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Frightening overdose rates fueled by deadly heroin-fentanyl mix


CBS/AP August 26, 2016, 3:48 PM
Cincinnati sees estimated 78 heroin overdoses in 2 days


CINCINNATI — Cincinnati police are asking for the public’s help in trying to identify the source of the suspected heroin behind an estimated 78 overdoses in just two days.

Meanwhile, Hamilton County officials say they will seek funding for treatment and expanded response teams.

County officials are calling the latest onslaught of overdose cases a public health emergency, and county Health Commissioner Tim Ingram says the number of emergency-room incidents over the last six days was “unprecedented.”

Emergency rooms estimate they had 174 suspected opioid overdose cases this week, including three deaths. Last year, accidental drug overdoses killed 3,050 people in Ohio, an average of eight per day, state officials say.
Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black said authorities suspect carfentanil, a drug used to sedate elephants and other large animals, may be mixed in with heroin and causing the overdoses. The drug is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is suspected in spates of overdoses in several states.

Last month, carfentanil was discovered in the Cincinnati area’s heroin stream, but many hospitals don’t have the equipment to test blood for the previously uncommon animal opioid.

The treatment drug Narcan can be used to save people who overdose on carfentanil — if they get enough, CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reports.

“How much more Narcan do you need to save a person who took carfentanil as opposed to heroin or heroin and fentanyl?” Werner asked Dr. Nick Jouriles with Akron General Hospital.

“It starts at five times the amount,” Jouriles told her.
He said it’s the most powerful drug he has seen people taking through heroin use.

Hamilton County Commissioner Dennis Deters said Thursday the expanded teams would include a law enforcement officer, an emergency responder and a specialist who could treat people who’ve overdosed. He said the cost of the beefed-up program hasn’t been determined yet.

Nan Franks of the Addiction Services Council of Cincinnati noted that Cincinnati currently doesn’t have enough places to treat the rising number of drug users who seek help.

“People overwhelmingly want help,” she said. “But we have to have a place to take them.”

© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.




A group of state attorneys general nationwide are discussing new ways they can pursue legal action against opioid manufacturers like Purdue Pharma, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversations.

Purdue Pharma’s drug Oxycontin has been blamed for kickstarting the opioid epidemic. The drug generated over $3 billion for the company in 2010.

The latest entity to sue Purdue Pharma for the epidemic is Suffolk County, New York, which filed their lawsuit Wednesday claiming Purdue Pharma and other manufacturers are misleading the public and doctors about the dangers of painkillers.
“We share public officials’ concerns about the opioid epidemic and are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions,” said a spokesperson for Purdue Pharma in an email to CBS News.

The company says in response to the epidemic they developed alternatives to Oxycontin that are more difficult to abuse, trained law enforcement to address abuses, raised public awareness and set up a prescription drug monitoring system.

According to Purdue Pharma, the company’s market share of extended-release opioids is 19.8 percent.

Purdue settled with 27 state attorneys general in 2007 for unlawfully marketing Oxycontin. The company had to pay nearly $20 million but there has been, in the words of one assistant attorney general, “tremendous buyer’s remorse” that the settlements did not extract more money, accountability or change in the prescribing culture.

In the ensuing years, some attorneys general have watched in horror as the problem expanded from a problem in Appalachia to a nationwide epidemic.

The 2007 case alleged that Purdue Pharma falsely marketed its drug Oxycontin and presented it to doctors as “less addictive, less subject to abuse and diversion, and less likely to cause tolerance and withdrawal than other pain medications.”

In a separate federal case, the company paid an additional $600 million and three executives were convicted of misdemeanors. The three men pled guilty to misbranding the drug and were ordered to pay $34.5 million. They were also sentenced to three years probation and 400 hours of community service.

Some new legal avenues that attorneys general could explore include revisiting the 2007 state case and checking to see if Purdue has violated the judgment. Law enforcement could also examine whether or not the judgment was properly enforced and whether or not the company was truthful during the 2007 investigation.

“We think it is vital to monitor and enforce that [2007] judgment. We are doing everything necessary to ensure Purdue fully complies with the requirements of that judgment and if they fail to comply we will take appropriate remedial action,” said David Hart, Assistant Attorney General for the state of Oregon.
Hart testified before the Senate Committee on Finance in February and cited numbers showing that in 2013 “3.6 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers were dispensed in Oregon, enough for 925 opioid prescriptions for every 1,000 residents.”

During the 2007 Purdue settlement talks, the state of Kentucky was offered $500,000 to settle the case. Unlike other states, Kentucky rejected that offer and fought for more money only recently settling with Purdue in late 2015 for $24 million.

Former Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway prosecuted the case and told CBS News compared to the $24 million he secured for Kentucky, the 2007 national settlement with Purdue for nearly $20 million was “paltry compared to the level of harm that was caused by Oxycontin.

Conway says the company shoulders a disproportionate blame because, “Their marketing in the late 1990’s correlates directly with the explosion in opioids.”

New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster hired a law firm in August to begin its investigation into the marketing of opioids by five manufacturers: Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Actavis, Teva Pharmaceutical and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

The companies have so far successfully blocked administrative subpoenas by the New Hampshire attorney general’s office.

“They have yet to provide a piece of paper,” said Senior Assistant Attorney General for New Hampshire James Boffetti, “You gotta wonder what they’re hiding,” he said.

© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.





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Is Marijuana Addictive? NIH Says Cannabis Use Disorder Affects Nearly 6 Million People
Mar 4, 2016 04:16 PM By Susan Scutti

In light of marijuana’s evolving legal status, scientists at the National Institutes of Health have begun to advocate for public education regarding the drug’s potential dangers. Marijuana use is not harmless, their new study finds: In the past year, nearly six million people (2.5 percent of adults) experienced marijuana use disorder — considered a type of drug dependence or abuse.

Symptoms include cravings, developing a tolerance, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms, including inability to sleep, nervousness, anger, or depression, within a week of stopping heavy use. According to the NIH scientists, since many people use alcohol and marijuana together, more research is also needed to understand the effects of combined use.
The researchers interviewed more than 36,000 American adults about how they use alcohol and drugs and also discussed related psychiatric conditions. They discovered that marijuana use disorder is common, with 6.3 percent of adults acquiring a dependence on the drug at some point in their lives. Mostly, it goes untreated.

It’s about twice as common among men than women, and younger people are much more likely to experience the disorder than people over age 45, the data showed.

Cannabis dependence is strongly and consistently linked with mental health disorders, the researchers discovered, and other substance use disorders. Sufferers experience considerable mental disability, and these symptoms may continue even after they stop using.

Only about 7 to 14 percent of people receive any marijuana-specific treatment.


In their conclusion, the study authors say it’s a matter of urgency to identify effective treatments for this particular drug use disorder, since addiction causes changes in the brain.

Marijuana disrupts the way brain cells send, receive, and process information, explains the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Essentially, the drug overstimulates the brain’s reward system, producing euphoric effects. With repeated use, the brain adapts to drug-induced surges of dopamine by producing less dopamine itself or by reducing the number of dopamine receptors in the reward circuit. Soon, a person no longer enjoys life’s usual pleasure and becomes trapped in a cycle of using drugs to make up for the lost fun.

Addiction is a chronic disease, NIDA explains, one that is not cured by simply stopping drug use for a few days. Most people require long-term or repeated care to completely end their drug use. Along with staying drug-free, successful treatment helps people become productive and recover their lives.

Source: Hasin DS, Kerridge BT, Saha TD, et al. Prevalence and Correlates of DSM-5 Cannabis Use Disorder, 2012-2013: Findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions–III. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2016.

February is Marijuana Awareness Month

by Erica Loret De Mola on 02/02/2016

February is Marijuana Awareness Month, and the drug is still a controversial subject of much debate. Getting the facts about the drug is essential to making the right decisions regarding its use. Marijuana Awareness Month is focused on increasing awareness about cannabis by presenting the facts regarding it. Marijuana is known by many names on the street such as Mary Jane, weed, dope, cannabis, herb, pot, tea, grass, reefer, bud, Ganja, skunk, and more. The drug comes from the leaves, seeds, stem and dried flowers of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa and can be smoked, vaped, eaten or brewed as a tea. Smoking marijuana may cause the development of lung disease and cancer, in addition to subjecting its user to both short and long term side effects.February is Marijuana Awareness Month

Statistics show that about fifty percent of daily users will become addicted to the drug, which adversely affects the brain’s reward center. Marijuana is the most used illicit drug in the U.S. and approximately twenty million people reported using the drug in a 2013 National Survey. The use of this drug is increasing in the U.S. and is causing a rise in marijuana addiction also. Use among teens and young adults is widespread. The popularity of the drug is attributed to the perceived myth that the drug is harmless because of its recent legalization in some States. Also, the decriminalization of medical marijuana used to treat cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy and AIDS adds to the myths of safety issues.

The Chemical Makeup of Marijuana

There are two psychoactive compounds present in marijuana, and each one affects a person differently. The first compound, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), causes changes in visual perception, which is the first stage of memory formation. THC causes feelings of euphoria, an increase in appetite, paranoia, psychosis and dependency on the drug. It also causes the malfunction of cognition and impairment of intelligence, memory formation and brain neuro-transmissions. THC is stored in the fat cells of the body and is released slowly, causing higher levels to remain in the body. Cannabidol (CBD) is the other compound found in cannabis. This compound increases the naturally occurring cannabidoid levels in the brain that are responsible for normal brain development. It causes a relaxing, anti-anxiety sensation in those who use it. CBD protects against dependency, psychosis and cognitive impairment, and acts as a counter-balance to THC. Unfortunately, new strains of marijuana have much higher levels of THC and very low levels of CBD. The higher levels of THC are making the CBD of no effect, and it is causing higher rates of addiction.

Effects of Use

Marijuana may cause damage to cells and tissues of the body that can result in weakening the immune system and causing the body to become more susceptible to communicable diseases. Chronic use has a negative affect on the fertility of both sexes. It affects the female ovulation cycle and lowers the sperm count in men and can cause erectile dysfunction. Marijuana use among the young causes abnormalities in the brain. The drug has been shown to alter the areas of the brain that are related to motivation and emotions. It also puts teenagers at risk of developing addictive behaviors well into adulthood. Imaging studies were performed on adolescents who were regular users of marijuana. These images revealed that neural connections in specific brain areas were impaired. These areas were involved with a wide range of brain functions such as: learning, memory and impulse control. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is conducting studies using neuro-imaging and other technology to determine how marijuana and other drugs affect adolescent brains. The damaging effect of the drug on adolescent brains is shown to be more severe in females. The effects are poor attention, reduced IQ, executive dysfunction, cognitive disinhibition and abnormal brain activation. People who are regular users have less neuronal efficiency.

