Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] Regulating legal marijuana could be guided by lessons from alcohol and tobacco, study says

From the 24 April 2014 EurkAlert

 

 

As U.S. policymakers consider ways to ease prohibitions on marijuana, the public health approaches used to regulate alcohol and tobacco over the past century may provide valuable lessons, according to new RAND Corporation research.

Recent ballot initiatives that legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington for recreational uses are unprecedented. The move raises important questions about how to best allow the production, sales and the use of marijuana while also working to reduce any related social ills.

A new study published online by the American Journal of Public Health outlines how regulations on alcohol and tobacco may provide guidance to policymakers concerned about the public health consequences of legalizing marijuana.

Among the issues outlined in the study are how to reduce youth access to marijuana, how to minimize drugged driving, how to curb dependence and addiction, how to restrict contaminants in marijuana products, and how to discourage the dual use of marijuana and alcohol, particularly in public settings.

“The lessons from the many decades of regulating alcohol and tobacco should offer some guidance to policymakers who are contemplating alternatives to marijuana prohibition and are interested in taking a public health approach,” said Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research center and a co-author of the paper. “Our goal here is to help policymakers understand the decisions they face, rather than debate whether legalization is good or bad.”

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 6.00.09 AM

The analysis details some of the questions policymakers must confront when consideringless-restrictive marijuana laws. Those questions include: Should vertical integration be allowed, or should there be separate licenses for growing, processing and selling marijuana? What rules are needed to make sure a marijuana product is safe? Should marijuana be sold in convenience stories or only in specialized venues? Should taxes be assessed per unit of weight, as a percent of the price or on some other basis, such as the amount of psychoactive ingredients in marijuana?

“Based on the national experience with alcohol and tobacco, it seems prudent from a public health perspective to open up the marijuana market slowly, with tight controls to test the waters and prevent commercialization too soon while still making it available to responsible adults,” said Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and a co-author of the paper. “Of course, perspectives other than public health objectives might motivate policymakers to adopt different or fewer regulations. These are simply lessons learned from a public health perspective.”

The article discusses a variety of strategies used to control alcohol and tobacco that also may be appropriate for regulation of marijuana. Those include keeping prices artificially high to curb use, adopting a state-run monopoly on sales and distribution, limiting the types of products sold, restricting marketing efforts, and restricting consumption in public spaces.

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Support for the study was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research Program and RAND. Other authors of the report are Alexander C. Wagenaar of the University of Florida College of Medicine, Frank J. Chaloupka of the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Jonathan P. Caulkins of the Heinz School of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Since 1989, the RAND Drug Policy Research Center has conducted research to help policymakers in the United States and throughout the world address issues involving alcohol and other drugs. In doing so, the center brings an objective and data-driven perspective to an often emotional and fractious policy arena.

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May 3, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Cannabis chemistry: How scientists test pot for potency and safety (video)

From the 22 April 2014 EurkAlert

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 — Marijuana is in the headlines as more and more states legalize it for medicinal use or decriminalize it entirely. In the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) newest Reactions video, we explain the chemistry behind marijuana’s high, and investigate what scientists are doing to ensure that legalized weed won’t send users on a bad trip. The video is available at http://youtu.be/4ukdUDCE56c

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May 3, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Marijuana use may increase heart complications in young, middle-aged adults — ScienceDaily

 

English: Close up shot of some high quality ma...

English: Close up shot of some high quality marijuana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marijuana use may increase heart complications in young, middle-aged adults — ScienceDaily.ews

From the April report

Marijuana use may result in heart-related complications in young and middle-aged adults. Nearly 2 percent of the health complications from marijuana use reported were cardiovascular related. A quarter of these complications resulted in death, according to a study. Surveillance of marijuana-related reports of cardiovascular disorders should continue and more research needs to look at how marijuana use might trigger cardiovascular events, researchers say.

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May 2, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Future generations could inherit drug and alcohol use

Future generations could inherit drug and alcohol use.

HUNTSVILLE, TX (3/20/14) — Parents who use alcohol, marijuana, and drugs have higher frequencies of children who pick up their habits, according to a study from Sam Houston State University.

