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News of Substance


 FDA Will Not Approve Generic Versions of Original OxyContin

By Join Together Staff
April 17, 2013
Prescription Drugs & Prevention
Original Article found here

FDA Oxycontin Rx DrugsThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Tuesday it will not approve any generic versions of the original form of OxyContin. The move is aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse, Reuters reports. The original version of OxyContin could be crushed and then snorted or injected. Its patent was set to expire on Tuesday.

The FDA also approved new labeling for a reformulated version of the drug, which will indicate it is more difficult to crush, and thus harder to abuse than the original version. OxyContin’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, introduced the tamper-resistant formula in 2010.

“The development of abuse-deterrent opioid analgesics is a public health priority for the FDA,” Douglas Throckmorton, MD, Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “While both original and reformulated OxyContin are subject to abuse and misuse, the FDA has determined that reformulated OxyContin can be expected to make abuse by injection difficult and expected to reduce abuse by snorting compared to original OxyContin.”

Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky, Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, said in a statement, “This is a huge win for our region and for the thousands of families who have seen painkillers become pain makers. The FDA undoubtedly saved our nation from another deadly tidal wave of oxycodone abuse and overdoses.”

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Heroin Use Increasingly Seen in Suburbs Across the Country

By Join Together Staff
April 16, 2013
Filed in Drugs & Prescription Drugs
Original Article found here

Heroin Use IncreaseAs prescription painkillers become more difficult to obtain and abuse, a growing number of people addicted to these drugs are switching to heroin, USA Today reports. The trend is increasingly being seen in the suburbs.

Health officials and police report a significant rise in overdoses and crime, the newspaper notes. Last fall, the Northern New England Poison Center reported a jump in heroin overdoses in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. “When you switch to heroin, you don’t know what’s in there from batch to batch,” said the center’s director, Karen Simone. “It’s a big jump to go to heroin. It may be strong; it may be weak. They don’t know what they are getting. Suddenly, the whole game changes.”

Heroin is popular in large part because it is cheap, officials say. While an 80-milligram OxyContin costs between $60 to $100 a pill on the black market, heroin costs $45 to $60 for a multiple-dose supply. OxyContin abuse has also been declining because the drug has been reformulated so it is more difficult to crush and snort.

According to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of people who were past-year heroin users in 2011 (620,000) was higher than the number in 2007 (373,000).

“Heroin is huge. We’ve never had anything like it in this state,” said Carol Falkowski, the former drug abuse strategy officer for Minnesota and a member of the Community Epidemiology Working Group at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which tracks trends in drug use. “It’s very affordable. It’s very high purity. Most people did not believe that heroin would happen here in Lake Woebegone, but it really has a grip, not only in the Twin Cities, but all around the state.”

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Study Finds E-Cigarettes Used Primarily for Quitting Smoking

By Join Together Staff
April 5, 2013
Filed in Research, Tobacco & Treatment
Original Article found here

Three-quarters of people who use e-cigarettes say their motivation was to replace cigarettes, a new survey finds. People using e-cigarettes believe they are safer than regular cigarettes, according to Reuters.

The online survey of about 1,400 e-cigarette users found 76 percent said they started using the devices as a complete alternative to smoking, while 22 percent said they tried them for other reasons, such as stopping smoking, for health reasons and to get around smoking restrictions.

The survey found 86 percent of survey participants had not smoked cigarettes for several weeks or months since starting to use the devices, or said the amount of regular cigarettes they smoked had decreased dramatically, the article notes. The majority said their health had improved since they started using e-cigarettes. They reported less coughing and improved breathing, noted lead researcher Lynne Dawkins.

The findings appear in the journal Addiction.

An international survey published in February found 80 percent of people who use e-cigarettes do so because they consider the products less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine in the form of a vapor, which is inhaled by the user. They usually have a rechargeable, battery-operated heating element, a replaceable cartridge with nicotine or other chemicals and a device called an atomizer that converts the contents of the cartridge into a vapor when heated. E-cigarettes often are made to look like regular cigarettes.

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Cocaine Cravings Turned Off and On With Laser Light in Rat Study

By Join Together Staff
April 4, 2013
Filed in Addiction, Drugs, Research & Treatment
Original Article found here

Cocaine Addiction ControlScientists have used laser lights to turn cocaine cravings off and on in a study of rats. The findings suggest new directions for treatment of addiction in humans, according to the researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the University of California, San Francisco.

The laser light was used to stimulate a part of the prefrontal cortex in the animals’ brains, HealthDay reports. This part of the brain plays an important role in impulse control and decision making.

The researchers inserted light-sensitive proteins into nerve cells in the animals’ prefrontal cortex. They used the laser to turn the cells on and off. Turning the cells on eliminated the rats’ cocaine cravings, while turning them off triggered the craving.

Human studies likely will use electromagnetic stimulation outside the scalp, instead of lasers, to trigger activation of the prefrontal cortex, the article notes. Study co-author Dr. Antonello Bonci of the University of California, San Francisco, noted human studies are being designed.

“This exciting study offers a new direction of research for the treatment of cocaine and possibly other addictions,” NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow said in a news release. “We already knew, mainly from human brain imaging studies, that deficits in the prefrontal cortex are involved in drug addiction. Now that we have learned how fundamental these deficits are, we feel more confident than ever about the therapeutic promise of targeting that part of the brain.”

