Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Study: No Link Between Bully Victimization, Future Substance Abuse

From the 8 March 2016 University of Dallas News Center

Excerpt

“The research by three criminologists in UT Dallas’ School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) discovered that students who were bullied in third grade did not have a greater risk of using drugs or alcohol by ninth grade.

But the researchers found that children who had experienced the highest level of victimization smoked cigarettes or used alcohol at higher rates than high school peers. The study noted that experimentation with drugs and alcohol is common among adolescents regardless of whether they had been bullied.

“The findings speak to the necessity of continuing to encourage meaningful substance use prevention programs during adolescence and making sure students have the resilience skills necessary to stay away from substances,” said Dr. Nadine Connell, assistant professor of criminologyand lead author of the study. “Early in-school victimization may, however, have other consequences that should be explored.””

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March 10, 2016 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Shared psychological characteristics that are linked to aggression between patients with Internet addiction and those with alcohol dependence | Full Text Reports…

Shared psychological characteristics that are linked to aggression between patients with Internet addiction and those with alcohol dependence | Full Text Reports….

Background
Internet addiction (IA) is considered as one of behavioral addictions. Although common neurobiological mechanisms have been suggested to underlie behavioral addiction and substance dependence, few studies have directly compared IA with substance dependence, such as alcohol dependence (AD).

Methods
We compared patients with IA, AD, and healthy controls (HC) in terms of the Five Factor Model of personality and with regard to impulsiveness, anger expression, and mood to explore psychological factors that are linked to aggression. All patients were treatment-seeking and had moderate-to-severe symptoms.

Results
The IA and AD groups showed a lower level of agreeableness and higher levels of neuroticism, impulsivity, and anger expression compared with the HC group, which are characteristics related to aggression. The addiction groups showed lower levels of extraversion, openness to experience, and conscientiousness and were more depressive and anxious than the HCs, and the severity of IA and AD symptoms was positively correlated with these types of psychopathology.

Conclusions
IA and AD are similar in terms of personality, temperament, and emotion, and they share common characteristics that may lead to aggression. Our findings suggest that strategies to reduce aggression in patients with IA are necessary and that IA and AD are closely related and should be dealt with as having a close nosological relationship.

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March 28, 2014 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The role of alcohol in health costs

This blog post brought to mind a dear friend of mine, deceased now about 8 years. She was staying at our house, basically to get out of an abusive relationship. She had a myriad of health problems…Once I came home and she was passed out. I thought it was one of her many medical conditions that was the main factor…and somehow with the help of neighbors got her in my car and we sped to the emergency room. To make a long story short, it turned out her blood alcohol was extremely high….I know now the alcoholism not only “translated” into high medical costs for her, but also a short life.
May she rest in peace, rest in peace….

From the 6 January 2012 post by EDMUND KWOK, MD at KevinMD.com

Defined as someone “having the faculties impaired by alcohol, those of us who work in an acute healthcare facility are witness to many illustrious examples of drunk patients coming through our doors.

 

Underaged kids passed out at a house party? Yup. Raging alcoholics who are brought into the ER at least once a week? Sure. Elderly women who secretly binges on wine at home and falls down the stairs repeatedly? You betcha. What they all have in common is an apparent complete oblivion/ignorance to the source of the problem, and the associated ill effects on themselves.

Sometimes I wonder if the healthcare/political/legal system itself is “drunk”, in its own oblivion and inaction towards the impact alcohol abuse is having on our society.

The average sober Canadian would be shocked to hear of the types of alcohol-related ER visits that come through a hospital’s doors every weekend.

Empirical data supports this theory of absurd and inefficient healthcare dollar usage on alcohol abuse related hospital visits. As reported in the Recommendations for a National Alcohol Strategy published in 2007, “the economic impact of alcohol-related harm in Canada totaled $14.6B, taking into account the costs associated with lost productivity, health care, and enforcement. This amount is slightly less than the estimated cost of tobacco at $17B, but nearly double the cost attributed to illegal drugs at $8.2B”.

Anecdotal evidence reports many unnecessary ER visits where drunk patients simply take up an acute care bed for the night to sober up, eat a free breakfast in the morning and then get discharged. It is estimated that 0.6% of all U.S. ER visits are made by people who have no other problems beside being drunk, translating to over 900 million dollars just for ER visits alone….

 

 

 

January 7, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Native American Spiritual Beliefs Influential in Spurring Youth to Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

This article caught my eye.

A group from Mexico is “caravanning” across the US to raise awareness of the enormous drug trafficking problems in Mexico that are at least in part related to illegal drug problems and violence in the US.***
The caravan  will be stopping in my hometown, Toledo OH, this coming Wednesday.
I seem to recall the leader, Mexican poet Javier Sicilia,  was features on a PBS News Hour segment a few months back.