Treatment for Dependence

Marijuana Awareness Month is the time for someone who is addicted to it to consider getting help. Recovery from addiction starts with being detoxed from the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and psychological. Behavioral and psychological therapies are used as treatment and may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Enhancement Therapy and Contingency Therapy.

If you or someone you love needs help for drug abuse and addiction, contact White Sands Treatment Center at 877-855-3470. Our caring treatment specialists can help you get started on the path to recovery.





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New York, NY, December 18, 2013 – The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Study (MTF), an annual survey tracking teen drug abuse among eighth-, 10th- and 12th- graders, shows an increase in the abuse of the prescription medicine Adderall among high school seniors in the U.S. over the past few years. Adderall is a prescribed stimulant that is commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

According to MTF, the past-year non-medical use of Adderall among American high school seniors has been steadily increasing since 2009 when abuse rates were 5.4 percent. In 2010 and 2011, past year Adderall abuse increased to 6.5 percent among 12th-graders, continued increasing to 7.6 percent in 2012 and is now at 7.4 percent in 2013.

“The rates of Adderall misuse and abuse among high school seniors remains unacceptably high and the new data make it very clear: the abuse of all prescription medicines is an immediate threat to the health of America’s teens,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “Another year of data and a harsh spotlight specifically on prescription stimulants must serve as a call to all families to address the issue of intentional medicine abuse. The risks are real and products with abuse potential surround our kids in our own homes. Every home with a child and every parent needs to take action. Monitor your prescriptions, educate your kids and dispose of old medicines.”

He continued, “Medicine abuse is classified as an epidemic and is an entirely preventable adolescent and young adult health crisis. Recent media reports underscore the massive surge in the prescribing of prescription stimulants to our nation’s children. Combine the existing daily damage from prescription opioid abuse together with a range of other medicines that are abused, and we ourselves have created this crisis. And only we can solve it by working together to put the focus on our youth to prevent intentional abuse and demand appropriate prescribing, along with other controls.”  READ MORE>>

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Adderall Addiction, Abuse and Treatment
Adderall abuse is a growing concern

in the United States.

High school and college students are among the drug’s most frequent abusers.

Understanding Adderall
Adderall addiction pillAdderall is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine.

It is used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While it diminishes fatigue in narcoleptic patients, it has the opposite effect in those with ADHD, producing a calming effect.
Like other amphetamines, Adderall produces feelings of alertness, increased concentration and euphoria. Despite the drug’s perceived benefits, Adderall abuse can cause severe health-related problems including addiction and overdose.
If you are struggling with an addiction to Adderall and are ready to quit, find out how you can get your life back.

Adderall Effects and Symptoms of Abuse
Adderall increases focus, concentration and energy, making it a go-to choice for students and professionals.

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College students make up a significant population of illicit Adderall users. Because Adderall is easy to get with a prescription and easy to sell to peers, it has become the darling of campus drug deals. Even Tweets about Adderall peak sharply during final exam periods. The popular drug’s ability to help users focus and stay awake for longer than normal makes it attractive to college students facing heavy courseloads, part-time jobs, internships and ever-increasing demands.
In a 2008 study of 1,800 college students, 81 percent of students interviewed thought illicit use of ADHD medication was “not dangerous at all” or “slightly dangerous.”
Many people mistakenly believe Adderall is “safe” because it is prescribed by doctors; in fact, Adderall is one of the most commonly abused substances in the country. But taking Adderall without a prescription, or in a way not directed by a doctor, is considered abuse. Continued abuse of Adderall can lead to serious,

long-term side effects and an addiction that can be hard to break.

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Students using Adderall are more likely to abuse other drugs as well. Full-time college students who abused Adderall were three times as likely to have also used marijuana in the past year, according to SAMHSA. Additionally, nearly 30 percent of full-time students who abused Adderall had also used cocaine. Polydrug use greatly increases the risks of overdose and complications.

Signs of an Adderall Addiction
Although college students have the highest likelihood of Adderall abuse, they are not the only ones subject to developing an addiction to it. Not everyone who uses Adderall to study during finals week has a problem, but continuing to use it despite known consequences is a telltale sign of a deeper issue. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders sets a framework of understanding substance use disorders. Learn all the signs of an Adderall addiction today.

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Adderall Addiction Treatment
Treating an Adderall addiction starts with understanding the root cause of using it. Targeted therapies can help you pinpoint the social, professional or academic stressors that trigger the need for Adderall abuse; trained therapists can help you untangle these feelings and find healthy ways to overcome them.
A qualified treatment center can monitor the detoxification process, ensuring withdrawal symptoms are safely managed. Withdrawal from Adderall produces feelings opposite the drug’s actual effects, such as depression, irritability, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Recovery often involves a taper-down strategy, ensuring the drug is safely eliminated from the body while mitigating uncomfortable side effects.
Find Treatment for Adderall Addiction Now
There are many treatment facilities and support programs available to help you fight your addiction.

Many people with an Adderall addiction take advantage of:

Support groups
12-step programs
Rehabilitation programs
Behavioral therapy

There are countless resources available to help those with an addiction to Adderall.

If you are ready to begin your recovery, we can help you find the support you need to begin your journey.

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Is Your Teen Abusing Adderall?
The so-called ‘study drug’ is a common part of U.S. campus life—especially at exam time
by: Staff

A 24-year-old college graduate commits suicide after becoming addicted to Adderall. A Vanderbilt University student jumps in front of a train after his Adderall habit spins out of control. A 25-year-old is seriously mauled after leaping into a tiger pen at the Bronx Zoo; his father reported that he was abusing Adderall.

It’s no wonder that parents are concerned about teens and young adults abusing Adderall, a mixed-salt amphetamine, which is prescribed to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The number of children diagnosed with ADHD has skyrocketed in recent years: 11 percent of all school-age children have received an ADHD diagnosis, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And since 2007, sales of Adderall and similar stimulants have doubled from $4 billion to $9 billion. But at exam time, it’s the unprescribed use of Adderall as a so-called “study drug” that’s cause for concern.

“In my immediate group of friends, say 10, 15 people, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t taken it.” –Michelle, 21-year-old nursing student
“I would say 30 percent of the students in my course are using it,” says Michelle, 21, a nursing student at a California University, who asked not to be identified—her parents, who are in the medical profession, would not be impressed. “In my immediate group of friends—say, 10, 15 people—I don’t know anyone who hasn’t taken it.”

The stats on Adderall abuse vary: The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 6.4 percent of college students said they had abused Adderall in the past year. But individual colleges report abuse rates as high as 43 percent. And the problem is not just among college kids: One in five U.S. high school students have taken either Adderall, Ritalin, Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin or Xanax without a prescription, according to the CDC.

RELATED: Teen Problem Behavior: When It’s Normal and When to Step In

The rise in abuse represents a cultural shift, says Dr. Lawrence Diller, a behavioral/developmental pediatrician and family therapist in Walnut Creek, Calif., and author of Running on Ritalin. “This subculture of Adderall users in the older teen and young adult population is worrisome,” says Diller. “I’ve never been against the use of drugs for kids who need them. Their use in children is safe, but the use in older children and teens worries me. We should worry that we’ve accepted that performance-enhancing drugs can be used across the board to maximize performance. So if you’re an older teen or adult and your aspirations and goals don’t match your talents and temperament, you become a candidate for Adderall.”

Diller won’t write prescriptions for college students unless they can prove they can take them responsibly. “College kids wouldn’t call me from September through November. Then, in December before finals, they’d call me for pills. That’s how most people use pills in college: intermittently, to cram for exams. But by giving them pills, I’m facilitating the ADHD lifestyle, which is to procrastinate and procrastinate, then cram. That sets them up for a lifetime of abuse.”

Improving her performance is what motivates Michelle to pay around $7 to another student for a 30 mg pill to take around exam time. “Usually you can ask around and somebody will know somebody who has it,” she says. Students who have a prescription often stockpile their pills; others report that they simply know the right thing to say to a psychologist to score a diagnosis and prescription themselves. “Grades are so important,” notes Michelle. “With my program you can’t get below a C in the class or you’re going to get kicked out. There’s a lot of pressure on us to succeed and do well. Nobody wants to flunk out.”
Experts differ on the dangers of the drug. Data show that the number of deaths of children and teens on ADHD drugs is very low (lower, in fact, than you would expect from chance) and likely attributable to cardiac problems, says Dr. John T. Walkup, director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at N.Y.-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. ADHD drugs also do not lead to the abuse of other substances, he says. “Long-term studies about appropriately treated ADHD patients show that stimulant drugs actually reduce the risk of addiction,” he says. “People worry about whether these meds will turn into an addiction, but the best evidence suggests that treating ADHD is actually protective.” Not only that, but the drugs don’t give kids traditional “highs,” Walker says, and can cause a “sour mood” and an “off feeling.” Because of that, he says, kids who don’t have ADHD aren’t eager to take them on a regular basis.

RELATED: What Parents Need to Know About Psych Meds

Zack, 21, a business management major at a California college backs that up. “I like to eat, and it makes you not want to eat very much,” he says. “You feel weak if you haven’t eaten. And at night I need my sleep, and Adderall makes you stay up really late.” He says he takes half a pill to help him focus on his studies, and not often: “A couple of times in one week per semester. I only take it when I need to get motivated to get stuff done. It’s about being focused.” But this can also lead to an accidental side effect: “If you get super focused on something that is not your work, that can wind up being distracting,” Zack says. “I’ve actually taken it then started playing video games, and you just can’t stop. It’s only good when you get into writing a paper and just can’t stop.”

RELATED: 10 Must-Reads for Parents of Teens

As common as it seems, Diller warns that Adderall abuse should not be taken lightly. “Amphetamines have been around for 80 years, but there has always been a core group of people who get in trouble with them,” he cautions. “If you snort or shoot ADHD drugs, the effect is the same as meth. It’s not the same physical addiction as heroin or alcohol. But when you crash after being up for three days, you feel horrible and you crave more amphetamines. These people act very erratically, very badly and are prone to high-intensity rage.

“Unless a person is closely managed on the drug, there could be tendency, even taking it orally, to get in trouble with it,” Diller says.

If you’re worried that your child is abusing Adderall, the first step is to ask. But other signs include erratic behavior: “Irritability interspersed with mild grandiosity,” says Diller, as well as complaints of trouble sleeping, rigidity and insistence, all within the context of struggling to maintain an expected academic performance. Unfortunately, as Diller notes, most of these are difficult to distinguish from other extreme adolescent behavior.

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Addiction problems with our youth…

Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is when anyone under the minimum legal drinking age of 21 drinks alcohol.