The study, “Intergenerational Continuity of Substance Use,” found that when compared to parents who did not use substances, parents who used alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs were significantly more likely to have children who used those same drugs. Specifically, the odds of children’s alcohol use were five times higher if their parents used alcohol; the odds of children’s marijuana use were two times higher if their parents used marijuana; and the odds of children’s other drug use were two times higher if their parent used other drugs. Age and other demographic factors also were important predictors of substance use.

HarmCausedByDrugsTable

HarmCausedByDrugsTable (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Source “Scoring drugs”, The Economist, data from “Drug harms in the UK: a multi-criteria decision analysis”, by David Nutt, Leslie King and Lawrence Phillips, on behalf of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. The Lancet. 2010 Nov 6;376(9752):1558-65. d

“The study is rare in that it assesses the extent to which parent’s substance use predicts use by their children within age-equivalent and developmentally-specific stages of the life course,” said Dr. Kelly Knight of the College Criminal Justice’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. “If a parent uses drugs, will their children grow up and use drugs? When did the parent use and when did their children use? There appears to be an intergenerational relationship. The effect is not as strong as one might believe from popular discourse, but when you measure it by developmental stage, it can provide important information on its impact in adolescence and early adulthood, specifically.”

The study examined the patterns of substance use by families over a 27-year period. It documents substance use over time, giving a more complete understanding of when substance use occurs, when it declines, and the influence of parents in the process.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2011, about 22.6 million Americans age 12 years and older said they used illicit drugs in the last month. Other studies show that drug use is associated with reduced academic achievement, lower employment rates, poorer health, dependency on public assistance, neighborhood disorganization, and an increase in the likelihood of involvement in crime, criminal victimization and incarceration. The cost of drug use in this country from lost productivity, healthcare, and criminal justice is nearly $600 billion.

By plotting the life course of substance use within families, the study may be a valuable tool for the development of intervention programs. The study suggests that if substance use can be curtailed in adolescence, it may help to curb its prevalence in future generations.

The study also helps pinpoint the use of different illicit substances over the span of a lifetime, including its emergence in adolescence and when that use may decline. For example, marijuana and other drug use is most prevalent in adolescence and generally declines before or at age 24. Alcohol use continues to increase throughout adolescence and young adulthood, and then remains relatively steady over the lifetime.

These findings come from the National Youth Survey Family Study, which has collected data from three generations over a 27-year period. The analysis is based on 655 parents and 1,227 offspring from 1977 to 2004.

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March 28, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Follow Legalization of Marijuana and Implications on Public Health – #PubHT Chat 2/3

From the 2 February 2014 post at Public Health Talks

English: one high-quality "bud " nug...

English: one high-quality “bud ” nugget of marijuana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On January 1st, 2014, Colorado enacted a law that legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults. For long, discussions have gathered around the health risks involved with the legalization of marijuana.

Marijuana’s long term use can lead to addiction along with respiratory illnesses and cognitive impairment. The risks of addiction are most prominent amongst adolescents. The legalization of marijuana and its increased accessibility can lead to increased use and abuse of the drug. However, with decriminalizing the drug many see benefits arise.

#PubHT wants to discuss the public health implications of legalization of marijuana with you! Please join us on Monday, February 3 at 9 PM ET for a one hour discussion on this topic.

For more information on marijuana use visit:http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
    Excepts from the publication

  • How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain?
    Marijuana overactivates the endocannabinoid system, causing the “high” and other effects that users experience. These effects include altered perceptions and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.Marijuana also affects brain development, and when it is used heavily by young people, its effects on thinking and memory may last a long time or even be permanent.
  • What Are the Other Health Effects of Marijuana?

Marijuana use may have a wide range of effects, particularly on cardiopulmonary and mental health.

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.

  • Is Marijuana Medicine?

Many have called for the legalization of marijuana to treat conditions including pain and nausea caused by HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other conditions, but clinical evidence has not shown that the therapeutic benefits of the marijuana plant outweigh its health risks.

However, THC-based drugs to treat pain and nausea are already FDA approved and prescribed, and scientists continue to investigate the medicinal properties of other chemicals found in the cannabis plant—such as cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound that is being studied for its effects at treating pain, pediatric epilepsy, and other disorders. For more information, see DrugFacts – Is Marijuana Medicine?