To be honest, I am still pondering on whether or not illegal drugs should be made legal. Certainly the present system of incarceration is not working.
At the very least, treatment/prevention programs should be stepped up, replacing much of the current court system’s misguided efforts.
Even though our country has a strong tradition of the separation of church and state, I believe prevention/treatment ideally includes a spiritual/religious dimension.

Once promising area of research. Even though it only studies one broad culture, it does invite further study into other cultures.

Native American Spiritual Beliefs Influential in Spurring Youth to Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

From the 20 August 2012 article at Science News Daily

New research indicates that urban native American youth who follow American Indian traditional spiritual beliefs are less likely to use drugs and alcohol. Arizona State University social scientists will present their findings at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver, Colorado.

Among the general native American youth population, higher rates of substance (both drug and alcohol) abuse are reported than among their non-native American counterparts. They also are more likely to use heavier amounts, initiate substance use earlier, and have more severe consequences from substance use, according to past research.

Native Americans typically do not separate spirituality from other areas of their lives, making it a complex, cultural and intertwined aspect of their daily existence.

Researchers found that adherence to native American beliefs was the strongest predictor of anti-drug attitudes, norms, and expectations. Concerning substance use, aspects of spirituality and religion associated with lower levels of use were affiliation with the Native American Church and following Christian beliefs…

 

 

 

 

***From the flyer I rec’d the other day

 

The Caravan began its U.S. journey in San Diego on August 12. Nearly 80 Caravaneros will visit two dozen U.S. cities on the way to their final stop in Washington, D.C., in September.

Victims of the violence in Mexico will share their testimony of suffering and courage. From Jalisco, the mother of Jose Luis Arana Aguilar will speak of her son’s disappearance last January after making one last call to his children’s day care, reminding them to feed his children. From Coahuila, the girlfriend of Jose Antonio Robledo Fernandez will tell of how she heard the abductors of her boyfriend insult and beat him before he disappeared.

Leading the Caravan is Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son, Juan Francisco, was brutally murdered last year. He then travelled with MPJD caravans in Mexico collecting stories of the destruction caused by the so-called war against drugs and organized crime, which the United States has funded with over $1.5 billion in military equipment and training. The result? As Sicilia writes, “The 60,000 deaths, the 10,000 disappearances, and the 160,000 internally displaced people during the past six years are tragedies caused directly by failed security policies.”

Though their grief knows no end or resolution, they are committed to telling their stories to the American public so that their humanity can move us to action. When the horrific statistics are seen in the pain, suffering, and courage of real people who are reaching out to the victims of the drug war north of the border, the foundation for change can be built.

Sicilia and other movement leaders believe that carrying the campaign across the border underscores the role of the United States. Drug war ideology was born here–putting an end to it must start here too.

What you can do: Come out to welcome and support the Caravan in Toledo!
#Follow the Caravan on twitter (@CaravanaUSA), Facebook, and the Caravan for Peace website. http://www.caravanforpeace.org/caravan Or http://www.globalexchange.org/mexico/caravan
#Global Exchange will also be sending updates while on the road at the People-to-People blog.
#Read the latest article on the Caravan in The Nation, August 7, 2012, “Can the Caravan of Peace end the War on Drugs?” by Tom Hayden
#Watch the Democracy Now interview, August 16, 2012, at http://www.democracynow.org: “Mexican Poet, Activist Javier Sicilia Brings Peace Caravan into U.S. to Condemn Deadly Drug War”

National sponsors include: American Friends Service Committee; Border Angels; Drug Policy Alliance; Fellowship of Reconciliation; National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities; Law Enforcement Against Prohibition; Moms United; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; National Latino Congress; Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing (New PATH); School of Americas Watch. Local sponsors: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (Toledo); Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition; CCUP Pax Christi. University of Toledo sponsors:
Program in Law and Social Thought; Women’s and Gender Studies Dept.;
Phi Alpha Theta (History Honor Society)

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recent news articles on birth control, Kudzu, and a new blood thinner (How do they rate?)

From HealthNewsReview.org***

How well did these stories address our 10 criteria?   

From an earlier post

HealthNewsReview.org – Independent Expert Reviews of News Stories

Health News Review includes reviews of health articles in the news.Their objective criteria includes these factors…

The Web site also includes a toolkit – “a number of tipsheets, primers, links and other resources to help journalists and consumers do a better job of evaluating claims about health care interventions”

May 30, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Housing For The Homeless Allows Alcohol, Heavy Drinkers Imbibe Less

 

Whiskey Jeff

Image by pixieclipx via Flickr

When Housing For The Homeless Allows Alcohol, Heavy Drinkers Imbibe Less

From the 20 January Medical News Today article

 

A study of a controversial housing project that allows chronically homeless people with severe alcohol problems to drink in their apartments found that during their first two years in the building residents cut their heavy drinking by 35 percent.

For every three months during the study, participants drank an average of 8 percent fewer drinks on their heaviest drinking days.