Underage drinking is a risk that attracts many developing adolescents and teens. When young people try alcohol, they often don’t realize the damaging effects drinking can have on their own lives, their families, and their communities.

Aside from being illegal, underage drinking is a widespread public health problem that poses many risks.

Here’s why:

Underage drinking is widespread

  • In 2009, about 10.4 million young people between ages 12 and 20 drank more than “just a few sips” of alcohol.
  • As kids get older, they drink more.  By age 15, half of teens have had at least one drink. By age 18, more than 70% of teens have had at least one drink.

Young people drink a lot

  • Young people drink less often than adults, but when they do drink, they drink more than adults.
  • On average, young people have about 5 drinks on a single occasion, which can be considered binge drinking.

Underage drinking risks include:

  • Death – 5,000 people under age 21 die each year from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning.
  • Serious injuries – More than 190,000 people under age 21 visited an emergency room for alcohol-related injuries in 2008 alone.
  • Impaired judgment – Drinking can cause kids to make poor decisions, which can then result in risky behavior like drinking and driving, sexual activity, or violence.
  • Increased risk for physical and sexual assault – Youth who drink are more likely to carry out or be the victim of a physical or sexual assault.
  • Brain development problems – Research shows that brain development continues well into a person’s twenties. Alcohol can affect this development, and contribute to a range of problems.

Here’s how you can recognize the signs of underage drinking:
Anyone who interacts with young people should pay close attention to the warning signs that may indicate underage drinking. Some of these warning signs include:

  • Academic and/or behavioral problems in school
  • Changing groups of friends
  • Less interest in activities and/or appearance
  • Finding alcohol among a young person’s things or smelling alcohol on their breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Coordination problems
  • Memory and/or concentration problems

Learn more details and statistics about underage drinking


Stats & Summaries 
Snaphot of Drinking Consequences

NIAAA College Materials 
What Colleges Need to Know Now: An Update on College Drinking Research
A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges

Panel Reports 
College Drinking Statistical Papers 
College Fact Sheet for Parents
Reducing Alcohol Problems on Campus: A Guide to Planning and Evaluation 
Whole College Catalog 
Prevention Curriculum 
PowerPoint Presentations
NIAAA Alcohol Alert Supporting Research
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (July 2009)
Journal of Studies on Alcohol
College Drinking Statistical Papers
Related Research

Other Alcohol Information 
Fall Semester: A Time for Parents to Revisit Conversations About Drinking
Risky Drinking Can Put a Chill on Your Summer Fun.
Facts About Alcohol Poisoning 
FAQs on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
High School Graduation Fact Sheet
How to Cut Down on Your Drinking 
Make a Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol

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Know the Facts About

College Binge Drinking

With National Drug Facts Week taking place from October 31 to November 6, it seems timely to discuss a serious and important topic: college binge drinking.

Part of being a college student—or the parent of a college student—is learning to live an educated, informed life. Ideally, one’s time to learn and grow doesn’t stop when a person steps outside of the classroom. So when it comes to understanding binge drinking, it’s important to know the facts.

[Learn 7 ways to ensure a healthy college experience.]

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism(NIAAA), binge drinking is “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAV) to .08 grams percent or above. For the typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming five or more drinks for men, or for our more drinks for women, in about 2 hours.”

The NIAAA also reports that “approximately two of every five college students of all ages—more than 40 percent—have reported engaging in binge drinking at least once during the past 2 weeks.”

You may think your drinking behavior doesn’t count as binge drinking. You may believe your student doesn’t drink while away at school. Or you may think that this kind of drinking is so normal on your campus, when you were in college, or when you are among your friends that it’s not really anything to be worried about.

Unfortunately, underage drinking, binge drinking, and general irresponsible drinking can lead to some pretty unfortunate consequences. The NIAAA lists a wide range of negative outcomes experienced as a result of excessive drinking, including an estimated 1,700 deaths of college students—not young adults, but college students in particular—between the ages of 18 and 24 from “alcohol-related unintentional injuries.”

Additionally, each year, “more than 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking;” “more than 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex as a result of their drinking each year;” and approximately “25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking.”

[What should college students who need academic help do?]

That extra beer, one last cosmo, or wine glass top-off can clearly have larger implications than many students realize. Being a college student or the parent of one involves making smart decisions about one’s life and future.

Do students drink in college? Of course. Is it your choice to drink when and how you want to? Within some limits, yes. Do your drinking choices and behaviors have to cross the line into unhealthy actions that can lead to long-term, irreversible consequences? No.

One simple but often understated aspect of college drinking is that college students always have a choice about how much alcohol to consume and when to consume it. Next time you’re at a campus party, think twice about taking that extra drink. What do you have to lose by not having just one more? But what do you have to lose if you do?

[Read about a possible connection between binge drinking and memory loss.]

If you’re a student who wants more information about how to change your own drinking or even the culture of drinking on your campus, there are undoubtedly quite a few resources available. Check with your campus health center, student activities office, or even the dean of students office.

You’ve probably seen programming in your residence hall or on the campus in general about alcohol awareness; see how you can get more involved in future events. Lastly, if you’re seriously concerned about your own health situation, reach out to someone in the campus health or counseling center to schedule a screening and heart-to-heart conversation.

If you’re a parent and have concerns about your student’s drinking patterns or just want more information, there are some great resources available for you, too. College Drinking—Changing the Culture (part of NIAAA) has specific information for parents of college students.

The U.S. Department of Education also has a Higher Education Center for Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Violence Prevention that can help a parent understand the larger issues affecting unhealthy college drinking and the initiatives hoping to combat this trend. Lastly, the famed Mothers Against Drunk Driving always has resources and support available online


Wechsler H, Wuethrich B.
Dying to Drink, Harvard researcher Henry Wechsler, Ph.D College binge drinking is more of an issue than ever. In recent years the alcohol industry has stepped up its efforts to convince students, school administrators, and health officials that the problem isn’t really so bad. Yet the fact is that at least two out of every five U.S. college students regularly binge drink, resulting each year in approximately fourteen hundred student deaths, a distressing number of assaults and rapes, a shameful amount of vandalism, and countless cases of academic suicide.

In Dying to Drink, Harvard researcher Henry Wechsler, Ph.D., and science writer Bernice Wuethrich take stock of the problem. Citing surprising statistics from his series of College Alcohol Studies (CAS), the most recent of which was conducted in 2001, Dr. Wechsler warns that drinking on campus is taking a bigger toll than most of us realize. And it’s not just the students themselves who pay: One estimate puts the cost of underage drinking at around $53 billion a year, including $18 billion associated with traffic crashes that threaten the general public–about 57 percent of frequent binge drinkers and 40 percent of occasional binge drinkers admit getting behind the wheel after drinking. Is this a price we’re willing to pay for a teenager’s drunken “fun”?

Perhaps more chilling even than the cold facts and figures are the personal confessions gathered from Dr. Wechsler’s survey and Wuethrich’s independent interviews. A frat brother who regularly drinks until he blacks out recounts how, if not why, he does it; a non-binge drinker tells about the secondhand effects of alcohol that he’s suffered at the hands of inebriated roommates; and on- and off-campus partygoers describe the sometimes dangerous conditions encountered in college environments where heavy drinking is encouraged, especially at fraternity houses, sporting events, and university bars.

But Dying to Drink doesn’t just aim to scare–the authors care about solving the problem. Along with a Resources section that points readers to the best organizations to team up with, the final fourth of the book lists specific ways that we all can take action against the binge drinking menace that hobbles higher education in this country.

From the Back Cover
The fact that so many U.S. college students binge drink today indicates a failure not only of our best and brightest but also of higher education, local law enforcement, and to some extent our own attitudes. At the same time it represents booming economic success for the alcohol industry, which, like Big Tobacco, has been targeting young adults as part of its marketing master plan for years. And Big Alcohol is still on the offensive.

Underage drinking and binge drinking are not harmless rites of passage. Rather than serving as some kind of bridge to adulthood, these illicit activities exact a senseless and severe price in blood and brain cells each semester. The proof is in the firsthand student accounts of out-of-control house parties and bar blasts, the testimonies of concerned health care professionals, and the tragic news stories related in this landmark book.

Only with our beer goggles off can a concerted effort involving schools, parents, community leaders, and concerned students successfully confront the real losses caused by binge drinking on our college campuses. It’s time to clear the alcohol haze

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Preventing alcoholism

among college students

By Dr. Marc Siegel

Alcoholism is a disease, and like many serious diseases it has genetic factors, affects major organs in the body, can spread to others including our young, and is difficult to treat. But like any disease it can be treated – and it can also be prevented.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excess drinking leads to over 1800 deaths per year as well as 600,000 injuries, 696,000 assaults. Approximately 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are the victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. Alcohol can sometimes act as a gateway drug, in that it is often combined with marijuana, cocaine, and other narcotics.

In terms of preventing the disease of alcoholism, some colleges are fighting back. This past week was National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, in which colleges and universities across the country sponsor programs, forums and other initiatives to raise awareness of alcohol issues on campuses.  Trinity College in Connecticut also has several programs including “Night Watch,” where non-drinking peers attend parties to keep drinking in check. Martha O’Brien, direct of health services at Trinity College spoke to me about the effect of these programs.

“I believe at this age we have an opportunity to make a difference,” O’Brien said. “They are not set in their ways yet. They are still in that maturational process.”

Fox News’ Bob Beckel, a recovering alcoholic who was recently honored by the Caron Foundation, spoke to me about his concerns for college students.

“They’re in a college environment or in a peer environment where everybody’s drinking, and they can drink fine and they think everything’s fine until they can’t stop drinking,” Beckel said. “And then that’s where the problem begins. Or the real crisis that’s going on is binge drinking, where kids on college campuses drink only on weekends and a lot of them die. The only thing people need to remember about this disease of alcoholism is it will kill you. It is not a benign disease.”

Prevention is part of the approach to treating alcoholism. But according to Dr. Samuel Shem, addiction specialist and author, alcohol remains a social lubricant at universities, especially among kids who have a low self-esteem, are isolated, or need a confidence boost.

“The biggest problem when kids get to college is they start to get isolated,” Shem said to me. “It’s a whole new social network they have to get into, and they’re not used to it, because they’ve done all of this dating on (computer and phone) screens and so to break down those social barriers they start to drink…Alcoholism is called the disease of isolation.”

Shem co-authored an inspiring new play currently showing at the Soho Playhouse called Bill W. and Dr. Bob, which details the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). In one of the great chance meetings of the 20th century, a drunk stockbroker and a drunk surgeon meet, and together, they help each other quit. This buddy system, where one drinker tells his or her story to another for healing, became the basis for AA — the original self-help group based on holistic healing which has now spread to 130 countries. AA is an important tool for young alcoholics, with 11 percent of its members now between the ages of 20 and 30 years old.