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Experts Debate Ethics of Refusing to Hire Smokers

By Join Together Staff
April 1, 2013
Filed in Prevention & Tobacco
Original Article found here

As a growing number of employers institute policies that ban hiring smokers, medical ethicists debated the policy in the New England Journal of Medicine. One group argues not hiring smokers sends a strong message to employees and the community that smoking is harmful, while the other group calls the practice unethical.

Both groups of experts, based at the University of Pennsylvania, focused on the policy instituted by the Cleveland Clinic, a world-famous medical institution. The group arguing in favor of the ban notes it gives job applicants a strong incentive to quit smoking and reduces medical expenses for employers. They add patients also appreciate not having to smell smoke on the clothing of healthcare workers caring for them, the Los Angeles Times notes.

The group arguing against the ban notes it is hypocritical for a healthcare institution to ban smokers, because its employees pledge to care for patients who suffer from illnesses that may be caused in part through their own lifestyle choices, such as smoking. They note the extreme degree of difficulty in quitting smoking for many people. In addition, smokers are more likely to be poor, less educated and unemployed. By not hiring smokers, employers are preventing them from both job opportunities and health insurance.

The Cleveland Clinic was one of the first hospitals to institute a tobacco screening policy for employees. Applicants who test positive for tobacco use are not considered for employment. They are referred to tobacco cessation resources, which the clinic pays for.

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Sobriety is Fun in a Young Adult Community

By Sober College Admin
January 3, 2011
Original Article found here

Young adults new to recovery need to feel a sense of belonging as they move from their old life to a new and different one. The first Sober College campus in Woodland Hills, CA just outside Los Angeles, provides access to one of the most exciting young adult recovery communities. Specialized young adult 12-Step meetings are sought out and attended.

Learning to have fun is another challenge for young adults, new or struggling with addiction. Campus locations provide numerous options for activities. Recreational, social and cultural activities are all part of the curriculum. Woodland Hills provides easy access to locations like the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Entertainment Industry, the beach, the Hollywood Bowl and much, much more.

TYoung Adult Sobrietyhe following is from a student assignment in one of our courses:

“Perhaps it’s because I do not want to be remembered for my failures, yet for my triumphs. In the past, these issues weighed me down, and kept me from moving forward. My life is much different now that I am sober, and for as few as two and a half months, I can really feel a major difference. It is hard to focus on the negative parts of my life when I am as content as I am today. If anything, that is the most important thing I have learned through my writing in this course.

Since 2005, I have enrolled in four different colleges (not including this online course.) Some were much briefer than others, but the ongoing pattern was I didn’t follow through with any of them. In some instances, I made it as far as days before the final exam before somehow managing to choke. When the going got tough, I hid. I completely avoided reality. Consequently, I do not have a single college credit to my name. Right now is the closest I have ever come to completing a college level course, and the thought of getting my first credits, and actually following through with something is overwhelmingly emotional. I get chills each time I think about it and I am sure my family does too. Each word I type is inching my way closer to a goal I couldn’t imagine a few months ago. The longer I have stayed sober, the happier I have become. I have also noticed a gradual progression in my level of focus and the quality of my work.

Basically, what it comes down to is my life is really not so bad. In fact, it’s going pretty well. I have to attribute much of this to my sobriety. I know it won’t always be this good, so I want to hold on to what I have now. Writing this will help me remember that I was happy being sober, because I am sure I will doubt it in the future.

I hope this course is the first of many academic successes in my life, changing the recurring tale of failure to one of accomplishment. The future is ambiguous, and can be intimidating if I choose to worry about it. Still, there is no reason to let it get the best of me. I know I am capable of accomplishing great things; I just need to keep reminding myself that failure is no longer an option. I have wasted enough time taking the easy way out and avoiding hard work. It is time for me to suck it up and face reality head on . . . one day at a time.”

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College Student Guide to Drug Abuse and Addiction

By Sober College AdminAddiction
January 3, 2011
Original Article found here

Addiction is defined as a complex disorder in which compulsive drug abuse occurs. The addict feels an uncontrollable need for a particular substance and goes to extreme measures to get it. Through repeated drug use, the brain’s function is altered and impaired, making the individual incapable of clear thought processes, exercising good judgment, controlling behaviors and functioning without the drug.

If you are struggling with addiction, dealing with a friend’s use or are feeling pressured or tempted to begin using-you are not alone. Many college students face the same issues and are left feeling helpless, ashamed and isolated.

In 2008, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported the percentage of illicit drug use was higher in young adults aged 18 to 25 at 19.6% than any other age group. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, surveys taken at colleges and universities across the US, the percentage of students who used drugs other than alcohol within the past year were as follows: marijuana, 32%; amphetamines, 6.5%; hallucinogens, 7.5%; cocaine, 3.7%; and designer drugs, 3.6%.

In 2008, The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported, young adults aged 18 to 22, enrolled full-time in college, were more likely than their peers not enrolled full-time to use alcohol, drink heavily and binge drink. Binge drinking is the act of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Binge drinkers run the risk of developing alcohol poisoning because their body does not have time to process the alcohol as fast as it is being ingested. Alcohol poisoning and binge drinking can have lasting effects on the body. NSDUH also reported full-time college students, 61% were current drinkers, 40.5% binge drank, and 16.3% were heavy drinkers.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) defines the difference between dependency and addiction.

“Contrary to common belief, physical dependence is not addiction. While addicts are usually physically dependent on the drug they are abusing, physical dependence can exist without addiction. Addiction is defined as compulsive drug-seeking behavior where acquiring and using a drug becomes the most important activity in the user’s life.”

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