willing to stick with it are rewarded with a one-year reduction of supervised release.
Richard Pitts, 46, recently graduated from the program and walked out of court without a prison sentence for the first time in more than 30 years last Thursday. Pitts, who has been in and out of prison on drug-related charges since he was 14-years-old, says he now feels like he has a “fresh start.”
These programs have been largely successful and have spread not just across the country, but around the world. Shannon Carey, an expert in drug-court programs, says this feat is in large part due to extensive research. “They are popular because there has been an enormous amount of research and evaluation that shows that they work,” Carey said. “Drug courts have been successful at stopping that revolving door for the majority of offenders that enter these programs.”
Now a free man, Pitts appreciates the program and those who helped him. “If you don’t give up, they won’t give up,” Pitts said. “I can be successful in life.”
Researchers in Australia are hoping a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children between the ages of 6 and 18 can also help wean addicts off methamphetamine.
Substituting meth with lisdexamfetamine channels the same kind of principle used with nicotine replacement for the treatment of nicotine dependence, as well as methadone treatment for heroin users, said Dr. Nadine Ezard, an associate professor at St. Vincent’s Clinical School. “It does something very similar to the body that methamphetamine does, but not the same,” Ezard said.
With lisdexamfetamine, users experience fewer positive drug-like effects, and the drug is slower acting. “People can take this drug once a day; it has a slow onset across the whole day,” Ezard said.
St. Vincent’s Hospital currently offers the drug as a last resort measure to treat a small number of meth users, who attend the hospital for daily doses, which are monitored because improper use can provide meth-like highs.
The researchers are hoping that higher doses of up to 250 milligrams per day of the ADHD drug will help meth addicts control cravings, but how safe it is to use these dose levels is yet unknown. The drug’s effect on meth addicts will be monitored during a 14-week trial program at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Newcastle Private Hospital to determine whether it can actually reduce cravings.
While the overall rate of reported drug use in the American workplace has fallen, the presence of heroin and other opioids is still on the rise, and it’s hurting more than just the users.
Employers across the nation are struggling with the effects of heroin in the workplace. An increasing number of workers are using on the job, and companies are suffering from lower productivity and higher turnover, not to mention an increase in accident rates.
According to research conducted by Quest Diagnostics, the overall rate of workers who tested positive for drugs declined by 18% from 2003 to 2013, but the positive rate for heroin rose by a staggering 82% from 2010 to 2013.
Mark Jurman, a plant manager at a piston factory in Marinette, Wis., said heroin use at his factory was so prominent that local drug dealers often lingered in the parking lot, waiting to sell to employees during their shift changes. “Our parking lot was seen as one of the best places in town to buy drugs,” Jurman said.
In parts of Ohio and Indiana, companies reported that many of the workers involved in work-related accidents later tested positive for heroin or other opioids. But they’re having difficulty filling vacant positions, as up to 70% of applicants fail the requisite drug test.
Many companies have taken active steps to combat the growing heroin epidemic, including the implementation of zero-tolerance policies as well as employee-assistance programs for those seeking treatment. Some companies are even using local law enforcement to train supervisors to better spot drug use.
“The goal is not to force them out of work,” said Brian Bourgeois, human-resources and employee-development manager at ChemDesign in Marinette. “The goal is to get them help, rehabilitate them and get them back into the workplace.”
A Florida deputy has been arrested after letting a woman escape arrest and drug possession charges in exchange for sexual favors.
Deputy Ted Arboleda was arrested by his fellow colleagues in the Broward Sheriff’s Office and slammed with felony charges for unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior. The incident took place at a gas station in 2013, when Arboleda learned that a 32-year-old woman had marijuana and an unmarked bottle of prescription pills on her person. The 32-year-old woman was also driving without a license. After initially declining a monetary bribe, he gave her back the drugs and drove the woman back to her home.
It was there that he eventually agreed to her offer of oral sex in exchange for not being arrested. Although Arboleda begged her not to tell anyone, she eventually reported the incident to her boyfriend and he notified the Sheriff’s Office. Arboleda was placed on leave last August and ultimately turned himself into police last Monday. He was released on bond shortly after.
"It's discouraging and it's demoralizing to the 99.9% of the men and women that work so hard and so diligently,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
Of course, Arboleda isn’t the first boneheaded cop when it comes to drug-related matters. In 2009, an undercover officer in North Carolina was arrested after trying to sell drugs to another undercover officer. The unnamed officer from the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office met with deputies from the Statesville Police Department and attempted to sell them marijuana. After being placed under arrest, the drug-dealing cop was released shortly after.
The death of former child star Skye McCole Bartusiak, best known for her role as Mel Gibson’s youngest daughter in The Patriot, has been ruled an accidental overdose.
The 21-year-old passed away in her sleep at her home in Texas on July 19. Officials have now confirmed that her death was an accidental overdose due to the combined effects of hydrocodone and difluoroethane with carisoprodol. Hydrocodone is commonly found in painkillers, while difluoroethane is a muscle relaxant, and carisoprodol is an inhalant commonly used to get high.
The reported cause of death contradicts the statements of Skye’s mother, Helen, who said shortly after the tragedy that her daughter “did not drink or do drugs.” She also revealed that Skye had been suffering from epileptic seizures since she was a baby and had seizures the week before her death. "[The paramedics] were working on her for 45 minutes and could not get a heartbeat,” said Helen.” I've done CPR on that kid more than one time and it just didn't work this time."
Sadly, Skye isn’t the first cast member of The Patriot to die from drugs. Heath Ledger, who played Gibson’s son, died in 2008 from a combined drug intoxication at the age of 28.