Sponsored by Hazelden non-profit treatment centers, revenue fromBill W. and Dr. Bob will be used for youth treatment scholarships. The play is becoming a force in the battle against alcoholism, and it is about to embark on a national college and medical school tour.

“The fellowship and the connection in the community that comes from AA and other self-help programs is really a cornerstone for a lot of people’s recovery,” Barbara Kistenmacher, executive director of Hazelden, said to me in an interview.

Watching Bill W. and Dr. Bob is an emotional experience for alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike. The men struggle and destroy their families, before eventually developing a fellowship, which builds in strength and helps to heal others. Ironically, it is Bill more than Dr. Bob who has the primary role of healing for much of the play.

After the play, Fox News filmed college students in the audience telling their stories of illness and recovery through the help of AA. Anonymity was preserved, as in AA itself, and the session had the positive energy and collaborative feel of an AA meeting.

“I came into AA in 12th grade, and I think it’s appropriate for anyone with alcoholism,” one audience member said. “I came in, and I thought my life was over – and it’s completely opposite of that.”

“It’s like a blessing for me to be here,” another audience member said. “Being a college student, who would think I would enjoy sitting in a play watching you guys — no offense — and not out drinking on a Thursday night? And there’s nowhere else that I’d rather be right now. I have this, you know, compulsion to drink, and like everything it says in the book, it’s a disease, and I need a cure. And you guys just did an amazing job showing what the cure is.”

Shem couldn’t agree more: “The essence of good medicine is the healing power of good connection. With any kind of disease you have, but with alcohol specifically, you can’t do it alone. It’s not a matter of will power. What these guys found out is that alcoholism is a disease, and it’s a disease with psychological, physical and spiritual elements – and it had to be treated in all three ways.”


Dr. Marc Siegel is an associate professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center. He is a member of the Fox News Medical A Team and author of several books, including “False Alarm; the Truth About the Epidemic of Fear“; He is also the author of “Swine Flu and Bird Flu.” His most recent book is  The Inner Pulse: Unlocking the Secret Code of Sickness and Health.

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College Drinking

Virtually all college students experience the effects of college drinking – whether they drink or not.

The problem with college drinking is not necessarily the drinking itself, but the negative consequences that result from excessive drinking.

College drinking problems
College drinking is extremely widespread:

  • About four out of five college students drink alcohol.
  • About half of college students who drink, also consume alcohol through binge drinking.

Each year, drinking affects college students, as well as college communities, and families. The consequences of drinking include:

  • Death: 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.
  • Assault: More than 690,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
  • Sexual Abuse: More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
  • Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.

Preventing Drinking in College
Research strongly suggests that prevention strategies geared towards specific groups and used in combination with each other can help reduce the frequency and quantity of college drinking. These groups include:

  • Individual students
  • Student body as a whole
  • College and surrounding community

Learn more about College Drinking.

The Most Used Drugs On College Campuses

  • 10. Ketamine

    The abuse of ketamine, a tranquilizer most often used on animals.   It became popular in the 1980s when it was realized that large doses cause reactions similar to those associated with the use of PCP such as dream-like states and hallucinations. The liquid form of ketamine can be injected, consumed in drinks, or added to smokable materials.   The powder form can also be added to drinks, smoked, or dissolved and then inject- ed. In some cases, ketamine is injected intramuscularly.

  • 9. Percosets

    Since the mid-1990s, a sharp increase of prescription drug abuse among youth, including college students, has been documented in numerous sources.   In conjunction with this increase, the abuse of oxycodone has also grown. Oxycodone is an opioid—a prescription narcotic—used medically to control pain.   Oxycodone acts on the brain, affecting the way a person experiences both pain and pleasure; because of this latter effect, use sometimes results in an initial euphoria.   The marketed form of OxyContin (or in other forms, Percocet or Percodan) is a controlled-release tablet or capsule.

  • 8. Xanax Bars

    Xanax, generically known as alprazolam, is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.   Xanax is prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders and panic attacks.   This drug is habit forming and often abused for the calm and soothing feeling that it induces.   Xanax addiction is difficult if not impossible to overcome alone, but Xanax users can achieve a lasting recovery with the help others and quality drug addiction treatment.

  • 7. Shrooms

    The psychedelic drug in magic mushrooms may have lasting medical and spiritual benefits, according to new research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.   The mushroom-derived hallucinogen, called psilocybin, is known to trigger transformative spiritual states, but at high doses it can also result in “bad trips” marked by terror and panic.   The trick is to get the dose just right, which the Johns Hopkins researchers report having accomplished.   In their study, the Hopkins scientists were able to reliably induce transcendental experiences in volunteers, which offered long-lasting psychological growth and helped people find peace in their lives — without the negative effects.

  • 6. Oxycodone

    Oxycontin, also known as hillbilly heroin, was first introduced as a high potent pain reliever in 1995.   It has rapidly become a highly abused prescription drug by children, teens, college students, and many other people in the U.S.   In the short time it has been on the market, it has become the most highly abused drug in America.   There are several ways in which the drug is used, depending upon the person.   It can be taken orally, chewed, crushed and snorted, or dissolved and injected like heroin. It is highly addictive and often deadly.

  • 5. Klonopin

    The two major types of prescription drugs used and abused in colleges throughout the United States are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medications like Adderall or Ritalin and antianxiety drugs such as Klonopin.   Klonopin triggers certain chemicals in the brain to make a person feel more stable and calm in potentially stressful situations.   It can seem like an easy solution for college students struggling to adjust or fit in. Klonopin is prescribed as a short-term anxiety reducer, but many users and abusers ignore the “short-term” aspect.   After relying on Klonopin’s calming effects for longer than prescribed, students will begin to psychologically feel that they need the drug to function. This dependence on Klonopin to manage everyday life will lead to addiction.

  • 4. Cocaine,

    12% College Users

    Among U.S. college students surveyed as part of the Monitoring the Future Study, 8.2 percent reported they have used cocaine during their lifetimes, 4.8 percent reported past-year cocaine use, and 1.6 percent reported past-month cocaine use.   Cocaine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that can be snorted, smoked, or injected. Cocaine comes in two forms: a white crystalline powder and an off-white chunky material (crack). Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted blood vessels and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.   Users may also experience feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety.   Users who smoke the drug also may suffer from acute respiratory problems, including coughing, shortness of breath, and severe chest pains with lung trauma and bleeding.

  • 3. Adderall

    Studying for finals.  Paying attention in class.  Simply wanting to feel wired.   The explosion of illegal Adderall use by students on college campuses across the country has many root causes– and a number of strange side effects.   Students’ usage of the so-called “study drug” is apparently becoming so prevalent that some say it is putting non-Adderall users at an academic disadvantage.   As University of North Carolina senior Elizabeth Melenbrink argued in a letter to the editorpublished this past fall in The Daily Tar Heel , “The use of Adderall in academics certainly makes the playing field less even.   If it’s so easy to get a hold of, then should we compromise our standards and use it too so that we can compete on a higher level?   Are the disparities so great that universities should implement such extreme measures as drug testing before exams?   Is it a legitimate excuse to explain away my (low) GPA by my refusal to use Adderall?”

  • 2. MDMA

    (Ecstasy & Molly)

    MDMA (Ecstasy), a synthetic drug with both psychedelic and stimulant effects, is typically consumed orally in pill form.   Although MDMA is predominantly known as a club drug due to the prevalence of its use at nightclubs and parties called raves, it is also being used increasingly in other settings, such as college dorms. The effects of MDMA last between four and six hours and can include: confusion, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and paranoia.   Physical effects of MDMA include muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching (which is why some users suck on pacifiers), nausea, blurred vision, feeling of faintness, tremors, rapid eye movement, and sweating or chills.   Rave attendees who use MDMA also risk dehydration, hyperthermia, and heart or kidney failure. MDMA use also damages parts of the brain that are critical to thought and memory.

  • 1. Marijuana

    Nearly half (49.5 percent) of the U.S. college students surveyed as part of the Monitoring the Future Study reported using marijuana at least once during their lifetimes.   Approximately 35 percent (34.7 percent) of college students had used marijuana at least one time during the past year.   19.7 percent were current users of marijuana (meaning they used marijuana at least once during the month prior to being surveyed).



Revised December 2012

Marijuana is a dry, shredded green and brown mix of leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. In a more concentrated, resinous form, it is called hashish, and as a sticky black liquid, hash oil. The main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States. After a period of decline in the last decade, its use has generally increased among young people since 2007, corresponding to a diminishing perception of the drug’s risks. More teenagers are now current (past-month) smokers of marijuana than of cigarettes, according to annual survey data.

How is Marijuana Abused?

Marijuana is usually smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or in pipes or water pipes (bongs). It is also smoked in blunts—cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with a mixture of marijuana and tobacco. Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive, usually sweet-and-sour, odor. Marijuana can also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea.

illlustration of chemical structures showing how similar the natural brain chemical anandamide is to marijuana's THC

How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain?

When marijuana is smoked, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. It is absorbed more slowly when ingested in food or drink.

However it is ingested, THC acts upon specific molecular targets on brain cells, called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are ordinarily activated by chemicals similar to THC called endocannabinoids, such as anandamide. These are naturally occurring in the body and are part of a neural communication network (the endocannabinoid system) that plays an important role in normal brain development and function.

The highest density of cannabinoid receptors is found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. Marijuana overactivates the endocannabinoid system, causing the high and other effects that users experience. These include distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.

Effects on Life

Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. In fact, heavy marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to their peers who came from similar backgrounds. For example, marijuana use is associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out from school. Several studies also associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.

Research has shown that, in chronic users, marijuana’s adverse impact on learning and memory persists after the acute effects of the drug wear off; when marijuana use begins in adolescence, the effects may persist for many years. Research from different areas is converging on the fact that regular marijuana use by young people can have long-lasting negative impact on the structure and function of their brains.

A recent study of marijuana users who began using in adolescence revealed a profound deficit in connections between brain areas responsible for learning and memory. And a large prospective study (following individuals across time) showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost as much as 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38; importantly, the lost cognitive abilities were not restored in those who quit smoking marijuana as adults. (Individuals who started smoking marijuana in adulthood did not show significant IQ declines.)

What Are the Other Health Effects of Marijuana?

Marijuana use can have a variety of adverse, short- and long-term effects, especially on cardiopulmonary and mental health.