  • Additionally, because it seriously impairs judgment and motor coordination, marijuana contributes to risk of injury or death while driving a car. A recent analysis of data from several studies found that marijuana use more than doubles a driver’s risk of being in an accident.
  • Research shows marijuana may cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. Heavy marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, more relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to non-marijuana-using peers. For example, marijuana use is associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. Several studies also associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.

[Letter to editor] Legalizing marijuana and preventing youth pot use

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February 3, 2014 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cannabis during pregnancy endangers fetal brain development

Cannabis during pregnancy endangers fetal brain development.

From the 27 January 2014 Karolinski Institute press release

      IMAGE:   Professor Tibor Harkany has shown that the use of Cannabis during pregnancy endangers fetal brain development. The findings are presented online in the EMBO Journal in January 2014….

Click here for more information.An increasing number of children suffer from the consequences of maternal drug exposure during pregnancy, and Cannabis is one of the most frequently used substances. This motivated the study, published in the EMBO Journal, cunducted in mice and human brain tissue, to decipher the molecular basis of how the major psychoactive component from Cannabis called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC affects brain development of the unborn foetus.

The study highlights that consuming Cannabis during pregnancy clearly results in defective development of nerve cells of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that orchestrates higher cognitive functions and drives memory formation. In particular, THC negatively impacts if and how the structural platform and conduit for communication between nerve cells, the synapses and axons, will develop and function. Researchers also identified Stathmin-2 as a key protein target for THC action, and its loss is characterized as a reason for erroneous nerve growth. It is stressed that Cannabis exposure in experimental models precisely coincided with the fetal period when nerve cells form connections amongst each other.

According to study leader Professor Tibor Harkany, who shares his time between Karolinska Institutet and the Medical University Vienna in Austria, these developmental deficits may evoke life-long modifications to the brain function of those affected. Even though not all children who have been exposed to Cannabis will suffer immediate and obvious deficits, Professor Harkany warns that relatively subtle damage can significantly increase the risk of delayed neuropsychiatric diseases.

“Even if THC only would cause small changes its effect may well be sufficient to sensitize the brain to later stressors or diseases to provoke neuropsychiatric illnesses in those affected in the future”, says Professor Harkany. “This concerns also the medical use of Cannabis, which should be avoided during pregnancy.”

January 30, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Marijuana Use in Adolescence May Cause Permanent Brain Abnormalities, Mouse Study Suggests

English: Close up shot of some high quality ma...

English: Close up shot of some high quality marijuana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

While I believe the so called War on Drugs has largely been a failure, I am concerned about young folks indulging in substances that can have permanent health effects.

 

 

 

From the 24 July 2013 article at Science News Daily

 

Regular marijuana use in adolescence, but not adulthood, may permanently impair brain function and cognition, and may increase the risk of developing serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, according to a recent study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Researchers hope that the study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology — a publication of the journal Nature — will help to shed light on the potential long-term effects of marijuana use, particularly as lawmakers in Maryland and elsewhere contemplate legalizing the drug.

“Over the past 20 years, there has been a major controversy about the long-term effects of marijuana, with some evidence that use in adolescence could be damaging,” says the study’s senior author Asaf Keller, Ph.D., Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Previous research has shown that children who started using marijuana before the age of 16 are at greater risk of permanent cognitive deficits, and have a significantly higher incidence of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. There likely is a genetic susceptibility, and then you add marijuana during adolescence and it becomes the trigger.”

“Adolescence is the critical period during which marijuana use can be damaging,” says the study’s lead author, Sylvina Mullins Raver, a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in Neuroscience in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We wanted to identify the biological underpinnings and determine whether there is a real, permanent health risk to marijuana use.”

……

 

 

July 25, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smoking Marijuana Associated With Higher Stroke Risk in Young Adults

Cannabis and pipe

Cannabis and pipe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 6 February 2013 article at Science Daily

 

Marijuana, the most widely used illicit drug, may double stroke risk in young adults, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2013.

