Sunday, August 30, 2009

Six Million Will Die in 2010 from Smoking, Researchers Predict
August 27th 2009

Six million people worldwide will die from smoking-related illnesses next year, according to the annual Tobacco Atlas report from the American Cancer Society.

"Tobacco accounts for one out of every 10 deaths worldwide and will claim 5.5 million lives this year alone," the study said, predicting that current trends indicate that tobacco-related deaths could top 8 million annually by 2030.

Reuters reported Aug. 25 that the report also estimated the annual cost of tobacco use to societies globally at $500 million, including healthcare expenses, decreased productivity, and harm to the environment. Researchers estimated that tobacco decreases the world's overall gross domestic product (GDP) by 3.6 percent.

"One hundred million people were killed by tobacco in the 20th century," the report said. "Unless effective measures are implemented to prevent young people from smoking and to help current smokers quit, tobacco will kill 1 billion people in the 21st century."

The Tobacco Atlas said that there are 1 billion male smokers worldwide and 250 million female smokers, and that tobacco kills one-third to one-half of those who smoke.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Marijuana May Reduce Risk of Certain Cancers, Study Says
August 27 2009

A new study finds that long-term marijuana users have a lower risk of certain head and neck cancers, Reuters reported Aug. 25.

Researchers from Brown University studied patients with head and neck squamous-cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and a control group and found that subjects who had smoked marijuana for 10 to 20 years had a 62-percent reduced risk of getting HNSCC. Those who smoked marijuana 0.5 to 1.5 times per week had a 48-percent reduction in risk.

The study authors, led by Karl T. Kelsey, said that the findings may be linked to the known antitumor action of cannabinoids. However, they cautioned that larger studies are needed to confirm the findings and that the risks of marijuana use may outweigh any health benefits.

The study was published in the August 2009 issue of the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Heroin Maintenance Can Control Addiction, Study Concludes
August 24 2009

Heroin addicts who are given maintenance doses of the drug were more likely to remain in treatment and less likely to use street drugs or engage in other criminal activity than those receiving methadone, according to a study of a heroin-maintenance program in Canada.

The New York Times reported Aug. 20 that researcher Martin T. Schechter of the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia said, "The main finding is that, for this group that is generally written off, both methadone and prescription heroin can provide real benefits."

After one year, 88 percent of the heroin-maintenance patients, who received doses of 450 milligrams of the drug, remained in the program and about two-thirds had greatly reduced their illicit activities, compared to 54 percent and 48 percent, respectively, among the methadone group.

However, the heroin group experienced more side-effects, including 10 overdoses. A total of 226 addicts took part in the study.

"Heroin works better than methadone in this population of users, and patients will be more willing to take it," said Joshua Boverman of the Oregon Health and Science University, a study co-author.

The study was published in the Aug. 20, 2009 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One in Five Teens Share Their Prescription Drugs with Friends

reported Aug. 18.

A survey of 12- to 17-year-olds in the U.S. has found that about 20 percent said they have given their prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Darvocet to friends or obtained drugs the same way,

Allergy drugs, narcotic pain relievers, antibiotics, acne medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications were the most commonly shared. Three-quarters of those who borrowed drugs from friends said they did so in lieu of visiting a doctor.

About one-third of those who borrowed medications said they had experienced an allergic reaction or other negative side-effects as a result.

Past research has shown that 40 percent of adults also share their medications. "However, prior to our study, no one had asked adolescents how often they shared prescription medications, which meds they shared and what some of the outcomes were," said lead researcher Richard Goldsworthy of Academic Edge, Inc.

The study was published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The National Petition to Save Lives & Prevent Overdose Deaths is HERE!

Dear Colleagues:

Once again, as a group of mental health and substance use treatment professionals, we have an opportunity to take a public stance on behalf of the health and safety of drug using citizens. Please read the announcement below about the crisis of opiate overdose in the US and a petition to make naloxone (it blocks the effects of opiates and reverses overdose and saves lives) available over-the-counter as it is in Italy.

Overdose prevention is being implemented in small ways already under research conditions and has been shown to be very effective. This measure could save countless lives.

Please sign the petition by clicking below and forward this on to three colleagues.

Thank you!

Andrew Tatarsky, PhD
Harm Reduction Psychotherapy and Training Associates


Dear friends,

This is it! Please get involved in helping to reduce our out-of-control overdose crisis by signing the national petition! Our drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has been talking a lot lately about what a terrible problem accidental overdose has become, but he hasn't done anything yet to try to FIX the problem!

We know that a majority of these deaths are caused by opiates like Vicodin, methadone and heroin, and we know that the safe, effective drug naloxone reverses an overdose immediately. We know that people in Italy have been buying naloxone over-the-counter for years--so why can't we? Why is this incredibly safe, effective, lifesaving drug--so urgently needed right now--still only available with a prescription? People are dying--we need better access NOW!

Sign the petition urging our drug czar to start working with FDA & related agencies to move naloxone from prescription-only status to over-the-counter status. Its 30 year track record of incredible safety & efficacy demand a new plan to make it more available now and to DO something to stop our growing overdose crisis. Sign TODAY! And thank you for everything you do to help prevent overdose deaths!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

McLellan Confirmed for White House Demand-Reduction Post 

Acclaimed addiction researcher A. Thomas McLellan has been unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Aug. 8 that McLellan's appointment was approved by unanimous consent.

McLellan, formerly the executive director of the Treatment Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Pennsylvania, will be in charge of demand-reduction policy at ONDCP. "The nation has gained a leader who has been at the forefront of science-based efforts to improve treatment systems for people suffering from drug addictions. We know Tom McLellan will bring this expertise to the country’s efforts to reduce demand for illegal substances of abuse," said TRI Board Chair Carolyn Asbury, Ph.D.