Marijuana raises heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking; this effect can last up to 3 hours. In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. This may be due to increased heart rate as well as the effects of marijuana on heart rhythms, causing palpitations and arrhythmias. This risk may be greater in older individuals or in those with cardiac vulnerabilities.

Marijuana and Driving

Because it seriously impairs judgment and motor coordination, marijuana also contributes to accidents while driving. A recent analysis of data from several studies found that marijuana use more than doubles a driver’s risk of being in an accident. Further, the combination of marijuana and alcohol is worse than either substance alone with respect to driving impairment.

Marijuana smoke is an irritant to the lungs, and frequent marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems experienced by tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections. One study found that people who smoke marijuana frequently but do not smoke tobacco have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers, mainly because of respiratory illnesses.

A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and mental illness. High doses of marijuana can produce a temporary psychotic reaction (involving hallucinations and paranoia) in some users, and using marijuana can worsen the course of illness in patients with schizophrenia. A series of large prospective studies also showed a link between marijuana use and later development of psychosis. This relationship was influenced by genetic variables as well as the amount of drug used and the age at which it was first taken—those who start young are at  increased risk for later problems.

Associations have also been found between marijuana use and other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents, and personality disturbances, including a lack of motivation to engage in typically rewarding activities. More research is still needed to confirm and better understand these linkages.

Marijuana use during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of neurobehavioral problems in babies. Because THC and other compounds in marijuana mimic the body’s own cannabinoid-like chemicals, marijuana use by pregnant mothers may alter the developing endocannabinoid system in the brain of the fetus. Consequences for the child may include problems with attention, memory, and problem solving.

Finally, marijuana use has been linked in a few recent studies to an increased risk of an aggressive type of testicular cancer in young men, although further research is needed to establish whether there is a direct causal connection.

Is Marijuana Medicine?

Although many have called for the legalization of marijuana to treat conditions including pain and nausea caused by HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other conditions, the scientific evidence to date is not sufficient for the marijuana plant to gain FDA approval, for two main reasons.

First, there have not been enough clinical trials showing that marijuana’s benefits outweigh its health risks in patients with the symptoms it is meant to treat. The FDA requires carefully conducted studies in large numbers of patients (hundreds to thousands) to accurately assess the benefits and risks of a potential medication.

Also, to be considered a legitimate medicine, a substance must have well-defined and measureable ingredients that are consistent from one unit (such as a pill or injection) to the next. This consistency allows doctors to determine the dose and frequency. As the marijuana plant contains hundreds of chemical compounds that may have different effects and that vary from plant to plant, its use as a medicine is difficult to evaluate.

However, THC-based drugs to treat pain and nausea are already FDA approved and prescribed, and scientists continue to investigate the medicinal properties of cannabinoids. For more information,…

seeDrugFacts – Is Marijuana Medicine?

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Contrary to common belief, marijuana is addictive. Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among daily users (to 25-50 percent). Thus, many of the nearly 7 percent of high-school seniors who (according to annual survey data) report smoking marijuana daily or almost daily are well on their way to addiction, if not already addicted (besides functioning at a sub-optimal level all of the time).

Long-term marijuana users trying to quit report withdrawal symptoms including irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which can make it difficult to remain abstinent. Behavioral interventions, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational incentives (i.e., providing vouchers for goods or services to patients who remain abstinent) have proven to be effective in treating marijuana addiction. Although no medications are currently available, recent discoveries about the workings of the endocannabinoid system offer promise for the development of medications to ease withdrawal, block the intoxicating effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse.

Rising Potency

The amount of THC in marijuana samples confiscated by police has been increasing steadily over the past few decades. In 2012, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged nearly 15 percent, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980s. For a new user, this may mean exposure to higher concentrations of THC, with a greater chance of an adverse or unpredictable reaction. Increases in potency may account for the rise in emergency department visits involving marijuana use. For experienced users, it may mean a greater risk for addiction if they are exposing them-selves to high doses on a regular basis. However, the full range of consequences associated with marijuana’s higher potency is not well understood, nor is it known whether experienced marijuana users adjust for the increase in potency by using less.

Learn More

For information on NIDA’s marijuana research,

click here.

For additional information on marijuana and marijuana abuse,

please see NIDA’s Research Report Marijuana Abuse


Are Parents Parenting?…

This question is being asked many times in the news today…

with Cyber -Bullying, Teenage Drinking and Drug problems, ect…

Ask yourself…

Is it easier being your child’s friend than dealing

with the many difficult uncomfortable situations that true Parenting presents?

Be Your Teen’s Parent, Not Their Friend


It is easy to get stuck when raising your teen in a number of pitfalls, but I find the ‘being a friend’ pitfall the hardest to avoid. I’m sure you can relate. There are times when parents just want to be liked by their teens. We’re people and we love our children, so we want to be loved back. It would make things so much easier – less stress, right? But nowhere in the definition of ‘parent’ is the word ‘friend’ or for that matter, the word ‘easy’. And in reality, being a friend to your teen just makes life harder for you both.As a parent, you have a responsibility to perform your parental role for your teen. It is your responsibility to help them learn life skills, keep them safe and secure and to guide them into the most successful adulthood they are capable of having. Children and teens are not able to raise themselves on their own, they need responsible adults to assist them. So when a parent says that they want to be their teen’s friend – while they may think they are giving their teen something – what they are saying is that they don’t want the responsibility of parenting their teen. They are in fact taking away the love, security and dependability a parent gives to their teenagers by abdicating from the job.

When it comes to discipline, being a friend to your teen can mean that you allow your teen to not be held accountable for their actions. You allow them to get away with doing things that may harm them, like underage drinking, or you don’t give them enough age-appropriate responsibilities so that they are less independent than their peers.

Here are three frequent life situations and how to respond to your teen as a responsible parent with their needs in mind, rather than a friend:

Life Situation #1: Your teen wants to go to a party where there is no supervision and drugs and alcohol are available. As a responsible parent, you will need to say no and not allow your teen to attend the party. You will also need to set your expectations and consequences should your teen ever attend this type of party without your permission. Why? Because a party of this nature is illegal and if busted, your teen can face charges. But beyond that, your teen could be hurt in any number of situations that can come out of a large group of drunk and drugged up adolescents.

Life Situation #2: Your teen continually asks for money to purchase things that are not needs, although they may be things you both agree they can have, without giving a second though about where the money is coming from or how much they are spending. As a responsible parent, you will need to set a limit on how much your teen spends. Why? Because unless you have the proverbial money tree in the backyard, there is a limit to how much money your family has at its disposal. Your teen needs to learn that money is earned, therefore things like going to the movies, video games, iTunes purchases, etc. are received by working for them.

Life Situation #3: Your teen doesn’t do or rushes through their homework and school work, thereby receiving only mediocre grades. As a responsible parent, you will need to talk with your teen about their future, goals and place some expectations on their schoolwork. Why? Teens don’t take in the big picture. They are unable to see the future like you, someone who as been there. Therefore, by helping them focus, and perhaps making immediate consequences, you will help your teen focus on what they need to do to be achieving in school.

As you can see by these examples, being a parent is much more than being a friend and it is much more rewarding as well.

Quick Links: All Discipline and Teens Resources | Quiz: Is your 


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A Month of Learning for Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

Katie Gorscak, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Groups across the country are committed to stop bullying will release new resources, campaigns, and efforts aimed at bringing awareness to this important issue facing our youth.   Bullying prevention must be addressed, and one way to accomplish this is through educating ourselves, our communities and the youth in our lives.

In the spirit of lifelong learning on this issue,

the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention

are launching several initiatives and


These efforts are highly important for reaching out not only to parents, teachers,

and the youth themselves, but also to the media who play an important role in telling the stories we hear about bullying.

Here are just some of the great efforts in store for Bullying Prevention Awareness.

  • Media Guidelines for Bullying Prevention.  Media coverage of social issues has a big impact on how communities understand and address problems. Research and expert opinion suggest that certain trends in media coverage of bullying have the potential to do harm. This guidance offers help to journalists, bloggers, the entertainment creative community, and others who are developing content about bullying to engage in responsible reporting on this important topic.
  • Youth Engagement Event. Across the country, youth are encouraged to talk about bullying by organizing bullying prevention social and educational events through youth organizations in their communities.  Youth can report back on these activities through our  For more information, visit
  • Conversation Starters Mobile App. Later this month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will release an app for parents to help start conversations with their kids about bullying.
  • Bullying Prevention Training Center.  This revamped section of the website provides a one-stop-shop for training materials for educators and community leaders. These new materials will be available in late October in our Training Center on
  • Dear Colleague Letter. The Department of Education has issued guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague letter that provides an overview of school districts’ responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to address bullying of students with disabilities.

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A Personal Perspective on Cyberbullying

Post date:
September 17, 2013
Michelle Lynn Nelson, Intern, U.S. Department of Education

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Back when MySpace was popular, almost every student at my high school had a profile. For us MySpace was an online-place where we could thoroughly express ourselves. We would post pictures from our latest and greatest adventures, update our status to our current mood, and choose backgrounds and music that represented who we were as a person. However, at one point during my high school MySpace became less of a space for self-expression and more a place of cyberbullying.

Tina Fey’s Mean Girls made popular the “Burn Book,” where a group of popular girls, known as “the Plastics” would write rumors, secrets, truths and lies about their fellow students and teachers. My high school’s “Burn Book” took the form of several online MySpace pages, spreading rumors about students across the campus including some of my friends. Many of my friends who were talked about on the page denied the rumors and were upset by the false information that was being spread around the campus. Most of the students saw the “Burn Book” and the rumors about them spread even further. The rumors became additional fuel for those who bullied to make fun of students. Students were now being cyberbullied in the comfort of their home on a site that was once a method of self-expression.

The student body knew very little about what the administration was doing to address the situation. Students did not see or hear about students being punished or facing any negative consequences for creating the “Burn Book.” The administration failed to reinforce policies designed to create a safe school climate. It left students feeling unprotected from unacceptable behavior. The MySpace “Burn Book” profiles stayed up throughout most of the year. As the school year moved on the profiles were talked about less, but continued to have negative effects on the student body.

During my sophomore year at the University of California-Berkeley, I was given the opportunity to participate in UCDC- Washington Program and write a 30-page research paper on a topic of interest to me. I chose to research cyberbullying due to both my high school experience and the increasing interest surrounding cyberbullying over the last few years. Cyberbullying is a growing problem due to the increased use of technology, especially among younger teens. Thus my research will be focusing on states’ implementation of cyberbullying policy and how this has affected students and rates of cyberbullying. The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students’ interest in bullying provides me not only with a vast array of research on cyberbullying that has helped me in conducting my research but also allows me to help make an impact in the field through other projects.