In a New Zealand study, ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients were 2.3 times more likely to have cannabis, also known as marijuana, detected in urine tests as other age and sex matched patients, researchers said.

“This is the first case-controlled study to show a possible link to the increased risk of stroke from cannabis,” said P. Alan Barber, Ph.D., M.D., study lead investigator and professor of clinical neurology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “Cannabis has been thought by the public to be a relatively safe, although illegal substance. This study shows this might not be the case; it may lead to stroke.”

In previous case reports, ischemic stroke and TIAs developed hours after cannabis use, Barber said. “These patients usually had no other vascular risk factors apart from tobacco, alcohol and other drug usage.”

It’s challenging to perform prospective studies involving illegal substances such as cannabis because “questioning stroke and control patients about cannabis use is likely to obtain unreliable responses,” Barber said.

In the study, the regional ethics committee allowed researchers to use urine samples from other hospitalized patients. But researchers knew only the age, sex and ethnicity for matching due to a lack of consent.

The study provides the strongest evidence to date of an association between cannabis and stroke, Barber said. But the association is confounded because all but one of the stroke patients who were cannabis users also used tobacco regularly.

“We believe it is the cannabis and not tobacco,” said Barber, who hopes to conduct another study to determine whether there’s an association between cannabis and stroke independent of tobacco use. “This may prove difficult given the risks of bias and ethical strictures of studying the use of an illegal substance,” he said. “However, the high prevalence of cannabis use in this cohort of younger stroke patients makes this research imperative.”

Physicians should test young people who come in with stroke for cannabis use, Barber said.

“People need to think twice about using cannabis,” because it can affect brain development and result in emphysema, heart attack and now stroke, he said….

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

February 8, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | 1 Comment

Cannabis Does Not Reduce Pain, It Makes It More Bearable

English: Tetrahydrocannabinol; THC; Marinol-ak...

English: Tetrahydrocannabinol; THC; Marinol-aka mary jane. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 24 December 2012 article at Medical News Today

 

Using cannabis for pain relief does help, however, it makes pain more bearable rather than getting rid of it, researchers from Oxford University’s Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) reported in the journal Pain.

The authors added that people in pain act differently to cannabis, according to their brain imaging study.

The principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The researchers found that when volunteers took oral tablets of THC, they tended to find the experience of pain more tolerable. There was no evidence that THC reduced pain intensity.

Several studies have found that cannabis is associated with some kind of improvement in pain symptoms. Researchers from McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University reported in CMAJ in 2010 that patients with chronic neuropathic pain experienced pain relief, improved mood and better quality sleep after smoking cannabis.

Scientists from Imperial College London found that Cannador, another cannabis plant extract, effectively relives pain after major surgery. They reported their findings in the journalAnerthesiology.
….

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

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

10 topics to discuss with your teen this summer

Some states in the United States have implemen...

Some states in the United States have implemented laws to address school bullying. Law prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity Law prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation only School regulation or ethical code for teachers that address bullying of students based on sexual orientation Law prohibits bullying in school but lists no specific categories of protection No statewide law that specifically prohibits bullying in schools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 6 June 2012 post at KevinMD.com

10 topics to discuss with your teen this summer

1. Marijuana. My teens ask me great questions about the physical effects of marijuana on the body. Pot seems to be the latest recreational “drug of choice”  among teen users in our area, noting that it is easier and cheaper to obtain than alcohol. With legalization arguments mounting as the Presidential election draws near, arm yourself with the facts about the risks of marijuana use  and how you can openly discuss this drug. Most importantly, be honest. Don’t lie. Don’t over-exaggerate. You want to be a trusted source worth coming back to.

2. Bullying. Stories about severe bullying are real, and sobering. Social media and cell phones have brought bullying to a new level. Most of our Kansas City area schools have bullying policies in place – encourage them to be used. There are also movements, such as Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, that are rapidly growing; showing promise that many teens are openly fighting against bullying. Encourage this in your child. Know the signs of bullying and victimization. And, act on your suspicions.