They also had fewer instances of delirium tremens, a life-threatening form of alcohol withdrawal.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Housing for chronically homeless people usually comes with many conditions, including abstinence from drugs and alcohol and compliance with psychiatric and substance abuse treatment. But such requirements can become barriers to staying in housing.

“These individuals have multiple medical, psychiatric and substance abuse problems, and housing that requires them to give up their belongings, adhere to curfews, stop drinking and commit to treatment all at once is setting them up to fail. The result is that we are relegating some of the most vulnerable people in our community to a life on the streets,”

January 29, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

A family history of alcoholism may make adolescent brains respond differently

A family history of alcoholism may make adolescent brains respond differently

Excerpts from the press release

 

  • Adolescents with a family history of alcoholism (FHP) are at risk for developing alcohol use disorders.
  • A new study has compared the brain activity of FHP youth to peers with no family history of alcoholism.
  • Two areas of the brain – the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum – responded differently during risky decision-making in high-risk youth compared to their lower-risk peers.

Researchers know that adolescents with a family history of alcoholism (FHP) are at risk for developing alcohol use disorders. Some studies have shown that, compared to their peers, FHP adolescents have deficits in behavioral inhibition. A study of the neural substrates of risk-taking in both FHP adolescents and their peers with a negative family history of alcoholism (FHN) has shown that FHP youth demonstrated atypical brain activity while completing the same task as the FHN youth.

Results will be published in the April 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

“We know that a familial history of alcoholism is a significant risk factor for future alcohol abuse,” said Bonnie J. Nagel, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University as well as corresponding author for the study. “We were interested in determining whether adolescents at heightened risk for alcohol use made more risky decisions during a laboratory task compared to their lower-risk peers. Additionally, we wanted to examine whether differences in brain responses when making risky decisions were present in these two groups. We wanted to investigate pre-morbid neural risk factors during decision making in FHP youth, as opposed to differences in brain response due to heavy alcohol use itself.”

“This is the first study to examine the neural substrates of risk-taking in FHP adolescents who are substance naïve,” ..

Read the entire press release here

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Assessing Drinking Issues And Delivering Brief Interventions Via Texts

 

Student texting during class

Image via Wikipedia

From the 28 December 2011 Medical News Today article

Each day numerous young adults in the U.S. visit hospital emergency departments (EDs) for alcohol-related problems. This study examined the use of text messaging (TM), both to collect drinking data from young adults after ED discharge as well as provide immediate feedback and ongoing support to them, finding that TM is effective on both levels.
Results will be published in the March 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

“Each day in the U.S., more than 50,000 adults 18 to 24 years of age visit hospital EDs, and more than one third report current alcohol abuse or dependence,” said Brian Suffoletto, assistant professor in the department of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and corresponding author for the study. “Thus, EDs provide a unique opportunity to both identify young adults with harmful or hazardous drinking behavior and intervene to reduce future injury and illness.” …

Unfortunately, he added, emergency-care providers rarely have the time or expertise to screen for or discuss problematic alcohol use. Nor do many hospitals have counselors on staff who can assist with the process. Neither are patients with acute drinking issues necessarily interested in having those discussions immediately.

“Given that mobile phones are essentially ubiquitous among young adults, and texting in particular is a heavily used communication tool, we sought to build and test an automated TM system that could conduct a health dialogue with young adults after discharge,” said Suffoletto. “We believe that our study is the first to test a TM-based behavioral intervention to reduce alcohol consumption.”

“This is a novel approach in that it uses the ED as a behavior-changing point for those at risk for a illness – alcohol-induced injury or organ destruction – while using a familiar but not deployed alternative approach, which is texting,” said Donald M. Yealy, professor of emergency medicine, medicine, and clinical and translational sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “This is a first step. I can envision other tools – such as phone apps and social media sites – being deployed eventually.” …

Read the entire Medical News Today article

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Higher Minimum Legal Drinking Ages Linked To Lower Rates Of Suicides And Homicides Later In Life

Drinking age by country

Drinking Age By Country

From the 17 November 2011 Medical News Today article

Prior to the 1984 passage of a uniform drinking-age limit of 21 years in the U.S., many states permitted the legal purchase of alcohol at age 18. These lower drinking ages have been associated with several adverse outcomes such as higher rates of suicide and homicide among youth. A new study of individuals who were legally permitted to drink before the age of 21 has found they remain at elevated risk for suicide and homicide as adults, particularly women born after 1960.

Results will be published in the February 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

“After prohibition, most states had a drinking age of 21,” explained Richard A. Grucza, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine, and corresponding author for the study. “In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as voting rights were extended to people as young as 18, and people of that age were also being drafted to serve in Viet Nam, a lot of states lowered their drinking ages. But by the late 1970s, we saw spikes in DUI-related deaths among young people and states began to revert to a drinking age of 21. The 1984 federal act was really just a completion of change that was already underway.” …..

Read the article

November 17, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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