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Teen Shares His Story About Both Sides of Bullying,

Advocates Starting Conversations in Communities

Post date:
August 30, 2013
Ann Stock, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Tyler Pascavis, Youth Advocate
Tyler Pascavis wants us to talk about bullying. Tyler, 18, is a native of Illinois, a lifetime member of the 4-H, and an anti-bullying advocate who believes that the only way we can put a stop to bullying is to bring it out in the open. At the school Tyler attended most of his life, Tyler found that the administration was not willing to admit there was a problem with bullying.  A high-level school administrator once stated that bullying was not a problem at the school, so students who experienced bullying were left to suffer in silence. As someone who was bullied when he was young, and eventually someone who engaged in bullying himself, Tyler saw firsthand how staying silent on bullying could be as harmful as the bullying itself.Last April, Tyler had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC for the 4-H National Conference. There, more than 200 teens from across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, came together to address multiple issues that affect young people.  Tyler was placed in a group whose focus was on bullying. Tyler found this experience to be transformational, and he returned home to Illinois with new resources, new friends, and a desire to start a conversation in his school on bullying.When Tyler was required to write a senior synthesis paper to present to the school board of directors on any topic, Tyler chose to focus his on bullying, writing about why it was his school’s responsibility to address bullying, and making recommendations for specific actions the administration should take. He felt that “no matter who you are, you need to accept people for who they are, and you need to love them, even if it’s difficult, and even if they don’t hold the same views.”

In particular, Tyler wants there to be a stronger focus on not just victims of bullying, but the people who bully too. He believes that schools must work with students and teachers to build a community where everyone is accepted. “When someone bullies, it’s because he or she is looking for acceptance, and without that acceptance, he tries to find his worth in causing pain to others. We need to help these students also see they are loved.”

Some members of the board listened, some were upset, but overall Tyler feels that the presentation had a positive impact. He feels that people at his school are finally empowered to talk about bullying—“the most important thing is to get the students and teachers talking about it, because that’s how change will happen.”

Now Tyler is looking to the future and how he can be a positive role model to other youth who are might face bullying.  As a freshman at Illinois State University, Tyler has received a Presidential Scholarship which includes a requirement that he complete community service hours in a local non-profit organization. Because of the important role 4-H played in his own life, Tyler will use his community service hour to volunteer as a youth leader in the local 4-H clubs and the 4-H after school program. “There are so many opportunities in 4-H, and there is always a place for a student to fit in, and find a place where he or she can belong.”

Learn more about what teens can do to help prevent bullying…


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Protect Kids Online @

Post date:
September 20, 2012
Aditi Jhaveri, Division of Consumer and Business Education, Federal Trade Commission, and Kaitlyn Harrington, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Today’s kids use technology more than ever. While technology can be a great tool to communicate, learn, and socialize, it can also be used in harmful ways, and allow some kids to take bullying from school hallways into cyberspace. Cyberbullyinghappens when kids bully each other through electronic technology, including sending mean text messages, posting embarrassing photos on social networking sites, or creating fake profiles of another individual. Parents can help reduce these risks by talking to kids about how to be good online citizens and how to make safe, responsible decisions when using technology.

The federal government has a website,, to help you be safe online. Created by the Federal Trade Commission, the site’s purpose is to address issues that may arise when using technology and prevent them before they start. The site includes information for parents, educators, and others to help youth prevent cyberbullying and other issues that happen through technology. These resources are available both as downloads and many can also be ordered as hard-copies through FTC’s bulk order site.Specific to cyberbullying, resources include:

  • Stand Up to Cyberbullying, a short video for kids that explains what cyberbullying is, what to know about it, and what kids can do to stop the harassment. This is just one of the many videos available on the site on how to be safe and responsible online.
  • The Net Cetera Community Outreach toolkit gives tools and materials to plan community events around kids’ online safety. It covers topics such as cyberbullying, sexting, consequences of online actions, good online and cell phone etiquette, and protecting your computer. Specifically, the kit includes:
    • Net Cetera — a guide to help adults start the conversation with kids about being safe online
    • Heads Up — a guide to help kids protect themselves and their reputations when they’re socializing online
    • PowerPoint presentation slides
    • DVD with five videos

Another popular resource to share with kids is Living Life Online. This magazine-style booklet is designed to help tweens sharpen their critical thinking skills, be better digital citizens, and understand the advertising they see around them.

The key to preventing cyberbullying is education and we hope these resources will be useful to helping kids be safe online. OnGuardOnline is continually being updated with new resources.

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In The News

Parent Alert: Websites That Encourage Kids To Behave Badly And Harm Themselves

It’s time for parents to know about the research that shows a troubling trend in the mental health of our children. Peer cruelty, stress, depression, eating disorders, smoking, binge drinking, and using drugs are on the rise …

Sibling Bullying is Damaging

According to a new study from the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, sibling bullying is not something to be shrugged off…

Study Points To Bullying Risk Factors For Kids With Autism

Kids with autism are more likely to be bullied as they get older but the odds of victimization are influenced by a variety of factors, new research suggests.

Changing School Culture Can End Bullying

Bucyrus had a bullying problem, and city officials wanted to do more than punish students and react to incidents; rather, they wanted to stop the bullying before it began …

Bullying: Changing Behaviors, Changing Old School Ways – Helping Everybody

Both victims of bullying and the bullies need help. We must help the victims immediately and not sweep the issue under the rug. Yet, we must also get help for the bullies …

Overuse Of The Word “Bully”

The dictionary describes the word “Bully” as a person who is habitually cruel or overbearing to others. It also says — antagonizer, browbeater, bulldoze

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Smartphone Pictures Pose Privacy Risks



Boosting Brain Power

(Parents are not only in the know,…but help their children get prescriptions???)

More people, especially college students trying to improve their grades,

are illegally boosting their brain power by using prescription

“smart drugs” like Ritalin and Aderall, meant for those with attention deficit disorders. Katie Couric reports.


Experts alarmed about Adderall abuse



The Most Abused Prescription Drug in America.

Posted: 06/21/10 03:48 PM ET
 Dr. Ronald Ricker and Dr. Venus Nicolino

Adderall is abused mostly by college students and young adults. Estimates are that somewhere between 20-30 percent of college students regularly abuse Adderall.

Adderall has the dubious distinction of being the latest addition to the rogue’s gallery of lawful drugs that have made the transition to the black market. In recent years, abuse of Adderall and its imitators has increased by nearly 200 percent. Calling it an “upper” is like calling a hydrogen bomb a grenade. It is made of pure amphetamine, it’s already picked up its share of street monikers: Speed, Beans, Black Beauties, Christmas Trees, and Double Trouble, amongst others.

What are the pluses in this wonder-drug? In ordinary people it often but not always offers increased concentration. It also keeps people awake for more studying and lots more partying. It often offers a sense of euphoria and happiness and a lot better and more frequent sex, all fun at parties.

Between the glut of pop-psychology theories (often fraudulent) and the never-ending blitz of promotion by Big Pharma, people now believe they can diagnose themselves with something like ADHD as easily as ascertaining if they have a head cold and believe they have the ability to determine the correct medication for their condition. Sometimes they’re grandiosely right. Most of the time, however, they’re wrong on both counts. Even more of the time, diagnosis is irrelevant. The relevant question is where’s the “connection?” Sadly, that’s where many of us physicians fit in. We certainly don’t intend to, but often serve as the ‘connection’. Then, of course, there are those ‘patients’ and doctors that inhabit the bottom of the barrel: lying ‘patients’ and immoral doctors. Scripts can and are sold, for lots of money. Never mind the human cost, there’s money to be made and drugs to be copped. Take that prescription to the pharmacy. Or, take your money to a nearby local University. You’ll pay $30 to $40 dollars per pill for a very small amount of Adderall, usually sold to you by a student. Sales are usually student to student although the numbers of genuine drug dealers are growing rapidly in numbers, bringing with them all the problems of low-life, criminal drug dealers. Dealers recognize good business opportunities. Imagining little Johnny, having just finished Geography 1A, dealing with a real dealer chills the mind.

Illicit Adderall is taken in many ways. Most obviously, a pill can be swallowed. Pills can also be chewed, ground up and snorted, and ground up and injected (the most dangerous way of administration, by far). And then there’s ‘Stuffing’. This is accomplished by ‘stuffing’ Adderall in any orifice with a mucous membrane (anus, vagina, penis, mouth, etc.). Shooting gets the most immediate and strongest effect. Snorting is second, chewing third, and stuffing fourth. What ‘stuffing’ lacks in immediate ‘oomph’ and the loss of whatever dignity the person may retain, is made up by the length of effect and allows for the greatest amount of Adderall to be used at one time. The anus and vagina are big places and can hold a great deal of Adderall.

Sadly, there’s no free lunch.

1) Side effects are numerous. Some are minor, some serious, and some very serious. Most users have no clue as to negative side effects and usually don’t care. Ignorance, we suppose, is bliss. The most important and most negative side-effect is the Overdose. Overdose with Adderall is nasty. Results include Cardiac and/or pulmonary arrest, death, severe and lasting mental effects/defects. Which one happens to you is a matter of chance. If you’re in an Emergency Room and still alive your chances are relatively good. If you overdose at your apartment and are alone, the chance of your living is slim. If you Over Dose at a party, maybe a Frat Party, you’ve probably bought it. Drunken, high Frat boys are not known for their medical skills or even a modicum of clear thinking. Minor side effects include anxiety, and transient depression. More serious effects include heart palpitations, elevation of blood pressure, Tourette’s syndrome, seizures, stroke, and psychotic episodes or plain old psychosis.

2) Adderall is very, very addictive. Along with the ‘fun’ of physical and psychological damage, this drug opens the awful Pandora’s Box of addiction, with all its’ sadness, pain and misery. Adderall not only opens this Box, but also resides within. It is a ‘gateway’ drug, often leading to other fun drugs like cocaine, heroin, E, etc.

3) The Law. The sale, possession and use of Adderall for illegitimate purposes is a felony. The Drug Enforcement Administration and police are getting better and better at catching end users. Jail, fines and a criminal record are doled out more and more frequently.

4) There are the “grown-up” ramifications, those real-life, practical consequences that aren’t even on the radar of the average college kid. For example, life and health insurance: If one lies about a diagnosis, such as ADHD, they still have the diagnosis on their medical records. Health Insurance companies do not have a reputation for being the most empathetic or understanding of institutions, and that’s not just towards those who are actually sick. “I have ADHD (lying or not), and I take Adderall” are very good, probably, certain reasons for turn down. Arrests usually aren’t flattering criteria for getting a job. Anybody know about Google? Police records are as easy to find as Adderall on campus. More and more employers search prospective employees backgrounds.