3. Recreational ADHD drug use. In my area, one Adderall XR tablet will sell for $10 during finals week. Yep, one pill. My teen…

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , | Leave a comment

Drug Abuse Treatment Rates on the Rise: U.S. Report

Drug Abuse Treatment Rates on the Rise: U.S. Report
A 15% drop for alcohol abuse while cases of marijuana, prescription painkiller abuse rise

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

From a December 29, 2010 Health Day news item by Randy Dotinga

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) — Admissions for alcohol abuse treatment have remained the same in parts of the Midwest and South while dropping elsewhere in the United States, while treatment rates for illegal drugs are increasing across the country, especially for marijuana abuse, according to a new report.

The report, issued by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), includes these findings:

  • The overall rate of substance abuse admissions in the United States remained stable from 1998 to 2008, at about 770 admissions per 100,000 people.
  • Admissions for alcohol use dropped by about 15 percent nationally, but stayed stable in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.
  • Admission rates for marijuana use rose by 30 percent nationwide, and were highest in the eight states listed above and in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
  • An earlier SAMHSA report revealed that admission rates for abuse of opiates other than heroin — including some prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin — rose by 345 percent from 1998-2008. The new report says admission rates for painkiller abuse rose in every part of the country and were highest in the New England states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) and in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.
  • The admission rate for treatment of methamphetamine abuse was 53 percent higher in 2008 than in 1998, although it’s down from its peak in 2005.
  • Admissions for cocaine abuse fell by 23 percent nationally.

“This study provides insight into the regional nature of substance abuse by highlighting the shifting trends in the reasons for admission to substance abuse treatment,” SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in an agency news release.

SOURCE: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, news release, Dec. 23, 2010

The full report is available at: http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/teds08/teds2k8sweb.pdf. It provides detailed charts and tables showing the admission rates for a wide variety of substances for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for each year over the course of this 11 year period. It also provides data by Census divisions — groups of states delineated by the Census Bureau. These materials allow easy analyses of changing admission trends for any state or region of the country.

The SAMHSA Web site includes numerous links with information about its products and services, as

Related Articles

March 30, 2011

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published its strategic initiatives paper – an overview of SAMHSA’s goals, priorities and action steps for accomplishing its mission of reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. Carefully developed from months of public discussion and input from a wide variety of SAMHSA’s stakeholders, the strategic initiatives paper lays out how SAMHSA will focus its resources in meeting the new opportunities and challenges it faces in the near future…

December 31, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teen marijuana use increases, especially among eighth-graders

Flahiff’s note: The item below states “Mixed messages about drug legalization, particularly marijuana, may be to blame [for the increase in teen marijuana use].
A  December 14 2010 Newshour segment included this concern. Interviewee Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy made several related comments. He stressed marijuana is not medicine, and drugs are not only criminal justice concerns but also education and public safety concerns.

Here is  the full text of the December 14 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) press release

Teen marijuana use increases, especially among eighth-graders
NIDA’s Monitoring the Future Survey shows increases in Ecstasy use and continued high levels of prescription drug abuse
WASHINGTON — Fueled by increases in marijuana use, the rate of eighth-graders saying they have used an illicit drug in the past year jumped to 16 percent, up from last year’s 14.5 percent, with daily marijuana use up in all grades surveyed, according to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF).

For 12th-graders, declines in cigarette use accompanied by recent increases in marijuana use have put marijuana ahead of cigarette smoking by some measures. In 2010, 21.4 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days, while 19.2 percent smoked cigarettes.

The survey, released today at a news conference at the National Press Club, also shows significant increases in use of Ecstasy. In addition, nonmedical use of prescription drugs remains high. MTF is an annual series of classroom surveys of eighth, 10th, and 12th-graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Most measures of marijuana use increased among eighth-graders, and daily marijuana use increased significantly among all three grades. The 2010 use rates were 6.1 percent of high school seniors, 3.3 percent of 10th -graders, and 1.2 percent of eighth-graders compared to 2009 rates of 5.2 percent, 2.8 percent, and 1.0 percent, respectively.

“These high rates of marijuana use during the teen and pre-teen years, when the brain continues to develop, places our young people at particular risk,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “Not only does marijuana affect learning, judgment, and motor skills, but research tells us that about 1 in 6 people who start using it as adolescents become addicted.”