Can one live without Adderall?

As far as the fun, this seems to come with the package (you’re the package). There’s already a place producing more than enough chemicals on its own to make you horny and rowdy: your own body. And, at least, those are free and legal.

The first six pack of 40’s is on us

College life:

The Ritalin advantage? 

New York Times News Service
Aug. 1, 2005 04:30 PM
NEW YORK – It was finals week at Columbia University and Angela needed a miracle. Like many of her classmates, Angela, a bleary-eyed junior, had already pulled a pair of all-nighters to get through a paper on “Finnegans Wake,” a French test and an exam for her music humanities class. All that remained was a Latin American literature final, but as midnight approached, her stamina was beginning to fade. “This week is killing me,” she said, taking a cigarette break in front of the school library. “At this point, I could use a little help.”Thanks to a friend, the tiny orange pill in her purse would provide the needed miracle. Angela, who asked that her last name not be published for fear of alarming her family and angering university officials, popped a 30-milligram tablet of Adderall into her mouth, washed it down with coffee and headed back to the library for another night of cramming. The next morning, she sailed through the exam confidently and scored an A. “I don’t think I could keep a 3.9 average without this stuff,” she said afterward.At many colleges across the country, the ingredients for academic success now include a steady flow of analeptics, the class of prescription amphetamines that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Since Ritalin abuse first hit the radar screen several years ago, the reliance on prescription stimulants to enhance performance has risen, becoming almost as commonplace as No-Doz, Red Bull and maybe even caffeine. As many as 20 percent of college students have used Ritalin or Adderall to study, write papers and take exams, according to recent surveys focused on individual campuses. A study released this month by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia found that the number of teenagers who admit to abusing prescription medications tripled from 1992 to 2003, while in the general population such abuse had doubled.Dr. Robert A. Winfield, director of University Health Service at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, sees a growing number of students who falsely claim to be ADHD sufferers so they can get a prescription. At least once a week, a jittery, frightened, sleep-deprived student who has taken too many tablets for too many days shows up at his office. “Things have really gotten out of hand in the last four to five years,” he said. “Students have become convinced that this will help them achieve academic success.”On campus, the drugs are either sold or given away by people with prescriptions, or they are procured by students who have learned to navigate the psychiatric exams offered by campus health centers, which usually provide the drugs at a discount. Unlike Ritalin, two newer members of the family of analeptics – Adderall and Concerta – come in time-release forms and can keep a patient medicated an entire day.Much like performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports, the spread of analeptics among college students is raising issues of competitiveness and fairness. But interviews and e-mail exchanges with two dozen Columbia students suggest that the prevailing ethos is that Adderall, the drug of choice these days, is a legitimate and even hip way to get through the rigors of a hectic academic and social life. “The culture here actually encourages people to use stimulants,” said Barak Ben-Ezer, a computer science and economics major who prefers Red Bull, a caffeinated beverage and cigarettes over prescription drugs. But pure recreational use of the drugs, which sometimes includes crushing and snorting a tablet, is generally frowned on, he and others said.Libby, a writing major at Columbia who received a diagnosis of ADHD in first grade, is a typical drug dealer. She often sells her 10-milligram tablets to strangers for $5 or barters them with friends for meals. The demand during exam week can get intense, said Libby, who, like most people interviewed for this article, asked that her last name be withheld. “I’m constantly being bombarded with requests,” she said. “People can get desperate.”She said that the attitude toward stimulants has changed drastically since her days in elementary school, when she was forced by her parents to down a daily regimen of Ritalin. “As a kid, I was made to feel different for taking these drugs,” she said. “Now it’s almost cool to take them.”

Many mental health counselors point out that the proliferation of analeptics on college campuses is partly a matter of demographics. The hundreds of thousands of children who were diagnosed with ADHD and attention deficit disorder in the early 1990s are now entering college, and bringing their drugs with them. Libby, for one, takes them only to pull through the occasional paper. “It really messes with my head,” she said, adding that in the past the medication has intensified underlying obsessive-compulsive habits.

Some experts, while fretting about the use of analeptics without a prescription, see the advent and acceptance of the drugs as a great revolution that has helped a generation of children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Dr. Robert Herman, a staff psychiatrist at the University of Maryland, College Park, says he regularly sees students whose grade point averages rise markedly after taking the medication. “Students tell me it’s really changed their lives for the better, that they are so much more focused and organized,” he said.

Sorting out those with legitimate diagnoses from the deceivers can be nearly impossible, he said, because “in psychiatry, there is no blood test.” He said he always tells patients that it’s illegal to share their medicine, but added, “I can’t exactly go into their dorm room and count their pills.”

Requests for comment by Columbia administrators were referred to Dr. Laurence Greenhill, a clinical psychiatrist at the university, who said that the idea that Adderall is a performance enhancer is a myth. “It won’t increase your intelligence, it just increases your diligence,” he said. “Essentially, the drugs delay the onset of sleep so you can stay up all night and cram.”

Designer stimulants like Adderall are far less dangerous than cocaine or methamphetamines. According to the Shire Pharmaceuticals Group, which makes Adderall, medical research has found it has no potential for addiction. But Adderall, like many other medications, can interact with other drugs and create problems, particularly when taken in other-than-prescribed dosages, a spokesman said.

The main side effects of analeptics are increased heart rate, agitation and the kind of paranoia and disorientation that results from amphetamine-induced insomnia. In February, the Canadian government suspended sales of Adderall XR, the time-release version of the medication, noting “20 international reports” of sudden deaths, heart-related deaths and strokes in children and adults. (The standard Adderall is not sold in Canada.) In Washington, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took note of the Canadian ban but said it would take no action.

“These are very safe medications,” said Timothy E. Wilens, author of “Straight Talk About Psychiatric Medications for Kids” and a child psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. “They have been used for 70 years, and we haven’t had terrible catastrophes.”

For many college students, the issue about Adderall is not so much health as it is fairness. Among those who refuse to dabble in performance-enhancing substances, the disapproval and bitterness can be fierce. Angelica Gonzales, a civil engineering major at Columbia, said she resented that nearly all her friends have taken Adderall at some point in their academic careers. “It’s cheating, and it really bothers me,” she said, a bundle of notes in her lap. “I mean, everyone here is smart. They should be able to get by without the extra help.”

The more popular sentiment about Adderall’s role in academic success was explained by John, an economics major who was raised in a conservative Midwestern culture. He said he always believed that if you had trouble in school, you should just study harder. But since coming to Columbia three years ago, his opinion has changed. “The environment here is incredibly competitive,” he said. “If you don’t take them, you’ll be at a disadvantage to everyone else.” With that, he swallowed a 20-milligram tablet of Adderall and headed back into the library.

A Student Cautions Others

One college senior recalls using Adderall frequently during her freshman and sophomore years.

“I started to notice my own addictive behaviors,” she says, adding that she began using the drug more and more. “The more you use it, the more you want to use more of it.”

She knew she was becoming addicted and that she wouldn’t be able to afford her habit. So she decided to stop using Adderall. “It takes away your own coping skills and your own ability to evolve your own study skills and work ethic. So it’s kind of an easy way out.” And she says it made her feel “like a lesser person,” relying on the drug to do well. During her last two years of college, she says, she’s stayed away from Adderall — and gotten good grades.

Mom’s too?

Dangers of Adderall Addiction Among Moms



A Third of College Students Smoke

By Melissa Schorr
B O S T O N, Aug. 8

Despite crusades and campaigns encouraging young people not to take up smoking, a third are currently using tobacco products, a number greater than previously believed, researchers said today.

Previous research examined cigarette smoking in college students, but failed to ask about the use of other tobacco products, such as cigars, which added significantly to the findings and may give researchers new insights into how to target smoking on campus.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health surveyed more than 14,000 students at 119 colleges nationwide, asking them to report on their lifetime use of tobacco.

The results were announced today at the “World Conference on Tobacco OR Health” in Chicago and were also published in a special issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association devoted to tobacco research.

Still Smoking

A third of the students said they had used a tobacco product — cigarettes, chewing tobacco and increasingly, cigars — in the last four weeks, indicating they were current users, and nearly half of the students admitted they had used tobacco in the past year.

Between 1993 and 1997, the number of U.S. college students who smoked cigarettes increased from 22 percent to 28 percent, the study reports. Researchers suspected that use of other tobacco products, such as cigars, was on the rise as well, but had never asked the question.

Their suspicions proved correct. In the current study, 23 percent of college students said they had smoked a cigar in the last year and 9 percent reported they were current cigar users, while only 3.7 percent said they currently use chewing tobacco and 1.2 percent said they currently smoke pipes. Those findings brought the total tobacco use up to 33 percent.

Playing With Fire?

Researchers blamed the rise in cigar use among young adults on the cigar industry’s successful marketing push in the early ’90s, which made cigar bars and magazines trendy.

“College students are playing with fire, putting themselves at risk of a lifelong addiction to nicotine,” says lead author Dr. Nancy Rigotti, director of tobacco research and treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Men and women now smoke cigarettes in equal numbers, but because men tend to use cigars and chewing tobacco more often than women, the percentage of male smokers is higher overall. Whether women will close the gender gap in cigars and chewing tobacco remains a concern, researchers say.

Although the tobacco industry repeatedly insists it only markets its wares to those of legal age, the students reported the average age they tried their first cigarette was 14, and the average age they’d first tried a cigar was 17 for boys and 18 for girls.

On the bright side, cigarette use by college students, while on the rise during the mid ’90s, seems to have stabilized from 1997 to 1999 at about 28 percent.

And a third of the current cigarette smokers said they do not smoke every day, indicating they are only casual users.

Risky Business Not surprisingly, the study found that tobacco use is higher among binge drinkers — the old “ I-only-smoke-when-I-drink” excuse — and among students who have multiple sex partners or have what researchers dub “a strong party orientation.”

“Use of tobacco products goes along with a generally riskier lifestyle,” Rigotti says.

he researchers are advocating that all buildings on college campuses should go completely smoke-free, banning smoking from dorm rooms and common living areas.

“This would protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke and reduce the visibility of smoking on campus,” Rigotti says.

Current policy at colleges varies. At Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., for example, the online student handbook notes that smoking is banned in all common areas and student bedrooms. But several colleges still allow smoking in individual dorm rooms. At Columbia University in New York City, for example, current policy allows smoking in designated dorm rooms with roommate consent.

“Tobacco use is rising among young Americans,” Rigotti warns. “If this trend continues, it threatens to reverse the decline in U.S. adult smoking that we have witnessed over the past half-century.”

Bath salts causing crime wave?

Use of Dangerous Drug Increasing Across U.S.