“The increases in youth drug use reflected in the Monitoring the Future Study are disappointing,” said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Mixed messages about drug legalization, particularly marijuana, may be to blame. Such messages certainly don’t help parents who are trying to prevent kids from using drugs. The Obama administration is aggressively addressing the threat of drug use and its consequences through a balanced and comprehensive drug control strategy, but we need parents and other adults who influence children as full partners in teaching young people about the risks and harms associated with drug use, including marijuana.”

The MTF survey also showed a significant increase in the reported use of MDMA, or Ecstasy, with 2.4 percent of eighth-graders citing past-year use, compared to 1.3 percent in 2009. Similarly, past-year MDMA use among 10th-graders increased from 3.7 percent to 4.7 percent in 2010.

Also of concern is that the downward trend in cigarette smoking has stalled in all three grades after several years of marked improvement on most measures. Greater marketing of other forms of tobacco prompted the 2010 survey to add measures for 12th-graders’ use of small cigars (23.1 percent) and of tobacco with a smoking pipe known as a hookah (17.1 percent).

Prescription drug abuse remains a major problem. Although Vicodin abuse decreased in 12th graders this year to 8 percent, down from around 9.7 percent the past four years, other indicators confirm that nonmedical use of prescription drugs remains high. For example, the use of OxyContin, another prescription opiate, stayed about the same for 12th-graders at 5.1 percent in 2010. And six of the top 10 illicit drugs abused by 12th-graders in the year prior to the survey were prescribed or purchased over the counter. The survey again found that teens generally get these prescription drugs from friends and family, whether given, bought, or stolen.

However, the survey says binge drinking continued its downward trend. Among high school seniors, 23.2 percent report having five or more drinks in a row during the past two weeks, down from 25.2 percent in 2009 and from the peak of 31.5 percent in 1998. In addition, 2010 findings showed a drop in high school seniors’ past-year consumption of flavored alcoholic beverages, to 47.9 percent in 2010 from 53.4 percent in 2009. Past-year use of flavored alcohol by eighth- graders was at 21.9 percent, down from 27.9 percent in 2005.

The MTF survey also measures teen attitudes about drugs, including perceived harmfulness, perceived availability, and disapproval, all of which can predict future abuse. Related to its increased use, the perception that regular marijuana smoking is harmful decreased for 10th-graders (down from 59.5 percent in 2009 to 57.2 percent in 2010) and 12th-graders (from 52.4 percent in 2009 to 46.8 percent in 2010). Moreover, disapproval of smoking marijuana decreased significantly among eighth-graders.

“We should examine the extent to which the debate over medical marijuana and marijuana legalization for adults is affecting teens’ perceptions of risk,” said Dr. Volkow. “We must also find better ways to communicate to teens that marijuana use can harm their short-term performance as well as their long-term potential.”

Overall, 46,482 students from 396 public and private schools participated in this year’s survey. Since 1975, the MTF survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes in 12th-graders nationwide. Eighth and 10th-graders were added to the survey in 1991. Survey participants generally report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. The survey has been conducted since its inception by a team of investigators at the University of Michigan, led by NIDA grantee Dr. Lloyd Johnston. Additional information on the MTF Survey, as well as comments from Dr. Volkow can be found at http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/MTF.html.

MTF is one of three major surveys sponsored by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that provide data on substance use among youth. The others are the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The MTF Web site is: http://monitoringthefuture.org. Follow Monitoring the Future 2010 news on Twitter at @NIDANews, or join the conversation by using: #MTF2010. Additional information on MTF can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/news; or http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is the primary source of statistical information on substance use in the U.S. population 12 years of age and older. More information is available at http://www.drugabusestatistics.samhsa.gov.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, part of HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, is a school-based survey that collects data from students in grades 9-12. The survey includes questions on a wide variety of health-related risk behaviors, including substance abuse. More information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/index.htm.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy and improve practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at http://www.drugabuse.gov. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s new DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or fax or email requests to 240-645-0227 ordrugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at http://drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s new media guide can be found at http://drugabuse.gov/mediaguide.The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visitwww.nih.gov.

Related resources

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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