PHOTO: Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested ten people in an elaborate drug bust on Tuesday that spanned both coasts, and seized 2 million dollars worth of the designer drug "bath salts" over the course of a five month investigation.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested ten people in an elaborate drug bust Tuesday that spanned both coasts, and seized 2 million dollars worth of the designer drug “bath salts” over the course of a five month investigation. (ABC News)
June 5, 2012

A Delaware senator praised pending legislation proposing a nationwide ban on “bath salts,” a dangerous synthetic drug that’s on the rise in the United States and might have led to the recent attack in Miami where a man allegedly ate off 80 percent of a homeless man’s face.

“Dangerous drugs like bath salts are terrorizing our communities and destroying lives,” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons said in a statement Monday. “Stricter measures must be taken to stem the growing prevalence of bath salts and other new designer drugs.”

The number of calls to poison centers concerning “bath salts” rose 6,138 in 2011 from 304 in 2010, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. More than 1,000 calls have been made so far this year.

These so-called bath salts, not to be confused with cleansing products, are an inexpensive, synthetic, super-charged form of speed. The drug consists of a potpourri of constantly changing chemicals, three of which — mephedrone, MDPV and methylone — were banned last year by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Bath salts are still easily available online, though, and come in brand names such as “Purple Wave,” “Zoom” or “Cloud Nine.” A 50-milligram packet sells for $25 to $50.

Bath Salts Craze: A Dangerous New High Watch Video
‘Bath Salts’ Posing Danger? Watch Video

The drugs create a condition police have come to call an “excited delirium” that makes users paranoid, violent and unpredictable. Miami police last month shot and killed a man who was allegedly feasting on the face of another homeless man in a daylight attack on a busy highway. Police are investigating whether the drugs found in bath salts were in the alleged attacker’s system.

This case is not the first time police have had to respond to people high on the drug committing illegal acts orexhibiting dangerous behavior.

In July 2010, Carey Shane Padgett of Roanoke County, Va., allegedly beat his friend Cara Marie Holley to death. He later claims that he had ingested both bath salts and synthetic marijuana, or spice.

In April 2011, investigators determine that Army Sgt. David Stewart was under the influence of bath salts when he killed himself, his wife Kristy and their 5-year-old son in Spanaway, Wash.

Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen said he was disturbed by the affects that the drug had on the unidentified Florida teen who he witnessed high on bath salts in the back of a squad car.

“It’s pretty devastating to think this kid was a normal kid walking around maybe the week before,” McKeithen said.

In most cases, the active ingredient found in bath salts is a chemical known as metheylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV for short. As far as the effects they have, bath salts are a central nervous system stimulant that acts something like a mix of methamphetamine and cocaine.

They dramatically increase the dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the human brain in two dangerous ways: by pouring more dopamine in as methamphetamine does, and at the same time, like cocaine, trapping both of these chemicals in the brain, so the user doesn’t come down.

It’s a dangerous situation, leading to a high that some drug abuse experts describe as up to 13 times more potent than cocaine. The altered mental status it brings can lead to panic attacks, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and violent behavior.

“We certainly heard about people with extraordinary strength and you know we have seen that with PCP in the past,” said Rusty Payne, spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The combination can create desperation, and sometimes lead to naked ramblings and users hurting themselves, or others.

Louis J. De Felice, vice chairman of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said, “I can easily imagine how this can lead to a sensation, many different sensations. One would be you would like to tear your skin out, or ripping your clothes.”

The number of calls to poison centers concerning “bath salts” rose 6,138 in 2011 from 304 in 2010, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, More than 1,000 calls have been made so far this year.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says that the affects of the drug are unknown, and can be dangerous. In June 2011, the DEA arrested 10 members of an alleged bath salts ring in a sting in New York.

“This is so new to us,” DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said after the major bust. “In the last year it’s just taken off in the U.S. We’ve never seen anything like it.”

The Senate passed legislation last month to make the sale of bath salts illegal, and Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged “the House-Senate conference committee to preserve the measure during its negotiations this month.”

Dr. Sheila Reddy of the University of Texas at Houston contributed to this story

  • Cannibal Attack May Be Latest ‘Bath Salts’ Incident
  • Bath Salts: Cops, Hospitals Befuddled
  • Bath Salts Craze: A Dangerous New High
  • ‘Bath Salts’ Posing Danger?


Marijuana vs. Alcohol:


Which Is Having More Impact on Your Teen?

For good reason, parents don’t want their teens to experiment with drugs or alcohol of any kind. But many adolescents do try drugs, especially marijuana and alcohol. When your teen comes home obviously under the influence, are you more concerned to discover they’ve been drinking or smoking pot? Here is a comparison of these drugs and their impact on teenagers’ lives. Is Alcohol More Dangerous Than Pot?

Although many experts argue that pot is safer than alcohol, the risks of smoking marijuana are hard to ignore. Marijuana contains even more of the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke, and regular use can lead to the following ailments:

  • Certain types of cancer
  • Respiratory problems (such as coughing and wheezing, chest colds and lung infections like pneumonia)
  • Impaired immune system
  • Depression
  • Cognitive impairments (such as delusions, hallucinations, disorientation and impaired memory
  • Cardiovascular disease

In addition to the negative health effects, addiction counselors have noted that pot is a gateway drug (a drug that leads people to try other drugs). Young people assume that if they smoke pot and don’t have an immediate adverse reaction, they can safely move on to alcohol or harder drugs such as cocaine, LSD or methamphetamine. Another serious concern with marijuana is that it is often laced with more dangerous drugs like meth, without the user knowing. Before they know it, teens are not only addicted to marijuana but also to the drugs it was laced with. All of this isn’t to say that alcohol isn’t dangerous for teens. Drinking alcohol has been associated with violence, risky sexual behavior, unintentional injury and alcohol poisoning, as well as the following long-term health risks:

  • Neurological problems (such as dementia, stroke and neuropathy)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression, anxiety and suicide
  • Cancer
  • Liver disease and gastrointestinal problems

An Issue of Accessibility Both alcohol and marijuana are dangerous for adolescents, but which is easier for teens to get? Despite the fact that alcohol is a legal drug, often stored in parents’ liquor cabinets and available for purchase if teens know someone over 21 years old, experts and adolescents say that marijuana is now easier for teens to get their hands on than alcohol. Reports also suggest that teens don’t consider pot an illegal or dangerous drug, partly because of the ongoing debate about legalizing the drug in some states.

“There is the belief that medical marijuana is okay,” Christy Alten, director of the adolescent addiction program at Keystone Treatment Center in Canton, S.D., said in an article on “It’s legal in some places and that makes it safe, and it’s natural and God created it. So I think that confusion there makes it more vulnerable to using it.” According to Alten, 83 percent of the teens treated at Keystone Treatment Center have some degree of dependence on marijuana. Many teens start smoking pot in their early teens because they don’t need to know someone who is 21 to get it. Young people know who the drug dealers are at school or in the neighborhood, and they know they can get marijuana any time they want it.

Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University echoes these findings. In a recent study, 40 percent of teens reported that they could get marijuana within a day, and another 25 percent said they could get it within an hour, making marijuana easier to get than cigarettes, beer and prescription drugs. Some parents are contributing to the problem. According to the CASA study, 25 percent of teens surveyed know a parent of a classmate or friend who uses marijuana, and 10 percent say this parent smokes marijuana with adolescents.

Preventing Teen Drug Abuse

Year after year, teens report that drugs are at the top of their list of concerns. And year after year, studies confirm that the best protection against teen drug abuse is an involved parent. “Preventing substance abuse among teens is primarily a Mom and Pop operation,” says CASA Chairman Joseph Califano. “It is inexcusable that so many parents fail to appropriately monitor their children, fail to keep dangerous prescription drugs out of the reach of their children and tolerate drug infected schools. The parents who smoke marijuana with children should be considered child abusers.”

He continues, “By identifying the characteristics of problem parents we seek to identify actions that parents can take — and avoid — in order to become part of the solution and raise healthy, drug-free children.”

Regardless of whether alcohol or marijuana is more dangerous and easier to get, both drugs come with significant risks, particularly for still-developing teenage brains. Talk to your teens about their assumptions regarding the safety of drugs like marijuana and alcohol, and educate them about the very real dangers of addiction and dependence. By knowing who they’re with and monitoring what they’re doing, parents send a clear message that drug use is not acceptable, understandable or cool.


Not Your Parents’ Drug: Marijuana Potency Reaches All-Time High

By Hugh C. McBride

The memory of their own youthful experimentation with marijuana has led some parents to believe their children face little or no risk from this “benign” drug. But a recent report by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy indicates that the marijuana being smoked by today’s teenagers is significantly more potent than that used by previous generations.

The government report, which was based on information provided by the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project, indicates that the marijuana that was analyzed in 2007 had a THC level of 9.6 percent – the highest level since analysts began tracking this data in 1976. The previous potency peak was 8.75 percent, which was recorded in 2006.

THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant, from which marijuana, sinsemilla, and hashish are derived. In a June 12, 2008 press release issued by the ONDCP, the agency’s director, John Walters, said the potency report reaffirms the federal government’s position on the dangers of marijuana. “Baby boomer parents who still think marijuana is a harmless substance need to look at the facts,” Walters said. “Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implications in particular for young people.”   Should States Lower the Legal Drinking Age? Parents, lawmakers, and others are concerned the impact of lowering the drinking age could have on drunk driving incidents. What’s Your Liability If Your Teen Drives Drunk? Parents often do not realize just how much they could lose if their teen drives recklessly and gets into an accident.

The Risks of Hosting Teen Parties

The Risks of Hosting Teen Parties

Parents who host teen parties should be aware of their liability should teens sneak in alcohol. Saying that you did not allow the alcohol is not enough to protect you, especially if you let these teens drive home and they cause an accident. Read about Parent’s Liability When Hosting Teen Parties.

Cough Syrup Abuse

Cough syrup preparations are also fast becoming one of the most common drugs of abuse among teens. The active ingredient of many cough syrups is dextromethorphan (DXM), which if taken in large doses can cause visual hallucinations and a heightened sense of awareness – in other words, a cheap high.

Learn more about Cough Syrup Abuse


Teen Meth Use and Abuse

Although the use of crystal methamphetamine – “Meth” – among youth may be decreasing on the national level, certain areas of the United States continue to face significant problems with this potent and highly addictive substance. In addition, not all current research agrees about the prevalence of Meth use among youth and young adults. Although Meth is used by a small percentage of the American population, its extreme potency and potential for severe physical, behavioral, and social consequences keeps it a pressing concern in many communities.

Learn more aboutMethamphetamine Use Among Youth

Pharm Parties



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